Chapter Thirty OneMature

BPOV

The vampire cafe quickly became one of my favorite places ever. James and I spent the rest of the night singing along with karaoke and mingling. I think he'd kept this little place secret from me simply so it would make his little show special.

Well, it was.

Everyone ended up rushing into the bathroom to put on sunblock just before dawn so we could all appear to be early coffee-shop goers once the humans got to milling about outside. James and I didn't leave the cafe until mid-afternoon the day after his show.

Throughout the entire night I couldn't help but flash back to the short conversation I'd had with James before his song. I hadn't lied, that was certain, but I hadn't quite understood the magnitude of what I was saying when I spoke. I knew I was happy, with him, and I knew that the idea of going out and dealing with anything else was just ... not appealing. Sometime in the night, I realized that my assurance of not wanting to be anywhere else included being somewhere with Edward. I felt a soft pang of loss whenever I thought about him, but it wasn't anything like the inflamed hole in my chest I'd used to feel. While Edward would always be part of something important in my life he no longer held me together, he no longer had that kind of power over me. I enjoyed the rest of the evening exponentially more after that. The whole party was to, in a way, celebrate my happiness. James didn't have to tell me that. He'd put this all together as a way of celebrating my new life without making me feel like everyone there had to know me or pay attention to me. I was not the center of attention for everyone else, although I certainly was with James. The knowledge that the people, or rather, vampires, were all there to support my change and my place, my role with James, was exhilarating. I was welcomed into this life by people I enjoyed being around without any pretending.

When you whittled it all down, the entire purpose of the party was to celebrate my having James in my life.

He, and he alone, was the sole and unequivocal source of my happiness.

Things kind of fell into place a little after that. I noticed more, the little things especially. The quiet way he'd listen to everything I said, the mellow smiles and slow kisses. He always took his time with me, never rushing to get in a kiss or a sentence. When he wanted to kiss me he dropped everything, even going so far as to interrupt a conversation he was having with someone else to press his mouth to mine. Everything seemed kind of obvious then. Not only was James in love with me, but I was beginning to think I was in love with him, too.

With all of my sudden noticing, my sketches became less and less diverse. Eventually, James was in every drawing and I couldn't even mask that he was the focus anymore. Occasionally, I would leave my sketchbook open and unattended to see if he would peak.

Not once. It had been nearly a dozen times that I left my precious book alone and not once did he pick it up to catch a glimpse. I frustrated myself by realizing I was getting upset that my boyfriend didn't go leafing through my personal things. Eventually I stopped intentionally leaving it alone. I'd realized how immature it was, and that he probably saw through it. I was playing stupid games and I didn't want to be that girl.

When I felt like I'd obsessed enough, I'd force myself to think about something else. The few things important enough to actually distract me were not things I wanted to think aout. Things like Charlie and Renee. Things like moving on from one relationship and diving head first into another. Things like wondering if relationship hopping was healthy.

Sometimes things like Edward.

I'd had many conversations with James about Edward. If you can call them conversations. The easiest way to share my thoughts and feelings and memories with him was to have a session of practice with my powers. I would focus entirely on James, I would narrow down every one of my senses so that nothing existed except him. Then I would narrow down even more, I would focus on his ability to read minds and I would imagine that power as a thin string that connected him to me. I would then focus on my own gifts, imagining that the string was halted halfway towards me by a door.

I would open door and James could see everything.

Edward and I laying in bed and talking for most of the night about everything.

The first time I saw Edward from across the lunch room.

The strange way Rosalie always hated me.

The way Alice bounced around me in excitement whenever the word "shopping" was mentioned.

The way Edward would smile down at me whenever he was next to me.

James never showed a single sign of being bothered by these memories. Not by the strange electricity that my body remembered only from kissing Edward. Not by the desperation that seemed to hang heavily in every memory of him. He never once got upset with me when I would dry sob for hours after we would do this.

I had tried to start at the beginning. Gradually we progressed. I usually couldn't go more than five memories in before I'd start my choking and whimpering or becoming absolutely furious. It was a slow progression.

