Chapter Five- Bella:
It had been one month since the Cullen's had found me and taken me in. I was beginning to see a whole new side of life. Carlisle had his work at the hospital to keep him busy and playing his role as a father. Emmett, Rose, Alice, Jasper and Edward had enrolled in high school to keep up appearances. They were all changed when they were in there late teens years, looking as though they could be old enough for college, but they could pass for Seniors, maybe Juniors. In order to maintain a permanent residence here they had to act as human as possible, which is a bit harder than it sounds. They are all well practiced and can be around humans fairly comfortably. The constant rain and clouds in this part of the country made being out in public easier than most places. There wasn't a whole lot of sun here, which was nice. I have never spent so much time outside during the day. I often wondered if I could learn to abstain. I was hunting regularly, but I had yet to come across a human.
Esme was the mother of the family. At least... She was becoming a mother figure to me. When Carlisle would go to work and the others to school, she kept me busy. She had many hobbies and insisted that I do too. We found that we both love to paint and both were fans of impressionist work. She told me that Carlisle was a fan of Claude Monet. I had come up with the idea to try and replicate Monet's Water lilies as a mural. Esme was thrilled with the idea and wanted us to paint the mural is their bedroom. She wanted it to be a surprise for Carlisle. We started on the project as soon as he was off to work and finished the mural in record time.
And there was Alice... She and Rosalie had been making me play dress up on a daily basis, but Alice was the instigator. She hadn't exaggerated about the shopping compulsion. She got such joy from buying things and it wasn't just me. That girl was more generous than I had ever seen. She was constantly buying gifts for everyone. Books for Jasper and Carlisle, video games for Emmett, shoes for Rosalie, arts supplies for Esme and music for Edward.
She made it her mission to shower me with gifts and help Esme keep me busy. I had mentioned that I used to take dance classes when I was human and how much I enjoyed it. That night she moved all of the cars out of the garage to make room for us to dance. She danced with an incredible elegance and could dance almost any style, but she loved ballet. She would play music and move with a grace that would take your breath away. I really didn't remember a whole lot from what I had learned in classes, but Alice taught me a few things. Low and behold, I was so much better than I remember. My balance was spot on and I could leap and jump effortlessly. Sometimes, Rose would join us and we would just dance freestyle. We would turn the music up loud and just move along with it. Emmett would come out to tease us occasionally. He would run in and demand that we put on some hip hop so that he could dirty dance with Rose. We would all end up laughing. It was unreal, like I stepped a fantasy world. I never imagined that I could live a peaceful existence or even live in one place for a long period of time. It was so normal, domestic even, like a real family.
Everyone had welcomed me with open arms into this home, well except for Edward... He was distant, quiet and we made pleasantries but didn't talk a whole lot. I knew he didn't trust me. He had lived so long hearing everyone's thoughts that the silence was uncomfortable for him. He would always be able to see a person for what they really are, because they can't have any secrets from him, but me... He didn't know anything about me. He would stare at me when he though I wasn't paying attention and he hardly spoke and when he did... He was so guarded and careful not to say too much. I could tell that he was constantly trying to read my mind and I was bothered that he wanted to know about me but never asked. Why won't he just talk to me?
I had been listening to a lot of music lately and Esme noticed. She suggested that I ask Edward for a recommendation or perhaps ask him to borrow a CD. She thought a common interest between the two of us might make him come around. I told her I would consider it.
"Bella?" Carlisle called from downstairs. "Could you join us in the dining room?"
I snickered. Dining room? I shook my head at the irony and zipped down the stairs, pausing before entering. I quick sniff told me that the entire family was in there... waiting for me.
Everyone was seated at the table except for Carlisle who smiled warmly and motioned for me to sit. "Bella, please join us."
He sat at the head of the table and I took the one open seat next to him.
"I hope you don't mind the formality, but I though we should all be present." He looked around the table and took a deep breath. "I would like to talk about your future."
I gave him a questioning look. "My Future?"
"Yes, I would like you to consider staying with us, being a part of our family."
Esme took my hand from across the table, her smile beaming. "I have loved having you here Bella. I would be honored to have you join us."
Carlisle cleared his throat. "I wanted to take this opportunity to have all of us discuss this."
