Chapter One: Thirst
I tried not to shudder as the feeling of their desire thrust itself upon me. All of my siblings' thirsts, no matter how little, were killing me more. It had been two weeks since I had last hunted, which was still very difficult for me. Adding the extra longing was just too much. The only thing that stood out beside my thirst was the worry coming from my wife next to me. She shouldn't worry. We should just give up and make me hunt weekly, never succeed in conquering my thirst. I was hopefully going to hunt tonight.
No. You can do this. Everyone else can. Why can't you? Alice needs you to be strong for her. My jaw set. I was going to push through this pain for Alice, and only Alice. My hands balled into fists as a girl with sandy blonde hair walked over to the closest table to us, right in front of the heater. The heat blew her scent straight to our table. She smelled so good.
I could just walk right over to her, lean in with my lips brushing over her arteries at her neck, take a bite, and feel the wonderful warm liquid slide down my - Edward kicked my chair. I made eye contact, feeling his emotions of warning and caution. I suddenly realized my mistake. How could I picture such a thing?
No, you were once a ruthless monster that didn't care about planning ahead. Heck, you didn't even think about attacking - you just went for it. Go, go, go! Forget about your family for once and do something good for yourself!
"Sorry," I muttered, ducking my head. The shame had won over and I was now filled to the brim with it. How could I have done that? I still didn't deserve living with this family, even after fifty years.
"You weren't going to do anything," Alice murmured, trying to soothe me. "I could see that."
Something about the way her emotions were balanced told me she was lying. I looked down, not wanting to make eye contact. I was going to attack that girl and she and Edward knew it, but they weren't going to say it in fear of making me hate myself even more.
"It helps a little if you think of them as people," Alice suggested. I already did think of them as people, but more like prey-people. "Her name is Whitney. She has a baby sister she adores. Her mother invited Esme to that garden party, remember?"
"I know who she is," I said curtly, not wanting any of my family's pity. I turned to look out the window, which clearly ended the conversation. Alice would make me hunt tonight no matter what, no matter how much I wanted to test myself. My wife sighed and left the table, throwing her uneaten lunch away. I continued trying to ignore my thirst, but not succeeding very well. Edward saved me a little bit with a distraction.
"Jessica Stanley is giving the new Swan girl all the dirty laundry on the Cullen clan," he said casually. Emmett smirked, saying something to Edward in his mind, I presume. "Rather unimaginative, actually. Just the barest hint of scandal. Not an ounce of horror. I'm a little disappointed."
Usually, there would be really odd rumors about us going around school. They were smart enough to tell that I was with Alice and Emmett with Rosalie (they usually frowned upon it like it was incest), but not really smart enough to figure out that we weren't human. Everyone believed our classic lies: Rosalie and I were twins; Esme was our aunt or something (I didn't really pay attention to the details after so many years of school - I had my gift to cover me if I really needed to tell a lie). The main thing was that we were all legally adopted by Carlisle and Esme, as well as being big campers and hikers. I continued looking out the window, lost in all the rumors and lies that were spread about us.
Suddenly, frustration and confusion splashed over me and I looked up, wondering who on earth could be that agitated. It was Edward. He was staring at the table with the Swan girl intently, looking like he could hurt himself by staring that hard. My eyebrows pressed together, but before I could think about what could possibly be bothering him, Rosalie stood up.
"Shall we?" she asked quietly and we all stood up.
"So, is the new one afraid of us yet?" Emmett pressed Edward and he shrugged. Neither Emmett nor Edward was too interested to get more information and Rosalie and I departed for the class we shared.
The rest of the school day passed by with no really exciting event or decreasing of my thirst; it only got worse. The final bell rung and I was free to go home and be just as bored there. Alice had been worrying about me all day, I knew it. I walked to the car with Alice by my side. Emmett and Rosalie were already inside and I took the last vacant seat in the back of the car while Alice took shotgun. We waited for Edward.
"So, Jazz, when we get home, do you want a rematch?" Emmett asked, still fuming at how I had beaten him last night in our wrestling match. I swallowed my venom that had entered my mouth when Tyler Crowley passed our car before speaking.
"I'm not in the mood," I grumbled, resting my head against the headrest and clenching my hands into fists. I felt Alice's worry flare up again, but this time it wasn't exactly for me. Edward crossed the parking lot too quick for a human and entered the car, panting. He instantly started the car, and accelerated to seventy by the time we were on the main street. Everyone expressed their concern quickly before glancing at Alice. She shrugged. Edward had always been moody and angry a lot of his life, but even this episode of fleeing was absurd. Alice's eyes got that natural fogginess they had whenever she had a vision and suddenly her depression and shock filled the car.
