"Bella! Wake up! You need to wake up."
"How long has she been out?"
"A few minutes."
"She knows that we are here. She is going to open her eyes in a few seconds."
"Good. Poor girl has been through so much."
"Should we even tell her? I don’t want to put her into shock. Alice, do you see anything?"
"She is going to be fine and she will take the news okay."
All of this, I heard so faintly, almost as if the words were part of a dream. I felt like I was floating, weightless. I was warm and comfortable; I didn’t want to wake up. But I felt my eyelids flutter slightly. I squeezed them back shut tight. I wanted to check out what was going on around me before I woke up. I know that I was on the bed in Alice’s room. I heard Alice, Edward, Esme, and Carlisle. When they got there, I did not know. I could feel Edward at my side; so I turned slightly on my side and let my eyes flutter open.
"Hi," I whispered.
"Hi. Is that all you can say?" Edward said with a smile. "You had us all worried."
"Sorry about that. I am okay, you know. And you can tell me anything."
"You’ve been through so much, Bella, and I don’t want to do anything to hurt you." He ran his hand through his hair and exhaled.
"Edward, it’s okay. I will be okay."
"I told you that she was going to be okay, didn’t I?" Alice asked. She had a smirk on her face. "I still do know my best friend."
"Esme and I will leave you alone to talk to her. If you need anything, just let me know," Carlisle said as they were walking out the door.
"Edward, do you want me to stay with you?" Alice asked. I could tell that she really wanted to stay and I think Edward knew too.
"You can stay, Alice." Alice sat on the bed and clapped her hands.
"Okay," I said. "Now please tell me whatever it is that you want to tell me."
Edward and Alice looked at each other, and then Edward turned to face me. "I don’t know if I am going to be able to get this out right and I don’t want to scare you at all. But I’m sure that you’ve noticed that we… well my family and I… that we aren’t normal. Right?"
"Um… yes. I have noticed that you are paler than most people and that you are always cold. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t normal."
Edward gave me my favorite smile and said, "Well, that is a clue as to why we aren’t normal, Bella. We also don’t sleep. Ever. And we don’t eat. Well, not food anyway."
"What do you mean that you don’t sleep or eat? Everyone eats and sleeps. You have to do both of those things to be alive." I gasped at the idea that popped into my head. No, that isn’t even a possibility. Not the Cold Ones. They couldn’t be.
"What are you thinking Bella?" I didn’t say anything. "What did you think about?" Again, I couldn’t say it out loud. "Bella, say it. What is it that you figured out?"
I looked at Edward, then over to Alice. They both sat there, still as statues, looking back at me waiting for my answer. "A vampire," I practically sighed out the word.
"Yes, that is what our kind is called," Alice said.
"Are you afraid of us?" Edward asked.
"No," I said. I knew that was a fact and one that I know I would never doubt. "No, I am not afraid of you. You are still the same as you’ve always been to me."
"Bella, you will continue to amaze me. How can you not be afraid of being in a house full of monsters?" Edward asked. He looked sad that I wasn’t afraid of him.
"I can’t think of you as monsters. You’ve all done so much for me. And Alice, you’ve been like a sister to me for a long time. Your family has helped me much more than anyone could have. I couldn’t possibly think of you as monsters."
"Do you have any questions Bella? Surely, you must have some," Alice said.
"You said that you don’t sleep. What do you do at night?"
"We hunt," Edward said.
"What do you hunt? I can’t see any of you hurting humans," I said.
"No, we hunt animals," Alice said.
"You can survive on animals?"
"We can. We are actually one of the few who do. We actually consider ourselves vegetarians," Alice said with a smile.
"Garlic? Wooden stakes? Sunlight?"
"Fake. Fake. And well… sunlight is a little harder to explain," Edward said.
"Harder to explain how?"
"I will have to show you sometime," He said.
"Okay, I have another question. What happened with you and Jake in my room?"
"Ah. Now that is another one that is a little harder to explain. Did your friend Jake tell you anything about that?" Edward asked.
"No, not really. I just know about the legends that they have. The legend of the Cold Ones, is this what that is about?"
"We are the "Cold Ones" that the story is about," Alice said. Well that much I figured out but what I didn’t get is why they didn’t like Jake.
"Right. I figured that out." Wait, did she mean the actual ones from the story? The exact same ones? "You mean that you are the same kind, right?"
"No, Bella, we are the ones the story was written about," Edward said. "We made a treaty with Jake’s elders that we would never hunt or harm anyone on their land. And we have never done so and never will."
"So you see, Bella, when we saw Jake in your room, it was a huge misunderstanding. I think we were both trying to protect you," Alice said.
Oh man was this a lot to take in. I don’t even know if I am getting everything that I should be. Another thought… what about Edward and I. What was going to happen there? He did kiss me. Now what am I going to do? Is he going to try and take that back from me?
"Alice, can I talk to Edward alone for a moment?"
"Of course," she stood up. "Call me if you need anything, okay?" With that she left the room and left Edward and I alone. I looked down at my hands and noticed that they weren’t shaking. Strange, given the conversation I just had and finding out that my friends were vampires, you’d think I would have been shaking.
"Um… I don’t know how to say this, but I wanted to ask you… what about us? What is going to happen to us? Now that you and I are sort of just starting things with each other, what happens to that?"
"Bella. That is hard. I never really wanted to hurt you and I think that if we stay together, I can only end up hurting you. You have to realize that. I will not grow old. I will not die. And there are too many ways that I could hurt you. Even if I don’t want to, I can, and I can do it so easily."
