Title: It's Better When I Bleed For You
Characters/Pairings: Bella and the Cullens/All canon pairings
Spoilers: All books, in a subtle way...
Start from the beginning here...
Part XII – Would you leave me unable to defend myself?…
Edward kept a hand on the small of my back as he guided me out the door. I heaved a heavy sigh as we left, grateful for the lies to be over with for the time being. The detectives stayed in the room. I heard Jones’ low whistle through the sound proof walls.
“What was that?”
I looked at Edward as we left. He shook his head with a small smile and wrapped his arm around my waist.
“The Rookie,” he muttered with quiet emphasis, “just isn’t used to feeling so vulnerable, particularly toward a woman.” He chuckled. “You really did a number on him. It was rather enjoyable to watch.”
I bit my lip, feeling a bit guilty. I had deliberately made him uncomfortable. Maybe I’d taken it a bit too far.
“He was annoying me,” I muttered back in a poor attempt of justification.
He laughed quietly. “So I could see.” He kissed my temple. “He was annoying me, too. He reminded me of Mike Newton, just a little too much—all those fantasies.” A small growl rumbled in his chest. “They had me wanting to back-hand him into the wall.”
I frowned, thinking for a moment… It took a few moments of scattered concentration—scattered because Edward’s hand had moved back up to the back of my neck and his thumb was tracing slow circles on my skin—before I remembered. Oh. Mike. Baby-face, blonde hair…the golden retriever in a human body.
“You never wanted to back-hand Mike into a wall,” I told him, trying to distract myself. I highly doubted the public area of the state police headquarters was a good place for a repeat of this morning’s activities…as pleasurable as they had been.
There was a subtle gleam in his eyes as he raised an eyebrow at me—the kind of gleam that told me that his thoughts were about as close to our conversation as mine were…which wasn’t very close at all. “Didn’t I?” He frowned as he considered it. “No, I guess I didn’t…” He shrugged. “Not just a wall.” At that, I lifted an eyebrow of my own, not missing the emphasis. “I always entertained the thought in Biology.” He flashed his crooked grin and my eyes refused to look away for a very long moment.
“Edward,” I muttered reproachfully, when I could, reaching up to take his hand from my neck and holding onto it. It was just too distracting. “Mike Newton had nothing on you and you know it.”
“I didn’t like the way he thought about you.” His voice became too quick and low for human ears as we walked into the waiting room. “Like he knew you better than you knew yourself, when all he saw when he looked at you was what he wanted to see.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t that true of most people?”
He shook his head. “Yes. But…He had no idea who you were. He was missing all of your most important traits.” He lifted our clasped hands and pressed his lips against my knuckles. “He was missing you.”
Electricity seared up my arm as I watched him. “I think you’re being biased again,” I murmured. His eyes, a vibrant gold under the neon lights, were liquid honey as he gazed back. “You just didn’t like him.”
He smiled crookedly at me and kissed my knuckles again. I had to force myself to look away.
Carlisle was waiting for us at the other end of the room. He smiled at me and wrapped an arm around my shoulder—Edward refused to let go of me. I returned the one-armed hug (because I wouldn’t let go of Edward, either) as he greeted me softly.
“Hello, Bella. It’s wonderful to see you again.”
“We shouldn’t linger,” Edward muttered, guiding us along and leading us out of the waiting room.
“How have you been?” Carlisle asked.
I gave him a wry smile before my eyes darted to Edward. His hand had tightened on mine, almost painfully, as a quiet, feral snarl tore out of him. I stared at him in surprise, not knowing what to make of the sound, even as he pulled on my arm, pulling me behind him. Carlisle looked around.
“Edward,” I began, “what…?”
And then I smelt it. I hadn’t consciously noticed it at the office last night—I was too crazed with thirst—and I hadn’t consciously noticed it this morning—because I was concentrating on what I had to do. But part of my mind had noticed and had filed it away for future reference.
A vampire’s scent.
And because it wasn’t a scent I recognised, it could only be one person.
Each one of Lanna’s terrified heartbeats was suddenly ringing in my ears, every painful gasp making me deaf to anything else. The image of Lanna’s broken form collapsed under my window, blood staining her clothing and pooling around her was suddenly embedded in front of my eyes, the terror in her eyes blinding me more effectively then a blindfold.
My snarl was even more feral than Edward’s and a lot louder, too.
Through the haunting, frantic beating in my ears, I heard Carlisle’s warning as he whispered my name. I was aware of the real heartbeats reverberating through the air as their owners moved around us. But the edge of my vision was taking on a red tinge—I was too furious to even make the effort to care. All I could think about was one thing.
