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So I Hope You See (That I Would Love To Love You)

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“I’m serious, Rosalie. This is very important to him.” 

Rosalie’s eyes rolled, unable to keep in the annoyance that was bubbling over inside of her like hot tar. “Is it? I hadn’t heard.” Her voice came out flat and dry as kindling. As usual, there was a snap to it, a bite that she couldn’t help and, in this case, didn’t want to help. All she needed to do now was buff her nails on her blouse as if to fix a snag and her message would be clear: I. Don’t. Care. And she didn’t. She really just didn’t. 

It was the mark of how serious an occasion this was that Esme showed no sign of frustration at her sarcasm. She was too busy trying to make everything perfect for her precious Edward to even notice Rosalie’s open annoyance. Or perhaps she was just taking a card from Edward’s deck and ignoring her opinions on this completely. 

Of course, Rosalie knew that this day was important to Edward. How could she fucking not? He had been speaking of nothing else for the last twenty-four hours and when those twenty-four hours weren’t broken up by a long stretch of sleep, they could be very, very long. He had been obsessive. An obnoxious obsessive over-the-hill teenager who’s prattling had only been able to be tuned out when she was out in the car bay, or perhaps in the shower with the water on full blast covering her ears. It was like a fly buzzing around your head and yet unable to be swatted. 

“We want a united front when we meet Bella, Rose,” Carlisle added, backing up his mate. As if to make this clearer, he stepped up and placed his hands on Esme’s shoulders, his face serious. Esme, for her part, seemed to settle in at his touch, some of her stress calming. Her face relaxed a bit, leaving only her eyebrows tense and hard. 

Rosalie gave an annoyed scoff, looking away from their comfort and peace. “Because walking into a wall of vampires is not going to freak her out at all.” 

A slight breeze rustled her loose blonde hair as Alice appeared beside her. Her face scrunched into a thoughtful expression, her chin tilting as she looked at nothing in particular. “Nope,” she finally said. “She’ll be okay.” 

“Well, whoop-de-do,” Rosalie grumbled. 

“Rose.” Esme chided.

“Yes! United front. I got it.” 

“Thank you.” Esme nodded, reached forward and squeezing Rosalie’s arm.

This was ridiculous. 

“They’re coming!” Alice called in a completely unnecessarily singsong. They all could hear the sound of a clogged and clearly uncared for engine turning off the highway and onto the drive that would lead to the house. 

Rosalie flinched. That was car abuse, that’s what it was. That poor engine needed a thorough cleaning. She could hear the gunk clogging the engine, forcing it to work too hard, much like a heart preparing for a heart attack. She already had very good reason not to like this stupid human, and that had not won her any points. Car abuse was unacceptable. Not that there was anything this stupid girl could do to get on her good side. She was an intruder. She was an intrusion. This was a joke. How did her family not see that? The time to run had passed and they were trapped into waiting for the cards to fall where they may. It was just a matter of time now.

The roar of the truck grew louder and Rosalie clicked her tongue, looking away from anyone else to hide exactly how much this pissed her off.

Below her, Esme and Carlisle moved into their allotted positions, standing together at the base of the stairs while Alice and Jasper moved to theirs halfway down. 

Esme had choreographed this like blocking in a play. 

Rosalie’s teeth grit, her back straight and tall - too stiff, too formal. 

“Come on, babe.” 

Beside her, Emmett gave her a playful shoulder bump. “Maybe she’ll be nice. Maybe you’ll like her.” 

She gave him a stiff smile that was equal to the polite, if not loving, ‘fuck off’ that she felt. 

He chuckled, seeing it and she kissed him lightly, her hand rubbing his neck in affection. 

It wasn’t about whether or not she was nice. She did not care if she was nice. She just did not want her there. She did not want her forced into their lives, shoved down their throat. At this point, they should not be there. They should have cut their losses and run. She had no interest in liking her. She had no interest in knowing her. 

The room grew silent as they all waited, listening to each pebble that crunched under the tires as the truck made its way closer and closer. No one moved, no one breathed; a house full of nervous vampires was a shockingly quiet thing.

She sniffed in disapproval as the truck hit some kind of a pothole and the engine wobbled. This girl had to hear that, right? It wasn’t just her vampire hearing. This girl was irresponsible. 

Below her, Rosalie saw Esme’s eye twitch. 

She resented this. That’s what it came down to. She resented this new and aggravating thing in her life. 

Esme twitched again when the truck pulled up, idled at top volume and then was turned off with a wheeze. 

Involuntarily, she let out a small growl. 

Emmett chuckled beside her, his arms crossed comfortably over his large chest. “Maybe she’ll let you fix it up for her.” 

She ignored him, tossing her sheet of blonde hair over her shoulder. As if she would take the time to —

The words cut off in her head as suddenly as if they had been sliced with a knife. Her body went rigid, still and taut as stone. 

Outside Rosalie could hear that Edward had opened the truck’s door, gotten out, and was moving slowly around to the other side to let his passenger out. 

There it was again. Eyes unmoving, frozen in concentration, she sought it out, looking for the source. She could feel it again, that thing. And again, there was that smell, less of a smell and more like a sensation in her nose, in her head, something too light to smell as much as to be felt. It was like the scent of jasmine on the breeze in spring, barely there and yet enough to flavor the day. 

She had smelled it, or maybe felt it was more accurate, a few weeks before. She had walked onto campus one morning, as she did every morning without note, and it had been there. Stopping her in her tracks in the middle of the lot, making her unaware of blocking traffic until Emmett had begun to tease. It had haunted her while on campus, pulling her attention no matter how much she tried to ignore it. And she had, uninterested, unwilling.

What could it, what was it possibly doing here now? 

Feet hit the gravel as the passenger climbed out of the car. Outside Rosalie heard the trees shift as a strong wind began to blow and that smell… that smell that was more of a feeling than a smell… that was more of a sense than a feeling… that was more…

She blinked once and in that half of a millisecond, she understood.

Her body tensed, spasming. 

Nooooo… her mind gasped. No!

Her teeth ground. Her hands balled into fists. 

No. This couldn’t be happening. This could not be happening. There was no way. She refused to believe it. It was not — it would not — No!

Through the front window of the house, Rosalie watched the girl shift nervously at Edward’s side, her face turning up to give him a dewy look as they walked. She sniffed and looked away, the sniff only filling her senses with more and making her regret it. A scent that wasn’t a scent, that was a calling… how many times had Carlisle said that? She had never really listened before. It had sounded like nothing more than poetry, idiotic, stupid poetry. 

No. She refused to accept it. She was wrong. She was simply wrong. This would not — could not —

The scent that was more of a feeling seemed to be mocking her. It was all warmed milk chocolate and lavender. It was a mix that should have been repugnant to her, human food was repugnant, and yet it wasn’t. Perhaps because the chocolate wasn’t that of a Hershey’s bar but instead of ground cocoa beans fresh from the fire and ground against a chill stone slab, the lavender not a sprig but a sunlit field where bushes of lavender swayed. She could smell the coldness of the stone under the cocoa beans, could smell the scent of the warm summer sun on the field, the rich earth below it. She could feel that sun on her face as she breathed.

Yet there was more, something less definable. Something that, when breathed in, calmed her by its familiarity even though it was overall, entirely unfamiliar to her. She could feel it settling on her like a mist, welcoming her.

It was unprecedented and uninvited. 

She had been aware of this at school where it was muddied amongst Axe body spray and teenage hormones, but here approaching their house which was so clean of human scent, suddenly she knew. 

Rosalie couldn’t help but sneer. This hadn’t already been bad enough? Her stupid brother hadn’t already been putting them at risk for, what? This girl, this thing was nothing to him, nothing but the passing fancy, a lust that needed to be fulfilled. This – girl was like a glass of aged wine, delicious yes, but worth ruining everything? Enough to drive them from their home? And now...

“Uh, babe?” Emmett’s soft voice interrupted her building panic. 

What?” 

His eyebrows shot up. It was rare that he was offended or even surprised by her hostility but the bite in her voice just then had been enough to burn anything too close. 

“What?” 

His eyes only shifted to her hand. 

Her teeth ground and, without acknowledgment, she pulled her fingers out of the wood of the banister which had yielded to her fingers like no more than putty. She dropped the splintered wood, her chin high and arrogant. Below her, she saw Esme wince. Damage to her house always a sore spot.

She wanted to rip, to pull it from the wall… this… this was unfair

Her thoughts. 

The realization of her need to flee sliced through the red haze of anger, broiling it into panic. She had to control her thoughts. This could not be heard. She would not accept this being heard. 

She glanced back at the happy couple approaching the front stairs just in time to see Edward, exultant, lean down and place a soft kiss on Bella’s head. 

That was it. She was done. This could not be heard. 

She turned and fled. 

Rose!” 

Rosalie heard Esme call from behind her, but she down the hallway and out the window in less than a second, her feet hitting the soft forest floor before Esme had finished her name.

“Go after her.” 

Rosalie heard Carlisle’s voice in a soft command and footsteps began to chase her, down the stairs and toward the backdoor in the blink of an eye. 

Mind blank, keep your mind blank, she chanted internally. She paused just under the window. Her feet flicked one after another, sending her high heels flying. She cringed. They were beautiful shoes and now were in the dirt. Her toes dug into the soft earth and she took off like a bullet before the others had even left the stairs.

She wasn’t the fastest in the family, but right now she had no problem reaching top speed in seconds, the house disappearing behind her at a rapid pace. 

Behind her, the voice already distant despite her super hearing, Emmett’s voice rang out. “It looks like she doesn’t want to be caught. I got this.” 

Rosalie was pushed harder although she knew Emmett would not follow but instead would wait in the forest until she came back on her own terms. 

Rosalie’s shouting mind flicked back to her and she snarled, her pace quickening, kicking up sods of earth with the force of her passage. 

Bella. Blushing, babbling, Isabella. Though the name was, in its own right, beautiful. It was badly matched. She was nothing. She was pathetic, a swooning, simpering teenager. Rosalie hadn’t even noticed her before Edward had shoved her in their faces. True the smell, that misted scent had been following her everywhere as she went about town. She would pick up a trail of it here or there. But the girl, she was... she was... she was ordinary. There was nothing about her to catch the eye and yet, now… 

She wanted to go back. That was the worst part of this, she fucking wanted to go back.

Rosalie hated her. She resented her for learning their secret. She had no respect for her as she seemed willing to do anything for Rosalie’s brother. She was a weak, sniveling, human. 

Rosalie let out a roar, coming to an earth ripping stop. Hands closing on the nearest tree, she began to tear. She raged, screaming and tearing the meat of the tree as if it were cotton. 

This was not happening. 

She would - not - allow - it. 

She would not. 

She had Emmett. She loved him. He was good to her. He was her best friend… her very best friend. She had never needed one, never felt the desire to be owned that way. She didn’t need it, didn’t want it, didn’t, didn’t, didn’t. 

She screamed, her throat ripping painlessly, and like a marionette with severed strings, she dropped to the forest floor, the fight going out of her. 

No, no, no, no. 

She opened her hands, only just fully realizing what she had done. She looked at the kindling and felt a stab of remorse. She was sure it had been a beautiful tree. She hadn’t meant to do that. Her clothes were ripped and dirty and yet her skin remained as unblemished as marble. She looked away from it, disgusted by its perfection. 

Her brother, her stupid idiot brother whom their father of sorts had meant for her. He was so sure that he had finally been mated, that he had found his true other half. 

Rosalie’s shoulders slumped. Her hands went out, digging into the muddy earth below her, seeking some type of grounding, something solid that would stop the mental spinning. 

“God, no,” she begged nothing, pleading for this not to be true, not to happen. 

What was she going to do now?

She couldn’t tell him. She wouldn’t tell him that he was wrong.

And he was.

Wrong.

She knew it as well as she knew her own name. She knew it because it wasn’t just a scent, it was also a feeling. It was a feeling as if all of the pain she held inside could now be soothed if she had simply extended her hand to her, of simple and uncomplicated connection. It wasn’t grand. It wasn’t the earth moving as Edward said it was, it wasn’t the stars realigning. Instead, it was just a fact. An answer to a question she had never known she needed, that she hadn’t asked. It just was. It simply was there as the sun was there in the day and the moon at night. She knew because even as she stood there somewhere in the mountains so far north that snow dusted the ground, she was in her mind, a new flavor that she had a feeling would not leave. 

Edward thought he had found his mate and yet Rosalie knew he was wrong. He hadn’t found his mate. 

Instead, he had found hers. 

And she hated it.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t like vampires, on average, to respond like this. Or rather, to be so unable to even think of a response, and yet here she was. He had to be kidding, right? Rosalie stared at Edward, her incredulity thick. Was this who they were now? She glanced around the library, taking in her family that all glittered a little from the light through the back wall of windows. Each was frozen with a different look on their faces, ranging from polite surprise to blank incredulity. So she looked back at Edward’s twitchy anxious face, bubbling over with obnoxious and obviously misplaced integrity.

“I just can’t. I know —” Edward paused, with a pinched scowl. His hand went out toward their adopted father of sorts, cutting off the automatic response that they all knew was coming. Rosalie could have quoted it. “I know I should trust myself. But I don’t. I can’t. Not in this. Not with so much to lose.”

Rosalie gave an indignant scoff. “So, you just expect us to do it for you?”

Edward’s eyes shifted warily to her.

She couldn’t help but notice that though they sat there in silence for a very long second, he didn’t respond. She shook her head, her eyes rolling in disbelief.

From what Rosalie had gathered, Bella and Edward had taken some sort of a day trip together to see – something, she didn’t know, she hadn’t been listening. Something had happened. Knowing Edward and his flair for drama, something small, probably. Now their lives were going to consist of this? Their lives had already gone normal, uneventful and right, to on its head. Their lives were already unforgivably changed. All because Edward didn’t trust himself not to drain his beloved dry?

Rosalie shifted in her seat, ignoring the flare of anger that the epithet brought. With a thick swallow, she turned to stare out the window, working hard to shove the thought back before it could fully surface into her conscious mind, becoming less of a feeling and instead a concrete thought.

No. No, she really didn’t think so. She really just didn’t fucking think so.

“Rose, you don’t understand!” Edward growled, the muscles in his neck bulging with the effort of, what? Of not yelling? Not crying?

Rosalie just stared back, unmoved.

“I love her,” he insisted, doing a fairly good impression of little Leo in Romeo & Juliet. Ugh, the trash.

But she knew these lines as well as they had known what Carlisle was going to say. Yeah, yeah, yeah, true love, a matching of souls, his one true partner, his mate, his love, his other half. Blah, blah, blah.

She gave a scoff that made Edward blink, confused by her attitude. He seemed continuously thrown when his angsty pain involving… her… left Rosalie unmoved. The rest of the family had been asking ‘how high’ the moment these speeches of ‘pure love’ began. Finding your mate and your mate bond was taken very seriously in their family. He didn’t seem to know what to do with her blatant disrespect for it.

Whatever. His ‘Oh, I’m so in love’ bullshit drove her nuts. He had been annoying before this, with his sullen ways and general I’m-so-alone moping, but now...

She had to turn away again. She was entirely sure she couldn’t vomit, and yet, she felt her stomach cramping like it wanted to push everything out of her.

“Look, the solution is this.” Giving up on her, Edward turned back to his family, all of whom were watching his speech with avidity. “I need to hunt a lot more.”

On the other side of Emmett, Carlisle nodded thoughtfully. “It stands to reason that if you never allow yourself to become thirsty then the temptation will remain low.”

Beside him, Esme beamed at Edward and gave his arm an affectionate pat, apparently proud that he had thought of this oh so complex answer.

“Yes. I think if I stay full, I will be less of a danger to Bella.”

The name grated against Rosalie’s senses.

Her thoughts whipped through her mind like a lash. If he didn’t feel like she was safe around him then he should not be with her. Pure, and simple.

Edward, apparently having heard that, glared.

She just stared back. Was she in some way wrong? She didn’t think so. After all, she had been around... the girl... before and she felt no specific desire to rip her throat out nor to drink... anything from her.

“In the cafeteria!” Edward yelled in response to her thought. “Around other students, other people where her scent has been diluted.”

Rosalie laughed once. Right. Because that scent could be diluted.

The rest of the family, used to Edward speaking directly to thoughts, all looked toward her with polite curiosity. She glared back.

“Why are we here?” She snarled, her anger hot, maybe even too hot. Why was he wasting their time with this? What did any of this have to do with them?

“There’s a complication,” Alice said, her head yet again slightly tilted, her eyes far away.

“Well, you don’t exactly have to see the future to understand that, now do you?”

Jasper’s wide eyes turned on her, his body slightly blocking Alice from her vicious words.

“Yes.” Edward sighed, running his hands through his hair in strain. “There is an immature wolf pack.”

Rosalie’s eyebrows rose, grudgingly surprised.

“It seems as though Bella was born into it, or at least raised around it without knowing. Her father has been friends with a Quileute tribal elder for some years. I doubt very much that I have the power to sever that tie. In fact, because of this friendship, she has recently befriended a young wolf who should transition very soon.”

The feelings that spread through her seemed to get lost amongst the shock of the rest of the family, and for that, Rosalie was thankful. She was not concerned about her safety, she was not, would not be worried. And yet, she felt the sensation creeping through her like unwanted bugs, a black mist of anxiety that was smothering. Young wolves were volatile at best, easily able to rip apart someone they loved in a fleeting moment of emotion.

Damn it. She clenched her fists. What did it matter to her, after all?

“And Bella…” Edward sighed in both exasperation and warmth. “She smells so good. Surely any roving vampires would notice her, and Alice has seen that nomads are wandering around the area. She is sure to draw them in.”

Her fists clenched tighter as the feeling under her skin grew. She wanted to rise, to go, to protect. It was annoying. It was very fucking annoying. She slumped lower in her chair, her hands coming to rest on the arms, holding herself in place. She didn’t care. She didn’t care if Bella put herself in a hundred dangerous situations. It meant nothing to her. But he was right. Bella did smell amazing. Bella smelled good enough to attract that wandering coven as well as anyone else who came within a hundred miles.

She glanced up and her thoughts froze. Edward was staring at her, daring her as if she were suddenly a threat found within his own house. Her eyes rolled at him. “I’m not a saint.”

Edward’s eyes narrowed, waiting for more. She knew him, knew he was waiting for some sort of mental confession like ‘oh yes, Eddie, I’m planning on waiting until you are no longer paying attention to me and then I will rip out the throat of your darling-dear.’ She looked away. Besides, Bella smelled amazing, but, again, she had never once felt a desire to taste her blood. Edward’s eyes narrowed all the tighter, a physical pressure against the side of her head.

Rosalie’s mind shifted. A 1959 Caddy was an interesting car. She liked the wings on the back. She hadn’t seen the bones of one for sale recently, but she was sure if she checked all over the country, she could find one. Or perhaps an Aston Martin DB6. Hell, a 57 Bugatti could be fun, or even a Duesenberg Model J. Both of those would be a lot of fun. Her fingers made soft pattering noises as they drummed on the arms of the couch. But after all, she would never be able to drive it, she realized. She was due for a new project. She needed something she could do slowly, taking her time. 

Absently she noticed Edward lose interest, drawn in by Carlisle and his questions about the wolves.

She didn’t want another muscle car. So perhaps one for Emmett. So then... a Firebird TransAm? A 69 Camaro? She had already built, and sold, a 65 Mustang for herself. She had found that once it was built, she hadn’t liked it as much as she had thought she would, and she had been promising to build Emmett something for —

“Would you pay attention!” Edward suddenly roared at her.

Rosalie didn’t jump, wasn’t even phased by his sudden anger. Instead, she just snapped right back at him. “What, Edward? What are you trying to ask? You want her watched. Okay, what does that mean?”

His jaw set and for the first time, he looked slightly abashed.

She had been listening. She had heard him telling Carlisle about the wolf pack, about having sensed it but having always thought it was no more than one or two. She had heard Carlisle estimate that if this boy was to transition close then perhaps the pack was about to expand. She had heard it. She just didn’t want Edward to hear her.

Edward had turned from her, his attention drifting back to the rest of his family and Rosalie was able to breathe again. His head was slightly bowed, his eyes pleading. “I want to ask you all for your help in keeping her safe.”

Semantics, Rosalie mentally snarled. He wanted them to babysit her without her knowledge.

“Okay, yes!” He growled at her.

“You want us to go over on the nights when you are hunting and stand outside and watch her.”

She had hoped, for his sake, that Edward would protest. She had hoped that he would insist that he hadn’t meant it how it had sounded, that he understood that doing something like that would cross many lines. But he didn’t. Instead, only he nodded once.

“Yes.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” she scoffed.

“Rose, she’s my soulmate.”

That didn’t make her feel less annoyed, not by a long shot. Soulmates, what a stupid, childish term.

“I’ve been alone for so long,” he told the family at large.

Her head dropped back to the chair. Oh here, we go, she thought with an internal groan.

“You all know I have been. I’ve been alone, and now I have found my happiness. I have found my pair. Now that I found her, I must keep her safe. I have to keep her safe from me, from the wolves, from anything and everything that would hurt her in any way.”

Esme had scooted to the edge of her seat, so anxious to agree that she hadn’t been able to sit still. Rosalie sneered. “Yes, Edward, yes, of course,” Esme nodded, her eyes desperate with love for her favorite son. “Keeping Bella safe is a priority and I’m sure we all would agree—”

Rose sniffed.

“– that she has to be protected.”

Edward’s shoulders relaxed. “She’s my everything, Esme. I feel her... in my soul.”

The other mated couples in the family were nodding along as though they understood this inane comment completely, as though these words were anything other than melodramatic. They all nodded along like members of this elite club, a club that Rosalie didn’t belong to. 

“I would do anything for her now,” Edward promised.

She couldn’t look at them.

“Of course, you would.” Esme crooned, leaning a little closer into Carlisle.

It was crap. She loved Emmett. She... she loved him, damn it. But the trigger point of her nerves was coiled too tightly and it snapped at the exclusion. She just couldn’t bear it any longer. She couldn’t stand it.

“Why?” The word came out like a slice, a hiss that popped the bubble of his monologue. “Why are you so sure this girl is your mate? Because you want her blood? Because she has a taste that you find exotic and alluring? That you would enjoy?” Her words were a vicious snarl, a snarl so sharp that it almost – almost covered the stab of pain that radiated through her.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Jasper still, his face thoughtful. What did he think, she wondered. Did he think, as all mated couples seemed to, that Rose was angry and jealous about not being in a mated pair?

It just wasn’t true.

It wasn’t.

“Rose.” Carlisle’s voice was soft, his face kind as he nodded knowingly at Edward. “As you have doubtless heard me say countless times, there is no denying the mate bond.” He said it with such honest emphasis, leaving no room for doubt. “There is also no mistaking it. When you meet them, it is very clear.”

Rosalie just stared at him blankly for a long moment, resentment building. Yes well, she knew something that Edward didn’t, didn’t she?

“And what’s that?”

Her body stiffened, frozen for a millisecond before she leaned back in her chair, her legs crossing. Her body seemed relaxed, completely belying the panic that she felt. She shot him a glare, covering for her horrifying moment of carelessness with her thoughts.

“That you’re an idiot.” She spat bluntly. “That you’ve been alone for so long that it’s turned you into a creepy fuck.” Because that’s what this was. Following Bella? Watching her through her bedroom window? Watching her without her knowledge? It was creepy. And it was wrong.

Edward’s lips pursed. “Do you want her to die the same way that you did, Rose?”

There was no pause for silence, no gasp of outrage or surprise from the other members of the family. More than anything else, there was no pausing or assessing from Rose. She hadn’t thought. She wasn’t thinking. In one millisecond he had said it, his face chastising, his hand swiping in a harsh gesture, and in the very next breath of time, Edward was caught, pinned against the far library shelves, his arms pinned behind his back. Perhaps it was her shock that had kept him from seeing what she had been about to do, perhaps it was because it was instinct, but she had lunged, catching him easily, slamming his face into the volumes. A feral snarl was rumbling from her throat as she leaned in, her fury beyond measure. She might be a bitch. This was something she knew about herself. She might even be a cunt at times. But to say that to her, to use her past against her that way.

“I would never.” She growled, her venom coated teeth a breath away from his face. “I would never wish that on anyone. To anyone. Ever.”

“You’re right.” Edward’s voice wasn’t strained enough for Rosalie in her anger and so she pushed, the shelves groaning, pulling his arms so they gave an ominous creak. “You’re right,” Edward said again, this time sounding slightly breathless. “I apologize.”

Still snarling, her anger still white-hot, the pain in the core of her being still exposed, she pulled a little harder and Edward gave a grunt.

God, she would love to tear them off. She would love to rip his fucking arms off and toss them into the forest. She would love to leave him with the scars of having to reattach them as a reminder that you did not make light of sexual violence, that you did not hint a threat of it.

“Rose.” Emmett’s voice came from behind her, gentle and understanding.

She pulled harder and Edward groaned, his arm making a metallic grinding noise.

“Rose.”

With a grunt, Rosalie let go.

She wasn’t always like this. She hadn’t always been this explosive. Things of late had just been...

She turned, not bothering to give Edward another look, and strode over to Emmett. She curled up in his lap, taking comfort from his big arms, from the smell of him, the feel of his protection. She bunched a hand in his shirt and blanked her face, refusing to give away how much that had upset her.

She had heard from before that she was ‘sensitive’ about her past. She didn’t think it was sensitivity. She thought she had been through something that no one should have to face and then was forced to continue living on the other side of it.

Edward groaned a little as he pulled himself away from the bookshelves, stretching his arms.

“Edward.” Carlisle chided.

Edward only glanced at Carlisle and then turned back to Rosalie.

“Look, Rosalie, I know that you feel strong inclinations toward women’s rights because of how you died, and I approve of that.”

Rosalie’s teeth clenched, her mouth filling with venom. It was disgusting. This disgusted her. She did not have strong inclinations because of how she died. She had them because they were right. The fact that the prick didn’t understand that was exactly why she had such strong inclinations. Her eyes flicked to him, burning into him.

“I do understand that. I’m a feminist too. But this, huh,” he gave a small stressed laugh, “this is for her own protection.”

“You can’t do whatever you want because it pleases you, Edward, and say it’s for her protection.”

“I’m not! She is weak! She is vulnerable.”

She glanced around the family incredulously. Surely she was not the only one who thought this was wrong. Just because they were vampires didn’t mean they had carte blanche. Surely there was someone…

“I don’t know, Rosalie,” Carlisle said, thoughtful. “After all, the intent here is to be sure that Bella is safe, not to violate her privacy.”

“And she is such a frail human,” Esme added.

“Mmm,” Carlisle nodded in agreement.

Rosalie grumbled. She sure couldn’t argue with that.

“Well, Alice could keep an eye out for her on those days, right, Al?” Jasper’s arms crossed over his chest as he made the recommendation, nodding a little toward his tiny counterpart.

Rosalie sighed in relief, thankful there was someone who seemed uncomfortable too.

“I could do that,” Alice offered, but Edward was already shaking his head.

“Your visions are too susceptible to change.” He insisted. “Any little thing could mean her safety is compromised, and she is too important to risk.”

Rosalie groaned. Fine. She mentally threw in the towel. What does she care if he’s a huge creep? Bella meant nothing to her, would never mean anything to her. This was not on her. “Fine. Whatever. But I’m not doing it.”

There was no way she would be getting that close to Bella. There was no way that – her thought shifted, stuttered and she immediately brought the cars back up to the forefront. There was no way that she could stand there in the shadows and watch Bella, nor give her that much attention. Not now.

“No, Rose, I think the best way to do this is fairly.” Carlisle insisted.

Rosalie ducked her head, letting it fall against Emmett’s shoulder. She knew what was coming. The thing about her life was that if the coven made a universal decision, then she had to do it too. It was coven life. Otherwise, her family will tell her she’s being a bitch again. Otherwise, she would actually be the bitch that they seemed to always think she was. She moaned quietly. She could already feel her choice slipping away from her.

Emmett chuckled at little at her noise and wrapped her up tighter. “Come on, babe, it won’t be that bad.”

She didn’t respond. The worst part was that she had to because this was her family. She was already often the odd one out, somehow always seeming to have less of a relationship in the family and to the family than everyone else.

“I’ll need to hunt tomorrow night, at the latest.”

Rosalie scowled.

“Then we should pull sticks for who goes first,” Carlisle announced the edict. His hands came together, clapping lightly. He nodded once and disappeared for a moment.

The room grew silent in anticipation. This wasn’t the first time plans had been made this way.

Carlisle reappeared a second later from his study, the premade sticks in his hand. He had no more turned to Esme to allow her to draw first when Alice’s voice sounded, shrill and sweet.

“Rosalie!”

She groaned. She could at least let them draw the sticks first.

Alice’s smile was apologetic.

Emmett’s laugh rumbled through the room. “Bad luck, babe.”

Rosalie just grit her teeth and with a nod of loathsome consent, left for the car bay, muttering under her breath as she went.

Chapter Text

The next day Rosalie pulled herself from her car, her mind on the car she was going to build and where exactly she could get the frame. This was her thought process every day as she stepped onto the high school campus because – and sure enough – before she had even stepped from the parking lot and onto the quad, the smell that was less of a smell and more of a sensation was there. It was light in the morning mist that fell like dew on her face. It wasn’t raining yet, but she wished it was. It was better on the mornings where the rain washed some of the lingering scent away. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her brother of sorts and... her sitting on a bench beside the quad.

“Hey, Ed—” Emmett’s greeting cut itself off in surprise when she squared her shoulders and disappeared into the crowd.

It had been two weeks since Edward had brought Bella to the house for the first, and so far only time. Two weeks and she had been handling it. Even after the... thing had happened, she had been handling it.

The thing.

She had no idea that it had been in her power to make it worse. No one had told her - not that there would have been any reason for anyone to do so. She hadn’t known and so, like an idiot, she had made it worse. Anger boiled in her when she thought about it, even after all of this time. Stupid. It had been a stupid, foolish mistake that should not have happened.

The week before she had rounded the corner just after that the stupid couple had stepped out of their shared class, and she hadn’t been able to get past them without doing something outside of human abilities. She had walked fast, her head down, avoiding, trying to push gruffly past them but they had stepped in front of her like a slow-moving van in the fast lane. And so she had been stuck. She hadn’t liked it, hadn’t liked being that close. It was the closest she had been thus far. So when Be – the girl – had tripped she had been right there to see it. She had stifled the natural reaction to reach out and catch her, leaving that to Edward, who had moved to steady her with quick ease. It had, however, meant that Bella had turned to see what she had tripped over and instead her gaze had first been caught by Rosalie’s red Alexander McQueen’s and had moved up her body until she was staring wide-eyed into her face. She had looked so much like a startled deer or some kind of baby animal that it had almost, almost been endearing. Rosalie had thought... she had just glared back... Their eyes had only connected for a second, if even that before glare had dropped into blank shock as suddenly it had all changed. She had made eye contact with the stupid girl and now... the scent/feeling was everywhere. She could smell it when she stepped out of her front door, although the girl was miles away. And now... there was a feeling.

But she was handling it.

She stomped passed a group of giggling girls, Emmett reappearing at her side and just for good measure, she glared at them when one looked at Emmett with appreciation. All three paled, and that helped a little.

She was handling it, damn it.

 


 

Rosalie walked into the lunchroom, as she always did, as if she owned it and with Emmett at her side.

“They say the climb is really dangerous, but, ya know,” Emmett grinned and Rose smirked back, understanding the hint that the danger meant nothing but a little added fun for Emmett and Jasper.

He grabbed two trays and handed one to Rosalie, still chattering away happily. “Jasper thinks if we went on Saturday that we could be back by that night, which is like way faster than most take the climb.”

“I’m sure you’ll kick ass, babe,” she said, her mind only partially on her words.

The cafeteria. She hated this room these days. She thought she would hate any enclosed room where she was stuck with her. The moment she walked in she was greeted with something she wanted to ignore. The room, despite all types of people with all types of scent, was filled with it, swirling around her in a mist she felt as though she could almost see.

Just as absently she picked up food for her tray and paid, completely unaware if she had bought a sandwich or three bowls of pudding.

Car. She forced through thoughts of the car, desperate to get her mind on something safe. She had looked in the local paper as well as Seattle’s, Portland’s, and Vancouver and she had found the frame of the Camaro, so she thought that made up her mind for her. She flicked a glance at Edward across the room, but he, apparently, was too busy to hear much of anything.

“Hi, Rose.” Alice smiled at her as she took her seat.

Rosalie gave a grunt, letting the forced thoughts fade with a wary stiffness.

“How was the trig test? I hear it was hard.”

She scoffed, rolling her eyes at Alice’s amusement. If the teachers here only knew about some of her degrees, they would be very surprised by her middle of the road grade point average.

“So, bro, the climb.” Emmett began and that was enough. The other three easily fell into their conversation about what game might be nearby there, leaving Rosalie to her thoughts.

The scent was thick, maddening in a way, calling to her, asking her to look, to turn, to acknowledge. She picked up half a sandwich, looking at it with disgust and dropped it again. She clenched her jaw, refusing the beckoning. She would not listen to their inane conversation. The last time she had listened to Edward and Bella it had been about favorite holiday seasons which had felt provincial, like a made for TV teenage movie. So she did not look at her. She wouldn’t. She wouldn’t risk eye contact again, unsure of what it would do.

“Come on! Right, babe?”

Rosalie smiled at him and gave his thigh a rub, her answer easy. “Of course I think you would bag the most, babe.”

“Ha!” Emmett grinned.

“Well, of course, she would say that!” Alice laughed. “She’s your Rose.”

“That’s right.” Rosalie nodded through grit teeth.

Jasper looked up suddenly as if she had called him, his eyebrows drawing together.

He could feel her strain, of course, he could.

Her eyes were on her. She could feel them. She looked the opposite direction, out the window, but she could feel them. God damn it. She gripped the metal fork in her hand tightly. Why was she looking at her? What the hell did she want?

“Babe!” Emmett whispered, taking the now useless twist of metal from her hand and jamming it into his pocket so no one would see that it had shaped itself to her fist as easy as putty.

This wasn’t new. Bella often looked over at the table, as if she wanted something from them, and more specifically as if she wanted something from her. She had been told, as Rosalie had overheard one day, that she had been the only person to vote no on her in their lives. Which was true... in a way. That seemed to bother Bella deeply.

Rosalie did her best to ignore the fact that it made her uncomfortable to know that it bothered Bella.

The feeling of being under her gaze faded and Rosalie took a breath. Her shoulders hadn’t even had the time to fully relax when the weighty gaze was on her again.

After the third furtive glance Rose snarled to herself. There was no point in sitting across the room with Edward if she was just going to keep looking at her like this. What the hell was her problem?

“I’m done,” she announced to the table. There would be enough of her that night. She sure as hell didn’t need to take more now. She rose and swiftly moved across the room, her back straight, her mind white noise of aggravation. 

 


 

She wasn’t feeling any cheerier about the situation that evening as she threw on some hunting clothes. Despite the downpour, she wouldn’t be cold, but still out of habit she dressed in a thick coat, a scarf, and raincoat. She also wouldn’t be hot and should anyone see her, she wouldn’t stick out.

God, hopefully no one saw her standing outside of the Swan house like an idiot.

That’s all she needed, another person to think she was obsessed with this girl, like the rest of the town.

Because she wasn’t.

The movement behind her caught her, someone coming up the stairs and her thoughts shifted.

“So, you will be —” Edward’s voice cut off the scrambled and forced thoughts about the car.

“Yes, Edward, I will be outside. I heard you. I get it. I’m going.”

Edward nodded, but still, he lingered.

“Was there something else you need? Should I fluff her pillow for her too? I’m sure I can sneak in without her noticing and be sure it’s nice and fl—”

“Thank you.” Edward cut her off. “Rosalie. Thank you.”

Rosalie’s teeth clamped, grinding. The only thing worse than his incessant moaning was his sincerity.  “I still think there are better ways to do this.” 

Edward didn’t answer, but instead, he gave a small nod and started back down the stairs and out into the night.

Rosalie glared, watching him disappear into the trees through the large window over her window seat. She sighed. She could go on foot and she debated as she slid into her car a moment later. Her car was slightly eye-catching as it was red. The last thing that she could allow was being seen doing this... thing. Maybe going on foot would be a better plan. But as quickly as she debated it, she turned the thought down. There was no way she was going tromping through the mud any more than she had to. Instead, she parked two blocks away, turned into the forest and jogged at a quick pace through the woods.

A wet and foul scent caught her as she was nearing the Swan house, a scent she had smelled previously but not for a very long time.

Senses sharp, she stopped on a dime, not coming to a skid but instead sticking as if she had suddenly sunk into glue. That smell. She turned a little, her body falling into a half crouch. Looking deep into the forest and seeing far, she saw nothing that made her cautious. She stood immobile, waiting.

After a long moment and senses still sharp, she started the last few yards to the Swan house.

Interesting. The smell increased as she got closer to it.

She had thought that Edward was being dramatic when he had said that Bella had gotten herself surrounded by wolves. It seemed that Edward was right. Not that she would ever think that if Edward were within hearing distance. A wolf or someone in very close contact with a wolf had been here within the last few hours. Her nose twitched. It was a foul smell, one that she knew she would find on her clothes once home again, like smoke stuck to clothing fibers making it smell even after it was washed.

Fine, she would just throw these away before she reached her home.

Did she need to worry? That was the real question. She crouched, reluctantly breathing the scent in and decided that she didn’t. The wolf hadn’t stayed, as much as walked by. Perhaps checking on the elder who must have been by that evening. Perhaps the elder himself after a meeting with a wolf.

She set herself up, leaning against a tree just off to the side of the house where she would be unseen. She turned, and with her back to the house, she began her wait for the dawn. She refused to notice the occupants. She didn’t want to think about her. The scent seemed to trickle down to her, swirling as it did, letting her know that the scent owner was there.

As if she needed the stupid reminder. This was ridiculous. She set her jaw, her arms folded and stopped breathing. This was absolutely ridiculous. She refused to be cowed. She had already made up her mind, had already decided that this meant little more than nothing. What it came down to was that this didn’t matter, this new… development. She was happily committed. She had been with Emmett for all of her new life, and she loved him. How could she not? She was a bear of a man, with a silly sense of humor that paired well with her caustic nature. He knew when to invade her space, and when to give her a wide berth. And the sex was fantastic. It had never wavered, never not been great. His penis was great. It was huge and talented, and what was even better was that his mouth and hands were just as talented. She didn’t need anything else. She certainly didn’t even want a woman. Why would she want a woman? Why would she want a human girl? Why would she want someone who simply bent to her will, to weak and simpering to speak her mind? She wasn’t Edward or any other man of their day. Obedience wasn’t a turn on, mentally or physically. Rosalie didn’t understand Edward’s obsession with this.

And Emmett cared about her. He was always there, loving her. Emmett was her man, and that was never going to change.

So, no. She wouldn’t. She... she...

Edward was often gone these days, trapped in his obsessive love for Bella, and so she could have time to think, but this was the first time that she had actually been alone in the last two weeks. And so, for the first time, she let herself think.

She took a small breath and the scent that was less of a scent was still there, of course it was.

So what? Her mind demanded. That smell, that meant that she was just supposed to fall in love for the stupid human girl? The one who gave her brother the sappiest eyes as if she had no mind of her own? She was just supposed to fall in love with her now because she was her perfect mate? Because she was predestined for her? That was ridiculous. No stupid ancient vampiric bullshit was going to tell her who to love. She was already in love. We’re she and Emmett mated? No. But it had always been enough for them. He was her best friend. She would never hurt him like this. They might think of her as Rosalie the bitch, but she wasn’t, not really. She just lived life entirely sick of everyone else’s bullshit. She would never hurt him. She was just wrong, that was all. It was as easy as that.

She took another breath and head dropped forward, unable to stay up under the weight of this.

She wanted so deeply to decide she was wrong. She wanted to simply be jealous of the fact that another member of the family had been mated. This wasn’t real. This couldn’t be real.

And yet...

She closed her eyes and took a long, deep breath.

The scent washed through her, comforting, and alluring. Without permission, her head turned toward the house, her eyes still closed. She felt the sensation like an outside observer, hating the comfort, the desire, the interest, all still casual in nature. She had a feeling if she weren’t careful, the feeling wouldn’t remain casual. She took another breath, mentally holding the scent at bay. Still, it curled around her, inviting, whispering the truth, whispering of promise.

No, she wasn’t wrong. She wanted to be, profoundly. But with the scent, she felt two things. Desire, a genuine and honest desire, and knowledge.

Carlisle was right. There was no mistaking it. Smelling it, feeling it, that was understanding. It told her what had happened.

Out of habit, she shifted against the tree with her swaying emotions.

She couldn’t hurt him.

The anger she had felt since that stupid day at her house cracked and broke, letting in her deep sadness.

Emmett deserved the world.

Sorrow, black and barren and hideous plunged through her.

She couldn’t.

She stopped breathing, and that was a little better, the emotions inside of her settling.

Behind her, she heard a snorted laugh that could only be Bella’s and her lips curled back into a snarl.

She hated her. She hated her for coming here. She hated her for interrupting her life. She hated her for being born.

The evening drew on while Rosalie stewed in her hate and eventually turned to night. The sounds of the house settled until it was just the scribbling of a pencil and the television.

Eventually her father, the chief, said good night and went to his room.

Rosalie didn’t move, frozen in her lingering anger.

Night animals began to emerge in the forest, keeping their distance from her. Crickets and grasshoppers began to sing.

Through the trees, rain fell like music to the ground.

Still, she didn’t move, her arms crossed over her chest, her jaw tight.

She liked the night noises of the forest. It was calming. She turned her head and looked up, but she couldn’t see the stars there from under the thick canopy of trees. She let her head rest against the soft bark of the tree, her thoughts quieting as the town quieted. The anger slipped away as she listened to the melody of the forest, listened to the rain, to the animals, to the bugs. She didn’t notice, not at first that she had begun to breathe again, slow and deep. Eventually, her eyes closed, her senses stilled, her emotions at peace. She took another slow deep breath in and realized that her breathing pattern matched the soft sleepy one upstairs.

In the darkness, she slowly became meditative simply listening to the steady breathing coming from the upstairs of the house. The wolves didn’t come back. The rain doesn’t stop. She just stood like that, still as stone, simply listening all night.

When the morning alarm went off Rosalie gave a start, feeling refreshed herself, warm and content. That thought immediately sent a shiver of anger down her spine.

Eyes rolling, her hands balled into fists. She had been snapped out of whatever spell she had been under and she was thankful… and she hated it.

“Damn it,” she grumbled. She turned and started back toward her car.

Never again.

She would never let that happen again. She would never come back. She would not. Would not.

Yet, the following week when Edward spoke to the family to inform them that Jasper would be going to watch Bella that night, Rosalie’s skin chafed. That evening, Jasper changed and was about to start out when Rosalie stopped him.

“The house is too loud.” Which was true. Alice was on a throat singing kick again and the two tonal noise was nonstop. “I want to read. I’ll go.”

She tried her best to ignore the surprise on their faces, instead turning her thoughts to the car frame, mentally skimming through towing companies she could use as she turned and went up to her room to change herself.

It wasn’t until she was under the window, beside the tree again that she let herself ask why. She didn’t know why she had insisted. She didn’t want to be there.  Except, standing there after the house’s occupants had fallen asleep had been...  she remembered the soothing calm she had felt bitterly. It had been intimate, too intimate and she couldn’t let anyone else do it. The thought of Bella’s breath at night, it had been like a song that had fed something in her, something deep and dark and as of yet buried. It wasn’t at all that she fought all day to avoid Bella, to act as though she didn’t exist and so it was relieving to simply allow herself to be near her. It wasn’t like putting ice on a burn.

Not surprising her at all, it was raining again as she stood under the tree, soaked, not feeling the cold but feeling the annoyance of chafing jeans. She stood there, and she just tried not to think.

Chapter Text

Unlike the times before when Rosalie arrived, she did not settle with her back to the house and so, also unlike the previous weeks, she was able to see the goings-on inside. Arms crossed, she stood under the tree, rain dripping from chin and hair. She hadn't intentionally stood this way, and yet, for the first time she was able to see into the kitchen window. The evening was still early, just after six and so the house was still active. Or, at least it should have been, but it was strangely sedate despite the hour. There was no laughter, no conversation to be heard. Instead, it might as well have been eleven. The only sound was the sizzling of something in the kitchen and the television in the living room. Bella was there in the kitchen, still dressed in the clothes that she wore to school, busily shifting from foot to foot as she… Rosalie's head leaned to one side curiously, made dinner. She had such a strange look on her face as she did it, like maybe she liked to cook, but not as much as the meal required. Chief Swan walked in, rummaged through the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of cheap beer.

"Smells good," he mumbled to his daughter.

Rosalie watched Bella glance over her shoulder and give him half of a smile. Then he went back to the TV in the living room and Bella turned back to the stove.

She watched, unaware she was doing so, fascinated by this dynamic. Nothing was said between the two. Instead, they might as well have lived on different planets. Even her own house which was filled with ancient vampires was more alive than this. They mingled, they played games, they watched movies, they talked to one another. Watching Bella and the chief sit down at the small table and begin to eat in silence, Rosalie wondered if it was always like this between them.

The way Bella treated her father was interesting. She smiled, she laughed, but there was a sort of uncertain love on her face that surprised Rosalie.

Were they not close? Was that the answer here? Bella had moved there to be with him, hadn't she?

Just like everyone else in town, she had heard stories of chief Swan and his reluctant bride. It was impossible not to be up on all gossip in town when you heard everything, but she had never considered exactly what that meant for Bella.

She watched Bella take her last few bites, having eaten the meal so quickly that it had to be intentional. She took it to the sink and began to wash. There was warmth in her voice as she teased him about his inability to wash a dish, but there was a stiffness that Rosalie could detect, a politeness that she doubted was typical for a child/parent relationship.

Did Edward know why she would move there if she wasn't close to him?

"Okay kiddo, err, I'll get out of your way then." Rosalie heard Chief Swan say from inside as he awkwardly stood in the doorway, hovering between what seemed like Bella's space and his own.

"Yeah, dad, sure. I'll clean up and then get started on my homework."

Rosalie's arms crossed. So Bella cooked and cleaned? Was it that hard to wash a dish? She doubted it very seriously. Instead, he got another beer and headed for the soft-looking chair in the living room, leaving Bella with a sink full of dishes and a backpack full of homework.

Rosalie's jaw set and she clicked her tongue in disgust.

Fucking men.

The riddle of the Swan house continued when Bella, with a long glance over her shoulder toward her father, sat down at the dining room table and pulled out a binder and books.

Her face twisted as she looked down at the paper, but her hand flew across the page quickly.

For her first time through high school, she finished very quickly.

So she was smart, Rosalie thought, considering. There had been nothing to make her think so before, not with the way she mooned over Edward. She was smart and… she was lonely.

A tug answered the thought in her own chest. Understanding. Empathy. Similarity.

Suddenly her jaw snapped closed, a growl leaving her chest.

Why was she paying attention? What the hell was she doing?

With a snarl she reached up and grabbed the branch above her, pulling herself easily into a spit in the tree branch.

Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. What the hell did she care if Bella was smart or if she was lonely? Or if she moved despite not loving her dad? Who. Cared. She didn't understand her. She didn't want to understand her. And she wasn't lonely. Bella could be the lonely pathetic teenager all by herself. She had Emmett.

She brushed off some of the loose leaves and dirt from the branch and leaned back, her hands behind her head to protect her hair and began to wait for dawn again.

Simple enough, ignore what was around her. She didn't care.

She didn't care... until a little while later when suddenly her eyes popped open, alarmed.

"What the hell is happening?" She asked the empty area.

The entire woods near her were suddenly drenched, flooded with Bella's scent. Involuntarily she took a deep breath, her eyes closing with relish. The scent was warm, clean. It was a lot, overwhelming even.

It made her want... she didn't know... but she wanted.

The scent filled her mind like wine. It made her dizzy. She let out a single girlish giggle into the growing darkness, suddenly giddy, almost drunk.

And oh god, she wanted. A flash of arousal ripped through her body, starting in her belly and moving everywhere. She breathed deeply, long and slow. Her over-warmed body grew heavy on the branch, leaving her perfectly balanced but boneless, a puddle of aroused vampire.

Hazily, she glanced toward the house and saw that the bathroom light was on. Bella was showering, filling the air with the warm clean scent of her body, of her.

The feeling of comfort increased and she lazily ran a hand up and down her belly, simply comfortable.

She was angry in general. She was an angry vampire and had been a vapid, stupid human. Everything made her angry. She had little tolerance for most people, which was why she avoided them so much. Or at least, that was what she let most people think. But now, being enveloped by the scent hanging in the woods, that anger suddenly felt calm, like it had just drifted away.

What the hell is happening to me?

But the question wasn't forceful. The cloud surrounding her wasn't a drug. It didn't anesthetize her. Instead, it was as though her pain, all the pain she carried around with her, felt better. Her past didn't hurt as much. She didn't mind at that moment that she had been turned into a monster without ever giving her permission. She didn't mind so much that she had been saved from the hell her dying body had found, only to be dropped into a new hell. She didn't care that she was suddenly mated to a teenager.

She glanced back at the bathroom window. It wasn't all of that high and would be easy to get to.  The scent spoke clearly. It told her that if she could just be closer, maybe crawl into the bathroom window just to be near her, then it would all be okay, good even. It told her that she would be happy, that she would finally find peace. She sat up, her hands on the branch above her, ready to crawl across it and scale the house.

Her mind suddenly caught up with her just as her foot braced against the window ledge, ready to push the old fashioned window up.

What the hell was she doing?

She let out a yell, ripping herself sideways so she went whirling through the air, landing with one foot and one hand on the ground. She pushed off hard, sprinting into the distance, far enough to see the house in the far distance but not close enough to smell it.

"Arrrruggghhh!" She cried into the night, gulped the clean air.

Clear your head, clear your head, clear your head.

Hands on her knees, she bent over, drinking in the clean air.

Focus. Focus.

She searched through the scents and cataloged them. Animals. Wet trees. Old leaves. People.

The feeling in her body faded slowly, very slowly, but it did go.

She stood, pinching the bridge of her nose in frustration and fighting the desire to go back, to be closer.

Edward was right. She smelled too good. It was like trying to save a kitten from a tigress.

That thought made her laugh a little. She's the tigress, wasn't she? Beautiful, ruthless, deadly.

Then again, did Bella smell this good to everyone? Was this a trick of this thing she felt?

She didn't know, but she needed to be more careful.

 


 

The following week Rosalie was dressed and ready with her excuse book in hand before Esme had even risen from her spot on the couch to go get dressed. Eyes wide, she only nodded when Rosalie informed her that she was off to guard duty.

The week before, she felt as though maybe she had a reason why she had insisted on being the one to go, as thin as it might have been. This week... this week she was just trying not to think about it.

She arrived and pulled herself up into the tree, agitated to smell that Edward had stalled his departure and was still inside, hidden in Bella's room from Charlie.

She watched, annoyed as Bella fluttered back and forth past her bedroom window. Each time she went past her face was obviously anxious, the sound of her feet on the floor too quick to be casual. Tension both excited and nervous poured from the room so thickly it was almost a scent. 

Why? Just because Edward was there? Didn't that bother him?

Trying to clean up her room in records pace, Bella turned with a few items of dirty clothes and tripped over a shoe, going sprawling into Edward's arms. He laughed, the amused grin on his face Rosalie's answer.

No, apparently her agitated state didn't bother him at all.

"It's okay, Bella," Edward promised.

"I'm, err, I'm making somewhere for you to sit."

"I don't need to sit. I can stand all night."

Rosalie's eyes rolled. Arrogant bastard.

"I have to go anyway, remember?"

"Oh." Bella shifted a little in place, her blush still securely intact on her face. "Right. Hunting night."

"Yes." Edward's smile grew.

"Do you have to go now?"

Rosalie flopped down onto her back, settling so the branch lined up perfectly so she didn't need to worry about balance.

Stupid girl.

"I do. But I'll be here to pick you up in the morning."

"Okay."

There was silence for a long second. Rosalie glanced over. All at once her body felt hot, the spike of rage warming a body that was unable to be warmed. Edward had Bella, holding her stiffly by the arms as he very slowly leaned in and kissed her cheek. Her nails created gouges in the branch under her hand.

A second later, the branch dipped as Edward climbed out the window and into the tree.

If he was surprised to see Rosalie there then he didn't show it.

"Rose." He nodded.

Anger still thumping in her temples, she swallowed thickly. "Stalker."

"Right," he mumbled, rolling his eyes and then leapt from the tree, taking off quickly.

She was glad he hadn't wanted to hang around. Her skin felt overly sensitive. She wanted to bite something, and she would have been happy if it had been Edward's face.

Stupid, stupid, child of a girl, her mind grumbled as she laid back again.

She was determined that night not to be like the last time. She would not watch Bella. She would not. She had taken the game of avoiding eye contact to a new level as of late, and she was not going to give in.

The thought of that kiss, that stupid kiss... he didn't even have the decency to paw at her properly. That right there was proof in and of itself that there was no real way she and Bella could be mated. No mate of hers would be satisfied being kissed that way.

She chuckled.

That... that was for sure.

So no, she was not going to watch her because who cared.

Certainly not her.

Inside the room, she heard a sniffle.

Rosalie's head jerked so fast that the tree branch swayed.

Was she... a surf of disgust and horror hit her, making her face twist. This girl wasn't crying because Edward had left, was she? She could put up with a lot of pathetic behavior from the person who was supposed to be her mate, but that... she had her limits. 

For the love of—

From on her bed, Rosalie heard the sound of a cordless phone being dialed.

The phone rang a few times and then something picked up. Even from her spot outside Rosalie was able to hear the voice perfectly. It was slightly raspy, sounding much like Bella's only older.

"Hi, this is Renee and Phil. We can't come to the phone right—" the call cut off.

Temptation too strong, Rosalie lifted her head just enough to see inside.

Bella sat in the middle of her bed, her face twisting. Even Rosalie could tell she was fighting hard against tears. Her head bowed, her shoulders slumped, a sob fell from her.

Rosalie froze, already half up on one knee.

She was homesick, Rosalie realized. It wasn't about Edward at all.

Renee, that had been her mother, right? She had heard that name before, she thought.

Mildly panicked, she lowered herself into a sitting position. What should she do? Did she ignore it? Did she call Alice and ask her to go visit her? Of course, she could do nothing, but was there something she could do?

Ugh, she wanted to do nothing, she insisted to herself. Still, she watched, on edge as Bella rose, put the phone in its holder and then pulled out her homework. She watched as Bella gave herself a small pep talk, shaming her tears away.

The talk seemed to have worked. As Bella worked her way through her homework, the sadness on her face fell away.

Rosalie watched her with fascination. She hadn't worked through whatever had made her cry. Instead, she had buried it deep, even Rosalie could tell.

That was something that Rosalie knew plenty about. Bury the pain. Push it down until it wasn't there anymore. Hide it.

It took Bella very little time to finish, yet again. Once the homework was tucked away, she on a small TV that Rosalie hadn't noticed there before. As Bella's face changed from sad to blank, Rosalie's limbs began to relax as well.

She couldn't tell. Had the danger passed? Was Bella feeling better? She seemed different. In fact -

As she watched, making sure Bella was okay, something dawned on her.

It had bugged her every time and now she finally could see the difference.

The anxiety was gone. She was no longer shuffling around. Her shoulders no longer looked as though they were made from rock. The moment that had Edward left, Bella had calmed. It was like removing the catnip from a kitten.

Okay, the kitten metaphors needed to stop.

She watched Bella change the channel and sink a little more into her bed, scoffing at some joke on-screen.

She's different when Edward isn't around. That's the change. She seemed on edge without him but also she was less… pathetic, maybe?

Rosalie was still musing over this when a car pulled up out front. She shifted, crawling back a little so her back was against the tree, making sure she was invisible.

The car's door opened and Rosalie froze, the scent hitting her fast and hard.

Wet, foul, animalistic.

Wolves.

If she had hackles, they would have risen at the realization. There were wolves pulling up to Bella's house.

She watched as a gangly boy got out and went around to the side. She shifted, perched, ready to jump in if needed.

Wow, she had to admit, she didn't want to say it but again, Edward had been right. The boy was going to change any second. She doubted if it would be more than six months to a year.

A pang of stress hit her chest.

He wasn't safe.

Six months to a year was not tonight, but it was still soon, even in the relatively short lifespan of a human.

He was dangerous. He was a threat to Bella.

Her eyes tracked him as he moved up the walkway, his smile large as he pushed a man in a wheelchair.

The newly arrived duo was greeted with enthusiasm from inside. Tense and feeling a bit like a predator herself, she dropped down to the ground, forgetting to be grossed out by the spying.

It only took a matter of moments for Rosalie to decide she didn't like this boy, not one fucking bit.

She snarled, her teeth exposed as the kid went in for a hug that picked Bella up and swung her around.

He was young and inexperienced, but it was clear he was crazy over her, over Bella, over her fucking mate!

Was there anyone who didn't want her?

A green streak of possessive jealousy ripped through her, making her snarl as the boy casually tossed an arm over Bella's shoulder.

Rosalie reached up, meaning to pull herself back up into the tree, but instead with a loud snap, ripped the branch clean from the tree trunk.

Oh shit.

That had been loud, but she had disappeared back up into the tree, seething, before any heads had turned toward the sound.

She paused, scowling. Had she said her mate? No. This stupid girl. She was just a stupid girl. She didn't have a mate, she didn't need a mate.

And he was a child. A silly, stupid child. Why did she care? She didn't care. She didn't. Still, it wasn't until the strangers were in their car and pulling away that she was able to settle back against the branch again.

This was getting confusing.

 


 

Bella didn't shower that night, to Rosalie's great relief. Instead, she tried her mother again, still getting the answering machine.

Her shoulders slumped so far after that one that Rosalie had her small flip phone pulled out, ready to call Alice for the hug that Bella obviously needed. It was clear that the lack of answer caused Bella pain, very clear even.

Bella dropped the phone beside the bed and sigh a heavy sigh, clicked the lights off.

Rosalie rested back, eyes closed, ready to wait for the morning... to wait for that slow and even in and out breath that lulled her so. Not that she would admit that to anyone at all.

Instead, unlike the other nights, she heard a shifting of blankets. Automatically, her head tilted to the side, trying to pick up what the sound was. Evidently, a lot was happening in Bella's life, something that Rose had never known. She can't blame her for being restless. Was it the calls to her mother that pushed her into unrest or something else?

Inside, music softly began to play form Bella's room. It was nice, something kind of quiet and light.

Before Rosalie could help it, a small smile spread across her face as she relaxed.

More shifting of blankets and then...

At first, Rosalie couldn't understand what she was hearing. It wasn't loud, in fact, it was more of an absence of noise, a slight breath.

Horrified, Rosalie sat up straight.

She wasn't –

A soft hitching breath released from the direction of Bella's room. It wasn’t much. Just a slight gasp, tiny really. A small inhale that caught and then a tiny sigh, but it was filled with —

Rosalie was moving, her feet hitting the ground and then taking off at a run as her mind screamed at her.

Oh! Oh! Too much! She ran blindly, trying to escape the little sound playing over and over in her head.

She didn't stop until she was flying through the front door of the Cullen home.

"Rose!" Alice blinked up at her. "You're back early."

There was condemnation in Alice's voice and Rosalie didn't care in the slightest. She twitched in place a little, unsure of exactly how she felt.

"Why are you back early?"

Rosalie glared, her anger, her confusion making the snarl sharp enough that Alice stepped back a pace. "It's creepy and it's wrong. We're not doing it anymore." She said it as an announcement, knowing the whole house would hear. Then she turned, and marched out to the car bay, slamming the back door behind her.

Chapter Text

Hours later and Rosalie’s mood had finally settled. Her skin no longer felt both hot and cold all at once, her mind no longer felt as though it were shouting at her. What she had heard… it had barely been there, and yet… 

She had known this was wrong, spying on anyone that way, and yet she had allowed herself to go along with it. 

No more. 

Her mind had played that little exhale of breath over and over. Each time she had begun to feel as though she could breathe again that small little gasp, so tiny, so feminine, would play in her mind again and the process would start over. 

The night had been a rollercoaster, and so the last place she wanted to find herself was there, in the library, about to sit through another family meeting on the same old topic: Bella.

The name came out slimy in her mind, filled with resentment and Edward, apparently beyond anger and to the point of apoplexy, glared and spluttered in her direction. 

She was surprised he even registered the thought. Mentally she saw herself giving him the finger, her hand and the finger itself overly large, like a cartoon balloon. 

Quickly he looked away, his face twisted as if the mental image had burned. 

Rosalie smirked, draping herself into Emmett’s lap. Priss. 

Most of them had modernized, at least to a point... and then there was Edward.

“Okay, everyone.” Carlisle’s voice was low, but it was enough to gather the attention of the room. “We are here —”

“We’re here because Rosalie left her post!” Edward snapped, his wild eyes turning on her.

She glared back. Her post? Had she been drafted into some type of ridiculous Bella-based military? 

That thought made her internally scoff because yes, she had been. That much was very clear.

“Yes, Rose...” Carlisle’s fingers were steepled. Rosalie had to imagine this must be what a tired father of six constantly fighting teenagers would look like. Though his eyes were kind, there was a set to his jaw that told her that he meant business. “And you have a very good reason for that, right?” 

She gave a snort, the tiny sound, beautiful sound that had come from Bella’s room drifting through her mind. Her body tensed, her eyes flicking back to Edward. Her mind clamped down on the sound, holding it close to herself. She didn’t want him to have it. She didn’t want him to know this about his supposed true love

His eyebrows were drawn, confusion obvious. It seemed he was trying to understand whatever he had taken from her mind, confused by her sudden mental walls. 

“Get out of my head, Edward!”

He blinked, coming out of his concentration with an apologetic nod. 

If he had heard it, he had completely missed the context. 

“Edward, Rose wouldn’t have left without a very good reason. She agreed to help us, remember?” Esme promised, smiling down at Rosalie.

“I did.” She nodded, slightly sick that she had to admit that.

“That makes me think we need to go back to the drawing board with this, then,” Emmett inserted, the calmest one in the room.

“We don’t.” Edward grit.

“We do, Edward!” She sat up, pushing herself from Emmett’s lap and into the chair beside it in agitation. “We do. We really do.”

“Don’t you all understand?” Edward pressed, turning in a small circle to catch the eyes of the rest of the coven. Rosalie could feel the force he was trying to will on them, the annoyance he felt that he was arguing a point that he had already won. “What Rosalie thinks isn’t the point here. It doesn’t matter. Bella is my mate! I get the final say about what’s good for her.” 

She didn’t mean to, perhaps it had just been the happenings of the evening… or the wolf boy and his puppy love… or Bella’s sadness… or the other… thing but her reaction to that was strong, possessive. A snarl of a growl ripped from her chest before she had been able to stop it. Her skin was crawling. She wasn’t his, she wasn’t. She glared at him from her chair, her hands clutching at the chair arms with the strain of keeping herself seated. 

A wave of satisfaction washed over her, making her snarl harder. The worst part of this was that the possession she was feeling, the want to claim, the refusal to see her and his… was that it felt good.

Behind Edward, Jasper’s head came up. Her eyes flicked and then caught on him, staring wide-eyed at Jasper. Whatever she was feeling he felt, she reminded herself. 

His golden eyes were intense, curious. The look was sobering, washing away the previous feeling and she let it go without a fight. Instead, she gave Edward a nasty smile. Let Jasper think that she took pleasure in thwarting Edward. Let him think she was just being a bitch again. 

Jasper’s look faded into something that Rosalie knew even better. Disappointment, not just any, but disappointment in her.

She looked away, refusing to let it hurt.

“Oh yes, I know, Rosalie.” Edward snapped back, his voice dripping with sarcasm at her thoughts. “She’s not mine. I don’t speak for her. She has a right to her own voice. I know. I’m not trying to take that from her.” 

“Have you thought about talking to her about what she wants, Eddie?” The sarcasm had dropped under the weight of Jasper’s disappointment, and so when she spoke, she sounded perfectly reasonable.

“It would overwhelm her!” 

Rosalie’s tongue clicked, not at all surprised. 

“I must keep her safe!”

“Not at the cost of her privacy!”

“I will make sure she is protected!”

“I’ll tell her, Edward! If you keep spying on her and taking away her right to privacy then I will tell her!”

“That is not your choice!” 

“Hold on, everyone pause, please!” Esme stood between her and Edward with her hands out. “Stop shouting! We are a family. Everyone gets to have their say heard here.”

If only that were true, she thought, crossing and uncrossing her legs in agitation. 

“Thank you.” Esme nodded when the room fell silent. “Rose. What are you trying to say?”

“Err...” So surprised to have Esme ask her to speak over letting Edward rant more, or worse, talk about true love some more, that she for a moment was rendered completely inarticulate. “Okay.” She rose, her hands on her hips, flipping her long hair over her shoulder. How did one even argue this? How was there a need for this to be argued? 

Beside her Emmett’s head dipped, his eyes prompting her to speak. 

All right, she would then, she internally grit.

“I was wrong to let this happen before. This is wrong. God knows I don’t care about Bella, and I wish she was gone—”

Edward growled. 

“But are there no lines that we are uncomfortable crossing anymore? I thought one of the reasons why we lived here with humans was to remind ourselves of who they are and who we want to be. I thought we decided that just because we were... dead... didn’t mean we weren’t also human. I thought we cared about humans.”

“We do.” Carlisle insisted, his look honestly bewildered. 

“So, now we break their basic rights?” 

“It’s for her own protection.”

“No, it’s for your peace of mind, Edward. And it’s partially my fault, I’ve let it happen but...” And that was true, wasn’t it? She had told Edward that she thought it was wrong, and yet she had let him push to get his way, and he hadn’t even pushed her that hard. “No more. There are other ways that precious Bella—” she snipped, her anger at herself solidifying her sarcasm. 

Edward let out a snarl.

“—can be protected without us stalking her, you creep.” 

“She will never understand, never agree. Don’t you get that?” 

“Doesn’t she have that right? Just because you know she will say no doesn’t mean you don’t fucking ask. Spying on her without her consent is tantamount to what you yourself used to kill men for, Edward.” 

“This is not the same.” 

“It is!” Without bidding, the tiny sound popped into her head, the scene full and obvious. She could see herself there in the tree, could feel her own alarm, her own understanding. She froze, staring at Edward. She hadn’t wanted him to have it, she had wanted to keep that to herself, but she could see on his face that he had seen the thought.

There was a moment of confusion again, his eyes flicking back and forth as he turned what he had taken from her head over and over. Then, seeming to finally understand, Edward staggered back, his face horrified. 

Her voice was soft as she spoke, filled with guilt and a denied feeling she wouldn’t allow to surface. “I shouldn’t have been there for that.” 

Edward stumbled again, tripping into the bookshelf in his effort to get away from what he had taken from her without her permission. 

“Err, guys, not all mind readers,” Emmett said, his hand raised as if to be called on. 

“Don’t worry about it!” Rosalie shouted.

“Nothing!” Edward shouted at the same time. 

“Uh, whoa.” 

“That – that was – that was private! You did not need to share that! I did not need to – I did not —” His face was contorted as if she had just thrown a bucket of human food on him. “Rose, why would you – why—”

Rosalie watched him stagger and stumble, feeling honestly bad for the girl. If they were mates, as he thought, she was sure to want to further their relationship one day. Was he even capable of that? She studied his pathetic crumpled face with doubt. Even if she did it would probably be boring, missionary position with the lights off while Edward cried.

That’s enough, Rosalie!” Edward turned on her, crouching.

Instantly Rosalie was braced, crouched and ready to spring, a hiss shooting out of her. 

The family was already on their feet, all ready to stop the fight.

“That is a normal thing that most people do, Edward.”

“Most people do not do that!”

“Oooooh,” Emmett smirked. “I got it.” Then, looking at Edward, his face fell comically fast into deep and honest shock. “You don’t do that, bro?

“She’s a teenager. Are you really going to condemn her for having desires?” Rosalie shot back.

Still crouched, ready to attack, Edward bellowed at her. “I happen to care a great deal for her modesty and her virtue!” 

“You really should do that,” Emmett continued, seeming honestly worried about Edward. 

“I’m not depraved!” Edward cried, swishing his hand at Emmett.

“It’s not depraved. I do it,” Emmett announced.

“So do it,” Rosalie added with a smirk. 

Esme shifted uncomfortably. 

 “If you care so much for her modesty then stop spying on her.” 

“I – I –” He stepped out of the crouch, his shoulders slumped, his hands pushing through his hair, making it stand up on end. It highlighted the torment on his face. “You don’t understand. I must protect her. She is mine to protect. How can you take something as delicate and soft as a rose petal and then not cherish and protect it? You don’t understand, you aren’t mated.” 

Rose growled deep in her chest. She had gotten that shit from the other mates in their coven over and over again, but Edward had always understood that things weren’t that simple. Her bond with Emmett was just as legitimate without the mystical bond. 

“Edward, you have to understand, Rose can’t understand what this feels like.”

Her hackles rose, turning to glare at Carlisle. “Meaning, what? I can’t possibly understand what it feels like to care for someone? Is that because I’m not mated or is it just because it’s me?” 

The strained patience on Carlisle’s face, the slightly patronizing smile was all the answer she needed. 

She hated this. She hated this and it wasn’t fair. She — but her thoughts were straying too close to what she didn’t want to think of. 

She turned away, her back facing the family, her mind suddenly and forcefully on her favorite film. 

“I think Rose is right,” Jasper said from his spot across the room. 

The surprise was enough to make her turn again. 

“There are other ways to protect Bella without watching her without her knowledge. Sitting and watching her sleep without her permission to be there isn’t right.” 

Beside him, Edward shifted, his face suddenly guilty. 

Jasper’s eyebrows rose, disbelief on his face. 

“You’re kidding me, right?” 

Edward didn’t respond.

“The thing is—” Carlisle said slowly, “—the rules might need to bend a little bit. The rules are always bent a little when a vampire finds his mate.” 

It was like the elastic holding her together suddenly snapped. She just couldn’t hear that one more time. What made them all so sure? Even if she was his mate, did that mean she was now his property? Like a piece of land? Like a new car? It was absurd! 

“And god forbid Edward, the prince of the Cullen family be wrong!” 

She saw the looks of confusion on their faces and it only made her angrier. 

“You know what? I need a break. Emmett.” She jerked her head and Emmett rose to follow her out. “This is wrong. And if this keeps going on, I will tell her. Find another way.”

 


 

She spent two days away after that, not at all because she was ashamed for doing Edward’s biding, and not at all because she thought if she saw Edward have swoony eyes over her mate one more time she might kill him. Well. Maybe it was a bit of both. She just had to get away. So she took Emmett to a seedy motel on the outskirts of a small town not too far away. They had, together, wandered through the small sex shop that was the only other business off the truck stop and then had spent the rest of the time naked. After forty-eight hours, she felt so much better. The only time they had come out had been the night before when they had run to Seattle to go dancing. It had been perfect, a perfect example of why this whole… thing was bogus. She loved her life. She loved that people thought she was human and that she had gotten to spend a night getting hit on, only to be taken home by her guy. 

They pulled back into the garage and, still grinning, she let Emmett put his arm over her shoulder as they walked in. 

Getting endlessly jackhammered for two days straight had cleared her head, but what was more, the talking and laughing in between had swept away the cobwebs. Her head was on straight now. She wasn’t going to be with Bella, nor even be her friend, so this stupid thing she was feeling was meaningless. That sound, the stupid little sound she had heard the last time she sat outside of Bella’s room had finally faded and she could think again.

She showered her unplanned weekend away off and then spent a few moments visiting with Esme, even able to ignore when Esme had pointed out how nice it was to see her smile.

Soon it was time to head to school.

The day was fine, better than it had been in a while. Here and there the smell caught her attention, specifically in her advanced bio class, as Bella clearly had whatever class was in there before hers. Instead of it causing her skin to feel overly sensitive, and her mood to drop, she was able to ignore it. By lunch, she wasn’t sure why she hadn’t tried a getaway before. 

This was no big deal now. 

She strolled into the cafeteria, her back straight, the same cocky little grin on her face that she usually held – B.B. – before Bella, and even sent Emmett a wink. 

She picked up a tray and had just grabbed a banana that she wouldn’t be eating when she felt it. She didn’t need to turn and see. She didn’t need the scent that hit her line a punch to let her know that Edward and Bella had just walked up behind her. 

Her smile flattened a little, stretched tight. She blinked and shifted, holding the smile in place with all of her might. 

Not only could she smell her, but she could feel her there, just behind her, god damn it. She grabbed a slice of pizza and plopped it on her tray, giving the woman behind the hot food line a plastic smile. 

Could she feel Rosalie too? She took a step down the line and grabbed something, she wasn’t sure what, feeling all the small hairs all over her body standing to attention. 

Did she feel that too? Could she feel the static energy that was suddenly buzzing?

It frustrated her to no end that she wanted to know. No, frustrated wasn’t right. It wasn’t frustrating. It pissed her off – deeply. 

Behind her, Edward asked Bella what she wanted and Bella sighed like a lovesick teenager, which, Rosalie realized in disgust, she was. “Anything is fine.” 

Rosalie’s eyes narrowed. Clearly, she didn’t. Clearly, she had no idea that Rosalie was right thereRight there in front of her within arms reach. But what did she expect? That stupid girl couldn’t ever look beyond Edward, so how would she know that she was right there! Right there in front of her! Right. There. 

The tray in her hand gave a small splintering sound and she realized she was about to shatter it to pieces. She lessened her hold with considerable effort.

In front of her, a boy was fumbling with his wallet, the chain caught on some of his extreme goth-y pegs. 

Her hands tightened again, straining not to tighten too hard. 

Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up!

She was very aware of the feeling of her behind her, the warmth she could almost feel radiating from her. 

Would there be any type of acknowledgment? She doubted it, and yet, foolishly she found herself waiting, expecting it. She had stopped breathing.

She was right there after all. The pressure in her head was building, ready to explode as this boy dug out a dollar and then a few quarters. 

There was a loud cracking sound and she looked down to see a splinter running up the cheap plastic. 

“Be careful.” Edward’s voice came out a warning. 

Her vision all but pulsing red, she whirled to snap at Edward but her voice dried instantly as she saw the look on Bella’s face. She had gone pale, her eyes wide and blinking. 

She hadn’t even known that Rosalie was there! The realization sent the last shreds of her good mood from that morning into a spinning tail fire. The little bitch hadn’t eve been aware that Rosalie had been less than a foot from her.

Without saying anything, she turned and set the tray down, very, very careful not to slam it, not to break it, and then turned and started back to the table. 

“Rose, your food.” Jasper hissed as she sat down.

“People skip lunch all of the time!” She murmured right back.

God, why did she even care? She stared down at the table, working to control this obscene reaction.

To her annoyance, though, she did. She did care. 

She still cared the next day when she walked into the cafeteria, skipping the lunch line altogether and staring moodily at nothing. Both Jasper and Alice seemed highly uncomfortable with the fact that she skipped yet another meal but they sat, saying nothing about it. 

“You okay?” 

Rosalie just bared her teeth at Alice for the briefest of moments. “Why?”

“You just seem more...” she trailed off. 

“You’ve got a bigger side order of grade A bitch today,” Emmett offered. 

“Yes, what he said,” Alice nodded emphatically.

“And yesterday.”

Again Alice nodded quickly.

