Elks never seemed to satisfy me, but I didn’t want to go very far. And in the park that was all Alice and I
could find of substance.
She didn’t actually hunt much. Just watched me most of the time. She wasn’t thirsty, just accompanying
me on this very necessary and fruitless trip. Necessary because I couldn’t allow myself to be thirsty
tomorrow even the slightest. And fruitless because no matter how many elks I slayed it would be in vain
the moment Bella’s scent caught up to me again.
I wouldn’t think of that now.
Finishing off my fourth meal of the evening, I felt full to the brim when Alice put her hand on my shoulder
Edward, I really think that’ll be enoughI looked up and met her eyes. She had a small crease between
her brows. Pulling back, sheepishly I cleaned the side of my mouth. Doing this for as long as we have, it
was an art form of sorts and we seldom made much of a mess.
“Shall we go back now? Or did you want to test the theory that vampires can‘t get sick?” She teased me.
“I’m finished.” I replied
“Good. Jasper’s waiting for me and… everyone else is waiting for you”
“Sorry” I felt guilty for making her come with me when she didn’t need to but I wasn‘t looking forward to
another round with my family.
“It’s okay, they won’t be too much trouble. And this trip was for Bella”
I narrowed my eyes and murmured “For Bella.”
She laughed her bell like laugh and started to run back
Come on slow coach, You need to change before you go to her house don’t you?
Reaching the house before her, of course, I leaned back against the wall to wait, grinning when she
finally caught up
“Slow coach?” I said feigning innocence
She squinted her eyes at me and darted into the house. I wasn’t as eager to follow but I figured I might
as well get it over with, Bella will be sleeping soon and I didn’t want to miss a moment.
As I hesitated by the door I heard Emmett talking “Rose, come on, he’s done well so far give him some
“That’s only because there were always too many witnesses” she hissed back.
“Not true…” Emmett began stifling a laugh “He’s with her alone in her room most nights or don’t you
“Thanks, Emmett… But I’m not worried about his creepy, perverse behaviour.” She accentuated the word
’perverse’ making me cringe “I like it here. I really don’t want to have to move again so soon, that’s all”
Emmett was too busy laughing, when I finally walked in. He turned to look at me which only made his
laughter more boisterous. I shook my head trying to rid myself of his thoughts.
“YOU are going to ruin everything tomorrow.” Rosalie shrieked at me
I looked at the floor, not out of embarrassment but to control my anger. I wouldn’t be able to stop myself
if she said anything about Bella.
“Rosalie please…” Carlisle began
“Oh what’s the point Carlisle? He’s made his choice. He’s chosen her over his sister. Over all of us”
“That‘s not the case here” Carlisle continued his voice hardening.
“Yeah, it’s called faith, Rose” Alice’s joined in
“You’re all just placating him, making it worse until it‘s…” she narrowed her eyes refocusing on me “Until
it‘s meal time”
That did it.
“Edward don’t!” Alice shrilled but it was too late. Before I knew it I was airborne, lunging for Rosalie. I
heard a snarl rupture from her as I collided with Emmett who had darted between us. He wrapped his
huge arms around to restrain me but I couldn’t stop my own snarls ripping through me. Glaring solely on
Rosalie‘s blazing eyes as she bared her teeth but made no sound.
I became aware that a calming wave of serenity was washing over me. Jasper was trying to defuse the
situation but it wasn’t enough to contain my anger.
I was ready to try and fight off Emmett when I felt a hand on my chest. Esme.
She was looking at me with concerned pleading eyes. In her mind I saw my own face. I looked like… like
a vampire. I immediately slumped, almost limp, in Emmett’s arms.
Rosalie stormed out of the room in the blink of an eye and Emmett let me loose.
“Emmett you should go after her” Alice said, her face twisted up in apprehension “Now Emmett… I don’t
think Esme wants her entire kitchen destroyed”
Emmett looked at me for a long moment. But he wasn’t angry, just confused. He hated choosing sides.
He sighed heavily and then went through to the kitchen.