"You're leaving?" she whispered and we all turned to look at Edward. He clenched his teeth.
"Am I?" he hissed. Alice looked back into the future and shock filled her.
"Oh," was all she could manage. My eyes flickered between Edward, glaring daggers at everything in sight, and Alice who was still looking into the future.
"Stop!" Edward groaned with agitation and thirst flowing off him.
"Sorry," Alice whispered. "I'll miss you. No matter how short a time you're gone."
Edward was leaving? He really was leaving? How could that be? What could possibly make him just leave on the fly like that?
"Drop us here," Alice said. "You should tell Carlisle yourself." The car squealed to a stop and we all got out. Emmett, Rose, and I all exchanged glances while Alice talked to Edward more.
"You will do the right thing," she murmured to him. "She's Charlie Swan's family. It would kill him, too."
"Yes," Edward agreed, feeling skeptical. We all ran into the trees before hearing Edward screech off.
"Edward's leaving?" Rosalie questioned as we ran.
"Yes," Alice sighed.
"Why?" Emmett inquired.
"Bella," Alice said simply as if it were obvious. All of our brows furrowed as we waited for Alice to explain. "Bella Swan, the new girl, is . . . very, very . . . appetizing to Edward. He believes he will kill her if he stays in Forks." I blinked, processing the information. That's why Edward had wanted to leave? Because of a human?
"How long is he going to be gone?" Emmett asked and Alice looked crushed.
"By the way he's deciding, forever," she said, her face heartbroken. Everyone nodded. Edward had left once before, as I had been told, and he did come back even though it seemed he never would. Hopefully, this would be the same situation.
"We should inform Esme. Edward's probably telling Carlisle," I said and everyone nodded, running faster to the house.
Esme didn't take it very well, especially that Edward himself didn't even say goodbye in person to her. Actually, the whole family didn't take it well. Alice was devastated, Rosalie silent, and Emmett wasn't joking as much. Carlisle took Emmett's Jeep to work since Edward and he had traded cars when Edward said goodbye and we took Edward's car. There was quite the nostalgic air around when we all got inside with me driving. It was after school right now and I was slowly doing my homework in the bedroom Alice and I shared. Alice was busy looking through some magazine. Suddenly, her excitement flared up and I glanced to see what she was doing. My wife was grinning ear to ear, squealing.
"Edward's coming back!" she called out and Esme was at our room in a flash, with Emmett, Rosalie, and Carlisle right behind her.
"He is?" she questioned, starting to smile.
"Yes!" Alice said, clapping. "He'll be here around three in the morning!"
Even Rosalie smiled a bit at the news. Things would finally be back in order and the emotional climate would be less stressful.
Edward arrived at three, just as Alice had said, and everyone welcomed him back with open arms, even though he thought he didn't deserve it. He agreed to go back to school with us, after filling himself up with enough animal blood to make anyone sick. Everyone was focused on how he would do with Swan and I took advantage of their ignoring of me and cut loose a little bit by having fun with Emmett.
Edward was focused and Emmett and I took his distraction to bombard him with slushy snowballs, a lovely Confederate pastime. Even though I hadn't seen too much snow in Texas, my troops and I would take advantage of the slush and load it into as many things that could fire it at each other. What a blast that had been - it took away the pain and horror of the war going around us. He didn't fight back, or even flinch, when we nailed him as hard as we could and Emmett soon flung one at me. I dodged it before sending a bunch of slush-balls his way. The match was pretty even, and we had to call it a tie when the bell rang. Tension filled the air as we realized it was lunch.
Alice kept her attention in the future, and I put one hand under her elbow to gently guide her around the cafeteria. Emmett and Rosalie were up front, alert.
"It's going to be okay," she announced as we carefully walked toward our table.
"Of course it is," Edward grumbled, annoyance flowing off him. I tried my best not to feel strong.
"She's not here yet, but the way she's coming in . . . she won't be downwind if we sit in our regular spot," Alice said as we approached our table.
"Of course we'll sit in our regular spot. Stop it, Alice. You're getting on my nerves. I'll be absolutely fine."
Alice blinked as I helped her into her seat, her eyes focusing on Edward's face.
"Hmm," she said. "I think you're right."
"Of course I am," Edward muttered and felt even more irked. A wave of sympathy crashed over him and I met his gaze and grinned.