Rosalie’s arms crossed and she just looked out the window at the sheet of rain. As usual, she was aware of the moment Edward and Bella stepped into the room. Unwilling, her eyes shifted, watching as Edward followed stiffly behind Bella, both standing awkwardly apart. It made Rosalie sneer a little. He never touched her, at least not beyond that one kiss she had seen. In fact, now that she thought about it, he seldom did. He kept his distance.

“Babe?” 

The soft purring in Rosalie’s chest cut off. She looked around the table, her mouth dropping open a little. Had she been purring

Across the cafeteria Edward’s eyes narrowed, looking at her in confusion. She turned away, mortified, her mind slipping to her car. 

She had found a frame and she had ordered the tow truck. It would get there the day after tomorrow and she was glad. She wanted something to do, something with her hands, something to keep them busy. Busy hands, busy minds; someone had said that. She couldn’t remember who it had been just then. Either way, she would get the frame, clean it down, remove the unwanted innards and then —

Her thoughts cut off, stunned as Edward and Bella started not toward their usual table, but instead toward them. 

This never happened. The best part about their stupid so-in-love thing was that they didn’t bother with the rest of the family. 

Struck dumb she stared at Bella as Edward pulled out the chair beside her.

“Hi, Bella.” Alice beamed. 

“Hey.” Bella smiled, her eyes flicking once to Rosalie and then away. 

“What are you guys doing here?”

Bella shrank back and that was just fine with Rosalie. 

Edward glared. 

“Aren’t weekends of sex supposed to make people less grumpy?” Alice asked, her voice overly polite as she eyed Rosalie. 

From beside her, a wave of heat hit Rosalie. Bella, it seemed, was blushing deeply. 

Rosalie glared, first at Alice, then at Bella, then at Edward, and then Bella again, refusing to acknowledge that she enjoyed the way that Bella’s blush deepened. 

“So Bella, killed anyone in gym lately?” Emmett asked and that started the conversations off. 

Rosalie didn’t move, her arms crossed, ignoring everyone around her. Thank god she didn’t have the same relationship with Edward as Alice did. If they were close at all then she was sure she would never be able to slide by without notice. Edward just didn’t seem to want to hear her thoughts, probably because, she thought, her mind was not always the happiest place to be. As it was, her mind began to sing Gold Dust Woman because she didn’t want to request, didn’t want to shout, it wanted to scream ‘LOOK AT ME.’ Which was problematic, as every time that Bella did throw her a tentative glance it felt like nails on a chalkboard, agitating her already bad mood. 

Look at me

Stop fucking looking at me

Look at me, please

Don’t you dare look at me

Look at me, I’m right here

Her jaw worked as the table laughed and for the third time she felt Bella’s eyes carefully track up her arms, her chest and to her face. 

Instantly, fed up and desperate for more of her attention, Rosalie’s head whipped around, forgetting her personal pact to avoid eye contact. She glared, meeting Bella’s tentative gaze with a hard one of her own and hissed, really hissed. 

Instantly, there was a jolt of electricity over her skin, a static buzz that was at once warm and welcoming and sharp and painful. 

Rosalie blinked, the glare fading even before Bella could respond. 

What the hell had that been? 

Alarmed, she was on her feet before Edward’s own hiss had begun. She had to get out of there. 

She blew out of the cafeteria, her mind singing in a frantically twisted melody: Did she make you cry, make you break down, shatter your illusions of love

Even in her head, the music sounded wobbly, stressed. 

It was important for them to keep up the good student routine, at least in behavior. But she couldn’t. Being around Edward this much, it was dangerous. So she crossed to the back of the campus, and with a quick glance around, pushed into a jump, clearing the top of the fence with no issue at all. 

On the other side, she landed, her heels feeling wobbly, and she started toward the forest. Once she hit the trees, she took off in a run, heading in the direction of Port Angeles. Why? Because Edward and Bella weren’t there. 

 

 

Chapter Text

Coming up the main road to Get Away B&B wasn’t smart, Rosalie realized as she approached through the woods. She supposed being this far on the outskirts of Port Angeles without a car would be eye-catching, but she hadn’t driven. She hadn’t even planned on coming. For god sake, she had only been home for a few days since her last disappearance. None of this was planned. It was ridiculous that she could be made to leave Forks so easily. Shame and anger accompanied the thought, but she had no idea what to do about it, which only angered her more.

Growling to herself, she cut around the back of the old well cared for Victorian, around the side, and to the front door so that she wouldn’t be seen.

She didn’t even have an overnight bag.

Normally she didn’t care much. She was fine being the aloof stranger that left one with more questions than answers, but this was her place. This was her personal sanctuary. She had discovered it several years before when she had felt the desire to move on from her previous hotel. She had come to stay the once and had fallen in love with it. It was a bed and breakfast, so she had assumed the first time that she would have the owners constantly meddling in her business. That was always how it was in films, anyway. She had booked her stay with hesitation, arriving with her guard up as to be ready for the questions, the comments, or small notices on the part of the staff. If the place was great then dealing with that would have been worth it. Instead and to her pleasure, she had found that once the owners understood she liked to be left alone, that was exactly what they did. She had told them she had a very specific diet, so they didn’t try to bring her food either. She was left with a beautiful old house, a very comfortable bed, a huge tub, let alone a water heater that had to be broken because the water there got very hot, or at least hot enough that her bath grew cold slower than at home. It was the place she went when she needed a little quiet and that, she thought as she pulled the front door open, was exactly what she needed.

“Good morning, Ms. Mckay.”

The elderly business owner looked up from her book and smiled warmly. “Ms. Hale, so good to see you. Back in town on business?”

She nodded. As far as Ms. McKay knew she was from New York and worked for a large lumber company. The lie was small but did explain how she could continue to come back again and again.

“That’s good, dear. I’ll let Harold know and he’ll make up the room for you.”

“Thank you.” Rose smiled, already feeling better.

Ms. McKay glanced around her and toward the door. “No bags?”

“Oh no. They lost my luggage.”

“Oh no!” The elderly woman’s face fell into horror.

“I’m sure they’ll deliver it soon.”

She would have to go into the city that evening, not only for some clothing but also for some entertainment. Usually, when she stayed she caught up on a few books, watched a few films. There was a little book store on First street, in fact, that she wouldn’t mind stopping by. She was sure she could find a bag somewhere. Thank god she had her purse.

Five minutes later Mr. McKay joined them, laughing about the ease of his job without bags to carry and Rosalie was let into her usual room, the one overlooking the garden.

She thanked him and gently closed the door behind him, the key dangling in her hand. She turned to the room, at a loss.

Now, what should she do?

 


 

Usually when she stayed at the Get Away it was for no longer than a night or two. You could do a lot of refreshing when you didn’t sleep half of your time away, after all.

This visit, however, it was a solid week before she was back in the front office with her bill.

She had read, working her way through nearly ten books in the time. She had rewatched many of her favorite movies as well as mindlessly watched whatever was on TV far more than she normally did. But these numbers weren’t even close to her records. She had once finished five books in forty-eight hours. She supposed that was because what she did more than anything else was sit and think.

And it had been useless. It had been miserable. She had been miserable.

She was not bound to this, that much she knew. She refused to be. She refused to be forced to notice someone she cared nothing for. Yet, she had no idea what should be done about it. There was no one she could ask, no text or volume she could read. She had considered a trip to Italy because if anyone would have her answers it would be the oldest of them, but she was sure that doing so would somehow come back to bite her in the ass. She had to figure something out. She had been away more than home lately. She was sure her family had noticed and soon the school would notice too.

After a week she had realized she had to give up her endless meditation. The only answer she could come up with was to run, was to go somewhere else until Bella’s life was over and she was free again, but how could she do that without telling the truth about why she needed to. That itself had sent her into a tailspin because as soon as she had thought it, she wondered if it were true. The family had understood when Alice and Jasper had taken a few years away so Alice could get a degree in fashion in Paris because there had been an open reason but had protested deeply when Edward had tried to run when he first met Bella. But she didn’t have the same relationship to the rest of them. Perhaps they would mourn Emmett, but would they protest if she told them she wanted to leave?

A deep part of her hoped they would. She supposed all she would have to do was explain that she was leaving for Edward’s sake and the protests would stop.

That thought had sent her into a long bout of self-reflection on exactly how she had become the black sheep of the family, which always came back to the same thing: her unhappiness in this life. She was the only one of them genuinely unhappy. She knew it concerned Carlisle and Esme. She had even once heard them talking when they had thought she was gone, speculating if it was her nature, the lingering effects of the way she died, or because she was one of the only ones in the family that hadn’t mated.

The answer to this rock and a hard place situation had to be there. Surely she was not bound to fall in love with a girl who was stupidly in love with her brother. Surely she was not bound to fall in love with a girl she didn’t want.

With a few smiles and a promise that yes she would be back, Rosalie paid her bill including her usual large tip. Then under the premise of waiting for a car to come to get her, she snuck around the side of the building and started back on foot. She had, at least, bought herself a pair of running shoes, her old ones for hunting had recently been clawed anyway, and a bag for the new books so the run was easy.

And it was easy… until she arrived.

 


 

It seemed like some type of universal joke, Rosalie thought, as she began to near her home. It was late afternoon so she hadn’t expected the house to be quiet as it often was. They didn’t sleep, but night hours were often the hours dedicated to quiet activities or outings that left the house empty. She had expected to hear lively chatter, yes. She just hadn’t expected to hear her voice coming from inside, her voice laughing with… she snarled, with Emmett. The traitor had immediately taken to Bella, telling her once that he thought she was funny.

What the hell was she doing there? This was her space. This was her home and she was invading it.

She came to a stop just outside of the backdoor and snarled, her teeth grinding hard. This was unfair. Why couldn’t she catch a break?

She stepped quietly through the door, knowing what would greet her as she did and sure enough, she stepped into a haze of swirling, deliciously fragranced misty scent. She wasn’t sure how long Bella had been there, but their human free place no longer smelled human free.

It felt like an intrusion. It was an intrusion.

She paused again just inside the door and because it had been a week without this, she closed her eyes, centering herself.

She was not at the mercy of an eighteen-year-old girl. She just wasn’t.

She turned a little to look into the hanging decorative mirror. She was wet from having run in the rain and she had leaves and a twig in her hair. Fuck, her mind hissed, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. She pulled out the latter and tried to smooth her wet hair, running her fingers through it gently until it laid smooth. She wiped the water from her face as well as the small drop of mud that had splattered beside her jaw. Her jaw set when she had done her best and she stepped through the back and into the living room, her face blank.

“Well, well, what do we have here?” she asked in the driest and most impassive voice she could manage. She thought it came out exceedingly well and perhaps deserved a pat on the back.

The whole room turned and the difference in each face was almost laughable. Emmett beamed at her as did Esme. Edward’s face was as dry and blank as her own. Alice and Jasper both looking mildly wary. Above all else though, her eyes watched the change on Bella’s face, watched as the laughter that had been there drained away, turning instead into pale sickly nerves.

Her eyebrow slowly cocked in response and looked away, deciding she would simply ignore her.

Behind her, Edward’s eyes rolled.

“Rose!” Carlisle stepped out from the library with a welcoming smile on his face. “You returned just in time. We were just speaking to Bella of our plans.”

“Plans?” she asked with disinterest.

“Yes. From now on, she will be coming to stay with us once a week.”

Her tongue clicked. So he had done it. He had convinced this girl to allow herself to be babysat by a bunch of vampires.

God, what was wrong with her? She didn’t understand this extreme level of passiveness. Didn’t she have any backbone at all? Was she really this pathetic? Disgust and disappointment warred in her. She could never like a person like that, someone so weak.

“Yes,” Edward smiled, his eyes however like flint. “I’ve explained and she’s agreed that this is the best way to do things.”

Did you tell her about how we were doing it before? She asked in her mind.

Edward either didn’t hear or didn’t respond, she couldn’t tell which. Instead, he carefully leaned down and brushed his lips across Bella’s soft-looking cheek.

“Oh, Rose!” Esme cried.

She blinked and realized the small flip phone that had been in her hand had just shattered into a million pieces, not just broken but decimated. She looked down at it in her hand, wide-eyed.

Oops.

Slightly embarrassed, she pretended that it hadn’t been an accident, tossing the phone aside carelessly. The pieces clattered making the trembling doe of a girl in the middle of a group of vampires jump like she had been pinched.

“We were just spending some time getting to know Bella,” Carlisle explained, his brows still furrowed, his eyes still on the phone.

“You’re getting to know her?” The dryness in her voice able to age wine.

Bella’s wide eyes shot to her and then away again.

“Yes, why don’t you come and join us?”

She knew without ever having to decide that there was no fucking way she would be doing that.

Bella had looked away a moment after she had arrived, her eyes downcast on her shoes, but now she looked up, her eyes over wide and something else there that Rosalie couldn’t understand.

Bella’s eyes met Rosalie’s and Rosalie, pleased to notice there was no shock or any other sign of the contact, let out a bestial snarl, loud and ferocious.

Bella jumped.

Rosalie smiled a leering grin, satisfied. “I’m getting into the shower.” She turned, ignoring the slight hiss of disapproval that could only come from Esme.

She was still chuckling when she stepped under the hot spray of water a minute later.

The hot water felt nice as she carefully took care of her precious hair, washed the mud off of herself, got the blood out from under her nails from the buck she had taken down on the way home, and then got out. Below she could still hear laughing, their voices all seeming genuinely pleased that Bella was there. A jag of annoyance rushed through her. How long did they need to spend getting to know her? She dried, combed and styled her hair, dressed and then stood in the center of her room, unsure. She felt all at once restless. After a week away from it, the scent was thick, distracting her. Undiluted like this, its effects were strong. She decided to finish up her book. Going to her bag, she sat on her bed in her second favorite reading spot in the house. The book had been good enough that she had considered staying at the B&B until she had finished it. Now she wished she had. And how was she supposed to read with that noise? She started the paragraph again, her attention jarring away from the words as Emmett laughed, teasing Bella about her answer to a question of Esme’s. She tried again but again found her mind wandering. After yet another attempt, she growled to herself and stood. That was obviously not going to work just then. So she gathered her new books, leaving behind the one she wanted to add to her personal bookshelf in her room and started down to the first floor. She had to pass through the living room to get to the library and so when she did she kept her head high, her shoulders back, not looking at anyone there. She quickly added the books to the already full shelves, putting them into the usual alphabetical order and then paused. Behind her, Bella was telling a story about her father in an awkward disjointed voice, as if she would rather not be speaking about herself.

“I don’t know what he thought,” Bella chuckled a little awkwardly. “Probably that I had lost my mind.”

Heading back up to her room, she spared only a second of a glance toward Bella and was not surprised to see that Bella’s eyes were on her already. She pretended she hadn’t seen her.

She moved a little faster. Upstairs she picked up her book, settling with her legs under her in a chair and opened it again. She read the same sentence three times before she realized she still didn’t know what was happening in the search for Mrs. Massey’s killer. Something about a letter that had been found she thought but… Soundlessly she rose and started down the stairs again. The car frame had been delivered while she was away. Or at least it should have been. She needed to see its general condition. Even the ad for the frame had used the term ‘beaten up’ so she could only imagine. She descended the steps, her nose high. She wouldn’t look at them. She had no interest in this.

Her eyes fell on Bella, who once again, was already tentatively looking.

She glared.

Could she not walk into the room without her staring? Did she have no manners?

The frame was in the center of the car bay, already in exactly the spot that Rosalie liked to work on new cars. Emmett was the perfect man, she thought with pride, knowing exactly how I like it.

The frame was indeed in bad shape. It would need a solid degreasing, as well as banging out quite a few dents and patching a few small rust holes before she could get started. It was a good foundation though, and that would make for a good day the following morning or maybe even later that night. She had, however, just showered.

She lingered, sweeping the car bay, reorganizing her tools in a matter of moments, stalling.

Finally, there was nothing left to do, and after all, she didn’t want to be out there.

She turned and headed back toward the house.

In the living room, she walked as she had been all night, her nose in the air, her back straight, projecting an air of arrogance.

She was halfway across the living room, moving at a human pace, when the anger hit. The group hadn’t acknowledged her, listening to Esme tell Bella about their cousins in Alaska.

“So it’s Tanya, Kate, and Irina?” Bella asked.

“That’s right.”

Bella hummed, turning something over in her mind.

“What?” Edward asked.

“Oh, nothing. I was just thinking that I like the name Kate.”

Rosalie scoffed, ripping her furious eyes away as she mounted the stairs.

Rude. Just so rude. She hadn’t even acknowledged her. Wasn’t it polite to nod or at least look at a person when they were passing through your space? Was she raised by monkeys? There hadn’t been once glance, one notice, and Rose would have seen it. She would have seen if Bella had looked up.

She had just made it up to her room when she remembered that she had borrowed a bag from Esme the week before, just before she left. She should probably get that back to her. Snatching it off the bed, she turned on her heels and in stiff angry strides, she descended the stairs to leave the bag on the dining room table where Esme would see it.

She didn’t look at the crowd, but she could feel eyes on her as she passed through the living room yet again.

“Hey, babe, come here for a sec.” Emmett reached out for her hand across the room. “I know you’re busy, with all the walking back and forth, but come sit.” She turned and saw that his face was amused, as was Jasper’s beside him. In the center of the circle Bella’s face was… what? Hopeful? That was ridiculous.

She glared and turned away again. Maybe it was the perfect time to start on the car.

Chapter Text

 

Her mood had stayed fairly stable over the next few days, in part, Rosalie thought, because of the car. She had spent that night that Bella had come over under the new car, ripping out the things that she wanted to replace. The grease, the steady clunk as useless hunks of metal were freed, music on over the stereo, it had all helped keep her mind clear. If she hadn’t already been in a very strong state of piss-off then perhaps it wouldn’t have gotten under her skin the way it had, but Emmett’s playful hint that she had passed through the living room often had only made that worse. What had he thought? That she had wanted to be in that room? That she had wanted to sit there and listen to that sniveling child? She couldn’t imagine anything worse. Her mood had stayed a terror until long after Bella and Edward left.

She had felt maybe a bit remote, withdrawn from the family as she stayed in her car bay, and it worked for her. Emmett came to see her and that was all she needed. He had asked her just that morning if she was okay, able to tell something was up with her but hadn’t pushed when she had shrugged him off.

Now it was Monday, and the school had just released. The day was a bright one, making Rosalie a little nervous. She had planned on stopping by a local salvage yard, but couldn’t tell if the clouds were going to part soon and let in some honest sunshine.

Wary, she resettled her purse on her shoulder, emptied her books into her locker – she refused to wear a backpack to tote them around and listened for Alice. She would, after all, be able to tell her if it was safe to head to the yard or not.

Alice’s high and clear voice wasn’t hard to pick up and so she turned to start toward the parking lot.

Her mind was on the car, on the fact that Bella’s scent had been abnormally strong that afternoon and wondering why that was, and so she hadn’t noticed until she was a few cars away that Alice wasn’t alone.

She paused her footsteps at the sound of her name. She blinked a little, confused. You couldn’t exactly sneak up on a vampire, so how was it that she had been completely unaware?

“I know, but Rose isn’t really like what she seems,” Alice was promising.

“You could have fooled me,” came Bella’s morose voice.

Realizing it was not only Alice but Bella, Rosalie ducked to the side, squatting a little, hiding between two parked cars. Leaning her back against a beat-up car her breath fast in her chest. She had just been caught off guard, she promised herself. She just hadn’t been paying attention. That was all. That was all.

Bella was talking about her? Had she ever one that before? Not that Rosalie had ever heard.

She should go over there and scare Bella off. It was easy to do, a well-placed hiss, even the right kind of glare was enough to scare off the human-mouse. Yes, that was what she would do. She would march over there and she would snarl and watch her run. She listened intently, unmoving, and didn’t like at all what she heard.

“I don’t know what I did to her, but she hates me.”

“It’s not you, Bella!” Alice’s exasperated voice insisted. “She just hates that you know about us.”

This again. Rosalie rolled her eyes, scoffing openly. This was the second time now that she had heard someone tell Bella that. It worked for her. It was good enough of a reason for her to stay the hell away from Rose, but it just was so untrue.

How was it that the mind reader and the woman who could see the future didn’t know that?

She had already thought long and hard about why it was that Alice hadn’t picked up on any of this. She had thought Alice would be the first to know. When that hadn’t happened, she could only assume that she hadn’t because Rosalie would be doing nothing to change their path. So it was reasonable to assume that Alice wouldn’t know, but Edward… he wasn’t as talented as everyone thought he was because he was simply wrong.

“Yeah, I know.” Bella sighed. “Edward said that too, but it feels like something else.” Before Alice could answer, Bella thundered on. “I mean, yeah, okay, but she doesn’t even hide the fact that she’s, err, you know, what you guys are. She growls and hisses at me all of the time. That doesn’t exactly make her seem human.” Bella finished in a loud whisper.

Alice’s tinkling laugh grated against Rosalie’s nerves.

“Bella, listen. Rose is just her own person. I promise she isn’t as scary as she seems.”

That pissed her off even more. She was too! No one should be advising Bella not to be very afraid of her.

“I think she’s just really unhappy and she comes off as mean,” Alice confided.

Rosalie’s mouth dropped open in an offended gasp.

“Or she’s just mean.”

Thank you, Bella.

She nodded to herself, pleased. That was exactly how Bella should feel.

Her shoulders went back, her pride making her stand a little straighter as the slice of pain through her made her shudder and grimace.

The pleasure at Bella’s words faded, replaced by a low and yet oh so familiar hurt.

She would never get rid of this reputation.

Across the parking lot, Edward was eyeing her as he started toward the duo.

As usual humiliation and anger at the mental intrusion made her scowl at him. ‘What?’ she thought at him. ‘I’m giving them the room to keep talking about me.’

His reaction was so blasé that it only made her feel worse. All he did was slightly incline his head and then his gaze shifted back to Bella and Alice.

“Asshole,” she muttered but he showed no sign of having heard it.

 


 

“Are you heading down to work on my car?” Emmett asked as Rosalie changed her clothes for the day from her usual tight jeans and shirt to flowing yoga pants and a tee-shirt.

“Not tonight. Your new baby is going to have to wait.”

Emmett gasped. “How dare you treat my car that way.” His face shocked, he pulled her in and kissed her. “You would never ignore your car like that.”

"I would," Rosalie smirked, pushing him away before he could lean in for another kiss. "But she's getting a little old for me."

“Awww, thinking of trading her in for a younger model, are you? That’s wrong.” He laughed, his eyebrows drawn in confusion. He reached for her again and she danced away with a smirk.

“Maybe I’m just mean.”

He laughed, wrapping his arms around her. “What do you want to do tonight? Movie?”

“No,” she thoughtfully shook her head. “I think I’m gonna do some reading.”

“Cool, cool, I think I’ll check out some video games then.”

Rosalie rolled her eyes affectionately. “Big child.”

Downstairs Rosalie lit a few candles, as always being careful of the flame, and then settled into the squishiest chair in the library. She wasn’t like the others in a lot of ways, but the biggest, she thought, was that she liked comfort. She was very fond of hot water, and soft blankets, and comfortable chairs. She didn’t need them, exactly, but who didn’t like settling onto a cloud to read a book? This was. Her favorite spot in the entire house, other than her window seat. No one else used the library like she did, and for whatever reason, people left this chair to her.

She settled in, sighing and felt her body relax. This was her happy place, the place where she didn’t need her anger, or her aggression, or hostility. No one thought anything bad about her in this place. She didn’t have to remember there, nor did she need to mourn what could have been. All she had to do there was feel comfortable and drift away into the world of whatever book she was reading. And as it so often was, the book she had picked was a favorite of hers.

She looked down at the copy of Jane Eyre in her lap with affection. It was a book she hadn’t thought anything of when she was human. She thought she had tried it once or twice and always had grown bored and put it back down. Later, once she had been turned into the new person she had become, she had picked it up again for a quarter in a used bookstore in 1950. It had quickly become her favorite. She loved the wit and sarcasm between the lovers. She loved the fact that Mr. Rochester loved Jane even though she wasn’t beautiful, that she became beautiful in his eyes. She loved Jane, so strong, so sure. She admired the way that Jane kept St. John in his place and did not bend to his will when he demanded marriage. She was her hero.

Without opening the book, she smiled and spoke the first lines, knowing it by heart. “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had with it clouds so somber and rain so penetrating that further outdoor exercise was no longer out of the question.”

From upstairs she heard a groan of exasperation at her words that had to come from Emmett.

She laughed a little to herself and opened the book.

 


 

She hadn’t gotten far when her warm bubble was popped. She was dragged out of Jane Eyre by the spluttering roar of the truck turning onto their drive.

She had to be kidding.

Rosalie’s jaw worked, frustrated that her peace had been interrupted.

The truck crunched and roared, cutting off with a cough in front of the house. The cab door opened, closed, and the scent came drifting into her comfortable place.

That was fine. She would ignore it.

When the front door opened, though she didn’t look up, she listened as Bella stepped in and was met by Alice.

“So you ready to have some fun?”

What day was it? Rosalie frowned. She had intended to miss the first time that Bella was babysat.

She supposed there were downfalls to ignoring everyone around you as much as reasonably possible.

She didn’t look up as Alice danced by the door, chattering on about her plans for them. She also didn’t look up, despite the sudden leap of desire to do so when Bella walked by. She could feel her eyes brush her.

Her hands tightened on the book, not reading, just staring down at it until the spotlight of her gaze passed.

All right, so Bella was there in the house. So what?

She stopped breathing through her nose and continued to read.

An hour later and Rosalie still hadn’t relaxed again. She hadn’t read much, unable to concentrate. She was only fifty pages in when there was a small knock on the open library door. She didn’t look up, didn’t need to. She could feel exactly who it was. Determined, she didn’t look up, didn’t respond, assuming Bella would leave.

Instead, Bella took her silence in stride and stepped into the room. Rosalie stiffened.

“Hi.”

Rosalie ignored her.

Bella slowly moved around the room, filling it with the scent and making Rosalie want to sigh and shout all at once. Covertly, she watched over the top of her book as Bella’s fingers ran lightly over the books, taking in the room, reading a few titles.

Could she tell with her human senses just how soft the covers of the old volumes were or how much they felt like velvet in their old age? After all, the book in her hands Bella’s hand was now on was a first edition, printed originally in 1853. Even this copy of Jane Eyre in her hand felt soft enough to rub gently across her face.

She cleared her throat pointedly and Bella jumped. “Don’t touch those. They’re old.”

Bella turned, her face strained. “Oh. Err, sorry.”

Rosalie looked back at her book, pretending to read. Bella, for her part, didn’t move, either processing or just simply staring down at Rosalie.

Finally, just when Rosalie could feel a sarcastic snap coming on, Bella moved. She moved – Rosalie’s jaw tensed, and sat in the chair – beside - her.

“What are you reading?”

Starving peevishly at nothing, Rosalie showed her the cover, glaring daggers. What was with that enigmatic look on Bella’s face? Rosalie looked away, not wanting to be affected by that look.

“Have you read it before?”

Rosalie just gave a grunt, her eyes back on the small black text.

“I haven’t read it. Is it good? I’ve read Wuthering Heights… a lot.”

Rosalie’s eyes flicked across to Bella and back too fast for Bella to see. Why was she talking to her? Bella’s voice was offhand, but the shake in it that was her heart rate, her heart rate itself told Rosalie that she was afraid or at least very nervous. So why? Rosalie just stared at the book, fighting to ignore her, to continue reading. But the more she tried to, the more the feeling pushed at her.

“So is it? Um, good.”

She looked up, her eyes on Bella who both blanched and flushed at once. It hadn’t even been her choice, she realized. She hadn’t decided to look up or acknowledge her, it was her stupid body, her stupid brain. Maybe when she fought this feeling, this scent, it fought back.

The look, though meant genuinely, had the effect of stopping Bella’s words in their tracks. Her eyes were unsure as she looked back at Rose, holding her eye contact.

Without a word, Rosalie got up, book in hand, and left the library.

Behind her, she heard one choked, frustrated sigh.

                                                                 


 

Bella joining her in the library had been strange, but not so strange that Rose had been alarmed. After all, they had both been in the house, and Alice had been trying her hand at cooking just then. Bella had been bored.

Fine.

The next morning had dawned cold and dank, the coming colder months already bleeding into the already typically glum weather. She got out of her M3, studying its red glossy coat with dissatisfaction.

“Why don’t you just go to a car dealership? I bet you would get plenty for trade-in. Or sell this to a hopeful teenager.”

Rosalie looked up, caught. “What?”

“It just hurts me—” Emmett said in a mock sad voice, “—that you don’t see her beauty anymore.”

Rosalie rolled her eyes affectionately and turned. “Come on, goof.”

Emmett chuckled good-naturedly and trotted to catch up to her.

A few cars away Rosalie didn’t let herself look around and didn’t breathe as she strode purposely past the ugly Volvo.

Still, thanks to her stupid vampire hearing, she noticed the sudden heart rate spike and the small catch of breath that came from between the Volvo and the car it was parked next to. She hadn’t walked by unnoticed.

“Hold on.” Bella’s voice was breathless when she spoke to Edward, and was followed by the sound of feet on wet asphalt.

Certainly, she wasn’t coming —

The thought didn’t even have time to finish before Bella was standing in front of her.

The rain that morning that taken on a wintery mix, turning the rain into sleet. Even though she didn’t want to, even though she was strictly against it, Rosalie couldn’t help but notice that the tiny icy drops in Bella’s hair were beautiful. Her skin, so pale, was flushed in the cold, her eyes seeming brighter than usual. She reminded Rosalie so much of what was considered beautiful in her time: the classic features, the pale skin, thin lips, the shape of her hips, the silky hair.

Ugh.

It was disgusting, Rosalie mentally sneered.

She stared at Bella, waiting for exactly what she wanted and considering very seriously running her over.

“Hi, Rosalie.”

Still, she waited.

What was this?

Bella was standing there, her look expectant like she thought that any moment, what? Rosalie would smile? That she would braid her hair and they would talk about boys?

Beside the Volvo, Edward cleared his throat in a clear command. ‘Be nice.’

Her lip curled, snarling.

Bella’s face fell.

Be nice.

It wasn’t a request; it was a command. As if to say that she had no choice. But she did! She did have a choice, god damn it!

Beside her Emmett glanced from Bella, looking stunned and impressed, to Rosalie.

She had a choice, damn it. Taking one step to the side, she instantly felt better – and as though she had lost something. She walked around Bella, her arms crossed.

There was a long silence behind her that Rosalie couldn’t help but listen to with sharp intensity.

Finally, Bella’s feet moved back to the Volvo.

“Bella…” Edward started, his tone making Rosalie’s hackles rise. It was kind, but there was something in it that she didn’t like, something patronizing.

She wondered if Bella heard it too because, for just a second, the sound of her feet paused.

“I know you want to be friends with my family and I thank you for that but Rose… maybe its best you steer clear of her. She’s not… she won’t be your friend.”

Beside her Emmett glanced at her, his eyebrows drawn.

Rosalie didn’t look at him. She didn’t look around at all. She just continued across the parking lot, her arms crossed, her face set into a scowl.

What did she care if Edward warned her off? What did she care if Edward told her that she was a huge bitch and so she should stay away? She was. And Bella should.

Bella sighed. “You and Alice… and Esme, all keep telling me that she’s not as mean as she seems like she is.”

“Well no… but she’s also not exactly… nice.”

Did it hurt? Of course not. She didn’t care. The ache in her side, in her stomach, in her heart? That was nothing.

“She’s the coldest of us, the most secretive, the most prone to —”

Emmett, it seemed had heard all he was able to listen to. In a move that was very quick for his size, he turned back toward his brother.

“Hey!” He shouted.

“Emmett…” Rosalie said in warning.

“We can hear you, dickwad!” She wasn’t sure what Edward’s expression had said, but a second later Emmett nodded. “Yeah!” He called back and turned, putting his arm around Rosalie.

She didn’t say anything, but under his arm she smiled, the pain that was ripping across her chest, easing a little.

The classroom was almost full by the time she walked into class. As usual, she entered and a few people glanced at her, some furtively, some in anger, and she ignored them all, moving to her seat.

She didn’t care on the best of days and she didn’t care that morning.

He had called her cold.

She was, she knew that. But was she really? She wasn’t sure anymore what was her and her true self as much as what people thought of her.

She supposed, she thought with a sigh, that it didn’t matter, did it?

And she wanted Bella to know that she wanted nothing to do with her.

She sighed yet again and looked out the window, remembering the way that the sleet had sat in Bella’s hair, glittering brightly.

At lunch, she was the first Cullen to arrive. She went through the line quickly, getting a bowl of some type of soup that did not smell good and sat at the table. She wasn’t there longer than a few minutes when the cafeteria door swung open and Bella stepped in, as usual, flanked by Edward.

Something ugly reared up in her chest and she had to look away.

The line moved fast and a few minutes later the table around her was filling.

“Hi, Rose.”

Rosalie didn’t look up. Rose? Had she just called her Rose?

As if unsure of how she would respond, Edward gently touched Bella’s arm. “Come on, Bella, let’s sit at our table today.”

Bella, however, didn’t move, her eyes still glued to Rosalie’s face.

Annoyed, Rosalie looked out of the window, giving Bella the back of her head.

“I don’t agree with Edward.”

Surprised, her head whipped back around, staring at Bella in honest confusion.

“I’m sorry about what he said.”

Her mind had seemed to stop working. What did this girl mean? Surely not, what… that she thought Rosalie was all kittens and cuddles?

The look of sadness on her face made Rosalie suck in air, pain wrenching though her as Bella turned and quietly started toward the table she and Edward usually occupied.

Beside Bella’s empty spot, Edward still stood looking pensive.

“I’m sorry.” He finally said. “But it’s my job to protect her.”

Rosalie didn’t respond.

The next day Bella again greeted her in the morning and again when she sat down at the lunch table, seeming willing to take the hit of Rosalie’s cold glares as she did so.

When it happened again the next morning, Rose was beginning to feel something new.

Panic.

She wasn’t sure what Bella’s game was, but Rosalie thought that maybe she had one.

 


 

“No, this would be better,” Rosalie insisted, pointing at the V8 supercharge.

“No way,” Emmett scoffed. “That’s all propaganda. The supercharge isn’t any better than the V8.”

“Yes. Yes, it is!” She hadn’t asked him for his damn opinion, not at all. She had sat down at the dining room table with her magazine, planning on deciding which engine to scavenge for and he had just but in. He didn’t know half of what she did about cars.

“You just like it because it sounds flashy.”

Anger hot, Rosalie snarled at him between clenched teeth. “No – I – don’t!”

“You totally do though. It’s a chronic condition.”

“You’re a fucking idiot, Emmett.”

“Whoa there! No need to get nasty!”

Rosalie’s jaw just clenched tighter.

There was, that was the thing. Maybe it wasn’t his fault, but there was a reason to be nasty, and that reason was slowly walking down the stairs at that exact moment.

“Shut up.” She turned back to the magazine, seething.

Bella had been all about her this week. She didn’t know what she had been doing to make it seem as though she wanted her attention, because she didn’t.

“Crabby,” Emmett grumbled and pushed up from the table, more than likely to go play the new Madden that he had been talking about nonstop.

Eyes overly focused on the magazine, she was acutely aware when Bella walked into the kitchen and to the sink, her eyes shooting toward Rosalie and away Rosalie and away.

The house felt invaded these days, and this new plan to protect precious Bella at all times had only just begun. How was it that Bella wasn’t embarrassed that this was her fate? To sit in a house weekly, surrounded by vampires because she couldn’t take care of herself.

The table groaned and she realized she was pressing against it too hard.

Slightly embarrassed, she lessened her pressure and turned the page carefully, insistent on the fact that she was fine, not at all perturbed. A thought which was immediately put to the test.

The seat across from her pulled out and the scent of Bella overwhelmed her.

“Hey.”

Rosalie’s jaw tightened as she turned the page again. She did not look up. She did not acknowledge her in any way. She fought against the reaction she could feel inside of herself, the desire to do all of those things and more.

It was hard to ignore when Bella was right there in front of her.

“I said hey.”

The desire to look up gave an extra greedy serge and before she could stop it, she looked up, squarely into Bella’s face. A lot of things happened within her in that moment: frustration, fear, anger, and a soothing kind of relief. The glare that had meant to be on her face also smoothed. For once she wasn’t glaring at Bella, nor was she trying to scare her away. She just looked at her, trying to figure this new thing out.

Why did it feel so good just to look at her? This was stupid.

What?” she snapped.

Bella didn’t answer, simply stared back at her.

It was hard, she realized after a few long silent moments. It was very hard to just sit there and look at Bella, to acknowledge her in any way. When she was looking at her, she wanted to get to know her.

Bella was the first to speak in their silent standoff. “Looking for car parts? Edward says you’re building one.”

Rosalie didn’t answer, her fists in tight balls, her lungs stationary, refusing to fill.

Bella’s cheeks went pink, but her eyes had a glint of determination in them. She could almost see her deflecting Rosalie’s response. Her face set, her jaw tight as she tried again. “Could you just build one like how a line up would? From start to finish?”

“What are you doing?”

Her own voice startled her as much as it seemed to startle Bella. Clearly, Bella hadn’t expected her to speak any more than Rose had.

Bella swallowed, and though her heart rate didn’t increase, it did begin to beat harder.

“I’ve decided we’re going to be friends.”

Rose stared harder, that new sensation beginning in her stomach. “What?” She was honestly confused by that. Why would... when did... what? Why would Bella want that? Friends? What?

Bella nodded. “I’m going to get to know you and then maybe you’ll see that I’m not so bad.” Her eyes flashed and Rose’s mouth fell open, impressed by the determination she saw. Bella was not going to back down, she realized. And that thought only made the bubbling in her stomach grow. What did she mean, she was going to get to know her? She couldn’t. She didn’t give her permission for that.

This was Alice’s fault, she realized. It was Alice for telling her more than once that Rose wasn’t so bad when she should be feared, and it was Edward’s for insulting her so openly right in front of her.

Like she cared about those things!

Except, even as she thought that, a sliver of pain did pierce her somewhere inside.

Whatever.

“I think it will be good.” Bella insisted, that grit still there.

Rose stared, her mouth slightly slack. The panic was building, making her want to get up and run. She didn’t want to know Bella. She had worked very hard to avoid that so far. She didn’t want to because when she was near her she felt things, stupid things like maybe she did want to know Bella. And it wasn’t real. It was an illusion placed there by her stupid vampire brain. And it made her wonder if maybe trashing everyone’s life so that she could know her might actually be worth it.

“Is that okay?”

She refocused on Bella’s face. Bella was smiling, soft and shy and beautiful and yet that same gumption was still there, new and unexpected and… alluring.

She lost control. She wasn’t running, she told herself as she e got up and on quick feet, fled the room.

Fine. Bella wanted to be friends? She would just avoid her all the harder. 

Chapter Text

A few days later Rosalie’s resolve was still iron. She had been avoiding Bella in the halls, she had been avoiding Bella after school. During lunch when Bella joined their table, Rosalie made a point of rising and leaving.

In truth, it was easy to avoid her, and if she felt any tinge of unhappiness then surely it was nothing at all.

A few days later Rosalie was settled beside the Camaro, happily listening to music and getting greasy. The frame had been far more disgusting that she had realized initially and that meant that just then, she was covered head to toe in smudges and smears while she worked a rag over it, removing as much as she could. Her jeans were old and permanently stained, her tank top was ragged, her hair pulled up into a knot at the top of her head to keep it mostly out of the way.

She rubbed and scrubbed with careful precision, working not to add too much pressure and dent the car.

She wasn’t frustrated. Bella didn’t mean enough to be frustrated over. She was a simple nothing in her life.

Still, Rosalie felt like she had been plagued with an itch that couldn’t be scratched.

She was just always there, hovering right outside of Rosalie’s control, that stupid scent that wasn’t a scent demanding her attention. And she didn’t know why.

She rubbed at a spot of rust, getting as much of the grease out before marking the spot. It would have to be sealed.

From inside the house behind her, she could hear the breathy laugh that made her jaw clench.

Bella.

Probably laughing at some stupid thing that Edward said.

She snarled a little and the car gave a grunt of bending metal.

“Damn it.” She reached into the frame, popping the small dent right back out. Damn it! She needed to be more careful. Car bodies were delicate, requiring the lightest brush of fingers, the gentlest strokes, else bruise the beautiful body she was trying to care for.

There was another groan of metal and a snap as that private and probably intimate laugh from Edward’s room came again.

“Damn it!” she growled, snapping her hands away, a large bolt sitting in her hand. “Guaaah!” She roared, grabbed a hammer from the box across the wall and snapped it in half. The crack was loud and satisfying, calming some of the turmoil in her.

Her jaw was tight, her hand so hard on the head of the hammer that it was beginning to change shape.

Well, that hadn’t helped enough and now she needed to get a new ball-peen hammer. Great.

She grabbed the iPod out of the iHome that Emmett had only just bought, and shoved the headphones into her ears, turning the music up to a deafening volume.

That helped.

The laughter, the mutter of voices, all of it was drown out. She stretched and sighed, some of the tension leaving her body.

Focusing again, she settled back onto her rolling stool, one leg under her, the other stretched to rest just inside the open car door.

Her fingers became gentle again, coaxing the grease away. She glided over the top of the passenger door and onto the back door, pleased with the ease. She would have to do this again soon. The car would naturally get greasy as she installed a new interior, and would have to be done in order to paint but that was —

The violent and animalistic hiss rolled out of her in fury as she swung around.

Behind her, Bella stood looking slightly afraid, the headphone she had just pulled from Rosalie’s ear still dangling from her outstretched hand.

With effort and more than a little annoyance, Rosalie snatched her stolen headphone from Bella. “What the fuck do you want?” Rosalie hadn’t meant to yell it in her face, but was she serious? You didn’t sneak up on an unaware vampire like that!

Bella didn’t sneak up on her like that!

She could have ripped her apart without even noticing.

Instantly, Edward was there in the door, his eyes sharp, his teeth pulled back.

Bella flinched at Rosalie’s shout but she stood her ground, only dropping her hand to her side.

Rose stared at her fixedly, both impressed by her and impressed by her stupidity.

“Bella.” Rosalie sighed, her greasy hands dropping to her lap. “In the future, if a vampire hisses at you like that, you run.”

Edward’s growl rumbled in threat.

Bella’s eyes hardened, her face set like stone. “You’re not going to hurt me.”

Rosalie spluttered a scoffed that sounded a lot more taken aback than indignant.

Behind them, Edward shifted and Bella waved him off. “I’m fine.”

“And I’m busy.” Rosalie turned back to the car, beginning her job again. But she could feel her standing there like the warm rays of the sun on her back.

“I’m fine, Edward.” Bella insisted and Rosalie, despite herself, smirked at his dismissal.

Still, Edward didn’t leave.

“Can I help?”

“What?” She scoffed.

Bella took a step and Rosalie couldn’t help but look at her as she drew up even with her.

She was too close, her mind babbled but Rose refused to move, refused to show that she didn’t like it.

She didn’t want to watch her either, she truly didn’t. But she saw Bella there, so close, could feel her warmth, and slightly intoxicated by it, her eyes slipped from the car to Bella’s face.

Bella was taking a deep breath, obviously steeling herself.

Rosalie saw that with curiosity. The determination was so set that she wasn’t sure she understand how the girl who followed Edward around like a lovesick idiot could possibly possess it.

“I don’t want you to hate me.”

Rose’s eyebrows rose. Her voice wasn’t at all the nervous thing she had come to expect from Bella, but instead, it was strong and it made Rose’s head spin. She didn’t want her to hate her? As in she, Rosalie, specifically?

“And why is that?”

Bella’s eyes shifted a little wildly, glancing at her and then away, at her and then away. “Because! You’re part of Edward’s family. I don’t like any of you not liking me, and I know why you don’t.”

Hopes that Rosalie knew shouldn’t be up rose and fell all at once. She looked back to the car, her body stiff.

“He told me that you struggle with me knowing what you are.”

Rosalie sneered but didn’t bother to argue. If that had been true at first. It wasn’t now. But that didn’t matter much.

“Edward is going hunting tomorrow night.”

And?”

In the doorway, Esme joined Edward, both of them staring at her, asking something of her.

“Stay with me?”

“What?” she spluttered again, kicking herself for it. She wasn’t this inarticulate, damn it.

Esme shifted in the doorway, her face alight with hope. Rosalie glanced at her, and she nodded in encouragement.

“No!”

Bella’s face fell.

This wasn’t fair. This wasn’t fair at all. Her core reaction was a strong fuck that. But there was Edward and Esme, both with matching looks on their faces silently asking her to try.

It was a strong guilt trip. It wasn’t fair.

And Bella’s face, that stupid face that she didn’t care about that looked so crestfallen.

She looked away, ripped her gaze away before that look burned her. Staring into the faces of her brother and mother of sorts, Rose gave a grunt. “Fine.”

Bella’s hurt was replaced so fast that it looked like an emotional explosion; her grin was huge.

Rosalie just put her headphones back in and turned back to the car, ignoring all of them.

 


 

By four o clock Rosalie had showered, dressed, and was in the library. This time she wasn’t lounging as she had the night before, but instead was sitting straight-backed, the book in her lap, waiting.

She didn’t move as she heard the truck thunder onto the drive. There was just a tiny twitch of her body, maybe even a wince. She listened as the door to the truck eventually slammed closed and then two pairs of feet made their way up the front porch.

She didn’t move as Bella and Edward walked in, passing the library door.

She didn’t move through Edward’s ridiculously sappy goodbye, one better suited to him leaving for war rather than a night of hunting.

“Is… she…” Bella’s voice dropped off.

“Rose is in the library, I think,” Esme answered, the warmth in her voice overflowing as it always did when she spoke to Bella.

“Oh. Okay.”

She rose and moving at full vampire speed, sat in the chair at the far end of the living room, the book still in her lap. There was no real reason other than the overwhelming desire to be contrary.

“Oh!” Bella jumped a little when she rounded the corner into the living room and found Rose a lot closer than she had expected. Her pale cheeks went warm and pink, her eyes dropping. “Sorry, they uh, they told me you were in the library.”

Rose almost smiled.

“Sooo…” Bella clicked her tongue, looking awkward.

Rosalie didn’t acknowledge anything that Bela said. With a sharp throat clear, she opened her book, settling back in the chair.

“Okay.” Bella breathed and moved toward the couch. She settled on the far end, squishing herself against the arm to give Rose as much space as she could. “Do you want to watch some TV?”

Rosalie turned the page.

“Okay,” Bella sighed under her breath.

Rosalie swallowed a smirk.

The room fell into silence.

Through the silence, through her reading, Rosalie listened. She could feel Bella’s eyes on her, but she would not look up, she was not going to make this fun.

“So do you know where they are going to hunt? Edward… didn’t… say…”

Rosalie turned from one page to the next.

“Right. Okay.” The TV clicked on and Rosalie smirked down at her book, pleased.

The night seemed incredibly long for Bella. Rosalie sat with her book, perfectly content, but Bella fidgeted in her seat, flipped channels, and got up now and then for a snack.

All the while Rose felt her eyes shifting to her, away, shifting to her, away, all as though desperate for conversation.

Rosalie ignored her, which was very helpful. In her mind the couch was empty. She didn’t care. She wouldn’t notice. Instead, she noticed Bella’s TV preferences. She skipped passed the stupid adult cartoons she heard so many of Bella’s peers discussing daily. She even skipped by the modern sitcoms that people loved so much and instead settled on a documentary about hidden Tibet. Even from her place across the room and while never looking up for longer than a moment at a time, Rosalie enjoyed the program deeply. It was somewhere she had always wanted to go. She wanted the chance to travel. The rest of the family had, and she had done a bit, but she wanted the chance to go everywhere.

When that was finished Rosalie expected something inane, but Bella instead settled, with obvious excitement, on a just beginning Masterpiece Theater’s Jane Eyre.

“Have you seen this?”

Rosalie, stunned by the excitement in her voice, glanced at Bella for the first time all night. “You’re watching this?”

Bella turned to her, the look on her face suddenly hard. “I read it last week.”

That surprised her. “Well, I’m reading it now. Turn it off,” she snapped despite her honest desire to watch.

“Because you haven’t read it before? I want to watch this.”

Rosalie considered her for a moment and as she did her desire burned. Why did Bella like things like this? It wasn’t typical of her age at all. When had she discovered it? Why did she read the book? How had she read it so fast? She had so many questions, wanted to know so much. More than anything else, she wanted to know what Bella’s skin would smell like up close.

And that was unacceptable. So Rosalie’s eyes dropped back to her book, and teeth grit, she ignored her for the rest of the night.

 


 

This was difficult. Rosalie growled to herself a little as she ducked back around the corner she had just turned. She hadn’t seen her, but the scent was enough to know that Bella was somewhere down that hall, more than likely waiting casually just outside of the door Rosalie needed to enter.

She was going to be late. She was going to make her late.

Life had gotten so much more difficult since Bella had decided that she was on this whole crusade. How was she supposed to deal with —

She cut her thoughts off sharply.

Her thoughts had been harder to control over this last week too. They simply kept drifting without her permission. This was why there were generally no secrets in their family. Between Edward and Alice… but Edward, it seemed, was still ignoring her thoughts as best he could. That was good, but it wasn’t insurance. She couldn’t count on it.

She had been spending a lot of time in the junkyards scattered all over Washington, and that was good. That helped. It kept her thoughts on the car, it kept her out of the house, it kept her mind… occupied.

She glanced around the corner and sure enough, Bella was there. She must have sent Edward off because he wasn’t there with her. As she watched Bella glanced down at her watch, her face anxious.

Rosalie smiled a little evilly. Well, she wasn’t afraid of being late if that was what needed to happen. She just didn’t want to be.

Or maybe…

She started down the hallway before her mind had caught up with her. Startled, her mind immediately began to yell at her, arguing with her decision to do this.

The look on Bella’s face was almost comical when she came into view, books in her arms, her purse hung over her shoulder, her hair laying gently over one shoulder. Bella’s eyes bugged, looking at once shocked and something else that Rosalie couldn’t place.

Rosalie stared her down, her eyes intense, drilling into Bella as she approached. She layered on all of her charm, her vampire glamor that caught the eye of so many. Everyone within five feet seemed to respond. Bella stared back like a deer caught in front of an oncoming semi while a handful of boys to their right all stopped at once to stare, creating a pileup crash of everyone who had been behind them. A few girls glared at the boys and continued walking, unaffected, while a teacher walking by stumbled and glanced at Rosalie once, twice, before he hurried past.

“Bella,” she said in a purr.

Bella swallowed, her eye flicking over Rosalie’s face as Rose stepped very close, too close in her own opinion. Bella’s mouth opened and she made a small noise that might have been a word at one point but wasn’t anymore.

And then Rosalie stepped passed her, into the classroom that always smelled too much of her. For a brief moment, she allowed her eyes to close, to breathe the scent in.

Then she took her seat.

 


 

Bella still seemed shaken that night when she walked into the Cullen house, something that made Rosalie smile a little to herself. She hadn’t even done anything specifically great.

She was busy at the small card table at the end of the living room, filling in the last few answers in the previous week’s Time’s crossword, and she was content. She was not getting up, she decided.

Still, she glared when instead of going up to Edward’s room, he and Bella settled at the piano. Seeing as how they were facing away from her, the look did little to help.

‘With seventeen across, the value of some opinions,’ Rosalie read and filled the answer in easily.

‘Word before know and care.’ She rolled her eyes, amazed that those who did this before her had missed some of these.

“Yes, you place your fingers like this, but lightly.”

There was a loud clonk and Rosalie looked up, wary.

“Lightly.”

Rosalie heard the key depress so slowly that no sound came from the piano.

“Too light.”

Clonk.

“Come on, if I can touch you without breaking you then you can be light… good.”

Rosalie felt the annoyance rise within her. She always hated how Edward spoke to Bella, she had from moment one. It was one of the things she disliked about her the most, the fact that she let him.

“Okay so, follow me.” There was a light three-note tune that filled the room, followed by a misguided clunk. Rosalie winced.

Beside Bella, Edward began to laugh.

“Sorry, that was dumb,” Bella mumbled.

“Try again.”

This time instead of the clunk there was a high tinkle as very went the wrong direction on the keys.

“You’re not very good at this,” Edward said with a smile, his fingers moving lithely over the keys.

Astonished and beyond peeved to hear that, Rosalie stared at Bella, waiting for her to fight back. Instead what she saw was acceptance. Bella’s eyes dropped, her face flushed. Rosalie could see Bella internalize this, adding it to the facts about herself: brown hair, pale skin, bad at the piano.

It was insane. It was so rude.

It was… dickish of him.

“Here, try this. This is easier.” His fingers bounced between two notes at a steady rhythm and Bella, looking like she would rather not, copied him on her side.

Edward was like this. He was a horrible teacher because he just laughed when his student made a mistake. He had once tried to teach Rose to play Senet and she had become so enraged with how he had treated her that she had eventually flipped the board and refused to let him teach her anything since.

Maybe Edward was right about her, maybe her death had changed her because now she had no patience for men who treated women like shit. It hadn’t been something that had bothered her in life. She had been given too much, too easily, been too shallow, wanted to be admired too much. Now her teeth grit as Bella made a mistake again and her hands dropped into her lap, leaving the piano like it had burned her.

That was fine, she told herself. It was fine. It was Bella’s issue to deal with. So she was going to let Edward talk to her like she had a maximum of two brain cells instead of like the intelligent woman she was? Fine.

“Don’t put your hands down.”

“Let’s just stop,” Bella moaned. “I suck at this.”

Jaw tight, Rosalie exploded, forcing words out of her that she hadn’t wanted to say, hadn’t planned on saying. “No, you just haven’t had a hundred years of virginity in which to practice!” Her voice snapped through the room, ricocheting off of the walls and making all the other Cullens in the house go silent.

Had that been her? She wanted to look around for the culprit that had stolen her voice because it clearly hadn’t been her. As a matter of fact, she had been the one that had decided not to speak. That had been her. She blinked at Edward’s back, confused as to how that could have possibly happened.

Slowly, a statue come to life, Edward turned on his seat to look at her, his face a fury of shock and anger.

“Uh.” She cleared her throat, a nervous tick. Well, she had put that out there, so she didn’t have a lot of choice about backing it up. Her face transformed, growing hard. She glared back at him fiercely, even though she knew he could hear the panic in her mind, let alone the confusion about why she had spoken at all. “It true.”

He stared for a long moment, looking like he wanted to throttle her. “If – you – have – nothing else – to – add,” he ground out and turned, shaking his head in bemusement.

She snarled, provoked. “You realize you sound like a jerk, right? You’re laughing when she makes mistakes, telling her that she’s no good at it before she ever really got the chance to try this thing that she had never done before. You sound like you don’t think she can do it at all. Is that the message you’re trying to send?” Her eyes didn’t turn to Bella but instead looked jut above her right shoulder, not wanting to make eye contact with her, not with the way Bella was staring at her just then. “He’s not better than you. He’s just had more time to practice. Instruments take time to study.”

Unwillingly, but unable to stop it, her eyes flicked down to Bella’s face and caught. It was as if the sun had blossomed there, the beginning of its creation. Any sun that had existed before was only a light source compared to this.

She mentally swore.

Slowly Edward blinked, his face slack. “Err,” he gave a small cough, his eyes dragging back to his seatmate. “No, I am not trying to say that. I didn’t realize.” He sent Rosalie another glance, looking at her like she had suddenly gone insane.

Rosalie just stared fixedly at the wall behind them, her jaw clamped tight, her hands digging into her legs. God damn it.

“Do you want to try again?”

Bella nodded a little and they turned back to the piano.

Bella’s mouth opened, closed, opened before she leaned in and asked in a perfectly audible whisper, “Are you really a virgin?”

Rose let out a loud cackle and stood. “Oops.” She shrugged at the murder that was in his face and went upstairs to change.

 


 

“So what are you and Bella gonna do tonight?” She asked Emmett once in her raggy hunting clothes.

He shrugged. “Movie, I think. There’s this new one about a dude who has been a virgin all of his life.”

“Hmmm,” she hummed. “I’m sensing a theme from the evening.”

“Right?” Emmett laughed. “At least that’s probably gonna finally change.”

Rosalie froze, her hands wrapped around her hair. Her eyes had blown wide, her mouth suddenly saturated with venom. She had to fight, literally fight, not to respond, to yell, to say something nasty. Something black and ugly squirmed in her stomach. She turned away, forcing her mind onto the car, but it did not want to go. The thoughts were there, the ones that she had somehow always avoided. Edward naked with her. Edward inside of Bella’s body. Edward leaving some of himself behind, possessing her.

“I still can’t believe he doesn’t jerk off,” Emmett mumbled. “That’s crazy. You ready?”

“What?” Rose gave a guilty start.

“Everyone else has left already. You going?”

“Oh.” She gave her own fake little throat clear. “Of course.” Normally she would lean in, she could give him a passionate kiss, or maybe even a pinch to his butt. But just then… her stomach recoiled at the idea and so with a wink, she headed out before she could let herself think anymore.

 The problem was, once she had made Bella smile like that, she wanted to do it again. It wasn’t for Bella’s sake, she reminded herself again and again, but instead, it was about teaching Edward not to be a chauvinist.

No matter where she was in the house when she heard him say something that sounded like ‘I’m better than you’ she found it impossible not to speak up.

It was a slippery slope though. The next time she had been downstairs when Edward and Bella had been in his room. She had heard him clear as a bell, teasing her about her inability to hike without hurting herself. Before she had stopped herself she had called up loud enough for them to both hear that he wasn’t specifically good at hiking, he was just a fucking vampire with extra sensitive senses. She hadn’t been able to see his face but from the long pause and then the giggle she had heard from Bella, she thought his face must have been good.

She had kind of liked doing this. If Bella wasn’t going to stick up for herself, she wasn’t going to complain about doing it for her.

That was, until the third time.

The third time she must have lost her senses, because the third time when Bella looked over at her after she came to her defense and smiled… Rose actually smiled back. A genuine smile. A real genuine smile.

She had left for the car bay, confused and angry.

It was a dangerous slippery slope that she needed to stay completely away from.

She reminded herself of that as she heard Bella’s truck roaring through the pouring rain the next babysitting night.

She wasn’t staying.

She just would keep her mouth shut, ignore her, it was as simple as that.

She was sitting at the dining room table, a book in hand as she waited for her family to gather. She wasn’t looking forward to this hunt. She glanced out at the rain, which looked more like a wall of water. She was going to get muddy.

Maybe… she could always skip this week. After all, she had gone just the week before. Unlike the rest of the family, she didn’t think she needed to stuff herself constantly to not be a threat to Bella.

The front door opened with Edward’s laughter. “You’re soaked.”

Rosalie’s eyes closed, instantly overwhelmed. Her scent, not that misty scent that was more a feeling, but her actual physical scent mixed with rain and earth… her hands clenched into fists.

“Yeah,” Bella gasped, her voice shaking with cold. “It’s brutal out there.”

Chuckling and grinning widely, Edward said, “I’ll get you a towel.”

“Thanks,” Bella nodded, her body jerking with her shivers, her teeth chattering.

Alice skipped up, looking disapproving.

“I know.” Bella sighed.

Rosalie had to admit, it was almost impressive how soaked through she had gotten in the minute-long walk from her truck to the porch.

“I know,” Bella sighed, sadly. “It isn’t fair that Edward is so beautiful and he’s stuck with me, the human drowned rat.”

Something white-hot ripped through her, something like anger laced with pain. Upstairs Edward barked a laugh.

“You’re beautiful too, god damn it!”

There was a loud splintering crack. Shocked, Rose looked down at her fist which had just come down on the tabletop, at the cracks that splintered out from it like a web.

She looked back up and at the two people in the doorway, her eyes only seeing one. Bella was staring at her, mouth open, seeming entirely unaware that Rosalie had just broken the table.

Flabbergasted, Rosalie just stared.

What the fuck was happening to her?

Chapter Text

Care Warning: Heterosexual sexuality here and over the next few chapters. Also some talk of Rosalie’s attack.

 

 

Rosalie was just entering the house again the following week when Edward approached.

Her arms were full of bags, having just come back from shopping in Portland with Alice and she was in a better mood than she had been in for the last seven days, if not longer. She had needed that. She had needed some fun without consequence, and she had needed the new Dior line to be in her closet. The dress she had found was beautiful enough to make her forget her recent troubles.

Her back straightened, the smile that had been on her face moments before suddenly falling off the moment Edward approached.

“Edward.” She greeted in a stiff voice.

His eyebrows were drawn, his face grave, his hands in fists at his sides. “Rose. Can I talk to you?”

She just gave a grunt that was neither a yes or a no.

“I’ll, uh, put these in your room for you,” Alice singsonged, taking Rosalie’s bags and disappearing upstairs.

“What?” It had come out short but if Edward was surprised then she couldn’t tell.

“Bella will be here tonight.”

“And?”

“Will you please stay with her?”

Rosalie’s jaw dropped. Hadn’t she just done this? They couldn’t have worked through everyone else in the family already. They hadn’t. She knew that for a fact. No way in hell. No way would she be doing this. No fucking away.

She clicked her tongue. “Fine.” And she went up to her room to put away her new clothing.

 


 

Rosalie wasn’t in the living room or even somewhere she was available to Bella when the rest of the family left that night. She was holed up in her room, sitting on the bed with her knees pulled up and a scowl on her face, still pissed that she had done what she had done.

Why did this keep happening? 

She had told her mouth to say no. She had told it to, and she was supposed to be in control of that. So why had something else entirely come out of her mouth?

“Rosalie?” She heard from downstairs; Bella’s voice tentative.

Instead of answering, she stood and went to her bathroom where she turned on the tap for a bath.

“Rose?”

Something skittered up Rosalie’s spine at the name.

She blew down the stairs, moving at full vampire speed to grab a book from the downstairs library.

Bella, standing in the middle of the living room, gave a yelp of fright when Rosalie blew by, probably fast enough to only be a blur to her.

She grabbed something at random and then turned.

“Rosalie!”

“Entertain yourself!” She barked and then was upstairs again, slipping into her bath.

They spent the evening that way. Rose stayed upstairs, continuously refilling her bathtub water so it stayed warm, and Beca downstairs, the scratch of a pencil on paper making Rose think she had focused on her homework.

The following week when Edward came to her and asked her again, Rosalie didn’t protest.

She changed into her old jeans and a tank top just as Bella was arriving and then headed down the stairs.

In the doorway, Bella stopped, a strange look on her face.

What?”

Bella blinked slowly. “N-nothing. I’ve just never noticed you in…” seeming too confused to finish, she just pointed to Rosalie’s outfit.

“Surprised that she doesn’t work on cars in her designer slacks?” Edward asked, taking Bella’s jacket, Rosalie noticed in a far more chivalrous way than he recently had. Apparently, her constant roasting was doing him some good.

“Don’t put that on Esme’s chair, Edward, it’s wet.”

Edward looked up, confused.

Bella rolled her eyes and took her jacket from him, going to the jacket holder and hooking it on so it could drip dry in a spot where no one would slip.

He didn’t look pleased.

“Is that what you’re doing?” Bella asked sheepishly. “You’re working on the car?”

Rosalie considered just not answering.

“Can I help?”

She stared at her for a long moment, her mind blank. Finally, she gave a slight nod and headed out without waiting.

The car bay wasn’t far from the house exactly, just perhaps a fourth of a mile off behind the garage and deep into the forest. Still, it was far enough that by the time that Bella arrived, Rosalie was already dirty up to her elbows.

“Erm, hi. You didn’t wait for m—"

“You can sit over there.” She pointed her chin to the corner, cutting her off.

“So… are all of these yours?” Bella glanced around the cathedral-like space, her eyes skimming over most of the cars with the disinterest that only someone genuinely not into cars could show.

Rosalie glared and decided not to answer her anymore that evening.

“Most of them,” she said, sliding under the car as she betrayed her intentions. There was a Ferrari F40 that she had bought that Jasper preferred and drove often, a Porsche 993 that Alice had claimed for her own, and a BMW 320, and 750 that Esme and Carlisle often used. Jasper, Emmett, Carlisle, and Alice all had at least one ‘flashy’ car in the bay as well. Those were the cars that are usually tucked away in the car bay behind the house, whereas the ‘every day’ cars are in the garage beside the house. Leave the flashy ones for long trips out of Forks, as they had been taught.

“The only one I drive regularly is the M3. The rest are taken by others in the family.”

“That’s the red one?” Bella asked.

“Yes,” Rose deadpanned. “The red one.”

“Oh.”

Rosalie’s hands carefully picked apart the piece she needed, removing the old with her bare fingers.

“So—”

“Nope.” Rosalie interrupted. “We’re not doing that talking thing.”

“Oh.”

Rosalie flinched under the car at the disappointment in her voice. She grit her teeth and continued working, listening to the silence between them as she did.

It wasn’t comfortable, not by any means, but when Bella finally rose and went back into the main house a few hours later, Rosalie felt the absence thickly.

She didn’t come in until Bella had fallen into a deep sleep in Edward’s bed. She was quiet as she did, telling herself it was because she didn’t want to wake her and set her off on her ‘let’s be friends mission’ rather than the fact that is she was quiet, she could listen to that steady breath easier.

She showered away the grease, and then in a soft sweater and comfortable pants, she settled onto the large bed like sofa in her movie room. She picked something at random and put it on, settling back. She missed most of the movie, however, unable to concentrate on it. Instead, she closed her eyes and listened, her breath slowly beginning to mimic the one in the room beside her.

The movie was only half over when she heard the distinct sound of Emmett arriving home. She opened her eyes, blinking a few times to clear her mind from the meditative relaxation she had found.

“Hey, beautiful,” he smiled at her.

Lazily, she smiled back.

“You look comfortable.”

“I am.” She liked doing this with Bella. It was the closest to sleep she got now, this deeply meditative state. Not that she would let anyone else ever know she felt that.

He grinned at her, pulling his shirt off over his head and exposing his huge chest.

It was impressive, she thought in a semi-detached way. The indents of his muscles were deep enough that she could lose a fingertip in them, she knew from experience. His pecks were full and hard, the V that disappeared into his jeans pronounced. He was beautiful.

Shirtless, he settled beside her, pulling her in close.

She pushed back, comfortable in the spot she had been in.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she shrugged. “Just comfortable.”

“Be comfortable with me,” he pressed.

“Emm, stop it.” She pushed his arms away again. “You’re making me miss the end.”

“You’ve seen it!”

Her head turned toward him, alarmed, and a little peeved.

Abashed, his head ducked a little, that look he got every now and then on his face. He looked like a little boy, she always thought, both guilty and hurt.

“What’s wrong with you?” She asked bluntly.

“You never want to be close to me anymore. What’s going on?”

 “What?” She chuckled, shifting her head to a more comfortable spot. “That’s ridiculous.”

“Babe, it’s been like a month since we’ve had sex.”

She laughed a little louder, rolling her eyes. She loved that Emmett seemed like a silly man, but when you got down to it, he was able to communicate so well. He was rarely overly dramatic, often to the point, and was distinctly against exaggeration… usually. “It has not.”

“It has.”

Her laughter slowly died as she realized that he wasn’t teasing her. There was nothing silly in his face, nothing but a serious set to his mouth and eyebrows.

She opened her mouth to argue because that was ridiculous. They were Rosalie and Emmett. They fucked like bunnies. Hadn’t she just… she was sure she had… yes, that night when he had… She stared at him, confused. He was wrong, she realized. It had been longer. And had it been so long since she had just cuddled with him? She had been pulling away and she hadn’t even noticed. Maybe it was her vigilante kick against Edward that was making her more militant. And sex… there had been none of that since the impromptu blow job she had given him just after their last hotel stay.

In the next room over, Bella’s breath caught in her sleep, almost as an accusation.

“You’re right.” She said in a small voice. “I’m sorry, come here.”

Smiling happily, he slid over, opening his arms so that she could settle on his chest.

He sighed a little, his strong arms wrapping around her as she settled into his lap, holding her close.

Her face buried into his chest. His skin was soft, warm, and she loved it… usually. This was a perfect example of why she could never leave this. He held her like it made him happy to do so. It did make him happy, something that Rosalie thought was more than she deserved.

That early morning, however, she wasn’t comforted by him as she usually was. She couldn’t seem to find that perfect spot on his chest where her chin would rest perfectly between his pecks as it usually did. She shifted again, rubbing her nose across his chest and breathing in his scent. He smelled like earth, like wild game, and musk. It was so manly, which she always liked. She wasn’t enjoying it now though. His smell had always been smooth, rich.

“You stink.”

He laughed. “I should probably have showered after hunting, huh?”

“Probably. You’re getting bear all over my sofa.”

He growled playfully, pretending to bite her neck.

“Go on, get, mountain man.”

He grinned and Rosalie knew what was coming before he even did it.

“Come get into the shower with me.”

“No, you stink.”

“I’ll make you stink.”

“Exactly.”

He gave her a slow smirk and purposely unbuttoned his jeans.

She smirked back, but the smirk was shallow. She just really really wasn’t in the mood. Still, she reached down, holding his eye contact like he liked, and unzipped his pants, letting him spring free.

His smile was large and bright, pleased more, she thought, by her interest than the coming sex.

She knew he did it for her. A few weeks ago, no, even any other day, she would be on it in a flash, amazed and aroused to see that she had done that to him. That was how she had always been. No, that was who she still was damn it. A trickle of fear moved through her. She was afraid, that much she knew. She wasn’t changing. She would never change.

She gave him a coy grin, and reaching down she gave him a squeezing stroke.

He hissed. “Come on, gorgeous.” He pulled her up, somehow removing her pants at the same time.

She wasn’t all of that interested in this, but she climbed him anyway.

He held her tight, entering her before they even made it to the shower.

 


 

She was on the front porch an hour and a half later as the sun came up. It was something she had always enjoyed, even in her human life. She loved watching the sun break across the sky, only now, she felt that warmth on her skin like a touch.

The sky was beautiful.

It made her miss human things though. She used to come out just before sunrise in her human life with a tray of morning delicacies, cookies, breads, Danishes, scones, and a thick cup of coffee. She didn’t remember it well, but she remembered that it had been the time for her to think. She had decided that she would marry Royce there, even before he had asked. She had planned her coming out party all the way down to the dress she would wear while sitting and looking at the sunrise at the age of sixteen.

She pulled her legs up into the chair, her eyes closed as she felt the warm rays. She missed coffee, a little bit. It didn’t smell good now, but then, she had always enjoyed the strong bitter taste. More than that though, she had enjoyed the act of drinking it, of cupping her hand around it and feeling it’s warmth.

Emmett said that this was the most human thing that she did.

She chuckled into the morning air. She supposed he was right.

… Emmett used to smell a little bit like coffee to her, she thought out of nowhere.

Used to.

There had been something smooth and deep in the same way that coffee had smelled. For so many years after she had found him, years where she was still struggling with… but she turned her thoughts away before she could remember the feeling of being forcibly penetrated for the first time, a horror that had happened again and again and again.

Emmett’s scent had calmed her while she continued to emotionally heal.

His smell was different now. There was an edge to it, something fiercely male that should have drawn her in, only it was too spicy.

Why was that?

She wanted that scent now, that warm coffee scent. She always did when she thought of herself on the ground of the alleyway, her face pressed into the grime and muck.

She blinked, her stomach nauseous and looked back out at the sunrise which had gone cold and empty for her.

In the distance, she saw a handful of figures break through the trees.

Instantly, almost a habit now, her thoughts turned.

If I work hard, I think I could have the car done by spring. Emmett would like that. There isn’t all that much to do, but I do need to order a few parts.

Edward slowed as he approached the house, his eyes on Rosalie.

“Beautiful morning, isn’t it?” Esme asked, kissing Rosalie’s forehead.

She nodded, her mind slipping through the parts that needed to be ordered, pretending she didn’t notice Edward’s gaze, pretending something inside of her didn’t ache for comfort.

“Hey, Jas.”

Even though Edward had passed her and was inside, Rosalie could hear him perfectly.

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Of course.”

“Is Rose okay?”

Rosalie froze in her seat, surprised. Had she not hidden her thoughts well enough. At this point, she thought she was an expert at pushing those away in favor of anything else.

Silence followed for a long moment before Jasper spoke, his voice further away now. “Well, what do you mean?”

“She’s been obsessed with this car she’s building. She thinks about it nonstop.”

Rosalie tightened her grip around her legs.

She was often discussed by her family, she supposed that came with the notoriety of being the family bitch, but this was a little more obvious than usual. In fact, it was rude as hell. In fact, it pissed her off.

“I can tell she’s upset about something, but unless she thinks about it exactly, I can’t hear it. I can only hear the exact words in her head. Have you noticed anything?”

Again another long silence. Jasper, as a rule, was a gentleman. Even Rosalie had to admit that. She knew he understood things about the family and the people around him that others didn’t, but it was rare for him to divulge. “Well, Rosalie is often in… pain. I wear my scars on the outside, but she wears hers on the inside.

“Yes, yes, I know, but I think this is something new.”  

Another long silence followed before Jasper spoke, his voice sounding grudging. “I suppose, I have noticed a few strange moments over the past few months, but I’m unsure of what they mean.”

Rosalie stood, unsure of exactly why. Was she going to fly in there and protect her secret, or was she going to bolt?

“Well, what do you think?” Edward pushed.

“I’m not sure, Edward. I think you should just ask Rose what’s going on with her, if you’re curious.”

Edward sighed and Rosalie breathed a sigh of relief which turned into a grateful smile.

“Right… yeah, okay, thanks.” Edward said.

She turned and started toward the car bay, wondering what it as exactly that Jasper had felt from her recently and what the hell it was that he had picked up before.

 


 

She hadn’t planned on working on the car. She hadn’t changed into the right clothes. So she couldn’t help the growl of anger when Emmett appeared behind her a little while later, wrapping his arms around her and pushing her into the car, smearing her jeans with old motor oil.

“Oh, were you trying to stay clean?” He asked, seeming honestly contrite.

“I was,” she ground out. “And I was doing a good job.”

“Sorry.” He leaned in, careful not bump her, and kissed her neck.

She wriggled out of his reach and went to her tool caddy. She was busy. And now she was dirty.

“Come on. This morning was great. Round two?”

She didn’t want to. She wanted to finish what she was doing. And get some degreaser on these jeans, even though she knew they probably weren’t still savable.

Inside she could almost feel Edward, had been able to all morning. She could feel him listening, trying to figure out whatever he had decided was a mystery. It was exhausting and she wished it would stop.

And so she let it happen, knowing that he would take Bella and get the hell out of the house as soon as possible.

And she was right. Her shirt wasn’t even off before Bella’s truck started up with a roar.

She grinned, bent over the tools table.

And if her grin faded moments after that, it was only because the table too was dirty. No other reason at all.

 

 

Chapter Text

The morning of the third week in a row Rosalie didn’t even bother looking up when Edward approached her.

“Why?” she asked, her eyes still on her computer monitor.

Edward’s feet shuffled. He knew what she was asking. She was sure of that much and so she waited for the answer. Why her over and over again? Why had he abandoned asking his other sycophantic family members? She looked up and he was just standing there, hands in his pockets.

“Fine,” she grumbled.

“Thank you.”

 


 

“Rose?”

Rosalie didn’t look up as she cranked the tire iron easily, pulling off another nut. She had to be careful. If she twisted too hard, she could pull them clean off.

“Hey,” Bella said, closing the door behind her.