I was about to fly up to my room when Carlisle spoke
“Will you be bringing Bella to… meet the family, Edward?”
I glanced at him for half a second before slowly turning, with accusing eyes, to frown at Alice.
“I was just telling Carlisle the few possible futures I saw for tomorrow, that all” she said with a ring of
innocence in her voice and eyes wide.
It was impossible not to believe her. My eyes fluttered to Jasper for a second as I answered Carlisle “I
There was a ear splitting smash from the kitchen.
“If you decide to bring Bella here I’d be more than happy to welcome her” Carlisle continued
“And I would love… like to meet her too” Esme began as she started to walk to the back of the house
“but right now I’d like to salvage what’s left of my kitchen or Emmett for that matter” she smiled warmly
Jasper’s thoughts filled my mind. I don’t know about bringing Bella here Edward… I’m not sure… He was
scared that he wasn’t strong enough. I looked at him through narrowed eyes
“Give him some credit, Edward” Alice cut in bitterly
“Just keep your distance” I snapped at Jasper ignoring Alice’s glare.
I needed to get out of here. “Sorry” I whispered while fleeting to my room and slamming the door behind
I couldn’t take anymore of this. Everyday was a chore. Juggling my family and Bella. Sometimes I didn’t
know if I was protecting Bella from my family and myself or protecting my family from Bella? I was
shaking my head as I looked for clothes in my closet. I needed to be near Bella again. My anxieties
seemed to melt away when I watched her sleep.
I found a white shirt and blue jeans as there was a light knock on my door. If I ignored her she might go
“Oh stop being melodramatic, Edward” Alice walked in without consent “I just wanted to see you before
you left, that‘s all”
I turned to glare at her as she sat herself on my long black leather couch, folding her hands over her
“You love her, and as soon as you realise just how much you’ll stop all this over done brooding stuff” she
quipped, winking at me. I couldn’t help giving her a half smile. I was rather doom and gloom lately, I
thought as I picked a tanned sweater out.
“Hurry up, she’s almost asleep…well she trying” Alice told me whilst eyeing my chosen clothes. Then she
chuckled blocking out whatever thought that amused her just then and flitted out of the room. Eyeing my
clothes I wondered what that was about. I hurried to freshen up and change.
Racing out of the house and running through the forest alleviated me almost instantly. The speed and the
wind made me feel free of all the weight I felt in the house. The unneeded air was welcome in my lungs
and I breathed it in deep.
Bella was fast asleep but her body didn’t look entirely relaxed. She had headphones in with the music still
going. I wondered if I should turn it off. But decided against it. Partly because I didn’t want to wake her
and partly because that was just excuse to touch her. I shook my head.
Instead I sat quietly in the rocking chair thinking of the day ahead. Could I really be alone with Bella for
No witnesses… An echo of the monster inside me reminded. It wasn’t as strong as before. The monster
was getting weaker. But he was still there. I concluded wryly.
Bella seemed more peaceful as the night moved forward.
I watched her steady breathing and took in her scent every so often with exaggerated deep breaths. It
burned. Deal with it I told myself and breathed even deeper.
I thought about leaving in the morning and cancelling the trip.
I ran through the conversation in my mind. I would tell her the age old ‘something came up’ reason. But
I knew Bella would be eager to cash in on the rain check that particular reason would involve. And, I
would of course, concede.
The next few hours were spent running through excuses and then deciding what reaction Bella would
have to each one. I smiled at myself. I was getting quite good at guessing what she might say or do.
I could go through every justification in my mind, but I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to use any one of
I wanted to keep Bella safe and I am still so undecided about her being safe with me? This made me feel
weak. This wasn’t the strength that Esme had seen in me. Or the faith that Alice had. Or even Tanya’s
words when I had run to Denali not long ago.
I truly was a monster. I shouldn’t endanger her if I wasn’t a hundred percent sure that… I trailed off in to
many different scenarios in my mind. Some which I had had when I first encountered Bella Swan’s scent.
