Chapter Thirty SixMature

JPOV

There was a sick, miserable twisting in my stomach. I was trying not to be nosy, I truly was; I only checked on her every few days. Just to make sure she was all right, just to make sure she wasn't desperately in need of someone to come save her. Just in case she was crying to herself at night because she was too stubborn to come home. I had the best of intentions, I wasn't trying to pry.

But none of that mattered.

I knew she was kissing him. Less than a second of my attention and I knew what she was doing and I wished more than anything I could take it back. I wished I could go back five seconds in time and simply avoid thinking about her for the night.

I didn't want to think about what was happening now.

I had seen him a hundred times in her memories, I'd felt the strain in her determination whenever she thought about him. He was always a part of her, always would be, and I knew without a doubt how she was feeling now. I knew everything up until my nosy intrusion. I knew she struggled being around him, even if she wasn't quite aware of it herself. I knew she couldn't get me off her mind but I knew that the sight of his familiar bronze hair and his rigid features and his crooked smile were starting to overwhelm her.

I knew she was trying, but I knew I was not the same as he was. Something in her called out for him, something in her needed something he gave. There was something embedded into who she was that craved him, something I could never even try to touch. I'd seen it from the beginning, a shadowy section of her existence that, no matter how I approached it, I couldn't fill that space.

I focused on the emptiness that seemed to be absorbing itself into my body and pushing out everything else. I was being drained by air itself, filled up with nothing but space and sorrow. My throat was tight and swollen and everything I could think was somehow related to Bella. There was nothing I could do.

I would mourn my inability to be what she needed for the rest of my life; and that was a torturous promise looming ahead.

I tried to convince myself to get up, to leave this spot of sand and get on with my night. I had plans with friends; they would wonder where I was. The logical part of me begged to move, begged to get on with my life and continue existing. But the sad fact of the situation was that I simply had no desire to exist; everything I had grown accustomed to, everything I wanted, was lounging on a shore thousands of miles away from me with someone I couldn't compete with.

It didn't matter that I was never overbearing, that I never made her decisions in an attempt to let her be her own woman. It didn't matter that I never used her, that I never intentionally hurt her. It didn't matter that I never let her suffer through her pain alone, that I provided for her and sheltered her and loved her.

He had that crooked smile, those butterscotch eyes. He reminded her of the first time she loved someone, of the first time hungry lips every met her mouth. He reminded her of her youth, her humanity; and even if she didn't realize it, I would never do that. Because I came after, because I took it all away, because my adoration for her couldn't hold her together.

Because even if she wanted me more than she wanted him, there was a part of her that was made for him. She was his singer and always would be. I wanted to be her last, but he was her first. The first always wins out in the end.

I remained still, half-buried in the sand with the mellow roaring of the ocean waves a few dozen feet away. I kept my eyes closed, opening them only made it harder to think clearly. I was taken over by thoughts of Bella; I could practically feel her with me. Occasionally, the memory of a vampire can be a curse.

I felt rather than heard footsteps approaching me. "James, man, what are you doing?" Daniel sounded aggravated.

I didn't respond.

"James, hey," he nudged my arm with his foot. I kept my eyes closed. "Man, get up. Where have you been? I've been calling you."

I shrugged, the movement weighed down by the layers of sand that had begun to cover me.

"Seriously, James, where have you been? We've all been worried."
"I've been right here."
"The whole time? James, don't be ridiculous. Where were you the other night? We had plans, we waited for you."
"It hasn't been that long, Daniel; yes, I've been here the whole time."
"You've been here since the night we had plans?"
"Why do you keep referring to it that way?"
"Because it was eight days ago, James."

Oh.

I sat at the bar, my shoulders hunched down around me, and waited. I lifted the glass of scotch to my lips and took a large swig. There was a faint aromatic quality to scotch that I liked. I could tell how old it was with one swig. I liked the effervescence of the flavors. The bartender walked over to me and eyed me uncomfortably. "Another?" I tossed the final mouthful to the back of my throat and slammed the glass on the counter-top. He refilled it and walked away. Daniel came up behind me and slapped my shoulder firmly, sliding onto the stool beside mine.
"You should sit with us, James. We've got a few girls over there; everyone's having a good time. Why don't you join us?" My eyes flicked to him from over the lip of my drink. I swallowed it down and pushed the glass toward the bartender. I shook my head at Daniel, averting my gaze.
"Not tonight, Daniel. I am not good company."
"They aren't looking for good company."