She glanced up at Bella and then did a double-take. The smile on Bella’s face was too big to be meant for her.

“Hey?”

The smile grew and damn it if Rosalie didn’t want to smile back.

“Changing tires?”

She shot her a dry look.

“Right. Dumb question. Can I help?”

“I don’t see how,” Rose answered honestly.

“Oh. Okay.”

She watched her go back to the corner she had occupied last time, her shoulders stooped in rejection.

Rosalie growled a little at herself and gave the iron a hard jerk. The whole car shuddered and —

“Rose!” Bella stumbled to her feet, shooting toward the falling car as it shook hard enough to push it off the jack.

Rosalie watched, her eyebrows high as Bella reached forward like she, the human, was going to somehow stop the car from crushing the vampire partially under it.

“Oh my god, are you okay?” Bella asked, eyes wide.

“Eeeerrrr…” Rosalie glanced at the car, which she was now holding up with one hand, completely undamaged. “Yeah, I’m fine.” She stared at Bella’s slightly pale face, bemused. “Bella, even if the car fell on me, it wouldn’t hurt me.”

She shifted in place, her over-white cheeks turning pink. “Yeah, I guess that’s true.”

Rosalie couldn’t seem to pull her eyes away from Bella’s still slightly panicked face. Why the hell did this girl care?

“Come here.”

Joy burst across Bella’s face as she immediately dropped to her knees beside Rosalie.

“So move this so that it’s placed there, you see, so the frame won’t bend.”

“Okay.” With a look of concentration that Rosalie couldn’t help but watch, Bella wiggled the jack to the proper place. “Okay, got it. ... Rose?”

Rosalie blinked, remembering that she was supposed to doing something. “Great. Now pump it up.”

Bella did, giving small grunts as the jack steadily rose in tiny, tiny, very tiny, increases. “Like that?” She pant.

Smiling a little to herself, Rose reached over and gave the jack a few more pumps and then carefully placed the car so it was resting on it again. “So what you do now...”

Bella helped her take off the first tire, rocking it perfectly, and getting her hands greasy.

“Don’t worry, it comes off,” Rosalie chuckled, low in her chest when she saw Bella looking down at her hands with a. frown.

Bella just beamed at her.

She was actually pretty good at it, Rosalie had to admit. Changing tires wasn’t so big of a deal, but it was a little hard to remove the old tires from the rim and still Bella thrived. She was honestly, ugh, she was honestly cute as she did it, Rosalie had to admit. Watching Bella trying to carry the old tire, pretending that she wasn’t struggling, made her sides ache as she bit back her laughter.

“So, how did you start working on cars?” Bella asked, rubbing some sweat from her face and smearing it with grease.

Rosalie didn’t even debate it before she answered, her mind mostly on the job they were doing. “It was when our first car broke down. We didn’t get one until almost 1936, and once we did, we couldn’t find anyone to work on it at night. We weren’t living somewhere as safe for us then, and there were rumors about our nocturnal behaviors. Eventually, I got tired of trying and so I broke into the manufacture’s shop and well as the local mechanics and stole every book I could find about fixing them. It turned out that I was good at it. At first, Edward and Emmett tried, but I soon surpassed their abilities.”

Bella laughed.

Rose couldn’t help but to smile also, her smile a little arrogantly proud. “They were so surprised that a woman was able to do it at all, let alone better than them. I think it hurt Edward’s pride.”

Bella nodded, her eyes rolling playfully. “I can’t see him doing well with anyone being better at something than him.”

Rose clicked her tongue. “It is a weakness of his.” Her eyes were back on Bella’s face, studying. She had sounded a little exasperated, which surprised her. She had the impression that, to Bella, Edward could do no wrong. “He’s not perfect you know.” She didn’t know why she had added it, or why she had bothered at all. She doubted deeply if Bella could see that he wasn’t perfect in any way.

But Bella surprised her by sighing deeply. “I know.”

Rosalie’s eyebrows shot up. “Wh—” but she stopped herself, deciding instead to let it slide. At that moment there came a loud angry rumble, large and obvious from Bella’s stomach.

“Oh.” Bella pressed her hand against it and frowned.

“You’re hungry.” Her voice was light, but even Rosalie could hear the condemnation in it over the idea of Bella allowing herself to get to the point of hunger. “You should eat.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Her eyes turned on Rose and with a spark of something deep within her, Rose realized that they were very close. Her eyes shifted, her mouth dropping open. In her body, a longing began to build as she looked at Bella, and Bella looked back.

Her eyes, Rose realized for the first time, were such a deep and warm color. There were flecks of gold in them, and red, and black. Each freckle had its own unique shape, like stars across the night sky. Her eyes traced the soft pink of Bella’s lips and in response, she licked her own. Bella’s warm arm pressed into the side of Rosalie’s, burning with heat that Rosalie barely noticed. They were so soft, she could tell just by looking at them. A strange of Bella’s loose hair tickled across Rosalie’s skin. They were not hard and firm, but gentle and giving and — she suddenly pulled away. Panic screamed through her head. How had she gotten that close to her? What had she been doing? How had she not noticed? She had just gotten very close, very close indeed. Bella’s eyes were half-lidded, her heartrate high. That had almost been very bad.

Rose stood, clearing nothing from her throat and offered Bella her hand for a split second before changing her mind. “Come on, let’s go inside.”

“Huh? Oh, yeah.” Bella blinked a few times and then stood on what looked like unsteady feet. “Right. Err, time to go through that kitchen that Esme packed for me.”

Rosalie laughed a little, following as Bella headed toward the door.

“Actually, maybe you can talk to her.” Bella turned as she walked, her hands absently playing with one another, her eyes not on Rosalie at all.

“What’s wrong?” Had her voice sounded a little testy just then? Hmmm.

“No, no, it’s not bad. It’s just, it’s so much food. Edward won’t tell her that I can’t eat – shit!”

It wasn’t so much that it was slow motion because for Rose everything happened at an easily manageable pace. She saw Bella’s foot settle in the middle of the oil puddle that Bella had accidentally knocked over earlier and knew what was coming. Bella’s face shifted from pleading to surprise to fearful, and then she was tilting back, falling.

“Bella!”

She reached out and instead of grabbing her from the air, she thrust her arms under her, catching her just before she hit the ground. She let out a strangled deep breath as Bella’s body, almost weightless in her arms, settled against her. She looked down, and everything stopped again. She was so warm. Even in this position, Rosalie bent over, Bella cradled against her as if in a New Year’s Eve kiss, she was able to tell that Bella’s warmth was all-consuming, wanting to eat away Rose’s cold.

Bella’s eyes had shut as she had begun to fall. Rose watched as they slowly began to open again, time seeming suddenly slow in her haste.

She let out another breath, the sudden stress of her trip falling away from her in relief and the breath blew into Bella’s face. Bella’s hands convulsed on Rose’s arm, squeezing tightly. Her eyes which had almost opened, suddenly dropped to half-lidded.

She was there. She was in her arms. She was so close to her.

Rose’s eyes closed with relish for a millisecond, without her permission and she held just a little tighter. The constant ache, the one that ached for her to reach out, that feeling that was more of a smell, that was more of a feeling, it suddenly lessened and then disappeared, like pouring cool water over a burn.

Bella’s eyes were fixed on her face and Rose, eyes slowly opening, was unable not to look back.

She almost pulled her in, almost held her closer, just wanting to know what it would feel like just for a moment. She wanted just one peaceful moment.

Bella’s hand shifted, fisting in Rosalie’s shirt over her chest. Rose looked at the fist and then back at Bella’s face.

Just once. She just wanted to know once.

Bella’s lips below her parted, blinking slowly once. They parted and—

Rose stood her up on her feet in a move so fast she wasn’t sure it wouldn’t send Bella sprawling in the opposite direction and disappeared out the car bay.

She stormed through the doors, up to her room, and into the shower.

That had been close, oh god, that had been so close. Had Bella been aware of how close that had been? Of course not, she supposed, but she had almost lost control. And good god, it had felt so good. It had felt so good to wrap her arms around her, to give in to the feeling for just a moment and have it disappear like steam. It was back now, the scent of her still on her like a catcall, trying to push her to go back. She wanted to wrap her up, she wanted…

She stepped in, the water acting like a hook that yanked her out of her fantasy world.

It didn’t matter what she wanted.

She didn’t want.

She didn’t.

 


 

Her mind was still racing as she walked at a human’s pace downstairs and sat on the living room couch. Bella, it seemed, had eaten and was now cleaning up the dishes.

She clicked on the TV and began to flip to the guide, her eyes shooting to Bella every few seconds.

She looked a little wobbly on her feet, but that was probably from the scare of the trip.

A few minutes later Bella approached the couch, a steaming bag of popcorn in her hand.

“That smells like shit,’ she bit out.

“Says the woman who thinks a zoo smells like a buffet.”

Rose’s breathing stopped, her mouth falling open in surprised delight. Gumption. She loved a girl with spirit.

 


 

Something changed after that, even Rose could see it, and it horrified her. The next morning when Rose was passing Edward and Bella, she saw Bella look up and smile at her.

“Hi, Rose.”

Rosalie, before she could help herself, nodded back. “Bella.”

Edward, arms tightly around Bella, looked as if Christmas had come early.

Rose’s shoulders straightened and she marched past.

She needed to stop allowing herself to be near her. She was wearing thin and that was very fucking dangerous. She had held her in her arms. She had leaned in like she had any right to those lips.

Yet, when Bella and Edward walked in to the Cullen house while Rose was stretched out on the long couch, Rose didn’t leave when they settled beside her.

When sitting at lunch one day, Rose only froze when Bella stopped to gently tuck a tag back into Rose’s shirt, her fingers warm against the skin of her neck.

And the next week, before Edward could approach and ask, Rose found herself offering to stay behind.

Edward’s grin was a cocky one as she did.

“See, I told you she’s great.” He clearly thought that, like the rest of his family, she had finally been taken in by whatever stupid Bella charm it was that had grabbed everyone else. She supposed that when it came down to it, she couldn’t argue. So she just sighed, a sudden deep sadness she didn’t want to evaluate washing through her as she said, “Yes. It seems she is.”  

 


 

That night Rosalie did her homework at the dining room table while Bella sat and ate. They were quiet that night, maybe Bella having finally realized that endless chattering wasn’t going to win Rose over.

When their homework was done, they both gravitated toward the couch, Bella flicking through until she found a movie just beginning.

They watched in silence, or at least Bella watched.

Rose, however, wasn’t watching the movie.

That night had been different. That nagging desire to be close had grown silent, calm and Rose knew why. She was slipping. She was allowing herself to feel what, god, what she didn’t want to admit she felt. But she felt it.

God. She looked again to Bella’s face and admitted to herself, that yes she felt it.

Instantly the last of the burn faded away and Rosalie sighed, leaning back onto the couch, relief deep.

She could relax now. She could breathe.

She glanced again at Bella’s profile and smiled a little as Bella chuckled over the movie, her nose wrinkling cutely.

She watched the way Bella’s eyes moved as the movie played. Her skin, she noticed, was flawless, smooth and milky, except for a small scar on her chin. She decided she liked it. She saw Bella’s throat work when she swallowed, saw the gentle and yet so important heartbeat thrumming against the skin of her neck. She had thought in the beginning when Bella had only been this stupid human there to ruin the Cullens lifestyle, that Bella wasn’t pretty. She had thought she was plain and boring. But Bella was beautiful. She could admit that now. Bella was, she sighed, her eyes drifting to her face again. Bella was beautiful.

“Do I have something on my face?”

“What?” Rose snapped, humiliated over having been caught looking. “No!” her head turned back to the screen and she refused to look back at her again.

Finally, the movie ended and Bella excused herself, insisting she had to go to bed.

Rose just nodded.

Upstairs she heard Bella getting ready and then slide under the covers of the bed bought just for these nights. There was a deep sigh and not too long after, the low steady breathing began.

Rose stretched out on the couch, her mood strange. She hated this. She didn’t want to be beholden to it. Her fingers ran over her own lips. It felt good to think about her though. It felt safe there in an empty house.

The modern taste was full and round lips. Actresses were constantly getting them filled and it disgusted Rose. When she had been human, however, the tastes had been different. The taste had been thin but shapely lips. That was exactly what Bella had. They were perfect. They reminded her of a painting, shaped well and often curled back in a smirk of some kind of secret knowledge. Rose wondered often what was happening in that mind of hers. Fingers hovering over her own lips, she wondered what it would be like to feel them against hers. To feel Bella over her, perhaps straddling her hips, her hair falling in sheets around Rose’s face. What would Bella be like as a kisser? She had thought before that she would be like kissing a dead fish, scared, boring. But now… she could see Bella atop her, hands on Rose’s ribs.

Her tongue slowly licked her lip. Her body was beginning to grow warm as she thought of it, static even. Gently her upper teeth grazed against her bottom lip, the feeling only fueling her fantasy.

To kiss Bella…

Could she do it?

Could she kiss her, touch her, take her as her own? What would that mean?

She shifted a little and then rose, slowly making her way up to her room, where she settled languidly on her bed.

Could she tell her secret? Tell everyone?

Her fingers lazily played up her stomach as she thought of it wondered what it would be like.

Her skin had grown sensitive, her mouth, her lips, wanting something that was only in her mind.

But these were dangerous thoughts, very dangerous.

She shivered and enjoyed them for a second longer. Everyone would be home soon. She rolled over, pushing the thoughts back, and letting her body begin to cool.

She opened a book and was lost in Wuthering Heights by the time she heard feet on the back stairs, her family arriving back.

She rolled over, ready to fall back into the pages of the book when her door suddenly flew open.

Rosalie gave a start when it wasn’t Emmett, as she had expected, but instead, Alice stood there, a hand still on the doorknob, her eyes wide and staring directly at Rosalie.

Rose stared back, frozen in fear. She hadn’t thought about the consequences of her thoughts, hadn’t planned…

She stood, her eyes averted. “Good hunt?” She asked, meaning to slip by Alice, only just before she could, Alice’s hand caught her arm.

Rosalie stared back, ice in her veins.

“I saw…” Alice’s confused eyes darted around the room and then landed on Rose.

Rose’s eyes bore into her, willing her to stop talking, willing her to have seen nothing of importance.

“You saw what?” Emmett’s happy voice broke the tension.

Instantly Alice’s hand dropped and Rose stepped away, but her eyes did not leave Alice’s face.

Please, whatever you saw, don’t say anything, her mind begged. She had messed up. She had changed her thinking for just a moment and it was enough to send Alice a vision.

Alice’s eyes locked with Rosalie’s and Rose was sure. Yes, she had done something bad.

 


 

Avoiding Alice wasn’t easy. She had managed it just fine in the Cullen house because there was no way to talk privately. However, after her first class of the day had released the following morning, she had stepped out of the classroom door, her mind still mostly panic, and there Alice had been, coming down the hall, her eyes narrowed on Rose.

She had turned and taken off the opposite way, only giving the smallest start like she had somewhere to be. There had been little subtilty in it.  

After school, she had been able to breathe a little better when she found out that Alice had decided to go over to Bella’s that afternoon with Edward. However, the moment she returned Rose heard her feet on the stairs.

She had shot up, looked around for an escape once and then had vaulted out of her bedroom window, hitting the ground running.

She couldn’t avoid Alice forever, her mind jabbered at her, sounding more and more insane as she ran. She couldn’t. She couldn’t. She was caught. She had let herself get caught and it was all for nothing. It didn’t matter if they were mates. She wasn’t like Edward. She couldn’t just be with Bella for the next forty or fifty or sixty years and then move on. It was not better to have loved and lost. It wasn’t. And she could never make Bella a vampire; that much at least Edward had right. It didn’t matter if they were mates. She had Emmett and she didn’t want anything else.

But she heard the words in her head, she heard their lackluster insistence and that scared her the most.

When she arrived back, she was pleased to discover that both Edward and Alice were gone. That was good because she wasn’t sure she could keep her thoughts to herself.

Now it seemed more critical than ever. Maybe it was time to leave. She and Emmett could pack up a few things and just go. They had done it before. They could go to Alaska for another twenty years, and by then the girl would be gone. Hell, they could go for a simple five and probably return after that. In fact, it would be time for the Cullens to disappear by then anyway so they would meet her most likely. She hated staying with their cousins. They were even more coven-y than it was in Forks, but it was somewhere to go. She and Emmett often broke off from the rest of the family to get a break from coven life and it had been a while since they had gone somewhere new. New York. They could always go back to New York. It had been a long time, and she loved New York. You could live a completely nocturnal life there and no one noticed or cared. Yes, Emmett was more of a mountain man, but a ten-year break in New York could be fun. The film festivals in New York were great. Or even Paris. They could live the same kind of life in Paris. 

... Emmett hated Paris though. The town was small, cramped, and her huge man didn’t fit into it – literally. 

Had she accepted it? If she had accepted that they were mates then everything was lost, and she hadn’t, had she? She hadn’t. She wouldn’t. Thinking someone was beautiful, wondering about kissing them, that wasn’t the same.

God, this had happened so fast.

She settled onto her bed, her thoughts twisting and spinning, torturing her slowly.

What was she going to do? Was there something she could say to Alice that would make her believe whatever she had seen hadn’t been real?

There was a soft knock on her door and Rose sat up fast.

“It’s just me.” Jasper’s voice was soft from the other side of the door, apparently having felt her surge of anxiety.

“Oh. Um, come in, Jasper.”

The door opened slowly and Jasper’s gentle smile greeted her. “Hey.”

“Hey.” She blinked at him, knowing he could feel her guilt. She tried to push her feelings away, to disallow them, but they didn’t want to go.

“I was wondering if you would take a walk with me.”

Resigned, she sighed and nodded, allowing Jasper’s outstretched hand to grasp hers and help pull her up.

 


 

The night air was clear and crisp as they stepped out, moving slightly faster than human pace. As usual, Jasper stood close, his hand resting very lightly on the back of her arm.

Usually, Rosalie hated it when men did that, taking it as a sign of possession or dominance. With Jasper though, it never felt that way. She knew if she pulled away then he would let her go. It was more, instead, that he was giving her his affection in his chivalry.  

“Look at the moon,” Jasper nodded up.

“It’s beautiful,” she admitted, her voice somewhat strangled.

He looked at her for a long moment, a gentle blush of calm washing over her. “Come on.”

They were silent as the house disappeared behind them, silent for so long that Rose began to grow nervous again before he finally spoke.

“Rose, I know.”

She stopped, expecting it but still feeling blindsided. “Know what?” she tried.

He turned leaning against a tree, his face thoughtful as though he hadn’t bothered to take in what she had said. “It took me a long time to understand what I was sensing. At first, I thought you were just being belligerent about her, or that maybe you were jealous. I have to admit,” he gave a small laugh, his head shaking, “I never thought it would be a mate bond, not until tonight.”

Rose turned, a small wail falling out of her. She couldn’t look at him as her body hitched, crying without tears. She was humiliated. She was horrified. She was so relieved.

“It was like walking into a neon sign. The house was drenched in yearning.”

Rosalie groaned, hiding her face in her hands.

“Why haven’t you told them?”

She gave a brittle laugh. “What do you mean? Edward thinks she is his mate.”

He nodded a little. “Yes, but mistakes happen.”

Rosalie just scoffed.

“They’re happy, Jasper. They think they are mates. They’re happy. Bella doesn’t even seem to feel it. Why would I ruin everything for everyone by telling them?”

His head shook in his slow lazy way. “I don’t think you’re right. I think you should tell them.”

“It’s not that simple.”

“But Rose, that’s the thing about this. It is. It is that simple.”

She just stared, completely unsure of what he could possibly mean.

“You could be happy, Rose.”

“No,” she laughed darkly. “No, I couldn’t. There’s no way for this to work. There’s no future between us.”

This time Jasper looked confused. “She’s your mate. Of course, there is. If Bella wants it, there is a lifetime of a future before you, and Bella will want it.” He reached out and took her hand, squeezing it lightly. “I think you should tell the family, tell Bella, and I think, if she wants it, you should let her be turned.”

Rose’s hand jerked out of his grasp.

“I know what it feels like to be mated, Rose. She will want this. But I’m not sure if it works right if one of you is human.”

“I can’t do that,” she spit at him, horrified and angry.

“I think it’s cruel not to.”

His words were so matter of fact, that they stopped the pacing that Rose had just begun. “What?”

“It’s selfish to refuse.”

Rose scoffed but it was hollow. Jasper was often like this, blunt, matter of fact. It was something she usually appreciated but now made her want to rip into him. “Excuse me?” she shouted.

Jasper just looked back at her, completely unrattled by her sudden anger. “Rose,” he said in his softest voice. “Bella will never know a love like you in her life. You two are a perfect combination, predestined. There will always be something missing for her if you just let her go. She will never be truly happy. It would be cruel to keep her human.”

“You’re insane, Jasper. How can you of all people, who know what vampires are, think that she would be better off?”

“Because there’s beauty in our life too, Rose, you have to see that. This is fate. You can’t argue with fate.”

“Fate,” Rose scoffed. “Fate wouldn’t break Emmett’s heart.”

Jasper paused. Sorrow moved across his face and he nodded once. “I think he would understand.”

Fate wouldn’t mean I had to break a good man’s heart, Jasper!” She shouted. “That is not fate! This is not fate!”

“It is. It was set in motion from the moment Bella was born, maybe even since you were.”

“What does that mean?”

“I mean that the only way your single mate could have been born so much later than you were is if it were fate. I don’t understand why you’re not excited. We just got the answer to if it’s fate or nature. Only fate could have brought you two together! You can’t get in the way of that. Please, don’t get in the way of that. She is meant to be yours.

“I don’t want her, Jasper,” she sighed.

“Of course you do. You want her, that much is clear.”

“I don’t.”

“You do! Come on, Rose, admit it. I can feel it from you.”

“I don’t!” She growled, her teeth exposed. She wanted to hurl herself at him, to rip him apart just to make this stop.  

“You both deserve happiness.”

Rose stared at him, her insides feeling raw.

Fate.

She had understood the concept, she had understood the vampire attitude of respect for it.

But fate between her and Bella? No. That was impossible.

She snarled like a wild cat at Jasper.

He only shrugged in response.

Chapter Text

Jasper’s words were toxic in Rosalie’s mind over the next week, tormenting and confusing her. There was nothing to be done about this. She had no desire to do anything about this. And yet his words kept reoccurring again and again in the most inconvenient moments. For example, when Rosalie came home from a junkyard, or shopping, or the movies and found Edward and Bella curled up together on the couch. She would look at them and her lip would curl back and she would think it. ‘She will never know a love like you…’ She would think it and she would have to forcibly remove herself from the room, else rip Edward’s face off. Edward had caught the thought once, his face curious; able to pick up the words but not their meaning. That had only angered her more.

To make matters worse, Edward and Bella had evidently finally moved on from a minimum of a foot between them at all times to tentative kissing and were enjoying doing so very often in Edward’s room, in the field of grass just before the river in their backyard, in Bella’s car before driving her home, despite everyone being able to hear. Before it would have made her sick, but now… Jasper’s words were poisoning her. They were a noxious curse. Never before had she wanted to break into Bella’s old truck as they were kissing and pull her away. Never before had she wanted so deeply to burst through the wall between Edward’s bedroom and her own and beat him with a 2x4. Never before had she wanted to tuck her up into her arms and keep her.

But she did now.

No, she admitted to herself as she stared up at her ceiling, unable to not hear the slurping that sounded like wet, disgusting, inexperienced teenage kissing. She had wanted to take his arm off before, but now…

‘She is meant to be yours…’

What crap.

There was a particularly loud sucking noise and Rosalie’s entire body tensed into stone. She doubted the kissing was as loud as it seemed to her. It was more that she couldn’t focus on anything else while it was happening.

“At it again, huh?” Emmett asked, laughing a little as he got out of the shower.

“Yup.” Rosalie nodded, her eyes still staring at the ceiling.

Emmett paused beside the bed, smelling clean and spicy and naked in a way that should have drawn her eye. “You okay, babe?”

She swallowed. She was jealous. She was possessive. She wanted to take that beautiful girl from him and maybe slap him once for good measure.

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

When had she become this to her? When did she suddenly see her as ‘that beautiful girl’ instead of the annoying pest that was ruining her life? It had happened so suddenly, with so little contact between them. She didn’t understand.

“You sure?”

She sprang up like a loaded coil and began pacing. “It’s just – it’s disgusting! We all try to leave or at least to distance ourselves when we’re doing,” her hand waved in the air perhaps a little maniacally, “that! They could at least give us the same courtesy.”

He chuckled, getting dressed. “They’re lovesick teenagers.”

“Oh don’t you start that too.”

“What? They are.”

Rosalie just snarled to herself.

In the next room over there was a grunt of dissatisfaction.

“Bella, you have to stop,” Edward muttered from the next room over.

Rosalie soundlessly snarled as Emmett waggled his eyebrows, amused.

“Bella, stop, stop!”

There was a small squeak of shame and then Bella was babbling an apology.

He couldn’t even kiss her right, her mind screamed. He still wanted her blood, was sure that he would one day rip her throat out.

How was that fair?

How was that fair at all?

Edward, who lusted deeply to kill Bella, got to touch her, kiss her, and Rose couldn’t. Rose who didn’t want her blood – who didn’t want her god damn it, and wanted her so much.

“I think we had better get you home,” Edward chuckled.

“I’m sorry, Edward!” Bella all but keened.

Rosalie wanted to rip the walls down.

Instead, she threw herself back onto her bed and stared at the ceiling.

Fucking Jasper.

This was his fault. He was wrong. She didn’t want her. She didn’t. All of that stupid ‘you do’ business was crap. She just… didn’t want Edward to have her.

She was still laying there a few hours later when there was a knock on her door.

“Yes?”

The door pushed open and Rosalie looked away. She didn’t want to deal with him, she didn’t want to look at him.

She stared at her light fixture, her mind turning to Emmett’s car.

Edward paused just inside of the door, his hands in his pockets, his eyebrows drawn.

“Are you okay, Rose?”

Nerves crashing through her, she sat up, casually leaning back against the pillows and picked up her book to fiddle with. This one was something a little more modern, a murder mystery that was currently on the best sellers list. She liked it so far. If she could concentrate then she would finish it that night. “I’m fine. Why?”

Slowly, his eyes searched her face and she could almost feel him picking through her thoughts.

“Can you get out of my head, creep?”

He looked away. “Sorry.”

She turned to glance out of the window, not worried by the fear she was feeling. He couldn’t feel that. But she was very, very careful to keep her thoughts clear.

“I’m worried about you.”

Rosalie’s head jerked around, her eyebrows high. There was no hidden pompousness in his words or tone, no light sarcasm that made her want to slap him. His face was open, worried.

“The car, Emmett’s car. What’s so special about it?”

She scoffed. “Meaning?”

“Are you okay?”

Her arms crossed. “I’m just having fun. You should try it sometime.” She glared at him, the desire to strike him overwhelming. She didn’t want to be there, didn’t want to deal with this.

“Rose, you’ve been up here in your room all week. I feel like we’ve all barely seen you for months.”

She shrugged, giving him nothing to go off of. In her mind, she worked to keep everything clear, turning it into a void of white noise.

“Rose…”

She looked up, directly in his eye with all the coldness she felt.

Taken aback, he nodded slowly once, obviously not fooled. “Okay. Well. I’m gonna head over to Bella’s, but just remember I’m your brother. You can always talk to me.”

Rosalie scoffed, making a show of looking away from him while the guilt flooded through her stomach, turning it foul.

He was her brother. She hated him these days, but she did love him.

She watched him get up, and with a small smile, he left.

She sat like a shaken soda bottle, ready to explode as in the next room she heard him change his clothes, gather a few things and then eventually leave.

When he could no longer hear his feet, she exploded up from her spot on the bed, pacing.

She couldn’t handle this. She couldn’t. She was a mess. This was a mess. How was it that she was this much of a less over a stupid human girl?

“Okay!” The sudden clap of Emmett’s hands made Rosalie jump. “That was the last of them.”

“What?” she frowned, her mind completely and totally not on him.

“Everyone is gone.” Emmett grinned at her. “Didn’t you notice? Carlisle and Esme had tickets to some show at the Seattle Opera, Alice and Edward went to Bella’s and Jasper is off looking for new hunting grounds.”

She stared at him, processing. Her mind had been so on the situation with Bella that she wasn’t sure at all what he was even talking about.

“So what do you want to do?” he scooped her up as if she weighed nothing.

“Err…”

“Video games? You haven’t kicked my ass in Mario Kart for a while.”

She smirked.

“Ooorrr…” he eyed her in that way that she knew so well.

“Or?”

He grinned, pulling her in and kissing her. “I don’t know, we could read.”

“Hey, you should try it sometime, big man,” she laughed. She knew what he was asking. It was rare they actually got to have sex in their bedroom. They were too loud for everyone. Sometimes Carlisle and Esme could get away with it because they were pretty quiet, but she and Emmett, never.

She looked at the gleam in his eye and suddenly sex sounded like the perfect idea.

Clear her head. That was what she needed.

He gave a small grunt of surprise as she attacked him, ripping at his clothes and her own, for once not caring if she destroyed them.

“Niiice,” Emmett groaned as she shoved him back on the bed, climbing on top of him. “There’s my girl.”

She ignored him, skipping the foreplay, the teasing, any else that usually came with their sex.

She simply mounted him, making him cry out in surprise delight, and began to move.

And move.

And move.

Beneath her Emmett was writhing, his hands working her hips fast, bear-like roars of pleasure coming from him in steady intervals. His face was set, not at all teasing now and that was usually exactly what she liked. She liked to fuck the playful of out him. It was one of the only times he seemed completely serious.

She rocked harder, the bed whining and shifting.

“You’re – gonna – break – the – bed – again,” he grunted with each thrust and twist of Rosalie’s hips.

She just snarled, her mind not at all distracted. She was naked, she was glorious, but instead of preening on top of him like she usually did to make sure he enjoyed this as much as possible, she moved with efficiency, something much like tears choking her throat.

She gave a particularly harsh twist and Emmett roared through an orgasm below her, but she didn’t stop. She wanted this to work. It had to work.

“Come on,” she flipped over onto her hands and knees. “Make me come. Make me come.”

He just gave a grunt, going to his task, pounding against her with obvious enjoyment.

Her head fell to the blankets below her, filled with Emmett’s scent.

“Come on, baby, come on,” he grunted, slapping her ass in a way that she never really loved, but Emmett had always enjoyed. “Fucking go, before I blow again,” he growled out with relish, obviously enjoying her.

“No, stop.” The words popped out of her and as soon as she heard them she knew it was what she wanted. The problem was, she wasn’t enjoying this. This should have been perfect. She should have come at least twice now. But she hadn’t. “Stop. Emmett, stop!”

She barely had to push before he pulled away, highly attentive, his face openly shocked.

“What’s wrong? Do you want to get on top again?”

She shook her head, a dry sob ripping out of her.

Everything was changing. She didn’t want it to. She wanted her life back, but it was all changing. Had she ever struggled to orgasm before? Had she ever felt invaded before? She sobbed again and Emmett’s arms wrapped around her.

“Rose, what’s wrong? Tell me what it is, babe.”

She buried her face in his chest, feeling dirty.

This couldn’t be happening. It just couldn’t be.

“Nothing. I just—”

“Don’t tell me that nothing has been going on, Rose!”

She shrank back, alarmed and surprised by his sudden yell.

“Shit. I’m sorry.” He sighed, pulling on his pants. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t yell.”

She just shrugged, shaking her head. She wished she could cry. A good cry was all she needed. She just needed to cry.

Her knees pulled up to her chest, her face resting in the crook between them. “Emmett, I’m sorry!” She hiccupped, crying in every way except the tears.

She never wanted this.

She looked up at his face and saw the hurt she knew would be there, the rejection.

“Emmett…” She wanted to tell him it wasn’t his fault. She wanted to hold him and be like she had been. She wanted that so much.

“It’s all right.” He said, his voice low. “I’mma go find Jasper. He and I were talking about checking out this spot last week.”

She said nothing as he dressed and crossed to the door. “I love you, Rose.”

She gasped, the pain in her chest too much to bear. “I love you, Emmett.” It sounded like a promise. It sounded like her dearest wish. It sounded like the beginning of the end.

 


 

The house was silent once Emmett disappeared and Rose was thankful. She needed a little silence. If only she could find some mental silence. Wrapping herself in the comforter across the bed, she sat in the window seat, looking out into the night.

That had been a disaster.

She watched the trees outside sway a little in a light breeze and a horrible thought occurred to her.

Were Edward and Bella having sex? The thought made her feel sick. Was he doing to Bella what Emmett had just been doing to her?

That thought, at least, burst some of the morose bubble she was in and she laughed into the silence.

Edward wouldn’t.

Edward couldn’t.

The still newly formed smile faded. But what would she do if she found out they were?

‘She’ll never know a love like you in her life.’

She sighed, her forehead falling to the glass.

She was so tired of wondering what she was going to do now.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Can I come in?”

“Oh, it’s you,” Rose said, dryly

Bella paused a step into Rosalie’s room. “Um…”

Rose had heard Bella arrive, of course. That truck was impossible to miss. She had also heard Edward preparing to leave, but Rose had assumed that he would stop by and ask her to stay with Bella, as he usually did. She was on the floor of her room, in the middle of painting her toes and waiting, fully available to him, should he not have anyone else lined up.

Only Edward hadn’t bothered to stop by, hadn’t bothered to ask her, as if this was just her job now. He had left a minute before after a long and soppy kiss, seemingly not thinking of Rosalie at all.

She wanted to be angry, to be offended, but Bella’s voice, small from the doorway, made that hard.

“That’s a pretty color,” she squeaked, clearly expecting to be expelled from Rose’s room, possibly violently.

She looked up, her blonde hair falling into her face a little and gave her half a smile. “Thank you.”

She couldn’t complain, she supposed, if this were now her permanent job. She should complain about what was beginning to feel, much to her delight and anger, like her Bella time. The time when she could let her thoughts go. It felt better to allow it. She wanted to allow it, and that was the best and worst part.

Bella’s cheeks warmed slightly when Rosalie went back to painting her toenails without an answer. “Can I come in?”

With a long thought, Rose nodded. Bella had never been in her bedroom before. She watched her cross over to the ottoman at the end of the bed and sit, her eyes trying to be subtle about glancing around.

“What?” She challenged.

Bella flinched and shook her head. “Your bedroom isn’t like everyone else’s rooms.”

She sighed. It was true. Everyone else’s rooms were just rooms. Before the bed for Bella, Edward’s had been filled with music equipment, Alice and Jasper’s was open and airy with a huge closet, Carlisle and Esme’s looked like a formal sitting room and library.

“Yours is the only one that looks like a bedroom,” Bella added as if following along with her thoughts exactly. “It’s nice. Your bed looks more comfortable than the one Edward got, that’s for sure.”

Mid turning her pale toenail into her signature red, she paused, feeling the offer bubbling up. No, that was too much. That was too far, Rose. She glanced up at Bella and decided to keep her mouth shut, else the offer to allow Bella to sleep in her bed would come flying out as words so often did these days. The thought was… intriguing though, Rose had to admit. Bella, her face peaceful, her hair fanning out across her bed, filling it with her scent. Her mate asleep safe ensconced in Rose instead of Edward. Somewhere within her, that nagging desire, always in the back of her mind, always reminding her of her situation, stung her. She took a deep breath and held it, her lips pinched tightly together and admitted to herself that she might... maybe... possibly want that. The sting slowly disappeared, as it always did when she acknowledged that there might... maybe... possibly be something between them. If she wasn’t careful, then acknowledging it would become a habit.

“So, where did they go tonight?” Bella asked.

Rose shook her head, blowing on her toes. She wasn’t sure. It wasn’t all of them who had gone hunting this time, she knew. Carlisle was at work and Esme would be off in a little while to go see a movie in Port Angeles. It was just the boys who had gone to, Rose thought, soothe Emmett’s hurt. She could already see it in her mind, them roughhousing, sparring, wrestling. Emmett letting off steam until he came back to her, refreshed.

The thought hurt.

She had apologized to Emmett, telling him that there were some things on her mind, and he had understood because he always did but she could tell the apology hadn’t soothed the pain of their interaction. He had also said, yet again, that he knew something was ‘going on with her’. She couldn’t blame him for that because, after all, there was.

“What are you doing up here with the big bad bitch of the Cullens instead of downstairs doing homework or watching TV?” Rose asked, her chin resting on her knee, appraising the girl she wanted to know so much more.

She had expected a laugh or an eye roll but instead, Bella’s face grew sharp, her eyes intense as she glared at Rosalie. “Don’t call yourself that!”

Rose stared, her mouth dropping open in an unflattering gawk.

“I hate it, and it’s not true.”

No, no, no, Rosalie groaned, turning her face so that she could hide in her knees. Somewhere in her chest something warm flickered to life and began to glow. She didn’t want that to feel good. It wasn’t supposed to feel so good. Her face suddenly felt warm, as if she could blush. Bella had looked so set. She opened her mouth to speak but had no idea what to say to Bella’s insistence.

“And I’m up here because I finished my homework and there’s nothing on TV and you’re up here.”

If she had been knocked over before, she was knocked over again. She had come up looking specifically to spend time with her? Bella hadn’t even turned the TV on. She would have heard it if she had.

“And what do you want me to do about it?” Rosalie asked, her voice sarcastic, but… had Bella noticed that small little waver? Had it been as clear as Rosalie thought it had been?

“You know, you could stop that.”

“Hmm?”

“You should stop pretending that we’re not friends because whether you want to admit it or not, we are.”

All right, Rose thought maybe she needed some fresh air. She was starting to get dizzy. This girl was making her dizzy and god, she loved it. She loved that Bella did this to her. “Why? Because we’ve spent some time in the same room together? We don’t even interact.”

“That’s not true! I’ve helped you with your car twice now and both times you talked to me. We’re friends.”

Rosalie went to argue, unable to handle the idea that they had begun interacting.

“And I like that.”

Rosalie blinked slowly. If she could breathe at that moment, the wind would have been knocked out of her. The smile that Bella was giving her… had she ever thought she would see it from her? It was so wide and pure. It was just for her.

Rosalie sighed and smiled back, wanting to duck her head but worried that would make her look silly. Thank god no one else was there to see her like this, thrown for a loop, and, admit the truth and shame the devil, delighted. Bella liked that they were friends?

But she didn’t want to be friends. She had Emmett. And she didn’t trust herself around Bella, because she loved Emmett and had no desire to not be with her burly bear of a man.

They weren’t friends.

She didn’t want to be friends.

She stood, not shocked that her legs felt somewhat shaky. “Do you want to go somewhere?” She mentally cursed. What had she just said? No on friendship. No! Why did she keep doing this to herself?

Bella looked up at her and Rosalie’s entire world bloomed into spring all because of the look on Bella’s face. Her hand went out of its own accord, palm up; an invitation.

“Okay.” Bella glanced at Rosalie’s hand and then allowed her own to slide into it.

She was very aware of the long moments where Rose was still making contact with Bella’s skin. She could feel the warmth of it, could feel Bella’s heartbeat in the fingers, could almost feel a heartbeat echoed within her. There was heat, and warmth, and a feeling of familiarity that Rose hadn’t quite felt before. She closed her eyes as they turned toward the hall, Bella slightly behind her, relishing the feeling of touching her in some way. It wasn’t until they were downstairs that Bella’s hand finally slipped away and by then, Rose had found her mask of indifference again.

“Oh no, we’re not running, are we?” Bella whined as they walked not toward the garage but instead toward the front yard.

“We are.”

Bella let out a whimper.

“You don’t like to run?” Rosalie asked, incredulous.

“I don’t... like... it,” Bella grudgingly admitted.

“Don’t worry. I promise I’ll keep you safe.”

Bella didn’t look mollified, but she let Rose take her hand again.

She couldn’t believe she was doing this. She couldn’t believe she was going to take her there. She couldn’t believe she was pulling Bella onto her back. She just couldn’t believe all of it. What was she thinking?

It was like a static shock to the system, pulling Bella onto her back. She was so light, so small. She didn’t think she had ever realized just how small she was. At first, Bella was stiff as her arms wrapped around her neck, her legs around her waist, leaning somehow away as if she didn’t’ want to press too much against Rose.

“Please, hold on tightly,” Rose said, amazed that her voice reminded even. Bella’s legs around her waist were distracting. Even more distracting was the fact that Bella’s fingers had just gently gathered her long blonde hair into her hands and set it carefully over one shoulder.

Rosalie’s eyes closed again, relishing the feeling of her fingers through her hair. It felt so good, so — 

Her eyes snapped open.

No!

“I hate running,” Bella mumbled, but her body pressed tightly against Rose, her face turned and buried in Rose’s neck and hair, hiding.

Rosalie stopped breathing.

She turned her face so she could see her, a smirk in place despite her over-sharp awareness and the fact that she felt like she could barely breathe. “Close your eyes.”

Bella nodded, shifting again.

Rose bit back a moan.

Had Bella just buried her face in her hair for a moment to smell it? She thought she had and suddenly her knees felt weak.

She cleared her throat and with gentle steps, took off.

 


 

This… this was an amazing feeling. Bella clung tightly to her, Bella’s breath slow and steady, warming the side of Rose’s neck. Her hands held her firmly in place, but she doubted if they needed to be there, Bella clung so tight. Still, her hands stayed there under Bella’s thighs. The joy of the run, the joy of Bella in her personal space made her grin huge, the excitement chaotically happy as they moved through the night. She forgot that she didn’t want to be friends as they ran together, forgot that she didn’t want this, that she shouldn’t be there with Bella or spending time with her. She forgot to be angry at herself for giving into this in this small way.

It took an agonizing short trip to get to her destination. She slowed a little as they climbed the last bit of the hill and then broke through the trees and onto the cliff face.

“You can open them,” she said in a whisper. She always felt as though she had to whisper there, always feeling blown away by the awesome beauty of the spot.

Bella’s head came up from her neck and her breath caught. “Wow.”

Rose smiled and looked out as well.

It was a small spot she had found some years ago while taking a walk through the woods. The spot along the cliff wasn’t much. The forest was thick there, dense enough that the moonlight could barely be seen through the canopy. When you stepped through a break in the trees you were met with a small patch of grass, usually thick and soft, surrounded on one side by rock face. Ahead of them, was a tall drop that led to a beautiful view of a small bay. The water tonight moved gently with the breeze, just enough to make the full moon shimmer in its reflection. The sound of the waves below was musical, combining with the wind in the branches, and the soft breathing of the girl on her back. Above them, the night sky was unusually clear, giving them millions of stars to count.

Bella slowly slid down Rosalie’s back to her feet, her face slack and open.

The view was beautiful, but instead of watching it, Rose was looking at Bella, waiting.

“Wow.” Bella sighed, glancing at Rose, and then did a double take. “Wow.”

“What?” She asked, her stomach feeling light and fluttery. She smiled a little as Bella stared, looking amazed and not at all critical.

Bella didn’t answer, but instead, her hand rose as if she were in a trance and a single finger gently ran down Rose’s cheek.

Rosalie froze, caught completely off guard. For a moment she nearly began yelling, then she nearly whimpered. Anger returned, but before it could solidly take hold, confusion ran through her, keeping her frozen in place.

“Oh my god, I’m so sorry!” Bella sprang back. She came far too close to the edge of the cliff for Rosalie’s liking.

“Bella!” Rosalie shrilled.

“I’ve never seen you guys in the moonlight and—” Bella rambled on at the same time, taking another step back.

She was going to fall, her mind screamed, jabbering away in terror. There would be no way to protect her, no way to keep her safe if she fell. Even if she dived after her and created a cage around her, the impact would be staggering for a human body. This all shot through Rosalie’s mind in less than half a second. “Bella!” Rosalie and grabbed her, yanking her so hard that she vaulted back away from the edge and safe in her arms.

 “Oh fuck!” Bella yelped, cowering in Rosalie’s arms as she realized how close she had stepped toward the edge.

Her arms tightened around Bella reflexively. “Are you trying to —” Rosalie started to yell, her fear snapping out of her as anger. Before she could finish her sentence, she cut herself off. She ground her teeth, snarling inside. When she spoke again her voice was calmer. “You have to be careful here. There isn’t a lot of space.”

Bella nodded, her eyes overbig.

“Are you okay?”

Bella nodded, looking distinctly not okay.  

“Let’s sit down, okay?” she said in a soft voice, as gentle as she could make it. After all, it would have been Bella who had fallen – not that she wouldn’t have jumped after her – so she didn’t get to yell at her for doing something that would have scared her as it was.  

Again Bella just nodded.

“Okay, come on.” Rose wished she had thought to bring a blanket or something to sit on. She stripped off her jacket. It was Burberry, but she had a good dry cleaner in Seattle. She set it down, inside out and gestured for Bella to sit.

Bella looked skeptically at the jacket. “You should sit on that.”

“I put it down for you.”

“But your pants —”

I put it down for you.

“But Rose—”

“But Bella.”

Bella’s nose scrunched and she sat.

Rosalie took a seat in the grass, feeling the damp but too satisfied with having won to care much.

Bella’s eyes twitched sideways to her and then back out over the view. The silence wasn’t long, but in it, they grew awkward. She had time to watch a bird across the sky, to count a handful of stars... to look at Bella four times.

“I’m sorry I yelled,” Rosalie finally said.

 Bella shifted, uncomfortable. “I scared you.”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean I get to yell at you!” she snapped. “You scaring me doesn’t mean you then need to be my outlet for that negative energy.”

Bella frowned and Rosalie could bet that she was thinking of some event when she had scared Edward with a near injury and Edward had turned around and shouted, or been a general dick.

She wanted to ask but thought better of it. “You deserve better than that.” She didn’t look at her as she said it, her eyes out over the water.

Bella stayed silent, but this time it didn’t feel awkward or weird. They both watched the wind blow through the trees, watched as a night-hunting bird swooped down and snatched something from the water.

She wished she could pull Bella in, could let her lean against her as they looked.

It was almost magical, she thought, watching the water shift. She could feel Bella’s eyes on her, first a mere glance and then steady, but she pretended she couldn’t, instead smiling a little.

What was Bella seeing exactly?

Finally, after two more glances, Rosalie’s smile broke. “I’m sure the view is more beautiful than whatever you’re looking at.”

Bella’s face turned, sudden warmth radiating off of her. “I doubt that,” Bella mumbled, making Rose’s smile grow.

As a rule, Rose loved to be told she was beautiful. She was, and she knew it. Her beauty was a fact, it wasn’t special. So it helped to serve her ego when it happened. Only now, she glanced at Bella, a sheepish smile on her face. Bella’s eyes, seeming so content on Rosalie’s face, made her smile. She felt flattered, special. It made her want to roll her eyes at herself, only she couldn’t because it felt too good to blow off that way.

“Do I look strange in the moonlight?”

Bella looked back, startled. “Strange? No.”

“What is it then?”

Bella’s hand rose again. It was just an inch off the ground, her fingers flexing as if she wanted to touch her again.

Rose swallowed, struck dumb by how much she wished she would.

“You glow.”

Rose’s mouth opened but she changed her mind and closed it again. “Look.” She as a deer stepped out of the tree line a ways down the rock, it’s eyes on them.

That was enough to change. Bella sighed, turning back to the view.

They watched; Bella looking up at the night sky serenely.

Rose leaned a little, her eyes closing, enjoying the feeling of not holding back, enjoying the absence of that constant nagging feeling in the back of her mind as well as the smell that wasn’t a smell because for once they were there together.

She leaned a little further, knowing she was pushing it, but just wanting to feel Bella’s warmth.

She had loved the feeling of Bella against her body, had loved the feeling of Bella’s face in her neck, a spot that had always been oh so sensitive to Rose.

She wanted it again, wanted a reason to reach out and touch her, only she couldn’t find an excuse.

It felt so good to not be so rigid, to just sit and let whatever was happening within her simply happen.

A gentle breeze blew and Bella’s hair stirred with it.

Rose breathed deeply. Rain was coming in the next few hours and the scent, the mix of the coming rain and Bella, it was wonderful.

Finally seeing an excuse, Rose reached over as Bella’s hair caught on her eyelashes, and pushed it back slowly, wrapping it behind her ear.

Bella glanced at her and laughed a little, smoothing her hair. “It’s wild.”

Rose smiled softly. “It’s beautiful.”

The smile slowly faded from Bella’s face, turning instead into intensity. Rose only looked back.

How had this happened to her? She had done everything she could to fight it and yet there she was, interested in the same stupid human that everyone else seemed to be. With her human. Hers.

That was supposed to be the point, wasn’t it? Wasn’t that what Jasper had said? Bella was supposed to be hers.

Bella’s smile was soft, shy as she looked at Rose, a little awkward, and yet radiant.

This stupid teenage human... was her human.

Bella’s lips curled into a smile.

Rosalie’s head swam.

Rose blinked once, slowly and then she had launched herself.

She hadn’t thought, she wasn’t thinking. She didn’t mean to do it, had clearly surprised Bella, just suddenly she was in Bella’s lap, her hands on her cheeks, cupping her face, her lips meeting Bella’s.

The instant they touched, the very instant Rose felt Bella’s warmth against her cold, something sparked. It was like a firework going off, something deliciously blinding.

Bella let out a surprised squawk as the inertia of Rosalie’s attack knocked her backward onto the jacket below her.

Rosalie’s internally groaned, her lips moving against Bella’s, kissing her as she had wanted to for so long, because yes, she had wanted to. God, she had wanted to with everything in her.

Bella’s head came off the grass with a tiny sound, intoxicating Rose as she pressed back, her lips moving against Rose’s frantically.

Oh, a kiss had never felt like this before. She had never felt like she had completely lost her mind in a kiss before, but now, all she can feel was this, was Bella, Bella, Bella, Bella. She was very aware of every twitch of Bella’s, every little gasp. Her hands itched to roam. She let them run into her hair, feeling the silk sliding against her fingers.

Beneath her, Bella gasped, her lips parting and suddenly everything changed. She had wanted her before because of their connection, because of how she felt, but it had never occurred to her, despite all of her jealousies, that she could want her physically. The desire roared to life, a lit match thrown into a full gas can.

A whole new monster that suddenly climbs up in her.

She couldn’t believe how soft she was, how warm she was. She wondered if this was because Bella was human or because she was a woman. She has never kissed a woman before.

A gasp of air fell out of Bella’s mouth as Rosalie gently licked her bottom lip. Bella’s hips jumped up once and Rose thought she’s going to go mad. Her body gave a long aching pull. She wanted more of her and so she reached. Their tongues brush lightly once and then harsh.

Oh, so good, so—

A small little moan of pleasure popped from deep within Rose and in an instant, it was matched by Bella under her.

Her lips moved, pushed. She trailed them over Bella’s jaw, her hand holding her head as it dropped back, Bella’s breath harsh. She moved to the soft pulse point, amazed. She hadn’t completely lost her mind; she didn’t want to suddenly attack and rip her throat out. Again Rose moaned her mouth on Bella’s skin, her thumb trailing over Bella’s lips.

She gasped as Bella gently bit it.

 It’s only been seconds but a second is a very long time for her.

And then Bella changed. Her lips, which had found their way back to Rose’s, suddenly became unresponsive, still and hard. She let out a squawk, her hands flailing.

It took a second for Rosalie’s brain to catch up with her, to realize that oh, Bella was trying to get away.

Shit!

Rosalie pulled away, leaping back a solid four feet, her hands over her mouth.

Oh no! Oh no, oh no, oh no! She hadn’t meant to do that!

She gasped and took another step away, mortified.

Bella stared at her from the ground, her fingers touching her bottom lip, looking at Rose as if she had suddenly grown three heads.

Oh god, what had she been thinking?

Oh god! She realized that there was a tiny drop of blood on Bella’s lip like she had nicked it at some point.

She just stared at it, unable to believe.

She had kissed her. Oh god, she had kissed her and she wanted so badly to do it again.

She had no idea what to say. There was nothing to say.

Bella’s look changed, from shock to something hard. Her eyebrows drew in, and then, like a canon, Bella exploded.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

“I – I – I,” Rose stammered. She sounded like an idiot, and that never happened to her.

What the fuck are you doing, Rose?” Bella yelled, scrambling to her feet. “How could you do this to us?”

“Bella, I’m sor— I’m sorry, I didn’t mean, oh god, I—”

“I love him! I love Edward, Rose! How could you do that to him and me?”

The stumbling dried on Rosalie’s tongue, caught off guard by Bella’s statement. That was the ‘us’ she had meant. When Rose had heard it, she had thought she meant she and Bella and this newly forming friendship. She had meant Edward?

Bella yelled, tears springing from her eyes. “What the hell was that?”

Rosalie stared at her, eyes wet, face flushed, her look somehow panicked, and for no logical reason at all… it made her angry.

Love him?

She loved him?

No. She shouldn’t.

She should love her.

Wasn’t that what fate was saying?

She took a step back, all shocked timidity snapping away from her. As it did so often her feelings congealed into anger, hot as tar. “But do you?” she challenged. “Do you really love him?”

“What does that even mean?”

“Do you really love him or are you just infatuated with him? Or is he just the first person you found sexually appealing?” She took a step toward Bella, invading her personal space. She could feel that Bella was shaking a little. She snarled. “Or is he just the first vampire you met?”

Bella’s eyes, so round, darted across her face, down to her lips before she gave a sudden cry of anger and shoved Rosalie back. “I’m going home! Screw you, Rosalie!”

Rose blinked, startled and, she had to admit, a little impressed as Bella started into the trees that they had come through. She had shoved her, had physically pushed her out of the way. A vampire. And now she was walking off like she had any idea at all how to get back.

God, how could she have done this?

“Bella.” Rose reached out, but Bella yanked her arm away, all but hissing at her. “Jesus wept! Bella!” Rose reached again. She couldn’t make it back to the Cullen house on her own.

Shamed, she felt that familiar feeling of crying without the tears beginning. She couldn’t believe herself. She had kissed her. She had kissed her brother’s mate.

Her mate.

Angry at herself, it made her a little more abrupt than she meant to be, she stepped in front of Bella so fast that Bella walked into her, a vampiric brick wall.

“Ugh!” Bella growled, trying to shove her away again but Rose didn’t let her go.

“You won’t make it back to the house yourself. If you want to get back you’ll have to let me take you.”

“No!”

“Fine!” Rose growled. “I’ll let you get lost in the woods and precious Eddie can save you!” Her heart gave a sad and pained lurch. She turned, unable to look at her, and started toward the forest. Shame was thick in her stomach.

What was wrong with her? She had just lit a match and set fire to everything, and for what?

She wasn’t leaving... at least she didn’t think she would actually leave. She would just —

“Fine!”

Rose’s feet stopped. She didn’t turn, didn’t trust what was on her face. Instead, she just reached behind her and pulled Bella onto her back.

The run back was stiff.

That was it. She hadn’t asked for anything from Bella. She didn’t expect anything from Bella. But it would be a lie to say that she didn’t want anything from Bella.

Oh god, Emmett.

Rosalie’s face twisted as she ran, dryly crying as she moved, knowing the wind would protect her secret.

This had happened. Could she still say she felt nothing? She didn’t think she could. And that was horrible.

Bella flew off of her back the moment they arrived within human eyesight of the Cullen house, marching through the mud.

Rose watched her go for a long moment before nodding to herself.

She ran the rest of the way at full speed so that she was upstairs by the time Bella finally arrived.

She sat beside the tub, the water running, but she had no intention of taking a bat as much as hiding.

She sat staring at nothing in horror.

Her mind wasn’t screaming, wasn’t moving at a million miles per hour. Instead, it was silent, horribly, deathly silent.

She could hear Bella pacing, going back and forth back and forth in the room next to her.

Nine o clock came, and then ten, eleven, and midnight. Normally Bella was long asleep by then. Rose just sat, waiting and waiting for her to finally sleep.

When it did come, Rose finally took a deep breath and let her face fall into her knees that were pulled up to her chest.

Oh god.

What the fuck had she done?

She couldn’t stay in her bedroom, she just couldn’t and so she opened the door carefully, very aware of not making too much noise and waking the barely sleeping girl. She didn’t think she could face her again.

She moved like smoke down the stairs and to the living room which was much wider, giving her more room to breathe.

She didn’t move, trapped in her thoughts. She just stood in the middle of the large room, feeling smothered. Even when the sun began to rise and she heard footsteps approaching she didn’t move. Her mind shifted over, protecting her thoughts as her family all came in, grinning and looking as though they had a good night. Carlisle and Esme, it seemed, had gone to join Esme in the city and they had a warm aura around them of love. The boys were all grinning, high fiving and laughing.  

She sneered at them all, disdainful. It hurt her to see Esme and Carlisle that way. It hurt and she hated that it hurt.

“How was your night?” Alice asked and then frowned when Rose just glared at her. “Okay…” she muttered and started upstairs.

Beside her, Jasper had stopped, his eyes on her.

She looked away, knowing he could feel it. The guilt, the want, it probably made it perfectly clear what had happened.

His eyes were gentle as he sighed. “You do.”

She growled, refusing to look at him, refusing to admit how broken she suddenly felt.

He had won this argument, had been right when he insisted that she wanted her.

Her head hung, defeated. “I do.”

Gently, as only Jasper could be, he leaned forward and kissed her cheek, squeezing her arm.

Rose leaned into the touch, her face twisting.

“Do what?” Emmett asked, doubling back to see Rose.

“Nothing!” She said in a chipper voice. “How was it?”

“Good!” Emmett grinned and wrapped her up. He went to kiss her and paused at the last second. “Hmm?”

“What?” she snapped.

“You smell different.”

Panic ripped through her. She did? Did she smell like Bella? God, she hadn’t even showered.

“Weird.” She hummed and then pulled away. She took the stairs at vampire speed and was in the shower before Emmett had even moved from the living room.

She smelled different? She smelled of Bella. That was a scent that was so dangerous, and yet she didn’t want to wash off.

Emmett was there in the bathroom when she stepped from the shower, towel in hand.

“Better?” she asked, hoping it sounded causal.

He leaned forward and let his nose trail across her shoulder. “No, you still smell different. Your skin smells different.”

“Hmm,” she hummed lightly, the panic barely concealed. “Must be the new shampoo.”

“Yeah.” He eyed her. “Must be.”

She wrapped the towel around herself, wanting out of the small bathroom. “Enjoy your shower,” she hummed and stepped out.

She didn’t have time to feel the relief of escape, because the moment she stepped out, she came face to face with Alice.

She had stopped trying to chase her down, perhaps thinking whatever she had seen had been a fluke. But now, Alice’s face was set, her look stern.

“I have some questions for you.”

Rose just stared back, caught.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” She insisted and hoped that would be enough.

Chapter Text

The weight of Alice’s eyes were heavy on her as Rosalie moved to her dresser and began to pull her clothes out. Her nose was high, projecting the air of nonchalance. Could Alice tell that she was terrified? She was worried she could. She wished she would just leave. She wished that everyone would just leave her the hell alone.

Alice hadn’t responded to her insistence that she didn’t want to talk, but instead sat there in silence, her eyes like lasers on Rosalie’s back.

Rosalie wanted desperately to know what it was exactly that Alice had seen. Had it just been her secret? Had she seen a new possible future open up? So many questions could be answered with just a few words from Alice. So many horrors could come to life.

Her back was rigid as she dressed and only grew more taunt as Emmett stepped from the shower, a towel around his waist.

“Whoa, you here for a free show?”

Alice snickered playfully, teasing him back but Rose wasn’t listening.

How was it possible to have the feeling of a pounding heart without a heart rate? Surely Alice wouldn’t say anything while Emmett was in the room. The Cullens all understood the need for privacy. She hadn’t said anything thus far, so that had to be a good sign.

She let her towel drop, never one to hide her body, her mind completely not on the room around her. Alice didn’t seem to even register her nakedness displayed so openly.

But what did it mean that Alice had seen something? Did it mean that things had changed? Of course, they had, Rose had kissed her, ugh god. Her mind wouldn’t stop chattering and not for the first time, Rose was glad that Edward was not home.

Her eyes darted to Alice, who was staring at her pointedly.

But had she seen more?

She ground her teeth, stressed. It didn’t really matter if she had, right? Had she changed her mind? Was she considering leaving Emmett? No. Of course not.

“You smell different, Rose,” Alice said, her voice light but accusing.

She rolled her eyes, doing her very best to seem like she would at any other time. “Geez, switch to a new shampoo and everyone has a meltdown,” she griped.

Alice’s face said she didn’t believe it at all.

A little ashamed, Rose looked away and back to Emmett who was standing as comfortable as could be in his towel, joshing with his sister.

This didn’t matter. None of it mattered. She had messed up and pushed too far. She had… she had acted exactly like her human self, taking what she wanted because she wanted it, mindless of the consequences.

It was who she was, after all.

Self-loathing rippled like an ugly wave over her and she sneered.

She didn’t need this. She didn’t want this.

She wanted Emmett. She would have Emmett. She would keep Emmett. Emmett was hers and she was his. That was all there was to it.

Dressed, she turned to him where he leaned against the wall chatting with Alice.

"Come on, babe." She said in a low voice, reaching over and running a hand over his chest before grabbing the towel.

"You can't just ignore me, Rose, when we have so many things to talk about."

"What are you talking about?"

Rosalie ignored his question. "Would you like to put money on that bet?" With a glance back over her shoulder she smirked at Alice. "I'd go now unless you want to see more than you signed up for."

Alice didn't move, her face challenging, so Rose, despite her mood, slowly dropped to her knees.

"Yessss!" Emmett hissed, his hands already tangling in her hair, the anticipation on his face making it clear he had stopped listening to them.

"You can't pretend this isn't happening, Rose. I saw."

"You saw nothing of importance.

He was hers. She was his.

With a flourish, Rosalie ripped his towel off.

The door clicked and Rose knew Alice was gone.

Emmett looked down at her, grinning broadly.

“What’d you say about playing hooky today?” She asked, readying herself for the task she hadn’t meant to create.

Emmett gave her a nervous but game smile. “Hell yeah.”

“Good.” She cooed. See, she could do this. She wanted to do this. He was her man, and she loved him.

 


 

“Can you pick the car up, babe?” Thirty minutes later a smiling from ear to ear Emmett and Rose were down in the car bay to work on the car.

She had decided when she was still upstairs that it was time to revamp. Emmett needed her attention. Emmett needed her care and love and body and everything else. She had been distant lately and now it was time to fix that.

If she felt shame, it was only because she was an idiot. It wasn’t because she had done something that could never be discovered. It wasn’t at all because she hated herself for it. It wasn’t at all because she had done something unforgivable, and it wasn’t at all because even after all of this time, she couldn’t get away from the horrible person she had once been.

His ego clearly stroked in exactly the way Rosalie had intended, Emmett all puffed with pride lifted the car so that Rosalie could jack up the back end.

“It’s starting to look pretty good. Ready to get down to business.”

She nodded, looking at the glistening frame. The outer frame was clean of grease, even clean of most fingerprints and shone as best it could. The interior had been ripped out, leaving room for the new seats she had ordered, the driver’s seat a special order to hopefully be a little more comfortable for a man Emmett’s size. Under the hood was mostly empty at the moment but soon, after some work, it would shine with impressive power. This car, when it was done, would not be one to be messed with. It would drive like the devil.

She smirked at it, proud of the work she had done so far and pleased that there was plenty to still do.

“And can you help me lift this?” she asked, pointing to it on the floor.

Emmett’s muscles seemed to stretch and bulge with his happiness. In truth, she was almost as strong as Emmett was, and was completely capable of doing all of this, but she still owed him an apology.

“Look at you,” she sighed as Emmett’s muscles rippled. “I should have asked you to do this with your shirt off.”

Completely taken with her flirting, Emmett set it down, pulled his shirt off and lifted it again, his eyes glittering. “There you go, babe.” He grunted as he set it down, leaving a large smear of grease across his abs which Rosalie had to admit was very sexy.

“You know,” she turned toward the other cars in the garage, her finger on her bottom lip thoughtfully. “I’ve been feeling a little crowded, can you move Jasper’s car back?”

Emmet chortled. “You mean your car.”

“No,” she sighed out. “None of these cars do much for me anymore.”

He laughed, shaking his head. “Fickle.”

She just clicked her tongue.

After that an impressive display from Emmett, they got down to work, Rosalie doing her best to stay close to him as the house emptied for everyone except Esme.

She was glad they were alone. She needed the time to think. Or maybe she needed time to not think. She didn’t know. She wasn’t sure she knew anything anymore.

Part of her mind on the job, she worked with Emmett to degrease and fix the carburetor while the rest of her mind was on the night before.

The best thing she could do was to go back to ignoring Bella, as she had done before. No more babysitting, no more friendship, no more defending her from Edward’s misogyny. Bella needed to go back to being invisible. Any chair with Bella in it was an empty chair. She could go back to how things were, go back to ignoring the desire to be near her, to the scent messing with her head as she ignored it. She could do that.

She could do that because she had crossed a line.

She could do that for Emmett.

Standing in front of the car, she was debating the best way to put in the new part when Emmett’s arms crossed around her, pulling her in tight. His chin settled on her shoulder, his hand slipping under her shirt. “So babe,” he started, his voice uncharacteristically serious.

She froze.

Had Alice told him something? A deep sense of betrayal filled her. Her sister wouldn’t do that, right? Then again, a small voice reminded her, you betrayed your brother last night.

“Carlisle wanted me to talk to you.”

“Oh?” she asked, picking up and rag and working some of the grease off of her fingers. “What about?”

He sighed. “School. You’ve been missing a lot over the last couple of months.”

The breath she hadn’t been aware of holding released. School, right! It had fallen to the back of her mind as of late, the desperation of her sudden mating and hiding it constantly taking priority over keeping up appearances.

“They called Esme, I guess. Don’t worry, she told them that you’ve been sick, but it’s drawing attention.”

“Right.” She sighed. Usually, it was she and Edward who felt the most that their human façade was of the deepest importance. And it was. She never wanted to be found out. She wanted to be seen as human. It spoke to her recent distress that she had been letting it slide.

“Right.” She said yet again, her skin suddenly feeling too tight. She pushed gently away and stretched but it wasn’t enough. The car bay was huge, still she felt confined.  “You know what?”

“What?”

Mid-stretch Rosalie paused, studying his face. She hadn’t realized when he was speaking, but there had been a question in Emmett’s comments. In fact, it was the same question, the one that she had been seeing so often. It was a silent ‘what’s going on, Rose’.

She opened her mouth and then closed it again.

She needed a run. She needed to move and feel free. God, she never felt free anymore.

“Come on, let’s go out.”

He seemed to hear her refusal in her words. He looked at her for a long moment and though Rose tried, she couldn’t hold his gaze. After a long and disappointed moment, he nodded.

“Watch me kick your ass, big man.” Rosalie gave him a playful shove, forcing her cheer. She didn’t feel cheery. She didn’t want to feel cherry. She knew Emmett, and she knew those words would trigger his playful and yet competitive side.

Sure enough, he let out a roar of a howl. “No way, babe.”

She glared playfully at him as they both lined up on an invisible line.

“You’re too big,” she catcalled. “No way you can beat—” she took off at full speed, laughing as Emmett yelled that she was cheating.

His footsteps followed only half a second behind. Rosalie wasn’t the fastest Cullen, she knew that. Her skill was more stealth than speed, but she pushed hard, giving it her all and staying just ahead of him.

“Gonna have to do better than that!” she shouted and laughed when she felt fingertips brush her back. “Come on, big man!”

Emmett growled and Rose pushed harder, leaping over stones, fallen trees and once a deer. Soon the landscape began to change, the trees slightly different. They had made it over the Canada border at some point, a trip that only took minutes at their speeds.

“All right, uncle, uncle!” Emmett finally cried as they began to wade through snow.

She turned on jumped on him, her grin more of a snarl. “Say it!”

“Never,” he said through a large smile.

“Say it!” she cried, her teeth on his throat, shoving him back into the snow.  

He yowled when she took a handful of snow and covered his face. “All right, all right, you’re the fastest.”

“Yes!” she cheered, forcing the jolly laugh that came out of her. “And?”

His eyes rolled, wiping the snow from his face good-naturedly. “You are the fairest one of all, wicked witch.”

She let out a cry as he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her.

She listened to him laugh, pleased. There hadn’t been enough of that recently. They needed more laughter. She grinned, large and toothy, while her insides cracked, leaking pain.

She loved him, damn it, she loved him.

She took a few steps away from him and with a coy look over her shoulder, she began to slowly undress. Her hips slowly swung, rocking back and forth to music in her head as she unbuttoned her jeans and carefully moved them down her hips.

“Whoooo,” Emmett breathed out, his hand running through his hair, looking at Rosalie’s partially exposed bare ass as if he couldn’t believe it.

“See something you like?”

He just groaned, pulling his shirt off.

She turned, enjoying the slow striptease, enjoying dancing for him, enjoying that it felt like maybe it was working.

She felt sexy under his eyes. Her hips swayed and she moved up to her shirt, pulling it very slowly over her head.

Emmett wolf whistled.

She glanced back to wink and felt a small indescribable pang, a drop of cold water in her rapidly arming tank at seeing him, an Adonis in the woods, glorious in his nakedness.

No, she insisted internally, he was hot, he was so hot. She was interested in this. She fucking loved this.

“Come here.”

She pulled the rest of her clothes off and went to him, letting him pull her against him, back to chest. He kissed her shoulder and hummed.

“You really do smell different,” he said, bemused.

She shrugged. “Don’t worry about it.”

He was silent for a long moment, his lips moving across her skin. “It’s a new shampoo?”

“Hey, don’t worry about it, okay?”

“But I’m going to,” he insisted, his face that uncharacteristic seriousness again.

“You missed a spot.”

He kissed her neck, wrapping her in his arms and lifting her so she could circle his waist. His mouth on her neck made her think of the last neck her lips, her tongue had touched. She could still smell Bella’s skin, could feel the delicate softness of it. She let out a short whimper, her head tilting back. Her mouth had been so welcoming at first, so hot, and inviting. She pictured what it would be like to have that heat on her, to feel it on her neck, her breast. The suckling mouth on her skin changed, turning into another mouth and she gasped.

Her eyes flew open at the sound, rejecting the image. “I think we should move to Denali.”

His mouth froze. “What do you mean?” He looked all the more confused. “With Tanya and them?”

“Yeah,” she purred. “I think a change of scenery could be nice.” She leaned forward, brushing against him. Instead of responding, his hands gripped her waist, pulling her off of him easily. He carefully set her back down on her feet. “Hey, come on, I’m naked here.”

Emmett seemed to not even hear her teasing.

“You hate staying in Alaska, Rose.”

Her shoulders bounced, feeling twitchy. This was coming too close to her having to acknowledge that maybe she felt like she wanted to fall apart. She took a step back, her hands on her hips, her nakedness a shield.

His eyebrows rose.

“I know,” she rolled her eyes, doing her best to seem annoyed. “But we’ve never given it a real go. Outside of Tanya’s house. In our own place.”

“Why would we do that?”

“Why not?”

Emmett ran his hand over his face, the sound of the barely-there scratchiness it always held rasping against his palm. His head shook. “No,” he muttered.

“No?” She asked, offended.

“No, no. That’s it. What the hell is going on with you?”

“Nothing!” she snort. “I was just thinking a change of scenery would be nice.” She wrapped her arms around him but he held her off.

“No.” He held her back with a single hand on her chest. “No, I call bullshit. You don’t like change. You like Forks and hate going to Alaska. You think that Tanya is annoying and that Irina is a melodramatic twit. The only one you like at all is Kate and that’s only because you guys spend every trip in a bitch-off.”

“Don’t call me a bitch!”

“I didn’t!

Her arms had crossed, her skin over sensitive, her nerves fried. Why couldn’t he just say yes? Why couldn’t he just not ask? What about New York then?” she asked in a voice that was a far cry from kind.

“What the hell?” He cried, his arms waving. “Since when is this how we work? Since when do you not tell me things? Huh? Something has been going on with you for a while now, and I deserve to know. I’ve always stayed by your side. This is me. What’s going on?”

She felt frozen in place, her eyes wide. She let out a burst of air in a sarcastic snort, shaking her head like he was nuts, and then another. Even when she turned away from him she felt caught. She was caught. She smelled different. Was there anything that confirmed that Bella was supposed to be her mate more than her scent changing after they kissed – as bad and wrong and horrible and wonderful as it had been.

“Is it that you’re not into me anymore? Is that it? Because I—”

“I found my mate.” She gave a squeak, her hand covering her mouth, trying to stop the words that had already popped out.

Words were powerful, she knew that, but she had never seen them powerful enough to make a huge man like Emmett physically stumble. He took a step back as if he had just received a blow to the chest. The gasping sound that he made sounded so much more like a wail than anything else and it sliced through her.

What?”

She turned away, unable to look at his face. She had thought that saying the words might feel better, might be a relief or something like it. Wasn’t that how it was supposed to work when you gave up the huge secret you were holding? She didn’t feel that. It wasn’t fair. “I found her. I found my mate, and I’m miserable.”

“Her?”

She didn’t respond, her face in her hands, trying to breathe through the distraught panic.

Emmett grabbed her by the arm, perhaps harsher than he normally would have, but she supposed she couldn’t blame him for that. She let him spin her, ready for the wrath. “Her?”

Rose nodded once. “Her.” She looked up into his face, his sweet, kind face and watched it morph from shock to anger.

“You found your mate and you didn’t think to tell me?’ He bellowed, making the trees near them clear of birds and a small furry animal go dashing off into the forest. “Are you fucking kidding me, Rose? What the fuck?” He turned and with a furious howl, his fist connected with a tree. It wasn’t a small tree, but it shattered into kindling, pieces flying everywhere as the rest of the tree fell the opposite direction. “How could you not fucking tell me that right away? You should have told me that second! I’m me!

“I just – I just – I just,” she stuttered. “I just I didn’t want it to be true,” she babbled, pulling her clothes back on. fast “I told myself I didn’t feel anything for her, and I don’t, I swear I don’t!”

“You said you’ve been miserable!” he accused.

She looked at him, a grimace on her face and he nodded, looking away.

“I’m sorry, Emm, I’m sorry, I don’t want this.”

“But you do, right? You do want her.”

She just stood there, unable to fight. What could she say? She had told herself that these feelings wouldn’t change her, that they wouldn’t change things, but things were changing. She had kissed her, for fuck sake.

“You’re gay now?”

“No!” she snapped back, her arms crossing in discomfort. She shifted back and forth on the balls of her feet. Was she? It was a question she had never considered. Was it possible that she was… gay? A lesbian? “I like to sleep with men,” she insisted fervently. “I to sleep with you!"

“Not lately!”

“Um excuse me!” she bit, incensed. She had been trying, thank you very much and if he didn’t like t then he could blow himself from now on. “I just blew you, or did you forget?”

“Well, vampires mate for life, so you might as well be a lesbian.” He pulled his pants on, scratching through his hair. “It explains a few things.” The last part was a small mumble, probably meant more for himself than her.

“Don’t be a pig!” she bit back.

"I'm not!" he roared; his face twisted in a way that Rosalie never wanted to be responsible for. "I'm sorry, okay? I didn't mean what. You can be whatever you want to be without having to explain it to me. But, fuck, Rose, you haven't come in months!"

“Okay,” she gave a snort, turning away from him. If he was going to act like that then she wasn’t going to talk to him about this.

“You haven’t, Rose. We barely have sex in comparison, and you haven’t come once.”

“You’re just trying to hurt me!” And it did hurt.