The urge, the uncontrollable desire. The lack of care to what happened after I had devoured her. Was
that all really buried now. No, not completely. But it was less. Less? I questioned myself. How much less.
Enough to last the day?
I didn’t know the answer to that. Wanting to occupy my mind away from guilty thoughts I looked out of
the window. It was very still outside. The world was still asleep. My eyes stopped at Bella’s truck. Wincing
slightly as I remembered the deal I had agreed with her in haste. She was going to be driving tomorrow.
In that. I should go down there now remove the rotor, that way she would have no choice but to allow
me to get my car. But that it wouldn’t fool her, Bella would know I had something to do with the
disabling of her truck.
A short while after dawn had broken Charlie was pulling out of the drive. As his car vanished down the
road I looked back to the sleeping beauty not too far from me. She would wake soon. I should leave. But
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I couldn’t make my legs move.
I slid out of Bella’s window and was now standing against the wall beside her front door. She wouldn’t be
able to see me at this angle from upstairs, listening to her hurrying around. I was still in a gloomy
mindset. I didn’t know if I should be here, still ready to go through the day as planned. I didn’t want to
let Bella down but I didn’t want to disappoint my family either. And most of all, I didn’t want to be the
reason Bella ceased to exist. I shuddered. I am stronger. I told myself. Of course I am. But the words
I heard her footsteps coming down the stairs and I before I knew it I was facing the door and my hand
Knock knock knock
No turning back now.
There was a small delay while she struggled with the dead bolt but as soon as the door was open I met
her eyes and they were wide and excited. I looked over her and realised instantly why Alice had laughed
at my choice of clothes. This helped my mood considerably and I chuckled as I spoke “Good morning”
“What’s wrong?” she replied anxiously
She laughed with me, the sound was melodic.
She locked the door as I began walking to her truck. I stood beside the passenger door regretting my
decision about not hindering it.
Bella had a tinge of smugness to her face as she spoke “We had a deal” she reminded me. I climbed in
silently when she unlocked my door from the inside.
“Where to?” she asked.
“Put your seat belt on - I’m already nervous”
She narrowed her eyes at me as she did so.
“Take the on-oh-one north” I instructed.
I was staring her face as she drove. She kept focus mostly on the road but every so often her eyes would
just slightly jerk to the side at me. To check if I was still looking. But I couldn’t tear my gaze from her.
I realised how much slower than usual she was driving.
“Were you planning to make it out of Forks before nightfall?”
“This truck is old enough to be your car’s grandfather - have some respect” she snapped back.
Finally we had left the town borders and the conventional houses had been replaced by greenery, trees
“Turn right on the one-ten” I instructed again and smiled as I purposely added “Now we drive until the
I watched her eyes slightly widen and her knuckles whiten just faintly over the steering wheel. Just the
reaction I had predicted.
“And what’s there, at the pavement’s end?” she questioned
“Is that a problem?” I knew she’d not be too pleased
“Don’t worry, it’s only five miles or so, and we’re in no hurry”
She didn’t reply. We drove silently now and I watched her face intently. She seem anxious, nervous. Was
it because she finally realised that she didn’t want to be alone with me. Not in a empty forest anyway.
She still didn’t speak. This was going to drive me insane.
“What are you thinking?” I broke the silence almost rudely.
“Just wondering where we’re going”
“It’s a place I like to go when the weather is nice” I looked out of the window at the same time she did.
The clouds were retreating
“Charlie said it would be warm today”
“And did you tell Charlie what you were up to?”
“Nope” she replied. She hadn’t told her father?
“But Jessica thinks we’re going to Seattle together?” At least someone knew that she was with me, I
couldn’t slip up now.
“No, I told her you cancelled on me - which is true”
“No one knows you’re with me?” How could she be so stupid, didn’t she understand what I was capable
“That depends… I assume you told Alice”
“That’s very helpful, Bella” What an apt time to make jokes. She didn‘t reply and I just got harsher “Are
you so depressed with Forks that it’s made you suicidal?”