"I knew it!" Alice bounced up and down in her seat before taking Jasper's hand. He looked at her and then at me and simply nodded his approval.
Emmett raised his hand and motioned for me to give him a high five. I laughed and slapped his hand.
"A new little sister to tease," he said and judging by the evil grin on his face I was pretty sure he meant it.
Rosalie simply nodded yes, and then everyone looked at Edward.
"I have no objections," he said quietly.
"Well then, Bella. Would you consider joining our family?"
I wanted to shout, YES! but I couldn't get the words out. I was feeling a relief and excitement, but also fear. Be part of there family... I would have to play the human. I would have to control myself. My inadequacies were causing a slight panic.
"I would love that. I don't know what to say, besides thank you." I turned to Carlisle. "I have a lot to learn about the way you live. All of you can control yourselves enough to live normal lives. I don't have that. What if I..."
Carlisle stopped me. "Please understand, we don't expect you to start getting out into the world just yet. You will have to learn to control your thirst. This can take some time to achieve, but I am confident you can do it. You have taken to hunting animals with ease and your manner has grown calmer."
He paused for a moment. "I am curious though, may I ask how old you are?"
"I was changed a little over year and a half ago... I think."
Emmett started laughing. "A newbie!"
"No wonder your emotions are all over the place, but you do have a fair amount of control. I've seen much worse," said Jasper. He must have sensed my confusion. "Bella, newly created vampires are quite volatile. The mix of venom and human blood makes you strong, very strong physically. The mental state of a newborn if often crazed with desire. Most are concerned with one thing and one thing only. You also have to factor in the age in which you are turned. As a teenager, your raging hormones can easily effect you mood and temperament. That can carry over into this life somewhat, making newborns irrational and defensive. How old were you?"
"I was nineteen."
"How did it happen?" asked Rosalie.
This was a memory that I did not want to think about, but I wanted to earn there trust. "I had just started my first semester in college. I was on a walk in the woods behind my home, trying to find some interesting flowers or insects to photograph..." I paused thinking about Photography, it had been my favorite class. "As I was walking I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. A flash of something... It happened so fast... When I turned around, he was standing in front of me. His eyes were so dark, large and black. I didn't have time to run, didn't have time to even turn away... I was on the ground and he was at my neck. I thought for sure he was going to kill me, but he suddenly stopped, whipped his head around and jumped away from me. I heard this rumbling sound, rustling in the trees and then I saw them... Wolves or at least they looked like wolves. They were huge, I had never seen anything like it. There must have been four or five of them. He tried to run and the wolves gave chase. The burning started and..." My hand flew to my neck, the memory of the pain so clear in my mind. It was hard to think about and making me thirsty.
A silence filled the room. Carlisle and Edward were glaring at each other.
"I thought I was dying. I was beyond confused and overwhelmed when the pain subsided. I wandered the woods until I came across a group of people camping. I... I couldn't help myself. I had to have them." My hands were shaking. The guilt was rising in my chest.
Carlisle took my hand. "It's not your fault. You were alone. You had no one to guide you. You simply followed your instincts. What is more important is that you have now found your conscience. Please know that we do not judge you. As a matter of fact, if anything, I applaud your efforts. It is no ease feat to starve yourself you ten months."
"Thank you for that." I squeezed then released his hand. Then, just like the first day I arrived here I felt a calming sensation run through my body. Something's not right here. This feeling... I took a deep breathe before I spoke. "I was wondering... I know that Alice and Edward have specials gifts. Does anyone else?"
"I do," said Jasper. "I'm an empath. I can feel the emotions of people around me and I have the ability to manipulate their emotions as well."
"That calming sensation just now... that was you?" I raised an eyebrow.
"Guilty." He winced. "I hope you don't mind. You were exuding some serious hurt. I had to do something."
"Have you told them about your gift?" Edward asked, smirking.
"No, but I suppose now would be the time. As Edward already knows, I do have a gift. I'm a shield."
"A shield. Of course, that would explain why Edward can't hear you." Carlisle said and then he winked at Edward.
"Have you known others?" I asked.