Not. My. Mate.
I hated what she did to Lanna, but the anger that hatred created didn’t even account for one millionth of the enraged emotions I felt. Majority of my bloodlust was generated by the knowledge that she wanted to hurt Edward. It didn’t matter that she was after me, that she wanted to kill me—all that mattered was that she was trying to hurt Edward by doing so.
With that thought, I tugged back on Edward’s arm, trying to pull him behind me. Now that I could smell her, I could hear her as well—the gentle whooshing of air on its useless way in and out of her lungs as she remained practically motionless—and I didn’t want him anywhere near her. But he refused to let me step in front of him, seeming just as determined to keep me out of her sight. Instead, we ended up mashed together, our arms entwined and tucked tight between our bodies.
We turned the corner into the public entrance and my eyes went straight to where she was standing in the darkest corner of the neon-lit room, her orange hair reflecting the light, making it look like a flame. My lips curled back from my teeth in another snarl, albeit quieter this time. Edward’s side pressed harder against mine as he tried to pull me closer again. Suddenly, I felt like I was being restrained.
“What does she want?” Carlisle asked quietly, standing close on my other side.
Edward’s voice was a low hiss when he replied, “To declare war.”
Her face was twisted up in an unattractive sneer as she looked at us, her eyes a bright ruby-red.
I felt Edward shrug. I refused to look away from her to see if Carlisle had caught Edward’s non-verbal answer. She was glaring at me with enough hatred to rival mine and I could tell that she didn’t like the way Edward and I were entwined around each other—it was probably salt in the wound for her. Well, she had no one to blame but herself for that one.
We came to a stop ten feet in front of her. The three of us stood in a line, the rest of the entrance lobby at our backs. Victoria stood alone with her back to the off-white wall. I couldn’t understand why she would box herself in like that—a quick peripheral glance told me that we were just under the camera range; we would be able to move fast enough to dismember her and disappear with the pieces before anyone realised what had happened—until I saw the door to the maintenance personnel stairwell on her left. She had a quick escape route if she needed it.
The corner was silent as we glared at each other, until Carlisle broke it.
“Victoria,” he greeted coolly.
She sneered at him, refusing to take her wild eyes from me. Edward hissed, low and soft while she managed to sneer and smile mockingly at me at the same time.
“How’s your little secretary?” she asked in a shockingly high baby soprano voice. It wasn’t anything like the wild, cat-like growl I’d imagined.
“Alive,” I said shortly. My fingers were flexing involuntarily—all I really wanted to do was crush her into a pile of dust. I think the physical exertion required would be satisfying enough. Damn her for picking a public place—and the police headquarters, at that. While the humans that worked here ran around trying to piece together evidence that would lead them nowhere, the person they were looking for was in the very same building, perfectly at ease knowing they would never piece it together…and even if they did, they wouldn’t be able to do anything at all.
“Maybe I should go to the hospital and finish her off?” she suggested, sickly sweet.
“Leave the human out of this,” Carlisle demanded.
Victoria continued as if he hadn’t spoken. “I have to hand it to her—she was a tough little human. She didn’t even scream once. Although, truth be told, I did tear out her vocal cords before she really could.” She flashed her teeth in a vicious smile as I snarled. “Even if I do let her live, she won’t ever speak again.”
The red tinting the edge of my vision began to spread across my eyes and my body tensed like I was about to pounce. Edward’s arm around mine tightened even further. “Leave the human out of it,” he echoed, his velvet voice dangerously soft.
Victoria’s wild eyes shifted to him and she smiled another sneer. “That upsets you, doesn’t it?” She glanced at me again. “You get upset over the human and you”—she looked back at Edward—“get upset because she’s upset.” She chuckled once, her sneering smile becoming contemplative, and took half a step back.
“Get used to it, Edward,” she hissed. “You’re going to pay for taking James from me.” She glanced at Carlisle. “Even if it means I have to go through your entire coven, your mate is going to die.” Her eyes came back to me and narrowed. Suddenly it was me holding Edward back while a low growl rumbled in his chest. The look on his face brought back vague human memories of alleyways and Italian food, and I knew I didn’t want to know what she thinking.
Victoria seemed to realise the danger she had put herself in; she reached behind her for the maintenance door. With a last sneer at me, and another feral snarl from Edward, she was gone.
I turned to Edward. “Did she mean it?” I demanded.
He turned toward me even as he kept his eyes on the door she had disappeared through. “It depends,” he uttered quietly, “on whether she decides it’s worth the effort. She’s not sure which will have the biggest impact on you—leaving Lanna alive and watching her struggle to rebuild her life or just killing her out right.”