“You said it might cause trouble for you… us being together publicly”
“So you’re worried about the trouble it might cause me - if you don’t come home” I tried hard not to raise
Bella just nodded, and didn’t turn to look at me.
“Of course you’d make this as difficult as possible for me” I murmured so slow there was no hope of her
We drove silently for the rest of the journey, if I spoke now it would only come out as a growl or
profanities. Neither of which I wanted Bella to hear.
We arrived at the beginning of the narrow marked out trail. Bella parked the truck on the edge and got
out. I waited a moment and watched her remove her sweater and tie it around her waist. She had on a
sleeveless shirt. He ivory skin looked soft. Warm. I shook my head quickly and looked up at the sky. The
sun was beginning to shine brighter now making the day much warmer. Climbing out, I removed my own
sweater but placed on the seat. Then I slammed the truck door to catch Bella’s attention. I kept my body
facing forward into the vast forest awaiting us, but turned my face to look over my shoulder as I spoke
“This way” The annoyance was still clear in my voice and I began to walk into the forest.
“The trail” Bella’s voice was frightened.
“I said there was a trail at the end of the road, not that we were taking it”
“No trail” the same panic in her voice. She was actually reacting as she should.
“I won’t let you get lost”
She seemed like she choked on whatever she was going to say as I turned to smirk at her now. Her eyes
met mine and I was confused by the sadness I saw in them. Why would she be upset?
“Do you want to go home” I asked quietly. I didn’t want her to go but I couldn’t let her be this frightened
“No” she replied and then walked beside me closer as if to affirm her answer.
“What’s wrong?” my voice calmer now.
“I’m not a good hiker. You’ll have to be very patient.” she replied unhappily
“I can be patient - if I make a great effort” I stared down at her face smiling, trying to ease her fear.
“I’ll take you home” I finally promised hoping to relieve her doubts.
“If you want me to hack five miles through the jungle before sundown, you’d better start leading the
way” she said sourly. I couldn’t understand why she would be angry now. I frowned at her but she
offered me no answer. So I began into the forest and she followed. She seemed to relax once we got
deeper and I didn’t want her falling so I would hold aside all the damp ferns and moss webs for her. And
whenever we would encounter obstacles such as fallen trees or rocks I would help her, lifting her gently
by her elbow. The warmth of her skin stunned me every time. And I could hear her heartbeat accelerate.
I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing. Maybe it was out of fear. Her eyes were sad whenever I caught
her looking at me. We carried on walking mostly in silence unless I offered a question. I was lighter with
the quizzing today. She told me she had killed all her pet fish and this made me laugh loud. It was such a
relief to be able to laugh this way. So openly. So fully. It felt so good.
We carried on walking through the green maze at human pace. It didn’t bother me to take it this slow. It
just meant more time with Bella. The ancient trees continued to bound out around us as we continued on
my path. We were close to the meadow now and the sun was beginning to shine down on the murky
green, brightening it vividly. I could hear the rhythm of the gentle stream, and see the white, violet and
yellow colours of the wild flowers ahead.
“Are we there yet?” Bella mocked
That made me smile to hear that her mood was more lifted. “Nearly, do you see the brightness ahead?”
She squinted “Um, should I?
“Maybe it’s too soon for your eyes”
“Time to visit the optometrist” She was much happier now. I grinned at her ease.
After another a few moments Bella began to over take my stride. Walking ahead, almost eagerly, into the
bright yellow shades. She walked through into the perfect round meadow looking around at the beauty of
it. I stayed behind under a dark shade watching her warily. She turned her head to find me and then
spun her whole body round until her eyes rested on mine. Could I do this? Could I show her what I am.
She knew of course, but to see it… would it be too much? Would she allow me to take her back to the
truck before she started screaming? I sighed almost silently to myself as Bella watched. Anticipation on
her face. To my surprise she took a step towards me and smiled. I didn’t move. Again another step
towards me as she gestured with her hand for me to come closer. I held up my hand quickly. I didn’t
want her to get too close.
Okay it was time. I took one last unneeded deep breath and walked out under the bright glow of the
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