Chapter Three- Bella:
A tranquility came over me, slipping into my fingers and washing over my body and mind. I shook my head and focused on this golden eyed couple in front of me. Carlisle Cullen had spent his existence as an outcast of sorts. In the world of vampires, he possessed an unheard of restraint. He did not prey on humans. He held a respect for human life.
"We consider ourselves to be vegetarians if you will. The animal blood is what causes our eyes to turn this golden hue, rather than the crimson you are used to."
He took my hand and spoke softly. He looked deep into my eyes. "How long has it been?"
"I haven't quite been keeping track of time, but I would guess close to ten months." I looked away. It had been ten excruciating months. I had taken so many lives in order to foster my own needs. My voice was reduced to a whisper. "I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't take anymore."
I wanted to tell them more, but the guilt rising in my chest was preventing me from speaking.
"Bella, I know this existence has not come easy for you, but I want you to know that you have a choice. We may be damned in a sense but we still have our will. You have to know that you can live without all of this guilt. You can learn and you can change your path in this life." Carlisle's voice was smooth and full of compassion.
I looked toward the wall to see a large mirror and a reflection staring back at me that I did not recognize. My hands rushed to my face, my fingers tracing the outline of my eyes. My skin...was ghostly, there were deep circles under my eyes. My god, my eyes were beyond black. The darkness was spreading, like a plague on my face.
Esme looked toward the door. It opened slowly and Edward entered the room and took only a few steps. That is when it hit me. The smell was a mixture of my sweetest downfall and a musty earthy essence. I could feel my muscles contracting. My neck stretched upward, my nose compelled to follow this heavenly aroma. My nostrils began to flair. Edward held a silver flask in his hand.
Carlisle tightened his grip on my hand. "You need sustenance. Please accept this."
Edward took a few deliberate steps and held the flask to me. Before I could even think, I was standing, ripping the flask from his hand. I held it to my close to my chest, savoring the scent, the fiend in my head screaming for release. As I started to drink, I could feel my skin tighten and tingle, while my muscles tensed and my instincts of self-preservation took over.
My wave of calm was no more. This was no longer a gentile swell, but a fucking tsunami over taking everything in front of me. I must have looked crazed as I tipped the flask back in attempt to revel in the last few drops. I looked back to Edward, who was now in a slightly defensive stance. He stared back at me with a furious glare. Suddenly, the tsunami was crawling back out to sea. The crushing swell was now a pool of serene ripples undulating underneath me. I recoiled from my frenzy and was filled with an oddly serene feeling. I stepped toward Edward carefully and held the flask out to him. Our fingers touched as I passed it to him and without thinking I took his hand. I wanted to speak, but I could only manage to get out a whisper.
I was already craving more. Both my body and mind were overwhelmed with a mix of emotions and the now present desire for blood. Esme had helped me to the bath and I scrubbed the dirt from my body and I yearned to wash away the thoughts in my head. I couldn't escape the memories. The faces of the innocent souls I took away. My only comfort was being with this family.
The Cullen Family... Carlisle was the oldest; he had wandered this earth for more than 300 years. I immediately felt comfortable with him somehow. He had told me of his creation and his struggles as a newborn. He too had fought against his bloodlust as I did. He could recognize the worth of all creatures. He spent many of his years studying medicine and had become a doctor. I was shocked and amazed at the self-restraint he possessed. I mean, it is one thing to not use humans as a means of survival, but it is something else entirely for him to be able to be in the same room with someone bleeding from an injury. Carlisle had been working in a Chicago hospital when he met Edward, who was dying of the Spanish influenza. Carlisle admitted that he acted out of loneliness. He sought a companion in Edward. He brought him into this existence and taught him how to survive and resist. He had given Edward the choice of two worlds, and Edward followed Carlisle and committed himself to this life. He turned Esme some years later. Carlisle had been at the hospital when Esme had been assumed dead and brought directly to the morgue. Upon examining the body, he discovered a faint heartbeat.
Esme had sat next to me to explain. "I had just bore my only son. He was days old when he died. I was consumed with grief when I threw myself from the cliff." The loss of her newborn son's life had taken its toll on her. Her injuries were so severe that no one had even bothered to examine her.
Carlisle took Esme's hand before he spoke. "She was hanging on by a thread. I looked at her and something told me to save her. I knew I couldn't save her the traditional way, for her body had suffered so greatly. I…" He paused and looked into her eyes. "I took her home. At the time... I knew that I was making an impetuous decision, but I just couldn't let her die. I loved her."
They stared at each other and the love they felt was radiating throughout the room. He created her out of love? I had never heard of such a thing among our kind. It was inspiring.
Carlisle continued with the story of his family. Rosalie had been the next to join them. Carlisle had stumbled upon her in the street where she had been beaten, raped and left to die. Just like Esme, he couldn't stand to see her suffering, he couldn't let her life end that way, so he turned her and she became his daughter of sorts. Then there was Emmett, Rosalie's husband. Rosalie had been out hunting when she came upon Emmett being mauled by a bear. She contemplated taking his life just to end his suffering but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Her true appreciation for life was stronger than the bloodlust. She looked into Emmett's eyes, scooped him up and brought him home, where Carlisle changed him. I had yet to meet Rosalie and Emmett. Esme didn't want to overwhelm me any more than I was already.
Then there were Alice and Jasper, the last to join this family. Unlike the others, Alice and Jasper had very different beginnings.
"Would you mind if Alice joined us? She likes to tell her own story," asked Carlisle. Before I could answer Alice entered the room, gliding over and sitting next to me.