I met Daniel's eyes solemnly for a moment; the conversation happening between us was not for human ears. He never flinched beneath my scrutiny, so I rose and took my refilled glass with me as we walked back to his table. I slid into the booth and sat silently, my attention not even on the conversation happening around me.

The waitress appeared over us once more and I wondered how frequently she could possibly return to our table and I wished she would double it. I'd had to get up and order my drinks at the bar more than half of the time, what was the point of having a waitress if you did it all yourself? I scowled up at her from beneath my eyebrows. She returned my look, unafraid, and greeted the others at the table.

"How is everyone doing?"
She received a chorus of jovial cheers. I pushed my empty glass toward her hand. She lifted it and set it on her tray.
"Sir, are you sure you want another one?"
I rolled my shoulders. It hardly mattered, but it kept me busy. "You're right; make it a Bacardi 151, would you?" Her eyebrows lifted.

"But, sir, that's not what I meant."

"Then what did you mean?"

"Are you sure you want another? I've already fetched you fifteen." So that was how many I'd gotten to wait for instead of retrieve myself. That made over thirty drinks that I'd had while at the table. That didn't include the ten or so I'd had before Daniel dragged me over here.
"If you don't want to fetch another one, I can get it myself." How tiresome this girl was.

"I just meant – "

"No, that's fine." I stood and snatched my glass from her tray. Turning, I walked up to the bar and ordered my drink. The bartender eyed me again but I just waited. I crossed my arms over my chest. When he returned the glass, I stopped him with a lift of my hand. "Perhaps I should just take the bottle."

He frowned at me but set the bottle down next to my glass. I took both and returned to the table. I saw the waitress approach the bartender after I sat down.

Human minds were so infantile.

I returned to drinking.

"So are you rough?"

… Excuse me? "Excuse me?"

"Are you rough?" She said it again, I watched her stoplight red lips move around the syllables. I blinked at her. "Oh, my! Are you – are you not..?" Her eyes darted to Daniel and then back at me. "You're not, you know?" She tilted her head at him twice.

Oh.

"Well, no, I am."

"Oh, sheesh. Good, I was embarrassed at first!"

This conversation was making no sense to me. What had I just confirmed?

She set her hand on my thigh and scooted closer. She smiled playfully at me; she looked positively delighted about something. "Are you going to answer my question?"

"What question?"

"Are you rough?"

I frowned at her, my eyes narrowing slightly as I debated my answer. If she was looking for some erotic encounter, I was not the one she was looking for.

"I'm not here for that," I grumbled. I poured myself what was left in the bottle and took a swig. My head felt hot.

"Oh, but I think you are." I moved my eyes to look at her. I opened my mouth to argue but something in her eyes halted the words behind my tonsils.

"I probably wouldn't be a gentle escapade."

"I have someone I think you should meet."

We were alone out behind the bar. The dumpster was five feet to my right.

The girl standing in front of me was tiny, her small frame barely filling her size one jeans. She had electric blue eyes and slick blond hair; she stood comfortably in her stiletto heels and skin-tight jeans. She met my eyes and the brick wall behind her faded away. She wasn't human.

But she wasn't vampire, either. She smirked at me, "I'm Kadey."

And there it was, I knew everything there was to know about this woman. She was the Canaanite goddess incarnate, the goddess of love and sexuality; and she was standing in front of me looking at me with 'fu*k me' eyes.

Venom pooled in my mouth. I choked it down. "James." I stuffed my hands into my pockets. Kadey stepped forward a few feet, I watched the smooth sway of her hips; strands of her hair lifted in the breeze and she came closer.

"I don't care who you are, it's irrelevant."

My hand shot out from my pockets; I curled my fingers tightly around the back of her neck and yanked her up against me. She let out a surprised yelp but didn't fight me. With my left hand, I clamped down on her hip and held her firmly in place. I leaned down and took a long inhale of her skin, the warm blood rushing in her veins smelled like the first whiffs of cooking meat. Venom pooled again. Her small hands pressed against my chest and shoved me back three steps. I released her, startled, and glared down at her.

She lifted her hand and slapped me, hard, on the cheek. I growled low in my throat and took a menacing step towards her. She lifted her hand to slap me again and I grabbed her by the wrist; twisting, I forced her to face away from me and locked my fingers around her other wrist. I pressed her hard against the brick wall, her left arm lifted above her head and her right arm bent back against her spine.