“I’m not! I can tell when you come, Rosalie, and you haven’t. The last time was at the hotel.”

“I’m not gay now, Emmett. I just found my mate!”

“Fine.” He shook his head. “Fine. Whatever. Who is it?”

She licked her lips, sucking her teeth.

“Oh god, who is it?”

She didn’t want to tell him. She turned, hiding her face. “Bella.”

He looked at her for a long moment before he exploded into laughter. “Oh man, Edward must be killing you then.”

Angry, she grabbed a large rock and hurled it at his head.

His hand reached up and plucked the rock out of the air as if it were no more than some pocket lint, laughter still on his face.

“This isn’t fucking funny, Emmett! This is fucking horrible!” She glared at him, unable to believe that he as laughing. This wasn’t funny. This was wrong. It was not how her life was supposed to go. Even Emmett had to see that.

Slowly the laughter died, melting out of his face like runny candle wax. As it did his shoulders slumped. “No, I guess it isn’t.”

She ran her hand through her hair. “I hate this.” Her voice was small, broken, and so honest. She did. This wasn’t what she wanted. Or at least… she was beginning to wish that it wasn’t something she wanted.

“I get it. I guess actually I’m happy to know now. You and Bella… you two have been confusing.”

“What?” Her head snapped up, alarmed.

He just shrugged, unintimidated by her bark. He leaned back against the damaged tree, his arms folding.

“You’re angry.”

He looked away, seeming to think about it. “I’m mad that you didn’t tell me when it happened. But we aren’t mated, Rose. We’ve always known this could happen.”

“I know!” She hissed, of her anger at the surface again. “And we always said that it didn’t matter! We always said that we chose one another! We said that we would fucking fight it! I picked you, Emmett.”

“Yeah, but I bet you didn’t know it would feel like it does, huh?”

The calm matter of fact way he said it made her want to throttle him. She shook her head.

“So, the others weren’t talking out of her asses then, huh?”

Again her head slowly shook.

“What are you going to do?”

She took a deep breath and plopped into the snow. There was a heavy question. “I don’t know.” Guiltily, she realized there was something more she needed to add. “I kissed her, Emmett. Last night. I kissed Bella.”

The hurt was evident on his face, so clear that it was like a knife to the gut.

“I’m so sorry, Emm. I’m so sorry. I never intended… I never meant… I’m so mad at myself. It just happened.

He winced but nodded. “I don’t think it counts as cheating when it’s with your mate.”

“But it does!” She exploded, all of the tension and hate she felt for herself bubbling to the surface. “It does for you, it does for Edward!”

Emmett sighed. “He’s going to kill you.”

“I know!” She didn’t need him to tell her that. She knew it very well.

“How have you been keeping this from him, by the way? That must be taking some fucking ninja skills.”

Rosalie’s lip twitched, holding back a laugh. “Well…’ she told him about the car, her constant mind games, and the work she had been doing.

Emmett gasped, mock offended. “My car? My car? You’ve been using my car!”

She rolled her eyes, honestly comforted by the teasing. The problem was the teasing wasn’t enough to make her forget. “He’s going to kill me, Emm. And I don’t think he’s wrong to do so.” She sat on a log and hung her head, sickly aware of exactly what she had said. ‘Going to’. It used to be ‘would’ but that was fading quickly. Jasper knew. Alice knew. Emmett knew. Even Bella knew something thanks to the kiss. It was beginning to seem like she had started herself on a path. The question was, where would it take her?

Chapter Text

School had very quickly become awkward again. Bella’s eyes seemed to slip right over her when Rosalie was watching her, and yet were on her like a vise whenever she wasn’t. It made for tension so thick that she could barely breathe. She could feel Bella fuming at her, which was nowhere near as intimidating as how much she was fuming at herself. She had no interest in looking at Bella anyway, and yet, she couldn’t seem to stop herself.

Edward and Bella weren’t sitting with them again. If it had ever been clear that Bella had forced Edward to do that so that she could get to know his sister, it was now when they entered the cafeteria and then immediately sat at the table across the way, Bella’s back to her.

She hated that back, hated the wall it represented.

Not that she would show it in any way. When Bella did look over at her, she wasn’t looking back. In fact, she had begun to act as though Bella no longer existed at all, something that suited her – and her guilt – just fine.

When Bella came over to the house after school, Rosalie spent the time that Bella and Edward were in the house out with the car, the car bay door closed tightly, excluding herself as much as possible.

It was normal. It was the way things had been. It was the way things should be. It was right.

She hated it.

Hunting night came around, and Rosalie was up in her room when the happy couple walked in downstairs.

“Bella’s here,” Emmett said softly as he came up behind her, wrapping her up and kissing her neck.

She just nodded, continuing to braid her hair in preparation for hunting.

His face in the mirror looked concerned like he had questions but they both knew even whispering would be heard.

The scent filled the room from below, Bella slightly damp from the rain. The smell of her skin. That scent that settled over her like a mist. It had changed somehow, Rose supposed maybe in the same way that Emmett swore that Rosalie’s scent had changed.

It settled on her now, calming her nerves, saying an unwelcome hello.

She sniffed and finished her braid.

 “Let’s go. I wanna get out of here.”

“Cool. Let’s go.”

At a human speed and hand in hand, they went down the stairs to where the family was gathered in the living room.

"What do you mean, Edward?" Esme was asking.

"I don't know." He shook his head in confusion. "Everyone's thoughts have been strangely... avoidant recently."

Rosalie paused on the stairs, her eyes going wide. She hadn't thought about the fact that in order to keep her secret, many people in the family were hiding their thoughts. Jasper and Emmett she understood, but she was surprised to realize that about Alice. Why?

She glanced at Alice's face and realized but of course, she knew why. Alice's visions were subjective. Rosalie didn't know what Alice had seen, but whatever it was, there was no way she would want to let him see something that would upset him.

"Well, I don't know, Edward." Esme smiled at at his cheek. "As far as I know, there's no one here trying to hide anything."

“Are we going?” she asked, interrupting them. She didn’t look at the girl under Edward’s arm and stood with her usual pissy straight back, only when she spoke her voice had broken just a little bit in the middle, betraying her feelings.

Feelings she didn’t want.

Didn’t have, damn it, didn’t have.

Emmett gave her a pitying glance and her teeth ground.

“I’ll be outside,” she snapped and turned to leave.

Edward’s head had whipped up a moment before, indignant confusion on his face. “What do you mean? You’re not coming.”

She looked down at her clothes as if confused, touched her braid and gasped mockingly. “My god. It looks like I am.” She crossed her arms, her back straight, her face set. “Strange,” she added in a sarcastic monotone. Not looking at him, she added spitefully, “Why? Did you think I was doing something else?” She could feel Bella’s eyes on her for the first time since she had come down, a feeling that was far too fucking welcome but ignored them completely. She fought, refusing to let her eyes drop.

Edward scoffed, looking like a parent who’s babysitter backed out at the last second. Which, she supposed that was exactly what he was. “Well, who’s going to stay with her then?”

Rose just shrugged a shoulder apathetically.

Apathy was the antithesis of what she felt. She cared. She wanted to stay.

She turned away, heading out to the back porch to wait, ignoring the caress of that gaze as she went.

It didn’t have to be this way. She could have been heading out to the car bay or settling onto the couch with Bella so close to her. She could have made an excuse and had Bella a little closer than normal, or she could have simply sat there with her thoughts free and looked at her for hours. But no. She had to ruin everything.

God damn it! Her hands balled into fists, her jaw hard. She hated when she caught herself having thoughts like that. They were ridiculous. And dramatic.

She glanced back, nervous. That thought had been a little too telling. Had Edward... but he was busy, it seemed, and entirely aware that anyone existed outside of his own world, his own needs.

“I’ll stay, don’t worry, Edward,” Alice promised, glaring at Rosalie.

Eyebrows up, she turned away, her throat and mouth feeling overly dry.

“Actually, Alice…”

Rosalie’s breath stopped as Bella spoke for the first time.

She hadn’t noticed but Bella had been unusually quiet, hadn’t she? Was that because of her? Was she really kidding herself to believe that she could have any type of effect on Bella?

“Do you mind if Rosalie stays with me?”

She had spun on her heels so fast that she should have fallen. Instead, with a vampire grace, she turned so quickly that Bella had barely finished saying the first few letters of her name. What? Had she misheard?

“I just want to finish the movie we were watching last time.”

She stared at Bella, dumbfounded.

Inside Emmett began to laugh.

What the fuck was this? Why was she doing this? Hope sprung to life, only to be doused by reality. She wasn’t asking because she wanted to see her. There was something else happening there. Arms crossed and fingers digging into her own skin, she stepped back through the door and hovered just inside. She did her best to be sure of her voice when she spoke. “I’m going hunting.” She spoke to Bella, but it was Edward she was looking at.

“Oh but Rose, you promised we could finish the movie, remember?”

Bemused, she let her gaze drop, trying to pull the reason for this out of her skin.

“Yeah, Rose.” Emmett insisted, coming up beside her.

Her hand swung out, slapping his arm. He chuckled, backing away.

“You and Rose watch movies?” Edward asked, looking between them and yet not seeming to notice that she and Bella were in a stare-off.

Her eyes narrowed coldly.

Suddenly Bella’s face broke into a huge smile. “Oh, Rose didn’t tell you? She and I are friends now.”

Alarmed, Rose’s eyes widened just a bit. She wanted to just turn and leave, to take the choice away from anyone else, but her feet were nailed to the floor, unable to move out of her statue form. They were friends?

“Oh Rose, watch the movie with Bella.” Esme’s voice made her eyes flick to her. She sounded so taken and so hopeful. She sounded like all of her hope for Rosalie as a person was suddenly cemented by this one good act, by the fact that she and Bella watched movies together.

Jaw tight, she saw the look on Alice’s face and frowned.

“No, I think I should stay,” Alice shrugged. “You go ahead, Rose.”

“Good.” She turned toward the door.  

“No, I really want it to be Rose. Is that okay, Alice?”

Alice looked uncomfortable. “No, I don’t think she should. I think—”

“What? Afraid I might eat her?” She didn’t understand this, nor did she want to say – yes, she did – but Alice refusing to let her was interesting and enough to trigger her contrary side.

“No,” Alice snapped, but she was looking between them as if she thought that might be exactly the case.

“So you think I’m a threat to her?”

“Alice!” Esme chided and Alice, unused to ever being in trouble, cowered.

“Fine.” Her voice, usually like beautiful carved crystal, was as sharp as cut glass.

“Oh, I didn’t say I was staying. I just thought it was interesting that you don’t want me to.”

Everyone’s eyes were on her. Esme looked like her hopes were as fragile as tissue paper, making Rosalie feel like she would be a tyrant if she ripped them up. Carlisle’s eyes were apprising as if waiting to see but not expecting her to do the right thing. And Bella’s face. She studied it, trying to pull the answer from it, but all she saw was the challenge in it.

“Fine.”

Fine. She would do this.

She turned and started back upstairs.

She stood in the center of her dark room, unsure what to do with herself.

She could leave anyway. Bella would be fine. She was safe in the Cullen house.

Of course, if she left, Bella might try to follow her and fall off a cliff or get eaten by something. That seemed very likely.

She watched the shadows below that made up her family as they strolled out casually. Esme and Carlisle were hand in hand. Alice was teasing Jasper and as she watched Alice let out a cry and leapt onto his back, making him laugh. Edward was looking behind him every few moments like it pained him to leave. Just before they all broke into a run, Emmett paused and looked back at their window. His smile was small as he raised a hand in farewell.

She didn’t uncross her arms. She just stared back at him, seeing the sadness there that she knew he was trying to hide.

He turned and the coven all picked up their pace, running through the long clearing, leapt over the river and disappeared into the trees.

She watched them until she couldn’t make out their shapes anymore, her ears pricked and listening for any noise below her. It was silent; so silent that if she couldn’t hear the steady breath and the heartbeat, she would have thought she had gone too. What was Bella doing? The same thing that she was? Was she standing there, listening, waiting to see what would happen now?

Her thoughts releasing, she pictured Bella slowly making her way up the stairs, she pictured her entering her bedroom and instead of whatever she had planned, coming over and wrapping herself in Rose’s arms. She pictured Bella, her hands warm and soft slipping under her shirt, her lips on hers, having stayed back just to kiss her again.

She let out a nearly soundless scoff that came out more like a moan.

When pigs fly.

The sound of feet pulled Rosalie out of that small fantasy. Bella had begun to walk. Rose listened but there was no question of where Bella was going.

She was heading to the stairs.

Bella was coming up!

Eyes wide, she glanced around, thinking again of simply taking off. What the hell should she be doing? She picked up a book from the nightstand and flopped on the bed as if she had simply been reading without a care in the world. Then she dropped it and was halfway to the bathroom for a shower when she changed her mind again. She didn’t think that Bella would come in to challenge her, but she also didn’t want to trap herself in the bathroom, because Bella would probably wait for her.

Bella’s feet scuffed light in the hallway, just outside the door, and because she had no idea what else to do, Rosalie just reacted. In two steps she had... launched herself, shooting through her bedroom window, away from whatever had been coming and onto the grass of the backyard. She landed easily, the drop not much of one for her at all, not when she could jump from the side of a mountain and never notice the bump when she landed. Still she paused, her legs slightly bent, her head cocked, trying to make sense of what she had just done.

She had jumped – out - of - the - window in order to avoid Bella.

She had jumped out of the god damn window to avoid a teenage girl.

She would never tell anyone about this, she definitively decided.

Quietly she went back inside, listening as Bella opened her bedroom door above and said her name.

She went to the couch and settled herself there. She didn’t care what Bella wanted. She wasn’t so scary. She wasn’t so – Bella’s feet turned, heading back down the stairs and with a thrill of fear, she moved at full vampire speed out to the car bay.

No big deal, she would work on the car. She needed an activity, after all.

Why hadn’t they put a lock on the car bay? It was stupid. There were expensive cars out there! There should be a lock!

With no way to keep Bella out, and her nerves on a hair-trigger, by the time Bella’s feet, stomping now, were halfway down the walk to the car bay, Rosalie had gone. She had slipped out the opposite side door, around the house in a wide circle, to enter on the opposite side, and head back up to her bedroom. Her breath was coming fast and hard, not from excursion so much as blind panic.

She didn’t want to hear it. She didn’t want to hear whatever horrible thing Bella had to say to her, because it would be horrible.

She listened to Bella’s feet stomping from the car bay, her heart beating slow and hard, pumping the blood faster than normal. She could all but hear Bella’s clenched teeth. The front door slammed behind Bella as she entered again. “I can hear you moving!” she yelled, making Rose’s skin prickle. She snorted, her hand covering her mouth to hide her laugh.

It wasn’t funny, but it was kind of... cute.

Bella was just outside of her door when she once again slipped through the window and back down to the living room.

I know you’re here!” Bella shouted at the top of her lungs.

Rosalie laughed in the middle of the living room, making Bella come fast. Rose disappeared like smoke. “Guuuuh!” Bella growled. “Rose!”

Her fear was dividing, twisting into fun, Rosalie shimmied up the drainpipe and into Edward’s open window.

Ugh, the whole room smelled of pretention, Rosalie internally groaned, moving back to her bedroom just as Bella reached the empty living room with another growl. The back door closed and Rosalie laughed, listening to her head back out to the car bay.

She wasn’t sure she was supposed to be having fun with this, but she was. She chuckled as the car bay door opened, there was a pause, and then it slammed again. She waited until Bella was back inside, the stairs, and about to open her door before she head out the window.

Downstairs she paused, her head cocked. Bella was upstairs in her bedroom. Had she given up? No… was that her closet door?

Suddenly Bella’s voice boomed out, loud and insistent in a way that Rosalie hadn’t heard before. “ROSALIE HALE, GET YOUR BUTT IN HERE NOW OR THESE SHOES ARE GOING TO GET IT!”

Rosalie was upstairs and in front of her before ‘get it’ had even come out of Bella’s mouth.

She hissed when she saw the shoes in Bella’s hand. “Those are Valentino!” Black and beige with little metal studs on them, they were from a limited line.

“Look,” Bella drooled, reminding Rose very much of herself at that moment. “It’s the amazing disappearing woman. What were you going out the window?”

“Those cost over a thousand dollars, Bella!” Rosalie hissed. “Put. Them. Down!”

Startled, Bella looked at the shoes as if they were suddenly poison. “Oh my god,” Bella suddenly screeched, holding them out. “What is wrong with you? They’re just shoes! No one should spend that much on shoes!”

Rosalie took them, fuming, and gently placed them back on the shoe rack with loving care. “Touch my shoes again, and I will end you!” Rosalie snarled low and deep, her face very close to Bella’s to make her menacing point.

Bella just scoffed and Rose was amazing to see that she did not look scared at all. Happiness and a state of high piss off both flooded her at that. Bella wasn’t scared of her! But also, Bella wasn’t scared of her.

“You know, if you can’t figure out what to do with your money, there are charities—” Bella started, making Rosalie stare.

“I donate annually, thank you,” she purred, turning to sit on her bed. She didn’t dare leave Bella alone with her shoes.

Bella stayed where she was, her face still red from having yelled at Rose, making her look a lot like the last time they were alone together.

She finally sighed, taking in air filled with Bella. “What do you want, Bella? Why did you make me stay?”

Bella’s hands balled into fists at her sides.

Rosalie didn’t know what she had expected, but it certainly wasn’t what Bella said.

“You know, I’ve been thinking since, err, last week.”

“Woooow.” Rosalie moaned as if the idea that Bella had been thinking was a great achievement.

“You’ve always been a bitch to me.”

Instantly offended, Rose’s head snapped back around to look at Bella. “Excuse me?”

“Well maybe not anymore,” Bella amended, speaking to herself more than Rose. “But you always were for like no reason at all.”

Rose glowered. There was nothing more annoying than when a person spoke the truth.

“So I started to think that maybe there’s a reason why you’ve always been a bitch—”

“Can you stop calling me a bitch, thank you very much?”

“—to me.”

Rose watched, trying to swallow down the building dread, working hard to keep her face blank. She didn’t like where this was going.

Bella looked back at her, searching her face for a long moment before she finally spoke. “You’re always nearby.”

Rose gave a rude snort and looked back out the large windows.  

“Have you noticed that, Rose?” Bella’s voice wasn’t the same now. The indignance, the anger, it had all melted away. It was smooth, rich now, matching that scent that wasn’t quite chocolate and making Rose want to turn to her, go to her. She wanted to know what she was thinking, but she didn’t want to know at all.

“You’re always in my house. Am I supposed to automatically leave when you’re nearby?”  

“And you’re always watching me. You stand up for me. I don’t know what it means but it means something.”

Rose bit the inside of her cheek, willing herself to stay on the bed and not to make a run for it, a real run for it now.

There was no way she had figured it out, right? That was impossible. It had to be. How could she have?

“Don’t flatter yourself.” But the rebuke somehow didn’t hold the power that Rose had meant it to.

Bella’s shoulders squared, angered by Rosalie’s brush off. “I think you have feelings for me.”

A breath came from Rose in a long thin stream, waiting for more. She searched Bella’s face, but she couldn’t see anymore in it. “My,” she purred, her tone laced with venom. “Aren’t we feeling cocky.”

Bella blinked a few times and the quiet confidence that had been there a moment before wilted. In came the insecurity that was so often in her face when she was with Edward.

Rose looked away, aghast. She had needed to make her doubt herself. That had been essential, but she hadn’t planned on how it would feel. Was she no better than her brother?

“I think you do.”

Rosalie laughed, a dry crack. “I think you’re nuts.”

Though Bella’s heartrate was slowly climbing and her cheeks and neck were growing splotchily pink, Bella refused to be swayed. She wasn’t going to back down, even if she thought that she might be wrong, Bella wouldn’t be backing down. “You do, Rose, we both know you do.”

Rose huffed.

So what?

What would happen if she just told her? What if she simply said the words ‘you are mine?’ What then?

Bella had kissed her back the week before, and that was an important fact to remember.

But what?

There were other issues at play.

If she said the words and Bella believed them, then what? A wedding where all of their friends and family would come to celebrate them because they totally accepted them? A few half-human, half-vampire babies? A few cars, a house they shared, the PTA? None of that was in the cards for them because she was a vampire. What was more likely was a few short years of dating until the town began to make uneasy jokes about how the Cullens didn’t age. A few short years until they had to pass Bella off as Rose’s mother because of their obvious age difference. A few short years until Bella was buried somewhere, having lived the life that was rightfully hers until it had come to an end.

“What does that look mean?”

Rosalie jumped, surprised by Bella’s sudden frustrated yell.

“What do you want me to say?” Rose shouted back.

Bella stumbled for words for a moment, obviously frustrated. “I – I – I’m telling you what I want! I want you to tell me why you kissed me. I want you to tell me why you look at me like that!”

“Why—” Rosalie groaned, her head falling into her hands. “Why does it matter so much?”

But it seemed, Bella couldn’t answer that. She just stood in front of her, face set and waiting. “I just want to know,” she finally got out.

“That’s not a real reason.”

“Why would you do that, Rose? Just tell me!”

“Because!” she exploded to her feet and began pacing. “Because you’re my – my—”

“You’re what? Sister in law?’ Bella shouted. “We’re sure not friends because every attempt I’ve made to be your friend has been met with nastiness and – and meanness!”

Rosalie winced. Ow. She glared at her through the pain of that, not saying anything.

“Fine. Don’t tell me.” Bella turned, stomping out of the door.

Rose watched her go, her heart feeling heavy. She had fucked things up so badly, what else could she do?

She settled down on her bed. She spent the rest of the night there, listening to Bella downstairs, not watching TV, not doing much of anything except sitting. Upstairs, Rose did the same, locked in misery.

Chapter Text

Rosalie’s fingers tightened around the baseball until she heard the sound of stretching leather. Her pointer finger and middle followed the pattern of the bright red stitching, her thumb bending back around it. The ball was brand new, only just taken from its little box and therefore cleanly white and without a scuff. It wouldn’t stay that way. One hit from any of them and it would dent slightly. Baseballs were tough, but not that tough. By halfway through the game it wouldn’t even be worth saving, which was why beside Esme there were two other small Rawlings boxes.

Overhead the sky rumbled again and she glared at it. If Alice was wrong, she was going to be grumpy. She wasn’t in the mood for wet hair and chafing jeans.

Okay, she wasn’t in the mood for any of this and she hadn’t been for a while now.

Absently she tossed the ball high into the air and caught it again.

It had been almost a week since that stupid night at the house, a very long, very tense, very slow week. It had been a week that had definitely had some consequences. Rosalie was tired, more tired than she knew she could become as a vampire. Perhaps it was because it was a mental tired, overwhelmed and constantly stretched too tight in her worry.

And Bella… Bella looked a little like butter stretched too thinly over toast. Her face was a little drawn, or at least Rose thought it was probably only a small difference. To her, and clearly to Edward – people who had eyes that picked up on more than the average human, the change seemed huge. There were bags under Bella’s eyes as if she hadn’t been sleeping. The skin around her face was a few shades lighter than usual, which spoke volumes because her skin was always pale. What was worse, what made Rosalie feel worse, was that though she doubted Bella could even tell, Bella had lost some weight.

Seeing all of this, watching it happen, had been Rosalie’s own torture that week.

Bella had become cold, not only to her but in general. She had been somewhat removed, quiet with the rest of the family.

She glanced across the field, and then away again, turning her back on the approaching couple.

“If they try, they might make it here before next year,” she grumbled.

Not that it mattered if Bella was interested in women or not. Not when she refused to allow things to change.

Edward, it seemed, had begun to notice the difference in Bella too. His eyes had become sharp, watchful. He touched her now carefully as if she were moments away from breaking under his fingers. His eyes were always worried, and the day before Rosalie had even overheard him asking Carlisle what exactly he should do should Bella get sick with a cold or the flu.

It was funny to see Edward squirm.

It was not funny to see Bella so upset.

“Come on, let’s start a game of catch!” she called to the field at large, doing her best not to feel Bella’s slow approach.

Emmett held out a hand in front of his chest, a universal ‘throw it to me’ and so Rosalie did, the ball leaving her hand at speeds that would have shocked any MLB team. The ball smacked into Emmett’s bare hand, no need for a glove, and shot back at Rose, who plucked it from the air with a scowl on her face.

Usually, she liked baseball, always interested in a game. She just… she couldn’t shake her mood.

She was feeling grumpier and grumpier the closer Bella got.

The last thing she had wanted to do was drag Bella into this. She had just… her skin in the moonlight had been so beautiful, and she had been looking at Rose with such awe, and she had just been there, so close to Rose, being so… whatever. She had lost her head. And she didn’t like to feel weak. Her eyes drifted over to the couple still far from them.

Her heart simultaneously ripped open in pain and swelled bright and warm.

There was nothing like being told you couldn’t have something, couldn’t even talk to it, to make you want it so much more.

Far off at home plate, Jasper had stepped up, ready to begin a few warm-up swings until everyone else was in place. The bat fell off of his shoulder as he chuckled, giving her a look that she refused to allow herself to read.

Rosalie responded by throwing the ball at full speed at his head. Which he caught with an open smirk.

She rolled her eyes.

She couldn’t help how she felt. She couldn’t help that she was feeling a lot more these days. Something had begun to change in those few evenings they spent together, even if they had rarely spent time together, and now on the other side of the kiss, everything was different. She was feeling, had to maybe admit that she had been feeling before.

Bella was back to ignoring her. Which was fine because Rose was ignoring her too. No, she was ignoring her first. She had gone back to how things had used to be, which suited her just fine… mostly. She had gone back to ignoring everything that had to do with Bella, and Bella it seemed, had decided to follow suit. The thing was, Rosalie was far better at it than Bella. Though they hadn’t spoken, though Bella and Edward had stuck to their lunch table across the room, Bella’s eyes seemed to always be on her.

The thought made her smirk into the misty afternoon. Bella and her gay ass.

Not that she was assuming Bella was gay, of course, but if they were mated then some part of Bella should be wearing a rainbow flag and listening to Ani Difranco.

There had been no communication between them at all after their game of tag around the Cullen property. Well, nothing except two very long, and for Rose gut-wrenching looks. Both had been intense enough to sear themselves into her memory, a secret shared between them that felt as large as an elephant.

The first had been just a day after their chase game.

Rosalie hadn’t decided yet how she was going to play things. This was her fault. She owed Bella an apology, a big one. More, she owed it to her to make it up to her, and she would. She was determined because she was Rosalie Hale, yes, but Rosalie Hale was not the bad person that everyone expected … or at least she tried hard not to be. All right, she was a work in progress, but that was at least something.

She had been running a little late that morning and so, purse over her shoulder, she was rushing down the hallways, trying to make it to class before the bell rang. After all, the school had its eye on her right now. She felt Bella before she even saw her. She turned the corner and breathed in deeply, her chest filling with that longing that she had to immediately tamper down. It made her nervous. Edward couldn’t usually taste the feeling of her thoughts, but what if –

She looked up and here she came. Walking the opposite way down the hall, Rosalie’s eyes drifted to her and stuck. Bella’s eyes had already been on her, despite all of the people between them, and Rose found that she couldn’t look away. It was as though she had been caught. She kept walking on autopilot, trying to read every flicker of Bella’s eyes, struck by the cacophony of things that passed across her face.

Bella… her mind had whispered. Bella, Bella, Bella…

She had stopped breathing as Bella’s rich brown eyes held hers. She had wanted too much, to say so much, to hug her. She had never hugged her and she wanted to know what it was like. She wanted to feel Bella.

Rose took another step and she and Bella drew even, side by side for a fleeting moment, Rosalie staring down at Bella and Bella looking up.

Rosalie’s head want swam with want. She could see Bella holding her breath and so Rose did the same in response.

They looked at one another, the rest of the school forgotten, the gaze heavy and speaking of so much.

Then she had taken another step, putting her just past Bella and the spell had broken.

It was as though the world had been doused in cold water. She blinked, feeling vaguely empty, and had rushed off at top speed, unnerved by the power of what she had just felt.

She had only gone a few steps before she ducked into an empty classroom and leaned against the wall, not breathing, not blinking. She had worked so hard once on her human façade, on not looking like a vampire, but at that moment, her teeth had been bared, her body too still, her eyes too wide. The desire to go back, to steal her, to carry her away just so she could keep her close had been overwhelming.

It had taken her a very long moment before she could be human again, and even longer moments before she could pull the mask of I-don’t-care back on.

That was when the fury came. That was when she had decided that she would no longer acknowledge Bella.

It was dangerous.

How dare she make her want her so badly. How dare she do this to her mind and body. She had groaned against the wall, imagining so many things, and then she had cleared her head and stomped off to class.

The other time had been much of the same. She had been sitting at the Cullen table, as usual, the first to arrive. She hadn’t intended to look up when she felt her enter, and yet her body and mind seemed to do nothing she requested anymore. She had looked up and caught Bella’s eye. Just like the time before, she had been stuck like a bug on fly tape. The weight of everything unspoken was too much, making their gaze heavy.

It had only ended when Emmett, noticing her lack of breath, had snapped his fingers in front of her face.

That had been it.

That would always be it.

They weren’t friends anymore.

That one moment of weakness when Rosalie had allowed, that one moment where she had wondered if there could be more, that was over too.

And now she was back to this. The Christmas break had come, cutting off her access to Bella, and she had been both furious and thankful.

She snarled as the ball went whizzing right by her ear, so close that it stirred her hair. Her eyes snapped away from Bella’s face and back to Alice.

“Hey, I wasn’t paying attention!”

“Yeah, I saw that!” Alice shot right back at her, a look of anger on her face barely hidden under her faux laughter. The message was clear: I see you looking at Edward’s girlfriend. Stop it.

She threw the ball back, harder than necessary, glowing as Edward and Bella finally making it to the group.

“Bring it in, guys!” Carlisle called and as a group, they made their way to Esme.

Without saying anything, Emmett came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. Rose was thankful. Emmett, for his part, had been amazing all week. He had held her a lot, without asking for more. She was thankful for the support, both literally and metaphorically as she leaned back against his broad chest.

“Sorry it took us so long,” Edward grinned at them, Bella by his side. “Human pace.”

Bella flushed but said nothing.

Rosalie rolled her eyes, annoyance spiking. She didn’t know why she was annoyed that Bella was there, but the annoyance was sharp as her eyes fell back onto Bella’s face, unable to stay away.

She studied her, watching Bella not look at her, the same feeling that had sprung up every time she was on her mind for days now beginning to filter in.

Anger.

Anger was something familiar to Rose, she felt it often, but this week, she wasn’t sure she understood it. She felt it, as sure as she was 5’9 and blonde. But why? She didn’t know.

Her eyes flicked back to Carlisle, who was separating them into two small teams, and then back to Bella, another feeling climbing up.

Longing, and ugh, annoying and ridiculous happiness. She was happy she was there. She was angry she was there.

Bella’s eyes shifted away from Carlisle and directly, fiercely into her, glaring at her in a role reversal so startling that Rosalie’s gaze dropped.

She turned, her look suddenly turning into a hard glare that the whole family saw, and walked away as if Bella joining them had been too much for her delicate sensibilities.

Which, it was, but that was beside the point.

“Rose, I haven’t put you on—”

“I don’t care whose team I’m on!” Rosalie bit back at Carlisle. He looked startled by her sudden venom.

“Rose!” Esme chastised. She just picked up a baseball bat and swung it, feeling those warm eyes on her. It was a fitting feeling, she thought. Bella’s eyes made you think of warmth. Chocolate melted on your fingertips. Earth, warm from the sun. Soil, rich with life and nutrients. Freshly brewed coffee, strong and smooth. It was fitting that she felt them on her like a warm caress.

She swung the bat again and again, putting herself first in the lineup as the rest of the teams sighed at her behavior and started to their assigned areas.

Behind her Bella sat beside Esme, listening as Esme chattered on and on about Edward’s talent on the field.

She wanted to gag.

She could so take Edward. Yeah, he could see her thoughts, and yeah, he was probably the fastest, but that didn’t help during the game. He had no finesse.

In the outfield, Edward shook his head, offended.

‘Suck a dick, Edward’, she thought which made him stumble in shock.

She smirked. ‘Oh, let me guess. A lady doesn’t speak in such a way, right?’

He stared back at her, his look saying that yes, that was exactly what he thought.

Her hands on the bat, she stepped up to the plate, ready to prove that Edward didn’t have anything that she did also have. She glanced back, sending the two referees a cocky grin. She had moved fast when she looked back, could move far faster than Bella and so it took Bella second of time before her eyes moved… from Rosalie’s ass in her very tight baseball pants.

Elated, her grin grew.

Bella’s look was startled as it moved up to her face. She saw Rosalie’s grin and the expression on her face changed. It grew cold, hard.

Rosalie’s smirk faded. She wasn’t hurt, she insisted to herself, she wasn’t.

She turned back to Alice on the pitcher’s mound. “Can’t fucking do anything without her joining us,” she grumbled, knowing it had been loud enough to carry, lashing out to hide her knife wound in her chest.

“Don’t listen to her,” Esme promised Bella behind her. “We’re all happy you’re here.”

Rosalie scoffed.

The ball came at her and, definitely not trying to show off, she whacked it for all it was worth. The ball soared through the air, making Edward take off toward the trees.

 


 

She was not trying to show off all game. She wasn’t. If she felt herself wanting to purr every time that Bella’s eyes watched her instead of Edward then it was just coincidence. If she fought against Edward harder than usual, specifically hitting so he couldn’t catch it, running harder when he was the one on base, it wasn’t for any real reason.

Thank god, Edward for his own point, was trying desperately to show off for Bella, because her thoughts kept slipping to Bella as they played.

She turned and ran, seeing that there was no way that Emmett’s hit would stay close to home. She ran for all she was worth, hearing the ball flying through the air. She hit the trees, tearing through them, her hand outstretched. The bell fell into it with ease.

“Out,” Esme called the moment she stepped through the trees. Rosalie smirked at him.

Even though she had just gotten him out, he grinned at her, proud of her skill.

 


 

She was in the outfield as it happened. Carlisle had just stepped up to the plate, the bat delicately clasped in his hands. She was bent over, ready to run any way the ball came, so she was at a far enough distance to see perfectly the moment Alice suddenly rose from her spot as catcher.

She knew before anyone else reacted that something had just gone very wrong.

Alice ripped her mask from her face, dropping it without notice as she staggered to Jasper, who had appeared beside her in the blink of an eye.

She stayed in the outfield for a little longer, watching her family form a huddle of panic, unable to move.

She could feel it, could feel it in her gut. It was about Bella. Suddenly and without question, Alice had seen something and now Bella was in danger.

“Came you make it?” Carlisle hissed.

Dread wormed its way through her, making her glance between their faces, but most of all making her look at Bella.

The strangers that Alice had seen, they were coming.

Oh god.

She took a shaky breath, something like panic swirling.

“No, not carrying.”

Rosalie’s eyes snapped to him from her spot far from the rest. What? Of course he could. He could! Bella wasn’t hard to carry. If he took her now, they could be back at the house before anyone arrived. She wasn’t so breakable. She could handle an intense speed for ten seconds or so. She wasn’t so breakable, damn it, and god, she was so breakable.

She looked into Bella’s face, suddenly unable to ignore how thin her skin looked compared to theirs, or the blue veins that ran this way and that. It would take so little to break her, so very little.

He should run. He could run. He could get her safely out. He could go the opposite direction, deeper into the forest and away from the threat until it passed or even circle around through the town before heading back to the house. He could hold her differently. He could run faster. He had to do something, her mind shouted. He had to do something because Bella was in danger. She was in danger, and Rose… Rose could do nothing about it. Protecting her, it was on him. What did he mean he couldn’t get her out safely? What did it say about him?

Her legs finally unfroze, propelled by her desperation, and she raced to the huddle. “But—”

Beside her, Carlisle heard his answer and nodded slowly as if it were sage wisdom.

But he could, her mind shouted. He had to. He had to!

From beside her, she felt a wave of soporific calm wash over her. She fought it, glaring at Jasper. She didn’t want to be manipulated. She didn’t want to be told how to feel. Bella wasn’t safe! She wanted to reach forward, to take her. She could make it, even if Edward couldn’t. Her hands went out, ready to snatch her in her panic. Another wave hit her and Jasper shook his head a little.

Her hands, frozen in midair dropped back to her sides.

He was right, she thought, the sanity that had so suddenly left her, coming back. If she did that, everything would be out in the open. They would want to know why. Edward wouldn’t allow her to go. She would have to prove that her claim on Bella outstripped his own.

Agitated, she shifted from foot to foot.

“You catch, Esme,” Edward instructed.

The rest of the group began to move back to their positions but Rosalie didn’t, couldn’t move.

She couldn’t understand this. They were going to simply hide her in plain sight? Was he stupid?

“Rose,” Emmett called and she jumped, tearing her eyes away from Bella.

She couldn’t do anything.

From across the field, Bella met her eyes.

What did she see in them, Rose wondered. Did she see how much she wanted, needed to protect her?

“Take your hair down,” Edward said in a low voice and Rosalie shifted again.

No, stupid boy! No! He was being so dumb, she groused. Didn’t the idiot understand? Her face was hidden now, but her scent, that wonderful intoxicating, beautiful scent was so much stronger as the wind caught her hair.

The game started again, but it wasn’t only Rosalie who couldn’t focus. How was she supposed to do this? She felt herself shifting her place constantly without a thought, moving toward Bella and coming in far too close for the outfield. No one seemed to care.

Jasper hit the ball softly and it rose into the air and then fell, bouncing once. She caught it with ease and tossed it to Emmett, her eyes barely leaving Bella’s pale face.

She was scared.

Why was no one doing anything about the fact that Bella was scared? Edward was right there, so close to her. He could reach out to her, he could hold her. Instead, he sat with his eyes scanning the trees, his back to her.

The ball was hit again and Rose plucked it from the sky, sending it back to Alice so fast and hard in her agitation that it smoked a little when it struck her palm.

Bella’s face, half-hidden behind her hair, was stricken.

Why didn’t anyone tell her that this wasn’t her fault? Why didn’t anyone tell her that this would have been tricky even without her? She looked so upset. New vampires in their area was always a delicate matter. More vampires meant the treaty with the wolves became even more strained. Asking newcomers to refrain from hunting nearby was always hard as it usually ruffled feathers. They would be nervous either way, why didn’t someone tell Bella that?

She shifted a little closer, hating the feeling on her skin. She was antsy, wanting to move but unable, locked into her pretense.

She had no idea who was winning now, her competitiveness forgotten. She only caught the ball when it came toward her and threw it back, the majority of her mind on other things.

She heard the moment that the newcomers stepped into their hearing range. Everyone stiffened. Emmett hit the ball lightly when it was thrown, but the hit was so soft that the ball barely made it to third base. He didn’t even try to run.

She could hear the unfamiliar feet behind her, the leaves barely crunching under their steps. It spoke to who they were that they barely made a sound. They were nomads, yes, but they were also hunters. The steps came closer and Rosalie turned to look with everyone else, fighting her desire to run to Bella.

Bella, her mind chanted, Bella, Bella, Bella…

But after all, Emmett had been right. As they stepped through the trees and into the grey light, Rosalie felt herself breathe again. They didn’t seem at all equally matched. In fact, they were tiny compared to Emmett, and graceless compared to Esme.

The Cullens all drew in, near to the bleachers where Bella sat but also a safe distance away. Rosalie scooted in as close as she could without anyone noticing, just needing to be near her.

Rosalie watched with sharp eyes as they spoke, going steadily to Bella, between the newcomers and back.

Bella was trying not to cower behind Edward, Rosalie thought, but she was also trying to remain completely unnoticeable. She was succeeding and that helped settle Rosalie’s nerves.

She could almost breathe, could almost step away from Bella’s side when the wind blew.

She knew even before the stranger reacted, how it was going to go. He curled down into a crouch as if to spring and Rosalie couldn’t help her reaction. She hissed, hot and fast. She couldn’t help it, couldn’t stop the reaction. Her teeth bared as he called her a snack. She wanted to launch herself at him, to wrap her legs around his neck and squeeze, pulling his head off and throwing it across the field. He would not touch her. Around her, the rest of the Cullen’s did something similar, her reaction lost in theirs. Unlike the others, she didn’t relax from the edge as Carlisle talked things down, didn’t step away from the moment when she could kill him, even as they made a plan of what to do next.

“We’ll show you the way. Jasper, Rosalie, Esme?”

Rose’s head whipped up as Carlisle called her, feeling wild, feral in her rage. She had just taken a step toward Edward and Bella, ready to protect her, unable to leave her side. She stared at her father figure in disbelief. He wanted her to escort these strangers back? Her animalistic golden eyes shot to him, to Bella, to Edward, to the strangers, to Bella. Her lips were still curled back in the tiniest snarl, more vampire than human.

Edward seemed entirely unaware of her. He turned, nodding toward Carlisle. His hand on Bella’s arm too tight and she let out a small squeak of pain.

The sound shot into Rosalie, a bestial reaction to her pain, even so small, was almost impossible to stop.

Edward pulled Bella, his hand gentler as he ushered her back the way they had come.

She watched them retreat, sick. She had protected her. She had to be with her. She couldn’t just let her walk away. In agony, she swallowed a moan, desperation and longing rippling through her. She had to protect Bella. She was her mate. She had to keep her safe. She had to be the one to keep her safe.

“Rose?” Carlisle called, his voice very measured. He was waiting for her to show these monsters back to her home, but she couldn’t fucking move. She looked to Alice beside Bella and saw that her face was resigned as if it had already happened, as if Bella were already lost.

It made her want to scream.

She wanted to trade places with her, to go. She was assigned as far away from Bella as she could be and she knew why. Everyone thought she hated her.

She couldn’t move. She couldn’t breathe.

Emmett, his body half hiding Bella, glanced back when Carlisle called her again. She met his eyes, with panic.

He saw it and he seemed to understand. His eyes grew soft, warm, but all at once fierce. His teeth bared, and Rose understood. ‘Don’t worry, babe, I got this’ his look said.

Emmett. Beautiful, wonderful Emmett.

“Rose.” This time it was Jasper. He stepped up and touched her elbow, instantly calming her.

Her stiff shoulders slumped, the panic that blinded her softened and she was able to look away.

“Come.”

She nodded at him and with one last glance she turned to escort these monsters that wanted her Bella. 

Chapter Text

With Bella away and safe with Emmett and the extra calm given by Jasper, Rosalie found that she could actually think. She turned away and was able to really look at the newcomers again since the first snarl had ripped from the blond. The woman seemed too willowy, too passive like she was trying to make herself small. And if she was doing that, then… her eyes fell on the blond, the one who wanted to hurt her mate and suspicion rose.

“All right. Let’s go.” She nodded, and with a brush of her arm, she let the newcomers go first.

The walk to the tree line was silent while they moved at a typical human pace, led by Carlisle. Once hidden in the shadows of the forest, he gave a nod and as a team, they started off. Carlisle and Esme took the lead, while she and Jasper took up the rear behind the newcomers. Beside her, she could see that something was making Jasper nervous, with only heightened her awareness. He looked like a dog sensing an earthquake.

“What?” she called over.

Jasper, usually so composed, looked rattled as he shot her a glance and shook his head once.

She vaulted over a large fallen tree in time with the others, her eyes set on James. Now that she was a little less worried, a little less stuck feeling the need to protect, she thought that this was the right place for her to be. She should be with James. She didn’t believe in fighting defensively. Sticking with James, keeping an eye on him, that was the best offensive position. She was protecting Bella too, and that thought helped.

He couldn’t get to her if he never got out of her grip.

In front of her, James cast a glance behind him. Rose met his gaze steadily.

Yes, this was the best place for her to be. She gave a slight snort of annoyance. Edward, so high and mighty, seemed to always think that he was the only one that count protect Bella. She could protect her just as well. Which, yes, okay, she needed to stop feeling the need to protect Bella at all, she got that. Her eyes rolled as she leapt over a small stream, her thoughts annoying her more than this mission was. She got it. Bella wasn’t hers. Fine. She was with Edward. She was happy. Edward was her brother. He was her brother who she wanted to slap most of the time, but was still her brother, and was also happy. Edward and Bella were happy. She didn’t want to interfere with that. And besides, she and Bella couldn’t be together anyway since Bella was human. It was pointless.

She could still protect her every bit as well as Edward could.

A slither of jealousy worked its way up and into her stomach, making Jasper beside her glance her way with an amused grin.

She glared back.

“You don’t have to feel that way, you know.”

Eyes wide, she glanced up Carlisle and Esme. They could easily hear them.

“I know that, okay?” she snapped back, getting a small side glance from the black-haired man. She glared at him until he turned away again. “It’s just not that simple.”

Jasper only shrugged, the stupid amused smile still on his face despite whatever agitation was still there.

Rosalie ground her teeth. If only she was willing to be the horrible bitch that everyone thought she was. She could steal Bella away, then steal her life, and – Rosalie gasped at the sudden and needle-sharp desire. Her teeth, she thought of her teeth biting down on the delicate flesh of Bella’s neck, of her venom mixing with Bella’s blood. Her body reacted, shocking and suggesting her. A wave of desire washed over her, making her legs buckle. She felt her body giving a longing throb, but the desire was also so much deeper as if her soul were calling out its own desire.

Shaken, she glanced over and saw that Jasper’s eyes were on her again.

“Ugh,” she growled. “Doesn’t prying ever get old?”

Jasper’s nose wrinkled. “Yes.”

“Then stay out!”

He just shrugged and Rosalie understood. She knew just as well as he did that he wasn’t doing it on purpose.

She couldn’t, hadn’t felt desire at that. She wasn’t that person. She didn’t want that.

But she felt it. There was no denying that she had felt desire at the thought of her teeth sinking into Bella’s throat.

It was just impossible. That desire itself was proof that she couldn’t, that she didn’t deserve Bella. She couldn’t steal everything from her. She couldn’t be the thief that took Bella’s human life. What was wrong with her? How had she become so disgusting?

She was so lost in her pitying thoughts that she had forgotten her suspicions of the newcomers. It wasn’t until, in perfect formation, the man and woman split, one suddenly turning to the left, the other to the right that she remembered that they had clearly been up to something.

“Shit!” she cried, impressed at the sudden speed James was moving. She took off, not hesitating in the slightest. She pushed off on a tree trunk and hit the ground pushing as hard as she could.

In front of her, blond hair easy to spot in the foresty sunlight. James looked back, laughing and picked up speed.

“Rose! Rosalie! Come back!”

She glanced behind her, picking up speed as well. No way she was going back! She could catch him.  

She ducked under a few thick branches, hearing his joyful laughter. The laugh sent a shiver of disgust through her.

Her eyes stayed sharp on him as he dodged first one way and then another, trying unsuccessfully to lose his tail.

He glanced back again and she saw clearly that he was gleeful, enjoying the chase. Provoked, she snarled, pushing harder.

Before them, a large lake was coming up. She could catch him there, she could –

James leapt, shooting into the air like a bullet but before she could follow suit, a hand closed on her wrist.

She skitted to a stop, her feet digging into the mud of the bank.

“Jasper!” she shouted, furious as she watched James land in the water, only to explode out of it again and land on the opposite side, disappearing into the trees. She twitched, ready to continue her pursuit, but Jasper held her tight.

“Carlisle says to let him go.”

“Let him go?” she shouted, pulling her arm away. “What the hell?”

“Come on.” Jasper nodded his head back toward where she had come from. “He has a reason.”

They worked their quick way back through the trees, Rosalie’s anger so strong that she shook.

“There had better be a good fucking reason why you stopped me!” she shouted the moment she came to the spot she had left her family.

Esme’s mouth dropped open, aghast. “Rosalie Hale!” she gasped. “Language!” And then, as if they weren’t evil creatures of the night, Esme turned to the last remaining stranger, looking sheepish. “I’m sorry, she has better manners than that usually.”

Jasper gave a derisive snort, earning a glare from both Rose and Esme.

“He’s going after her!” she cried, that panic creeping back up. She had lost him. They had made her lose him. And now…

Carlisle just nodded, his eyes sad. “It’s their choice if they want to fight, Rose.”

Her teeth ground. “Are you serious?” she asked between them. “This was our job. This is what we were supposed to do. Keep him away from Bella. That’s all. That’s all we had to do, and we couldn’t even do that. We should chase after him! We can find it! His scent stinks like week old hippie! He can find him! Come on!”

“Rose!” Carlisle interrupted her ranting. “If they want to fight then we can’t stop them.”

Rosalie glared. He obviously didn’t understand. He obviously didn’t know.

“Let’s go back to the house and prepare. I think we have a long night ahead of us.”

The rest of the group took off running again, heading toward the Cullen house, but Rosalie stood there for a long moment, worry building. She felt so much less comfortable now, so much more afraid.

She had failed, already. This had barely begun and yet she had found a way to fail. She hadn’t kept James with her. Now Bella, Jesus wept, Bella was at risk. Her soul splintered and cracked, fear worming its way in. The forest usually felt like a second home, lush and beautiful, but suddenly it felt dark, closing in and smothering her. She needed to breathe, which was a feeling she hadn’t felt since her human life.

She swallowed down a huge lungful of air, panting a little.

God, she didn’t want to feel so afraid for a person that wasn’t even hers.

She started off through the woods, feeling suddenly exhausted.

When would this situation with Bella end?

She came in behind the rest of the family only a moment late.

“Errr, welcome to our home,” Esme said awkwardly, giving the man, Laurent, a small tight-lipped smile.  

Laurent inclined his head a little. “Thank you.” He looked just as uncomfortable. “And may I say, I’m sorry for my comrades.”

Her hand twitched toward her back pocket holding her small flip phone. Could she call Emmett and ask for an update? Suppose they were somewhere that they couldn’t speak, or on the run. Pulling it out, she flipped it open so see three little envelopes at the top of the screen. She held the phone in her shaking hand, staring and trying to breathe. They never sent text messages; not only because it cost ten cents to send a text and ten to receive a text, but because it was an annoying task that took too long. She had tried a few times, sending dirty things to Emmett in class, but having to scroll through each number until you got the letter you wanted, spelling out each word letter by letter was just fucking annoying. T9 helped, but not enough.

Holding her breath, she clicked the button and saw the first text.

Emmett. That wonderful man, she loved him so much. He had typed out messages, even though he was even less interested in the struggle of text messages than she was, to make sure she stayed up to date.

The first message was from only moments after she saw him.

“Edward is going to run with her back to the car.”

The next was more ominous. “That guy is a tracker. Bella won’t be safe.”

Not feeling better, she read the last one, hoping for good news. “We’re going on the run.”

The shaking only increased. Bella wasn’t coming back there, that was all that Rosalie could process. Bella was out there in the night, stalked, hunted. And she wasn’t with her.

She hadn’t thought about it, but if she had, she would have assumed Bella would be there any moment and that had helped.

She began to pace up and down the long living room.

“Anything new?” She sent back to Emmett and waited. And waited. And waited.

She paced faster, shaking from the inside out.

Bella, Bella, Bella, her mind chanted. Bella, be safe, please be safe.

She held the phone to her chest with both hands, cradling it delicately so she didn’t smash it as she had her last. She was doing her best to keep the mess she was turning into on the inside. Not that it mattered, no one but Jasper was watching her. She couldn’t breathe. She needed to be there. God, she needed to be there.

Where was she?

She was so afraid, so afraid for a girl who wasn’t even hers.

God, maybe turning Bella was the best idea, she thought erratically. She was so breakable as she was. All it would take was a slightly indelicate brush of the hand to completely crumple her.

She closed her eyes as the hot liquid desire flashed through her. Bella, her venom inside of her. Her mouth filled with venom, her panties suddenly and impressively damp.

No! No, no, no, no, she didn’t mean it. She wasn’t like Edward. She wasn’t a threat to Bella. Bella would be safe with her.

She fought against the feeling. She could not, would not feel that.

She sat with a thump into a chair, turning to a statue. She would not move. Everything was fine. She was fine.

The desire to simply see Bella’s face only grew though. It turned, twisting from a want to a need. Still, she didn’t move.

Across the room Jasper sat still, Carlisle and Esme stood together, seeming to find comfort in the other one.

Rosalie looked away from that, bitter.

Laurent glanced between all of them, shifting toward Rosalie in the chair. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to intrude—” he said in a low voice, “—but the girl, why is she so important? Wouldn’t it be easier—”

The snarl that ripped through Rose was so feral that, alarmed, Laurent skipped back a step or two, his eyes darting around at the people in the room.

She glared, unmoving from her chair, her teeth exposed, a drop of venom gathering off of a canine.

Esme and Carlisle were directly behind Laurent, so she saw the look on Esme’s face. She saw the shadow of confusion there.

The snarl cut off.

“I’m-I’m sorry. I did not mean to offend.”

The room grew silent, no one moving. All eyes on Rosalie.

She couldn’t even find it in herself to be embarrassed by her display. She was too lost in her terror, trying hard to fight it, but what was there that she could do? Emmett was too busy to message her back, and that only made her fear worse.

What did that —

She gasped and leapt to her feet. In the very far distance, there was the roaring and spluttering of Bella’s truck. That had to mean she was safe, right?

“Rose?” Esme asked.

Caught, she sat back down, doing her best to keep her face blank, if not annoyed.

Her eyes, however, did not move from the front door.

“Rose? Are you okay?”

Rosalie could feel Esme’s eyes on her, could only imagine what she was seeing. Soundlessly she nodded once, tearing her eyes away from the door for a split second to acknowledge Esme.

Esme was watching her with a shrewd eye. She could see curiosity there, but whatever Esme was wondering, she decided to hold back.

The progression took far too long, and yet not as long as it usually did.

The truck came to a screeching stop in front of the house and Rose gave a soft moan.

The door burst open only a second later and again she was on her feet, eyes searching desperately, needing to see her face.

It took a moment before she realized the small bundled thing in Emmet’s arms was Bella.

Relief passed through her, so strong it threatened to bring her to her knees.

Bella’s face was red, splotchy. She had been crying. Why had she been crying?

Bella’s eyes shifted, passing over Rosalie’s blankly.

At first, the look confused her. She took a step toward her, hands out to comfort.

Bella’s eyebrows pulled down and Rose stopped.

Oh yes.

She had forgotten that before all of this started, she and Bella had been in a fight. She wasn’t sure calling it a fight was even correct. Maybe calling it a change of relationship was better.

Her breath hitched, catching in her throat and then her look changed into a glare, shooting at Bella. Her chest ached as Bella moved across the room, her arms around herself and to Esme’s waiting arms.

“Oh, Bella,” Esme cooed, her eyes on Rosalie as she stroked her head.

Pretending she had stood for Emmett, she turned and buried her face in his chest. He wrapped her up, but Rosalie barely noticed, breathing in the scent of Bella on him.

A dry sob of relief broke free, only one before the jagged ache of fear settled.

Bella was safe. She was okay. She was good.

This was good news, and she should have felt settled. Still, the feeling of being trapped didn’t slide away as she wanted it to.

Edward blew in, his voice slightly shrill as they discussed. She didn’t listen, she didn’t care, her eyes only on Bella. She wanted her to look at her, she wanted her to come to her. She wanted – anger swirled, how could she be so cold, so immovable?

The anger that she had felt so recently came back in full force. This was a side to Bella she had never seen before, and she didn’t like it. Cold. Harsh. Rude.

When Edward turned to her, Rosalie glared, the pain in her heart making her snap. “Why should I?” She glared. “What is she to me? Except a menace, a danger you’ve chosen to inflict on all of us?”

The response was immediate and universal. Everyone in the room stilled, looking at her in that way. They, however, could not shame her more than the shame she felt. This was one of those times, she thought, one of those times when she got in her own way. She was hurting because she couldn’t be there for Bella. She felt so raw, so alone, so hurt, and there was Bella curled up in Edward’s arms. She was curled up like she was so happy, so comforted to be there. Fury made her suck in a breath slowly, working to hold on to her control.

From under his arm, Bella’s face paled, her mouth dropping open a little. Her eyebrows drew together, and there was hurt there that Rose didn’t want to see.

“Rose,” Bella breathed.

But she didn’t want to hear it. She wanted to stop watching Bella find comfort in her brother. Why did she have to be this way?

Edward turned away, back to Esme, but Bella’s eyes stayed on her.

“I thought we were kind of friends now.”

Rose glared down at her, haughty.

“Rose,” Emmett said softly, his hand covering her arm and squeezing. She ignored him, knowing what he was saying. ‘You can still take it back, Rose. Just take it back.’

She snarled. “Yeah, I thought you were my friend too.”

Bella’s eyes widened, and she could see that Bella understood.

And the thing was… She was … they were… she liked her…

She turned from Bella, unable to hold her eye contact any longer. She couldn’t handle any of this. All she wanted to do is get away with Bella, take her somewhere safe. The thought of putting on Bella’s clothes, wrapping herself in Bella’s scent… she knew she wouldn’t be able to keep her thoughts to herself.

And yet…

Edward frowned and Rose snapped her mind closed.

No.

This didn’t even make sense. They just had to hide her.

She watched Esme carry her upstairs and had a thought.

Of course, they just had to hide her until the fight could be over.

“Edward.” She stepped in close and spoke so low that Laurent wouldn’t hear. “I have an idea. I know somewhere she could go.” She could take her. She could wrap her up in her arms and keep her safe. Her bed and breakfast, it was perfect. Not even the family knew she went there. They could mask her scent, throw James off the trail and she could hide out until—

“No.” Edward was shaking his head, turning from Rose. “No. My plan is better.”

Enraged, she caught his arm, turning him back around. “You didn’t even let me tell you what mine was.”

“Rose!” He bit, pulling his arm out of her arm. “I have things I need to do!” He went upstairs to check and then outside to listen for James’s mind.

Rose just stood there, frozen in her fury. The prick! The fucking little prick!

“Rose.” Esme’s hand on her arm made her flinch. “Come.”

Barely breathing through her anger, she let Esme pull her to the side. She was wearing Bella’s clothes, she realized. It was distracting.

“What?” she snapped, too tightly wound.

“Now is the time for family, Rose.”

Rose grunted.

Esme glared, suddenly turning into their mother. Her face close to Rose’s, her pointer finger was out, almost poking Rose in the face. “We might be new, but we are family to that girl now and you will help us, Rosalie Hale. You will act like part of this family, and you will protect her.”

Rosalie stared at Esme, amazed that she could be so off. She gave a laugh, which only made Esme glare harder.

Did she really not think that she wanted to protect Bella?

“I know you want to. So why are you fighting?”

“What?”

Esme didn’t answer, just nodded toward the door. “Let’s go.”

“Where?”

“Just come.”

Rose followed Esme to the door, her mother watching her closely in that unnerving way that she didn’t like. “Are we leaving?”

Esme nodded, holding the door open for her.

Rose’s chest gave a spasm. She was leaving. She was leaving without Bella. Again.

Esme cleared her throat, her face so foreboding that Rose just nodded.

Fine.

If she couldn’t stay with Bella then she would do her part.

She wanted to fight. To rip apart.

She silently followed her mother to Bella’s truck.

Chapter Text

Rosalie turned again in her small space in an abrupt about-face and made her way back. She walked five steps and then turned sharply again, making her way back. Her hands tapped lightly at her thighs, her head bowed as she stressed. She went five steps and sharply turned again. The leaves around her had long since stopped making wet and soggy crackling noises. There was now a flattened path through them, just wide enough for her feet. She turned and started again.

She had been pacing for a while now.

Bella’s scared face popped into her head and again she moaned, glancing back up at the house.

Inside Charlie still snored. He grunted and released a large fart, making Rosalie grimace.

This shouldn’t be the job she was stuck with. She should be there, in the fight, protecting Bella. She should be with her. She couldn’t take this much longer. She just couldn’t. She wasn’t strong enough for this. She couldn’t just sit here and do nothing and pretend like she wasn’t dying inside.

This last bit of time, she couldn’t even say these last days because there had been no rest, no breaking from one day to the next, had been miserable.

She had given in because Esme had given her no choice, yes, but also because she had thought that she would have been free. She would have been free to fight and to run and to get revenge for her nonstop unbearable fear. She had thought she would have a release. She had thought that she would be able to make up for her failure to keep James with her. She had thought she would have been able to do her part. This, no, this wasn’t doing her part. This was getting her out of the way so the people Edward trusted Bella with could do what he told them to.

It was humiliating.

Her job had been a joke. She had first been stuck in Bella’s old, crap truck, angry because the thing needed some serious care, and even more angry because it seemed to top out at sixty.

More than once she had tried to push it harder, only to internally yell in frustration, ‘who built this piece of crap?’ 

She and Esme hadn’t even been comfortable speaking, for fear that the woman chasing them would realize neither of them had been Bella.

And the truck, she had been sitting awash in her scent, in the feeling of Bella – and it hadn’t helped, it had only made her rev the engine harder.

They don’t see you as a fighter, Rose, that’s all, they just don’t see you that way, she told herself yet again. She turned again and paced back. They had no reason to know that she would have been the best fighter in the group. There was no reason to feel so offended. They had never seen her as a fighter before. They called Rose in when something needed to be hunted. Stealth. That was her trick, that was her strength. And this hadn’t required that. There was no reason to feel so angry with her given job. But no matter how many times she told herself that, it didn’t make her feel any better.

She turned again, moaning out some more of her stress, the slow-building insanity that had lived in her chest since the moment Alice had told them what was coming.

It had gone so well at first. The woman, Victoria, her mind sneered the name, had followed them for a long time. They had been deep into Canada and just beginning to wonder if they should turn when they ran out of road when the redhead had disappeared like smoke. It had been creepy. One moment they had both been able to see her, the flame of her hair more suited to any other environment than this never-ending white. Then all at once, she had disappeared. Gone as if she had been called away. It worried Rose because it had been too sudden. She had noticed over the hour before that Bella’s scent was fading just a little, and that had worried her. But Victoria had disappeared too fast for her to have clued in.

They had turned the car back around and raced, as much as the truck could, back toward home.

She turned and glanced across the forest, spying Esme sitting placidly on a stump, only her eyes moving as she watched Rose pace.

She should have gone with Bella, not Alice. It should have been her. They didn’t need two people to watch Charlie. He was fine. Neither the redhead nor James gave two shits about him. Victoria had stopped by, in search of Bella, Rose was sure. Rosalie had pounced. She had seen Victoria’s face looking honestly alarmed at the guard waiting for her. The chase had been intense. If she had her, Rose was sure that could only help their cause. That bitch was slippery though. She had twisted through the town like a snake, disappearing out from under Rose’s sharp gaze and Rose had been forced there, to Charlie and his farts. She frowned as Charlie let another rip.

She hadn’t been able to sit still now. Bella, Bella, Bella… there had been no word. She just wanted to see her. She just wanted to know that she wasn’t hurt.

Her mind conjured up an image that made her hiss. Bella tucked under Edward’s arm.

She reached out and ripped another branch off of the tree, shredding it with her bare fingers.

She had done a lot of that when she first arrived, pulling branches down and tearing them apart in her anger. It wasn’t until Charlie had come out onto the porch to see what the noise was and she and Esme had been forced to scale a tree to hide that she had finally stopped.

Horrible. This was horrible.

She turned again. Phoenix was this direction, she thought for the fourth or fifth time.

Just go. Just go, Rose.

She would be helpful in Arizona. She would be another layer of protection.

She glanced at Esme and saw that her eyes were sharp as ever, taking in Rosalie’s behavior with an unreadable face.

What would Esme do if she just turned and left? Would she let her go? Would she see it as Rose abandoning the family by leaving where she had been told to be? Did she care if it brought her to Bella?

Longing ached in her stomach.

She had to go, she couldn’t wait, she couldn’t.

Across the forest, there was a shrill ring.

Rose froze in place, thankful and horrified all at once. An update, that was good, they needed an update, but also updates were bad.

Esme was at her side in a second, her hands clasped around the phone.

Rosalie grabbed it, simply squeezing her hands for a moment as if thanking the phone for ringing. Then Esme flipped it open.

Before she even said hello Jasper’s smooth voice was drifting out of it and that… that sent cold goosebumps up her spine. That didn’t equal everything was fine.

Beside Esme, she could hear his voice perfectly.

“Something has changed. Alice had a vision. James will be in Phoenix. You need to come. Everyone needs to come. Alice said – Alice said that everything was about to change. She doesn’t know how, but she knows something big is coming. So we need…”

The voice faded as Rosalie crashed through the forest. It took her a long moment before, startled, she realized she was running. She hadn’t given herself permission at all to start running, her legs had just done it of their own accord.

Thank god, her mind sobbed, thank god. She didn’t stop. She pushed harder. They, her whole family, could move quite fast when they wanted to. In fact, they could move faster than most cars when they were free to let loose. The trip should only take a few hours at this pace. This probably wasn’t the most efficient way. Esme was probably running the opposite direction to get on a plane, but she couldn’t do it, couldn’t wait. She would have to pick up a car somewhere along the way. Night was her cover for now, and even that she was risking it. But even if she ran at top speeds, she wouldn’t make it there before the sun began to rise.

She wasn’t sure how long she had been running, surely only minutes when feet came up behind her. She didn’t startle, able to tell who it was.

She glanced over, knowing she had given something away by taking off as she had.

Esme’s eyes studied her face. Rose looked away.

There was no logical defense for taking off as she did, but whatever Esme wanted to know, she didn’t ask. They ran in silence.

 


 

The run was uneventful. They made it until an hour before sunrise at speeds that were impressive before they finally had to stop. Esme wanted to pick up a car, any car, in a parking lot. Rosalie refused. If she was going to resign herself to moving at the speed of a car, then she was going to make sure it was a fast car. They stopped at a sports car dealership where Rosalie had to work a little to hotwire a car. Then they started off again.

They were just outside of Phoenix when Esme’s little phone rang for the second time.

Rosalie’s breath stopped as she swerved in and out of traffic, her foot like lead on the gas pedal.

Ballet studio.

“What do you mean she got away?” Rose grabbed the phone from behind the wheel. See, it should have been her. It should have been her there with Bella. This was her job. This was her job. God, Bella, if anything happens to you… “You’re a fucking psychic, Alice!” she shouted into the phone.

“Rose.” Esme quietly chided, a hand on her arm as Rose pushed the car harder.

Rose didn’t hear.

“And I’m doing my job as a psychic!”

“Oh come on. ‘Things are about to change?’ That’s not being psychic! You sound like a dollar spirit medium.”

“They are, Rose! Something is about to change our family!”

“Then what? Does he have her? Has he bitten her? You have to have something of use, otherwise what is the point of you?”

There was a pause as Rose swerved between two cars, going on the shoulder to do so. Esme gave a soft squeak of fear.

“I don’t know,” Alice breathed.

“Then what the fuck is the point, Alice? Where is she? WHERE IS SHE?”

Esme gasped as Rosalie screamed into the phone.

“If you’re so interested, Rosalie, then you should have come!”

Rose snapped the phone closed and tossed it back in Esme’s lap, fuming. Her hands tightened on the steering wheel as she hit city traffic and was forced to slow.

She was right. She knew she was right. This was her fault. It was her fault for not allowing herself to be there. She had been given the opportunity. Edward had asked her to help and she had been so angry for some reason that she hadn’t allowed herself to. She had created this.

Bella was hers.

It was her fault that she wasn’t there.

All hers.

 


 

“It’s daytime, Rose,” Esme pleaded as they tore around the corner, the ballet studio mercifully in view at the other end.

“I’ll figure it out,” Rosalie ground out. The sun wasn’t going to stop her from going in.

“The sun, Rose. Look, it’s so bright.”

Rose almost snickered. It was true. They could never live there. The moment she walked outside she would light up like a fucking flashlight. There was no cloud cover at all.

She skid to a stop in front of the studio, sparing her mother a glance.

Esme’s hand gripped her arm, holding her tight. “Rose. You can’t.”

“I have to!”

“We need to find a way to do this safely.”

The street wasn’t busy at all. Rosalie glanced around, frantic to get inside. “Esme, I can do this.”

“Rose. What is it? What’s going on with you? You’re risking exposure? I don’t —” Esme’s words cut off. The inside of the car instantly went silent, two statues not breathing, not moving for a heartbeat.

The thud they had just heard was suddenly followed by a sound that made Rose’s entire body convulse.

It was a small, tiny even, whimper.

She was looking at Esme, so she saw the open shock on it when Rose began to snarl.

“Rose, wait!”

Rose wasn’t listening. She refused to listen anymore or to stall any longer. Bella. He was hurting her. She was out of the car, moving at top speed.

The sun, so bright and hot compared to anything she had felt in over seventy years, burned her skin with its severity. There was a nanosecond where she was able to see glittering reflections bounding off the wall next to her, creating a rainbow-like crystal caught in the sun. She moved fast, so fast she was sure the average human would only see a streak of something bright if they were looking.

A growl came from inside, followed by a cry.

She reached the door, expecting it to be locked, only it wasn’t. The softest push and it swung open. Unnerved Rosalie threw herself inside. It was like he was inviting them in. Her sense of danger, already so high, suddenly spiked. He didn’t expect opposition. That, or he welcomed it.  

A heartbeat could be heard from inside, a light fluttering, and that made her move.

She raced through the lobby and burst through the door to the studio, her lips pulled back and froze.

Whatever she had expected, it was exactly that bad and yet so much worse. Her imagination hadn’t exaggerated, and that wasn’t how it was supposed to be. It was supposed to be that what she pictured, what she created in her head were worse than reality.

It wasn’t.  

The room looked like a scene from a horror movie. The ballet studio, supposed to be a place of fun and learning, had been turned upside down. The mirror was cracked, a spot at the base the home point, splintered around a smashed spot, something red in the middle of it. Bella was on the floor surrounded by glass, her small body crumbled. Her leg stuck out at an unnatural angle, her arms limp. Her eyes were closed, her breathing light and shallow, her heartbeat too feathery, too light for her liking.

Rosalie hesitated, horrified. The whole room smelled of blood. It didn’t mix with the scent of a child’s ballet studio, nor the morning air. It overpowered it. It throbbed, not smelling at all like Rosalie would have thought. She would have assumed it was Bella’s blood that created that scent that was more than a scent, but instead the smell was different; one having nothing to do with the other.

She winced, waiting for the thirst, waiting for her to lose control of herself. She had smelled human blood before, but she had never been in a room saturated with it.

The pang was there. Her throat roared, screaming with fire, demanding to be soothed.

And she didn’t care.

She didn’t lose her ability to be human. She didn’t feel the vampire inside of her take over. She swallowed and pushed the feeling away.

It hadn’t even been half a second since she had burst through the door. Before her, James had spun, his reaction time slow. His eyebrows were high, his mouth dropping into an O.

His eyes were black as pitch, hungry and dangerous.

He stood, his body hunched over her on the floor. Bella. Her Bella.

Blood, Rosalie’s mind moaned. There was so much blood. She could see it on the floor, the small puddle growing bit by bit from the place where Bella’s lolled head rested on the floor.

He had hurt her. He had hurt her badly.  

She looked up, looked into James’s snarling face… and something in Rose snapped.

Her vision grew sharp, focusing only on Bella, the thing to be protected, and James, the thing to kill. Her mouth flooded with venom. Her muscles didn’t tighten but instead grew limber, ready. Her mind quieted, only aware of what she needed to do.

Protect.

Kill.

Save.

The scream that came from her was no longer even remotely human.

They had been in a second-long stalemate, James frozen and waiting, Rosalie assessing.

The scream popped the bubble.

James’s hand snapped out, grabbing Bella’s limp body. Blood oozed, dripping from her slightly elevated head. He threw her into the corner. Bella gave a small grunt as she smashed into the wall behind him, a streak of blood following her.

James saw it, hungry, and sprang, chasing after his hunted creature to finish the kill. His teeth were exposed, his eyes a void.  

She launched herself at him, her mind only on the fight. She dived, catching him before he had taken a step. She grabbed him by the arm and giving a yank with all of her might. It creaked, screaming like metal on metal. She flipped him with ease, and he went flying in an arch over her head, slamming into the wooden floor of the studio hard enough to splinter the wood. She hissed, her body in a low crouch, between him and Bella now.

James wasn’t having that. In a move so fast that the broken floorboards shattered under him, he launched himself. She watched, a cat tracking a bird. She was ready when he dodged one way and then sprinted in the other. Not fooled, she caught him by the throat, not allowing him near the precious thing behind her. Fingers like claws, she ripped at his arms, holding him in place as she bit, ripping a chunk of his arm out with satisfaction.

He screamed, and backhanded her hard enough to send her to the floor. Her face hit the wood with a crack she barely felt. Instead she reached, all instinct in her fighting and grabbed him by the legs. Before she could steal his legs out from under him, he grabbed her around the ribs.

She screamed as the pressure made her body groan. He gave a satisfied grunt.

Hissing like a wildcat, her mind pulsing protect, protect, protect, Rosalie spun in his grip, sinking her teeth into his jaw just as his teeth sank into her neck. She screamed, her hand coming up to jab him in the eyes before he could pull back, taking a chunk of her neck with him. He stumbled, yowling and Rosalie crouched over Bella, growling, only to launch herself again. She reached, nails exposed, reached for the spot that would incapacitate him, ready to take his dick off. He saw her coming and flipped through the air, jumping backward.

She was sore, she was hurt, but he hadn’t gotten close to Bella again. He would not.

The smell of the blood made her dizzy, made her crazy. She knew she wanted him. She stared into his eyes, watching him consider his next move. He launched at the same time she did and they hit like boulders.

Feet. She heard feet moving too fast to be human.

Distracted, James glanced back and yowled. Her fingers sunk deep into his side. With a satisfied hiss, she pulled, a chunk of his side coming off in her hands.

He fell to the floor with a loud huff, his breath coming in puffs.

She had wounded him, badly even.

She fell back into her defensive position, the limp body placed under her crouch.

His eyes were wild, looking around. He couldn’t win and Rosalie saw the moment that he realized that. She saw the moment his plan changed, his target no longer Rosalie but Bella. If he couldn’t finish her, he would finish the kill.

He vaulted forward, ducking and trying to grab her twisted ankle.

She let out a cat-like yowl, her hand swiped, her fingers like talons and long cuts appeared in the side of his face.

He screamed, and flipped backward, holding his face. She tittered, laughing openly at his failure.

The moving feet grew louder.

The door flew open and a figure flew in.

The introduction of a third person into her space made her hackles rise.

Rose hissed, not knowing him, only knowing he was someone who was going to come after her, after her broken mate, that sweet girl with the smile that lit up the room, and her sarcasm, and wit, and gumption. That sweet girl that she would protect.

Suddenly a large group of people burst in, making Rosalie crouch back, alarmed. She hunkered down, her body laying over Bella’s, sizing them up frantically. There were too many. She hissed at them, ready. She would protect.

Her prey turned toward the group, his livid face filling with terror. He screamed, leaping for the windows high up toward the ceiling.

The group turned, and though Rose was ready for them, they didn’t attack. Instead, they as one chased after her prey, grabbing him before he could escape.  

Lip pulled back in a satisfied snarl, she stayed over Bella, her hand on Bella as the biggest man grabbed her prey, roaring. There was a tussle. Her prey slid out of his grasp, pouncing on the large man’s back but another man ripped him off.

“Bella!” One of the group shouted, racing toward them.

Rose’s response was strong. The hiss was guttural, her teeth loud as they snapped at hos outstretched hand, only missing him by millimeters.

He staggered back, shocked. “Rose, wha—”

She barely saw him, only saw another threat. That voice, she knew it and she hated it. She swiped and her nails ripped across his chest.

With a grunt, the threat attacked her, bull-rushing her into the wall.

