Chapter ThirtyMature

The song used in this chapter is “I’ll follow you into the dark” by Death Cab for Cutie

BPOV

The breeze lifted up the tips of my hair and flung it wildly around my face, all the while I had tried tucking it behind my ears to no avail. The rain had started about two hours before and gradually came down with more force the longer it continued. Somehow, James looked magnificent. Even in the rain. His hair, that had been growing steadily over the past few weeks, hung just long enough to begin touching his eyes. His blond hair darkened at the tips, making it almost look as if he'd gone playing in the mud. His green eyes held a light to them, an excitement, that hadn't been there a day ago. There was a putatively immutable upward turn of his lips as we walked, his arm around my shoulders casually and somehow managing to hold the umbrella over me at the same time. The light from the streetlights illuminated his face, adding more light to those enthralling orbs, glinting as if he held some secret.

Which he did.

I still had no idea where we were going.

When I'd left the bathroom I'd discovered a simple outfit lying on the bed for me with a single daisy on top of it. I had chuckled at the gesture before slipping off my robe and pulling on the clothes he'd chosen. I went back into the bathroom to adjust my hair and put on some perfume and found a bottle of his favorite sitting beside the sink, completely removed from the selection I had upon a shelf on the wall, with another daisy. This had elicited a giggle. How he'd gotten in there while I was changing in adjacent room was utterly beyond me. I'd put on some make-up, nothing elaborate - just some eyeliner and mascara and lip gloss, and gone out to the living room to find him. A pair of my most comfortable knee-high boots sat just outside of the bedroom with a third daisy sitting atop them. I'd plopped down on the floor right there to slide them on. I set the three collected daisies on the island in the kitchen and turned the corner to the dance floor.

He was standing on the back porch with his back to me and both of his hands clasped at the base of his spine, holding another daisy. He'd told me I looked lovely, kissed my nose and proceeded to tell me we would be late if we didn't hurry up and get in the cab.

Which is how we managed to get caught in the rain. There was too much traffic for James's taste so he'd paid the driver and we'd hopped out a few blocks shy of our destination.

When we walked into the small little cafe, I understood the jeans and tank top. I'd understood the comfortable boots and the relaxed hair. I'd even understood the perfume that smelled like baby powder. This was not our usual Friday night destination, not by a long shot. The cafe was quaint, decorated with old fifties posters and artwork, with small two-seat tables spread out. A bar with a glass case of deserts and pastries took up the right wall and there was a stage in the far back that could hold no more than two or three guys at a time. A hostess appeared out of nowhere, even manage to appear quickly enough that my vampire speed was taken off guard. That's when I noticed the smell.

This was not a human cafe. In fact, there wasn't a single human in the building. And in a cafe full of vampires, a single human would have had a very distinctive scent. But not one was there. Now, this was new.

Realization dawned on me, we wouldn't have to pretend here. I didn't understand the pastries and desserts, but I'm sure they were props. Unless this was a cafe that only ancients knew about. That was an exciting prospect. I smiled widely at the woman before us, immediately perking up and not worrying so much about this "surprise" James had in store. She was tall, taller than myself by a good six inches, with flowing blond hair and bright blue eyes. She reminded me of Rosalie in her ethereal beauty with her blond hair and plump pink lips, though her face was more gentle and passive. She beamed back at me and grabbed two menus, leading us back to the table closest to the stage. I immediately wondered if this would be okay with James, he usually preferred something more private so we could talk. Talking here would be more difficult, especially once the band got started. Instead of requesting another table, however, James just smiled at the woman and pulled my seat out for me. He kissed the top of my head and seated himself across from me, opening up his menu and scanning it slowly. I imitated him and leaned back casually in my chair, looking over the menu.

I settled on a dry red wine and a croissant. James ordered the same.

When the waitress left, James leaned on the table and stared at me, his expression toning down from the mild amusement he'd had all day to a serious one. I mimicked his posture and perked my eyebrow in question.

"You know it's been six months." His voice was like velvet, but somehow it felt like a chilled breath on wet skin. My entire body shivered.

"Yes, yes it has been."

"And how do you feel about that?" Now I understood why he was so serious. He wanted to know if I was happy. What a silly question, I thought. I reached across the table and took his hand, dropping my eyes to our entwined fingers and letting out a soft sigh. Saying I was happy wouldn't be enough, not for this. James was thinking about Edward, about my father and mother, about my old life. He was wondering if he could compare.

"James," my voice was soft when I finally spoke, I lifted my eyes to meet his somber green ones, "I can say without hesitation that I would rather be here with you for these past six months than be anywhere else." I watched as his eyes lit up and that partial grin appeared again. He was a patient man, so him asking such a question was a very heavy matter. He hadn't pushed me at all, not once, and he wasn't doing so even with that question. But he was opening it up if I felt all right with answering it. If I hadn't, I could have said I felt fine. That was the beauty of James.

He released my hand and stood up, his grin spreading like wild fire. "Bella, I have a surprise for you."

"Isn't this cafe the surprise?" Now he had my attention in a completely different way. What else could he surprise me with? He walked to my side, kissed my cheek and turned towards the stage. One smooth step onto it and the lights dimmed dramatically. Someone handed him his guitar, the one that had been sitting at the house when we left, and a stool appeared on the stage. He seated himself on it gently, adjusting his body so he could position the acoustic guitar in his lap. The soft buzzing of chatter between vampires died down and all attention was diverted to him. I twisted in my chair, eyes wide, and waited for something to happen. He had no microphone, but then again we were all vampires. A microphone in such a small, quiet place would have hurt our ears.

" Love of mine some day you will die

But I'll be close behind

I'll follow you into the dark "

His voice was soft, heavy and deep as he sang. He strummed the guitar lightly in time with the melody of the words.

The lyrics of the song swam around in my head, only sinking in a few seconds after they entered my ears. I was so overwhelmed with the lulling melody of his voice. This was so similar and yet so different from the CD he had made.

He continued his strumming, his eyes lifting from his moving hands and finally meeting mine. I held back a gasp, the blinding emotion in his eyes threatening to take my breath away.  Even though I couldn't physically tear up, I felt my throat tightening and my lip almost quiver.

"If there's no one beside you

When your soul embarks

Then I'll follow you into the dark

Then I'll follow you into the dark"

The applause was gentle, but every single vampire in the building was clapping. I stood up slowly from my chair, fighting the urge to fling myself into his arms, as I smirked and took the step up onto the stage. I watched him set down his guitar and stand up, two feet away. I chuckled under my breath and gave in, flinging myself towards him as he wrapped his arms around me and buried his nose in my hair.

 

The End

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