Eventually the memories became a little more tainted. He saw the change in Edward after I was attacked. He saw the way I tried to give Edward space in hopes of him coming around. He saw our conversation in the woods. He saw my breakdown. He saw Jacob at my birthday party. He saw the way my dad tried to understand why I was so broken. He saw the way I lost my will to do anything.

He saw Victoria, he saw himself. He could feel the strange way my heart lifted when I'd seen him. James could see and hear and feel and taste everything I remembered, even if my memories were fuzzy human ones. Maybe I was unusual in my ability to remember my human memories, but I could remember everything. Every single day of my life was there for immediate recollection, though it was a little fuzzy, but how many people can remember being born?

I could, but only once James showed me how to travel along the memory path in my head. I was slowly mastering my gifts. I would usually practice with fire by myself when the memories only infuriated me. I didn't want to miss and hurt James, even though he insisted that he wasn't worried.

James always seemed to know what I needed to try in order to control my gifts. He had that knack. I still didn't quite get how that worked but he always seemed reluctant to talk about it, so I always let it go.

Days passed, some in quick bursts and others in endless lulls. James and I spent mroe time in the little cafe and as a result, I began to form friendships with the people there. One in particular was quickly becoming someone I adored. Jocelyn was a redhead with large hazel eyes and pouty lips. She had no freckles, which I heard was odd for redheads. She and I had grown closer over the past few weeks and she visited James and I at the house a few times a week. She was a photographer and she said she could not get enough of James. Photographing him had become an obsession with her. If I didn't truly know her intentions were pure, I'd have been a little irked. Not jealous, though, simply because even jealousy couldn't blind me to how thoroughly oblivious James was to Jocelyn entirely. Jocelyn would somehow talk both of us into putting on the outfits she picked out and letting her put us in strange set-ups for her photographs. I'd like to say I did it because it would 'help' her as a photographer, but Jocelyn had been into photography since the mid 1830's when cameras were created. It had to be her persuasive skills, which were much like Alice's if I were honest.

Every day I thought about Edward, usually it was a passing thought - something that took just long enough to tug at my heart strings before vanishing. But every day I would watch the sun come up next to James and every day he would smile at me in his way and every day he made me feel important and necessary and precious and interesting. Every day James became more real than Edward. Every day, my heart strings were pulled less and less firmly.

While it could seem very much like James and I got along perfectly and our relationship was flawless, it was really nothing like that. My 'blissful' relationship with Edward did nothing to prepare me for the relationship I had with James. We fought all the time.

And I do mean all the time.

James was as stubborn as I was and even with his ability to read my mind things weren't easier. Why? Usually I would get so damn frustrated with the situation that I wouldn't even let him read my thoughts. Just because I'm stubborn too.

I hated the way he seemed to refuse to give me any opinion on something he thought was 'my choice.' He told me once, and only once, that it was because he had no desire to dictate my life. I thought I'd heard him mention Edward but I couldn't really tell because I'd been so furious that my ears were buzzing. I'm pretty sure he did, though, and that was the reason he never mentioned it again. James bit his tongue a lot and I didn't have to be a psychic to tell. That also pissed me off.

Some days I'd become irritated that he didn't try to seduce me but I'd never really tell him about it. My inability to articulate how I felt about sex not only held me back from talking to him, but it held me back from just making a move myself. Even on my confident days, no matter how many times I 'decided' to go for it I always chickened out with some lame excuse or another.

We fought about really stupid things the most, though. Things that made no sense and I had no reason to be upset over except that I was being irrationally moody that day. But James always stuck around. He never left the house after that first fight we had. He seemed to understand that it didn't help any to leave. He also seemed to understand when "I don't want to talk about it" meant what it said or meant "try asking nicer and with chocolate."

When everything was said and done, James and I always watched the sunrise together and we never did it angry. I'd had the belief in my human life that going to bed angry was unhealthy and, though vampires don't sleep, it had transferred into this life. Rather than sleeping, James and I would watch the sunrise as a way of quiet bonding. We never spoke, we just sat on the beach and held each other until our skin was glittering wildly. It was moments like that that held my world together.

The End

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