Rosalie screamed, thrashing, her teeth sinking into the opposer.

He yelled, shoving her down. Her head bounced off the wall, clearing it a little.

Edward. It was Edward.

She looked around frantically and saw Jasper, Alice, and Emmett in the corner, blocking James in. Carlisle and Esme were by the door, Esme holding it closed in case anyone came rushing to see what the noise was, Carlisle with his medical bag, waiting for Rosalie to allow them near Bella.

“She’s hurt!” she cried at him, reassured by his small nod.

Edward still held her, his eyes wild, growling. She shoved him away, flipping him onto his back and screaming a cat-like hiss in his face.

She turned and launched. James’s back was exposed and Rosalie landed on it easily, wrapping her legs around him. She snapped, her teeth sinking into his neck and ripped.

James howled as another chunk of him went flying across the room. He reached for her but she dodged and attacked again.

Feeling victorious, she went to work, ripping parts of him off and throwing them toward the corners, taking her vengeance out slowly. She would have a scar on her neck now. It throbbed, fueling her anger. His arms were missing, as was a large chunk out of his sides, his shoulder, and neck. He thrashed, spinning, trying to chase after his arms. Her leg swiped and he went down hard. She tossed a leg over him, planting herself on his chest. He snarled and roared but she took no notice. She smiled, humming as she with a huff, pulled his head off.

The body stopped moving and Rosalie with a victorious yowl, threw the head to Emmett, satisfied.

She had protected her. She had protected…

Bella!

She turned and her vision swam. The blood, so much blood, was driving her crazy. Not with lust, but with terror. The blood had tripled.

Carlisle and Edward were standing over her, doing something.

In her ears, Rose heard the soft bump… bump.. bump.. stutter, and stop.

“BELLA!” She launched herself, suddenly out of her mind. Screaming her name, she didn’t understand why she wasn’t getting closer. There was only silence from that vulnerable body, silence so loud she couldn’t hear anything else. She pushed, fighting. What was holding her? She bit, she scratched.

“Rose!” Jasper’s voice was close to her, from the thing holding her. “Rose!”

She thrashed harder. “BELLA! BELLA! IS THE BIT? DID HE BITE HER?”

“No.” Carlisle shook his head, barely looking up at her. “But this isn’t good.”

“Bella!” she sobbed, her teeth sinking into flesh again.

Jasper grunted.

She had to get to her, she had to see her, Bella, Bella, she had to, “heeerk!” Her screams cut off in a dry gag as a hand clamped down on her throat, a force striking her in the face.

She blinked, her mind still screaming and saw Alice holding her by the throat, very effectively keeping her in place.

“Do. Not. Bite. My. Mate.”

Rosalie’s eyes flashed to Jasper, seeing the new bite on his jaw and the rip mark over the one on his shoulder.

Her body went limp, dry sobbing.

“Is she dead? Is she dead? Is she dead?” She chanted her question, hanging by the throat in the tiny woman’s hand.

She couldn’t be dead, please, please, she couldn’t be dead. She couldn’t be gone. Bella, Bella, please.

Jasper’s face, set and furious, yet pitying swam into her vision.

She hiccupped a dry sob. “Is she dead?” she begged him. “Please, don’t let her be dead.”

“If you won’t tell them, Rose, then you can’t go to her. Edward is there.”

Beside him, Alice’s face showed surprise but Rose didn’t care.

“Is she dead?” she begged him. “I was too late. I was too late. I didn’t make it in time. Please. Is she dead? Is she dead?”

She couldn’t be dead. You only got one. Only one, one, one, only one! This wasn’t how it was supposed to be! It was supposed to be her, her venom, in her arms, safe, changing, not shutting down, Bella, Bella, Bella.

“Do you see her?” Jasper asked, his voice low.

She nodded, her body still limp. “Bella,” she purred, begging the universe, begging for this not to be true. “Bella.”

“Look at her, Rose. You got here in time. You protected her. Look at her. See her.”

Rosalie did, looking into Bella’s slack face. “Bella.” Something in her chest broke, some hidden vial shattered as she looked at Bella’s face. You only get one, please, she can’t be dead, I can’t be alone, I need her, she can’t be dead.

The slow bump, bump, bump began again and Rosalie let out a sob of relief. The feeling poured out of her, that feeling that Bella gave her of warmth and comfort and satisfaction. She was glowing. She could feel the glow radiating from her as she breathed, as she heard Bella breathe. She was alive. She was alive! All of her desire she had been hiding, all of the tenderness for her, all of the want exploded from her. Her mind caressed her name over and over.

Jasper’s mouth dropped open as the warmth took her over.

Beside him, Alice’s face went slack, then dropped open in shock. Her hand slackened and Rose took a breath, falling to her knees.

Edward’s head whipped around, his eyes on her.

Her eyes pulled from Bella’s face, and she knew he could hear, but she couldn’t stop it. Her face twisted into apology as she gave it all away, her love, her secret, her desire. Edward stared. One last thought popped up and she saw it register on Edward’s face. Bella’s lips against her own. The warmth overtook her and she looked back to Bella’s face, listening to her heartbeat. Bella. Her Bella. She was alive. She was safe.

Suddenly Edward was moving, charging at her.

The family around them responded fast.

He hit a wall of Esme and Emmett and sprinted around them, only stopped by Jasper just before he reached her.

He was deranged, his teeth snapping, screaming as he fought. “YOU KISSED BELLA! YOU KISSED BELLA!”

She crumpled, seeing the faces of her family all turn as one. She hid, covering her face, unable to get the thoughts to stop. Bella, Bella, Bella.

“She’s mine!” Edward screamed, trying to push past Carlisle’s hands. “Mine! Do you hear me? Stop thinking about her! Stop it! She’s mine!”

She couldn’t stop it, the power of their bond still flowing out of her and all of her jealousy and anger at the situation wrapped around her. 

“She’s mine! She’s mine!” He screamed it at her, his voice too high, fighting to get away from their best fighter. The words beat at her like a club. She wasn’t. She wasn’t his. She wasn’t!

She slowly stood, her back straightened, her shoulders squared. Her chin rose in defiance, her hands clenched into fists by her sides. She stood tall, strong, and sure. “NO,” she shouted, the truth, so long denied exploding though her, at once turning to acceptance and belief. “NO, SHE’S MINE!” Relief, instant, hot, and strong washed through her, at the same time a cable knit together, something solidifying in her. A tether appeared between herself and the broken girl on the floor, cementing them. She dropped back to her knees under the weight of the sudden feeling of connection, breathing out a gasp that was also a sigh.

With a roar, Edward broke free, his fangs coming for her throat.

Chapter Text

 

Rosalie shifted from one foot to the other, her eyes glued to the bed. 

When she had finally been allowed in Bella’s room the broken girl had already fallen into a drugged sleep. At the time the rhythmic beeping of the hospital machinery was comforting after hearing Bella’s heart stop back in the ballet studio, but now… The sound of that insistent beep was like a mallet between the eyes, making her flinch.

The sound felt loud in the otherwise silent room, all of the Cullens’ standing still as stone, not talking. 

The tension was thick. Too thick. It probably wasn’t good for Bella, she mused, but the thought didn’t go any further. After all, what could be done about it? She wasn’t leaving, nor was anyone else. 

She clicked her teeth together, crossing her arms tighter under the pressure of the room. In the opposite corner as far from her as he could get, Edward stood, clearly still seething, his face in a permanent snarl of teeth and heavy brows. 

There had been no permanent damage, that much Rosalie had to thank him for. He hadn’t ripped anything off, leaving her with scars. 

The fight had been hard to stop. Edward had attacked with a viciousness that Rosalie was sure she deserved. If Edward had to find out, it did not need to be that way. She had wanted to give him those blows, to take them in silence because he deserved them given that she had kissed his girlfriend. The problem was that the feelings of the previous months, the fury and jealousy had been too hard to ignore. She had fought back like a tigress, all slashing claws, and teeth. 

It hadn’t been until Carlisle had shoved his way between them, his face very close to Edward’s gnashing teeth as he shouted that Bella needed a hospital else die that they had stopped. Then it had nearly picked up again when both had rushed to her side, Rosalie taking one hand, Edward the other, both trying to lift her. Edward had snarled, shoving Rosalie back. The only reason she hadn’t retaliated, her better behaviors hidden under stress, was that Emmett had stepped in and picked her up, cradling her broken body to his chest. Emmett’s throat had bobbled as he swallowed, his eyes going momentarily wild as the blood dripped from her head. Rosalie had braced herself, ready to act, but though she could tell that there were moments when he was close to losing control, he never did. Jasper had been forced to leave, too worried about Bella’s safety, and even Alice had been forced to excuse herself as the blood dripped, but Emmett, her strong amazing man, he had done it. He had held Bella as if she were something precious, and though the way she loved him was changing, she had loved him all the more seeing that.  

Getting Bella a bed had been easy, all Carlisle had to say was that he was a doctor and this was what happened. No one had looked at her twice, no one had seemed to suspect that the story, as far fetched as it had been, was anything other than true. 

They had waited in the waiting room, Rose and Edward snarling at one another until Bella had been cleaned up, given something for the pain, and put in a room. They had all snuck in, all wanting to be there and now they sat in silence. 

At least, in an outward silence. 

Rosalie had become so good at keeping her thoughts hidden, she had been so good at secret keeping. The car had become a legitimate distraction, a math puzzle to ponder. It was a shield she could bring up when Edward was too close. 

Sitting there beside Bella’s bed, her body so broken, looking so small, she couldn’t seem to do it now. She kept trying to push her thoughts to the transmission that needed changing, but they wouldn’t go. Something had changed in her at the studio. Whether she had ever intended to or not, she had accepted what she had been running from at the moment that she had let her thoughts loose and that was it. 

She wanted to be closer. Bella’s hands looked so cold, so lonely. However, every time she shifted to touch her, Edward’s snarl would make her step back. His eyes never left Bella, and yet his snarl was deep and foreboding. 

Overpowering desire kept its grip on her, making her want to squirm. She knew he was hearing every thought, but she wasn’t sure what to do about it now. The cat was out of the bag, for better or for worse. She was mated. Mated. The thought filled her with warmth. That fact had stopped feeling like a curse, she suddenly realized. In one quick moment of acceptance, that had stopped feeling like an invasion.  

Beside Emmett, Jasper looked smug. She glanced at him, wondering what exactly he was feeling from her, and received a wink. It was small, but it calmed her a little. She wasn’t alone. The first of the family might be dodging her eye, but at least she had Jasper’s support. He even looked genuinely happy for her.

Beside him, however, Alice’s face was still vague as it sometimes got when she was lost reading a vision. She had looked that way since the ballet studio and it made Rosalie wonder, what all did she see? Esme and Carlisle stood beside Alice, their faces the opposites of one another. Carlisle’s face was neutral, his eyebrows slightly drawn as he looked at nothing. Bedside manner had always made him a good bluffer. Esme, however, was rarely hidden with her emotions. Her face was twisted as if trying her hand at a complicated equation. Her eyes drifted back and forth between her beloved first son, Rosalie, and Bella. 

With a sigh, Rosalie looked away. She didn’t want to see the lack of support that she knew would be there. 

In the bed, Bella sighed and both she and Edward’s attention shot back to her. 

Bella had been given very heavy drugs, enough to make her sleep hard. She had been stitched up, given an infusion, and she was doing better. 

But…

She wanted. Rose wanted so much. 

Her hands ached to reach out and touch her. Her eyes traveled over her face, over the bruising and the cuts. What would happen now? Had the family understood what had happened? She supposed someone probably clued the few unaware ones in. After all, Emmett and Jasper knew because of her, Alice knew, it only left their parents. 

Would Bella want her now? 

What would she do if Bella didn’t? 

There was a chance that Bella would though. Bella had kissed her back. Bella had really kissed her back. That had to mean there was a—

“Shut up!” 

Edward’s sudden bark was loud enough to make all of the Cullens hiss. In bed, Bella twitched and moaned.

She debated arguing, pointing out that she hadn’t spoken but what was the point? No one thought he had been referring to anything other than her thoughts. 

Bella shifted and sighed again. They all watched intensely, not moving, not blinking, not breathing. Nothing was as intense as a room full of nervous vampires. 

The sigh Bella let out this time was softer, warmer. Across the room Edward shifted forward, his face breaking its hard mask. His eyes softened, his mouth turning into a small smile. 

Her teeth ground, looking away from him. 

They all knew what the creepy fuck was waiting for. It was one of his favorite topics to ramble about. He had been open with them about the fact that he watched her sleep, in the beginning without her permission, and now, openly. They all knew. They had also heard more than once about the words she often mumbled. She knew what he was waiting for. It was his proof. She could feel his glee as if to say that it didn’t matter if she and Bella were mated because it was he that she spoke of in her sleep. 

Her arms crossed tight, staring intently at the floor. The problem was, she couldn’t argue with that. 

Looking self-satisfied, he gently took Bella’s hand, squeezing lightly. 

The growl that slipped out of her was feline and harsh, and completely involuntary. 

Esme’s hand closed on her arm as Rosalie stepped forward, a silent and for once soft matriarchal command and the sound cut off. 

Bella shifted again, her face serene. Despite all of the bruises and the pain she might well still be in, Bella smiled a little in her sleep.  

Rosalie looked away, turning to face the wall. It hurt. God, it hurt. 

How could they be fine with him touching her? Didn’t they understand? Did they think that she had kissed Bella because she was just a bitch? Did they think she had kissed Bella simply for fun? Didn’t they understand that the feelings had been so strong that for just a moment, she hadn’t been able to stop herself? 

She turned again, her cold mask in place and took a step forward, wanting to throw his hand off of her. Esme’s hand tightened irritating her. 

Edward gave a low threatening growl, his eyes ripping away from Bella for only the briefest of moments to level her with a glare. “It doesn’t matter.” Edward’s voice was low, soft enough that it wouldn’t wake Bella, but clear as day for the rest of them. “She’s my mate.” He ground out. “Mine. I don’t care what you think you feel. You’re wrong. She’s mine.” 

Beside her, Esme looked between them again, something new on her face. Understanding. So no one had filled them in then. 

Rosalie glared at him, glared as he looked back at Bella and his face broke open. His lips pulled back, a dry sob ripping out of his throat as his thumb stroked her hand. “I love her.” 

Rosalie winced, squeezing her eyes closed to avoid the sight. Her chest ached. There was so much pain in this situation. She didn’t want to do this to him. She didn’t want to take what he wanted for himself. She loved him. Even through their always tense relationship, even through all of their fights, and her jealousy, she loved her brother. She loved all of her family, even if they didn’t seem to know it.

She didn’t choose this. 

Edward’s bleak eyes looked into her, hearing her thoughts. “Then choose to do nothing. If you love me, then leave. Don’t do this. Go and don’t come back.” 

“Edward!” Esme hissed. 

Rosalie stared at him, aghast. 

“Very nice,” Emmett groused, his crossed arms flexing menacingly in his barely hidden anger. 

Edward didn’t look sorry, just looked at his brother with a blank face.

“Asshole,” Emmett mumbled under his breath. 

Rosalie felt like she had been struck dumb. Is that really what he thought? Had he really just asked her to leave not only her mate but her life, her family? The hurt that pierced her was sharp and white-hot. She felt like she had just been thrown over. She felt… the hurt crystallized into anger.  

In the bed, Bella’s head twisting a little on the pillow and she sighed a garbled sound. 

Rosalie’s eyes closed again, braced, trying to hide from the pain that was coming. 

Edward shifted a little closer, bringing Bella’s hand up to his lips. “I’m here,” he whispered into it.

The sigh was gentle, light, happy as Bella finally spoke. She said the name like a caress, like a beautiful treasure that Bella held deep and safe. She said it, and then with a small smile on her face, she stilled, slipping even deeper into sleep. 

Rose.” 

The room had already felt like a wax museum, already felt as though the tension could not continue to grow, and yet, in that moment it skyrocketed. 

All eyes were on Bella, all woo wide. 

Edward hadn’t moved, Bella’s fingers still against his lips. 

Suddenly, making Rosalie yip in surprise, Emmett turned to her, his face alight. “All right, babe! Up top!” He cried, his hand raised and waiting for the high five. 

She looked at him, a bubble of girlish giddy rising. She let out a small giggle. 

There was a rumble of a growl. Edward flung Bella’s hand from him, making Rosalie hiss as it landed twisted. He glared at her as if she had suddenly transfigured into a maggot. And then he was gone. One moment he was there, the next simply not. 

Rosalie stared at Bella, elated. 

Her name. 

She had said her name! What did that mean? It meant something, she knew it did. She had said her name, and she had said it with such tenderness. 

Esme’s hands were on her again, stopping her. 

She turned, confused. But it was her name? Edward had left. Bella had said her name. Why couldn’t she go to her now? 

“Rose!” Esme hissed urgently, pulling on her arm. “We have to go.”

“What?” Rosalie looked at her face, confused by the alarm on it. She listened and understood. From the floor below, they all could hear Charlie’s voice asking what room she was in. “Rose, we have to go.” 

“But why?” she asked, not understanding. Charlie knew they were there, right? What story had they told him? 

“Rose. Let’s. Go.” Esme pulled on her arm, the footsteps heavy on the stairs making it so easy to track where he was. “He shouldn’t find us here.” 

She looked back to the bed, unwilling to leave Bella by herself. “I should stay.”

“Go. I’ll stay.” Carlisle nodded at her. “The story we told them didn’t include everyone.” 

She nodded back, her eyes longingly shifting to Bella’s face. Reassured, she turned with her mother and fled with the rest of the Cullens. 

 


 

There had been absolutely no room for Rosalie at Bella’s bedside once she had woken up, none at all. She had spent that first day in their hotel, waiting for… something, she hadn’t been sure what. But whatever it had been, it had never come. 

There had been plenty of room at Bella’s bedside for Edward, the boyfriend, and even Alice, the best friend. But no room for Rose, the unacknowledged bitch mate who only brought misery with her. 

It had taken Rosalie a full day to realize that she was waiting for a summons, for permission to go see her. It took her only hours to realize she was waiting for something that wouldn’t come and so, despite not wanting to and with fervent promises from Carlisle that Bella was on the mend, she rented a car and started the drive back to Forks. She had taken the drive slowly, only bringing Emmett with her, and the ride had been mostly silent. 

They had driven together, Emmett’s hand on her thigh, and they both had been lost in their own worlds. 

That had been three days ago now and nothing had changed, nothing except Rosalie’s mental state. 

She was a mess again. Had she ever stopped being a mess since this whole thing began? She wasn’t sure she had. At first, she had been angry, her go-to response to the pain that her exclusion had caused. Then it had fallen into worry, and then worst of all, a bleak, grey depression. She had stayed in her room, in no mood to interact with anyone. There had been no reason to leave. Carlisle had been kind enough to come up and update her on Bella’s status every few hours, something that she loved about him, and that had been all she needed. 

It didn’t help that the household was on some sort of low-level red alert. She was a pariah, that much was clear, and yet the tension was enough to make even the most placid member of their coven snappy. Emmett had told her that the family members with extra gifts had been at an exceptionally high-stress level. Alice, he had said, kept having the same vision over and over again, yet won’t share the details. Even Edward, unable to handle her thoughts, kept occasionally yelling at her to shut up from wherever he was in the house since his arrival that morning. Jasper, it seemed, had gone very still and silent, looking strained and overwhelmed. 

So she stayed away, hidden behind her bedroom door. 

It wasn’t the first time she felt this way, she often did. What was different was that for the first time, though she stayed to her room, she wanted the company, she wanted her family near her. She soaked in Carlisle’s presence when he came, soothed when he placed a hand on her shoulder. 

She didn’t remember her human mother well. That wasn’t because she struggled to remember her human life, she seemed to remember it better than most of her siblings. She thought it was because her mother had been so distant before Rosalie’s death. She had been raised with a nanny, who hadn’t exactly been maternal but had been her main source of mothering. One thing she did remember, however, was the sense of relief and comfort she had felt as a small girl when her mother had held her, cuddling away her upsets.

She wanted that. She wanted that deeply. She wanted someone to hold her and stroke her head and tell her that though this seemed scary right now, that it would be okay in the end. She wanted someone to convince her of that. 

And she wanted Bella. 

She wanted to see her. She wanted to speak to her. 

She had picked up the phone what felt like a million times to call her, to ask if she was all right, to ask to see her, but each time her courage failed her. 

And so she simply sat in her window seat, unmoving from her spot. 

It was funny, she thought. When Carlisle and Esme had mated, it had been a celebration. They had all been so new to this life, and yet, they had understood that their mating was a huge deal. When Carmen and Eleazer had met, there had been a ball at the Denali house. When Alice and Jasper had joined them, the family had been so proud to have another mated pair. It had been a badge of honor. 

Mated pairs were revered. 

It wasn’t everyone who found their mate. 

There was a theory that having a mate wasn’t a given, that it didn’t happen for everyone. 

But no one was happy for her. No one wanted to celebrate. 

No one wanted to deal with her, as far as she could tell. Hell, her brother had asked her to leave them for the sake of his relationship with Bella and there had been little in the way of protest. So she was surprised when late into the third afternoon, there was a knock at her door and it wasn’t Carlisle. 

Rosalie had been tuned out, trying hard not to listen to the whispered conversations going on all around her and so she hadn’t heard the person approach. 

“Come in, Carlisle.” She turned a little, eager for the next update. They had become somewhat routine since Bella had woken. The next big update, she supposed, would be that Bella had been cleaned up and sent home. She knew it had to be soon. An anonymous donor had gifted the Swan family – and Edward - with three first-class tickets for a flight from Arizona back to Washington, that donor being Rose herself. The tickets, however, were only good through the end of the week. She hadn’t been doing something specifically noble when she bought them, as much as the thought of Bella shoving her broken body into those cramped airline seats had just been too much for her. First-class was much larger. It had pained her to buy the third, and she very nearly didn’t. However, Edward would have just bought a ticket for himself anyway, and she… she just wanted Bella comfortable on the flight, even if that meant she was with Edward. It had already been bad enough to hear that Renee would not be coming back to Forks with them. That news had hurt Rosalie vicariously, remembering Bella hunched over her phone, crying lonely tears for her mom. 

Edward, had, instead shown up long before Bella was out of the hospital.

The door pushed open and to Rosalie’s muted surprise, it was Esme. 

“Oh.” She sat a little straighter, the sense of exhausted foreboding already making her limbs heavy. She had been waiting to see if she would get into trouble for all of this, if someone at the head of the family would scold her. She had been waiting for someone, anyone in the family to come to her and ask her to honor Edward’s request. She supposed here was her answer now. 

She looked at Esme’s strained face with dread. 

She had already decided. If someone asked her to go, then she would. She would leave it up to Emmett to decide if he would join her in exile, but she thought he would. She couldn’t stay where she knew she wasn’t wanted. She couldn’t stay and watch Edward and Bella. She couldn’t stay and be… the person they had asked to leave. 

She had thought that she would go to Alaska for a bit, and then decide what to do next. New York was still a possibility. She thought, perhaps, she might go abroad. She had never been to Scotland, and it seemed beautiful. Maybe she would find an organization she could join to help fight global warming, or getting clean water to those who needed it. All she knew was if she was going to be made to leave the only family she had known since her turning, then she wanted a completely different life. She would want no reminders of what she had left. 

She could wait until one day she felt the bond wither away, broken when Bella died of old age, but she knew she wouldn’t come back then.

She gasped, her hand going to her heart as the thought sent a literal physical pain through it. The world without Bella. The world after Bella. It was a horrible thought.  

Esme cleared her throat and closed the door behind her.  

She glanced at Esme’s face as she settled into the alcove too, her legs resting against Rose’s and then looked away again. She loved this view at this time of day. The sunlight filtered through the trees like liquid gold, swirling and spinning in a way that made her wonder about the existence of fairies. It seemed to dance, shimmering on the river. She breathed, able to smell that light. She could smell the water, so far into the distance, smell the dirt, the trees, the moss. It was beautiful. However, in the clouds she could smell the blank, stifling scent of snow. Bella wouldn’t like that. It was going to snow within the next few days. Rosalie didn’t like the scent of snow. It was too blank, too flavorless and nowadays it smelled too much of pollution. But it was late this year. There had been a dusting once or twice before Christmas, but it usually had hit the town by now. 

She chuckled a little to herself. It seemed fitting then that it would snow soon, adding a layer of empty white over everything. That would fit her mood perfectly. 

“What?” Esme asked in a low voice. 

Rosalie just shook her head. She could feel Esme’s gaze on her, could feel that she was looking at her closely. She didn’t care much. She was startled, however, when Esme’s soft hand slipped around hers, holding it closely. 

“I thought you might want to talk.” 

The scoff was on the tip of her tongue, followed by whatever rude comment she could come up with. It was such a habit, especially with Esme who showed her love for Edward so completely so often. The comment was right there, and then it faded away, smothered by something that felt an awful lot like fear. She didn’t need to alienate herself any more than she already had. So instead, she stayed silent. 

“I don’t know how to handle this, Rosalie,” Esme admitted, her hands squeezing Rose’s ever so slightly. “It’s unprecedented for so many reasons.” 

Rose snarled, her bitterness bubbling over. It wasn’t at Esme, not exactly. She just… she didn’t need to hear it. She knew. She knew more than she ever wanted to. “Do you mean because it’s two women, because it’s me or because Edward thinks he mated with her?”

Esme’s look was stern in response, her hands closing like a vice. “I don’t care that you’re both women, you know that, Rose.” 

She sighed because she did. Vampires had been mating with the same gender just as often as the opposite for as long as mating had existed, so always. Sometimes you got a vampire with more modern viewpoints, one who felt that same-sex mates were somehow less than, but they were the rare freaks of the vampire community. 

“And I want you to be happy, Rose. I don’t love you any less than I love Edward.” When Rose didn’t respond Esme shook their hands, making her look at her.

She did, triggered by the expectant look there. “You openly prefer him, Esme! You never ridicule him. You put him first. You say that we’re all your children, but if that’s true, then I’m the bastard stepchild that you tolerate, and I have been since we met.” 

To her surprise, Esme laughed. The laughter was the last thing that Rosalie wanted to hear. Incensed and hurt, she tried to snatch her hands away, but Esme held them tight.

“What’s so funny?”

“Oh, darling, I’m sorry. I was just thinking that I think it’s more a case of he never makes me. Unlike you.” Her voice was light, teasing and it almost got through the years of hurt around Rosalie’s heart. Almost. “I don’t love you any less, Rose, you just... try me more than Edward does. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love you though, dear.”

She looked down at their hands, feeling her stomach doing carnival tumbles. “I know he’s been alone for a very long time. And I have Emmett. I didn’t ask for this.” 

Esme nodded. “I think that much has been made abundantly clear.” 

They sat in silence for a while, both watching as a deer stepped out of the trees in the far distance and began to sniff the ground. Generally, animals avoided this house. That was either a very stupid deer, Rosalie thought, or it was just far enough for its dull senses to be unaware. 

“Rose.” 

She looked up and into Esme’s strained face. 

“Carlisle and I, we’re not sure what to do here. Usually, mates meeting is a little more cut and dry.” 

She stared at Esme’s sweet face. Here it came. Here came the delicately put, but heavy as hell request. She swallowed, hurt and angry. She opened her mouth but choked on the words and had to try again. “Isn’t it possible he was never her mate?”

Esme’s inhale was slow and long, so long that the room was silent enough for them to hear the sudden slamming of the back door. 

Rosalie winced, watching as Edward leapt from the back porch. The watched him take the river at a run, leaping over it in a single bound and then disappear, running by the deer so fast that it didn’t even startle until long after the danger had passed.

So it’s a stupid deer, Rosalie noted. 

“Well…” Rosalie muttered. She had known that Edward was in the next room over, she had known he could hear her, but in a family such as theirs, it wasn’t always possible to hide conversations like these. 

“Are you sure that’s what you’re feeling, Rose? I mean, how can you really know?”

She glanced at Esme, surprised and saw her look. The question was a test, if Esme’s slightly anxious look said anything. 

The thing was, she didn’t know how to answer. Where was her proof? There was none, except for the fact that it had been exactly like Carlisle had always said. She just had known. 

“I know.” 

Esme’s eyebrows rose and she saw that she had been wrong. Whatever Esme had thought, whether it was simply that Rose had been jealous or something else, Esme hadn’t been sure she believed her. Now, she could see that she did. 

Esme sighed and her shoulders slumped. “I guess I knew that. II would be a lie if I said I didn’t. You’ve been so different lately. You’ve always been angry.” 

Rosalie looked away, her jaw tight. 

“But lately… with Bella, you haven’t been. You’ve seemed happy, Rose, and that means something to us.” 

Rosalie didn’t melt, didn’t look back at her. She knew it was supposed to be a compliment, that it was supposed to be sweet, but it didn’t feel like it. The comment, it felt like a crack. It felt like a hit below the belt. She had always been angry? Well. This was exactly why she had always been angry. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

“And then when Bella was hurt, I saw something different in you.”

Rosalie glanced at her and then away again. 

“This explained a few things, if I’m being honest with you.”

Rosalie didn’t know what to say to that. She knew she had shown more feeling than had been required of someone uninvolved, but what else was she supposed to have done? Because she didn’t know, she asked a different question. “Do you think it’s true what Carlisle always says? That a person… a vampire only has one mate?” 

“Rose, you are a person.” 

Rosalie’s eyes rolled, as Esme reached out and pushed some of her long blonde hair out of her face. 

“And you’ll never get me to say otherwise. You have to stop hating what you are so much.”

Rosalie glared. This wasn’t the first time they had this conversation. In fact, they had gone through it so many times that she knew it by heart. Only this time she didn’t want to ask the question that always followed, she didn’t want to ask why Esme wouldn’t have preferred death. It was a question she never felt like she got the proper answer to. Esme had always just insisted that the pain of losing her child had been somehow soothed when she had met Carlisle. It had always felt ridiculous when Esme had promised that she had felt different after meeting him, that life had suddenly felt full of possibility instead of suddenly feeling like the end. It had always felt like a passive woman, being unwilling to admit that her choice, her voice had been taken away from her. 

Now, to Rosalie’s chagrin, it didn’t seem as stupid. Now she thought she understood. The pain of her child’s death was still there in Esme, but there was more now. 

“To answer your question…” 

Rose’s eyes shot to her, alarmed by the sudden hesitance. 

“I don’t know.”

Rosalie snorted at the answer.  

“The Volturi always taught Carlisle that it was so. Sometimes vampires mate in groups of three or four, but I think that means they all mate with one another as a trio or a quartet, not individually. I think that’s how it is with Alexi, Elizabeth, and Jamie. They are a pair… the three of them. You and Edward never—”

“No.” Her voice was short. This was not a multiple love situation. This was not meant to be she, Bella, and Edward all in love. This was supposed to be she and Bella. Period. 

“Right. No, I suspected. No, I knew.” Esme sighed. “I don’t know, Rose. We were all lucky. Carlisle found a mate in me, Alice in Jasper…”

“I understand.” She was saying no. She didn’t know for sure, but the thing about the Volturi was that they had been around for so long that it was hard to dispute their word. Sometimes Rose thought that might be dangerous, but it was hard to argue with them when they were so old that they knew these things because they had centuries beyond centuries of experience. If they hadn’t seen it even once then it wasn’t a possibility. 

She pulled her legs up, hugging them close to her chest, uncomfortable. Only one. She guessed she knew that. But hearing it, even in that roundabout way was hard. “Do you think I should leave Bella alone?” 

Esme was quiet but Rose couldn’t make herself look at her. The entire house had gone quiet as if everyone were waiting to find out, would life change or would it stay the same. 

Just when Rose was beginning to think that Esme had decided not to answer, she finally spoke. 

“I love you all, Rose. You are all my children, all of you, and I love you all.”

Peeved, she glared at her, waiting for something real. 

Esme’s lips pursed, her hand coming up to silence her. “I think… I think Edward might be upset now, but in the long run, he loves you too. He would want you to be happy.” 

“You don’t want me to leave?”

Esme’s lips thinned, pressing together harshly. “No.”

“But Edward—”

“I’m ashamed of Edward for asking you to do that and he has already been given a piece of my mind. If you leave, Rosalie, I will never forgive you. Not if you leave because of this. He’s angry, but given some time, I think he will accept your happiness with his own.” 

Rosalie just stared, surprised. She thought hearing that might make her feel better, but it didn’t. 

Things just weren’t that easy. 

She sighed, her head falling back hard against the wall, making a dull thunk. “It’s just not that simple.”

“What do you mean?” Esme asked, her finger coming up to gently caress Rosalie’s cheek. 

“My choices aren’t good!” she cried. “My choices are to stay with Bella until she dies or to not be with her at all.”

Esme’s hand faltered and below she heard a scoff that could only come from Jasper. “But surely there’s another choice. The right choice.” 

“Thank you, Esme!” 

“Shut up, Jasper!” Rosalie growled. 

There was a chuckle below and then silence. 

“Rose, Bella deserves to be one of us now.”

She shook her head, genuine sadness coating her voice as she spoke. “I want to. I want to turn her more than I ever thought I would want to turn anyone.” And she did. The weird constant longing she felt to fill Bella with her venom, it haunted her, feeling her with longing whenever she thought of it. She cleared her throat, her eyes on Esme, refusing to feel what that thought made her feel. “But if I love her or will love her, then I can’t take her life from her. And I don’t know if I do, but I think it’s clear that I will. Every time I fight this, I lose.” 

Esme’s mouth opened as she leaned in, a question obviously on her mind. She seemed to think better of it and leaned back, only to lean forward again, her eyes slit with thought. “Have – have you told Bella that you’re mates?”

“Bella doesn’t know any of this.” 

“Oh, Rose.” Esme sighed. “No, Rose, she deserves to know. She deserves a say. This affects her too.” 

Rose’s hands pushed through her hair, groaning. She understood that. She had since Jasper had said it. She knew she should get up right then and go to Bella and explain, but she couldn’t. It was just not that simple. Bella had been so angry after Rose had kissed her, had been angry for the sake of her relationship with Edward. Bella had said her name in her sleep, but she hadn’t heard from Bella, hadn’t seen her.

She glared out at the setting sun. 

It was where the anger had come from, she had realized over the last few days of soul searching. She had been angry with Bella the day they played baseball, perhaps even before that, for thinking that she was in love with Edward because she couldn’t be, right? Wasn’t that the point? After meeting your mate, you couldn’t love anyone else. It just didn’t work. A friend of Rosalie’s in Rochester, Loren, he had decided to separate with his mate, Liam when Loren had decided to try the vegetarian lifestyle. He had tried to love other men, and it wasn’t until he was back in Liam’s arms that he had felt anything at all. So why was Bella so able to think she loved Edward? How was it that she could think he was a better partner to her and for her than she would be? She would love her like Bella never had been loved, nor ever would be. 

She was mad at Bella for not wanting her, for not letting them be happy.

Of course, that wasn’t rational, and she could accept that fact. It didn’t change the feelings though. What she did know what that the anger she had felt meant little more than nothing on this side of Bella’s near-death experience. 

There was a soft knock on the door, distracting both of them. 

Carlisle poked his face in, apologetic. 

Rose sat up straighter, her hand closing on Esme’s again. 

“She’s all right,” Carlisle promised, seeing that. 

Rose nodded but didn’t let go. 

“I just got an update. She’s on a plane on her way back as of this morning.” 

She sat up straighter. So Bella was probably either on her way from Port Angeles or even home already. She was back. An ache in her soul soothed. She supposed that made sense. 

“That’s right.” Carlisle smiled at her and then gave his mate a quick wink before disappearing. 

Esme sighed, almost giggling a little at the quick affection from her mate. 

Rose chuckled, shaking her head. 

“He is rather cute,” Esme admitted, her face bashful even if it couldn’t actively blush. 

“I want that.”

Esme sighed, a slight look of frustration crossing her face. ‘You can. You have it. You just need to take it.” 

“She’s too young, Esme. She’s too young to know what it really means to lose her life.” 

“She’s not losing her life, Rose. She’s just gaining a new one.” 

That wasn’t true and she was sure that Esme knew it. This new life had so many limitations, so many limitations that Bella might not understand yet. “She’s too young.” 

“I don’t think it’s fair for you to decide her future for her, Rosie.” 

But Rosalie just looked away. She didn’t want to hear this. She didn’t want to think about it. 

Eventually, Esme sighed and squeezed her hands. With a kiss to her temple, Esme departed, leaving Rose staring out the window. 

Chapter Text

This all was so confusing. Rosalie had barely been allowed to process all that Esme had said before Jasper had knocked, his eyebrow cocked, his face knowing. 

For the second time, he had said the thing that she couldn’t rectify. If they were mates then that meant that they were predestined. There was no other way to explain Rosalie’s mate being born so much later. She was supposed to become a vampire. It was her fate. Just like Bella was her fate. Which meant that Bella’s fate was to become one of them. 

It was a more succinct version of the words that had addled her mind before. Still, she thought it wasn’t that simple. Bella might want more, a different life. Bella might want motherhood, kids, a minivan, a husband or wife who could grow old with her. And Edward. She wanted Edward. Even if Bella hadn’t been clear in her preference, how could she just do that to Edward? How could she reach into his life and pluck the one thing he cared about away from him? 

If Bella could be won so easily then maybe she wasn’t so in love with him, her mind insisted, but that wasn’t enough. 

She sighed, resting her face against the glass. 

She didn’t move from her spot, her mind spinning in and out, trying to fit the pieces together. The thing was... how was it possible to be predestined for someone born so much later than her? Was he right? Did it mean she was always meant to become a vampire? Answering that would mean she couldn’t hold on to the anger she had always felt, but worse, if it was predestined, then what did that mean for Bella’s future? Jasper and Esme sure had their own opinions.

Yet again she pushed the thought away. 

She couldn’t… she wouldn’t. 

The sun set, the stars slowly coming out, and Rose watched the forest transition from day to night. 

What was she supposed to do? What was the right thing? She didn’t know, but she was sure taking Bella’s life, for whatever reason, was not it. So then what? Leave her with Edward? 

The night wore on and Rosalie’s thoughts continued to spin. Her family talked about this situation as though it were simple. They all even seemed confused by her confusion. What were they seeing that she wasn’t?

Edward returned somewhere around midnight, surprising Rosalie. She had expected he would be off in his pout until sunup at the latest. Wasn’t Bella back in town? Shouldn’t he be standing over her bed watching her sleep like Dracula over Mina Harker? His stroll back to the house had been casual, his hands in his pockets as he walked. He had stopped just below her window and even in the stillness of the night, she could see him perfectly. He had stood there for long moments, his face blank, only his eyes upturned and his message had been very clear: keep your thoughts to yourself. She had held his gaze for a long time, unmoving, and then looked back out over the trees. She couldn’t make any promises. 

Below her, Emmett and Jasper raced out, laughing together, probably to satisfy some bet that they had just come up with. They stopped to greet Edward before starting toward the distant mountains. 

She watched Emmett’s large shape move with a grace most dancers would envy and her thoughts turned. 

She had always hated being a vampire. She hadn’t given her consent. Coming out of her pain-filled haze and beginning to slowly understand that what these people were saying to her hadn’t been a joke had been something like being raped all over again. Everything she had ever wanted had been taken from her. Yes, over the years she had learned to love what she had, and that was a lot. She had known far more love as a vampire than she had ever had or felt as a human. She was grateful for that. She had told herself when she finally truly understood the truth of her life that she would not turn anyone ever, nor would she participate in anyone else’s turning. She would not be a part of this. She would not hold someone’s hand for days while they felt that pain. She would not make them the promises that Carlisle had made her of life and happiness. She had told herself that she was better than Carlisle. She had told herself that she would not steal from someone the way he had stolen from her, even if all he had stolen was a simple and fair death.

And then she had. 

As impossible as she had thought it would be, she had done exactly that. She hadn’t let Emmett’s life come to an end, which would have been the right thing to do. She hadn’t let his life come to an end even though that was something she had longed for in her own life. She had seen Emmett there on the floor, bleeding and dying, and she had wanted him, and so she had taken him. It had been pure selfishness. 

She had never regretted that choice, but more importantly, Emmett had never regretted the choice. He loved being a vampire, that much had been clear from the moment he had felt the power in his body. 

She doubted she would be that lucky again. Even if she was, could she be so selfish again? Worse, could she take a healthy, happy, human life, one not near death? Could she steal from Bella what she had resented was stolen from her? How? How could she live with herself? 

“SHUT THE HELL UP, ROSALIE! THAT’S NOT HAPPENING!” Edward’s voice roared from the next room, and she had been so lost in thought that she hadn’t been prepared for it. She jumped, her nose banging into the glass.

Prick. The fucking prick. Back when Bella was supposedly his mate, he insisted that meant that he got to make all the decisions when it came to Bella. Now that they all knew the tables had turned, suddenly she didn’t get the choice? 

It wasn’t that she wanted it. She was sure it would be wrong. But the disgusting double standard of it made her sick. 

She let her head fall back against the glass, scowling as she continued to stew. 

It was early morning when a sound began to rise from the stillness of the night. The guttural, death roar of Bella’s poor old truck was the last thing that Rosalie had expected to hear, and yet the moment she heard its tires turn onto the long drive to the Cullen house, it felt as though Bella’s arrival had been obvious. She didn’t move from her place, but instead, she took a deep breath and forgot to let it out or to take another. 

She’s not here to see you, she reminded herself coldly. It felt as though everything had changed because, for her and the Cullens, it had. Her family knew the secret she had been working so hard to hide for these long months. Edward knew what she had wanted him to remain ignorant of. Everything had changed for her, but as far as Bella knew, nothing had.  

Unmoving, she frowned. The truck always sounded like it was about to rattle apart, but in the early morning silence, it sounded worse. The engine picked up and fell, spluttering as if struggling deeply to continue to move. Rosalie’s lips pressed. She could hear that the engine hadn’t been allowed to warm up. That was bad when it was this cold with a modern car, but her truck which was evidently pieced together with chewing gum and glue needed it all the more. 

Once out front, it wasn’t that the car turned off as much as it died before it had even been put into park. Rosalie listened, unmoving, not breathing, for the moment that Edward would rise and go to her, for the moment that Bella could come inside. 

She had experienced so many scents in the last days that had been new when it came to Bella. Her blood. Her personal scent dirtied by medicines and the hospital. The idea of that scent that wasn’t a scent filling the house, clean again, was something that even though she didn’t want to, she wanted. So she waited. 

Out front, strangled swearing, the likes she hadn’t heard from Bella before, came from the inside of the truck. She smiled a little as she listened to her curse.

“Come on, you piece of shit!” Bella growled. “God damn leg, come on!

Rosalie’s smile dropped from her face. She hadn’t thought about it, but how was Bella even out of bed? So much of her poor fragile body was broken. In fact, how was she even driving with a broken leg? Had she been using that leg to press the gas pedal? That would explain the truck’s revving and dying, but why? Why cause herself so much physical pain?  

Anxious, she slowly stood, moving to the hallway where she could see out the large front window. 

Even in the light of the night like this, she could see that Bella’s usually pale face was different. The bruises hadn’t faded. If anything, they had gotten worse. Under them, however, was a gaunt paleness that made her wonder if it was possible for a human to lose weight that fast. Her skin was almost transparent, the dark circles under her eyes as well as large bags. She was giving something that Rose had to assume was her leg a yank, trying to turn herself enough to get out. As she watched Bella gave a yank which turned into a low and long moan like a wounded animal.  

What was she doing there? She should have been home, resting. 

Her hands closed on the doorframe where she was standing, fighting the longing. Bella was struggling in the driver’s seat, trying to pull herself from the trick by sheer force of will, trying to pull her leg out of the car and around. From the tight pinched look on her face, it hurt her a great deal. 

Rosalie leaned forward onto the tips of her toes, barely holding herself back. She wanted to go to her, wanted to help. She needed her to be out of pain. Where was Edward? 

‘She’s struggling’, her mind shot out to him. ‘I think she might —’ with a mental yelp, she was at the front door as Bella nearly tipped backward, tears beginning to roll down her face. 

Still, Edward didn’t appear. 

‘Edward!’ she cried at him. 

Where was her stupid boyfriend? God damn it, she was so stubborn. She should be safe at home. 

Hand on the doorknob, unwilling to wait any longer, she paused. “Alice?”

It was as if Alice had been waiting too, perhaps looking out her window which overlooked the front. She was there before Rosalie had finished the ‘Al’. 

She paused for a quarter of a second at the door, her hand resting on top of Rosalie’s on the doorknob, her face unreadable. 

“Thank you.” Rosalie breathed, her hand squeezing her sister’s arm before she disappeared, back up to the landing. 

She watched as Alice flew out of the house, her voice shrill and yelling at Bella much like she would have been if she had been the one to rescue her from her car. 

Envy and desire curled around her as Alice gently reached in and lifted Bella out. Bella didn’t seem to mind Alice’s help at all. Would it have been the same if it were her? Somehow she didn’t think so. She waited, making sure it was clear that Alice was being as gentle as she could be before she went back to her bedroom.

She sat back at the window seat, this time her back to the glass, watching her bedroom door. She knew it wouldn’t open. She knew it very well but she wished so deeply that it would. She could smell her as Alice approached, could smell that she still smelled like the hospital. But at the same time, the night dew had handed on her, making her smell as she had that night at the cliffside. 

She turned her face away from the door, trying to bury the longing. 

She wanted… oh, she wanted…

“Edward?” Alice’s voice was light as she knocked on his door. 

This was all so strange. Where was he? Shouldn’t he have been the first one there to help his love, his supposed mate? She listened but no sound came from the room beside hers. 

After a long second, Edward’s door opened and Rose held her breath again. Maybe it was time to take a page from Edward’s book. Slam her door. Go running into the forest to find something to brutally hunt. Tear apart a tree. Disappear in a cloud of teenage petulance. She didn’t want to hear this happy reunion with Bella. She didn’t want to hear how happy Bella would sound to see him.  

But Bella didn’t sound happy to see him. Rosalie listened in alarm, surprised not to hear the soft happy tone she had become accustomed to between them.

“Edward!” Bella started talking before she was even fully through the door. “Edward, where have you been. Are you okay?”

The door to Edward’s room closed, doing nothing to muffle Bella’s voice. 

“What do you mean?” Edward’s voice was detached, making Rosalie frown. 

Hesitant and confused when she answered. “You weren’t there. You left the hospital and you weren’t in Port Angeles when we arrived or at my house tonight. You disappeared. What happened? Did Charlie or Renee send you away?”

“No. They didn’t.” 

Was he fucking serious? She had dragged her broken body all the way to their house because Edward hadn’t been there to help take care of her. Where the fuck had he been? She had assumed when Edward had shown back up at the Cullen house before Bella had left the hospital that one of her parents had asked him to leave. She had been surprised, even disappointed in him. She knew that even if she had been kicked out, she wouldn’t have left. But at least she had understood it. If they hadn’t then why hadn’t he been there for her? 

She swallowed thickly, her anger sharp. 

Why hadn’t he been there?

If she couldn’t be there then at the very least he could be there. 

There was shuffling from the next room, Bella unsteady on her crutches. 

“I guess you never said you were coming,” Bella admitted, the embarrassment in her voice obvious. “I thought… I called Alice.”

“And what did Alice tell you?”

“Can I… Can I sit down?” 

Rosalie’s hands closed into fists. He was behaving all wrong!

“She told me… well, she didn’t want to tell me anything,” Bella admitted. 

“And?”

And?” Bella gasped, taken aback. 

“Yes, and?”

Rosalie could almost see Bella’s face, open, shocked by Edward’s chill. 

“She… she told me…”

“That you have feelings for my sister, maybe?”

What? No! She told me that Ro – err – your sister has feelings for me, that you know, I mean.”

“Meaning you have already known.”

Bella made a choked sound.

“How long have you known?” 

“Not long, Edward, I promise.”

“You said her name in your sleep. Did Alice tell you that?”

“Yes.” Her voice shook as she answered, sounding so resigned, so afraid, so tired. 

Rosalie reached for a pillow, holding it to her chest to soothe the vicarious hurt she was feeling, listening intently. What else had Alice told her? Had she told her about the mate bond? Her teeth bit down on the pillow, satisfying some of her stress. She hated this. She hated feeling so vulnerable. It was one of the best things about being so beautiful. It was a shield between herself and anything that could hurt her. It kept people away, intimidated. Now she had this big life secret and she had to rely on others to keep it for her. It wasn’t fair. 

“But Edward, I don’t know why I would!” Bella rushed out. “Maybe it was just a dream. I mean, I dream about you all of the time.”

Edward scoffed. 

“Edward, talk to me.” 

On the floor below and the rooms around them, Rosalie could hear the remaining members of her family gathering things, preparing to leave and give Edward and Bella some privacy. Rosalie didn’t move. She had to wait, she had to find out if Bella knew. She had to know where she stood. 

Her door opened and Esme stepped in. “Come on, Rosie.” 

She shook her head, her eyes on the wall above her mother’s head. 

“It’s not going to help to listen.” 

The growl that popped out of her was entirely involuntary, and yet so heartfelt that Esme stopped, her eyebrows high. 

She had to hear. She had to know. 

Esme stood there, staring at her for a long moment before she nodded and turned to leave. 

“All right.” Edward finally said from the next room. “I’ll talk.”

Esme paused, looking at the wall as though she could see Edward through it. Her eyebrows were drawn, her mouth puckered into disapproval as she started off to meet the others. 

“Bella, I’ve had a lot of time to think since you got hurt. I’m sorry you got hurt. I’m sorry things went how they did, but the time was good, I think.” 

“What? …You mean… you mean you’re glad that I got hurt?” 

“I’ve seen how you respond to Rosalie.”

Bella began to protest but Edward just talked over her. 

“I’ve seen it in her mind and I’ve seen it myself.” He gave a low chuckle that Rosalie hated. “I just never thought…”

“I don’t respond to her in any way, Edward.”

“Do you have feelings for her?”

He sounded like a teenager who had caught their girlfriend holding hands with someone else, sullen, petulant, demanding. 

Rose listened harder, every cell in her body alive, waiting, hoping, terrified. What would she do if Bella said no? What would she do if Bella said yes? She didn’t know which would be scarier. 

She waited but she didn’t hear anything at all. Had Bella responded? 

She tucked her back into the pillow, wanting to smother there. 

Was it possible that the mate bond wasn’t felt by Bella at all? She had assumed that Bella being human meant it would be different, but not at all? Was it possible to have a one-sided bond? 

So many questions. She was so tired of having so many questions. 

“I saw your face after she kissed you!” 

Bella let out a yell of surprise as Edward exploded and Rose was on her feet, ready to rush in. How likely was it would attack in his anger, would lose his constant battle over his desire to drain her dry? Could she pull him off if he was wild on human blood? 

“You don’t look like that after I kiss you, Bella!” he shouted. 

Rosalie stepped to the door, her hand on the knob, waiting for any sign, ready to protect her if it was needed. Bella’s response metaphorically knocked her off of her feet, however. It was so unexpected that she sank back onto her bed, a hand covering her gaping mouth. 

“Maybe if you actually kissed me, Edward, then I would!” Bella’s shout had been equal to Edward’s and just as filled with anger and resentment. “You say you love me, but do you desire me? …No, I’m serious! I’m actually asking! Do you? Because you don’t kiss me like you do!”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he grunted out and Rosalie could almost see his eye roll. “That’s for your protection.” 

Rosalie couldn’t help but notice that Edward had avoided her question. 

“Rose didn’t seem to have a hard time kissing me. Why do you?”

Silence. There was nothing but silence from the room beside hers. 

Rosalie frowned, listening harder but still Edward didn’t respond. 

“Was everything with James for my protection too?” 

Rosalie looked away, not wanting to hear this. She could leave now. What she had needed to know was if Alice or anyone else had told her anything more about her, she needed to know what Bella thought, felt, but this wasn’t anything about that. 

“What?” Edward laughed. “Of course, what do you mean?” 

“Don’t laugh at me, Edward!” 

“I can’t help it when you’re like this.”

“Guuuuuh!” Bella cried in anger. “You were horrible when he was coming after me.”

The silence felt static, Edward’s anger and confusion charging the entire house. 

“Wh… what…?” The laughter in his voice, that Rosalie found so condescending, began to fade. “I don’t understand what that could mean. I was protecting you.” 

“You were so dismissive! Edward, I was scared! Six months ago I didn’t even know vampires existed and then suddenly I’m surrounded by them and one is after me intent on killing me? You didn’t even bother to explain what was happening to me! You were just barking orders at Emmett and Alice in some kind of shorthand and leaving me totally out of it. You were just treating me like a stupid human!”

“Bella, that’s—”

“You didn’t listen to a single thing I had to say! You didn’t care what I wanted! You didn’t care about my dad! Or my mom! I was so scared and I needed a boyfriend who cared about me but you made me feel more helpless than—”

“You are helpless! Look at what’s happening now with Rose!” 

“At least she doesn’t treat me like a child, Edward!” 

Then she’s not taking care of you properly!”

Angry, Bella let out another howl, sounding very much like the vampire threats she had grown used to hearing. “Are – you - kidding – me?” She cried through her teeth. “What is wrong with you?” 

Anger coursing through Rose, it was hard not to step in. Had he honestly just told Bella she needed to be treated like a child? Did he really think that? The fucking chauvinist! Of course he did. She had seen it. She had seen it over and over again and Bella had let him. Good for her that she wasn’t fucking doing it now! Her mind ranted, releasing the anger that she could barely hold back. 

“Look.” Edward cut over Bella’s angry ranting, stopping her words in their tracks. 

Bella’s mouth shut with an audible clamp of her teeth. 

“Look. This isn’t helping anything.” 

“Edwa—”

Bella! Can you just listen to me and mind me for once?” 

Again the stale angry silence. This time it went on for so long that Rosalie began to wonder if she had soundlessly killed him. She wasn’t sure she would have blamed her. Even when she was still human and a woman ‘minding’ her husband was the way it was, she still had never had a man say it so openly. 

“Look, Bella, you just need to figure out what you want. You don’t get to have us both.”

There was a shifting, a small clatter that Rosalie couldn’t place. 

A sob floated from the next room. “Edward, wait…” 

Silence. 

Rosalie stood. Edward had left. That was the sound. 

Sure enough, half a second later she turned to see him moving quickly into the forest. He had left her there. He had left her there in his bedroom in the middle of the night. Mid conversation. Unable to get back into her truck on her own. He had just left her there! 

Again she was halfway there, her hand on Edward’s door before she paused. 

Bella didn’t want to see her, not after that. She hadn’t been sure before, but now she was sure. 

She turned and headed outside. A quick breath for directions and she started into the forest toward the scent. 

Half a mile into the trees, Emmett, Jasper, and Alice all sat on tree stumps, waiting silently. 

“He left her.” 

“What?” Alice asked, leaping to her feet. 

“All right!” Emmett crowed.

“Not like that.” It was a mark of her upset that she didn’t laugh or snap at him. Her skin hurt. She wanted to badly to go to her. She could still hear the gasping sobs echoing around her head. “Edward left Bella there after their talk. He went out into the forest.”

“He didn’t help her home?” Alice asked, her face saying she didn’t fully believe her. 

“No! Will you come? She shouldn’t be alone.” She paused, twitched. “Please? Will you come help her, please?”

Alice nodded once and the two started back to the house. 

They walked in silence, not entirely comfortably until they reached the pack porch. 

“Hey.” She stopped Alice with a hand just before they entered. “Don’t tell her I sent you.” 

Alice stopped her face filled with disbelief. “Are you serious? Rose—”

“Just,” she cried, a hand up, “don’t.”

Alice’s lips pressed into a thin line. 

With a nod, Rose turned, ready to scale the wall if she needed, or maybe to head out to the car bay, but Alice’s hand on her arm stopped her. 

“You know, you’re worthy of someone like Bella.” The words came out more like an accusation. 

Her anger came up to meet them in a colossal fury. What the hell? 

“You just need to let her see that.” 

She didn’t answer, didn’t pull away like she wanted to. As quickly as it had come, the anger faded into the same depression she had been living in. 

She didn’t know if that was true or not, wasn’t sure if it mattered. 

“Just get her home safely, okay?”

She turned and went to meet Emmett in the woods.  

Chapter Text

Overall, the only one in the family that Rosalie had an actively contentious relationship with had been Edward. Sometimes the fact that Jasper could feel all of their feelings was a little creepy, and Alice could be a little annoying, but for the most part, she was her sister. And much like a sister, Rosalie had spent the last twenty-four hours in the woods, angry and trying to stop the words she had said from swimming around and around in her head. 

Alice and Jasper! They were like a curse. They both were far too able to get into her head. 

She didn’t want to admit that her words had bothered her as deeply as they had, but it was the truth. She had thought about them as she had taken down a cougar. She had thought of them as she cleaned up in a semi-frozen river. Once clean, she had sat by the little river, watching the sluggish water move in the center, listening to a light snowfall all around her, letting it cover her as she thought. 

She didn’t think she didn’t deserve Bella. She just...

She had mated with a woman who was dating her brother. She wasn’t going to take Bella’s life. She was doing her best to give her space since she had gone all crazy vampire on James and ripped him apart with her bare teeth. She might have been a horrible person once, and perhaps many people would say she still was a horrible person, but she didn’t think that she didn’t deserve her... exactly. 

She hadn’t meant to stay out for a full twenty-four hours and she hadn’t meant to do it so recklessly. She was usually an efficient and clean hunter, but this trip she had picked more than one fight before going in for the kill. That was usually more Emmett’s style. He liked to win his food. Her clothing was ripped as she stepped back into the Cullen house, her hair tangled. She smelled strongly of wild game, perhaps from the wrestling, and of dirt and mud. 

The house was silent as she walked in, her ripped coat in her hand, her eyebrows high. It was too silent. There was no talk between couples, no TV, or music, or video games, but she could feel that they were all there. It was eerie. She crossed to the living room, her senses on red alert. 

Esme sat on the couch, her face drawn, Alice beside her, and Emmett leaning against the far wall, scratching thoughtfully at his chin. 

She looked between them, waiting to be told the bad news. “What happened?” she demanded. Then it occurred to her. Nothing could happen to them. So — “Bella? Did something happen to—” 

“Nah, babe.” Emmett shook his head. “She’s okay.” 

“Are you sure?”

He nodded, the stress not leaving his face. 

She waited, but no one offered an explanation. “So?”

“Edward has left.” 

“What?” Rosalie bit at Esme, shifting a little and making the mud on her feet squelch between her toes. She wasn’t at all one for being bare feet out in the woods. That was dirty. She had never been able to stand the people in Northern California who had walked around the streets with nothing on their feet during the 1960s. Somewhere during the night, she had lost her Jordaan Loafers when chasing after a Lynx. A fact that was horrible as they were Gucci, but going back she hadn’t been able to find them under the rapidly growing denser snow. She glanced down, a little guilty. 

“Edward’s gone back to Alaska.” 

“You’re kidding me,” she snorted. “For how long this time?”

Esme’s shoulders rose and fell, dabbing at her eyes as if she had been crying. “Indefinitely. I don’t think he’s coming back.” 

All right, perhaps she wasn’t a better person than she had been. Hearing that she glanced between all of them, her spirits rising. 

Alice looked up at her expectantly, waiting for some sign of upset to match the rest of the family but she couldn’t even fake it. Of course, he had taken off, the giant man-child.

“What about Bella?”

Emmett glanced at her, a look on his face that she didn’t see often. He looked nervous. 

“What about Bella?”

He shook his head. “She came by last night looking for him. I don’t think he told her.”

She stared. He hadn’t told her that he had left?!

“Don’t worry, I told her.” Emmett sighed, grating his fingers over his face and across his scalp. 

She tried hard not to feel hopeful. Had Edward just taken a step back? Had he taken himself out of the race? She wasn’t sure there was a race, but if there was, had he forfeit? 

“Rosalie Hale, you are dripping mud all over my clean floors.” 

Rosalie jumped, swallowing thickly. “Sorry, let me shower and... err, then I’ll… clean… that up.” Her words began to slow as she stared at Esme, confused by the warm half-smile on her face. It was the kind of smile that she gave Edward when he got up to some type of shenanigan, and not one that Rosalie was ever on the receiving end of. 

Frowning slightly, she disappeared up the stairs, droplets of muddy water falling as she went and making her swear. 

It pissed her off that Edward kept hurting Esme like that. No matter what Esme claimed, it was clear that one of her children taking off for an extended time did hurt her. He had left so many times over this year, each time breaking her heart. 

She used to think that at the bottom of everything, Edward loved his family, Esme especially. Why was he okay with causing her pain?

She huffed, flipping the water to straight hot and stepping in. Then again, this was the guy who had just left the girl he had been dating without a word.

She shook out her head, pulling a few leaves and twigs from her hair. Ugh, she reeked.  

She had been seeing Edward in a whole new light as of late. Was it that he had always been this way or was it that meeting Bella had changed him? 

 


 

Showered and mud cleaned up, Rosalie found herself a little restless that night. Her family’s eyes followed her as she floated through the house, somewhat bored. She could feel that they had questions, but they were probably the same questions that she had. What did this mean? Would Bella want her now? Would she make a move? Should she make a move? 

Rosalie didn’t have the answer to any of them. 

How was she supposed to know? She hadn’t even seen Bella. She hadn’t spoken to her. She hadn’t been in her life. 

The thought forced her up off of her bed where she had been sitting, to slowly pace around the room. 

If she could just see her. 

But she couldn’t... right? 

She sat down at her computer for a while, reading through medical journals. It had been a while, and there were plenty of them to keep up with. After a few articles and some light notes on what she wanted to discuss with Carlisle, she put a CD in the player and settled onto her bed. She looked up at the ceiling, comfortable on the soft mattress, and listened. This was something she liked to do. She enjoyed getting lost in the twist of voices, in the way the instruments blended like a painting. Tonight, however, her thoughts just drifted away, back to the place they seemed to live. 

But how did she know that she couldn’t see her? Her mind kept asking the question over and over. She had just assumed, but Bella had never said. What if Bella was waiting for her to show up? What if Bella felt like she had disappeared? 

When she still hadn’t settled in three songs later, she rose and went to the small room off of her bedroom with her movie collection. Her fingers traced the cases, ticking through and trying to find something, but the thought of sitting alone in the dark didn’t sound appealing either. 

Would she ever have a chance to get Bella into this room? This was her special space, specifically hers. It was the only space like it. Even the car bay could be used by the others and was sometimes used when Jasper worked on bikes. 

Her fingers traced a movie she had always loved, and she let out a small laugh. Fried Green Tomatoes was a more recent movie, one that Rosalie loved to cry though. Emmett had never understood her love for it. She had always been taken with the relationship of the main characters, amazed by and envious of their friendship. She hadn’t been sure what to think when Edward had given her the book, a teasing twinkle in her eye, and she had discovered that the main characters weren’t friends at all, but lovers. In fact, her eyes drifted over the shelves to several other titles. She had always had a secret passion for movies about women who loved other women, finding the stories to be specifically beautiful. Now she supposed she knew why. 

That thought on her mind, she headed down the stairs to find Emmett and share in her amusing realization. 

“No, bullshit, that’s not a checkmate!” Emmett cried as Jasper took one of his pieces. 

“It is. Look up the rules.” 

“Bullshit,” Emmett grumbled, his face set, already back into the game. 

She settled lightly on the arm of his chair and Emmett wrapped an arm around her waist out of habit. His hand went out to move a rook and she made a noise. 

“Don’t move it there, he’ll get you in three moves.” 

“Oh, uh, thanks, babe.” 

“No, not that one either.” 

“Uh...”

“Yeah, that – eeep!” Rosalie let out a cry when Emmett got up and carried her from the room. “Wait, wait, wait, I realized this really funny thing!” 

Emmet put her down gently, kissed her forehead and then turned around to continue his game. 

She smirked, taking the not at all subtle hint and headed out to the car bay. She hadn’t worked on the car since before Bella’s accident. 

However, the moment she got out there she realized she didn’t want to get dirty again. 

Nothing sounded amusing. She didn’t want to do anything, and she knew exactly why. It was because there was one specific thing she wanted to do. She wanted to see Bella. She wanted to see her badly, so much she couldn’t think straight. She felt raw, on edge. 

She sighed and headed inside. In the library, she picked up a book and curled up in her chair. 

She just wanted to see her. She was sure she was okay, tell her that no one was coming after her anymore. She had spent the entire hunting trip trying to ignore the nonstop drive to head over to the Swan house. She couldn’t even tell herself that it was alright because she would see Bella the next day when school began again. She doubted very highly that Bella, bruised and broken as she was, would be in school. 

Her mind drifted as she stared at nothing. She wanted to do something for her. She wanted to be near her. How long did she need to give her space? Did she need to give her space at all? Would she ever know if she didn’t first talk to her about it? 

She stood, an idea forming. 

It might be weeks before she saw Bella again if she waited for her to be well enough for school. She couldn’t handle weeks, she knew she couldn’t. Bella was hurt. Humans liked comforting things when they were hurt, she remembered that well enough. 

At a casual pace, she turned into the kitchen, grabbing one of the cookbooks set out decoratively to fool any possible human that might enter the Cullen house. It was pointless, Rosalie had always thought. Just as their kitchen was stocked full of cookware, silverware, and cutlery, it was all an act to prove their humanity that no one would ever see. 

“What are you up to?” 

She smiled a little as she looked up to see Esme in the doorway. 

“Let me guess. Thinking of doing something for Bella?”

She chewed her lip. “I don’t know if she wants to see me.” 

“I’m sure she does.”

Rosalie looked at Esme’s face, so sure in her declaration and felt her spirit bolstered. “Do you think so?”

“I do. Are you thinking about cooking her something?”

Nose wrinkled in distaste, she looked back down at the cookbook, flipping to the back to search for what she wanted. “I was thinking about soup.” 

Esme beamed. “I think that would be very nice.” 

Rose nodded a little, scanning through what she would need. 

“Rose.” 

“Hmm?” 

“I’m proud of you for wanting to take care of her.”

Rosalie looked up, surprised. “You are?”

“I am. She’s going to be a very lucky girl.” With a quick kiss to the cheek, Esme turned, leaving Rose to the cookbook.

Feeling inexorably warm inside, Rose grabbed her keys and, cookbook under her arm, she started out. 

 


 

The grocery store was a mess of horror

Rosalie didn’t understand how humans braved places like that daily. It had been disgusting, and crowded.

She had entered unsure of herself, not having gone shopping for food in more years than she could remember. How did humans buy their food there? It had been disgusting. It smelled of long-dead meat and looking at some of the things sold made her understand why humans were generally so unhealthy. Nothing was fresh. She had very seriously considered turning away instead of buying food she would cook for Bella there. She bought everything organic, doing her best to smell the meat for the freshest one there. It had been revolting. 

To top it off, it was as though everyone in the store had known her. She had barely been able to figure out what foods she needed for all of the surprised ‘Oh, Ms. Hale, how is your father’’s. 

She had been very pleased to leave when she had, bags in hand. 

With a grunt that was more for show than real, Rosalie tossed the bags onto the counter, the book still in hand. 

This couldn’t be that hard. Idiots all over the world were able to cook for themselves, she could definitely do this. 

She opened the book to the recipe, using a finger to scan it. “Warm one teaspoon of oil over medium heat in soup pot until simmering. Add the onion, celery, and carrots with a pinch of salt.” She read the recipe as if it were in some exotic language unavailable to her. 

The vegetables were just beginning to simmer when Jasper and Emmett appeared in the doorway, their noses wrinkled against the smell. 

She couldn’t blame them. Food was cooked in that room on occasion since Bella entered their life but often it was followed by the windows being thrown open to clear out the smell. It had been a wonder to Rose before seeing Bella’s obvious pleasure at a smell which was too rich, too thick, to wrong. It hadn’t smelled at all like something one could consume and yet each time Bella had done so with relish. 

“Um, what exactly are you doing, Rose?” Emmett asked, watching with distaste as she began to cut the raw chicken into cubes like the directions stated. “You know that stuff can kill someone, right? I don’t think you’re gonna be able to get Edward to eat it. He’ll notice something is up.”

“Ha, ha.” She grumbled back, though her grumble had a lot less bite than it usually would as she concentrated on forcing herself to touch the raw animal. Suddenly she understood the vegetarian lifestyle so much more. The vegetables, though unappealing, we’re far more appealing than this. “I’m cooking soup for Bella.” She dropped the chicken into the pot, shuddering as it began to sizzle. She turned and beamed up at him.

“Wait, you’re what?” He laughed, clearly not believing her. 

“Esme said she was proud of me.” 

Emmett’s eyebrows rose. “Wow. Err, she said that because of the um... soup?”

“Humans like soup when they’re hurt. I’m making her soup.” She let the other words drop before she said them, ‘so I have a nonthreatening excuse to go see her.’

Though she wasn’t looking directly at him, she saw his expression change from the corner of her eye. His amused grin slipped lopsided and then fell from his face, his eyes darting to the pot as the chicken cooked and back to her. “… For Bella?”

“Yup.” Despite her disgust, she stirred with secret relish, following the directions on exactly how long to allow the meat to cook. She had never done something for Bella before. She had never even admitted that she wanted to do something for Bella. This might come with an ulterior motive, an excuse for a visit, but hopefully if she got there early enough, it would save Bella from hobbling around the kitchen in search of food while Charlie worked, or even while he was watching the game out of town, a hobby Rose had noticed left Bella alone far more than was appropriate. She might be able to help make Bella’s night a little easier. 

Caring for Bella. She sighed. God admitting she had wants felt so much better than shoving them down and choking on them.  

“Uh, babe.” Emmett’s voice was soft as he reached for the spoon, trying to take it from her hand.

She held on, her lips pressed into a thin line. 

“Rose? ...Rosie?”

She didn’t like the softness of his voice. That voice was rarely followed by something like ‘I’m proud of you too’. 

“Babe.” He tried to pull the spoon out of her hand again. She held tight, refusing to look at him, and only managed to snap the wooden spoon in two. 

“Damn it!” 

“Babe. Don’t you think maybe you should give her some space right now?”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s just soup, Emm.”

“Stinky soup.” He grumbled. 

She laughed, dropping a bay leaf into the pot with a happy flourish and filling it with broth. 

It was just soup. After all, they had become friends, or at least they had according to Bella, and she couldn’t take that back now. 

“Babe…”

“She’s hurt.” She said briskly, turning away to chop some more carrots. “This will help.” She pushed him out of the way with gently gruff hands. Emmett let himself be pushed, glancing at Jasper in the doorway, his look not one that Rosalie wanted to see just then. “Oh my god, guys, it’s just soup, not a marriage proposal.” 

He didn’t respond, instead, he and Jasper moved to the kitchen island, both leaning against it and watching her. 

“Did I start my own cooking show?” She snapped at them, some of her usual bitchiness popping to the surface. “What the hell is so interesting?”

“Other than you cooking, you mean?” Emmett quipped.  

“We’re just curious how you’re going to make this, is all,” Jasper answered in his maddeningly smooth voice. 

She glared. “Well, watch me then.” 

Thirty minutes later, she took the lid off the pot, doing her very best to take in the smell the way that Bella would. She stirred and took a sip from the spoon.

It didn’t taste good. Not in the slightest. She retched a little and dropped the spoon into the sink with a clatter. “God damn it!” she cried, honestly frustrated. “How am I supposed to tell if it’s good or not?” She grabbed another spoon, seething and brought a spoonful to Emmett, who immediately backed into the island, scrambling to get away. 

“No, I’m good, I’m—”

“Try it!” she growled. 

He looked at her face for a long moment, his eyes begging her not to make him. 

Her eyes narrowed and he grudgingly leaned forward and sipped from the spoon. “GUGH! AGH!” He wiped at his mouth. “It tastes terrible!”

“But does it taste terrible because we’re vampires?”

“I don’t know, Rose!” Emmett cried back. 

She spooned another spoonful and turned but Jasper was gone.

“Jasper!”

“He’s not here,” Alice’s voice called from the other room after a second, making Emmett cackle. 

“Ugh, it’s in my mouth now,” Emmett complained, smacking his lips. “Ugh. Ugh. I need to brush my teeth.” 

She looked down at it, frustrated. She had no idea. Did she take a soup to her mate if she didn’t know it was good? What if Bella thought that she was a horrible cook forever after that? Where could she get a human to try it first? She was contemplating that when Emmett came back into the room, his face still unhappy. “Emm, hand me that tureen, please.”

He stopped, looking at her strangely. “The fuck is a tureen?”

“The large oval looking thing over there,” she waved her hand impatiently. 

There was a clinking of glassware and the tureen appeared before her. 

“Rose…”

“Do you think there’s a way I can have a human try this before I go over? Just in case it’s bad.” 

“Huh? Uh, I don’t know. Do you know where that Mike kid lives? He bugs the shit out of me. That way if it’s poison, you kill two birds with one stone.”

She smirked and began to pour. 

“Uh… Rose…” 

The pot came down on the stove with a clatter, her glare harsh. It was just soup. She was allowed to bring Bella soup. People liked soup.

“Okay.” He sighed, taking a step away. 

“Who’s Mike?”

He groaned. “He’s the kid who works at the outdoor store. He’s always trying to one-up me like somehow he knows more about hiking and hunting than I do and I just have to pretend this puny dude is right when he’s like almost always wrong.” 

“Short man’s disease?”

He snorted. “Little Dick Syndrome.” 

That made her laugh. “Okay, I’m off.” She leaned over, her hand on his chest and gave him a quick kiss. 

He just nodded, his look wary.

Chapter Text

Tureen full of hot soup on the floorboard of her car, Rosalie pulled out of the garage and onto the long drive. The lane twist and turned, Rosalie taking it far too fast, but knowing it so well that there was little in the way of danger. Approaching the highway, she slowed and then, though there was no traffic to speak of, she paused, her car idling quietly. 

Winter in Washington was such a strange time of year. Sometimes there were snowstorms, sometimes only a light rain like every other time of the year. The trees remained green, at least most of them did, and the moss somehow continued despite the snow. What she was looking at now, however, was unusual. Along the side of the road, peaking out of the bushes were small white flowers. The cold and snow should have left them shriveled or even dead, and she supposed had she come down this lane tomorrow they would have been. Today, however, they looked like tiny wisps of lace. The little flowers, so pretty in their purity, were survivors. She stared at them long and hard, fighting with herself. Flowers were nice. People liked nice things. They reminded her so much of Bella, pale, beautiful, surviving against all odds, found in a place they shouldn’t be. But it was too much. It was too open. How could she hand Bella flowers without it saying ‘let me love you, please?’ And she couldn’t say that. Saying that would be far too scary, far too vulnerable. It wasn’t what she did. She had been the same person for so long that she was sure she couldn’t possibly go that far out on a limb. Bella wouldn’t want that, right? Of course not. She wouldn’t. 

The snow stuck to her hair as she stepped out of her small red car, her lips pressed into a tight line, her jaw set, she went over to the bush, heels slipping on ice and began to pick, grumbling at the flowers that it was their own fault that she was doing it. 

Flowers in hand, she glanced around for something to make a bouget with. The snow fell into little perfect shapes on her skin, not melting but sitting like new little beauty marks. Reluctantly, she pulled the ribbon out of her hair, letting the blonde tumble down, and wrapped it around the flowers. She hadn’t planned for her hair to be down, it hadn’t been brushed, nor did it look her best, but… she looked down at the bouget in her hand, and added a few small branches from the bush, adding the rugged with the soft, and smiled. 

It was beautiful. 

Just like Bella.