I hissed unhappily, closing my eyes and shaking my head. I didn’t know which would have a greater impact on me either, so either way I’d be torn and Edward would hurt watching me hurt…which was exactly what Victoria wanted. It was obvious she wanted to drag this out as long as possible and torture both of us.
“What is it, Bella?” he asked softly, his hand cupping my cheek.
I opened my eyes. “I hate that I’m so easy to read. I’m mad that I let her see…”
Carlisle put a hand on my shoulder. “It’s not that you’re easy to read, Bella. We choose not to feed off humans and we make an extra effort to co-exist with them—and we can’t do that unless we have compassion for them. And Victoria knows this. That’s what she’s drawing on.”
I looked at Edward, but he was staring at the maintenance door again. I turned back to Carlisle.
“How bad is she?” I asked. “Can I… Can I see her?” I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea—I didn’t know how much she remembered…if she remembered that I had been the one to almost finish killing her. I shuddered at the thought. She wouldn’t want me anywhere near her if she did and I wouldn’t blame her.
Carlisle gave my shoulder a gentle squeeze. “Of course you can see her,” he said softly. He turned away from where Victoria had been. “She’s heavily sedated though. She won’t know you’re there.”
“That’s all right,” I muttered, relieved. “It’s probably better that way, anyway.” I don’t think I’d ever be able to look her in the eyes again, if she survived.
Another soft growl and Edward turned away from the door to wrap his arms around me.
“You didn’t do anything wrong, Bella,” Carlisle said quietly, leading us over to the elevators. “Quite the contrary, actually. Don’t let Victoria’s deeds weigh you down.”
Edward’s arms tightened around me. “She’ll never touch you, Bella,” he whispered in my ear.
Abruptly my concerns jumped from Lanna to Edward. I didn’t like that his focus was on me, although I couldn’t expect it to be anywhere else. I had seen what he was capable of doing if he thought it would protect me and I wasn’t about to let him run off and do something ridiculous. He should focus on keeping himself out of Harm’s way.
My focus, of course, was him and as much as I wanted to go hunt down Victoria and tear her up and burn the pieces myself, I knew I was no match for her. Even though I’d been a vampire for the last eighty years, I’d never had a reason to learn how to properly fight. I had lived quietly amongst the humans, being unobtrusive and moving on whenever I started to look too young for how old I claimed to be. I had rarely crossed paths with any other vampires and I when I had, I had gone my way and they had gone theirs. Of course, I could let myself go to my instincts but they would never be enough against Victoria, who’d had centuries to hone her tracking and fighting skills. Obviously, it was a situation I had to rectify, and soon—before Edward did something stupid.
I glanced up at him as we waited for the elevator to take us down to the underground car park, my eyes lingering on the firm set of his jaw. He was furious, obviously, and I knew my request was not going to go down well—he had never taken well to my being in danger and I highly doubted that attitude had changed.
The three of us were silent in the elevator, standing in the middle of the little metal box, the five humans unlucky enough to be stuck with us keeping their backs pressed against the walls.
Edward’s Lexus was parked four spaces to the right and a row behind Carlisle’s Jaguar. We went our separate ways as Carlisle promised to meet us in his office at the hospital. Edward was quiet as we continued our little walk to his car and I was reluctant to voice my decision and worsen his mood.
Without a word, he unlocked the car and held the door for me. I stepped in, pausing to put my hand on the top of the frame, next to his. I looked up at him, meeting his eyes.
I took a deep breath.
“Edward, will you teach me how to fight?”
He refused to speak about it as he drove to the hospital. I sat perfectly still, my head turned to stare out the window, fuming silently at Edward’s stubbornness. His immediate reaction had been to bend the car doorframe out of shape as he shut his eyes and said no. I had opened my mouth to argue and he had opened his eyes to look at me pleadingly. My resolve to press the matter then and there had crumbled and dissolved, as he quietly muttered, “Not here.”
I had stared at him for a moment before sighing and pressing my lips together. I gave him a pointed look as I got in silently, letting him know I wasn’t going to let it go. We didn’t say a word to each other as he drove, but our hands were tightly clasped and resting on his thigh.
Now Carlisle was leading us through the maze of corridors that made up the Illinois Masonic Hospital to one of the private rooms in the Emergency Room. Shame and fury raged equally strong through my being the closer we got to Lanna’s room. I could smell her scent, slightly off due to the multiple transfusions she’d had. I could hear the slow beeping of machines monitoring her heart rate and helping her breathe, the gentle drip of the IV buried into her arm.
