Disclaimer: I own nothing related to the Twilight Saga. These are Stephenie Meyer's characters, and no copyright infringement is intended, now, or at any time in the future, near or far.
Chapter 5: The Hurtful Truth
I could not remember coming back into the bedroom. I supposed Edward had laid me on the bed, but my mind could not recall the details. I frowned, shivering. There was something else...something that was making my skin crawl. The image was floating in front of my eyes, and refused to go away. His eyes. His face. They were the eyes and face of a ruthless killer. As he turned to me in the kitchen, he suddenly became a demon. The change was so sudden. One second, he had been laughing, casually dismissing his hangover. The next second, as he faced me, I was confronted by a totally different, totally terrifying person.
I could not forget that face. I do remember screaming, and then, I guess I must have fainted, because his features were abruptly swallowed in darkness.
Now I was awake, back on the bed. He had carried me in here... I shuddered, thankful that he had not seized the opportunity to kill me. The fact that he hadn't did puzzle me, nevertheless. Then I mentally shrugged. Who cared, anyway? My life would soon be over, regardless. What did it matter if this Edward were the one to end it?
I tried to sit up, without success. It was as if I were paralyzed, although I knew such a notion was absurd. I shivered again. I slowly realized that I didn't want to die. Not just yet. And certainly not at the hands of a demented killer. I took a rather shaky breath. Was this the real reason he had 'rescued' me from the dark recesses of that crack-infested neighborhood I had been so carelessly walking through? Of course, this meant that I had to get away. The problem was just how I would accomplish that. At that point, I heard a slight noise, and I glanced at the door. It was slowly opening. I felt like screaming, but my throat was tightly closed. I couldn't have produced a scream even if he had rushed into the room to strangle me, right then and there.
How strange that even demon killers can have such angelic voices, I thought. I dragged in another shaky breath.
The door opened completely, and he walked in, hesitantly, his eyes on me. I was surprised to see that they were full of anxious concern. He didn't look frightening anymore, either. His face appeared to be perfectly normal, and his body language was not threatening at all. I was very sure that I hadn't imagined what I'd seen before.
"Bella?" His voice was as hesitant as his slow entrance into the room. I couldn't take my eyes from his. I was surprised again by their worried expression.
Mr. Hyde had completely vanished, and Dr. Jekyll was back.
"Are you...all right?' His voice shook a little.
I nodded. He breathed a sigh of relief, which puzzled me even more. He had, after all, scared the living daylights out of me.
"May I sit next to you?" He had stopped about a foot away from the bed, still staring at me anxiously. My eyes widened in more surprise at his question, but I nodded again, so he stepped over to the opposite side of the bed, and sat down right next to my left side. I couldn't help flinching slightly, though. I glanced away, toward a nearby wall.
"Look at me, Bella," he whispered, but his voice had an air of authority in it. Reluctantly, I obeyed. It seemed as if I really had no will of my own. Well, I had not put much stock in my own life since I had left the juvenile detention hall. I had been feeling detached from anything and anyone whom I might encounter. Still, the fact that I seemed to have no control over my own actions annoyed me, at least a little.
"I need to tell you something, and I hope that you will believe me. Will you listen to me?"
I finally found my voice, although it came out hoarse, as if I hadn't used it for a very long time. "Yes, I will."
"Good," he said, relieved. Then he looked more deeply into my eyes; I found that I could not look away. "I will release you now, but only if you promise not to try to run away from me."
I frowned. "Release me?" I asked him, in a puzzled tone.
"Just say 'yes'", he urged, "and I will explain...well, I'll try to, anyhow."
"All right," I answered, calmly, although my heart had started pounding furiously. He continued to stare at me for a second, and then he blinked. After that, he closed his eyes briefly, opening them again almost immediately. Then he took my left hand, tugging me into a sitting position. I flinched at his cold touch, but said nothing about it.
Amazingly, I found that I could now move, and sat up. As soon as I became aware of this, I tried to jump off the bed. But he grabbed my arms and tugged me down at once. I was imprisoned by icy manacles.
"You promised, Bella," he warned, and it came out as a hiss betwen his teeth. The hairs on the back of my neck rose, and I looked at him over my shoulder, my alarm rising.
