Chapter ThreeMature

In some distant part of my mind, I noticed the months passing gradually.  It wasn't something that really changed my daily activities, I didn't feel like I was missing out on life in some way.  I simply existed, waiting for something better to happen.  Waiting for Edward to change his mind.

I found my walks through the woods got longer and longer, and gradually, I cried less and less.  By January I was walking through the woods tearless and starting to find myself more than three or, even some days, four miles from the house.  I never got scared the way I would have before I met Edward.  Somehow, even knowing Edward had said that there were other things as dangerous as he was out here, I found myself unimpressed.  I'd befriended a family of vampires, what was I really to be frightened of?

It was particularly frosty as I trumped through the woods in mid January.  I had on a hoodie and a jacket and somehow, I was still cold.  My mind wandered to Jacob.  He had been so warm, so welcoming and comfortable.  Charlie had made repeated statements about how I should visit Jacob, all of which I would repeatedly dismiss saying I had no interest in being around anyone.  It was true.  Every Saturday Charlie came home and mentioned how Jacob had asked about me, how his eyes lit up whenever Charlie mentioned me.  It grew tiring.  I didn't particularly care to hear about a boy I'd known for most of my life clearly falling into some kind of dead-end crush with me.  It was the last thing I wanted to consider.  I pulled my hands out of my pockets and lifted my hood up over my head, hoping that somehow it would help keep me warm.  I considered turning around and heading home to the warmth of the kitchen, but I knew I didn't really want to be there.  I would walk in, warm up and immediately regret not finishing my walk.  The wind seemed to be picking up quite a bit, the bare tree branches rustling and scraping against each other.  There was distinct, sharp movement to my left.  I lifted my eyes and turned to look.  Nothing.

The same movement to my right.  I turned my gaze.  Nothing.

The movement once again to my left, a short, blurred line speeding past me.  I stopped, perplexed and turned around slowly, scanning the area carefully.  Everything was so dead.  White and grey, some icicles glittering with fragments of light.  I finished my rotation, just about to face onward once more, when I saw it.  The glowing orange moving carefully, slowly along behind me.  Mimicking my turns.  I knew that orange.

"Hello Victoria."  My voice didn't falter.  I wasn't afraid.  Grateful, maybe; but not afraid.

"Hello, darling."  Her voice was a melody, picking at my memories and pulling the pain from my ribcage and out into my throat.   She was aggravating the hole on my chest.  The hole I had to fight against every night when I lay alone in bed.  Her long, narrow fingers closed around my shoulders, frigid little icicles with a grip like steel.

Her cold touch didn't frighten me the way it should have.  She turned me to face her slowly.  Let's not startle the human.

"You don't need to be brave, Bella."  She was leaning forward, her face parallel to mine, inches from my skin.  Her lips grazed against my ear and a slow, pulsating shiver ran down my spine.  For a moment, I teetered on the edge of eager anticipation.  It was likely I wouldn't survive this encounter.  My heart thudded in my chest.  I wasn't afraid, I was excited.

"I'm not being brave, Victoria."  I wanted to tell her that she was welcome to slit my throat, that Edward would never come to avenge me because he'd never really loved me to begin with, but I bit my tongue.  It was easier to keep her angry, to let her think she was exacting her revenge.

Her face pulled back slightly, so she was looking directly into my eyes.  I studied her crimson irises.   A lovely red up close, really.  She was curious, wondering why I didn't seem to find my current situation dangerous at all.  For a long moment she stared, and I wondered if somehow she could see into my soul.  Could she feel my torment?

"You do know I'm here to kill you."  It wasn't a question, but she wanted an answer.

"Yes."

"And still you are not fearful?"   She hadn't moved from her position.  Her breath wafted across my face and I reveled in it.  She didn't smell as good as Edward.

I shrugged.

"You can't take anything from me that I have any attachment to, Victoria."  This statement seemed to startle her, she stepped back, releasing my shoulder.  For a moment I didn't notice that her expression was not brought on by my statement, but rather by a firm, white hand gripping her hair.  I leaned to the side so slightly it was barely noticeable, trying to catch a glimpse of the person interrupting our talk.

He was beautiful, standing behind her with a ferocity in his eyes that could only be rivaled by the fear in her own eyes.  My rescuer pushed her down onto her knees, still gripping her hair, and looked directly into my eyes.  There was something different about him, and it didn't take me long to realize that his eyes were not the color they were supposed to be.

Green.  The loveliest shade of green I had ever seen.  Emerald, for the most part, with flecks of gold and forest green to contrast them.  The single most stunning eyes I had ever looked into.

"It's all right, Bella.  I'm here now."

The End

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