She rolled her eyes at herself, groaning, unable to stomach herself, and got back into the car. 

 Her tires spun a little on the icy road as she floored it, before she spun onto the highway, off toward Bella’s house at full speed. 

She wasn’t nervous as she pulled up to the Swan house. She wasn’t. She wasn’t. Her mouth simply felt a little dry. It was probably in response to the disgusting soup. She cleared her throat once, twice, and let herself out of the safety of her car. 

Soup in hand, she walked carefully up the driveway, wondering as to how it was that Chief Swan hadn’t salted their driveway. Her high heels ground a little as she skipped over icy patches, her thoughts on Bella and her crutches. This wasn’t safe. Before she left, she would salt this driveway. If they didn’t have salt then she could... she could deal with going back to that store. She could. 

She made up her mind and knocked. 

It only took Rosalie half of a moment before she knew that salting the driveway was pointless. Bella hadn’t been anywhere. 

She cleared her throat, shifting in place and blinking, doing her best to wipe the shocked look off of her face, hopefully before Bella even registered it. 

Bella looked horrible

The bruises were abundant, closing one eye and creating new colors up and down her delicate cheek and jaw. 

He had hit her. The thought filtered through her mind with barbs, completely unwelcome and painful. The monster had hit her in the face repeatedly but had been mindful enough to be sure that he only hurt her badly instead of accidentally killing her, or even simply putting his hand through her skull. He had done it on purpose. It had been calculating. It had taken thought and careful planning. 

A violent desire to break him again ripped through her as her eyes swept Bella’s face, stretching the silence into short but oh so long moments.  

It wasn’t just the bruises that made her look so ghastly, so broken. Bella’s face was also swollen, splotchy and red. The eye which had been closed by James’s hand was crusted over as if too painful to wipe the tears entirely away. She had been crying, and from the look of it, she had been doing it a lot and for a long time. 

Many emotions passed through Rosalie at once when she realized that; confusion about why the tears were being shed, anger over the fact that Bella had been given any reason to cry, revolution about the crying, and pain, genuine pain that Bella was feeling any pain herself. 

“Bella,” Rosalie said on an out-breath, coming out more like a sigh. “What is it? What’s wrong?” The soup sat forgotten in her hands, sagging a little under the weight of her worry. She took a step closer, looking for a new injury, a task which was impossible given Bella’s current state. 

Bella’s face twisted, her one good eye looking up and away, over Rosalie’s head as she blinked. It was so dismissive, so hard, that Rosalie gaped, stung. “What are you doing here, Rosalie?”

Her mouth fell open. 

Bella was too often sarcastic, sometimes in a masochistic way, other times in a sadistic way. She wasn’t the wallflower that Rosalie had originally assumed, her flares of temper had proven that to Rosalie long ago, and she loved that. She loved the hint of backbone that popped out now and then from Bella. She loved that she was a strong woman and she wanted deeply to help nurture that so she took shit from no one. But never, not in the months since the school year had begun, had Rosalie heard her voice so cold. She hadn’t even sounded so frozen after Rosalie had kissed her. 

She blinked, taken aback, her head jerking a little as if slapped. “Wow. It’s nice to see you too.”

Bella didn’t answer.

Baffled and more than a little offended, Rosalie held up the tureen, realizing she had forgotten the small bouquet on the passenger’s seat. A slimy writhing thing in her stomach told her that perhaps that was a good thing. 

“I made you soup.”

“You what?” Bella asked the thin air above her head, her jaw clenched tight. 

Rosalie wanted to reach toward and massage it loose again. It had to hurt having it that tightly clenched. “Soup.” A thrill of panicky ice curdled her stomach when a stray tear slid down Bella’s already wet face. “Bella, what’s wrong? Are you in pain? I can go get Carlisle.” Bella crying. She had only seen it happen once before, and even then it had been brief. Bella didn’t cry. She wanted to wrap her up, could have done if she hadn’t been so impulsive and fucking kissed her. Friends hugged. Friends who had kissed the other one when the other one had a boyfriend didn’t. She mentally swore at herself again. 

Her words seemed to startle Bella. Her eyes dropped to Rosalie’s face, her one open eye suddenly wide with incredulity. 

“What do you mean, what’s wrong? Everything is wrong!” 

She huffed, smothering the bitchy and automatic response she wanted to release in response to that dramatic statement. “Tell me what you mean?”

“I almost died!” Both of them flinched, looking around to be sure that Bella hadn’t been overheard. “I was tricked by a psychopath because I’m an idiot. My whole body is broken. My parents think there’s something huge going on with me. I think they think it’s drugs or a gang, which isn’t totally inaccurate. And my boyfriend just left in the middle of the night!” Bella’s words came out in a slicing hiss so venomous that they made her wobble a little on her crutches. “He just left without saying anything to me at all. Oh, and, you kissed me!” 

The polite smile that had been on Rose’s face fell. She had been pleased that until that last moment, she had been left off the list of things that were wrong, pleased that maybe she hadn’t messed up that badly. She supposed that had been wishful thinking. Shoulders slumping, Rosalie lifted the soup a little. “Can I come in and put this down, please? It’s hot.” 

“You can’t feel it!” Bella snapped and Rosalie lost some of the control on her very sharp tongue.

“No, you idiot, but you should eat it while it’s still hot.” 

“I’m not hungry,” Bella bit back but some of the pressure between her eyes seemed to lessen as Rosalie slipped and called her a name. 

Her teeth ground. Be nice. She wanted to be nice. She wanted to be there for her. Calling her an idiot was not how to do that. 

“Okay.” She grunted and, without permission, she pushed past Bella, careful not to knock her over off of her crutches and entered the house for the first time. 

She paused for only a moment, all too aware of exactly where the kitchen was from her long hours of babysitting duty. Her glance fell to the living room where the couch had been made up for Bella with a few blankets and a few bags and boxes of snacks on the table. Her eyebrows furrowed. That wasn’t right. Bella should be in a bed where her body could be comfortable enough to sleep, to heal. She should be eating whole foods that were healthy and rich with nutrients. Where was her father? How had he left her on the couch with Cheetos and a bag of Sour Patch Kids? She stomped through to the kitchen, wondering how she could insert herself into Bella’s daily life enough to be there to help her heal. 

Where was Edward? Shouldn’t the boyfriend be doing this instead of the unacknowledged mate? Oh, she wanted to be the one to do it. 

Setting the soup on the table she didn’t turn to help Bella as she hobbled in, looking as though her supporting leg wasn’t quite strong enough to hold her up. 

There was a smell, Rosalie realized too. Her nose wrinkled, put off. So the wolves had been there recently. Insolently she wondered if the boy had been there, or if it had just been the man. 

She closed her eyes, barely swallowing her jealousy. 

“I just, I can’t believe he’s gone,” Bella mumbled, more to herself than to Rose. 

Her teeth ground in aggravation, teed off by the scent of the dangerous creatures in Bella’s house, teed off by the fact that she was there for the first time since baseball and yet Bella was talking about Edward. Unable to snap about either thing, she instead found something else to snap about. “Why aren’t you in a wheelchair so both legs can rest?” she accused. 

Bella’s glare was sharp. “This house isn’t wheelchair friendly.” 

Rose’s teeth ground, knowing it was true. Could she get Bella to come to heal at her house? She could have a contractor out to make the house, the stairs, anything wheelchair friendly that afternoon. It could be done in forty-eight hours, taking the strain off of Bella’s body all while letting her be cared for as she should be, as Rose knew Bella deserved. She could fix her bed up, there was a medical supply store in Port Angeles that she passed on the way to her B&B. She could keep her leg elevated. She could be sure she stayed warm and fed. She had just signed up for a subscription to this new thing, Netflix, that would send her DVDs of movies in the mail. She could maximize her subscription and make sure Bella had plenty of movies and warm blankets. She could get a TV for her bedroom. Her wants and needs could be cared for and she would even have a doctor nearby. Rose was sure she could do the exams herself. She knew enough about medicine to do that much. Yes. She was going to make this happen. This was the best thing for Bella. She needed to heal surrounded by affection and company, not alone in a house with junk food. Rosalie had cooked the soup. She could cook anything now. She—

“You can’t just come over here.” 

Snapped out of her thoughts, Rose’s arms crossed, her eyebrows high as she turned to her. 

Bella’s pale bruises face was suddenly a much deeper shade of red, though Rosalie wasn’t sure if that was from the sudden burst of anger or if it was simply very hard to keep her poor broken body upright. 

“What?” Rosalie drawled. 

Bella looked like a can of soda, shaken and ready to explode. “You can’t – I don’t know – you can’t just come over and act like we’re friends!” She shouted, nearly tipping over. Rosalie reached but Bella’s lips pulled back into a snarl. “I got it!” 

“Oh, we’re not friends now?” Rosalie shot back, her hands still outstretched to scoop Bella up and force her off of her weak legs. 

“You kissed me!” Bella cried at top volume. 

“I know!” She shouted back, caught up. “And I meant it!” 

I know!

A slow and cocky grin spread across Rose’s face. She had said it. There would be no misunderstanding on Bella’s part. She had kissed her and she had meant it. And Bella knew it. 

“But you can’t just come over like – like, like, like this!”

“Like what?” Rosalie shouted right back, matching Bella’s heat with her own. Her temper was too hot, too quick to withstand someone shouting in her face without shouting back. 

Eyes wild, Bella searched. “Like – like - like,” she stuttered and Rosalie’s grin grew, honestly enjoying this. “Like pressure! Like you’re pressuring me to have feelings for you!”

Rosalie snorted. “You do have feelings for me!”

The look that crossed Bella’s face was, in Rosalie’s book, priceless. It was such a stunning vulnerability, so shocked that Rosalie had said something like that. 

“You said my name in your sleep, not Edwards. Mine! You kissed me back, for god’s sake! That means something.” 

Bella’s head shook a little, not in agreement but instead in confusion. “Maybe.” 

Maybe!? Rosalie opened her mouth to shout again but Bella swayed, making her want to reach out again. Maybe, she internally scoffed. 

She did. She had feelings for her. 

She had to.

Please, she wanted her to…

Please, let her have feelings for her…

“Can you at least try the soup for fuck sake?” she snapped, wounded and scared.

“I’m not hungry.” 

“Oh my – are you a child, Bella? Seriously?” 

Fine!” Bella growled. Wobbling madly, Bella shuffled quickly to the table. The lip to the tureen clattered as she slammed it down on the table and lifted the old-fashioned glass ladle. 

Rosalie watched with nervous pride as Bella took a large slurp, not bothering to be polite about it. 

There was a moment when she thought that the soup had perhaps been too hot to drink. Bella’s eyes went wide, bugging out of her head, then her already red face turned the shade of a ripe tomato before, in a spray, the soup came spitting back out of her mouth, spraying the table. 

“Oh my god!” Rosalie shouted, jumping back at vampire speed to avoid the spray. 

Bella yowled, her hand covering her mouth as if to protect it from a blow. “Oh my god!” Rosalie watched with horror as Bella’s face twisted into a grimace. “Oh my god! What did you put in that?” she shouted, hobbling her way to the sink where she turned on the water and dunked her mouth under it. “Jesus, Rosalie! What the hell is that?” 

Rosalie twitched, watching Bella in frozen panic as Bella gagged over the sink. 

“It’s like pure salt!” 

Rose blinked, clearing her throat. “So um, you didn’t like it, then?”

Bella glared.  

She snarled, embarrassed. “Well, I’m a fucking vampire!” Hurt, she glared harshly at her. She had tried for god sake. “I’ve never cooked! Even when I was human, the house had a cook!”

The look on Bella’s face was unreadable. 

“Look.” Bella’s defeated voice was soft, heavy, and Rosalie didn’t like it at all. “I was about to lay down, okay?”

She stepped forward, unable to stop herself. “Can I help you? Let me help you up to—”

“No!”

Okay!” she snapped, taking a step back. Her stupid stubborn obnoxious girl!

“Can you just…”

Rosalie took another step, anxious to help. 

“I just need, I need to think, okay? Can you just go? Please?”

Rose’s mouth dropped open, somehow honestly shocked. Was she getting kicked out? She was getting kicked the fuck out of Bella’s house! Her heart ached, pain lancing through her at the clear rejection and as usual, it showed up as anger. “Fine!” she snapped, her glare harsh. 

“Thank you!” Bella shot right back, just as much acid in her voice. 

“You’re ridiculous!” 

Fine!” Bella shouted, her voice beginning to grow shrill. 

Rosalie began to stomp by, considering very seriously simply throwing her over her shoulder and forcing her into her bed, marooning her upstairs with no way to get down and no choice but to let sleep take over. Or maybe even throwing her over her shoulder and taking her home. Instead, she growled at her, a genuine cat-like growl. “Text me if you need anything!” 

“I don’t have your number!” Bella shouted back, her voice strained as she turned to turn to follow Rose’s progression to the door. 

“Fine! Text Alice!”

“Fine! God! Fuck!”

Fine!” 

“Take your fucking salt soup!” 

Rosalie sneered, offended. “That’s great language coming from a lady!” 

I’m not a fucking lady!

“No shit!” 

“You’re one to talk!” Bella shouted, her anger making her spin to watch Rose move at vampire speed to pick up the tureen and dump the contents into the side of the sink with a garbage disposal. There was a squeak of surprise and Bella’s broken body began to tip. 

“God damn it!” Rosalie shouted, setting the crockery back on the table with an aggressive slam that split it in two. “Damn it!”  

Bella was in Rosalie’s arms before her body hit the floor, her crutches clattering as Bella’s unbroken leg gave out, and ooooh, it felt so good to feel her. Her arms tightened, holding her securely, safely as Bella cried out in reflexive pain. Rosalie reached out before her cast covered leg could smack the ground, her hand catching it and resting it gently on the floor. 

She looked down at Bella’s startled face and the feeling she had felt in the ballet studio took her over again. Warmth, serenity, desire, and…

Bella’s arms flailed, trying to get herself upright before her body had fully settled into Rosalie’s arms. 

“This is what I mean!” Bella shouted, trying and failing to right herself. “Stop standing there and being all beautiful and expecting things!”

Rosalie’s smirk was automatic as she looked down at Bella, who glared back. “You ever notice that even when you’re insulting me you call me beautiful?” Her voice had come out like a purr, pure silk. 

Rose!” 

“Fine! I’m leaving! Fuck!” With a brief internal debate about taking her home, she set her upright, the crutches in hand and turned. “Fuck!” She shouted again as she grabbed the door and ripped it open. “Fuck!” It slammed behind her and she headed back out to her car. 

The tires screeched as she pulled away far too fast, her tires slipping a little on ice. In the passenger seat, she saw the flowers and glared. Rolling down the window, she chucked them out with an angry cry.  

Chapter Text

Rosalie was still angry as she roared up to the garage, punching the button on the automatic door so hard that the remote crumpled broke.

“GUAHH!” She screamed at it, slamming on the breaks just in time to stop the car from running smack into Emmett leaning against the far wall. She threw the car into park, turned off the engine and glared out of the windshield at him.

She wasn’t happy to see him there, not at all. She was even less happy to see his usually playful face serious, his arms crossed, the air of expectancy coming off of him.

With another angry cry, she got out and slammed the car door, only just pulling her strength at the last second so she didn’t crumple the car entirely. The effort only made her yell at the car. “Why does everything have to be so fragile?” She didn’t want to be gentle. She wanted to slam things like any normal person would be able to do to vent their fury.

Emmett didn’t respond as she turned on him, snarling and spitting. She looked at his serious face and the anger, so often created to defend the most tender parts of herself, faded into its original form. Hurt. Sadness.

She looked at him, pushing her hair out of her face and felt her bottom lip tremble. “Alice?” She asked, shame and embarrassment coloring her tone.

“Nah.” He shook her head, straightening from his lean. “I just had a feeling.”

“Now what does that fucking mean?” She snapped at him. There she went being a bitch again, damn it.

Bella didn’t want to see her. It hadn’t even been a right now, it had been a not at all. Bella didn’t want to see her at all. She could still smell Bella’s misty wonderful scent on her own skin from being in her home for a matter of minutes. She could still feel that never-ending desire to mate with Bella emotionally pulling at her, begging her to do exactly that.

Ahhh, she rubbed at her chest. It hurt. The fact that she couldn’t bond with Bella emotionally. The fact that Bella didn’t want her. It hurt. It all hurt.

Rosalie knew that Emmett saw all of this as he watched her face. She hated it. Turning a little, she tried to get her emotions under control enough not to slip by her. His arms opened, an invitation and though Rosalie would rather pick a fight, would rather yell some more, she let herself slump into them.

They closed around her, wrapping her up so tightly that her feet left the floor. Habitually, she curled her legs up and Emmett caught them, cradling her to his chest.

“Do you think it’s possible that she doesn’t feel the bond like I do?” Her words were muffled into his chest, but Emmett seemed to catch them anyway.

“I dunno, Rose. I don’t get how any of this works. But who couldn’t love you?”

Despite her mood, that made her chuckle. “Most people, Emm.”

“What?” He scoffed. “No way.”  

Her smile faded, not that it had ever fully developed. “No,” she sighed. “She didn’t want to see me, Emmett. Not at all.” She took a deep breath and wailed. “And she didn’t like my soup!”  

“Awww, she didn’t?”

“She gagged!”

Emmett made a strange choking noise that Rose knew was a hidden laugh. “It’s not funny!”

“No, it’s not,” he soothed. “I’m sorry. It’s not funny.” His arms held her a little tighter and so she closed her eyes, resting her head against him, taking the comfort he offered.

“Rose, do you think there’s any chance that you’re not, err, totally seeing that she’s going through right now?”

The anger snapped back into place, giving her whiplash. Her teeth bared and she shoved him away, landing on her feet. “Of course I see!” She yelled. “If anyone doesn’t see, it’s you! And her! Gah! She’s supposed to understand that things are about to get better for her! If she would let them! She’ll never have to worry about love again! I will love her!” She shouted, jabbing herself hard in the center of her chest. “She’s supposed to feel this! She’s supposed to know! She’s not supposed to be sitting there crying over Edward! Fuck Edward!” As she ranted, she paced, Emmett’s eyes following her, nodding along. “I see perfectly! I see what she’s not seeing! I see what you’re not seeing! I- I – I see it!” She grit her teeth against the pain that flared. Bella… didn’t see it. How was it possible that Bella didn’t see it? How was it possible… that it could hurt so much that Bella didn’t understand? She let out a gasp, clutching at her chest, unable to breathe through the pain of it.

“Well, Rosie, she can’t understand, right? There are whole chunks about this that you haven’t told her.”

She glared at him, feeling irrationally betrayed by his words.  

“She just doesn’t know, Rose.”

The sound that ripped from Rose was unfairly harsh. “She doesn’t need to know to feel.

Emmett’s eyebrows rose and she didn’t need him to point out that what she had said had sounded very much like something Edward might say. Rubbing at her chest, she snarled a little under her breath. “I might have gotten overly excited.”

“You pushed.”

“I pushed,” she admitted in defeat.

She let him pull her back under his arm.

“You push sometimes. It’s just who you are, Rose. You wanted to see her. That makes sense. But I think you need to give her space.”

Space. It sounded like the worst thing she could do.

But she agreed.

And she did it.

Her thoughts might have been on Bella constantly over the next few weeks, but she didn’t call, she didn’t go by her house. Bella didn’t show up at school, but Rosalie hadn’t expected her to. Edward didn’t return, but she also hadn’t expected that.

 


 

It made Rosalie uncomfortable how quickly and easily life went back to how it had been before Bella had entered her life and turned it upside down. She went to school during the day. She read books. She watched TV with her family, movies on her own or with Emmett. She worked on Emmett’s car at night. Only, before Bella, Rose had been happy doing those things, or at least as happy as she thought she was capable of being.

Now, living this routine that she knew so well she was miserable. She felt empty, alone. She went through activities that she had always enjoyed with a glum mental fog, barely aware of what she was doing.

She took the separation well, despite the depression. She respected Emmett’s opinion as well as Bella’s wishes for about two weeks. By the third, her worry was beginning to feel like a nagging ache in the back of her mind. Alice and Carlisle promised her that Bella was healing well, promised her that there would be no real lasting damage except for perhaps some stiffness when it was damp; to which Rosalie had responded by reminding Carlisle that it was always damp in Forks.

By week three her desire to see Bella for herself was beginning to feel stronger than she was. Bella had been moved from a cast and into a large boot, at least that’s what Carlisle had told her, and the bruises had faded away. Rosalie took the updates as stoically as she could, swallowing down the desire that felt more like a burn.

 


 

She wasn’t in a bad mood that morning. She hadn’t been in a specifically bad or a specifically good mood for weeks. She had dressed, pleased that the short stint of snow had already turned back into their usual rain.

“Car time tonight?” Emmett asked as they pulled themselves from the car in the school parking lot. His Camaro had come along very nicely in the last month since Rosalie hadn’t faced any distractions. Under the hood was a systematic mess of gleaming steel and chrome, impressive logos in red and blue and yellow everywhere. It was a gearhead’s dream. Turning the engine over created a purr that Rosalie could have almost enjoy sexually. It was beautifully done, if she did say so herself. The dashboard had been assembled, with a few updated tweaks, however, the covering still needed some work, as did the seats. The seat of the driver’s side wouldn’t move forward and she was sure she was going to have to replace the original backseat she had found because sitting in it felt like sitting on exposed coils, and she was still waiting on a custom steering wheel to show up. The frame itself still gleamed a dull grey with patches of black here and there where it had been filled.

“Sure.” She shrugged, pulling her backpack on over her trendy Zena coat.

The two started in together, side by side but not touching as they usually would have. She was halfway across the parking lot when the scent hit her. She paused mid-step, her eyes closing as she breathed in deeply. Her body convulsed, making her gasp. “Bella!”

Without thought, she turned in the direction of the trail, self-control momentarily forgotten.

Bella was back! Bella was there!

“Whoa there, happy.” Emmett chuckled as he hooked Rosalie’s arm with his own.

She looked up at him, uncomprehending.

“Space.”

“Oh.” Her mood which had spiked, suddenly fell making her feel sick. “Right.” She frowned, hating it. “Space.”

“And why are you giving her space?” Emmett quizzed as he had so often over the past weeks.

“Because she asked me to.”

“Right. Come on. I’ll walk you to class.”

It was hard not to be distracted that day. Her classroom had been amazingly and horribly Bella-scent free and sitting in it again felt like a caressing attack. For the first time in years when she was called on for a solution, Rosalie didn’t have it. Of course, she would have known it if she had heard it, but for once her vampire brain, so able to do so many things at once, had been too focused on other things to remember she was in school.

The teacher, Mr. Jefferies, had seemed genuinely shocked.

“Rosalie, are you feeling all right?”

She had sniffed and nodded once.

If she could shake from nerves then she would have been as she stepped into the cafeteria. She didn’t allow herself to look around, able to smell that Bella had not yet entered the room. She gathered some food blindly, paid, and went to her seat.

She sat there, playing with the food, and trying hard to distract herself with her book, but it was impossible. She couldn’t concentrate. The voices of the student around her were too loud. There were too many scents, too many things pulling on her attention.

She couldn’t think.

Finally, long after she would have usually entered, the door opened with a struggle and Bella hobbled in.

The book in her hands fell back, resting on the table as Rosalie looked, feeling all at once better and worse.

She looked better, Carlisle and Alice had been right about that. The swelling in various parts of her body had disappeared, the bruising had indeed also gone. She looked surer of herself on her crutches, her unbroken leg far more stable. The brace also seemed as though it could handle a little bit of weight without causing her pain, which had to help.

The door, however, was causing her grief. It was a heavy one that closed quickly behind you. Bella managed to get the broken leg in first, then her upper body, then her other leg, her cheeks flaming red when she finally was through. She straightened on her crutches, and her eyes drifted under their lashes toward the place where the Cullens always sat.

A tight grip on her arm made her look away, offended. Who the fuck was – she stopped, frowning deeply with surprise. She hadn’t realized she had stood, not until Emmett had grabbed her, at least.

“Oh.”

With a look of understanding, he gave her arm a gentle pull and she sat back down, heartsick.

A little embarrassed, it took Rosalie a moment before she was able to look up again. When she did, she saw that Bella’s eyes were still on her, a strange look on her face. She held Bella’s gaze from across the room for a long, deep moment before Bella finally looked away, shuffling toward the lunch line.

Rose sniffed, taking her book back up.

“I’m fine,” she squeaked when Emmett put a hand on her arm.

She had thought that denying the bond was the most painful thing she could do. She had been wrong. Having Bella refuse it, refuse to be near her, that was so much worse. That hurt in her heart, her stomach, and her mind.

Across the room, Bella picked up a sick-yellow plastic tray and tried to figure out how she was going to carry it and walk with her crutches at the same time. She tried to hobble and instead wobbled dangerously.

Rose twitched, again caught by Emmett before she could rise. She glanced back at him, desperate to help. “What if she falls?”

“She won’t. Look. There goes Mike.”

“Who?”

She turned back to see a very eager looking boy leap up from a nearby table and approach.

“Hey, Bella,” he said, his voice clear over the babble of the crowd... perhaps, Rose thought, because she was listening too intently. “Can I help you?”

Bella’s already warm face blushed deeper. “Err, thanks, Mike.”

She didn’t like it. She didn’t like it at all. Rose watched Mike move down the line of food, picking out what Bella asked him to with a low growl in her throat. She didn’t like him. It wasn’t jealousy. It wasn’t possessiveness. It was... she didn’t know, but she didn’t like him. He looked stupid, and his hair was ridiculous. The way he smiled at Bella... she didn’t like him. She didn’t like him at all.

 


 

And it continued in that way. The next day Rosalie still tried to stand when Bella entered the cafeteria, even though this time she was accompanied by Mike and by the girl who regularly chattered at her about how stupid the school was and boys in one of her classes. She was sure this girl thought that the two of them had a friendship, but Rosalie had always spent those conversations giving the minimal amount of ‘hmmm’s and ‘uh-huh’s she needed to while picturing interesting ways the girl could disappear.

The day after that, Rosalie didn’t rise when Bella walked in, surrounded by people. And that was how it was. She saw Bella t lunch, and only at lunch. She sat in her classroom filled with Bella’s scent, which had grown strong and debilitating with their separation again. She did not approach her and Bella seemed to notice her presence less and less.

She hated it. She was moody. She was jittery. Her work on Emmett’s car had stopped again as she gave into long bouts of moody staring out her window again. Everyone in her family, even Emmett, had begun to give her space, her mood so vicious that it was as though they were afraid she would attack them. She couldn’t do this. She just couldn’t. She couldn’t survive this way. She couldn’t watch the blond idiot carry Bella’s tray every day, staring at Bella like she was the greatest thing. Which, she was, but it wasn’t his job to do that. She couldn’t sit and watch as the indifference she had seen toward him from Bella slowly began to shift, as it was bound to. She couldn’t watch as she began to notice her so chivalrous blondie boy-toy knight in shining armor. There was only room for one blonde in Bella’s life. Or... at least, there should have been. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. She was Rosalie Hale. This didn’t happen this way to her. She didn’t pine. People pined for her. That was how it worked. She was physical perfection and she was highly intelligent and she would not this there and feel so unwanted by this stupid human girl.

 


 

“This is foolish, Rosalie!”

It took a lot to make Carlisle yell. He had lived through things that had taught him the virtue of patience and the art of remaining calm. But he was yelling then.

“It’s a highly dramatic response to a situation that could change like the wind! I don’t understand what you’re thinking!

Rosalie screamed a growl at him, sounding much like a wild Puma. She was furious. She had been ambushed! It was so unfair and had nothing to do with any of them. If Edward could go sulk in Alaska then why couldn’t she go sulk in Seattle? It was a small thing she was asking of them really, and yet, she hadn’t as of yet even asked!

“She – doesn’t – want – me.” She ground out. “What’s so hard to understand about that? You all are sooo obsessed with your mates and being mated.” She drawled sarcastically. “Imagine if it were you!” She stabbed a finger at Esme. “Or you!” she stabbed a finger at Alice. “Huh?” She swung back around to the other side of the small circle that had formed around her when she had stepped from her car so she was facing Carlisle again. “What if Esme hadn’t wanted you? Huh? What if she had never jumped and was still human? What then? What if Carlisle hadn’t wanted you, Esme? Huh?”

Carlisle’s teeth ground in an uncharacteristic show of temper. Beside him, Esme flinched.

“Yeah!” she cried. “You have so many opinions and yet no real answers. You can’t even hear me talk about the possibility!” Her eyes wild, she turned on Alice. “What if Jasper had told you to fuck off in that diner? What if he had thought you were a total creep and he had no interest in coming back here with you?”

“Hey now!” Jasper cried, both he and Alice’s hands going up in surrender. “Leave us out of this! We see things differently than these three do.” Jasper nodded his chin at the other half of the circle where Carlisle, Esme, and Emmett stood.

“Thanks, guys. Thank you so much.” Esme said, dryly.

“Why should I stay?” Rosalie asked her. “She doesn’t want me! I’ve been rejected!

This was insane. She hadn’t even been able to enter the house yet. She had just arrived home from her trip to Seattle. She hadn’t told anyone she was coming back at that time, yet when she had hit the newly replaced button for the automatic garage, they had all been there, a line of indignant vampires.

Yes, okay, yes, she had spent the last two days in Seattle looking at houses with a high-end realtor there and yes, she had set up an appointment for the following weekend in Portland. That had apparently been enough because while she had been off doing her secret work, Alice, the little traitor, had seen a vision of her living alone in Seattle and this had all begun.

She had just been shopping. She wasn’t even sure she was going yet. She just wanted the options.

“Oh, Rose, of course she wants you.” Esme cooed in this newfound tone of voice that Rosalie was only just beginning to feel comfortable with. “She’s just struggling. She thought she had found a forever love with Edward—”

“Okay, saying that is not going to help this!”

“— so she’s adjusting her views. When she’s ready of course she’ll want you.”

Emmett had thus far been silent, his face pinched as if biting into a lemon. He had finally had enough, however, and he exploded. “You can’t just take off because Bella doesn’t want you!”

“I can, actually, Emmett! I am my own person! Is that news to you?”

“That’s not fair.”

It wasn’t. She knew it wasn’t and told herself she would apologize later.

In truth, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to go anywhere at all. She wasn’t sure of anything anymore. She had no idea what she wanted to do with her life how it was now. She couldn’t go back to how it was before. She and Emmett... she didn’t know. There had been kisses, and there had been cuddling, but there had been no sex, a first for them. Could she get that back? Would Emmett want her to? Was it right to try when he knew, just as she did, that there was someone else she had wanted? She couldn’t go to Alaska, which was the only place where she knew people. Edward had ruined that for her because there was no way in hell she would go there to spend time with him. But she couldn’t stay how things were now. She had thought in a somewhat directionless way of medical school. If she finished, she could begin her residency, get a night job at an ER in some big city, train herself to ignore the scent of blood and become career-oriented. Perhaps she could even go further and become a surgeon. Carlisle would be so proud of her, and she would be proud of herself. She could date. She could have a life. Or maybe instead of a doctor, she would become the hottest mechanic Seattle had to offer who only worked at night, she didn’t know. She had, however, found a nice house in Seattle. It was wide with lots of windows and natural light. It was secluded, but not as secluded as their current house was. It could make a good home.

And as for Bella?

The thought sent a shiver of sick through her. She had thought on the drive back that maybe the best thing to do was to head to Alaska, to let Edward know that it was okay now, that Bella didn’t want her and that he could come back. He would care for Bella, and that was all she wanted in the end.

“Rose, her future hasn’t changed.”

“What the hell does that mean, Alice?”

She glared at them, really not in the mood for the vague I-understand-things-that-you-don’t thing.

Alice looked to Jasper and Jasper looked back, speaking to one another without words. The display was one of such obvious mate-hood that it only drove her anger higher. She pinched the bridge of her nose, growling out the question again.

Finally, Alice looked back at her and shrugged. “Bella’s future changed the day you accepted the bond. That was the day I came into your room to talk when you were showering.”

Rose’s fist clenched. “And?” She thought that if Alice didn’t get to her point she might smother her with a pillow.

“And, it hasn’t changed since then.”

This was crap. Alice could just tell her what she was trying to say.

Meaning?”

“Meaning her future still shows her with us.”

She looked between Alice and Jasper, then to Esme and Carlisle, and finally Emmett. “With me?” She asked, soothed by Alice’s words and at the same time not soothed at all.

Alice just smiled.

“See!” Esme said, sounding like she could kiss Alice’s face, which, she reached over and did exactly that. “You can’t possibly leave now.”

She just stared back, wanting to rage at them. What Alice had said meant nothing! There was no real reassurance there. It was just empty words.

“Oh!” Alice’s eyes fogged over, looking into the distance before she gave her a gleaming smile. “Don’t worry, Rose, she’s coming to see you any minute now.”

Rose just scoffed. “Great. I’ll hold my breath then, shall I?”

Alice rolled her eyes, taking Jasper’s hand in hers.

Frustrated, unable to see one more mately action, she pushed past her family and into the house, hoping for an escape. The circle of vampires instead just followed her.

“We’ve all separated before, Rose, and things are always better for us when we’re together.”

From behind her, Carlisle sighed. “We can’t tell her that she can’t do, Esme. She’s a grown woman.”

“Yes! Yes, I can!” She cried, making Rose turn on her in anger. “You put me as the matriarch of this family and so as the matriarch, I’m saying we need to stay together! I’m not allowing this to rip my family apart.”

“Babe, I know it’s hard, but you’re not going anywhere without me.”

“Then come.”

Eyes narrowed, Emmett’s head turned a little as he studied her, trying to figure out exactly what that meant.

 “If I’m not going anywhere without you then come.”

God, she wished it was that simple. Now that they knew who her mate was, there was no chance of this happening again. And she loved him.

But oh, the little ridiculing voice in the back of her mind spoke up, it could happen to Emmett. She wouldn’t leave but he might.

“Whatever happens with Bella, we can face it together as a family,” Carlisle promised, his voice almost making it sound reasonable.

Her head fell back in a groan. She knew he was just being his usual Carlisle self, his usual version of kind and good, but she wanted to deck him at that moment for that type of ridiculous thinking.

This wasn’t a family matter, that’s what they didn’t understand. This wasn’t about them. It was about her.

“I, ugh, I need a shower.” She pushed through them and this time they allowed the circle to break. It wasn’t strictly true, but out of fear that she would have to endure the downstairs talk part two with Emmett, she turned on the water and stepped in the moment it was hot. It was the only place, after all, where she could go and be alone.

Chapter Text

The shower, usually a perfect place of escape, didn’t soothe her this time. She didn’t feel the usual release as the very hot water beat into her iron muscles, her mind too full. Would she really not be allowed to go if she wanted to go? Did she want to go?

It felt like the water lasted only moments before it began to run cool from the showerhead and then cold, losing all sensation on her skin as it did.

It had been unsatisfying.

And she was still angry.

Her mood was still sour, still indignant when she turned off the useless water and stepped out. What was the point of vampires having a shower they could use if it didn’t stay hot long enough to do the damn job? She needed to calm herself before facing her family again. Irina, the frivolous idiot, had told her more than once that Rosalie should try meditating. She had told her that it would help deeply with her anger issues.

Anger issues. 

That term pissed her off.

She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. It took less than a moment before her breath cut off, her head whipping around toward the door. Naked, she tiptoed to it, her mind on red alert, and breathed in deeply. She could smell her scent, could hear her heartbeat through the door. She hissed, her teeth exposed. Alice could have told her she had meant literally any minute and not any minute in some abstract future.

Bella was in her bedroom.

In her bedroom.

In. Her. Bedroom.

It was so sudden. It was so unexpected. She closed her eyes, leaning against the wall and trying to steady her breath. She thought that Bella didn’t want to see her. For the first time in a while, she didn’t feel calmed by Bella’s proximity. It had been almost two months since they had spoken. Two months of being ignored and unwanted. And she had just walked in there as if she was totally welcome to be in Rosalie’s room. A wave of bitchiness hit her, a thousand sarcastic and rude comments popping into her head. Only... her stomach dropped out.

Her hands were clasped like a vice on her towel, all but trembling. She looked down at them in surprise and slowly registered what she was feeling. She was afraid. God damn it, she was afraid.

What had happened to her?

Squaring her shoulders, she wrapped a fluffy towel around herself, wrapping confidence around her at the same time. She didn’t feel confident, not at all, but the slight smirk on her lips hopefully would tell Bella something else.

Opening the door, she let herself stretch like a cat, the towel only just keeping her covered and showing more leg and deeper into her cleavage than she thought Bella had ever seen.

It made her feel a little better embracing her looks, her body, her nakedness.

She leaned against the frame, her arms loosely crossed, expectantly watching her small mate for some kind of reaction.

Bella’s face went quickly from its usual pale to pink to red to tomato red, the strangest look on it that even Rosalie couldn’t figure out. Blinking fast, Bella cleared her throat once, twice, her hand coming up to rub her throat as her eyes darted to Rosalie, away, and then back and stuck, hovering just above Rosalie’s left knee.

Rose watched her take her in, her bravado slowly failing her. That was annoying. The confidence that she knew she had the right to, the confidence that was right anytime she stood mostly naked, began to melt into an exposed question, as raw as an exposed nerve. The night on the cliff, she had felt Bella watching her and she had wanted something she hadn’t wanted before. She had wanted her looks to not repel Bella, keeping space between them, but instead to draw her in. She wanted to know what Bella felt. Now her feelings were so much more confusing. She wilted a little as Bella’s expression remained unreadable. Was that blush simply because she was in a towel? Did she desire her at all? What was she thinking? She wanted her looks to draw her in, to make her desire her as much as she wanted her to see her as more. Instead, Bella looked a lot more like she had a bad case in indigestion.

Flustered, she glanced at the clock, surprised to see that it was hovering around three in the morning.

“Don’t you sleep?” The words snapped out like a whip crack, making her grind her teeth in agitation at herself.

Bella flinched, her unfocused eyes fluttering. She looked up from wherever she had been staring, confusion clouding her eyes. “What?”

Rose shook her head with a small chuckle, pleased. “Nothing.” She took in Bella, not surprised given the hour to see that she was in a pair of pajama pants and a small long sleeve shirt that looked like it would be soft to the touch. Balling her hands into fists, she clutched tighter at her towel so she couldn’t reach out to see if she was right. Had Alice carried her again? Her leg looked very hard to manage.

“Are you okay, Bella?”

Bella nodded a little, her eyes moving from the comforter she was sitting on and back to Rose. Her face went red again and she looked away.

“Okay.” She said softly and, unsure if she was satisfied or not, went to her dresser behind Bella. At top speed, so fast she was sure Bella wouldn’t see anything, she pulled a cashmere sweater and leggings then went back to the spot she had been before, leaning in the doorframe across from Bella.

“You look soft,” Bella’s voice mumbled.

Rose’s arms crossed, hearing a double meaning that she wasn’t sure was there. “I can be.”

Bella’s breath caught, hitching a little like she might speak or cry.

Rose waited, but nothing came out of Bella so she decided to break the ice herself. She had planned on asking Bella why she was there, or if maybe it meant that she was no longer angry with her. Instead what came out was exactly what she had wanted to say for weeks but thought she wouldn’t have dared.

“I’m sorry I kissed you, Bella.” Her voice was soft in confession, weighty in its honesty.

Looking genuinely startled, Bella looked up into her face for the first time. “I —”

Rosalie held up a hand, her head slightly tilted.

“What is it?”

She just waited until the last set of footfalls disappeared into the woods, the house suddenly and unexpectedly empty. That had been nice of them.  

“They’re gone,” she said.

“Who?”

“Everyone.”

“Oh.” Bella frowned, her fingers anxiously picking at a spot on her brace.

She took a step forward, pleased when Bella didn’t flinch and settled on the bed beside her. She wanted to reach out, to touch the back of her hand, anything. It took a sheer force of will to refrain. “And I’m sorry that I came over after Edward left.” She ducked her head, trying to catch Bella’s dropped eyes. “I wasn’t thinking...” She huffed, her cheeks puffing out. She had just said a mouthful there, hadn’t she? “I wasn’t thinking about how he probably made you feel by leaving. I was just thinking about the fact that I wanted to see you.” There was shame in her words and yet still, she got no reply from Bella. She ducked her head again looking into Bella’s face and was surprised to see that the pain she had expected to be there was absent. She could see a shadow of it where it had been before, but it wasn’t at all like it had been before. Giving in a little, she slowly reached out and touched Bella’s arm.

“Bella?”

Her fingertips had barely brushed Bella’s skin before Bella shot up.

Rose recoiled, her hands going into her lap. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, she had pushed too far again.

Bella glanced around, looking like she very much wanted to pace. She took a staggering step and then another before she gave up, leaning heavily on her crutches.

“So you have feelings for me.” It was more of an announcement than a question and so Rosalie wasn’t entirely sure what she was supposed to say. She sighed. She supposed that if there was ever a time to deny it, that time was right now. Was that what Bella wanted? Was she looking for an out? If so, she knew she couldn’t give it to her. “I do.”

“For me?” Bella asked, her nose scrunched adorably.

“Was I in some way unclear?”

Bella gave a grunt. “No. You weren’t unclear.”

“Then why ask?”

Bella glared.

A smile tried to unfurl on Rosalie’s face. She swallowed thickly to keep it back. “Bella, would you sit down?”

Bella ignored her question, her fingers pulling a little at her bottom lip as she thought.

So Rose just sat, watching her and not moving. She was waiting, feeling a little like she was looking at a sky that was about to release a flood of rain, or worse, cloud cover that was about to dissipate when she had no secure way to flee the sun.  

“I lied.”

“Um...” Rosalie’s mouth pulled down in the corner, trying to pick up on the conversation she had clearly lost track of somewhere. “What?”

“I lied!” Bella cried a little maniacally. Her clomping footsteps began to shuffle as she moved back and forth in front of the foot of the bed, making Rosalie wince. “I could feel you. In the hospital. Before. I could feel you. And…” Bella’s gaze slipped to her out of the corner of her eye and away again. “And I could feel when you left.”

Rosalie didn’t move, her eyes unfocused as she processed that. It wasn’t a small thing, that much she knew. What Bella was telling her… it wasn’t small.

The understanding worked through her slowly, not because it was a complex thought but because she couldn’t believe it. Elation, pure and simple and clean rose in her, making her hands close on themselves, holding tightly so she didn’t reach out for her. Bella could feel her? She had been able to tell when Rosalie was no longer in the room with her.

That was it.

This was it! 

It was the sign that she had been waiting for about whether or not Bella could feel any part of this bond. Maybe her human body and mind reacted differently, maybe she didn’t understand what it was, maybe it didn’t work fully if the human was in love or thought she was in love with someone else, but regardless of all of that, it was there. Rose was somewhere inside of her in the same way that Bella was in her.

“You said that it had to mean something that I said your name and not Edwards.” Bella continued to babble.

“I did.”

“I think it did.”

Rose gawked.

“I, err, I could feel when you were in the room. It’s like, I don’t know, something in my chest, maybe? Like a weight that was missing.”

“And you don’t…”

Again Bella flicked her a side glance, nervous and scared. She paused her pacing, taking a moment to glare up at the ceiling, steeling herself. “No. I can’t… I don’t feel that with Edward. Not in the same way.” She looked at her and then away making Rosalie want to physically hold her face in place so she could see into her eyes. “Or Alice, or Jasper, or Emmett, or anyone else but you.”

“Only me?” She couldn’t quite find it in herself to feel embarrassed that her voice had come out a small, happy squeak.

Bella just hummed in response and the two fell into silence, Rosalie tumbling over that and over that, just letting herself feel the release of worry that had accompanied that confession. She didn’t know what it meant for them. It didn’t solve much of anything, but it was a step in the right direction.

“Rose?”

“Yes?” she looked up, having completely lost herself in her thoughts. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Will you…”

Bella was going red again. She could feel the heat of this new embarrassment like a space heater. “What is it?” she asked, curious as to what was making her blush quite that deeply.

“I just – uh – I mean – ugh.” Bella’s eyes rolled, specifically not looking at her, she finally asked her question to the floor. “Would you kiss me again?”

Of all the things that she had thought could come out of Bella’s mouth, none of them would have been that. Her mouth fell open, her head spinning like she had just been hit with a ton of bricks.

Kiss her? Kiss herKiss her? Ooh, she wanted nothing more than to be permitted to kiss her again, to kiss her soundly, long, deeply, slowly. More than once Rosalie had regretted their only shared kiss, thinking that she wanted to do it differently, less selfishly, more passionately. The thought of it made her insides flame to life and groan.

Bella didn’t look like she wanted to be kissed though; Rose couldn’t help but notice that. Bella was standing with the use of her crutches, stiff-backed, her jaw clenched, her hands in tight fists around her crutch handles. She wasn’t looking at her, but instead still just above her.  

In fact, it looked like Bella was about to walk into an appointment for a root canal. She looked like she was about to face a firing squad.

“What?” She asked in a brittle deadpan.

Panic filled Bella’s beautiful eyes. They flicked down to look at Rose and then as if that were too much, they closed. “I just – I don’t know!” she cried. “I’m so confused! I don’t know what I feel, I just – I don’t know!”

“Romantic,” she bit, some of the magic of Bella’s request disappearing. “You sure know how to seduce a lady, don’t you, Bella?”

Bella’s face fell into horror. “I’m sorry, I just…” but she faded off, not explaining at all.

Eyes on Bella’s, waiting for them to meet her gaze, Rose reached forward. Bella’s hands were tight around her crutch handle, so tight that the knuckles were white with stain. She brushed her fingertips against it and then closed gently, so gently that she wouldn’t hurt her, around it. Her thumb stroked slowly across the knuckles. It felt like warm velvet under her own skin.

“So soft,” she sighed.

Bella’s fingers twitched and released, her eyes dropping to Rosalie’s. She looked startled, that was sure, but she also looked very much something else.

There had been no way she wasn’t going to do this. She had been slightly offended by the lack of feeling behind Bella’s request. She wanted to feel that Bella wanted her, needed her to kiss her. She wanted the desire to be hot, wild, uncontrollable. So the manner of the request had strongly left something to be desired. Even given that, though, there had been no way she wouldn’t take the chance of one more kiss.

Slowly, so slowly that she gave Bella plenty of time to stop her, she pulled the hand to herself and pressed a kiss to her knuckles, eyes on Bella’s face for a reaction. She was rewarded when Bella’s mouth dropped open, her pupils gong wide in startled surprise. Her heart rate picked up impressively fast for someone standing stationary. It was a secret confession, and it made Rose smile, gave her confidence. Eyes holding Bella’s, she smiled against her skin. Had she decided to seduce... to romance Isabella Swan? She hadn’t thought so and yet she could feel her charisma leaking out of her, can feel her trying to charm her through their connected gazes. She let her sensuality flow, not hiding her want as she turned the hand over and ran her nose along her wrist. Her eyes closed, enjoying the scent of Bella’s skin, enjoying the release of the weight of the bond – always so insistent again, the scent of her blood, the way that Bella’s muscles in her wrist flexed, responding.

This was different. She had been the first to seduce Emmett in their relationship, her body already somewhat comfortable with her transition. That, however, had been the only time she had seduced a new person and even then, the dynamic had been different. She thought, her lips brushing Bella’s palm, that maybe she liked being the aggressor.

Bella hadn’t moved, her expression of shock still there. There were small patches of pink in her cheeks, her breath was slightly ragged as it fell from her open mouth, her heartbeat steady but quick and hard.

Her smile grew against Bella’s skin. Bella wasn’t sure what she wanted? Well, her body seemed to be very aware and that was all to the good.

She had thought that perhaps, given the way the request had been made, that perhaps she would simply kiss her hand and leave it at that. Only now, with her skin so close, her heart beating so quickly, Rosalie couldn’t end it there. She gave a very small pull on the arm she was holding, leaning up so that Bella wouldn’t lose her balance as she bent. The hand still clutched tightly between her own and held in her lap, she was pleased to see that there was no alarm in Bella’s face as it tuned, curved as she bent to face Rosalie.

She held back for one long moment, taking in Bella’s parted lips, the way her eyes were a little too round as she studied Rosalie from up close. Being very careful not to apply too much pressure, Rose crossed the distance to let her lips slowly slip across Bella’s, not so much in a kiss as simply a touch of skin on skin.

Bella shivered.

She was a goner, she realized. The static of where their lips had brushed left her lips tingling with pleasure.

Smiling, Rosalie carefully licked her lips, delighting in the way that Bella’s heavy-lidded eyes tracked her. Rosalie leaned in just a little closer and Bella’s eyes slowly closed, waiting, surrendering to a kiss that hadn’t happened yet.

Yes, she thought. This was very good.

Refusing to let her wait a second longer, she kissed her lightly once, and because that wasn’t enough, she kissed her a little more firmly a second time, and then a third, her body surging with sizzling jolts each time their lips reconnected.

She pulled back just a little before she could lose her head, just enough to see Bella’s face but not enough that their lips weren’t a moment apart. Bella’s face was slack, her eyes still closed. Her lips fell apart as Bella sighed, her breath puffing against Rosalie’s lips.

Rosalie’s hands in her laps convulsed, closing perhaps a little too tightly on Bella’s, her whole body responding with a roar. It as a feeling that felt so foreign to her. She had always loved her sex life with Emmett, had always wanted him, but this was different, this want was so much more.

She moaned a little as Bella leaned forward just a bit, her forehead resting against Rosalie’s. She let go of Bella’s hand, noticing that it didn’t leave her lap, but instead settled on a thigh, keeping Bella safely in that position. Her own hands went to the bedsheet on either side of her, balling so tightly in it that it ripped in her hands as she tried to restrain herself.

Her lips were between her teeth, her body pulsing with the promise of further kissing. She didn’t want to bite her, but she could taste Bella’s scent on her breath and she wanted to maul her. She wanted to use her tongue, her hands, her mouth. She wanted to touch and taste and search and know.

Bella swayed a little, her nose bumping into Rosalie’s cheek and settling. Her whole body gave a shutter and Bella’s free hand shot out, letting the crutches fall to the floor as her other available hand clutched at Rosalie’s shoulder, clamping down. Bella swayed, and Rose realized that without her crutches Bella could stay up for a few moments but that she was going to come down on top of her.

Rosalie gave in. She had never been someone who was good at withholding her own wants from herself and she wanted more of Bella. She used Bella’s tipping weight to wrap her up, twisting her, and settling her on the bed beside her, right over the handful of ripped comforter. She was kissing her again before Bella had fully settled, her lips curling to meet Bella’s warm ones in a perfectly chase kiss that was picking up in speed and intensity. It was a little annoying, Rosalie noticed peppering her lips with kisses, the constant worry that she would kiss too hard. There was a soft sound from below her, a release of breath with the tiniest bit of noise in it and Rosalie felt a soft brush of Bella’s tongue.

Unlike Bella, she wasn’t shy about what she wanted. She felt Bella’s tongue tentatively brush her lip and she didn’t hold back, she let herself moan with longing. Her hands came up to cup Bella’s delicate face, whimpering as her mouth opened. Her toes curled in on themselves, her body bowing, unable to touch her without touching her at that moment. Bella’s shy tongue swiped again, barely there against her own and Rosalie wanted so much more. She kissed her, really kissed her.

Was this too much for Bella, she worried. Rosalie’s back twisted again, leaned more fully into Bella, pleased when Bella’s hands on her shoulders scrambled, scratching at the skin of her shoulders, pulling her shirt up a little in the back as she clutched handfuls of it, using it to pull Rosalie closer. She took it as a sign and kissed her deeper, her tongue sweeping deeply into Bella’s mouth and Bella met her intensity. If she thought about it, Bella was kind of attacking her. Bella’s good leg came up, her foot pressing into the bed, twisting her to the side and up into Rosalie’s body. Rose met it, pressing herself into Bella with relish, her hand holding her against her from the small of her back.

A hitching breath came out of Bella as their torsos pressed together, this time the sound on it was stronger, clearer. Rosalie caught the sound, tasting it, swallowing it, and releasing one to meet it. Bella’s heartbeat, so fast, so hard, so fluttering, was so weirdly sexy. Rosalie moaned when her lips moved down Bella’s jaw, to her ear and bit very carefully and the steady sound skipped, moving faster.

“Fuck,” Bella gasped, her neck stretching, making it more available to Rose as a hand finally moved off of her shoulder and up the back of her neck into her hair. “Ahh – oh – fuck,” Bella gasped, her hips rocking against Rosalie’s hips as Rosalie sucked down the line of her throat and then back up to her lips.

This was… everything. Arousal was a tight ball in her belly, sending constant clenching jots down to her center as her tongue met Bella’s. This was so much more than she had felt before. So much. She moaned against Bella’s lips, hungry for more of her. Bella met that intensity too. Breath fast, ragged, Bella slipped down Rosalie’s throat and gently bit the skin there. Rosalie moaned again, curling around her. Her response seemed to encourage Bella. Her tongue moved against her skin, open-mouthed kisses trailing up and down, making Rose pant.

She had said to kiss her, but this was much more than a kiss.

Then Bella’s hands began to move. They slid down Rose’s shoulders like a blessing, adding to the sensation that her skin was on fire. Bella gently bit under the junction of Rose’s jaw, her hands moving down her ribs. Her lips moved back to Rose’s, her tongue aggressively swiping Rose’s and her hands came up, cupping Rosalie’s breast.

She should have been embarrassed by the sound that flew out of her, by the strong response her body gave, the flooding in her panties, the cry that had been ripped from her. The sudden need, the need to bite down on her neck, to bite and suck and inject.

With a disparaging cry, Bella’s hands ripped away from her almost as quickly as they had touched her, as if burned, her whole body pulling away. Their lips disconnected with a strangled growl from Rose and she gasped, breathless even though she didn’t need to breathe.

“What’s wrong?”

Worried, she looked over Bella’s stricken face. She looked guilty and even a little afraid.

“What’s wrong?” Rose asked again in more of a panic. Had she hurt her? Had she… she had felt that desire bubble up but she hadn’t – she hadn’t!

“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to,” Bella babbled, her voice shaky and weak, overtaken by her breathiness.

“To do what?”

“To touch you like that!”

Right. Rosalie pulled back a little, letting Bella’s body rest on the bed again. Edward… Edward hadn’t allowed Bella to touch him. She pulled away a little, somewhat grossed out to think that the last mouth against her mates had been her brother.

Setting her down had been the wrong thing to do though, Rose could see that instantly. Bella’s face went white, her eyes wild with insecurity.

“I’m sorry!” She looked mortified, as though she had done something very wrong and Rosalie just couldn’t allow it.

In a move so fast that Bella’s eyes didn’t even track it, she draped herself over Bella, resting harshly against her, her stomach on Bella’s stomach, her thigh coming to rest between Bella’s legs. Bella’s eyes bugged, her intake of breath very sharp as Rosalie pressed gently against her with her thigh, trying to make a point. A strangled gasp fell from Bella’s mouth, he hands gripping Rosalie’s arms in surprise at the sensation. Rose stilled, remembering that as far as she knew, no one had ever touched Bella this way, nor ever touched her there. She waited, letting Bella adjust to the sensation of her thigh against her sex, watching with fascination to see what Bella would think of this.

She wasn’t like Edward. He believed in, what came down to, Christian laws. She didn’t think sex was shameful, nor wrong, nor bad. It might be dangerous, yes, but if Bella were to want sex, she wouldn’t be against it. She would have to move very carefully, she would have to do some research, not only on how to do it safely but also technique as she had never touched the female body as much as she had that early morning. But she would be happy to give Bella that if she were to ask for it.

God, it was a crazy thought to think. How very much her life had changed over these past months was shocking.

“Did I say you did anything wrong?” Rosalie finally spoke as Bella’s eyes opened again. The question seemed to confuse Bella and so she clarified. Leaning down to run her nose across Bella’s jaw, enjoying the reaction, she promised, “I’ll tell you if something is too much for me.” She leaned back up, wanting to see Bella’s face. “Okay?”

Bella nodded, her lip between her teeth.

“What is it?” She could see the question in Bella’s eyes.

“Why is it that you can do that—”

“Do what?” Rose asked, wanting Bella to have to say it.

Bella’s eyes rolled, aware of exactly what Rose was pushing.

“Why is it that you can kiss me like that but Edward couldn’t?” Before she could answer Bella ran on, her voice picking up speed. “And when I pushed at all, he had to leave otherwise attack me! He made it sound like all of you were barely in control and so I was always in danger.”

Rosalie’s mouth opened fast to give her exactly her thoughts on that matter, the vitriol of knowing Edward’s romantic behaviors that way wanting to spew out. It was only at the last second that she stopped herself from saying the harsh and nasty words, something like ‘well Eddie is a drama queen who can hear our minds and yet manages to not know us at all.’ She didn’t want Bella to think that maybe they were standing at that knifes edge that Edward had spoken of with the harsh and nasty reaction.

Maybe this was a time for sensitivity.

The problem was, she didn’t know the answer other than to say, it’s either because we’re mates and I could never be a threat to you, or it’s because Edward didn’t love you, but instead thirsted for you and was preoccupied with why he couldn’t hear your mind.

Both were filled with too much honestly.

Carefully, she shifted, moving her thigh elsewhere. “I don’t have that problem like he does. I don’t want your blood.”

The look that passed over Bella’s face was comical. She looked offended, genuinely offended. “I don’t smell good to you?”

Rose couldn’t help herself, she threw back her head and laughed. And it was a first, even Rosalie knew it. She had never just… laughed with Bella, she had never been so relaxed, so loose, so comfortable sitting beside her. There were no more secrets between them. Which, all right, that wasn’t true, but the secret she had been hiding, her attraction, was now in the open. Rose could breathe.

The smile that grew on Bella’s face as she watched Rose laugh was slow, shocked, but also maybe happy.

“Please don’t evaluate your worth to me based on your smell. I swear, I know your blood would taste amazing, and I do enjoy the scent of it, but it’s just not what I want. I want it inside your body, keeping you alive.”

Bella’s amazement didn’t fade, her eyes flicking over Rosalie’s face in startled wonderment. “So you do care about me then, huh?”

Rosalie’s laughter faded, replaced by that shining vulnerability again. Her finger came up to draw circles on Bella’s chest. “I do.”

Bella just stared at her for a long while, the cogs in her head spinning. When she finally spoke, it wasn’t about what Rosalie had expected. “It has to mean something that Edward didn’t feel that way too, right? That he was so afraid he’d hurt me?”

These questions! Rosalie breathed out a sigh, watching Bella’s eyes flutter closed as she did, breathing it in. She decided that perhaps not answering that would be best.

“Was the kissing okay?”

Cheeks going red again, Bella nodded, a large yawn getting in the way of her response.

Rosalie chuckled, looking down at her with pleasure. Carefully, she lowered her head so her cheek could rest against Bella’s. The warmth was amazing. Rosalie purred, letting her head fall to Bella’s chest, her eyes closing, her nose and forehead pressed against Bella’s sternum. She took a deep breath and relaxed.

This is my mate, she thought, and in that thought, she felt total acceptance. It was as though mental shackles fell away from her, lightening her, freeing her. The pressure that the bond constantly put on her to be closer, to remove the emotional and physical distance between them suddenly lightened and then disappeared. She wanted to groan. It felt wonderful.

Above her, Bella yawned again.

“You need some sleep.”

Bella sighed. “I’ve been struggling with that.”

She scoffed. “Yeah, I can tell.

That made Bella laugh. “God, you’re still Rosalie, aren’t you?”

“Hey!” Rosalie cried, but she was chuckling too. It was true. Bella was never going to get a completely easy time from her. She wasn’t sure she would want one.

Together and with heavy help from Rose, they got Bella to her feet and started down the stairs together.

“Should I drive you?” She asked as they started out the front door. She gave Bella a nervous glance, not liking the way Bella’s body seemed too heavy.

“No, I got it. The boot.” She answered a little awkwardly.

Having broken the bubble of their first kisses, a new layer of anxious discomfort sat between them, both expectant and exciting, and stiff and awkward.

 “Are you sure?” Rosalie asked, her hand running up Bella’s arm without much thought. The touch sent a burst of pleasure through her.

Space. The word hissed through her mind, Emmett’s warning still clear. She let her hand fall but stepped a little closer.

“Yeah.” Bella’s grin was crooked as she nodded.

Space. Give her space.

She could hear Emmett’s voice whisper through her mind, reminding her – wait, she glanced around and saw Emmett in the shadows just off to the left of the house. “give her space,” he whispered through a cupped hand, so low that she was sure Bella couldn’t hear. She rolled her eyes a little and clicked open the truck door for Bella, mindless of the fact that it took her very close to Bella again.

Bella flushed, closed in by Rosalie’s extended arm and the truck door, but Rosalie didn’t step back. Instead, a wide smile spread across her face as she looked down at her. She wasn’t sure if things had changed between them or not and so she let herself simply stay there, her body very close to Bella’s, watching Bella’s flushed face.

“Oh my god, look at her face! Fuck it, kiss her!” Emmett’s voice came again. Behind her back, she waved him off.

“Kiss her!”

She flipped him off, her hand completely blocked by her body. She felt like a teenager being heckled by her group of friends. She looked into Bella’s face, through the first date awkwardness and for just a sliver of a moment, she felt it again, that old resentment. She had been given no choice in this, in loving this stupid, frail, weak human and she didn’t want to. No, more like she didn’t want to want to.

In a roar, a wave of fury crashed into herself, nearly knocking her over with its magnitude. How dare you think something like that, her mind shouted at her. It wasn’t true, and she knew it. Bella was anything other than weak, or stupid, and yes, okay maybe she was frail, but she was tougher than Rose had expected.

Bella cleared her throat and it snapped Rose out of her thoughts.

It was laughable really. Whether she had wanted to feel this for Bella before, the truth of the matter was that she did now. And she didn’t regret it.

“All right then. Drive safely.” Instead of the kiss that she wanted, she nodded, squeezed Bella’s arm and forced herself to step away.

Bella beamed at her, lifting herself with practice up into the driver’s seat.

Rosalie definitely did not at all (okay, she did) watch her butt as she bent over to drag herself in.

She stood there, her heart light, arms crossed watching as Bella started the car and then with a shy wave, started to disappear down the driveway.

“Coward,” Emmett whispered as Bella’s taillights disappeared into the trees.

She turned and vaulted herself at him, punching him as he caught him midair. Emmett laughed loud and hard, setting her back down.

“I just got back. What happened? That didn’t look bad.”

She just grinned at him, amazed, feeling light and girlish.

“Yes!” he cried, taking her look as confirmation.

Rose let out a single happy giggle, something she rarely did.

“Yes!” he roared again, scooping her off the ground and flinging her over his shoulder. “Yes, yes, yes!” he chanted, spinning her in a circle, jumping up and down with excitement. “Yes!” He cried one last time and plopped her back down on her feet. “Tell me everything! How was it? What did she say? Is she a better kisser than me?”

Overcome, Rose just looked up at him, her heart which already felt so warm, glowed with love. She loved him. She loved him so much, her very first love. That would never change. There had been no conversation between them about their future, but she could feel the change in the air. She could feel the understanding that if she did this, if she told him about this, it would decide their future for them.

Fiercely, with all the love she could muster, she gripped his face and brought it to hers, kissing him hard and chaste.

When she pulled back, he smiled down at her and she could see, just as she felt, that there was a little sadness to his smile too.

Then he scooped her up, throwing her back over his shoulder with a force that made her scream like a girl in a horror movie. Taking her upstairs, he dumped her in the window seat and sat beside her.

She began to tell him. And as she talked she felt them shift. They were cuddling, much like they always had, her tucked under his arm, but she wasn’t in his lap. He wasn’t playing with her hair. As she talked she could feel a new type of relationship beginning.

He smiled as she told him about Bella asking her to kiss her, the smile grew as she told of the success of the venture.

When her words died, they sat together in comfortable silence, Rosalie thinking over her evening and it’s sudden turn of events.

“I’m happy for you, Rosie,” he promised, leaning down to kiss her face.

She smiled, feeling a little bashful. “Thank you.”

They sat in silence for a bit, both thinking.

“Rose, there’s something that we have to do.”

“Hmm?” She looked up. She had been lost in thought, remembering the warmth of Bella’s lips against her own while her fingers played with her bottom lip.

“My room.”

“Your what?” She asked, looking into his face.

There was a new layer of softness there, a look so sweet, and yet settled.

“Oh.” She looked around at the room they had shared for so many years. She had spent ninety-nine percent of her vampire life sharing a room with him. “Oh, you mean...” She stood, upset as she looked at the room that made them a couple.

“Don’t worry,” he sighed, wrapping his arms around her. “You’ll get Bella in here soon enough.”

She hugged herself into him and shook her head. “I won’t though.”

“What d’you mean?”

But now wasn’t the time to think about that. Now, well, now was about them.

“Do you have to?”

“I think it’s time, babe.”

She nodded, her heart pain-filled. “Are you going to stop calling me that?”

“Never,” he smirked.

“Good. Come on.” She turned in his arms and kissed his cheek. Maybe she would never have Bella in that room, as he had said, but this was still the right thing to do. “There’s a room beside Carlisle’s study.”

Emmett just nodded, a small smile on his face and together, they began to pack.

Chapter Text

It had been a week since that amazing morning with Bella in the room that was now only her room, and still, Rosalie’s good mood had persisted. At first, her family had been pleased, but after a few days, they had begun to look at her like they were worried that she had been body-snatched. She thought Alice and Esme specifically had been looking for seams where her skin had been resealed over her alien body. She hadn’t been able to help it. She had been all smiles, all laughter. Nothing seemed to bring her mood down, not even when Carlisle had pegged her in the back of the head with a snowball a few days before. She had turned on him and she had seen his look of regret; the face of a father who had just ruffled the feathers of his most hostile daughter. She had been on her way to the car to leave for school, so she would have to do her hair again, because there would have been no way that she would be able to go that way. Still, she had laughed.  Laughed . That had felt strange, even to her. The ruining of her perfectly quaffed hair was  never  a laughing matter, and yet she had laughed until Carlisle, nervous, had reluctantly begun to laugh too.  

That whole kissing Bella senseless thing was the best mood elevator that she had come across. She didn’t understand why humans needed drugs. All they needed to do was spend a few moments kissing Bella and they would get a better high. Except they couldn’t. She wouldn’t allow them. Kissing Bella was her job. At least, she hoped it was her job… or would be soon.

The feeling in the house had lightened considerably along with Rosalie’s mood. Alice and Jasper had simply gone back to life, perhaps never having thought that Rosalie would leave. Esme, however, had spent an entire day in euphoria once she realized Rose wouldn’t be going. Of course, after that single day her previous upset had returned and she had gone back to mourning Edward’s absence.

Rosalie had been doing her best to not take that personally.

The only real damper on the week was that she hadn’t seen Bella. She still hadn’t shown back up at school, nor had she shown up in Rosalie’s bedroom in the middle of the night. She hadn’t called either, something that Rose half expected. Still, she had kissed Bella... really kissed Bella, and with Bella’s permission this time so she had let that stress slide. After all, she had never once called Bella for a... chat. She wasn’t sure she could handle the momentary humiliation when Bella asked who it was and she admitted it was her. She could already mentally hear Bella’s pause of silence, could hear her stutter a little as she asked ‘Rosalie? As in Rosalie Hale?’

No. And if she wasn’t calling Bella then she couldn’t blame her for not calling her.   

      


 

“Just a little bit. Come on. Admit it. Just a little.”

“No.” Rose shook her head, turning from the main freeway and onto the off-ramp toward school.

“That’s crap. It’s so true, though.”

“It’s not. I was completely within the rational response to the situation I was in and with the information I had at the time.”

Emmett snorted, his head shaking. “You should study law, not medicine.”

“Hmm.” Rosalie simpered. As usual, she felt a small pang when her not at all established medical career was brought up. She cleared her throat, blinking quickly a few times to brush that off.

Emmett had been insisting on the same subject for the last week, laughingly trying to get Rose to admit that she had been a ‘dramatic bitch’ by trying to leave but this far she refused. She hadn’t been. Her response had been perfectly reasonable.

Her iPod shuffled and an upbeat 80’s Dolly Parton song came on.

“Uuuugggh, no! I told you no Dolly Parton in the morning!” Emmett reached for the iPod to change it but Rosalie slapped his hand away.

“Yeah, but I’m not sleeping with you anymore.”

“So what, you don’t have to listen to me?”

“Something like that,” she smirked.

“Bitch.”

Her smirk grew as she began to sing along.

“You’re crazy.” And in case that wasn’t enough, he stuck his head out of the car window as they pulled into the school parking lot and yelled, “She’s crazy!” A passing freshman boy stopped in his tracks, his face genuinely petrified at Emmett’s sudden shout. He paused for a second, clutching the straps of his backpack and then scampered off, shooting glances back at the car.

“Awe, look, you scared the child,” Rosalie scolded mildly.

“My bad!” Emmett called after him, laughing.

The boy didn’t respond, only walked a little faster, his head ducked, his neck red.

Rosalie cackled, pulling into a spot a few away from Alice’s car. “How can you not like her?”

“Can you hear her voice? Listen to that synthesizer. It’s terrible.”

“I think she was pretty sexy when she was young. ... What? Remember Best Little Whorehouse in Texas? Those dresses were all tight around the waist. Oh, and that lingerie. She was all tiny waist, and thighs, and cleavage. …What?”

Emmett was just stared at her.  

“What?”

“Were you always this into women? Did I just never notice it?”

Amused but unable to answer because she didn’t know herself, she glanced in the rearview mirror and caught a boy gawking at the car. Rosalie’s eyes rolled. It was a daily occurrence now that she drove her own car. She didn’t get it. The car wasn’t that appealing. She had gotten it as a concession to Edward’s demand that they all have simple cars, only pushing the color. But while the car was painted in ‘Ferrari Red’, it was lackluster. It was boxy, and though the year was only two years before, it had a shape that reminded her deeply of the ’90s, which was not a good time for cars. Her hand slid over the steering wheel. Suddenly all she could see were long trips to quiet locations with Bella at her side and this car just wouldn’t do for that. Her BMW was solid, but... she liked the new Aston Martin that was coming out soon.

“You’ve got that look in your eye.”

“What look?”

“The look that always comes before a new car.”

“Maybe I should sell this one,” she said, not listening to what he had said at all. Or give it to Bella, she thought. That poor truck deserves a nice long rest.

“So I’m right then.”

“Hmm? I’m sorry?”

Emmett snorted out a breath. “You look like you’re suddenly sick to death of your car and can’t stand the sight of it a moment longer.”

Rosalie’s smile grew wide and beaming, though she wasn’t sure if it was an admission or if it was because that guttural roar of the truck she had just thought of had just turned into the lot. She had been excited when Alice had informed her that Bella would be returning to school the next morning. She had been a little nervous too. And if she had happened to spend much more time in front of the mirror that morning then she was sure it was a coincidence.

“Or like you want to show off,” Emmett laughed.

never show off,” she said with a haughty expression.

That made Emmett laugh hard. “Yeah right!”  

She fluttered her eyelashes at him, doing her best to look innocent. “Well. Who doesn’t like to show off now and then? We’d look good in the new Ashton Martin, wouldn’t we?”

“Somehow I don’t think that I’m part of that ‘we’.”

She didn’t answer, just clicked her tongue and pulled herself from the car.

Across the lot, Bella had just struggled out of her car and was gathering herself on her crutches.

Rosalie smiled a little to herself looking at her.

Yes, she thought. She was going to trade in her M3 for the Ashton. Hammerhead Silver, custom tint. That wasn’t too flashy… all right, yes it was, but it was also certainly sexy. It might be a little difficult, she admitted to herself. Usually, if she wanted a car that was about to be released, she would order it a year in advance. This car was coming out in a matter of weeks. She knew they were almost sold out. She would have to throw a lot of money at it to get one at this point, and that always made her nervous. But she supposed... if she were to the Ashton Martin dealership in Las Vegas... That would be tricky, Vegas was a very bright place, and she doubted a dealership such as that would have night hours, but she thought it just might do the trick. Then she would pick up Bella and they would see just how fast they could get to the warm moonlit beaches of southern California.

Her plan was fully formed before Bella had even finished adjusting, let alone started through the parking lot.

Rosalie debated and then turned and headed toward the school, listening to Bella’s slow clacking behind her. Just as she stepped into the curb, she paused, her small phone in her hand as though distracted out of walking. Emmett paused too, glanced behind them and then shook his head.

“I’ll see you at lunch.”

Rosalie vaguely nodded, her eyes on her phone.

She was just slightly off to the side of the walkway as she waited. There was plenty of room for Bella to pass her, or even other branched off pathways that Bella could take to avoid her altogether. She was giving Bella a choice.

Breath held tightly in her lungs, she waited. At the last second, she turned a little and began walking, but very slowly so Bella would fall in line beside her if she wanted.

Bella said nothing as she appeared at Rosalie’s side.

Rose didn’t turn, didn’t acknowledge her, but inside she was singing. A smile on her face, they started toward Bella’s first class together in silence. She felt as they walked, feeling the relief of not fighting her long, feeling what she could from Bella’s mood, feeling the wind as it blew first through Bella’s hair and then across her own face, bring the scent of it and memories of their last meeting.

If Bella was surprised that Rosalie knew where her first class of the day was, then she didn’t say. Instead, they approached in reverent silence. Just as Rose was about to turn and say goodbye, maybe adding something slightly sarcastic but also secretly heartfelt like ‘have a good day, dear, learn a lot’, accompanied of course by an eye roll, Bella’s hand suddenly shot out.

The strength of it, the fact that it was touching her at all surprised her so much that she looked down at it, looking to be sure it was real on the sleeve of her trench.

Bella’s eyes followed hers and she blanched. Nearly tipping over in the process, Bella yanked her hand back, her face crumpling into defiance and hurt.

Rosalie’s mouth opened, ready to tell her that it wasn’t that she wasn’t allowed to touch her, as much as she was surprised she had. She didn’t think Bella ever had before, at least, other than that blissful moment where Bella had taken charge of their kisses.

Rosalie shivered, remembering the momentary feeling of Bella’s hands on her breast. She hadn’t done enough of her own touching, that much she had become very aware of in her many hours of daydreaming. She licked her lips, very glad that Edward wasn’t on campus. Hoping that Bella hadn’t seen any of those thoughts on her face, she opened her mouth again and yet again closed it. She had been about to say something flirtatious, something like ‘you can touch me anytime you like’. She could only imagine the shade of purple Bella would have turned. That wasn’t right either. Damn it, surely there was something to say when your secret mate touches your arm unexpectedly and you have a meltdown. She looked into Bella’s face, frustrated with her speechlessness.  

“I think we should spend some time together.” Bella suddenly blurted.

Thrown yet again, Rose ostentatiously glanced around them. “Um... aren’t we?” Leaning in a little she dropped her voice into a sarcastic whisper. “Isn’t that what we’re doing right now?”

“Yeah, but...” her words trailed off as a girl Rose had seen hanging around Bella paused beside them, her eyes on Rose.

Rose glanced at her, confused.

“Um, can I help you?” Rosalie finally snapped after long moments. She glared down at the short girl, realizing slowly that it was the girl who often thought they were friends through gossip. She was staring at her with an intensity that surely wasn’t necessary.

With Rosalie’s snap, the girl jumped a little. “Nope!” But she turned on Bella, her eyes large and obviously trying to communicate. “Talk to you in class, Bella?”

Bella just nodded, her face pink and downcast and they both watched the girl go in and take her seat at her deck, aware that her eyes never left them.