"Just one. Someone I met a long time ago. Said he was a shield, unaffected by powers of the mind." He leaned forward his eyes dancing with curiosity. "Have you ever tested it? Can you control it?"
"I can extend it, shield others but I have barely learned to control it. It takes a fair amount of effort or extreme emotions can evoke it."
We talked of our gifts, telling stories and sharing experiences. Most expressing jealousy over the fact that Edward can't read me. He smiled shyly and ignored them, rolling his eyes every so often. He was always quiet, silently communicating with his family who had become so used to this that they often didn't actually to speak to him. His expression guarded, a tone of something... sadness maybe, confusion... He caught me staring at him. I didn't look away. Instead I smiled at him, a peace offering, hopefully a small gesture that would make him let down his guard a little. I want to know more about him and the fact that he rarely speaks to me is only fueling my curiosity.
I looked away catching a glance of my reflection in the mirror on the wall. My eyes look... better. Still black as well fed as I am. Dark as night and a constant reminder that this animal blood does not fully sate me. I lean back into my chair and fade from the conversation. I listen, acknowledge and laugh at jokes but my mind is elsewhere.
The family meeting ended and I found myself in the back yard, sitting in the shade with a book in hand.
A novel of war borrowed from Jasper that wasn't holding my interest. I lay on the grass with my eyes closed wishing that I could take a nap. Then Edward started playing. The window in the living room was open and the sounds poured out into the air. The pace was slow, the arrangement complex and it was beautiful. I found myself up in the tree peeking into the window. It was so interesting to watch him. His fingers with the lightest of touches flowing across the keys, head down yet not brooding. He looked relaxed, so unlike the uptight and serious vampire I've known him to be. His body moved in time with the music, swaying in a release of emotions. He was marvelous.
I slipped from the branches, landing silently by the window to get a better look. His eyes were closed, lips parted he took a breath and grinned, turning his head in my directions. I opened the window wider and climbed in, leaning against the wall. He ended the piece moments later and I pouted at him.
"Don't let me interrupt. I'd love to hear more." I motioned to the piano and smiled. "I heard you from outside. Playing to pass the time?"
I rolled my eyes. Was he always going to keep his answers so short? He removed his hands and put them in his lap.
"What are you thinking about?" He whispered.
"It bothers you that much doesn't it?" I asked grinning.
He looked at me slowly, a shy expression on his face. "It is just so strange for me. I'm not used to it."
For once he didn't look annoyed about it, he looked bewildered. I decided that I would try to do this for him. I am going to let him in but only for a moment. I took in a deep breathe and I concentrate on pushing it away. I could feel a slight shift, not quite far enough. Push, I told myself. Push! and like a rubber band it sprung out.
Fine. Here, but you are going to be disappointed
He smiled and waited. "Thank you," he said softly looking up at me.
What's it like?
He looked at me quizzically. "Uh... It's hard to describe."
Do you hear a voice, my voice?
"Yes, most have inner monologues that match their own spoken voice. Some have more visual thoughts."
Is mine more audio or visual?
"I'm not sure yet." He sounded mildly annoyed. I wondered if it was because I was making an effort to not think about anything in particular. He shook his head and chuckled at me. Of course... He just heard that.
Sorry! I winced and then laughed at him.
Keeping the shield up was taking so much of my concentration that it was hard to really focus on anything else. I closed my eyes and thought about sitting under the tree in the back pretending to sleep. I recalled Edward's song and how much I want to learn how to play the piano.
Then like a flash across my eyes I saw something. My shield snapped back into place. This thing, this vision?... was playing in my head like a memory. It was me... Dancing in the garage. What was I seeing? Oh my god... I... I heard him. He was thinking about me. He had watched my dance in garage... from the window? I never realized anyone else was there. I look up at him. Does he realize I read his mind? I was pleasantly surprise to see a smile on his face. He seemed relaxed.
He sighed, "Thank you so much for that. It makes me feel more at ease. Thank you for letting me in. We should do that more often." he laughed. I was pleased. I brought a smile to Edward's face.
"I like the fact that you can't hear me. I'm the only one around here who can have any privacy with you around." I smiled to reassure him that I was joking. "But please Edward, if there is ever anything you want to know, just ask."
"You want lessons? I could teach you how to play." he offered.