Chapter Four- Edward
I sulked in frustration. The rest of the family had gone out to hunt, and to show Bella around. I decided to stay home and take out my irritation on my piano. I had been sitting aside the ivory keys for a good twenty minutes without playing a note. My mind was elsewhere. Why couldn't I hear her? Or could I? Was she blocking me? This had never happened to me before, I could hear everyone, every thought. But I did hear her name in the forest. Perhaps it was the close proximity...? Maybe I should try and get close to her again, just close enough to see what is behind those haunting eyes.
I decide to give up on piano for now. I suppose I could go join the others. If Bella had never hunted animals before it may be humorous to watch. Killing a human was easy. They are so easily distracted, easily taken over by beauty, but animals rely on instinct. They understood that there are predators and prey in their world. It can be somewhat more challenging.
I ran until I started picking up their thoughts, Rosalie especially. She was mentally berating her husband. Emmett had gone first as they followed a herd of deer, wanting to try something easy for Bella. He was still for just a moment before leaping and using his cave man style to crush the deer under his weight, he wrestled with the damn thing and then snapped its neck. Bella looked horrified. Rosalie was angry because Emmett had dragged it out and she planned to give him hell later on tonight.
Jasper offered a different approach. As they ran to catch up to the herd, Jasper moved swiftly, before positioning himself in a crouch. He bound over to the largest deer and within seconds had snapped its neck and was drinking. It was already over, quick and painless. He felt various emotions coming from Bella, from a nagging bloodlust, to nervousness, to a calm determination. She didn't seem as disturbed about this kill. Her expression relaxed and she ran toward the deer as the rest of the family stayed back to give her space. When the deer stopped to drink, Bella waited on a low branch of a tree aside the river. A spot which I knew.
I moved silently, scaling a tree from which I could see her. Of course I could hear no thoughts, I just saw her uneasy expression and the rise and fall of her chest as she took deep breaths. She closed her eyes and parted her lips, barely showing her teeth. She looked slightly aroused and... sexy.
My grip on the branch tightened as I focused on her mouth, a quick arousal stirring in my gut, I couldn't look away. Before I could dwell on it, she darted out and fed from the deer. She was perfect in her attack, it was as though she had done it hundreds of times. Aside from Carlisle in my newborn years, I had never watched another feed. I knew how it felt, the warm sustenance, the need and want that was most intimate and thrilling. She moaned and sucked hard and the silence surrounding her was sweet torture. I wanted to know what she was thinking. I had never yearned to be in someone's mind so badly. A sudden shame rocked me as she stopped and looked at her kill. Her expression was remorseful and I knew that feeling all too well.
Conflict rolled around inside of me; embarrassment over spying on her, but a deafening need to know her. I convinced myself my trepidation was because I could not hear her, could not flush out any hidden agendas or vengeful thoughts. I had always been the 'look out' for our family, always the first to know the intentions of others, immortal or otherwise. Not being able to know her thoughts and intentions made me feel uneasy and useless, and the new experience of being unable to know these things brought out a tremendous curiosity I couldn't control.
I looked away in defeat, moving quickly through the trees, attempting not to be seen. I picked up on the sound of a beating heart, the rhythm familiar- a mountain lion, my favorite. I couldn't resist. I followed high in the trees for a few miles before staking out a spot, a tree branch about forty feet from my soon to be lunch. The lion was aware of me. It made eye contact and then ran for it. The chase had begun. Bounding and running in pursuit, the scent became stronger and venom coated my teeth.
There was a blur in front of me then the lion was gone. I heard a rustling in the leaves and turned to see Bella drinking from my lion. I let out a modest growl and she yanked her head up snarling before shaking her head and looking at me. We stared at each other, my arms up in a show of surrender.
She came up out of her crouch slowly, wiping blood from her chin. "Edward?"
"Sorry, I..." We still hadn't broken eye contact. The darkness in her eyes receded just slightly and a glimmer of white appeared like an eclipse as she exhaled. There was tension in the air between us and it felt wrong. I needed to back off, lighten the mood. I took a tentative step backward and smiled. "Nice catch."
She seemed relieved. "You startled me."
"I'm sorry. I... Um... Looks like you're picking things up pretty quickly." I looked away, trying to act casual by putting my hands in my pockets, my stance slack. I knew the hunt was primal and brought our predatory instincts to the forefront. We tended to be very protective of our kills. I didn't want to scare her or make her feel threatened
She nodded shyly. "I am going to head back now."
"Me too." I started walking forward and she followed by my side.
"I noticed you're a lover of music," she said.
I shrugged. "It's what I do to pass the time."
It was really more of a passion for me, but I felt awkward about revealing too much to her when I couldn't read her. It wasn't fair. I felt as though she left us exposed and defenseless. We walked in silence for a while, although I wanted to run home, I didn't want to seem rude or miss a stray thought that might break out of her mind.
She stopped abruptly. "You don't like me do you?"
I kept walking. I didn't know how to answer that. It wasn't that I didn't like her; it was that I couldn't tell what was going on with her. Who was she? How could I trust her?
She huffed. "Alice told me about your gift. You can't hear me, can you?"
I turned around to face her. "No." I sighed. "I apologize if I seem rude. I'm just not used to having someone keep me out. It's really frustrating."
She smiled. "I'm not doing it intentionally."
"Then how are you doing it?" I snapped.
"I have a gift of my own." She started walking again. "I've been called a shield."
A shield? I'm not sure what a shield is exactly.
"The mental powers of vampires don't affect me. It is as though I have a shield protecting my mind. That's why you can't hear me." She said then continued to walk away from me.
I caught up to her and put my hand on her shoulder. "Wait."
She turned to me.
"I heard you. I heard your name in your thoughts. In the forest when we found you. I heard it clear as day and your lips never moved."
She brushed the hair from her face, hesitating before speaking. "I've figured out how to... sort of push my shield away from me. I haven't mastered anything yet and it takes a fair amount of concentration for me push it or extend it, if you will. But there are other times, when my emotions run high, or if I am really angry- I have trouble controlling it. I can push it out without thought. Kind of like a reflex I guess."
She shook her head again and bit her lower lip. "When you found me, I wasn't in my right mind. I was trying to starve myself for god's sake. I thought you were human at first. I was confused. I didn't even realize that I was doing it."
Huh. A shield? I didn't like it.