“What was that?”

“My friend, Jessica,” Bella answered miserably.

Jessica!  Right.

“She probably wants to know why I’m talking to you since you don’t talk to anyone.”

Rosalie crossed her arms and scoffed, her high heeled foot tapping. “I talk to people.”

Bella eyed her, her face incredulous.

“You are not in my classes. You can’t possibly know,” she sniffed, her voice snooty.

No. She didn’t talk to anymore, but that was beside the point.

With a glance back at Jessica, who might as well have a bowl of popcorn she was watching them so intently, Bella stepped forward a little, into Rosalie’s personal space so she could whisper to her. “Look, I know that there’s this thing... now.”

Rose’s eyebrows shot up. “Thing?

“The kissing thing!” Bella hissed, obviously uncomfortable.

Rosalie’s eyebrows disappeared into her hairline.

“And... I don’t know. I feel... things... um, so let’s, arugh—”

“Bella, spit it out,” she snapped.

Teeth grinding Bella did in a fast and slightly high voice. “Let’s hang out and see what happens now. Okay? There. I said it.”

It wasn’t easy to keep her smile back, but she managed it. She gave a sober nod, feeling like she was in the presence of a skittish deer that could bolt any moment. “Okay, Bella. Let’s do that.”

Bella nodded once. “Okay.”

The five-minute bell rang and Bella sighed. “So, uh, I’ll see you.”

Rose nodded again, feeling the way she had felt after their kisses. She wanted to touch her in some way, any way. She wasn’t sure she was allowed to touch her though, so she settled on something simple. She let her fingers trail over the hand that had been on Rosalie’s sleeve, her fingertips following the small groves of her knuckles. Then she turned to start to her first class. At the end of the hallway, she paused and looked back.

Bella was still standing there, in the exact same spot, her face beet red and upturned toward the ceiling as if trying to hide that fact.

Rosalie bit her lip. So the touch had done what she had hoped, had reminded Bella of when it had been her lips there.

Pleased, Rosalie headed to class.

 


 

If Jessica’s response to seeing Bella speaking with Rosalie had been strong that morning, it was nothing compared to the silence that fell over the cafeteria when Bella took a seat at the Cullen table without Edward there.

Edward was fully convinced that if they were careful, they as Cullens could blend in enough to evade notice. It was his main mission in life. He insisted on boring cars, he insisted on clothes that generally didn’t show their wealth, he insisted that they much get good but not perfect grades, that they must be model humans. Rosalie had never understood it. They did stand out. No, perhaps people wouldn’t take one look at them and say ‘oh, you are all this ancient being that has now become no more than myth’, but they knew that something was off about them. They didn’t make friends. They all sat together. They didn’t join clubs or go out on the weekends. They kept to themselves. The entire high school even knew they were all dating one another, she with Emmett, Alice with Jasper, and that was a scandal that would have given them notoriety in the first place. Even if all of that weren’t true, their general aura would be enough. They repelled people. Well, she glanced to her left as Bella took a bite of her lunch, and mentally amended that to most people.

Bella had caused quite a stir by befriending and then dating Edward. It seemed the rabble didn’t know what to make of her there now without him.

All of the Cullens had stiffened as Bella sat down, alerted and alarmed by the sudden silence that had fallen. Once the voices picked up, Rosalie hadn’t need to be able to hear each and every single muttered voice to know that they were talking about them.  

What is it about that Bella girl?

Do you think they’re still dating?

Ooooooh, I hope Edward comes back if they broke up. He’s so dreamy. I would love a chance with him.

Do you think they’re some kind of gang and they mind raped the Swan girl into joining?

…should be sitting with us instead of over there. I don’t like it. Something is off…

Her head turned slowly at that last voice. Mike, Mike… she had no idea what his last name was, but thought it should be Annoying. She hadn’t forgiven him yet for being the one to help Bella when she couldn’t, and the obvious desire in his voice was only making his case worse. He looked back at her, eyes wide like a mouse in the gaze of a snake. She snarled and he looked away.

The amazing thing was, though she was the topic that everyone was discussing, Bella simply smiled at them, completely unaware.

“So Bella, how’s the leg?” Emmett asked, making a leaning tower out of crackers.

Bella shrugged. “Oh, you know. Heavy. Awkward. Errr, slow making.”

The group chuckled.

Have you ever talked to her? She’s not that interesting. I don’t get why she was the one they all decided to be friends with. Did they know her before?

…no, totally, yeah. Something is up. For sure. This morning Rosalie walked her to our class. Seriously. Like Edward always did. …No, really, I promise. When I asked her about it she just kept saying that they’re  friends , and I’m like no one is friends with Rosalie Hale. …well, yeah, you realize that she and Edward broke up, right? I mean, I think they did, Bella won’t say. But what, he disappears and suddenly she’s sitting with us again? Super sketch…

Rosalie’s gaze drifted to the girl Mike had been speaking to. Jessica, of course. She could have assumed if she had thought about it for a few minutes.

“Your friends are wondering why you’re not sitting with them,” Rosalie murmured.

Bella looked up, her gaze drifting over to her friends as if confused that they still existed.

Both Jessica and Mike looked quickly away, suddenly in a deep conversation with one another about a movie they had both seen.

“Really?” Bella asked, bemused.

“Mmm-hmm.”

Bella chewed her lip. “You know, you could come sit with us at that table.”

Beside them, Emmett began to laugh at the idea.

“With you… and those toddler s over there?” She asked, not understanding at all.

Bella’s eyes rolled. “They aren’t toddlers. They’re the same age as me.”

“Ah, yes, but you don’t behave like they do.”

“What does that even mean?”

As if to prove her point, Mike suddenly roared across the room as another boy dumped a bag of chips on top of his head. He swung at the boy, who dodged. He launched himself and they fell to the floor together, wrestling while teachers sped over.

She looked back to Bella, her head tilting in that direction.

Bella just avoided her gaze, going back to her food.

The muttered conversations didn’t stop when Emmett took his, Rose’s, Bella’s trays over to the trash can, only one having been cleaned, and dumped them. Still, Bella didn’t seem to notice.

Just like she didn’t seem to notice the looks on people’s faces when Emmett turned left out of the cafeteria and she and Bella turned right, starting slowly down the hall. She didn’t seem to see the faces turned their way, staring in shock as Rosalie kept that incredibly slow pace to drop Bella at her next class.

Rosalie went to her own after lunch class, shaking her head as she went.

She held the entire school in awe, and Bella didn’t even notice.

Chapter Text

The next morning Rosalie waited just on the school grounds, not on her phone this time. She wasn’t hiding that she was waiting. She wasn’t sure if this was the right thing to do. Was this too much? When Bella had said time together, how much had she meant? Was this pressure again? She didn’t want to add pressure to Bella’s life. She didn’t want to be something negative.

Having realized that Emmett had been right and she had been her usual pushy self, totally not thinking about Bella’s side of things, she had become mortified of it happening again. How did one stop themselves from being themselves? How did she not barrel in, all hands on deck, and take Bella as her own when all she wanted was more? She had spent long hours the night before thinking of kissing Bella again, her body growing warm and insistent. She wanted more. So how did she stop herself?

She cleared her throat, shifting and feeling a little self-conscious. It was as if they knew she was having a moment of self-doubt. Was it her clothes? The problem was they were giggling but not exactly speaking so she could figure it out.

She glanced down at her outfit. All right, she had spent a little more time on it than normal, yes, but it wasn’t weird. Her form-fitting white cotton tee shirt with a deep V neck was tucked cleanly into a pair of black designer high waist jeans. She had on her usual black heels with the red bottoms, and a large pair of sunglasses. Nothing was amiss. She had thought she looked great and Emmett had told her so before they had left that morning.

Still, the girls standing a few feet away were alternating between looking at her and looking at one another and bursting into laughter.

Her jaw tightened, glaring at the girls which was completely ineffective since it was unseen behind her very dark sunglasses.

The truck rumbled up and Bella gave a little wave from her driver’s seat as she passed. Rosalie smiled a little, trying to hide her flood of relief. Bella didn’t look put out that Rosalie was waiting.

The girls had fallen silent as Bella pulled into a parking spot, but the moment she joined her on the curb with an easy ‘hey’ they broke into fits of laughter again.

Rosalie breathed deeply through her nose, stifling the impulse to smash their faces.

“What, are you trying to make it clear that you’re not only beautiful but also a woman of mystery? It’s not even sunny out. I think it’s going to rain.”

That caught Rosalie’s attention enough that she stopped noticing the girls. Smiling a little, she asked, “Did you just call me beautiful?”

Bella’s cheeks went red.

They turned, starting toward the Quad, the sound of the girls completely forgotten to Rosalie.

“I mean, you are.”

Rose smirked, pleased and waited until her face had settled into its usual mask to slip off her sunglasses and put them in her purse.

Bella glanced up at her out of the corner of her eye, smiling a little too.

“Just wait until you see me naked,” Rosalie mumbled to herself.

There was a strange choking noise and Rosalie had to turn before she realized that Bella had stopped moving. Bella’s face looked as though she had something very large and painful stuck in her throat.

Confused for a moment, she reviewed what had happened. Oh no! Her mouth dropped open in horror. It had been a sweet moment between the two of them and she had ruined it!

“Oh my god, Bella, I’m so sorry!” she took the two steps that brought her back to Bella’s side, unsure what to say or do.

Bella’s throat bobbed.

“Bella, I’m so, god, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to say that out loud!”

Bella didn’t respond, only stared at Rosalie, her heart hammering so loudly that Rosalie couldn’t hear anything else.

Did she hate the idea?

Pressure! Pressure, damn it! Her mind shouted insults at her as she slowly reached out and touched Bella’s arm.

“Come on, let’s head to class,” she said softly, annoyed with herself.

God damn it!

 


 

Over the next few days, Rosalie saw the same behavior from that group of girls again and again, and she started to understand.

People watched them wherever they went. They whispered behind their hands, they stared, they laughed. The response to her sudden friendship with Bella was clear and school-wide.

Within three days, Rosalie had realized something else. The school was reacting even more strongly now than it had when Bella had begun spending time with Edward. They were freaking out, even.

She doubted very highly that people thought they were dating. They weren’t, as far as Rosalie knew. Bella’s reaction to Rosalie’s comment had cemented that in her mind. Even if the school wanted to, they couldn’t think they were dating. She and Bella had done nothing in school or outside of school that could give people that impression. Rosalie hadn’t even seen Bella outside of school, much to her annoyance. She thought there might be some small-town America splash if they did ever end up dating. As far as Rosalie knew, there was no existing gay couple in town, or if there were then they had avoided being noticed.

The most stunning thing to Rosalie was that just like before, over those three days Rose quickly came to realize that Bella had no idea that she was pulling yet another kind of notoriety.

It all reminded Rose so much of her first days in Forks, high school famous for something she wasn’t even aware of.

Rosalie’s first weeks in Forks the year before had been very distinct. New girls… new people weren’t all so common, and the boys had responded in spades. The moment she had begun walking the halls, the boys had started to walk around like fluffed up birds, all trying to prove how macho they were. New colognes had begun to be worn within days, new haircuts had appeared. This wasn’t from all the boys, but it had been enough that walking through the halls had been like walking through a swamp of Axe body spray and Old Spice.

There had been many date invitations, and even more nice guys who wanted to be her friend, sure that there would be more between them later, and even one girl who had thought that maybe she understood the secret to Rose’s affections.

Rosalie had been annoyed by all of it. She hadn’t wanted any of it. She knew she gave off a certain look, she knew that her ‘superpower’ as Alice had sometimes teased, was to make people fall to their knees to worship her beauty. Bur she hadn’t asked for that, and by then, she had long stopped appreciating the response.

There had been a group of girls who had thought that Rosalie fit with them. She had seen where they were coming from. She had always been rude. She had rejected everyone who had ever asked her out. They were all caddy bitches and Rosalie had appreciated that about them, yet she still had no interest. At first, they had thought her insistence that they could fuck off had been more caddy-clique-y goodness and they had loved her all the more. Once they had realized she meant business, their attitudes had changed and the rumors had begun to circulate.

It hadn’t taken long for the word to spread: Rosalie Hale was a bitch, she didn’t want to be friends, and above all, she was dating her foster brother so she as a disgusting freak.

Though the typical rumors flew that she had blown this boy at the movies or that this boy had fingered her behind the bleachers, people generally had decided that she was someone to stay away from and that served Rosalie just fine.

When Bella had arrived the same ritual had started again. The Axe body spray had come back out, the Old Spice, the haircuts, but just like Rose, she had been treated with excitement and then caution as she had so quickly fallen in with Edward.

People had envied her then or envied him. High school girls seemed to love the thing that Rosalie found the most obnoxious about him, his brooding nature. She had heard the term ‘dreamboat’ more than once.

Now, with Bella spending her time with Rose, her friends seemed afraid of her.

She couldn’t help that. It was just her nature.

 


 

By the end of the week, she and Bella had fallen into a sort of routine. Rose had tried, she really had, not to follow in Edward’s footsteps with her time with Bella. She wanted it to resemble him in absolutely no way. It was already bad enough that she had begun their time together by walking her to class. The very last thing she wanted to do was, like Edward, whisk Bella off to their own private table. It had felt ridiculous when Edward had done it, though maybe Rosalie had just been jealous, she could admit that. However, after a few days of sitting with her siblings and trying to talk to Bella with all of them looking at her like cats that ate the canary, it began to feel invasive. She knew there was no getting away from them, even from across the cafeteria. They would hear their conversations no matter where they were in the room, but it made her feel better. She had tried to find somewhere else they could be during the lunch period, an open classroom, an outdoor table, but with little luck. She had finally given in and lead Bella to a somewhat quiet table in the back.

The change had only made the school more interested and had only made Bella’s friends more attentive; Mike, Rose thought, because he thought Bella was available, and Jessica because she thought that Jessica could smell gossip and was trying to sniff it out.

 


 

“No,” Bella insisted, “it’s not the same and it’s definitely not better. There are people at movie theaters. Annoying loud people. Have you ever noticed how loud a silent movie theater is between the popcorn and the candy wrappers? No way. It’s better to wait until the movie comes out and then rent it.”

Rosalie laughed a little. “Yes, but you were never part of movie theaters how they used to be. They were in these old grand opera houses. There were always these beautiful old velvet curtains that were blood red. There was always gold work in the ceilings and walls made to look like beautiful designs, or perhaps leaves and trees, or tiny cherubs. It was beautiful. People would dress up in their best to socialize beforehand.” She smiled a little as she remembered and looked down at Bella. “What?”

Bella smiled a little and shook her head. “Nothing. I think that’s just the most you’ve ever said at one time.”

Rosalie scoffed and tossed her hair over her shoulder.

“Leave it to you to love the blood-red curtains too.”

That made Rosalie laugh, honestly laugh. It was amazing to her how easy it could be with Bella to throw back her head and to full-bellied laugh at something she would have before found offensive.

Bella beamed at her, pleased to have made Rosalie laugh.

“Do I not talk to you enough?”

“No,” Bella admitted, chewing her cheek. “It’s more that you’re um, a woman of few words.”

Still smiling, and trying hard not to watch Bella too intensely, she changed the subject back to the previous. “Have you ever had a movie theater for yourself?”

“Does that actually happen?”

“It does,” Rose assured her. “Then there’s no one eating popcorn or making loud noises and the theatre is dark. You can do anything in there and no one would notice.”

As she had hoped, Bella’s ears and throat went pink, making her smirk. She had agreed to respect Bella’s wishes to simply spend time together, but these little moments of embarrassment were worth their weight in gold to her.

Across the cafeteria, a group of three boys got up and dumped their trays, watching the two of them closely as they passed.

Rosalie gave them a dead-eye as they went.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a movie theater like that. In Phoenix, the theaters were always full at times when I could go.”

Behind them, the boys were laughing and pushing one another. As Rose watched, a black-haired boy shoved Mike forward. Mike tipped, nearly falling over. He glared at them, fixing his hair so it stood up in screaming spikes and waved them off, grumbling “all right, all right, all right.”

“Uh oh, here comes your puppy.”

“What?” Bella looked up just in time for Mike to give her a little wave, his stupid puppy face so hopeful with his broad grin. “Oh.” Bella frowned at him and returned the wave with caution.

He really was Rose’s least favorite of Bella’s friends. He reminded her so much of a fly, always buzzing around their heads, too much like a lovesick puppy.

“What up, Bells!” He beamed at her, reaching out as if he was going to was for a high five, only to grow awkward and instead kind of shake her hand. “Heh,” he chuckled, his hands going into his pockets. His eyes darted to Rosalie once and then twice. With a nervous clear of his throat, he nodded at Rose. “Errr, Rosalie.”

She only stared back, her face impassive. “Puppy.”

His eyebrows furrowed into confusion. “Err, right. Well, uh, I’ll see you in class, right, Bells?”

Bella nodded, slowly chewing a bite of her sandwich. “Every day. We have the same classes together every day.”

“Right.” He gave a forced laugh. “That’s true. Um, cool. I’ll, err, see you.”

Smirking, Rosalie gave a sarcastic little wave of her fingers. “Bye, puppy.”

Mike stumbled a little, seemingly all the more confused.

“Oh my god, you have to stop calling him that!”

“But it’s such an apt description,” Rosalie insisted defensively.

“Rose!”

She laughed, her worry eliminated by the fact that there was a small smile on Bella’s lips. “Come on. It’s going to take you the rest of lunch to get to your class.”

“Hey!”

She just shrugged, unapologetic and cleared their trays. She held the door open for Bella as she hobbled to it, her smirk only making Bella glare. “I told you.”

“Shut – ack!”

If Rosalie hadn’t been so centered on Bella’s face, enjoying the look on it, she might have been prepared for the boy that barreled into Bella. Instead, he hit her like a linebacker, apparently not having noticed the person stepping from the cafeteria and Bella’s crutches slipped out from under her.

She had just enough time to think, ‘fuck, how do I do this and make it look human’ before she yelped and grabbed. She pretended to trip trying to catch her broken friend. Instead, she fell with controlled ease, her legs slipping under Bella, her arms a cage around her so that she fell into her lap, caught and settled as lightly as she could. There was a sharp snapping noise as her left heel broke, and Bella let out a small cry of pain.

Rosalie stared, both she and Bella froze, Bella’s heartbeat hard, Rosalie’s mouth dry as Bella came to settle in Rosalie’s lap. Her strong arms were solid around Bella, her hands on Bella’s small waist. She could feel the tenderness of the skin there, could feel the soft fabric of her teeshirt under her fingers. Rosalie’s fingers flexed, balling lightly in Bella’s shirt, wishing desperately she could push it away and feel that warmth that radiated first hand.

Less than five seconds had passed since Bella had begun to fall, and yet to Rosalie, it felt so much longer. She couldn’t look away. This was so much of what she wanted, so much of what she needed. Reflexively her arms tightened and Bella, given little choice, leaned in closer, her warmth covering Rosalie’s torso.

Internally she groaned with relish

Laughter still on his face, the boy was slowly turning, about to mutter an empty apology when he saw who he had run into. Instantly his eyes went wide as saucers. They flicked up once Rosalie beside her and he blanched. “I’m so sorry, Bella, I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you! I didn’t see you at all! I’m such an idiot.”

His blather popped the bubble that Rosalie found herself in and she snarled, her lips curling back in fury. “You idiot! Are you blind?”

The hallway, which had already fallen still as he had tumbled into Bella, went quiet as a church, but Rosalie didn’t care, her fury too large. She carefully lifted Bella, doing her best to show some strain and rose to her feet.

Her voice wasn’t raised it betrayed little of the fury she felt in its stiff aristocratic neutrality. “Be thankful I caught her, idiot otherwise your stupidity could have had much further reaching consequences.”

Horrified, the boy just stammered.

“Learn how to navigate in a crowded stairwell, else will have to teach you, and no one wants that!”

The boy’s mouth dropped open, but she didn’t wait for his reply. She just carefully took Bella’s elbow and started down the corridor.

“I’m sorry!” He called back, his voice shaking a bit.

“You know, that was a perfect example of why people think you’re scary.” Bella laughed, her voice a little too breathy to sound normal.

“I am scary,” Rosalie snipped, giving her a feral grin.

“Oh, right, I forgot.”

“Are you hurt, Bella?”

They hadn’t even made it to the door yet when puppy dog Mike came barreling up, his loud cries interrupting them. “Bella! Bella! Are you okay? Are you—”

Excuse me—” Rosalie snipped, about done with the boys around them at that moment, “—but we were speaking!”

Taken aback, Mike stumbled, seeming shocked that anyone could be so rude. It made her want to show him exactly what rude actually looked like.

She glared as he approached, frustrated that he had asked the question before she had been able to find out herself. She was agitated, her skin sensitive, and she refused to believe it was because she had held Bella in her arms for the first time since the kisses. She wanted to scream, she wanted to cry, she wanted to rub herself over Bella and moan.

God damn it. She bit off the purr that she hadn’t realized she had made when Bella sent her a questioning glance.

Her hands balled into fists, growling a little.

“Yeah, I’m fine, Mike, thanks.”

“You sure, ‘cuz that looked brutal.”

“Yeah, I’m okay. I’ll see you in class.” Bella urged him off, sending Rosalie another glance.

“Err, right, yeah. Okay, but um, uh…”

“Spit it out, puppy!

“Err right, can I talk to you for a second? Maybe? Um, please?”

Rosalie blinked down at him, confused. “Me?”

“Uh, yeah?” He said, sounding not so sure himself.

“I’ll be over there.” Bella nodded toward a bench.

Rosalie stared at her, caught off guard. Was she really expected to sit and have a talk with this annoying boy? There were limits to her patience. There was only so much she could take!

“I’ll see you in a second,” Bella smirked.

Rosalie’s eyes narrowed. She knew exactly how much Rosalie didn’t want to do this.

They waited together, Rosalie glancing at Mike in distaste, for Bella to make her way and sit down. Her brow creased as she did. She knew that Bella would play it off, but the near fall had hurt her leg no matter how much Rosalie had tried to catch her.

Looking distinctly wary, Mike jerked his head back the way she and Bella had just come. “Can we – err – over here.”

“What do you want, puppy?”

“Okay, why do you keep calling me that?” Mike turned on her, his chest puffing, trying to make himself a more intimidating presence. Or perhaps, Rosalie wondered, trying to prove that he wasn’t scared to talk to the infamous bitch Rosalie Hale.

“Because it’s what you are, a human puppy.”

His brows creased. “Well. People like puppies, right?”

Rosalie sighed. “What do you want, Mike?”

Shuffling a little in a way that made her want to hold him still, he cleared his throat. “Yeah, so, uh, you and Bella are friends now.”

She pinched the bridge of her nose. “Was there a question there?”

“Um. Are… you?”

“You could say that.”

“But like, err, like how long? Since Edward left? ‘Cuz like, I know a lot of us have been wondering when he’s coming back, you know?”

“No.”

“No?” Mike asked, glancing around as if somehow that would help him understand the response. “No what?”

“Just. No, Mike.” She wasn’t doing this. She was getting a glimmer of where this was going, and she thought that if it did she would fucking sacrifice him. She might break her own rule and drain him dry just to shut him up.

Her lips pulled back in distaste. No. She didn’t want his blood in her.

“What’s wrong?”

Her eyes snapped to him, caught. “This conversation. Can you get to the damned point?”

“Okay, right.” He jumped a little like she had pricked him with a needle. “Well, I guess I was trying to ask if Bella is single now.” The look on her face sent him stumbling. “I know that he’s your brother and everything. That’s why I thought I should ask, because like —”

“Walk away, Mike.”

“Err… what?”

“Walk away before I end your miserable existence!” she growled, jealous and infuriated.

“But like, I was just —”

“Mike!”

“What?”

“Shut. Up.”

“Hey! Wait!”

Rosalie had already turned, pushing the doors they had come through open when a hand fell on her arm.

Her response was almost instinctual, was almost bad enough to put them in a situation they would have to fix. She wanted to rip it off. She wanted to reach across herself and give a yank, pulling it clean off.

She froze, her eyes closed, reminding herself of all the reasons why it would be bad to do that.

“Get – your hand – off – of me – now.”

“Come on, please?”

Do not be possessive, do not be possessive, do not—

She spun around fast, the snarl in her throat only just contained. “You don’t stand a chance with her, understand. won’t let you anywhere near her. Don’t even try.”

“Why do you dislike me so much?” He cried.

She just snarled and twirled to get away from him.

Too many. There were too many that wanted her mate when she couldn’t even have her mate.

Her broken heel made her walk awkward as she stomped.

She felt a little better the moment she stepped outside and into the grey sunlight. She had always known he was interested, so this wasn’t a surprise.

Yet, she wanted to hurt something.

She swallowed, doing her best to hide what she was feeling.

Was it right to be so jealous? She had kissed Bella. She had been near her. Mike hadn’t. So why did she feel this jealous?

“Did you see that tomorrow is supposed to be sunny?” Bella asked as she sat beside her.

“Is it?” She clipped, crossing her legs primly and working hard not to turn into a vampire statue. She bounced her foot with effort, still seething.

“What’s wrong? What did Mike want?”

She chuckled once. I want you. I want you so much, her mind screamed. “He wanted me to put in a good word for him with you.” She forced a bright smile onto her face, pushing away every other feeling.

“You’re kidding.”

“I told him I wouldn’t.”

Bella eyed her, silent but fidgeting.

“Don’t worry, I left him walking and talking.”

Bella almost smiled.

Rosalie couldn’t look at her, and so instead she looked out across the quad, feeling Bella’s eyes on her. The tension in her stomach only grew as Bella remained silent.

“So, it’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow, huh?”

“You didn’t know?” Bella asked, her head ticking to the side.

Reluctantly she looked at Bella. She could see something in her eyes, something that looked so much like a question, but whatever the question was, she wasn’t sure of it. “I did,” she admitted. “Carlisle is going to call us out of school after third period.”

“What do you guys do if the sun comes sooner?”

She sighed, looking out at the sea of students. “It took a while, but you can tell when it’s coming. I got caught once. I ended up hiding inside an empty building for hours because the sun came out unexpectedly after a storm. Now, we just excuse ourselves or ditch if we need to get away. It helps that Alice can usually see when the sun will be out strongly enough that we need to worry. Once in the eighties —” Rosalie laughed, her words stopping as she looked down at Bella. The smile on Bella’s face told her that she was right. Bella had gotten her talking in the hopes of helping her push away her anger. And it had worked. Quickly even. Amazed, she shook her head a little and continued. “I told a woman that I was wearing glitter based lotion. It wasn’t sunny, I don’t think anything could fool people in that situation, but it wasn’t quite overcast enough. She said that I glowed.”

She glanced down at Bella wryly. “What?”

She shook her head. “You don’t talk about stuff like this very often.”

“Don’t I?”

Bella shook her head, looking anxious for more.

“That’s twice now you’ve pointed that out. You know you don’t talk about yourself much either.”

Bella considered this. “What do you want to know?”

Rosalie’s smile was slow and warm. “It’s okay. The best part of getting to know someone is getting to know them.”

“Finding these things out for yourself?”

“Exactly.”

They shared a smile.

“What will Carlisle say when he calls?”

Rose paused, chuckling as she admitted, “I don’t know. Hiking. Sometimes that we have to go see our social workers.”

“Social workers?”

“Mmm, of course. Because if we were actually adopted as recently as last year then we may have those.”

“Oh. Right.” Bella laughed.

Out of habit, Rosalie shifted in her seat and her arm brushed Bella’s. The static felt up her arm made her hum. Bella was looking out at the other people around them and didn’t notice her gaze as Rosalie took in every inch of her face. This was so nice. Did she want to kiss her senseless? Yes. But this, the sitting, the talking, the feeling, it was all so much better than she had ever thought she would get to feel. Especially after that conversation with Mike. How had Bella known to do that? Even Rose wouldn’t have known that was what she needed to calm down again.

“What?”

She hadn’t realized she had closed her eyes, simply breathing in the scent of Bella, feeling that gentle feeling of the mate bond washing over her so much like the waves of the ocean. She opened them and smiled a little. Bella had leaned in close as if waiting for her to tell her a secret. The desire to kiss her was always there, always, but it was rare for Bella to ever lean into her like this. Before she allowed herself to think, she reached out and gently, feather-light, ran a finger across Bella’s jaw, from ear to chin.

Bella’s eyes fluttered and then closed. She breathed out a deep sigh, her heart rate picking up pace.

She had thought that she might pull away, still tangled in her confusion and she could see some confusion in Bella’s eyes. She could also see something else.

Delicately, not stopping to think, Rosalie gently cupped Bella’s face, marveling at her warmth, at the way Bella’s scent wrapped around her. She leaned in, her lips gently parted.

Above them, a football went flying.

“I got it!” One of the school football players yelled and dived, catching the ball just before he hit the ground.

Rose blinked, snapping out of the trace she felt looking into Bella’s eyes.

Bella blinked a little, leaning forward and yet somehow to the side, pressing her arm into Rosalie’s.

It made Rosalie smile a little as she leaned back, releasing Bella’s face.

Should she apologize? She had been caught up in her desire, unable to stop herself but that was exactly what she was supposed to be stopping herself from doing.

“So then, are you going to ask me out on a date?”

If she hadn’t seen Bella’s lips move she would have thought she had heard things. She gaped, her mouth hanging open in a very unladylike manner.

She had thought this before, but suddenly it felt so much truer. The girl that she had thought she was in the beginning, the wallflower was just not who Bella was.

The smirk that came to her lips was joyous, if not a little playfully cocky. She leaned in closer.

Bella’s heartbeat instantly picked up from a trot to a full gallop.

She loved that. So sexy.

The breath that Bella let out was a little broken, a little weighty as Rosalie bent, her lips close enough again to kiss her.

Bella’s eyes fluttered and then closed in anticipation.

A long pull of desire settled into Rosalie’s belly, making her smile larger. “I guess I should think about doing that.”

The breath blew from Bella in a puff as Rosalie leaned back. She flopped back on the bench, her body going limp as her hands went to cover her face, laughing.

The bell went off with a loud buzz, breaking into their shared laughter.

She looked at Rose, her head shaking and Rose beamed back. “I guess I had better go.”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure you’re about to have a lot of fun.”

“What?” Bella cried, worry in her voice.

“Nothing. I’ll see you later.” She rose and started toward her class. She hadn’t even gotten ten feet away when Jessica, who had been lurking in the shadows, was beside Bella, hissing words like a cat.

“Oh my god, Bella, so like, I don’t want to spread gossip or anything but people are totally saying that you’re dating Edward Cullen’s sister now and I just saw you! You almost kissed her!”

Over her shoulder, she gave Bella an innocent smile.

Bella, in return, glared fire at her.

“Errr…”

“Oh my god, are you gay now? I have so many questions!”

Unable to stop it, Rose let out a bellow of a laugh, not minding at all that other students looked at her like she was crazy.

Chapter Text

Two days later Rosalie had just left Bella at her morning class with a wink that made Bella seem equal parts flustered and pleased when her phone began to vibrate in her pocket.

“Ms. Hale?”

“This is she,” she said in her usual clipped tone, ignoring the condemning look she got from a teacher as she passed.  

“Hello, Ms. Hale. This is Antonio with Aston Martin Las Vegas. I’m calling to let you know that your car has arrived.”

 


 

Rosalie had gotten halfway to the back fence, the one that could easily be scaled because it wasn’t in any classroom’s line of sight, when she remembered her recent absences.  

There were moments when their plan, a plan she supported, became hard to stick to. This was one of them. At that moment, she didn’t want to be a high school girl.

“Damn it,” she grumbled and started toward class.

There was no way she would be staying in school while her new baby sat waiting for her, however. Within twenty minutes she was on her way to the parking lot, having moaned in a low voice to her very male teacher about menstrual cramps. It was a sensation she didn’t remember at all from her human life but was an excuse she heard from the other female students constantly. He had looked revolted, following every cliché imaginable and had let her go the nurse. She had instead skipped the nurse and started toward the lot. She had wanted to run since it would be quicker, but she knew from experience that once you hit the desert all coverage vanished. So she slid into her M3 in the parking lot.

She started the car and paused. Bella would be curious where she had gone. She closed her eyes and thought very deliberately, “I’m leaving for the day. I’m going on a quick trip. I’ll be back.” Alice should pick that up.

It was roughly twenty hours to Vegas.

Smirking to herself, she pulled out of the empty parking lot.

She’d make it in seven.

 


 

“Rose! What are you doing here? Something wrong at school?”

She just shook her head, stopping on the stairs that Esme had been descending to kiss her cheek.

The look of shock on Esme’s face made her wonder if she needed to do that more often.  

Hand on her cheek, Esme eyed her. “Things going better with Bella?”

Rosalie just shrugged.

“Ah.” Esme nodded. “New car.”

She gave a snarl of happiness, running upstairs to change. She wasn’t going to walk into an Aston Martin dealership looking like a teenager. She picked a simple black Alice Olivia dress and pulled it on as well as new heels. She grabbed her Saint Laurent trench and started back down the stairs.

“My M3 as getting old,” she offered as she passed Esme. “Don’t wait up.”

“Where are you going?”

“Las Vegas.”

“Don’t get pulled over!” Rosalie heard from behind her as she fled out the door.

 


 

After stopping at a rental for a one-way rental, she started on the road. She didn’t make it in seven. She hadn’t anticipated the traffic load as she got into the city, and there was no avoiding that. It was torture, but after nine hours she was finally pulling into the dealership.

She glanced out of the windshield as she parked, a little nervous. While spring seemed to be taking its sweet time in Forks, in Vegas they had already moved into summer. The sun shone down right and hot, radiating in waves off of the concrete. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky.  

“Fuck,” she mumbled. There were a solid fifty feet from the parking lot to the front doors. There was no way she could walk that distance, and even less of a chance she wouldn’t be seen. She glanced around and made up her mind. Reversing out of her spot, she pulled up instead directly in front of the doors, half on the sidewalk. It was an obvious no parking zone, she had to imagine so cars could be pulled out for their customers. Still, that meant she only had a few steps before she was covered.

She glanced around. “The things we have to fucking do,” she mumbled as she climbed over the driver’s seat and to the passenger side that would let her out in the shade.

She pulled herself out with as much dignity as she could, her back haughtily straight, her chin high.

“Miss! I’m sorry, excuse me miss. You can’t park—”

Rosalie ignored the man a few feet away and stepped into the office.

Her heels clicked on the marble flooring, her jacket swayed in exactly the right tailored way. She had pulled up her hair into a tight side chignon and hadn’t taken her sunglasses off. She looked the part, that was for sure.

The man behind the desk looked up and stared. 

She stepped forward, pleased with the sound, and gave him a tight and impersonal smile. “Hale. Here for a pickup.”

“Miss,” the exasperated voice came from behind her. “Miss, as I was trying to say, you can’t park—” She held up the rental keys, letting them dangle off of her finger. The man’s words cut off in surprise.

“Um…”

“Are you not returning my rental anyway?” She asked, finally pulling off her sunglasses and leveling him with a gaze.

“Oh.” He blinked, tentatively taking the keys. “I mean, I’ll have to speak to my boss, but—”

“Is this not Aston Martin? Did I not spend enough money here to warrant a favor?” She snapped the words at him, doing her best to sound like her old self. It made her wince internally, she didn’t like being this stuck up anymore, but she had no idea how else she would get the rental car returned.

“Oh, um…” the man glanced at his colleague behind the desk, who still looked like he had been struck dumb and was simply staring at Rosalie. “I suppose you’re correct. All right, right away, I’ll get this taken care of for you.”

“Mmm.” Rosalie hummed as he stumbled backward. She watched him go first to an important-looking man in a well-tailored suit and then get into the car.

Guilt made her snap a little harsher than she meant to when she turned back to the desk. “Sometime today, please?”

He jumped and his fingers began to clack against the keys.

She stood waiting for a few moments before the strong purr of a car sounded and began to come closer.

Oh, if that was hers then she made the right choice. Chills of delight broke across her skin.

“If you will just follow me, please.” He stood looking a little more dignified and a little less like her face was enough to make him swoon. He held a door open and Rosalie clicked through it.

“Oooh.” She let out the moan completely involuntarily. Had she thought the love she felt in her mate bond was strong? This car, sleek, angular, the perfect shade of grey. She moaned a little again.

“That’s a hell of a car, isn’t it?”

She couldn’t help but notice with a small amount of vain pleasure that while he spoke of the car, it was she that he was looking at.

She just purred in response, taking in her new baby.

She felt a warmth from beside her and glanced at him. He had flushed at her sound, the look on his face as though his pants had suddenly grown too tight.

“Does it meet your satisfaction?”

Leaning forward she ran a single finger over the body from hood to tail. “Oh, it does.”

“Good. Come with me and we will get some formalities out of the way.” He offered her his elbow wistfully.

“In a moment.”

A plan was beginning in her head as she bit her lip. Her eyes flicked to the clock on the wall. It was rounding on six. Traffic out of Vegas was less difficult to handle in the evening. Had she waited until she had gotten out of school, she never would have made it. Thank god she hadn’t. Still, if she made the drive back in the same amount of time, then everything would line up perfectly.

With her name in her mind like a caress, Rosalie carefully placed her hand just on the inside of the crook of his elbow and let him lead her.

 


 

The formalities were always the worst part of buying a car from a dealership instead of building a car yourself or buying from a car collector. Mainly because as a tall, beautiful, woman, it was very difficult to get out of the extended warranty that meant she could have all the top class mechanical help she needed. She never needed it. She could always do it better. As soon as she got a new car, she learned how to fix it herself. Were Aston’s specifically difficult, as they required a whole unique set of tools, of course. But it was an intriguing challenge. When she finally assured them for what felt like the fiftieth time that no, she didn’t need it, the office manager offered her his hand as though she was unable to get up from the chair on her own. “With those done, Ms. Hale.” He offered his hand, keys dangling.

A shiver up her spine she took them. “Pleasure doing business with you, gentlemen.”

Her new car was indeed exactly where she had pulled up the now gone rental, facing the opposite direction she saw with relief. She wouldn’t need to find a way to get in without the sun becoming a problem.

She opened the door and slid in with a groan. It felt like sex and she had to admit, when she turned over the ignition and found that the sound she had earlier was her new baby, she felt a very real physical pleasure.

“It’s good to meet you,” she crooned, running a sultry hand over the steering wheel. “Ooooh yes,” she sighed as she pulled out of the lot.

As soon as she could with a happy laugh, she opened the car up on the freeway, tearing down the road as if it were made for her and her new car.

 


 

It was rounding on four in the morning when she turned onto the drive. Excitement and pride bubbling, she clicked open the garage, pleased to see a small crowd of people.

“Oooooh, babe!” Emmett cried, his hands going up to his head to hold it. “You didn’t tell me it was going to look like this!”

She parked and stepped from the car like a proud parent presenting her newborn.

“Edward isn’t going to like this,” Esme laughed a little. “This is going to be your everyday car?”

She just hummed, not caring much about what Edward thought when he came back, if he did. She had other issues if Edward came back.

After admiring the car some more with her family, giving it a quick wash to get the bugs off, she headed inside to begin her plans.

 It was very early when she stepped inside the local grocery for the second time in many years. The store had a very different attitude and flavor to it this time. Instead of people bustling around, and glancing at her in surprise as if they had assumed she only shopping in the fancier stores outside of town, it was sleepy. The cashiers leaned heavily over their counters, coffee in hand and bleary-eyed. She had to admit, she liked it this way a lot more.

“Ms. Hale.” An older man with a red tag that read manager said, his eyes still red shot. “You’re up early today.”

“I need to do some shopping before school.”

“I see that. Anything I can help you find?”

She declined as politely as she could. She had plenty of time.

Her grin was slightly mischievous as she went through the store slowly. The internet had been very helpful that morning, telling her exactly what she should get. She picked out a loaf of bread from the bakery department, fruit, cheese, chips, a roll of salami that smelled abhorrent, and a bar of chocolate.

“Ahhh,” the manager laughed, stepping up again.

Rosalie glared, officially not loving the attention.

“I think you might have heard the forecast wrong this morning, dear. It’s supposed to be dark and rainy.”

“Oh no,” she cried, pretending to care. “That’s horrible!” She didn’t bother to say what she was thinking, that if you drove fast enough and far enough, there was always sun to be found.

Back home, she threw a blanket into the trunk and paused to look up at the sky. The sun had fully come up and the others in her family had set off for school. It was true, she could see no let-up to the rain that day. That didn’t dampen her excitement.

Double-checking her clothes, a simple tee shirt and a pair of jeans, all that were very flattering, she got in the car and headed toward the school.

She arrived at the perfect time. The bell rang to release first period just as she was pulling up to the curb, a clear no parking zone, and hopped out. She took a deep breath and she was off, hidden under an umbrella because it was really raining.

She rounded the corner and saw Bella down the hallway looking thunderous. It was clear to see why. Bella was drenched from head to toe.

“What happened to you?”

Bella gave a snarl that was very reminiscent to her vampire friends, her teeth gnashed together as she spoke. “Mike pushed me out into the rain. He thought it was funny. But my boot couldn’t handle it and I fell.”

Rose frowned. Teenage flirting, it never made sense to her. Leaning in so she was close to Bella’s ear she whispered, “Want me to bite him for you?”

Bella’s whole body gave a visible shiver, though she couldn’t be sure it was her fault or the rain that did it.

Bella beamed, laughing a little and it made Rose’s insides warm. Her hand moved without her permission, just needing to touch Bella after a smile like that. It ran up Bella’s forearm before closing on her bicep.

“Come with me.” She said, giving a little pull.

“What?” Bella’s eyes blew wide, glancing toward the classroom where she had been heading. “But I have Chem. I’m going to be la—”

“Come – with – me,” she said in an evenly measured voice, her eyes insisting.

“Errr, okay.” Stumbling a little over her own feet, Rose was impressed when Bella followed. Sometimes it blew her away how much Bella had left their history in the past and wasn’t at all made nervous by the fact that she was, well, a creature from horror novels.

Excited like a child, she pulled Bella perhaps a little too fast, making the ever clumsy girl even more clumsy.

In the illegal spot she had left it, she had to admit she was presenting it, a beautiful newly bought treasure offered to her mate.

Bella stared as Rose walked to her new baby and gave it a loving caress.

“Okay, I don’t know anything about cars but even I can tell that this is a good one. Is it new?”

“Just got it last night,” Rose smirked.

“Oooh, this is where you went, isn’t it? Alice told me you left but didn’t say to where.”

Rosalie frowned. She wasn’t sure what was wrong, but as she spoke, Bella’s face was turning red, her body coiling tightly.

She followed her gaze and realized that Bella was watching her hand lovingly caress the car.

She gave a sudden start, her eyes going back to Rosalie’s face, but her coloring only getting brighter.

Immensely pleased, Rosalie opened the passenger side. “Want a ride?”

It wasn’t until Bella was in the car that Rose realized that Bella was soaking wet. She blinked as she pulled out of the lot, surprised with herself. She wouldn’t have let Emmett get in unless he was clean with fresh clothes. The things that happened with Bella were so strange.

“Are you cold?”

Bella’s head shook, her jaw clattering.

Rose snorted and clicked on the heater on full blast. With another press of a button, she turned the passenger seat warmer on. Bella immediately sighed, sinking in. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“You’re going to get me in trouble, you know.”

“Hmm?” Rose asked, her head too filled with how nice Bella’s scent was in this new car that was only hers was. Had she ever had her in an area so contained before?

“With school.”

Rose gave her a wicked grin. “And who says that I didn’t give you an alibi?”

Bella’s mouth dropped open. “What did you do?”

“I called and said I was Renee.”

“And they bought that?” She asked, incredulous.

She just smiled back. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched as Bella sank in a little more, sighing.

“Warm?”

Bella just hummed.

“Good,” Rose said more to herself than to Bella.

The drive fell into a comfortable silence as they headed off the freeway and onto a small country road. Bella watched out the window, and though Rose had given her no explanation, she didn’t seem to mind where they were going.

The rain slowly began to lessen, the steady patterning on the roof and windows turning from a musical rhythm to slow and unsteady drops.

“You know, when you said a ride, I thought you mean around the block or something. Where are we going?”

“On a picnic.”

A single eyebrow went up, Bella looking intrigued. “You go on picnics?”

She shrugged and said something so true lately that it was almost funny. “I do a lot of things these days that I never thought I would.”

Bella’s head settled back against her seat, eyes trained on her. “Don’t you have any human things you used to do that you like to do now?”

Rose watched her turn in her seat, her eyes intense. She really wanted to know. Somehow that made Rosalie both nervous and flattered all at once. She gave her a long look, thinking, watching the curves in the road without having to keep her full attention on it.

Bella’s eyes flicked to the road a few times, looking a little nervous but Rose was pleased that she didn’t comment.

“I still like to shop. For just about anything, really.”

Bella’s laugh was rich. “I could have guessed that.”

Rose smiled, a little embarrassed.

“But that…”

“What?” Rose asked when Bella trailed off.

“I don’t know, that seems like something you would say to fit your ‘Rosalie Hale’ persona.”

Rose stared, shocked.

“Is there anything that you like to do just because you like to do it? Not because it looks good or it’s something you should say?”

“Wha... I don’t... I...” Rosalie stumbled, thrown off course. Bella didn’t back down though, her look shrewd as Rosalie stumbled.

“Fine. Film.”

Bella looked like she hadn’t expected that answer, and liked that fact. “Movies? Really?”

“Is that not a good enough hobby?” She snapped, peevish.

“No, no!” Bella cried, sitting up a little. “Just unexpected.”

Rosalie deflated a little, taking a deep breath. Her fingers tapped on her car steering wheel, turning them at a rural stop sign. “Just before my human life ended, I went to the movies with my best friend and saw Virtue.” She said, unwilling to speak and share and even more unwilling not to. “I was amazed,” she admitted with a small smile. “Movies with actual voices were still so new, and that was the first time I saw Carole Lombard.” She gave Bella a side glance and saw she was still watching. Flattered and a bit bemused, she continued. “I was entranced by her. She was beautiful.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen her movies.”

Rose glanced at her with a soft smile. “I’ll show you.” For some reason that made Bella’s cheeks pink.

“You will, huh?”

Rose nodded once. “I will.”

Bella’s cheeks went pinker, a pleased little smile on her lips. “Okay. So tell me about Carole.”

“I spend the first years of my new life in those darkened theaters. It was an escape from the things that I couldn’t escape. The passion for film never died.”

“So you’ve always known you liked women?”

Rose jerked. If she had been a human, she thought she might have driven them off the road in her surprise. “What do you mean?”

“What do you mean, what do I mean? You said that Carole Lombard was the reason you fell in love with movies. You just said she was beautiful, right? And, um, there’s, um…” Bella squirmed a little in her seat.

“And you, you mean?”

A little reluctantly shy, Bella nodded.

She turned onto a side road, considering it. What it came down to, she thought, was that she had never thought about it. She was the perfect specimen of heterosexuality. All she had wanted when she was young was to be married, to have a husband, and to create a few babies. In her new life, she had always been with her big bear of a man, a perfect male physically. Women had just never occurred to her. But if she thought about it, she had thought that they were generally prettier than men before. The shape of their bodies, their clothing, even their scent, both skin and blood smelled better than men. And yet… “No.” She finally said. “No, this is new for me.”

Bella nodded, looking out the window. “Yeah, me too.”

“Do you think you’re a lesbian?”

Bella startled, the word apparently a shock to her. “A les- no, no, I don’t think I’m a lesbian. But uh… I did notice you first. It was you and Edward, you were the two I noticed first.”

Rosalie nodded. “Interesting.”

“You?”

Rosalie studied a sign on the side of the street, clearing her throat once. “I don’t know.” And she didn’t. Was it possible to learn you were a lesbian after years of enjoying sex with men? Was it possible to enjoy sex with men and still be a lesbian? She continuously found small things about her past that made her wonder, and yet… she couldn’t be sure. “I don’t know,” she mumbled again.

Silence fell, both lost in thought. It was strange, she supposed, to discuss a sudden desire for women with the woman you suddenly desired. At least it was when nothing had been cemented with said person, not even whether or not you desired them.

As if she knew what Rose was thinking, Bella glance at her and then away quickly, her cheeks still that pleasant shade of pink that Rose knew she would be able to feel if she touched her cheek.

“So what do you do at night?”

She snorted amusement. “What is this, Rosalie trivia time?”

“I just mean, err, I mean, I don’t know anything about you. Edward said you all have different things you do at night and I know about your family, and some of your background because your current family told me, but you…”

Rose sighed. “I haven’t been very nice to you, have I?” She was noticing a theme in Bella’s recent comments.

Bella just shrugged.

“Well. I do spend a lot of time watching movies. I’ve also gone to night school far more than my siblings, other than Edward that is. I have degrees in electrical engineering, business, and astrophysics. Those fields are always evolving so there’s always more to study. There’s always more to learn. To top it off, I did go to medical school, at least most of medical school. So I often read under that subject. It helps Carlisle stay updated in a field that moves so fast and in a town where change is slow coming.” She risked a glance at Bella, curious about what she thought of all of this.

What she saw on Bella’s face surprised her. She looked as if she were in heaven. It made her feel warm to see the interest. In fact, she felt warm in general these days. They were friends. There was no more arguing that. They were spending time together. The bond felt more like pleasure these days than a discomfort, something that she could choose to bask in or ignore if needed.

“So you’re a doctor trapped in high school?” Bella asked incredulously.

Rosalie laughed. “Not quite. I didn’t begin my residency, nor did I graduate, but otherwise, yes.”

“I don’t know if I could stand it.” Bella shook her head. “Do you do anything for fun other than the cars?”

“This is fun.”

Bella’s mouth opened and her pink cheeks deepened, beginning in her neck and throat and moving up.

“Movies are fun too. – What, they are!” She insisted when Bella rolled her eyes. “They’re portals. They can take you anywhere, let you be anything. They give you friends, or sometimes even family if the movie is good enough. Also experiences that you’ll never have, even if it’s just for two hours.”

“Is there such thing for you?”

“What?”

“Experiences you’ll never have. You’re going to live forever, right? There’s always time.”

“Maybe, but also maybe not.”

“Movies let you visit times that have passed.”

She smiled a little. “Yes, exactly.” She was pleased that Bella understood. Emmett hadn’t exactly been confused by the concept, but he also hadn’t fully cared. Emmett was somebody who lived in the now and who never felt the need for outside company. He didn’t befriend movie characters as she did, he didn’t need to visit worlds he had once known first hand.

Beside her, Bella shifted in her seat, her throat clearing and Rose felt something warm touch her hand. She froze, not breathing. When she drove, she did so with a hand on either the shifter or in the rare case where a car didn’t come with a manual option, on the center console. Her hand had been there, on the Aston’s gear shift, perched lazily and now Bella had reached out, as gently as she could, and was touching her hand. Slowly she began to draw shapes on the back of it. Elated and nervous, she slowly turned her hand over and caught Bella’s in her own.

Their fingers slid together, interlacing.

It was such a silly juvenile thing to be excited about, and yet Rosalie couldn’t stop herself from grinning like a fool.

Bella, who had been sitting up in her seat anxiously, settled back again, her eyes cautiously on Rosalie’s face.

Rose held it firmly, trying to make up for some of her nerves herself.

“Is... is this okay, Rose?”

She didn’t like the wry fear in Bella’s voice. “Bella,” she sighed, squeezing her hand a little tighter. “Sweethe—” she cut herself off, biting back the nickname. “I don’t want your blood, Bella.”

“No! No, no, I mean, because… I don’t know. Because, you know.”

Her eyebrows furrowed as she tried to understand that. Because you know? She glanced at Bella’s waiting face. She did have her own version of ‘you know’. Her hand closed a little tighter on Bella’s. They were alone, in a warm and comfortable environment. She took a deep breath of the air, smelling Bella, smelling the rain they had left behind, the sun now waiting outside. This was the perfect time to finally give in and to tell her. It couldn’t be more perfect. Only, she glanced at Bella and saw that she was biting her lip just a little, her eyes twinkling. She was looking down at their hands as if she couldn’t believe they were touching in this way.

Because you know... 

‘You know’ wasn’t a bad thing.

‘You know’ was something very good even.

“We’re almost there.” The words just floated out of her as if they had been exactly what she had meant to say.

She turned onto another dirt paved road, entering the gate for the farm.

Bella was holding her hand. She was doing it and looking like she was happy about it.

She couldn’t.

Not right now.

“Um…” Bella frowned as the old farmhouse approached at the end of the long dusty unpaved road.

Rose couldn’t blame her. It wasn’t a beautiful old house, not by a long shot. It looked like a scene from the dust bowl. The house was huge and had a lot of potential – at least as far as Rose had noticed the time she had walked through its condemned halls. However, there were boards over the windows and door as well as a bright yellow sign on the front that would warn anyone that the building was condemned. It had a beaten and worn look about it, the wood no longer rich but instead, the sun had sucked them of their color.

She had found this house one day on a run from Forks to Calgary and had fallen in love. There was nothing significant about the place except for one thing. On either side of the house stretching for miles and miles were fields of wheat. It danced softly in the breeze, shimmering like gold. It was everywhere, going right up to the house in the years since the farm had been abandoned, leaving only a small area that had once been a front lawn where a huge old tree stood, a single old wooden swing hanging from it.

“Wow.” Bella sighed, seeming to understand the magic of this place. “It’s beautiful.”

Rose just smiled and opened the door. The wheat fields were dusty, her new baby would need a bath after this, but it was worth it. Warmth hit her as soon as she was free of the car. She sighed, turning her face up to meet the sun, taking in the warmth.

She missed the sun often. It was so rare that Forks got any sun. It wrapped her in memories of her human life, sitting on her balcony, walking through the park, picking fruit from vendors. It was the only time she felt human.

“Will you be cold?” she asked, closing the door and heading around the back for their provisions. She picked up the blanket and spread it just beside the golden field. “Bella? Will you be cold?” She looked up, confused as to why Bella hadn’t answered. “Bella?”

Bella hadn’t moved from her spot just beside the car, not even a step. Her eyes were slightly unfocused and she swayed a little, almost as if she were close to fainting. “Bella!” She was at her side in a second, her arms out, ready to catch her or soothe her however she could. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

Bella blinked once, but her eyes did not clear. “I’ve never seen you in the sunlight before.”

“What?” Rose asked, not understanding.

“You’re beautiful.”

“What?”

Bella didn’t answer, just looked into her face.

Rose stared back at Bella, taking that in. Once again, it didn’t sound the same as how people usually said it to her.

Carefully Bella reached up and touched her cheek, the warmth making Rose want to shiver.

The thing was, looking at Bella, she knew that Bella was too. Yes, she had known that before, but she had never seen Bella in the sun either. The sun was caught in her hair, making it not brown but suddenly and startlingly auburn. Her skin, so pale in the grey light of Forks, was rich and creamy here, almost porcelain. Her eyes, which were always so richly brown, were so warm, and the sun on her skin made her scent bloom, filling her headily with its rich scent.

She looked at Bella there in the sun and was unsurprised and yet amazed so see that she was dimming the beauty of the sun, of the fields around her, making them seem boring in the sunlight.

“You’re beautiful, too, you know.”

Her voice had hardly been above a whisper and yet Bella flinched, her eyes dropping. “I’m not. Not in comparison to you. It’s – ugh, it’s dumb to even say—”

Bella’s words cut off suddenly when Rose reached out and took her hands, giving them a firm squeeze.

“Don’t do that.”

Bella’s eyes flicked up, studying her face.

Rose worried just a bit that she might have hurt her feelings, but Bella didn’t look hurt. In fact, she looked… flattered. She watched as a volley of emotions passed across Bella’s face, most Rose wasn’t sure of, but a few like pleasure and bashfulness she knew well.

“What?”

Bella twitched a little, her hands still caught in Rosalie’s, but she smiled ever so slightly. “Nothing, I just… at least I understand what that look you get sometimes is now.”

Rosalie laughed, fighting the urge to pull her into her and wrap her arms around her. Maybe Bella really would take it well, she had taken everything better than Rose had expected.

Bella looked down at their hands which had intertwined together as if she wasn’t sure and so Rose let go, taking a step back.

But this was new.

Bella was still trying this on.

It wasn’t the time.

“So. Are you cold?”

“A little,” Bella admitted so Rose went to the trunk and also pulled out a sweater she had stashed there, just in case.

“Are you hungry?”

Looking shy again, Bella smiled. “A little.”

“Good.” She settled on the blanket, still enjoying the sun on her skin, and began to pull items out of her bag. She set up the fruit with a small little cutting board and a knife, the cheese likewise as well as the meat.

“Rose, this is way too much for one person.”

“Sit.”

“But it—”

Sit down. Eat something.”

Eyes rolling, Bella sat on the blanket with some effort, eyeing the food.

As if nervous Bella reached out for the bread and smelled it.

“Does it smell good?”

Bella nodded, ripping off a chunk.

“I got to the store early this morning when they were just putting the bread out fresh.”

Bella hummed, but she only picked at the soft center of the bread, self-conscious.

Rosalie let her gaze move, looking out over the field of wheat, enjoying the way the blades caught the light. Behind her, she heard Bella begin to eat in earnest and had to hide her smile.

She watched the blades wave, seeing the tiny bugs that lived in it, the gentle dust that billowed and fell when the light breeze made them move.

She glanced back in time to see Bella put a little goat cheese on a pear and take a bite. Bella sighed, looking as if she relished the taste. It made Rose a little envious. She wanted to taste whatever Bella was tasting. She wanted to taste it in the way she was. The smell of the pear was almost pleasant, she had to admit. It was fresh, juicy, if not a little too sweet, but the cheese didn’t smell good at all.

“What does it taste like?”

Bella’s eyes flew wide, unaware that she had been watched and coughed a little, nearly choking. Her hand came up to her mouth, hiding it as she chewed and swallowed what looked like too quickly.

“Do you remember what things taste like?”

She just shook her head. It was funny, and something she would share with almost no one, but while she clung to the idea of life, something that rightfully should have been hers, she really couldn’t remember it all of that well. Some things better than others, for example, her memories of morning coffee with the sun she remembered better than her daily routine. Overall, however, the memories that were not cared for had begun to fade long ago.

Chewing slowly, Bella’s eyebrows furrowed. “It’s bitter, I guess.”

“Bitter?” she asked, startled. “But your face looked like you had been enjoying it.”

“Yeah,” Bella laughed a little at whatever was on Rose’s face. “The cheese is bitter and tangy, but the pear is soft and sweet. It’s not a bad bitter. It’s a good bitter.”

“You can’t have both sweet and bitter at the same time.”

That only made Bella laugh harder. “Yes you can, you dumb vampire.”

Rose snarled a little, but it was more playful than angry. It would have been impossible to be angry at that moment, not with the look of amusement on Bella’s face. “One taste doesn’t ruin the other?”

“No.” She shook her head thoughtfully, swallowing the mouthful. “It’s more like they complement one another.” She put a little more cheese on some pear and took another bite. “What would it taste like to you?” She asked after she had swallowed. “Edward once compared human food to dirt?”

“I wouldn’t say that exactly, as much as it’s just gross. The flavors aren’t right. I think it would be like if someone handed you a bouquet of roses and then asked you to eat them. The pear smells like perfume. The cheese smells like animal waste.”

“Can you digest it?”

“No. I would eventually have to sick it up.”

“Wow.” Bella nodded, finishing up the last bite. “So, are you going to push me?”

Confused by the sudden change in topic, Rosalie blinked at her, not understanding at all. She felt like she was a step behind Bella constantly this afternoon.

“Come on.”

Rosalie offered her hand and pulled her to her feet. She didn’t protest until she understood where she was being pushed. Her eyes rolled, her scoff dry. “What are we, five?”

Bella didn’t answer, only pushed her a little more.

“It’s dirty!” she whined but Bella only laughed, her warm hands on Rose’s waist. The swing have a worrisome creak when she sat and Rosalie winced, waiting to be spilled into the dirt.

Bella crossed to behind her and pushed gently, but Rose didn’t move. She watched as Bella laughed, her eyes on Bella’s face. Giving the swing a little shake by the ropes, Bella leaned in. “You gotta pick up your feet.”

Rose did, still not looking away from Bella.

“Come on, old lady. I know this is high tech compared to when you were young, but you have to know how this works.”

That finally snapped Rose out of her reverie. “Old lady? Did you just call me an old lady?”

“Yup, I did.”

She could hear the amused pride in Bella’s voice as she scoffed, her mouth dropping open in mock horror. “Excuse me, but I am forever nineteen.”

“Still older than me.”

Rosalie glared over her shoulder, the sting of whatever she was going to say lost as she watched a breeze catch Bella’s hair. She scoffed again because she wasn’t sure her mouth would work right.

So pretty, her mind thought, weak under the realization of how true it was.

Bella pushed a little harder and Rose automatically pumped her legs.

“Are you having fun?” She asked dryly. “Are you having fun pushing me on the swing, Bella?”

“Yes.”

“Are you, now?”

“Yup.”

She chuckled. She was making fun of Bella, yes, but there was something much like glee in her too… almost as if she were happy. Almost as if she was happy that Bella was there with her. It was such a simple feeling that she couldn’t reconcile it. The stupid grin on her face was so large, however, that it couldn’t be denied. She was happy.

“You know if you wanted we could stop on the way home and get some coloring sticks and paper.”

“Coloring sticks?” Bella laughed loudly, her face alight. She bent over, snorting. “You – you - you mean crayons?”

“What?” Rose frowned over her shoulder, confused as to why Bella was laughing so hard that she was bent double.

“Oh my god,” Bella gasped out. “Okay, you can never give me a hard time when I call you old.”

“Coloring sticks!” Rosalie insisted. She didn’t understand the joke and it made her a little grumpy. “The little colored sticks of wax kids use to draw.”

“Yeah. Yeah, totally called crayons now.”

She scowled for a long moment before she exploded. “Well, how should I know? I haven’t come in contact with them since they were called coloring sticks! Oh, shut up!”

Laughing, Bella stumbled around her, stopping the swing with the ropes.

Rose did her best to keep her glare in place. How was she supposed to know? When was the last time she had dealt with a child? Never. Not really ever in her human life, and not once after. Her eyes narrowed as Bella looked down at her, her face suddenly unsettled.

“What is it? Some other term I’m using incorrectly? Do I have wrinkles? I swear to god, Bella, if you tell me I have wrinkles I will leave you here and you will have to walk home!”

Bella took a deep breath, her hands reaching forward to cover Rosalie’s on the swing.

Rose looked at them, startled. Bella had touched her so many times that day. A flutter of pleasure began in her stomach. “Bella, wh—”

But then Bella, beautiful brown eyes nervous, leaned forward and very gently placed the tiniest of kisses on her lips.

It was their first kiss since the very enjoyable one on Rose’s bed, but more than anything else it was the first time that Bella had initiated anything between them.

Rosalie’s breath caught and she froze on the swing like a statue, her lips unresponsive, her mind suddenly quiet.

Immediately Bella started to pull away, her face horrified. “I’m sorry!”

Before she could move far at all, a huge, ridiculous grin split across Rosalie’s face. It was so big, so goofy, that she couldn’t help but to turn her face, hiding it in her own shoulder like a silly little lovesick human girl.

Bella’s face changed when she saw that. The nerves left, instead replaced by a semi-hidden flicker of something that Rosalie didn’t recognize. Carefully Bella’s finger lifted Rosalie’s chin.

She waited, still not breathing, pressure in her chest as she waited to see if she was about to be kissed again.

Instead, she seemed to grow shy. So hand on Rose’s shoulder, she turned again and began to push her.

They took turns on the swing for a while, both laughing and teasing because it was time to head back, else worry Chief Swan.

They didn’t talk much on the way home, but when Rose put her hand on the gear shift Bella reached over and took it again.

There was no goodbye kiss when Rose dropped her off, but still, she felt as though she was glowing from the inside out as she drove the short distance back to her house.

She was all but dancing as she strode into the house into Alice and Jasper sitting on the living room couch.

Jasper was holding her hand while Alice stared at nothing, her eyes unfocused, clearly in the middle of a vision. Mildly, she wondered if it was at all about her.

Jasper smiled a little at her smile. “Have fun?”

“I did,” she admitted as she curled up on the couch.

“Have you thought about telling Bella yet?”

The smile faded quickly. She didn’t want the memory of the day ruined by guilt didn’t want to think about what she had to tell Bella. She rose again from the couch, heading up to her room to change into her dirty mechanic clothes.

She didn’t want to remember that this… was what it was, not after Bella had kissed her so gently that afternoon.

Her feet on the stairs suddenly stopped as a horrible thought occurred to her. Could Bella have kissed her because she was a vampire and Bella had just seen her in the sunlight for the first time?

Her breath left her body in a gust as if she had been punched in the stomach.

How could she know if anything between them was real when she was a vampire and Bella was a human? She was designed to attract Bella.

She scowled, all the pleasure of the day gone.

She hated that thought. She truly hated it.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t all of the time, but on occasion, Rosalie deeply missed the ability to sleep. It was such a handy way to reset emotional states. She had seen humans do it. She had seen them go to bed in a state of emotional wreck and wake up like magic as if nothing had happened. She envied that. Unable to find an emotional reset, she had spent the night curled up, first in her window seat, and then under the blankets of her bed, her thoughts sad and slow.

She had finally risen when the sun was high, the day ready to begin. She had slowly dressed and gotten into her car for school because it was what she was supposed to do. She didn’t feel any better.

She couldn’t shake it.

There was just no way to know, was there? That was the worst part of this. There was absolutely no way to know.

Could she trust anything Bella said she felt? Could she trust the amazement Rose had seen on her face when she had leaned down and kissed her the day before?

She got out of the car in the parking lot, her face still stony, her stomach stressed. Emmett had tried to find out what was wrong on the drive over, able to sense it if not place it, but she had just shaken her head.

She didn’t want to explain. She didn’t want him to tell her not to think that way, because the promises that she would hear from him that Bella’s feelings were real were all empty. He didn’t know any more than she did. None of them really knew the toll the mate bond took on an unknowing human.

Her heels made wet clicking noises on the asphalt as she started toward the sidewalk, her chin high, her shoulders squared despite or maybe because of the feeling of unease.

For once it wasn’t raining and Rosalie was thankful. She already felt bogged down enough without having to worry about an umbrella or her hair.

She stepped onto the sidewalk along the parking lot and spotted Bella wrapped up in a thick coat and waiting under an awning just to the side of the quad.

For the briefest of moments, Rose considered not going to her. Her feet paused in their steps. There would be no way for them to move through their day together like usual without this coming up. It was impossible.

She swallowed thickly and started toward Bella. She would just have to do her best.

“What, no silver beauty this morning?” Bella asked, her grin a little crooked.

“What?” Rosalie frowned. “Oh.” She glanced back at the parking lot, understanding that Bella was asking after the fact that Rose drove the M3. “No. I don’t trust teenage drivers not to scratch her.”

Bella just nodded, her eyes trained on Rosalie’s face. “You okay?”

There was a shrewd look on Bella’s face, she was seeing everything that Rose was trying to hide.

Her jaw worked as she stared back at Bella. She supposed that she wasn’t doing a very good job of hiding it then.

How could she?

The thought that everything with Bella might be empty was ripping her insides apart.

Bella’s face slowly drifted from curious to uncomfortable as Rosalie remained silent, her grip on her crutches becoming too tight for comfort. Rose watched the slow change, at a loss for words. She was doing a bad job at this, and her heart ached for it. The problem was, her heart ached more at the thought of everything between them being empty.

“Did I do something yesterday?” Bella finally asked, her jaw tight.

Rose sighed, pulling her gently down onto the bench beside them. “No, Bella, it’s not that.” She glanced at her and then away, her thoughts burning her. What would she do if this were true? The more she thought about it the more she thought it was inevitable. She was a perfect monster, made to draw Bella in. She winced, her teeth biting down on the inside of her cheek. Her eyes dropped with the weight of her sadness, looking down at her hands clasped in her lap. “It’s… complicated.”

Bella glanced around. “Try me? We’re mostly alone. I don’t think anyone would hear. Or we could go back to the car.” She shivered a little and Rose smiled a little.

“Is that just an excuse to be in my heater?”

Bella smiled a little, but the smile did not reach her eyes. “Maybe a little bit.”

Rosalie nodded, trying to force a smile. Instead, she looked at her again, long and sad.

“Rose…”

She sighed and leaned back against the wall, head turned toward Bella. “I don’t know how to talk to you about it, Bella.”

“Just try. Please?”

Just try. It wasn’t hard, and yet it was. “It’s just hard to know, I think.”

“What is?”

Eyes avoiding her mate, she did her best. It wasn’t fair. She wasn’t a bad communicator, but this felt like an accusation as much as it felt like a worry. “Sometimes I wonder if a human can really…” but her words trailed off. Bella sat, waiting and so Rose tried again. “Do you miss Edward?” She ignored the alarm on Bella’s face and pushed forward. “I know it’s only been a few months, but do you?”

The small worried smile that was on Bella’s lips faded, her eyes searching Rose’s. “Is that what this is about? Him?” Her face said that she hadn’t thought this was on Rose’s mind at all, which was fair because what it came down to was that it wasn’t. She just had no idea how to ask if Bella was just enthralled with Rose because she was a beautiful and inviting vampire.

The silence grew as Bella’s pinched face looked back at her. It seemed to swell with Bella’s non-answer.

Finally, slowly, with a thick swallow that was audible to Rose, Bella nodded once.

Rosalie just looked back at her, both surprised and hurt. It hadn’t been what she meant to ask, but now she was glad she knew. She didn’t want to know, she didn’t like the answer, and the answer hurt. But she knew now. Surely if it had just been Edward’s ability to draw in his prey that had enthralled Bella then she wouldn’t miss him, correct? Yes, it was true that the ability to enthrall rested predominately with Rosalie. That was what her beauty did for her. But there had to be enough there that Bella would have felt it from Edward too.  

She swallowed and looked out into the quad, the pain of it burning her insides. As she watched the first few drops of rain began for the day and the kids on the quad scampered. It was funny how squeamish they could be for living in a city where it rained daily.

She could feel the intensity of Bella’s stare on the side of her face. It was like a physical touch, prodding her. But she didn’t look back. She wanted the hurt out of her eyes before she did. “That makes sense,” she told the quad. “You love him.” Had Bella noticed the way that her voice had broken? She hoped she hadn’t.

From her periphery, she saw Bella shift.

She loved him. It had been something that Rosalie had forgotten. I hadn’t been long since Edward left, and she had thought they were progressing well, but she had forgotten the horrible detail that Bella had… did… love her brother. That horrible, sickening, disgusting, heartbreaking detail. God, she wanted to curl up under her blankets again and hide. She wanted to disappear into something safe and warm, into a movie she loved, or perhaps into a meditative state, the closest to sleep she could get. She wanted to hide from that one little nod, from that truth she wanted so badly to deny.

“You love him,” she said again, softly, heavily. She said it as a reminder, as a roadblock to keep her own emotions in check. When she had kissed her the day before she had forgotten that in the end, she was Rosalie Hale. Life didn’t have many good things planned for her. Her life, her existence was punishment for who she was as a human, starting with her brutal death and continuing now with an ever-punishing vengeance.

“I don’t know.”

“What?” Her head whipped around, perhaps a little too fast for normal human abilities, startled by that response.

Bella wasn’t looking at her, but instead at the ground, her shoulders slumped.

“Bella, what do you mean?”

She sighed down at her knees. “I…”

Rose waited, not daring to hope.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot since… you.” She glanced up at Rose, her face twisted as if she would rather not be having this talk, and yet she didn’t try to evade it. “I think that if I miss him, it’s because he gave me something I’d never had before.”

The sneer that ripped across Rose’s face was hard and harsh. Had she been wrong? Had Edward touched her? Had he given her something that Rosalie now couldn’t? Had he taken something from Bella and therefore taken it from Rose?

“Oh,” was all Rosalie could think to say.  

“But I don’t know if that meant I was actually in love with him, Rose.” The words spilled out of Bella fast, tumbling over one another in their hurry to get out.

“I thought…” Rose stammered, hating herself for doing it. “I thought that he had refused.”

Bella glanced at her, wide-eyed. “No, not that!” Her cheeks went red. “He didn’t – we didn’t - No, I meant, ugh, I meant like…”

Rose was frozen on the bench beside her, eyes on her hands in her lap, waiting to hear what Bella would say.  

“Like, I’ve been thinking about it a lot since you kissed me. …The first time. …So even before he left and something just… I don’t know, it didn’t feel right.”

Rose didn’t move.

Bella turned a little in her seat so she was facing her, sudden desperation in her voice as if she needed Rose to understand. “We were supposed to be mates, right? That’s what Edward told me. Like Alice and Jasper and you and Emmett. We… what?”

Rose didn’t realize she was shaking her head until Bella mentioned it. She stopped, a little embarrassed, distraught.

“What is it?”

“Emmett and I were never mates, Bella.”

“Oh.” Bella’s eyebrows furrowed into confusion. “But…”

Rose just shook her head again, realizing as she did that this was something that she had never talked to Bella about. For all Bella knew, she and Emmett were still together. For all that Bella knew…

“Wow,” she mumbled to herself.

“What?”

“Bella, I’m sorry, I never thought to talk to you about this. Emmett and I were never mates. We always chose to be together, but we knew that there was a chance one or both of us would meet our mate one day. I used to think it would never happen, but now I think it was an inevitability.” She glanced at Bella, who seemed stunned. “Emmett and I don’t even share a room anymore. Not since… well, it’s been a while.”

“Oh.”

She glanced at her again, appraising. “So Edward told you that you were a mated pair?” she prompted, unwilling to let the topic be lost.

“Yeah, he did. But, I don’t know. Have you ever seen the way that Alice and Jasper look at one another? Nothing else exists for them.”

“And?”

Bella shifted again, wrapping herself tighter in her jacket. She was obviously cold. She debated with the back of her mind agreeing to move this back to the M3. The heat would be nice for Bella and would help calm her too, but she worried if they moved it would break Bella’s spell of honesty.

“And I think about you a lot.” It was only a whisper, but Rosalie’s ears picked it out over the rising sounds of other students around them easily. Before Rose could respond, Bella barreled on.

“About me?”

“Yes?”

Rosalie swallowed. “Since when?”

Bella squirmed, her face losing its color, going white with the gravity of her answer. “Since that first day I saw you guys in the cafeteria.”

Rosalie rocked back a little, dazed.

“I’ve always had to be responsible, you know?”

Bella looked up and Rose was delighted and startled to see that steel in her face, the one that always so pleasantly surprised her.

“I’ve always had to make sure my mom was taken care of because she couldn’t do it herself. My dad too, especially since I got here. He just never stopped being sad that my mom left him and so it was my job to make sure he was okay when I was here.”

Rose nodded. It was something she had already noticed. “No one has ever taken care of you.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I love them,” she insisted, a little frantic.

Rosalie nodded again. “I know. Don’t worry. I know.”

Bella cleared her throat, her eyes dropping again as the panic left them. “I think Edward felt good because he… did.”

Rose just grunted, unwilling to voice her own opinions.

Bella’s lips twisted into a small smile. “Yeah,” she agreed with Rosalie’s unspoken words. “That’s the thing, isn’t it?”

Rose watched her with interest. Bella’s mind was such an intriguing thing. It never worked exactly how Rose expected it to.

“He didn’t just take care of me. He controlled me.”

Rosalie’s lips thinned into a tight line.