Carlisle opened the door to her room and led us in, closing the door quietly behind us. The curtains were drawn around the bed, hiding her from view.
“She’s in a medically induced coma,” he said softly as he walked toward the bed, “to help with the pain.” He pulled aside the curtain and I winced at the sight in front of me.
She lay on the bed, her throat bandaged around a tube attached there to help her breathe. Wires connected her to the machines beeping beside the bed. There were bruises covering her face, accompanied by small scratches from the glass that had fallen on her when Edward had come through the window.
“She will recover,” Carlisle continued as I stared at the heart monitor, watching the green line spike with every steady beat of her heart. “She’s stabilised. She’ll be on life support for a few weeks yet, though, until her throat heals, but heal it will.”
“Her voice?” I asked.
“Victoria wasn’t lying. Her larynx was severely damaged—too severely. There’s nothing we can do for it. She’ll have to undergo further surgery, depending on which method she wishes to adopt to help her speak again.”
I had to look away. I hated seeing someone so profoundly innocent unconscious and fighting for life because of me. If only I hadn’t left to make that phone call. If only I had insisted harder that she leave.
Edward followed me out past the enclosure of the curtains while Carlisle checked the chart at the foot of the bed.
“She was pregnant,” I whispered to him as he put an arm around my waist.
His expression was pained as he whispered back, “Yes—she was.”
I shook my head and buried my face in my hands, as Carlisle made sure the curtains hid her from view again.
“The embryo was too young,” he explained, “and the trauma too great.” He shook his head. “Even if she had been further along, I doubt the child would have made it.”
“It’s not fair!” I complained softly, my heart heavy for the unborn child and its mother.
“No,” Carlisle sighed. “It’s not.”
“Have you spoken to her husband?” I asked. “Does he know?”
“About the pregnancy?” Carlisle shook his head. “They were entertaining suspicions but they hadn’t had it confirmed. He had business in Texas this week, but he’s on his way back.”
So that’s why Lanna hadn’t been in any rush to get home last night, why she had been so willing to stay back. There had been no one to go home to. And the pregnancy. I didn’t know which would be worse—knowing you’re pregnant and then loosing the baby or loosing the baby and then finding out you were pregnant.
I tilted my head back to look at the ceiling and heaved a heavy sigh. Victoria had so much to answer for. I looked back at the curtains surrounding the bed. And I would make sure she answered for it. Even if Edward refused to teach me how to fight, I still have my gift, my talent, whatever it is, to aid me. But first, I guess, I would have to figure out how it actually worked and what its limitations are. Carlisle would undoubtedly enjoy the chance to explore something new.
And I’m sure Emmett wouldn’t have any hesitations about teaching me how to fight if Edward didn’t.
“Edward,” I muttered.
He sighed and his brow puckered unhappily, like he knew what I was about to say.
“I need to learn,” I said softly. I waved a hand at the curtains around Lanna’s bed. “When she comes after me again… Would you leave me unable to defend myself?”
A fierce look came into his eyes and he opened his mouth to speak. I knew exactly what he was going to say.
“You can’t protect me forever,” I whispered, cutting him off. “You can’t.” I put a hand on his cheek. “Please. I have to be able to defend myself.” You, I amended silently. I have to be able to defend you.
He closed his eyes and sighed. “When you put it that way…I suppose we should get to work as soon as we can.”
I sighed in relief. “Thankyou,” I whispered.
“We should check in with Alice,” Carlisle commented from the door. “Perhaps she will be able to see what Victoria is planning.”
“Perhaps,” Edward said, leading me out of the room as he followed Carlisle. “Victoria’s thoughts were too erratic for me to make sense of them—she was hiding her plans from me. If she’s figured out how to keep me blocked, it’s possible the same may be true for Alice.”
It was odd to see Carlisle grimace—I don’t think I ever had before.
“Let us hope not,” was all he said.
I'm so sorry, guys! I've been through some pretty hectic things lately and I haven't been able to concentrate on anything for an extended period of time, which is why this chapter isn't up to par with the others and why it's taken so long. I haven't forgotten the story, I just lost all motivation. I think the only reason you guys are getting this chapter now is because of all the beautiful and encouraging reviews and PM's you guys have been leaving. They've helped me write a little bit each day and I always go back to them when I'm feeling really stumped. So thankyou!
As I said, this chapter isn't up to par and I don't really want to post it because I feel like it's missing something but if I don't post it now, I don't know if I ever will. So I just figure I'll post it and move onto editing the next chapter, which is in Edward's POV...
Much love guys, and please keep those reviews coming!x x x