"What? You are going to end this before we even get started?" This can’t be happening. All I have ever wanted was right in front of me and he was saying that now that I know he is a vampire, he didn’t want me.
"Bella, you have to try to understand this. If we stay together, you are going to get hurt. I don’t want this to hurt you."
"If you go, I will be hurt. I don’t want to lose you. Please tell me that you aren’t going to leave me," I pleaded.
"I don’t know if I can promise you that Bella. How about we just take things slow and see what happens, okay?"
"If that is the best I can get, then I will agree. Just please talk to me before you do anything."
He sighed, "Okay." He came to sit on the bed next to me and I curled up into a ball against him. "Bella, if anyone was going to kill me, it would have to be you."
"What does that mean?"
"You see… for as long as you have not said that you liked me, I have sat on the other end thinking the same thing. I never thought that I would be able to be open with you. And here I sit, open and vulnerable. You could so easily make things horrible for my family. And I can trust you. I know that I can."
"Of course you can. But can you answer me one question that is bugging me?"
"What did you want to know?" He asked.
"With Jake. Why did you and Alice go after him like you did?"
"We are natural enemies, his people and ours. Surely you have figured that out by now."
"I didn’t know for sure, but that explains a lot. How is that going to affect us? I am still friends with him."
"We will have to work around that little snag."
From then we just sat and held onto each other. I didn’t want to let go of him but I was still a little in awe of him being a vampire. Is that why there was such a strong pull for him? Wasn’t there always an appeal for us humans to love vampires? What was it like for him to be around me though? Wasn’t the pull for my blood hard to handle? How did they handle being around humans like they were?
A knock on the door pulled me out of my daydreaming. "Guys, sorry to interrupt but we have a little problem to deal with out front," Alice said poking her head in the room.
Edward looked down at me and frowned. I had no idea what was going on but I was going to find out. We all went down as Alice filled us in on what was happening. "The only thing that I can figure out is that someone from Jacob’s tribe is coming since I can’t see anything. I was sitting with Jasper when all of a sudden nothing was happening with us. I didn’t see anything. So Emmett went out for a run and he said that we are going to be having a visitor. That is when I went to get you two. Bella, you may be able to help us with this."
"Me? How am I going to help you out?"
"The visitor that is going to be here soon is your friend Jacob."
That stopped me short. What was he going to do? Maybe he wanted to make sure that I knew whom I was with. Maybe he…? Oh I don’t know what he was thinking. If this was going to start a fight, I was going to kick his butt.
A short time later, I heard a car pull up and someone walk to the door and knock. Alice went to answer the door and she let Jacob in. And Ashni was right behind him, holding onto his hand. She had to have known about what the Cullen’s were so the look on her face didn’t shock me. She looked somewhere between scared and seriously ticked off.
Wanting to make light of the situation, I felt the need to step up and break the ice. "Hey guys, what are you up to?"
Jacob looked over to me and smiled, which didn’t make Ashni look any happier. "We came to see how you were doing. I hope that we didn’t intrude." But he really did look like he was intruding.
"Oh no. No intrusion," said Edward. "Bella and I were just discussing a few things. But I’m sure you would have figured that out, since you gave her the nod to do so."
"Oh I see. So Bella, did you finally open your eyes?"
"Yes, Jake I see. And I am completely fine with everything. I suppose that you were hoping for another reaction though," I said.
Jacob looked at Ashni. She said, "I knew it was going to be like this. She is clearly in love with him, Jake. You aren’t going to take her from him."
"What? You wanted to take me where exactly?"
"I just wanted to get you away for your own good. You are not safe here with them," he said. "Even you have to realize that."
"And I suppose you think I am going to stay safe with you in La Push? You could do just the same amount of damage," I replied curtly.
"Bella. I don’t think you understand this right. I am here to protect everyone from these monsters…"
"Jacob Black! That was uncalled for. They haven’t insulted you at all, and least of all, not in your home," I shouted. This is not the friend that I knew growing up.
"Fine, what would you call them?"
"They are my friends and my new family. They have taken care of everything I could think of to need. That is what I call them. My family and I would like it if you wouldn’t insult my family." I think somewhere off in another room I heard something that sounded like "Go Bella." But I couldn’t be sure.
"Is that it? Is that how you feel? And me? What have you told them about me?" he asked clearly testing my loyalties.
"I didn’t tell them anything that they didn’t already know."
"So. They know about me. Great! Then why did they let me in?"
Edward and Alice stood right beside me and acted like nothing was going on. "They are courteous and will do anything to make me happy. Yes, I’ve noticed that much Alice."
She smiled at me and my heart warmed.
"I see. So what does this mean for our friendship Bella?"
"Jake. Ashni. I still consider you both friends and I will be there for you anytime that you need me. But I do expect that you can respect my family here. I know that they will be doing the same with you."
Ashni was still hanging onto Jake’s hand but she nodded. Jake looked like he swallowed something that didn’t taste good but nodded as well. He said, "I don’t have to like it, but I won’t say anything about it unless I have to. Ashni, care to leave?"
She shook her head. I put my hand out to stop Jake. "Please don’t think that I am choosing here. I still care for you very much. You will always be a brother to me. And please say hi to Billy for me."
"I will. But I won’t let me guard down when it comes to them. I hope you realize that Bella. I can’t, it’s my duty."
With that he turned and guided Ashni out the door to his car. I looked back as I shut the door and Edward was with Alice and it seemed like they were having their own conversation. Maybe Alice could see again or maybe Edward was reading her thoughts. It looked like from the look on their faces, they knew more about what happened than I did. I would find out soon.