"Don't be so rude, Kadey. Have some respect."

"Prove I should."

I sank my teeth into the back of her neck and she let out a soft cry of pleasure. I released her right arm and used my free hand to twine in her hair and tug roughly. I ran my tongue along her skin, tasting the blood that was seeping from the wound. Tugging her hair wasn't enough; I moved her left wrist until I could hold it in my right hand with her hair and dropped my hand down to her waist again. I looped my fingers beneath the band of her jeans; she writhed against the weight of my body, I jerked at her pants quickly. The jeans gave with a loud tearing sound and I let them fall to the ground. Kadey attempted to turn her face to mine, kissing at my neck and chin, but I pulled my head back and tugged on her hair. She moaned against the bricks. My eyes grazed her body slowly, every smooth line and curve, and my whole body responded to her. I moved the palm of my left hand over her body harshly, feeling her skin twist and pinch beneath my touch. There was a soft humming in my ear, a voice speaking words I couldn't understand.

I grabbed her hips and spun her around to face me, slamming her back against the scratchy wall. My hands slid beneath her ass and I lifted her off her feet; she responded immediately, wrapping her legs tightly around my waist andI moved one of my hands quickly to force her chin towards the sky and shut her up.

I bit down savagely on her collarbone and I wasn't sure if her cry was of ecstasy or pain. I took it to be the former as her hips bucked frantically. I drank heavily, filling my mouth and gulping it down as if I were famished. Each swallow gave me a surge of power that rolled and coiled around in my veins; I felt more and more barbaric the longer I drank. When I'd had my fill, I released her in a single, willful movement and stepped away. She landed forcefully on her tailbone and shrieked; leaping up onto her feet to rub the sore bone. She glowered at me in the dim light of the streetlamps.

I was tempted to spit out a nasty 'thanks' but bit my tongue; she would be more insulted if I didn't acknowledge I'd received anything from it. I looked at her blankly for a long moment, letting her get angrier, before turning on my heel and leaving. I stuffed my hands back into my pockets and strolled to my bike. I never turned around.

I climbed on my bike and checked my watch. It was only ten-thirty. I'd come outside around ten, so I'd only spent half an hour with Kadey. I cracked my neck once before I kicked-started the bike. It would be twelve-thirty in Greece. I imagined the warm sunlight bathing Bella in a yellow glow on a small beach somewhere in Greece as I sped down the road, weaving in and out of cars. My idle imaginings stopped suddenly when I focused too much on wondering what she was doing. The image was sharp, crystal clear as if I were standing on the deck of the yacht with them. Bella sat on a lounge chair, her fingers idly toying with the thick bronze locks of hair attached to the head of the man with his face in her lap. I could feel my chest tightening. She glowed faintly, less noticeable than the bright light of the midday sun, but I knew it well. She'd just fed. My eyes scanned the image carefully and I choked on a yelp of protest that threatened to escape my lips when I saw two dainty, healing teeth marks on his throat. He was twitching in her lap. A string of curses fell from my mouth as I shook my head in an attempt to clear the vision.

I opened my eyes just in time to realize that it was not road that was beneath my bike; in fact the only thing that was beneath my bike was open air and cliff-side rocks scattered nearly a hundred feet below. I scrambled instantly, my feet pushing the bike farther down as I propelled myself backwards; I curled my spine precipitously, narrowly missing the edge of the cliff with my face. My knees landed unpleasantly and I rolled myself away from the edge. I pulled myself up and sat, staring out at the ocean in front of me. I heard the crunch of metal hitting the sharp rocks below.

I couldn't get the image of Edward's head in Bella's lap out of my mind. I struggled to understand what was going on. A flash of Kadey's rumpled, used body falling to the ground overwhelmed my brain. Bella and I had gotten hungry at the same time.

Or Bella had gotten hungry and I had just been a victim of her thirst.

A pang of jealous understanding hit me. The memory of how I had acted was beginning to haunt me. I could taste Kadey's flesh; I still had her blood in my mouth. Edward's head in her lap seemed a small thing, now. Compared to my actions, she had been a saint, and here I was almost mentally persecuting her for it.

I growled in frustration and slammed my fist into the ground. I was not prepared to deal with this; I did not want to have to compete with an ex-boyfriend. I just wanted Bella to come home.

 

The End

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