"What are you?" I whispered, terrified, as I struggled with all of my puny strength to get free. It was useless, of course. He was far stronger than me.
"Bella, please! I don't want to hurt you!"
"But you are!" His hands were like steel claws now. I couldn't shake them off. "Please let me go!" I started to thrash around, my fear rising by the second.
"Bella...stop! Look at me." His voice had that ring of authority in it again. And again I had to obey. I looked at him. His eyes looked deeply into mine yet again, drawing me more and more into their depths. I stopped struggling, and then... He moved slightly toward me, his gaze now on my mouth. Pulling me gently closer, he brought his face slowly down to mine. His lips descended softly upon my own, and I was powerless to stop him.
After a couple of seconds, I was sure I didn't want to stop him.
His lips, as bitterly cold as his hands, were unexpectedly gentle on mine. They fluttered softly, caressing. They lingered over the corners of my mouth, gently kissing, as his tongue flicked out to lick them.
I forgot everything but his mouth.
A feeling so sweet, so poignant that I had no name for it, rose within me. Not even Ryan, with all his expertise, had ever kissed me like this. Edward's lips were not demanding; instead, they sought to give. They gave the sweetest, gentlest touch of heady pleasure. Oh, I wanted those cold lips...
His tongue flicked out again, delicately tracing the contours of my lips, which parted automatically. His tongue smoothly slid inside, and began a gentle, probing massage of my mouth. I turned to face him fully as I opened my lips further, and he deepened the kiss, moving even closer to me, placing a very gentle hand behind my head, while his other hand surrounded my waist, also very gently. Yet, he was pressing me agaisnt his body. Somehow, my arms found their way around his neck, and I pulled him even closer, too. My heart was pounding furiously in my ears, but not from fear now. I kissed him back with every ounce of female power I possessed, and he responded eagerly, his hands beginning to massage my back, even as he whispered urgently against my lips, "Bella, Bella, Bella..."
Suddenly, he stopped. He just froze. His tongue abruptly left my mouth, and he pulled away from me. I opened my eyes and stared at him in shock. He could not seem to meet my eyes.
"What...what happened?" I cried out, feeling a strange sense of panic. "What are you doing?"
He looked at me for a moment, his eyes anguished, and shook his head, glancing away. "I don't know," he whispered. His voce sounded so sad that I felt stricken, although I couldn't understand why.
"Why in the world did you stop?" Is he actually regretting having kissed me?
He stood up abruptly. "I could hurt you," he said simply. But he stood there, looking uncertainly at the floor, as if he didn't know what to do next.
I wasn't sure what to make of all this. It seemed that my guardian angel had a real problem with personal identity. I had seen a monster a while ago, and now saw a potential boyfriend. I couldn't reconcile the two.
"Look, Bella," he said softly, as he met my eyes. "I need to explain something to you. But you will probably not believe me. And if you do, then you will run away from me, screaming. I...don't want to lose you. I felt pulled to you from the first moment I saw you. I couldn't let you die. And I promise you that you will not die at my hands."
This was getting stranger and stranger. Who was this guy, and what was he hiding? Had I found a psychopath? Well, with my luck, why not?
"I'd like you to give me some time," he went on hurriedly when I didn't reply. "I want you to see who I really am, not who I seem to be. Will you allow me to let you see my real self, Bella? I'm not really a monster, even though you might have gotten the impression that I am."
I was speechless. I continued to stare at him, my emotions at war. Then I noticed that. My emotions? I'm feeling again.
"There's just one problem," I pointed out. As my heartbeat steadied, my mind began to assert itself. "How can I possibly trust you not to try to kill me? How can I know for sure that you won't turn into...a monster once more, and this time, won't be able to stop yourself?"
He nodded somberly, obviously agreeing with my assessment of the situation.
'You're right not to trust me," he said, his voice full of pain. "You are more right than you'll ever know. If you could see into my mind, you'd realize that."
"Well, maybe you wouldn't hurt me, but the other one probably would," I pointed out, warily.
He nodded, understanding. "Yes, it can be very disconcerting to be confronted by a monstruous killer, when a minute ago you could have sworn that you were speaking to a normal person." He paused meaningfully, and then stared at me as his expression turned smug. "And yet, you kissed me back."