Annoying, isn't it? I questioned, holding back a laugh as Edward grimaced.
I really shouldn't be enjoying this one bit. It was very wrong and I wasn't that low to find joy in my brother's sorrow. I should just live up to the place I had taken now in the family. Edward had taken mine as "the weak one who could snap any moment" and I had upgraded to "can handle his thirst as long as he hunts regularly." It felt pretty good to be that vampire.
"Anything new?" I asked.
"Nothing," Edward answered, the same irritation and confusion coming back to him. He had informed us when he returned that he couldn't hear the Swan girl's thoughts which was the oddest thing. Edward could hear anyone's and everyone's thoughts. The girl wasn't even different from anyone else. She only smelled better to Edward. "She . . . must not have said anything."
Everyone raised an eyebrow, curiosity drowning any other emotion.
"Maybe you're not as scary as you think you are," Emmett laughed. "I bet I could've frightened her better than that. Wonder why -"
"We've been over that," Edward snapped. "I don't know."
"She's coming in," Alice announced and you could practically see the tension in the air. "Try to look human."
"Human, you say?" Emmett asked mischievously, revealing a snowball and crushing it into an ice block.
He looked straight at me, but my face didn't even flicker with emotion. His emotions were too mischievous to actually try to attack me when he knew I knew he was looking at me. He wouldn't hit Rosalie unless he wanted to make a huge scene in the cafeteria, couldn't hit Edward because of his gift, so he had to go with Alice. I didn't even worry because I knew she was one step ahead of him. She acted like she didn't notice, trying to humor herself, and flicked the ice block away with her fingers casually when Emmett hurled it at her. The ice flew all the way across the cafeteria, too fast for humans to see, and shattered with a crack against the wall. People nearby the ice swirled around in their chairs to find the culprit, but didn't even glance at our table.
"Very human, Emmett," Rose said bitterly. "Why don't you punch through a wall while you're at it?"
"It would look more impressive if you did it, baby," Emmett said and I rolled my eyes.
Edward was distracted, though he looked like he was paying attention to Rosalie and Emmett's banter. Alice quickly elbowed Edward, warning him about something. Edward was still very tense.
"Ease up, Edward," Emmett said. "Honestly. So you kill one human. That's hardly the end of the world."
"You would know," Edward retorted, causing Emmett to laugh.
"You've got to learn to get over things. Like I do. Eternity is a long time to wallow in guilt."
Alice unobtrusively flicked a ball of ice she had saved in her hand in Emmett's face. He blinked, completely surprised as I smirked, before grinning evilly.
"You asked for it," he said menacingly, and he leaned over the table and shook his hair, causing melting snow to rain down upon Alice and Rosalie.
"Ew!" Rosalie complained as she and Alice leaned away from the shower. Alice started laughing and now it was my turn on the plan. She had informed me of it this morning for when the Swan girl came. I spread the laughter around with my gift and we started all laughing. Alice continued to laugh and I continued to spread it around while she held up her lunch tray for a shield. Soon, Isabella looked away and the laughter slowly died away. Lunch period went by fast and soon all the humans were shuffling off to their classes. Edward didn't move at all and we didn't either, wondering what he would do.
"I . . . think it's okay," Alice said. "Your mind is set. I think you'll make it through the hour." I sensed Alice's hesitation and decided it wouldn't be best for Edward to go. If he went, he'd either wind up killing the girl or miraculously make it through, downgrading me to "weakling" again.
"Why push it, Edward?" I said, seeming like a hypocrite. I had wanted to push terribly last week, but now I was telling Edward to just not test his limits. I wanted him to not be successful so I wouldn't be weak again. How selfish was I? "Go home. Take it slow."
"What's the big deal?" Emmett countered to my ultimate chagrin. "Either he will or he won't kill her. Might as well get it over with, either way."
"I don't want to move yet," Rosalie whined. "I don't want to start over. We're almost out of school, Emmett. Finally."
Edward debated this, unsure of which way to go.
"No, Rose, I think it really will be okay," Alice said. "It's . . . firming up. I'm ninety-three percent sure that nothing bad will happen if he goes to class." There went my hope.
I decided to put myself in Edward's footsteps for a second. If I ran into a human who I had to sit to right next to for an hour that smelled so much better than the rest of the humans . . . we'd have to move again. He shouldn't be doing this. Not at all.
"Go to class," Edward decided and I fought back a growl. He really shouldn't be doing this.