"She wants to meet me," she said with a smile. Alice was such an interesting creature. She was like a light in a dark room with a positive energy surrounding her. She was small in stature and moved with a grace that was stunning. She began by telling me that she had a special gift. She could see the future. For the past few months, she had been having visions of me. She knew that she was destined to find me and that I would be a part of her life.
She and Jasper had become vegetarians on their own. They were nomads for the most part, as most vampires are. Then she had a vision of herself and Jasper living with the Cullens. With that, they traveled while being guided by her visions, until they found Carlisle. They had been a part of this family ever since.
I looked around the room and was in awe of the strength they all possessed. Could I cage my demon and live among humans? Did I belong here?
There was a knock on the door. Alice looked at me. "It's Jasper!"
She met him at the door and led him by the hand over to me. He was as tall as Edward, but lanky. His blonde curls were a mess on his head. "Bella, this is Jasper."
"Pleased to meet you, Bella." He said as he offered his hand to me. I let him take my hand and he shook it gently. The wave hit me again. Any anxiety I had, was being replaced by a feeling of comfort and peace.
Carlisle sighed. "Well, I think we will leave you now. I am sure that we have given you much to ponder and I think you could use a few moments to yourself."
He and Esme left the room, Alice and Jasper followed and Edward turned to me, an odd expression on his face, as though he was deeply concentrating. He quickly looked away and in a flash he was gone.
I started to study my surroundings. The room was large; the wall at the far end was glass, sprawling windows overlooking the forest and river. On the left wall, there was a desk and several shelves harboring a large collection of books. The wall to the right was shelves as well, with a stereo and an ever bigger collection of music. The shelves were lined with CD's and piles of records were strewn about the floor. This room belonged to someone who was a lover of music for sure. I walked over to the desk, which was littered with sheet music. The last sheet in the pile had a signature on the bottom. Edward Cullen. This must have been Edward's room. I wouldn't have taken Edward as a musician. I recalled him staring at me, his hardened expression made me feel as though he did not trust me. His bronze hair across his head in a windswept mess, but it suited him. As thoughts of Edward filled my mind, my wave of calm began to falter. Nervousness ran through me. I suddenly felt out of place in his room. Perhaps I was invading his privacy. I walked toward the door and listened.
I could hear excitement in Alice's voice. "We can shop online! She desperately needs new clothes."
The other voice was new, she must be speaking with Rosalie. I stepped out of the door and walked down the hall. Alice peeked her head out of the door and waved me in.
"Please come meet Rose."
I stepped forward and she grabbed my hand and led me into to her room. It was filled with bright colors and rich fabrics, much brighter than the rest of the house.
I looked to see who must be Rosalie. She was tall, with a body that was perfection. Her long blonde hair cascaded down past her shoulders. She lifted herself from her chair and stepped toward me.
"Bella," She nodded. "Please come in and sit with us." She motioned toward the other chair. "I'm Rosalie. It's good to finally meet you. How are you feeling?"
"Much better, thank you." I squeaked out.
Alice turned and jumped onto the bed, pulling with her a laptop computer. She looked at me with a rather serious expression. "Bella, you should know that I am a compulsive shopper."
They both laughed then Rosalie turned to me. "Be afraid, Bella, be very afraid. You are Alice's newest excuse for a major shopping binge."
The next few hours turned out to be an on-line shopping extravaganza. Alice's fingers moved in a blur over the computer. She was ordering an incredible amount of clothing and shoes in my size. I couldn't help but feel uncomfortable. Here I am, only have known Alice for mere hours and she is spending god knows how much money on clothing for me. I sat quietly while the two shopped, debating on what colors would compliment my skin. They spoke of fashion designers and fall collections and I was growing increasingly uncomfortable.
"Please," I stood up. "There's no need to order all of that. I am just one woman. I don't need more than a few things. I feel awkward with you spending money on me."
Alice pouted and Rosalie rolled her eyes and snorted.
"One of the best parts of having a psychic for a sister is that she has an uncanny ability to predict trends in the stock market." Rosalie smiled again and then got up from her chair. "Money is not something that we need to worry about. Will you excuse me for a moment?" Rose stepped out of the room before I could say anything.
Alice placed her hand over mine. "I'm sorry. I know this must be a lot to take in."
I sighed. "I am feeling better than I have in a long time. Your family is amazing. I can't even begin to thank you." I bit my lower lip. "I've never come across any other vampires that exude the kind of peace I feel here. Most of the others I have come across were so very dark... Honestly, I am in awe. I am still trying to wrap my mind around how you can co-exist so easily with humans without..."
I felt a sense of guilt being here. That small amount of animal blood had made my demon scream inside my head. It screamed for more.
The door flew open. A male bounded in and looked at me with a wicked grin on his face. Emmett, I was assuming. He was enormous, towering over me, dressed in a running suit which accentuated his broad muscular frame. His dark hair was short and he shared the same golden eye color of the rest of his family. He folded his arms across his chest.
"So, you must be the mystery girl. Wow, look at your eyes." He came closer to me and widened his glare. "You must be starving!"
"Easy, my big grizzly bear." Rosalie had come in behind him. The earth ridden sweet smell entered my nose. Rose had the flask in her hand. I snatched it from her hand began to drink with a desperate pace. It only took seconds before it was empty again.
Emmett was roaring in laughter. "Oh, come on. You have to go hunting with me. We need to get you fed properly."
A small smile came to my lips. "You must be Emmett. Thanks for the offer, but we would have to stick to something small. I am still feeling a bit weak."
"You won't be feeling that way after I get my hands on a grizzly for you." Emmett was bounding up and down. He was somewhat child-like in his movements. "Alice? What do you think?"
Alice was sitting very still on the bed rocking herself slightly. "I'm not seeing any grizzlies, but I am certain that this will be fun."