I shook my head, bewildered. "I must have been out of my mind temporarily. Either that, or you put some sort of spell on me."
He chuckled at that remark. 'You're very close to the truth."
My heart skipped a beat. "I am?"
I continued to stare at him. "Just what the heck are you? Are you on steroids or something?"
He laughed heartily at that.
"No, Bella, I can assure you I'm not, although I wish that were true. You would be able to trust me then."
I opened my mouth to reply to that, but he went on, sighing as his eyes continued to hold mine.
"Bella, you haven't told me your last name."
My heart skipped a beat once more. I wondered if he were the type who wanted to keep informed by watching the news all the time.
"Swan," I replied, a little nervously. I hoped he wouldn't suspect that this was not my real last name.
He smiled. "Bella Swan. How very appropriate. 'Beautiful Swan'. Lovely!"
I knew I was blushing. I ducked my head in embarrassment. "Thanks," I murmured.
"Hey," he said abruptly. "Let's call a truce, shall we? You eat some breakfast, and then we can sit down calmly and..."
I was alarmed all over again. "Calmly? After what happened a while ago?"
His smile widened. "You mean the kiss?"
"No," I said, my voice rising slightly as I, too, got to my feet. "I mean what happened before that."
That shook him. I could see the hurt expression reappear on his face. Then, his shoulders slumped, and his eyes glittered sadly.
"Yes, you're right, of course. Well, then, I shall have no choice but to allow you to make your escape, if you wish to go. I take it that survival has suddenly become very important to you."
His sarcastic remark hit its mark. Hadn't I been anxious to end my life? Would it really be so bad to end it in his arms, as he made love to me? An intimate image rose in my mind, an image of dark, heated passion, as those masterful lips kissed every burning inch of my body...
"Bella? Did you hear me? I said, you're free to go, if you wish to. I won't stop you."
I stared at him. "Do you really mean that?" I thought this might be a ploy. I knew something about psychopaths. I shrugged away a brief memory of Uncle Frank.
"Yes, I really do. Perhaps it would be for the best. I wanted to save you. But if would be highly ironic if I were to become the instrument of your death, instead."
I didn't know what to say.
"You can go, Bella." He sounded so sad as he spoke. "Only please don't try to do away with yourself. Promise. For me."
I nodded. Satisfied, he nodded, too, and then asked me to follow him into the huge living room. He walked over to the luxurious, black velvet couch, where a nice pair of jeans lay, carelessly thrown across a voluminous purple cushion. He picked up the jeans, and thrust a hand into one of the pockets. When he withdrew it, he was clutching a thick wad of bills, which he held out to me.
"Here, take this. You can get yourself a hotel room or something, and this will last you a few days. All I ask is that you let me know how you're doing, at least once a week."
I couldn't find anything to say.
Reaching into another pocket of the jeans, he pulled out a business card.
"Here's my cell number. You can let me know if you need more money, and I'll..."
I stared at the money, then back at his face. "I can't accept this."
"Sure you can. You have to. Consider it a small reparation for scaring you so badly."
I shook my head. "No, Edward. I can't."
"But you will," he said, fiercely, as he reached out and put the money firmly in the right front pocket of my jeans. Then he stepped back, putting his hands in his own pockets. He didn't look at me.
"Now, go," he said, in that authoritative tone I was fast becoming familiar with.
I was too stunned to move.
"Go!" Now he looked directly into my eyes. To my astonishment, I saw that his were now completely blank, emotionless. His face, however, was terrifying.
I ran to the door and tried to open it.
"It's locked," I said over my shoulder, inexplicably feeling trapped. Without a word, he walked over to me, unlocking the door with a swift, deft movement of his fingers, and flinging it wide open. I hesitated even as I was about to walk through it, and out of his life for good. He stood there, waiting to close the door, staring at the wall next to it.
Anguish suddenly squeezed my heart. Was I making a mistake? And yet, that face... I shuddered.
"Thank you," I whispered, staring down at the floor. Then I turned, and stumbled out into the hallway.
The door softly clicked shut behind me.