“I couldn’t make any choices. I couldn’t think for myself. I just blindly did what he told me because he expected it and because if I didn’t then he got mad or sarcastic.”

“You went from one extreme to the other.”

Bella shrugged a shoulder, her body language uncomfortable. “And then he left. I thought he loved me, but he left without any problem.”

Rosalie nodded, looking away again. She had no idea what to say to that, other than that she would never do that. And Bella didn’t need to hear that just then. “Did you and Edward ever break up, Bella?”

“You mean, officially?”

Rose nodded. She had been there for those last conversations. In her opinion, they had constituted a breakup, but she had never asked Bella what she thought. Had they been courting when Bella still considered herself Edward’s?  

Bella’s bottom lip pushed out as she thought. “I guess we didn’t say those words exactly, but yeah, there was a conversation right after the hospital.”

Rose nodded absently.

“Even if we didn’t officially break up though, I think it was over. I think I was ready for it to be over. But he left. That’s a breakup moment, right?”

“Don’t ask me,” Rose scoffed, the venom in her voice a little too sharp. She winced but Bella didn’t seem to notice.

Bella laughed a little. “Gee, thanks.”

Rose gave her a small side smile, the mood breaking a little. That was good, Rose thought, the campus was beginning to fill. The bell was going to ring any minute. Did she feel better? She wasn’t sure.

“Did you have fun yesterday?”

Bella’s response surprised her. Rose stared as Bella’s cheeks went from pink to red, to purple under her gaze.

Her mouth dropped open, half in a laugh.

A few guys walking by caught the look on Bella’s face and began to laugh, making her squirm.

Rosalie glared at them. Their smiles dropped and they moved a lot quicker.

“What, are you feeling shy, Bella?”

“Oh my god! Shut up!” Bella cried, covering her face.

“Is it because we kissed?” Rose teased, knowing full well it was. Something Bella had said must have made her feel better because teasing Bella now felt too good. “Is it because you kissed me?”

Bella groaned a little behind her hands.

“Don’t’ be shy!” Rose cried, pulling her hand from her face. “It was good.”

Bella’s hands shifted so owlish eyes could stare at her.

She shrugged. “It was. I liked it. You’ll never hear me say that kissing yo- err, that kissing isn’t fun.”

Bella, it seemed, had heard her near slip though. She beamed at her.

Rose smiled back.

After a long pregnant moment, Bella finally blinked, breaking their eye contact. “Right. So. Um. About that. I was wondering. I mean, I wanted to ask, um, what are you doing tonight?”

Rose just shrugged, doing her best to look nonchalant whereas inside she was bouncing up and down. Was Bella about to ask her on a date? Or even just to spent time together outside of school? “Curing cancer,” she teased.

Bella’s face fell into stunned confusion. “Wait, really?” She sounded almost panicked, as if the thought of the Cullens coming up with the cure for cancer in their living room was more than Bella would be able to handle.

Rosalie rolled her eyes. “Obviously not.”

“Not obviously!” Bella cried. “You never know with you guys!”

“What did you want, Bella?” Rose asked, putting her back on track, laughing as she did.

Bella’s eyes widened a little again. “Errr. Right.” She began to fidget in her seat. She stood, wrapping her jacket tighter around herself again and shifted from foot to foot as best her boot would allow.

Rose looked up at her from her seat, suspicion growing. She had this wrong, it seemed. What the hell could be making Bella so nervous? “Is something wrong with your truck?” She asked, guessing.

“What? No. No, I’m not trying to ask you to work on my truck. Ugh, I’m – I was wondering, do you want to – I mean, wanna come over tonight? To, err, my house. With me.”

Rose eyed her. “Sure…” she said slowly, not understanding exactly what the big deal was. There had to be more.

Bella’s shoulders slumped, taking a deep breath for the first time.

“What time?”

“Err, after dinner? Like six?”

Rose just nodded. “Okay.” She said slowly. “I’ll be there at six.”

Overhead the bell went off and Bella jumped.

“Awesome. Err. Okay, great. Yeah. I should, uh, get to class.”

Soundlessly, Rose just nodded. She watched Bella rush off, still wondering why exactly an invite over should make Bella so nervous. It wasn’t because she was asking over, well, Rosalie-the-one-who-hates-her, right? They were past that, surely. Still, even though Bella had turned the corner and her wobbly fast pace had slowed a little, she could hear her heartbeat which was much too fast, much too hard.

Chapter Text

The day didn’t move faster for her having something she was warily looking forward to that night, nor did it move faster for having the question on her mind. She debated asking Emmett what he thought about Bella’s strange behavior but sure he would laugh his head off at her confusion, decided to keep it to herself. Bella was busy during lunch, talking with a group of people about a project for history and so Rose just sat with the Cullens, watching her and wondering. The invitation felt weighty, but though she tried, she couldn’t place why. She prided herself on being smarter than most, but this… she just didn’t know, and that put her on edge.

It felt like a week had passed when she finally slid into her car to head home.

She had no idea what to do to pass the time. She had used to be so good at that, and yet, as of late, she just wasn’t. She worked on the car for a bit but disliked the feeling of the grease on her skin. She showered though she still had hours. She did her hair carefully and then moved to her closet to choose her clothes. She flicked through, looking for something casual, and yet not at all casual.

She wished she understood the plan for the evening. It would help deeply to know how she was supposed to look. She didn’t like this feeling of uncertainty. She resented it, even.

Finally, she settled on a pair of black pants, a soft black silk blouse, and a trendy grey jacket over it.

Why would Bella be so uncomfortable asking to spend time with her? If she allowed it, she could admit to herself that this was the real question that was haunting her. Every time she thought that she and Bella took a step forward, something reminded her that she didn’t really know if they had or not.

She didn’t bother with makeup. She never did. Carlisle had told her before, beauty was her gift brought from her human life. She didn’t need makeup. It only sullied her natural looks. Still, she studied herself in the mirror again and realized that what she was feeling was nerves. Why was she nervous?

God damn it, Bella! 

When the clock finally ticked around, she got into her new baby and started through the woods toward the town.

The nerves hadn’t faded when she stepped up to Bella’s door and gave a sharp knock. She squared her shoulders and pushed them from her face, forcing a hesitant smile there instead as she heard ‘I’LL GET IT’ from upstairs and then the awkward clomping of crutches on stairs.

Rosalie winced, hoping she wasn’t about to listen to her fall.

The door swung open to show Bella, looking just as nervous as she had that afternoon. Little pink patches of color stood out against her otherwise pale face, her eyes slightly wild.

Rosalie scrutinized her, trying to decide if it was in her imagination that Bella looked as though she had specifically groomed herself for this visit.  

“Hey,” Bella breathed, a little short for breath.

Rose smiled. “Hey, you.”

Bella’s lips twitched into a small smile, somehow excited and shy all at once.

Because she wanted to see what Bella would do, Rose reached for Bella’s hand on the door frame where it was braced.

Bella’s pupils blew wide as Rosalie brought the knuckles up to her lips and gently kissed them.

She liked the way that Bella’s eyes followed, the way her mouth dropped open a little. She let out a little “heh”, her eyelashes fluttering a little.

“Bella, who is it?”

Bella let out a ‘yeep’ as her father’s voice came from the living room.

Rose’s eyebrows rose. Was this a meet the parent thing? Was that what Bella’s nerves had been about?

Rosalie frowned. She wasn’t sure that she was up for that. She wasn’t a meet the parent type! Sure Bella would have given her some warning if she was supposed to be an airheaded teenage girl, or if she had decided to tell her father about them. Chief Swan had a gun! And yes, all right, it couldn’t hurt her but it would bounce off of her skin and hurt someone else. Was she crazy? Rosalie’s mind jabbered and cried out.

“I’m sorry,” Bella rush-whispered, looking alarmed at Rosalie’s expression. “He was supposed to go up to the reservation tonight, but he changed his mind.”

Rosalie’s eyebrows rose impossibly higher. She had thought Chief Swan would be gone?

She took half a step back, unsure. “Should I go?”

Bella shook her head.

She cleared her throat, hoping the night would begin to make some sort of sense soon. “Okay then.” She stepped through the door and started toward the living room, her shoulders back.

Bella trailed behind her, the sound of her heartbeat still unusually fast.

The smell of Bella washed over her as she moved through the house, making her close her eyes for just a moment in enjoyment.

Bella skipped around her as they entered the living room.

“Dad, this is my friend, Rosalie Hale.”

“Hmm?” Charlie’s eyes had been trained on the screen. Slowly, as if moving them away from the television hurt, he glanced up. The moment he saw her he twitched, nearly choked on nothing, his eyes bugging out. “Friend from where?”

Rose wasn’t surprised by the reaction. She had been nineteen and well into womanhood socially when she turned. She didn’t look like a teenager. She didn’t have the presence of a high schooler.

“From school, Dad!” Bella cried, looking genuinely mortified.

Of course Rose knew him. The Cullens were very aware of the law enforcement in the area. She took a step forward and nodded politely. “Nice to meet you, Chief Swan.”

Charlie's eyes narrowed and Rosalie almost wanted to laugh. If she couldn’t hear that it was beating steadily, she might have worried about his heart. “You’re one of the Cullens that I haven’t met, right?”

“Have you met any of the Cullens, dad?” Bella asked as Rosalie spoke as well.

“Technically, I’m a Hale, but yes.”

The sharp look didn’t leave Charlie’s face. “Edwin’s other sister?”

She grinned, enjoying that even if it was the oldest trick in the book. She nodded.

Another second and Charlie’s look cleared. He sat back in his recliner, picking up and sipping his beer. “What are you two going to be going?”

Rose looked at Bella and they both shrugged.

“Movie?” Bella offered.

Rose smirked. “Sure.”  

“Okay, have fun girls.”

Bella rolled her eyes.

“After you,” Rosalie offered with a teasing sweep of her arm.

Bella’s eyes rolled harder.

She followed her to the stairs, careful behind her in case Bella’s crutches stumbled. She had gotten pretty good at maneuvering herself, but she just didn’t trust little metal sticks to hold up her mate.

“I don’t have a lot of DVDs,” Bella admitted as they climbed. “I should have gone to Blockbuster.” She paused mid-step and turned to Rose with effort. “We still can, actually. Do you want to?”

Rose just shook her head. “I’m sure whatever you have will be fine.” There were movies she’d love to show Bella, hundreds even, but tonight wasn’t the night. She didn’t care what they watched, so long as tonight broke the seal for other activities outside of school.

“My TV is kind of old too. We got it at a garage sale.” Bella’s cheeks were red again, her voice mumbling. “We should have gone to your house. Do you want to? We still can. I bet you have more movies and err, a better TV and—”

“Are you all right, Bella?” Rose asked, interrupting Bella’s rant.

On the landing now, Bella tripped on nothing. “What? Yeah. Why?”

“Your heart rate is pretty high. And you’re babbling.”

“I’m not babbling.” She insisted, indignant.

“Oh, if there another name for what you’re doing?” Rosalie asked with feigned casualness.

Rosalie expected a glare or a snarky comment back but instead, Bella just looked at the door they were beside with terror. “Right…” Seeming unsure what to say, Bella pushed into her bedroom. “Err, come in.”

Rose stepped into the room she had only seen from the outside, her eyes taking in everything she hadn’t seen.

Bella paused, her hands still on the door before she barked a laugh. “I guess I can close this, huh? I never could when my dad knew that Edward was here.”

Rosalie smirked. “One of the benefits of a sudden change in sexuality.”

Bella tripped her way to the bed and sat on it heavily, looking dazed. “Is that what’s happening?”

Rosalie paused, all at once awkward. Um… “You’re not in a relationship with Edward anymore, right?”

“Right.”

“And you’ve kissed me a few times, right?”

Looking sheepish, Bella’s eyes rolled. “Right.”

Unsure how to respond, she leaned over into Bella’s space, teasing her, invading her personal space just enough to make Bella twitch. Her words came out in a smooth, seductive purr, hiding her uncertainty. “Well, I am very much not a boy.”

Bella’s eyes fluttered as Rose breathed out the words and a noise, one that couldn’t be called anything other than a moan, floated from her.

Rose gasped, pleased. The intent had only been to tease Bella, but the little sound had shot through her, making her twitch and want.

Instantly Bella’s hands her on her face, hiding. “Oh my god, I did not just do that!” Bella crumpled into herself, trying to hide in place. “Oh god, please tell me I didn’t just do that!”

She didn’t think before she did it. Roused and delighted by what had just happened with Bella, she let herself act. Rose reached forward and aggressively, possessively, ran her hand through Bella’s hair, pulling it ever so slightly as she clenched her hand into a fist, pulling Bella’s face back just a bit.

Bella’s hands dropped, the look on her face startled. Her eyes were dark as she looked up at Rose, whimpering a little in pain and in something that even Rose knew was very much not pain.

She wanted to do it again, the wave of arousal she had felt still thick. She wanted to grab harder, to drag Bella’s head back until her throat was exposed, until it wouldn’t go any further, and ravage her mouth. She imagined doing it, imagines leaning down and thrusting her tongue into Bella’s open mouth, her hand cupping forcefully on Bella’s breast.

She cleared her throat and took a quick step away. When that wasn’t enough, she took another step back, forcing her hands into her jacket pockets and turned toward the TV.

It was indeed an old one, small with a built-in slot for VHS tapes. There was a small pile of DVDs next to it, as well as a handful of VHS under, most of which were old Disney classics.

She grabbed the first DVD she noticed in the pile and opened the case. A director’s cut of Catch Me If You Can.

“I liked this movie,” she thought out loud. “Though Leonardo DiCaprio has done better performances.”

“I think it’s my dad’s,” Bella admitted.

“Have you never seen it?”

“I don’t think so.”

She turned, DVD box still in hand and surveyed the scene. Bella was sitting nervously on the bed, the only TV directly across from the bed, the door closed. “You know, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think you invited me over to make out.”

The response from Bella was instant and strong. First, the color drained completely, leaving her so white that Rose could have argued that she might have been whiter than she was. Then her cheeks, her neck, her chest, her ears, all went beet red. She blushed so hard that Rose felt the heat from it across the room. Her eyes darted around the room, her mouth dropping open.

Rose gasped as it all falling into place. Her mouth hung open as she sank onto the bed beside her, her body suddenly heavy. “Isabella Swan!”

Bella’s head ducked, the blush not fading at all.

“Oh, please tell me that you invited me over to make out.”

Bella spluttered. “I’m eighteen!”

She wanted to be cocky, like she would normally be, or even charming. Instead, she just felt gleeful. She was ecstatic at the thought. Her mouth still hung open, a shout of joy a moment away. And she felt… oh, she felt so turned on. Her hands flexed in her jacket pockets and she was glad she had forced them in there, else they might reach out and do something she hadn’t permitted them to do. “So this is why you invited me over, huh?” she crooned, leaning in a little.

Bella’s gaze glazed over, her hair slightly mussed from where Rose had grabbed it before. The I-want-to-be-kissed look was hard to ignore.

“Not… exclusively…” Bella mumbled.

“Oh, so I shouldn’t kiss you then?” Rose asked, playfully pulling away.

“No, no!” Bella cried, her hands reaching out to grab Rosalie’s jacket. “Okay, okay, that’s what I wanted.”

Rose bit back a groan as she let herself be pulled just a bit toward Bella. Her body gave a long and insistent clench from her stomach to her center as Bella grabbed her lapels. Bella was so intoxicating at that moment. Her heart rate was high. Her scent, suddenly musky and filled with arousal, the feeling of their bond suddenly bewitching, as if it too were excited. She could see Bella’s desire and she was blown away to know it was her desire for her.

So she let Bella pull her in by the jacket, letting her body crash into Bella as softly as she could without hurting her. Bella’s face was upturned, seeking Rosalie’s mouth but Rose held back, letting her body settle against Bella’s, enjoying the sensation of being close to her, of Bella half under her. Bella whined and as if she was unwilling to not have her mouth on her in some way, moved instead straight to Rosalie’s neck, making her hum a little in her throat.

“Oh god, Bella,” she groaned, her body alive.

She loved this too. There was no fear that she could feel from Bella. Instead, Bella’s hands balled tightly in her lapels, her mouth moving against the skin of her throat as if she had no fear of having her lips there, no fear of rejection, or coldness. Her chest glowed warmly at the thought. Bella felt safe with her. That thought was so powerfully moving, so outrageously arousing that Rosalie turned her head, a little frenzied, and caught her in a kiss that Bella seemed only too willing to give.

She didn’t kiss her softly as the warm glow should have indicated, but instead, she kissed her with intention. She slipped her tongue past Bella’s lips without preamble, caressing Bella’s own, kissing her fast and hard before she pulled away again. “Getting right down to business then.”

Against her, Bella looked like she wanted to protest, her hands pulling the jacket in tighter. Her nose scrunched at Rosalie’s words. “Maybe don’t call it a business.”

Rosalie’s smirk grew. “Someone’s bossy,” she purred.

Bella’s mouth opened to protest and Rose kissed her again, enjoying the huff that came from her as she did.

This explained why Bella had seemed so nervous inviting her over. Bella had been asking for something, and Rose was more than happy to deliver.

Daring to push a little harder, Rose leaned back, pleased when Bella came with her. Balancing on her knees, she pushed her jacket off of her shoulders, pulling it swiftly from Bella’s grip, and then reached up with both hands, threading them through Bella’s hair until her face was cupped.

She had known that kissing Bella felt like this, all power and heat and warm languid want. She had felt it before, but this time it was different. This felt teenage, sticky, and hot, desperate in the wanting.

Bella melted into the touch so Rose pushed a little, tipping Bella backward so she fell with a huff against the pillows, taking Rose with her.

She wanted this to be fun for Bella. She wanted it to be an experience she would want to have again and again.

Leaning over her, working hard to soften her kisses. She gently kissed her again and again before she gently caught her bottom lip, nipping at it.

Bella sighed, the taste of it filling Rose and making her moan.

“Is this okay?” she asked, releasing her lip.

Bella nodded quickly, her hands hovering over Rose as if afraid to touch.

“I’m not hurting you at all?”

Bella shook her head.

“Are you enjoying yourself?” She asked with a simper.

Bella’s mouth opened, the wanton gaze disappearing behind shy and at once the cocky bravado left Rose.

“I’m sorry.” She cupped her cheek again, kissing her lightly. “I shouldn’t tease you right now.”

Bella huffed, her face suddenly cross. “It’s just – I’m eighteen. I have hormones.”

“Of cour—”

“I have… experiences that I want to have before…”

“Sweetie, of course, you do, and you —” her words cut themselves off this time as understanding sank in and she was struck dumb. Her head spun, her body and her mind both screaming with desire and alarm. Bella was talking about sex! Desire, pure and sweet, and fierce ripped through her. Did that mean that Bella wanted it with her? She had already vowed to herself that she would not shame Bella for having desires and that she would give her sex, should Bella so desire. But what else did that mean? Did that mean that Bella was in this? Did that mean that Edward truly was out of the picture for her?

In the back of her mind, almost buried under the joy she felt, a small voice spoke up in her mind. You have to tell her before she lets you touch her, Rose, you have to.

“Do you want to tell me what those are?”

Bella sniffed, turning to hide her very warm face in Rosalie’s arm. “I don’t know, just stuff.”

Rose nodded slowly, processing. “Kissing, and…”

“And.”

“And?” She gently pulled Bella’s face from her arm. Her look was set, stern. “With me? Is that what you mean?”

Bella’s face did that quick color rise again as Rose watched, her mouth opening and closing like a fish. Finally, she grabbed a nearby pillow, covering her face with it. She was only mumbling, but she could still clearly hear Bella’s “yes” when it came.

“Oh, Bella,” she moaned a little, her body reflexively sliding across her like a cat in heat.

Bella gasped, her back arching a little pressing herself against Rosalie’s automatic response.

Their stomachs pressed together, their thighs meeting and rubbing, their breast — Rosalie stopped herself with a sharp scold.

The same dilemma passed through her mind as she considered it. They had come further than Rose had thought then. But again, was this simply because she was a vampire?

Absently, her finger began to trace back and forth, finding the small gap between Bella’s shirt and her jeans. She liked the softness of her skin, she thought, the warmth. It made her want to stretch her body over Bella’s and steal all of it.

“Bella…” she finally spoke, still hovering over Bella. “I’ve never been close to a human like this before. Sometimes I think something went wrong with my transition or maybe it’s just who I was before, but people don’t want to be my friend. Maybe it’s just that I’m a bitch and I keep people at a distance, I don’t know.” She chuckled a little, her fingers sprawling out, her hand flattening, feeling the warmth and then tracing again. “So I don’t have any experience with what I… do to them.”

“What do you mean?”

She sighed. There was nothing for it other than to just say it. Looking back down at Bella, she was honest. “I worry that you only want me because I’m a vampire. I’m meant to attract you. That’s my gift.”

Bella suddenly snatched at the hand which had moved to play under Bella’s shirt, holding it in place with such force that it surprised Rose. “I don’t like you because you’re a vampire, Rose!”

Rose blinked, staring at her in alarm.

“You’re my friend. I like you because I like you. You’re not what you pretend to be.”

“And what’s that?”

“Some cold-hearted model who hates pretty much everyone and everything.”

Her smile turned into an honest and open laugh.

“What? Shut up, it’s true!” Bella cried. She pushed at Rose, but Rose didn’t move away. Instead, she leaned down and kissed her neck. Bella gasped, leaning into her lips. “I feel the difference.”

“What?”

“Between you and Edward.”

“What?” That time the question came out in a deadpan, offended and appalled that she would even speak his name in a moment like this.

“It’s not like it was with Edward, okay? It feels normal with you. Normal good, I mean. I feel like myself. I never really felt like myself with him. I always felt more like I did the one time Renee’s ex gave me a cocktail. Not exactly drunk, but not right in my head either. I don’t feel that with you, I just feel, I don’t know, like I want to be near you all of the time because I like it.”

Rose watched her face. It was quite a lot for the girl of few words. Finally, she felt as though she could believe her. Normal. She wanted normal so badly.

Under Bella’s hand, Rosalie began to trace random shapes into her skin again.

Just as she had before, Bella began to squirm, her cheeks going purple again.

Oh.

She had thought that it was the confession, she hadn’t realized it was her touch that had done that to her. No one had ever touched her before, not even something as simple as that, she remembered. It was such a heady and nerve making thought. Her finger traced around Bella’s belly button and Bella’s breath caught. It was something she needed to remember. To her, she had only been enjoying Bella’s skin, but for Bella, this touch as benign as it was meant, was something.

A new scent began to fill the air, a scent that Rose was sure she knew because it smelled so much of Bella, and yet, she knew she hadn’t come into contact with before. She bit her lip, wondering if she could guess the source.

“Edward never touched you, did he?”

Bella’s head shook, her lip between her teeth.

“And there was never a boy in Arizona?”

Again, she shook her head.

“Not even like this?” Her hand flattened, pushing deeper under Bella’s shirt to move across the satin skin of her stomach.

Bella’s breath was uneven, her stomach rising and falling under Rose’s hand. Rose could feel that she was shaking a little. Touching her skin was addictive. This girl was supposed to be her mate. She was her mate, everything that has happened between them only had proven that. Her finger traced Bella’s belly button again, she leaned forward and breathed in her scent at her neck.

Beneath her, Bella shivered.

Bella still had her maidenhead. That was important to remember.

As if in her head, she could hear Bella laugh at the term that was from a world long since gone. All right, virginity then, she corrected herself with an internal eye roll.

She licked the skin there just a bit Bella shivered harder. The steady, if not fast, beat of her heart picked up and Rose understood that Bella liked that. She did it again and again Bella’s heart rate spiked, her hand snapping to Rose’s arm to clutch.

Unable to stop herself, she carefully bit, sure to barely brush her skin. It took concentration, but the result was worth it.

A moan, shaking and strong fell out of Bella. Immediately Bella’s hand slapped over her mouth. “I’m sorry.”

Rose ignored her, nuzzling deeper under her jaw, breathing her scent, feeling something a little more feral beginning to rise in her.

There it was again. She could feel that want to bite, not to drink but to claim, to fill her with her venom. Before she could stop it, a small animal noise ripped from her, not a growl, but not a whine and definitely not human either. It was hungry, violent, possessive.

Bella froze, and her sudden stiffness brought Rose back to herself a little.

She checked herself, making sure Bella was still safe. Yes, she thought. She wasn’t going to lose control and do something that horrible. Her hand shifted, wrapping around Bella’s bare back, pulling her against her. She bit again and moaned, all of the most sensitive places in herself responding. It satisfied something in her that she hadn’t known she wanted. It felt so good to have Bella’s skin between her teeth. Bella’s heartbeat was like music, so fast, so upbeat, reassuring her, and answering that call.

Gently, she bit again, her teeth against the tendon in Bella’s neck, just enough to feel the pressure against her teeth, not enough to bruise and oh, it was unnervingly exciting. She could feel her body growing with want, her panties dampening, her hands desperate to touch.

Bella didn’t move, barely breathed under her.

“You’re safe, Bella.” She said, her lips back on her skin, working her way back up to Bella’s lips, still growling a little.

Bella nodded, but her body was still a plank of wood, stiff and unmoving.

That scent was strong now, making Rosalie want to investigate. It was making her a little crazy.

Her teeth gently scratched against Bella’s jaw, and a small sound popped from Bella, her body giving a hard shake.

She smiled against her skin. “Oh.” She had been wrong. It wasn’t fear that Bella had been feeling.

Aware of her teeth, she let them scrape with the grain against her skin.

This wasn’t like it had been with Emmett. There had been no need to bite like this, but if there had been, she needn’t have been so careful. But it was infinitely more rewarding.

Hand holding her chin, she pulled Bella’s jaw down, kissing her deeply. Bella’s wooden body didn’t move, alarming and oh so telling in its stiffness.

Another small sound came from Bella and her hands rose again, twitching over Rosalie’s back.

Rose propped herself up and ran her hands over Bella’s arms, first retraining her hands at her sides, and then she pushed them up under her own shirt and around to her back, giving her wordless permission for what Bella had clearly wanted to do.

Bella’s nails immediately dug into her skin, leaning up as she gasped and moaned, her hands roaming her back.

Her breath was fast, her hips beginning to gently rock against Bella’s as her hands moved. Bella met her every kiss, her every gentle hip movement. Her hand moved, cupping one of Bella’s breast under her shirt.

Bella let out a small mouse speak of a sound, her hands planted on Rose’s sides.

God, so soft, so breakable. She thought that sex itself might actually be easier than this. During sex you were so aware of the other person in such a different way, wanting to be sure they felt good, that they liked what you were doing. Being inside Bella, she thought, would be so much easier than being careful not to press too hard. Her hand moved, clutching Bella’s ribs and the sound that Bella made sounded a little too much like pain.

“I’m sorry!” Rose cried, worried, but Bella didn’t seem to be listening. Bella was different now, she realized. The wooden stillness had faded into something very different. She had leaned up, into Rose, her hands hovering just below her waist as she kissed her harshly. Bella pressed and Rose let herself fall backward with a soft moan of pleasure, willing to let Bella take control. Bella’s hair fell across her face and Rose’s back arched as Bella’s teeth sank into her neck. “Oh shit,” she breathed, wanting more. “Oh, Bella. Jesus wept.” She wanted to get for a more solid touch. She gasped as Bella pressed hard against her, hips grinding against hips. She couldn’t help herself, she grabbed Bella, her hands tight on Bella’s ass, pulling her harder into her.

Bella’s body hitched and then ground into her harshly. Her hands moved, cupping Rosalie’s breast.

Oh,” she gasped. “Yes.” Was she begging? She thought she might have been. She wanted to beg.

Below them, Rose heard the distinct and clear sounds of feet beginning the climb up the stairs.

Annoyance, hot and vicious burned through her. She hissed, wild and angry, and her teeth snapped together, nicking Bella’s throat just a tiny bit. It wasn’t enough to worry, but she felt bad seeing the tiny scratch. No time though. She sat up a little, struggling under Bella’s touch to be human again, something that took a full second of human time. Then, she quickly pulled Bella’s shirt down, as well as her own, and in one movement, spun Bella, propping her upright in the bed and was at the foot of it, kneeling in front of the DVD player.

She could hear Bella behind her, gasping and spluttering. She could smell the scent stronger than ever from Bella and it made her mouth water.

She realized that the DVD had been playing the disk menu this entire time. Had Charlie heard?

“Wha—”

The door burst open and Charlie stepped in before Bella could finish.

“Awwck!” Bella cried and fell off the bed, but Rose just smiled at him innocently, clicking the play button.

“Hello, Chief Swan.”

“Err,” he nodded at her, his eyes on the floor. “That DVD player giving you a hard time?”

“A little bit, but I think, yup, I got it.”

“Good. Err, here. I found a bag in the cupboard.” Grinning, he thrust the steaming bag of freshly popped corn at her.

She swallowed, biting back the scowl. She hated the smell of popcorn. “That’s great! Thanks!”

He nodded once, his gaze moving over to Bella, who was just crawling back onto the bed.

“You okay, Bells?”

Bella froze, her eyes huge as she stared at her dad.

Rose laughed. “We found a spider a few minutes ago and it freaked Bella out, I think.”

Charlie stared at his daughter, still looking concerned despite Bella’s squeak of agreement. “I never knew you were so skittish, Bells. Do you need to me get it for ya?”

Rosalie’s head ducked, barely able to hold back her laughter as Bella soundlessly shook her head hard enough for her hair to go flying. “I got it for her.”

“Oh.” He nodded once. “Err, good. Okay. I’ll set some traps tomorrow.”

“That’s probably wise.” Rose nodded, giving him a sweet smile.

He gave her one back and, still eyeing Bella, excused himself.

She rose and turned back to her, grinning like a wolf.

She looked so fucking sexy. Her hair was a little mussed, her lips looking like maybe Rose needed to be a bit softer in the future, her face flushed. Wild roses had blossomed in her cheeks as Bella panted.

Finally, as if it had all been too much, Bella collapsed back on her bed, moaning and covered her face with a pillow.

Rosalie cackled.

Chapter Text

Rose supposed, as she stepped out onto the porch listening to the truck rev and grumble down the drive toward their house, that she should have expected some change after the night before. She hadn’t thought of it, but now it seemed obvious and she was pleased.

Bella’s grin was sheepish as she parked and hopped out. Well, hopped as much as her booted leg would allow, which wasn’t much.

Rose smirked, leaning against the column of the porch, her arms crossed. “Couldn’t stay away, huh?”

Bella’s eyes rolled, her feet dragging a little in an embarrassment that wasn’t quite strong enough to get her feet to stop moving.

 “All right, babe!” Emmett called from inside making them both chuckle.

“You busy?” Bella asked, her hands digging into her back pockets.

“Of course I’m busy,” Rosalie smirked, bratty. “You should have called first.”

Bella’s shoulder rose and fell, her posture leaning a little to the side as her nose scrunched at her. “I still don’t have your number.”

Rose shrugged and didn’t answer. Instead, her teeth bit her lip, looking Bella up and down without shame, remembering all the ways she had touched her the night before.

Bella went pink, but she didn’t look away.

“So you’re busy then?” Bella asked as she joined her on the porch, her attitude telling her that she didn’t believe it for a second.

“Of course. Curing cancer, and all.”

“Uh-huh,” Bella nodded, still holding her eye contact.

Rosalie’s already large smile grew, challengingly holding the gaze that hadn’t yet been broken.

Bella’s eyebrows dropped into a line, tight as if Bella wasn’t sure exactly how to greet her. It made her bite a little harder on her lip hoping to hide the smirk that couldn’t be hidden. Throwing her a bone, she reached out a hand. Looking relieved Bella took it, and Rose intertwined their fingers. “How about a movie?”

As expected, Rose felt the blush more than she saw it. It made her laugh. “One we actually watch.”

“Err, right.”

Rose gave their hands a little tug and then let them go so that Bella could navigate, ignoring the smug looks on Alice and Jasper’s faces as they caught sight of the two of them.

She paused in the living room for a fraction of a second, debating. Her first instinct was to take her up to her movie room, but if they did that then there was no way they would watch the movie. That wasn’t bad, but she also thought she might not be able to stop herself as Charlie’s interruption the night before had so succinctly done and Bella’s maiden — Bella’s first time deserved more attention and preparation than that.

“Take a seat,” she said with a smile, gently pushing Bella toward the couch across from the TV.

First, she went to the freestanding fireplace just beside the couch and crouched. She was far too into Bella’s personal space, leaning with her body touching Bella’s so she could reach for the gas. She looked up, aware that Bella was looking down at her from a close distance. Feeling something crackling between them, Rosalie winked.

Across the room, there was a smack as a book fell from Esme’s hand, her face gleeful.

Fully aware of Esme’s shock, Rose then went to the kitchen and popped a bag of the microwave popcorn that Bella loved so much, only growling at its stink once. With vampire speed, she ran up to her room while it popped and picked a DVD, the first she found that sounded good.

She handed it to her with a smile and then pushed her a little, so she was as close to the glass that incased the fire as possible and then she sat beside her.

They didn’t touch, and yet Rosalie could feel the zing passing between them when she pulled up her legs and crossed them, putting her knee an inch from Bella’s leg.

“So this is The Philadelphia Story,” Rosalie told her. “It was released in 1940 with Kathrine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and Cary Grant.” Bella nodded while Rosalie gushed. “It’s an amazing cast.”

The credits began to roll and Rose couldn’t help but notice that as Bella took a bite of popcorn and leaned back, she also leaned a little closer to Rose. Warmth pressed against Rosalie’s arm, making her chew the inside of her cheek to hide her smile.

Esme, coming back out of the library, paused just inside the door. She didn’t try to hide her appraisal, making Rosalie feel like they were on display.

She pretended not to notice, instead sighing as Kathrine Hepburn came on screen. “You know,” she leaned a little closer to Bella, scooting in so their bodies were flush, “there’s something about her that’s just so… sexy.”

Swallowing a bit of popcorn down, Bella laughed. “You know, Rose, you’re pretty gay for a woman who has never been with a woman.”

From upstairs there was a loud booming roar of a laugh that could only be Emmett’s.

Tinkling her own laughter, Alice skipped back down the stairs. “Movie?” She asked and folded herself into the far end of the couch. “Oooh, Jimmy Stewart.”

Bella gave her a side look that Rose was sure was meant to point out that as a woman who had only been with men, that’s what she should have sounded like.

Rose sent her a dry glare that could only read, ‘do you really want me to sound like that?’

Bella’s nose scrunched and she looked back to the screen.

Soon Jasper joined Alice, scooting her so that she was cuddled into her lap. Then Esme joined them, sitting on the floor until Jasper insisted took their spot on the couch. It was strange, so much of Rose was annoyed by this. She supposed if she wanted time with Bella then she should have put the movie on in her room after all. And yet, there was something nice about this too. She thought that maybe she understood now why Edward had insisted so often on bringing Bella over. It was kind of nice to have her mate, though that wasn’t the title they were using so, her girlfriend… perhaps… with her family.

With a somewhat nervous glance, Rose reached over and carefully took Bella’s hand.

Bella beamed at her.

 


 

Things did indeed change from then on. The next day, Rosalie met her on the porch again, though they had made no plans to spend more time together. Bella approached looking nervous and anxious and it made Rose wonder. Had the kissing changed something? Could Bella feel that pull now, that desire to be near? Or was she just coming over because they were almost dating?

The next morning she parked the M3, missing her other baby dearly, and found Bella standing in the rain just beside her truck. Her face was almost buried under her hood, but she could see her well enough to see the smile on her face.

Rose pulled out her umbrella and went to meet her, watching Bella rock back and forth from good toe to heel.

“Morning,” she smiled at her.

“Hey.” Bella twitched.

This they hadn’t figured out yet. When Bella had arrived the day before, Rose had simply taken her hand again. But today, on campus, things were a little different. Bella’s hand rose for a moment, faltered and fell as if she had wanted to reach out and touch Rose.

It was nice, she had to admit, to see Bella showing signs of feeling how Rose had always felt.

 However, until Bella was ready for their relationship to be in the open, she was going to have to settle for something like this. She looked down at her and Bella looked up, their eyes locked for a long full moment.

Then they began to walk and it was almost enough.

There was going to be gossip, Rose knew. There was already gossip that at that point was just unsubstantiated, and she knew that Bella was aware of it now, but what teenagers thought was happening and what actually was, often was very different.

Walking shoulder to shoulder, their arms brushed in a flair of static electricity now and then. It made Rose’s skin tingle, it made her feel alive.

“Bella.”

“Hmm?” Bella’s hooded head turned toward her as they stepped onto the curb, Rose pushing back up her a little when her boot nearly slipped.

“Would you like to go to prom with me?”

There was a yelp as Bella’s boot caught on something that Rose hadn’t noticed. With a shout, she began to fall. Rose caught her with ease and set her back on her feet yet again, but the expression on Bella’s face was one that made her think that Bella hadn’t even noticed her near fall.

“Prom? With you?”

“That’s what I said. It’s this upcoming weekend.”

The look on Bella’s face only grew more alarmed. Her skin had gone somewhat grey like she felt sick.

“Bella?”

“No, I really don’t.”

Rose’s feet paused only for a moment, but it was long enough for Bella to notice.

“Not because it’s with you or because I don’t want people to know or anything!” Bella went on fast. “It’s just… I don’t want to go. I’ve skipped all the other dances this year and I was hoping I could skip this one too… maybe… please?”

Worried, she looked into her face for a sign that Bella wasn’t being truthful. She wasn’t sure of what exactly she would do if she found it, but thankfully as far as she could see, it wasn’t there. Instead, she just saw dread. Rose nodded. “All right.”

“Wait, do you want to go?” Bella asked, spinning toward her so fast that once more Rose had to steady her.

“Bella, until you get that boot off, perhaps you need to be a little more careful on your feet.”

Bella didn’t seem to care about that though. “Do you?”

She shrugged. “I would have gone if I were still with Emmett.” It was true, they would have gone. They had always gone to school dances before as an excuse to dance.

This time it was Bella who stopped walking, her face crestfallen. “So are you not going to go because of me? Or, oh, or do you want to um still go with—”

Rose smiled at her, a hand raising to cut off her stress. “Bella, I’ve been to so many proms that I can’t even remember them all. I’m okay missing this one.”

Bella looked like she wanted to argue.

“Would you like to do something instead? We could go to the movies or—”

“In Port Angeles?” Bella asked, her face suddenly alight.

“Sure.”

“Yes.” Bella nodded once. “Yes, let’s do that.” Looking relieved, Bella began walking again, a smile on her face.

That night, Rose found herself leaning against the counter in Bella’s kitchen, watching as Bella dipped fish in batter and tossed it into the pan.

“Ugh, see, that smells better than that,” Rose insisted pointing first to the fish then to the pot of potatoes.

Bella just laughed. “That’s because a fish at least had blood at one point.”

Rose gave a small nod of accent. “I still can’t imagine eating it.”

Bella gave a snort. “Yeah, well, I can’t imagine eating your favorite food either!”

Teasing, Rose gave her a snarl of a smile that showed all of her teeth. “Don’t knock it until you try it.”

Bella shook her head a little, placing another piece of fish in the pan. “I’ll let you know,” was her dry response.

The front door opened, and Charlie stepped in looking tired.

“Hey, dad.”

“Good evening, Charlie.”

Unaware that Rose had been there, Charlie’s face went a little slack, his eyes blinking rapidly.

Bella made a noise of displeasure.

“Err, hello.” He nodded in her general direction, eyes averted.

Rosalie coughed a little to hide her laugh.

“Smells good, Bells. I, err, I’m gonna get changed.”

Arms crossed, Bella turned on her the moment Charlie’s bedroom door closed. “Can you stop doing that to my dad?” she hissed.

“What?” Rose cried, already feeling caught. “I’m just sitting here!”

“I know!” Bella cried, exasperated.

“What would you have me do exactly?”

Bella eyed her, continuing her dinner prep. “I don’t know. Can you put a bag over your head or something so my dad can function around you?”

“A bag?” Rosalie dryly bit, her vanity deeply offended. Her arms crossed, her jaw jutting. “You want me to put a bag over my head?”

“Yup.” Bella nodded, popping the P. “That way you’ll stop being every guy’s fantasy.”

Licking her lip a little, suddenly far less offended, Rose leaned across the space between them so she was just beside Bella’s ear. “Am I your fantasy?”

The audible gasp and shiver were the perfect reward and punishment, add to it that Bella’s heart literally skipped a beat and Rose was satisfied. Gently, she brushed her nose against the shell of Bella’s ear. The warmth that radiated from Bella’s face was dazzling.

“Shut up,” Bella grumbled.

Rose grinned when she realized she could smell that scent again, very lightly and yet there. She had aroused her, and she loved that fact. That was going to be a useful tool.

She hummed, wanting to pull her in again, but just before she could, Charlie’s footsteps started toward his door. She stepped away, her eyes still intense on Bella who was pretending she didn’t notice she had been zeroed in on like prey in the woods.

When dinner was finished cooking and Rose excused herself up to Bella’s room with the excuse that she had already eaten.

As she waited, she finished her homework for the day, a necessary evil and then she rested back against the bed, thinking of that scent, of Bella’s skipping heart until she heard Bella’s feet on the stairs.

She didn’t wait when Bella entered the room. The second she was in, she wrapped herself around her, pushing her up against the door and kissing her soundly.

She hummed. Bella had apparently stopped by the bathroom before coming in and her taste was minty and Bella.

Bella hitched out a small moan and melted as Rosalie kissed her hard enough to make Bella’s head bang a little on the door behind her.

“Ow.”

Rosalie laughed a little, only pulling away enough to rub her nose across Bella’s soft cheek as she had wanted the day before.

She groaned a bit too loudly as her tongue ran across Bella’s throat.

Bella chuckled, shushing her while pressing herself harder into her.

Perhaps it was that she had been aroused for the last bit of time, perhaps it was just that this was their third time doing this now, but the desire rose in her fast this time, hitting her hard. She snarled, clamping her mouth closed. She wanted to bite, to snap, to force part of her into her.

Startled, she yanked away.

Hands still in Rosalie’s hair, Bella looked startled and guilty. “What’s wrong? What did I do?”

Rose smirked, trying to play off her sudden nerves. “You’re messing up my hair.”

“Oh.” Bella gently pulled her hands from the hair.

“I’m just teasing, Bella.” She smiled, kissing her again, and then again, her tongue gently brushing Bella’s. Her hands came up, running first over her waist and then up her ribs, planning entirely to cop a feel if Bella would let her.

Bella’s head fell back and then suddenly sprang forward, hissing.

“What’s wrong?” Rose asked, alarmed at the pain on her face.

“Nothing, I just bumped into something.”

“Really? How bad — Bella!” Before Bella had been able to protest, Rose had lifted her shirt to see where she was hurt.

Under one side of her bra, covering her ribs was a sizable purplish bruise.

Rosalie gasped, pulling away despite Bella’s arms trying hard to restrain her. “Bella! Oh my god! This is from me!” She remembered the moment clearly. She had known she had hurt her a little, but there was a clear mark here of a hand.

“I don’t mind!” Bella insisted, trying to pull her back but Rose wouldn’t go.

I mind!”

“Nooo, don’t mind,” Bella whined, stepping back into her space and kissing her neck. Rose didn’t move, didn’t respond, horrified and so Bella gave up. “Come on, I’m okay!”

“You’re injured! I injured you!”

“Hey!” Bella cried, wrapping her tightly into her arms.

Rosalie gasped, taken aback. This was new. Bella had never… and it was impossible not to melt into the embrace. She was holding her. She had just stepped up and wrapped her up like she was allowed to, which, she was, but even Bella seemed to understand that. Her head dropped to Bella’s shoulder, guilt making her stomach sick. “I hurt you!”

“It’s okay. You’re still getting used to me being human.”

She shifted, turning her face so it could bury against Bella’s throat. “You’re so fragile,” she sighed.

Rose wasn’t listening. She was going to have to get better at this. She couldn’t hurt Bella that way.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she thought that maybe Bella had said: “Not forever.”

 


 

It wasn’t long after that Rose started for home, leaving Bella to do her homework in peace. Bella protested, insisting that she wasn’t all of that hurt, but Rose wanted some time to think.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” she promised, kissing her lightly and headed down the stairs.

The house was quiet when she walked in, everyone beginning their nightly activities.

She passed Alice and Jasper’s room on the way to hers and paused at their open door, knocking.

Alice looked up from the floor where she was playing a card game and frowned, “I no longer see you and Bella going to the prom.”

Rose chuckled a little, leaning against the door frame. “I asked her and she didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to make her. We’re going to the movies instead.”

Alice beamed. “Oh, she’ll enjoy that a lot more.”

Rose shifted in place, the habit to appear human so ingrained in her that she hadn’t even done it purposely. Worrying her lip, she asked, “Will she?”

Alice looked up again, her smile kind. “She will. She likes Junior Mints, by the way.”

Rose nodded, making a note of that, but still didn’t leave the doorway, playing with her fingers somewhat anxiously.

“What is it?”

She cleared her throat and stepped in, nodding a little at Jasper sitting on their large couch with a book. “Can I ask you a question?” She asked, sitting down on the opposite side of the couch beside her sister.

Jasper closed his book as Alice nodded.

These two were not the best to give her the answers she sought. After all, neither had been with a human. However, someone who had at the Cullen house was in very short supply. She thought that Tanya had been with a human once, but she didn’t think it had ended well with him. Plus, she and Tanya weren’t the type to exactly talk on the phone, given they didn’t like one another.

In a low and embarrassed voice, she told them about the desire she kept comping across, the desire to bite Bella.

“But I thought you didn’t want her blood?” Jasper asked, confused. “I’ve never felt that from you.”

“I don’t!” She insisted quickly, appalled at the idea of falling into the same category as Edward had. “I’ve never felt that.”

“Then I don’t—”

“It’s not about drinking from her.” She insisted. “It’s more like the physical act of sinking my teeth into her. Like...” While she couldn’t blush, she could feel the emotion behind it and she ducked her face as she admitted to her knees, “like I want my venom inside of her.”

Alice and Jasper exchanged a look that didn’t make Rose feel any less embarrassed. Alice’s head cocked. “Carlisle?” She asked in her normal speaking voice.

A second later he stepped, into the doorframe, scratching at his chin thoughtfully. “I’m not sure, Rose.”

She wasn’t surprised he had heard. She knew he was somewhat fascinated with the topic of she and Bella, and it wasn’t as though everyone in the house wasn’t able to hear her.

She ran a hand through her hair, huffing moodily.

“As Esme told you before, this situation is somewhat —”

“Unprecedented,” Rose, Alice, and Jasper said all at once.

Carlisle chuckled. “I guess I’ve said it on one or two occasions, have I?”

Rose chuckled darkly. “Just once or twice.”

“The problem I face is that while I know this has happened in the past, I personally have not seen it and so a lot of my thoughts are just speculation.”

“So, if you had to guess? Is it just that she’s never really going to be safe from the monster in me?”

Carlisle smiled a little at her, not put off by her bitterness.

She snarled at him.

“Rose, you are the most rigidly controlled of us. If there is ever something that you can’t handle, then none of us would be able to.”

She looked away. That wasn’t what she was asking.

“If I had to guess, I would say that it’s the mate bond,” he said in his gentlest voice, his eyes shining with understanding.

“What?”

“I think that it is the vampire in you wanting to fix the problem of Bella’s humanity.”

She was on her feet in a second, her teeth bared in a sharp hiss. “Bella’s humanity is not a problem!”

From beside her, Alice’s expression changed to open startle. “Of course it is.”

Not wanting to hear it, Rose started toward the door. She hadn’t actually had this conversation with anyone other than Jasper, but she could smell it in the air. She wasn’t having it.

She wasn’t taking Bella’s life. That was the end of that.

“Rose!” Carlisle called after her, but she just politely clicked her door closed on them.

 

 The next day, despite her upset of the night before, Rose found herself in an outrageously good mood. It was impossible not to be. She had realized something that morning that had shaken away her sour mood completely.

As she had met up with Bella for lunch, the second time of meeting her that day, she realized that they were dating.

Yes, it was without the official girlfriend title, but never the less, they were dating. Bella waited for her in the mornings, Rose picked her up for lunch. Bella had a bruise on her body from their kissing, and they were finally spending time together.

She was in such a good mood that when she arrived home from school that afternoon, for the first time she didn’t feel sad when she looked at Emmett’s empty side of the room.

She dropped her bag just inside her bedroom door and surveyed the empty spaces. Then she went to her small stereo. “Anyone mind if I put on some music?” she called and put in a CD when everyone said they didn’t mind. She pressed play and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours began to play.

“Booooo,” Emmett called from his room down the hall, but Rose ignored him.

She hummed along as she began to move things around. She had liked sharing a room with Emmett, but as she looked around she found herself planning a shopping trip. She had always refrained from feminizing the room too much, not wanting Emmett to feel uncomfortable but now she could as much as she wanted.

She began to dance as the next song came on. With ease, she shifted her dresser, lifting it and putting it where Emmett’s used to be.

She moved paintings, pulling a few out of storage to hang over her bed. She moved the recliners that had previously been for Emmett’s sake, taking one to Emmett’s room and the other out to the garage to get rid of. She would create a book nook instead with soft comfortable and beautiful chairs.

Picking up the table with one hand, she turned, ready to place is somewhere new and let out a yelp.

Her favorite song of the album had come on, Christine McVie’s voice a little rough as she sang Songbird and without any thought, Rosalie had sung along. What she hadn’t expected, however, was to turn around and see Emmett there grinning widely with Bella on his back. She froze, her mouth snapping closed around the half-sung lyrics, the coffee table still in one hand.

“I snuck her up!” Emmett cheered, looking smug.

“I see that!” She snapped, setting the table back down.

Bella slid off of his back unevenly, her eyes wide. “Jesus, Rose, you have an amazing voice!”

She glared, first at Bella then at Emmett.

“Hey! She wouldn’t have seen this for at least fifty years if I hadn’t.”

“Wow,” Bella mumbled, her eyes still trained on Rosalie’s face. “How come I didn’t know that?”

Emmett grinned at her. “Rose is shy.”

That made Bella snort which made Rose glare all over again.

“Will you sing some more?”

“Nope.”

“Please?”

“Nope.”

“But—”

“No!”

They glowered at one another.

“Fine.” Bella finally gave in and turned, backpack in hand.

Emmett just grinned again.

When Rose was done with her room she started down the stairs and joined Bella who was in the dining room at the table doing her homework.

Pulling out her own, Rose sat down as well. Homework was always a somewhat quick venture with them, as Rose had been through school so many times and Bella was simply smart. Still, they were there long enough for Rose to notice a pattern of her family walking by and grinning.

She glared each time, but as she did she couldn’t deny that she felt lighter and lighter.

She felt much of the same when, coming from school, she and Bella exploded from the cab of the car, their voices raised as they shouted at one another.

“You can’t possibly know!” Bella shouted, her face red with fury as she maneuvered her way on her crutches.

“What do you mean?” Rosalie scoffed, yelling loudly back. “I’m a vampire! Of course, I can know!”

They continued shouting at one another, heedless of the people that had all gone stiff as statues in the living room. They moved through them, their fight only picking up in intensity. Rosalie ignored her family, intent on proving that she was right, ignoring the way they all only moved their eyes to follow them up the staircase.

Just because you’re a vampire, doesn’t mean you know everything about human nature, Rosalie!”

“That’s exactly what it means, Isabella! Mike Newton is going to lock you in a hole in the basement and make a coat of your skin!”

“That’s insane! You’re insane! You’re just jealous and I don’t even know why!

“Ugh, you’re so annoying!” Rosalie cried as she slammed her bedroom door closed.

From the floor below, Rose heard first Carlisle and then Jasper begin to laugh.

“So I guess Bella and Rose are in a relationship, huh?” Carlisle said in a low voice and even though she was furious with her just then, Rose felt as though she could walk on air.

Chapter Text

The next morning Rosalie pulled up to Bella’s house just as the sun was beginning to rise, a great big grin on her face. Not wanting to explain to Charlie she quickly moved around to the side of Bella’s room, glanced around and scaled the side, easily climbing into Bella’s room.

She was going to have to talk to her about leaving her window unlocked, damn it.

“Bella.” She whispered, moving over to the bed where a mop of brown hair was all that stuck up from under the covers.

A grumpy moan came from the blankets.

“Bella.” She shook her a little.

“What?” Bella sat bolt upright, alarmed and rubbing her eyes. “Rose? What’s wrong?”

She grinned up from where she was kneeling, shaking her head. Bella, sleep mussed and confused, was so cute, so sexy that Rose considered giving up the plan for the day and simply crawling under the covers with her. She couldn’t only imagine what those Bella-warmed covers would feel like against her naked skin.

She shook her head a little to clear it. “Come on, get up. We’re playing baseball!”

“Noooo, last time I almost died!” She groaned and fell back into her bed.

 


 

It had taken a lot of convincing before Bella was willing to get up, dress in something warm, leave a note for her father and then make her way out to Rosalie’s silver beauty.

“Bella’s here!” Esme cheered as they stepped into the Cullen house a few minutes later.

Bella, still seeming partially asleep, stood next to Rose with only a half of a smile on her lips.

“She’s still sleepy.”

“Yeah, dude, it’s five AM on a Sunday,” she grumbled, making the room full of never-sleeping vampires laugh.

“Err, I don’t know,” Emmett teased as he came down the stairs. “Are you sure this is safe for her?”

Rose flipped him off.

“Cuz, uh, last time...” Emmett sucked in air through his teeth, easily dodging Bella’s thrown punch.

“I don’t know.” Rose sniffed. “Let’s ask Alice.”

“Gee thanks, guys,” Bella mumbled.

Alice appeared in less than a second beside her, face twisted comically as though she were looking hard into the future. “Hmmm, well, it looks like she’ll be — oh!”

Rose froze, her eyes wide with horror. She had only been teasing. Was Bella really not going to be safe?

She glanced around to see that everyone had frozen, all eyes on Alice, but Alice turned, looking toward the living room door.

“Oh.” Then she heard it too. Footsteps moving at vampire speed. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Emmett laughed, shaking his head and gently clapping Bella on the back. “Man, Bells, you have the worst luck when it comes to baseball.”

Bella had suddenly turned white. “What is it?” She turned, asking the statues in the room again. “What? What is it? What?”

A moment later there were footsteps on the front porch, making Bella freeze too.

Rose’s teeth ground. His timing was impeccable, she thought and watched as, eyebrows high, Edward pushed through the front door.

“Oh,” Bella said in a shaky voice and then, “shit.”

Edward paused, his glance falling on Bella, who had covered her mouth like she had just accidentally vomited on the floor. “My, you have been spending time around Rose, haven’t you?” He mused.

“Jump off into a fire, Edward,” Rose threw right back.

“Edward!” Esme leapt forward, grabbing him up in a hug that made him laugh.

Rose just glared. She wasn’t happy to see him, not at all. Things had been nice and now... her eyes trailed to Bella’s face, looking for any hint that she was happy to see him. It was just blank, and that didn’t make Rose feel any better, not when Bella was still staring at him. She had forgotten to worry about Edward’s return. She had forgotten to think about him much at all.

“Hi,” Bella finally breathed.

A stab of pain shot into her stomach.

Edward, for his part, picked up his bags and with one a slight nod in her general direction, headed up the stairs toward his room.

“Okay,” Carlisle finally said after a long silence. “Who’s ready to play?”

 


 

“To be fair, babe, of course, he’s gonna come. He’s our best outfielder.”

Rosalie scoffed, crunching through the morning frost on the leafy ground. “I’m our best outfielder.”

“Well, yeah.” Emmett shrugged, year and years of placating her showing. “But still.”

She glared at him. “Are you warm enough?”

Bella, who she had wrapped in her thicket jacket on top of the one that Bella had brought, laughed. “I feel like a balloon.”

“But are you warm enough?”

Instead of laughing at her, Bella smiled affectionately. “Yeah, Rose, I’m warm enough.”

“Okay.” She nodded, high strung, stepping through the edge of the woods and into the clearing. Across the grass the rest of the family stood, all able to get there much faster without a human companion with them. As she watched Edward glanced their way, swinging the bat.

She glowered and, unable to help herself, reached for Bella’s hand which was covered by thick gloves.

“Bella, come sit with me,” Esme called as Rosalie took her place on the pitcher’s mound.

“What?” Rosalie called back. “Let her play.”

It wasn’t only Bella’s head that whipped around to look at her like she was crazy.

“Oh no. No way!” Bella laughed, starting toward Esme with resolve.

“Come on!” Rose grinned. “I bet you’ll have fun.”

From across the field, Bella looked at her like she was insane. “Fun? Playing... baseball? With a bunch of vampires.”

Jasper chuckled, tipping his baseball hat in proper southern charm. “She’s got a point there.”

“I’m in a boot.”

“You don’t have to run.”

“I can’t even throw it to first base, Rose.”

“Oh yeah?” Rose smirked. She wasn’t sure if Bella playing would be fun or not, but her insistence on not even trying was triggering her competitive side.

“Yeah,” Bella responded, eyeing Rose. She wasn’t sure what Bella saw in her face, maybe the amused dare. “Okay, fine.” Teasingly she pushed Jasper off of first base and held her hand out for the ball, eyes never leaving Rose’s. Jasper stiffened a little at the sudden close contact, but smiled and tossed her the ball... which Bella dropped.

Rose stared back, loving the competitive standoff. If Bella wanted to play, she would find a way to help her play. It would be too much like Edward to just assume she wouldn't participate, or worse that she couldn't.

“Ready?” Bella asked, the ball back in her hand.

“Oh, I’m ready,” Rose promised.

“Okay. Here goes.” Bella cocked her arm back and with obvious effort, let it fly toward home plate where Esme was waiting with open hands.

Rose watched it arch into the air, smothering a laugh. The only word that could be used was pitiful. It was nothing less than pitiful. She launched herself, dashing for it as fast as she could. Moving at full vampire speed, so fast that Bella hadn’t even had time to react. She snatched it out of the air with a small leap where it was already beginning to fall a rough five feet from where Bella stood. In a flash, she threw it toward Emmett, who caught it and threw it to Alice, who threw it to Carlisle, who threw it to Jasper.

Before Bella’s arm had even fallen back to her side, the ball was smacking into Jasper’s hand, making her yelp and cringe away, her arms coming up over her head.

When her startled face appeared from under her arms, her hair caught across it, Rose was smirking.

“Whoa.”

“See.” Rose insisted with a wink. “You can totally play.”

The rest of the Cullens cheered as the ball smacked back into Rose’s hand, having made it through everyone else. Everyone, that was, except for Edward, who was glowering at her.

She cocked an eyebrow at him, sending a little mental reminder that he should stay out of her head because he might not like what was in there.

He turned, his face devoid of emotion and started toward his spot in the outfield.

Bella just shook her head. “I’m sitting down.”

 


 

The game wasn’t a specifically good one. Rose supposed if she and Edward had been on opposite teams then it would have made the game much more interesting, but being on the same team meant instead that the game was a landslide. Both she and Edward couldn’t seem to stop themselves, throwing harder, running faster, stealing bases, all so they could share an arrogant glare with the other. However, there were no thirsty vampires that showed up midway and tried to take her mate’s blood, so Rose considered it a good game.

As they played, Rosalie found herself very aware of Bella and Edward, watching them both closely. So closely that more than once she nearly missed a ball that went flying at her.

She couldn’t tell if she had seen anything between them or not. At times it seemed as though she did, but thought that there was a chance that it was in her head. She didn’t trust it. She didn’t trust him.

As tradition dictated, when the game was over they all shook hands, each shaking Bella’s as well for her valiant effort to get the ball from first base to home. All except Edward. Rose watched, her arms crossed in anger, as Edward shook Esme’s hand and then, with a glance at Bella, turned and started slowly back in the direction of the house. She glanced back at Bella and saw that she too was watching, her face hurt.

Rose’s teeth ground, her temper flaring.

“So.” Bella turned on Rose as if they hadn’t both been fully aware of Edward’s coldness. “Can I drive?”

That was enough to stop the step that Rose had been about to take, stunned. “What?”

Emmett came up, already howling with laughter. “No way!” He cried breathlessly. “No way Sappho is going to let you drive her!”

Head whipping around, she leveled him with a confused stare. “Am I Sappho or is my car?”

Bella turned red and Emmett’s laughter doubled.

“Take your pick!”

She gaped, unsure she liked either.

“So, can I?” Bella asked, her grin letting Rose know that Bella knew exactly what she was asking. There was a glint in her eye that Rose hadn’t realized had been missing that day under the weight of Edward’s sullen behavior.

“Yeah, Rose, you gonna let her drive your brand new car?”

Her mind worked fast. Emmett was right, this wasn’t something that she usually allowed. Her cars were hers. She didn’t like sharing. She didn’t like watching her babies, the apples of her eye driven by someone else. It was like watching your significant other make out with someone else. What’s more, she couldn’t let her baby be wrapped around a tree by someone with human reflexes. But both Bella and Emmett, looking at her like they knew exactly what she was thinking. “Oh!” Relief flooded her as she saw an out. “It’s manual.” She frowned, her shoulders slumping as if disappointed.

“You could teach me,” Bella said with a little too much innocence.

“What?”

“You could. You know. Teach me.” And then she did something that Bella had never done before. She waggled her eyebrows at her. Waggled them with all the suggestion in the world.

“All right.” She didn’t want to, but oh how could she say no to that.

Emmett’s face dropped into shock. “What? You never let me drive your cars! I got next!”

Cornered, Rosalie sneered a smile. “Fine,” she ground out and the three started toward the backroad where the car was parked.

Rosalie was a stiff rod of tension as they walked up to her car, glimmering a little in the late morning dew.

“You having a heart attack yet?” Emmett teased.

Nose in the air, she sniffed. “Of course not. Why would I?”

Bella, however, did not look convinced as she took the keys. “So this goes into the turny thing, right? – Okay, I’m just kidding!” Bella cried at whatever she saw on Rosalie’s face.

They got in, Bella in the driver’s seat, and because he wouldn’t fit in the backseat, Emmett in the passenger side. That left Rosalie in the back, her jaw clamped tight, the plastic smile on her face probably not fooling anyone.

“I don’t know if I feel safe,” Emmett griped. “Where’s my seat belt?”

Bella rolled her eyes but Rose, on a hair-trigger, snapped.

“You’re a three hundred pound vampire. You’ll be fine.” She turned back to her mate, schooling her face. “Okay, Bella, driving a manual is all about balance.”

“Nu-uh! It’s all about timing!”

“Hey! Peanut gallery! Shut up!”

Bella looked between them, amused.

“Now. Bella...” She crooned, “you notice how there’s an extra pedal?”

The lesson in clutch versus gears deteriorated from there and soon there was yelling. Rosalie yelled at Bella as the gears ground, making her hyperventilate in the back seat. Bella yelled at Rosalie for yelling at her as the car jerked and shuttered. Emmett yelled over both of them, teasing and catcalling them both.

Press and release! Press and release at the same time, Bella!”

I am! I am!” The car revved, the accelerator pushed a little too hard and then jerked forward and stalled as the clutch wasn’t released enough to catch first gear.

Rosalie let out a whine of a shout as the car made a noise that couldn’t be good for it.

This doesn’t make any sense! Why are there two pedals! What the hell?”

“There aren’t! There are three! It makes plenty of sense! You’re just doing it wrong!”

Emmett’s laughter only highlighting the point.

Bella tried again and for a moment the car moved.

“Yes! Yes, Bella, ye—”

The car stalled.

“Damn it!” Bella shouted, her fist smacking the steering wheel.

“Do – not – hit – my – car!”

“It’s just a car!”

Rosalie’s head dropped to the back of Emmett’s seat, hiding her face.

Her poor car. Her poor, poor, beautiful car.

“Okay.” She took a deep breath, doing her best to get her voice back to sweet and loving as she wanted to sound. “We can do this.”

Bella scowled at her.

“It’s just about delicacy. Remember, balance. Think of it as a dance. One foot releases while the other presses in equal measure.”

Steel in her gaze, Bella tried again and the car revved harshly and then, to Rosalie’s relief, caught in first.

“I’m moving!” Bella shouted, so excited that her feet jumbled and she shot forward, pushing the RPMs into second gear range.

“Whoa! Whoa!” Emmett cried as Rosalie’s hands clutched his arm. “Gaaaaah! Ow!”

Bella let out a scream as the car moved and released the pedals, making it stall again.

Breathing hard and frantic in the backseat, Rosalie did her best to hold on to that smile. “That was good! Try that again.”

“Uh-uh.” Bella’s head shook. “I’m done. I’m good.”

Rose’s hands were tight fists in her lap but she smiled.

“You almost have it,” Emmett pressed, making Rose glare at him.

It took another few tries but eventually they began to move, slowly but surely.

They turned off of the service road, Bella stalling in the turn and onto the empty highway.

“You know, Bella,” Rose said in her lightest sweetest voice.

Bella, whose eyebrows were tight as were the muscles in her back and shoulders, barely glanced at her.

“If we don’t get going soon, we’re not going to make it back before Charlie comes home for lunch.”

Startled, the car stalled again and Rose barely held back her wince. Perhaps it wasn’t true to say that she was only human, however, her ability to sit passively by was quickly fading.

Emmett smirked at her, seeing through her. She glared a silent shut up.

“He’s on his way home now.”

Bella looked up at her, surprised. “Wait, you can hear him from here? We’re miles from town.”

“Of course I can.”

Emmett shook his head. “Bullshit, Bella, don’t listen to her. She just wants to get back into the driver’s seat.”

Ignoring that, she smiled, tossing her hair over her shoulder and doing her best to look at her as prettily as she could.

Bella glanced into the mirror, and then over her shoulder at her, a little slack-jawed.

“You know, sometimes it’s intimidating.”

“What?” Rose asked, running a finger along the side of Bella’s neck, making her go red.

“Uh-oh, Bella, I know this trick. Resist! She’s trying to get in your head!”

Her eyes flicked over to him, warning him off as she gently tickled the shell of Bella’s ear. “What is intimidating?” She asked in a gentle croon.

Bella’s cheeks went pink again. “You looking like that.”

Rosalie’s mouth dropped open, not having been expecting that at all. Emmett howled.

Bella still looked a little dazed as she pulled over and got out.

Rose paused, kissing her soundly on the side of the road and then pushed the seat up for Bella to crawl in.

Sliding behind the wheel felt like an instant headache cure. She hummed, her teeth between her lip. She glanced at Bella in the mirror and saw her looking at her with amusement and something else Rose couldn’t place just then.

“You gonna show me how it’s done?”

Rose grinned. “That’s right.” With a wink, she shot off down the road, making Bella squeak and her laugh.

They made it to Bella’s house in four minutes, a record, she was sure.

“Have a good Sunday, sweetie.” Rosalie smiled sweetly, only kind of teasing.

Bella glared, closing the car door.

Rose frowned. There it was again. She had noticed it every day since they had kissed on Bella’s bed. She winced as Bella climbed onto the porch and gave a small half of a wave before heading inside. Rubbing her chest a little, she took a deep breath and pulled the car out.

This was new, this pull. It wasn’t bad, Rose thought, but it hurt and because she was a vampire, she noticed pain now. It happened so rarely.

Starting down the street, Emmett turned a little in his seat, his eyes shrewd. “So, we gonna talk about it?”

Startled, Rosalie glanced at him. How could he know what she was feeling? She didn’t even understand what she was feeling.

“Edward’s back,” he prompted when she said nothing. “Bella.”

Rosalie’s eyes snapped back onto the road, staring straight ahead with more concentration than she needed.

“So?”

She shook her head once. “No. We’re not.”

Slowly he gave a nod, his face for once serious. “Okay.”

Chapter Text

 

Rosalie didn’t want to be there. She didn’t. She knew that after walking away from their talk so recently, she was setting herself up to have it again. She had tried to avoid this, refusing to set herself up this way but damn it, she was so tired of having questions. She had put it off as long as she could but after another week since baseball and another week of this feeling every time she stepped away from Bella, she had to ask someone.

She had once again debated a trip to Italy. Despite the fact that the Cullens tried to keep to themselves and out of the line of sight of the Volturi, Rosalie thought it might be worth it to have all of her questions answered. The thought of the shopping that she could do had almost convinced her.

The trouble was, you never knew how the Volturi would respond to things. For all she knew they would decide the Cullens had broken the most essential vampire rule by allowing Bella to know about them, and would take vengeance. Or would insist that Bella must die. Or perhaps insist that Rosalie must drain her blood and dance in it under the full moon. You never knew with those nut jobs.

And so, she found herself grudgingly there.

Her heels clicked loudly as she strode down the hall, her chin high, forcing an air of confidence as though she didn’t want to turn tail and run.

Keep walking, she urged herself, her mind gritting and snarling at her. She needed answers. She needed Carlisle to have them. He had better have them.

“Miss. Hale, how are you? So lovely to see you again.” An elderly man with tufts of white hair smiled at her as she turned the corner.

“Good afternoon, Doctor Denton. I’m very well, and you?”

“Good, good. Looking for your dad?”

“I am.”

“In his office.”

She nodded and thanked him politely, already fully aware of where he was and already headed down the correct hall.

This felt degrading. She knew her family did this, but she had only felt the need once before, ironically to discuss with their surrogate father the problem of Edward and his growing obsession with a human girl. She didn’t especially like that she felt the need now. She resented that she needed this kind of one on one attention now. She just couldn’t have this conversation in her house where everyone near would hear and feel they could chip their own thoughts in. So she had taken the excuse late the night before to go hunting, and then had dressed and started there. It was early, so early that Carlisle couldn’t have been there long. He still struggled with keeping normal hours, willing to work as much as needed. Since that would look very bad, he settled for being the one on call most nights and arriving early. She approached the door with indignation and paused. From inside the office, she could hear the scratch of a pen on paper. She grit her teeth and gave a firm knock.

“Come in.”

She opened the door with a deep breath and stepped in.

“Rose!” Carlisle gave her a warm smile that Rosalie wasn’t entirely sure she deserved. “Come in, take a seat.”

Avoiding eye contact, Rose closed the door and sat stiffly, crossing her legs.

“Are you all right?”

She nodded once, her head barely moving.

“And is Bella doing well?”

Again, she nodded.

“Okay,” he smiled thoughtfully, finishing up whatever he had been writing and then putting it aside. He sat back, looking comfortable despite the fact that Rosalie felt like she was going to implode at this humiliating situation. She didn’t show up at his work to ask for advice. She just didn’t.

He waited as she sat, her mouth closed, looking at him. She had to talk and quickly before he got called away to an emergency or to a meeting, still, her jaw felt too heavy to open and so she just stared.

His eyebrows rose ever so slightly and she shifted.

“Busy day?” Immediately she rolled her eyes at herself. She wished she hadn’t asked. She didn’t really care. She just...

“I’ve had busier, but I know you didn’t come to ask me that. I have a meeting in thirty minutes, I have to warn you.”

“Right.”

“Is it something with Bella?”

Her eyes narrowed. She wanted to get defensive. She wanted to snap at him that of course it wasn’t Bella and that he was an ass for asking her that. But of course, it was.

“Is it Edward’s return? Are you having doubts about her fe—”

“No!” Why did people keep asking her about Edward? She didn’t care about him. She didn’t!

“Then how can I help?”

She grit her teeth and just to stop the other stupid questions he might ask, she began. “There’s something... something I’ve noticed recently. Something new... again.”

“With Bella?”

“Yes.” She grit between clamped jaws. “Jesus wept. Yes. With Bella.” God, she would really rather be doing anything else. “I’ve noticed a new sensation... when I leave Bella.”

Carlisle’s face didn’t change, ever steady, ever professional and that lack of response it helped her continue. She thought that if he had shown some type of response at all that she might have left then and there.

“Can you tell me about it?”

She bit back the snarl of snark she wanted to let unleash and did. “It’s not all of the time, or at least it wasn’t until now.” Quickly and succinctly, she explained the new pulling sensation.

“And it’s only when you leave her?”

“Correct. I do not feel it when I’m with her or even if we’ve been apart for a few hours.”

He nodded, his eyes unfocused as he stared at a wall. “Interesting.”

She always aspired to be like him. His human mannerisms were impeccable. He was the only person who worked as hard on them as she had. “The connection between you strengthens the more time you spend together, correct?”

She thought about it for a long moment. She had noticed that things were quickly feeling more and more solid between them, even if Edward had returned. She added the last part passively, refusing to give the thought weight. “Yes. I think so.” Bella did seem more and more comfortable with her, especially over the last week. Edward hadn’t returned to school, and so things felt easy there. After school, they spent time at Bella’s house and — she stopped her thoughts before they could continue. Edward was not the point here. He wasn’t important at all. He didn’t matter. She was with Bella now. He was a non-issue, god damn it .

“And you still feel the desire you spoke of before? The desire to bite her?”

Rosalie shifted, cleared her throat. Her ‘yes’ came out more of a croak.

Not that she had been able to feel that in the past week. There had been no heavy kissing, there had been no time, no place for it.

Again Edward’s face appeared in her head and she smashed it back down. He wasn’t the point. It wasn’t because of him that Bella hadn’t tried to... start anything. It was because Charlie’s caseload had been light and so he had been buzzing around. That was all.

Leaning forward a little, Carlisle cocked his head. “I’ve had a theory since we spoke of that desire.”

“And?”

“Could it be that you must be mated to be mates?”

Rose stared blankly. “Meaning?”

He laughed. “I’m sorry, that came out as more of a riddle than I had intended. What I mean by that is, could your... connection be pushing you to take the final steps to truly, well...”

Rosalie jerked like she had been hit with a cattle prod. “Are you trying to talk to me about sex, Carlisle?”

For the briefest of moments, Carlisle seemed embarrassed.

Sex was something that the Cullens had no choice but to be open about, as their hearing was so good. Rosalie was fully aware that, though often sweet and passionate more than tearing the house down, Carlisle and Esme still had sex most days. In fact, he had bought her an island just for that purpose. They all tried to be sensitive to their housemates, but it was just the way it was. It was an unspoken issue. At leas Carlisle never had to speak to them, as far as she knew, about sex. No one had ever needed the finer points explained to them.

He cleared his throat and his medical training seemed to click in. He nodded. “Yes, I am.”

“And why exactly are you asking me about sex?”

“Once again, this is theoretical.”

Rose waved her hand impatiently, tired of hearing that.

“The point, I think, of what we feel when we meet our mates is to be sure that we don’t pass up our soulmates.”

Internally Rose rolled her eyes. Soulmates. This was completely where Edward got his flair for the dramatic. How could a man of science believe these things?

“I know, I know, you think that’s hogwash. I think that the scent lures you in, the desire to know, the inability to ignore and I think your desire to turn Bella into one of us is —”

The chair under her gave a warning splinter as her hand closed on the arm. “I do not have a desire to turn Bella into one of us.”

Carlisle’s smile was soft and kind, and Rose hated it because it was also placating. “Rose, the exact words you said were that you have a desire for your venom to be inside of Bella. That sounds very much like not only sexual desire but also a desire —”

“No.”

His mouth closed with a huff of frustration.

She held his gaze, refusing to feel embarrassed, even if she felt it completely. She had said it. She knew that. But that didn’t mean...

“I think all of those things are the unacted upon bond trying to make things more... harmonious. I think it may become more and more insistent until satisfied. Imagine, if you will, pushing two magnets together. Eventually, their connection makes it impossible to keep from one another.”

“Right.”

“Has Bella expressed any concerns about this new sensation?”

At this Rose looked away, out his window at the quickly growing grey day. “She hadn’t said anything.” And then because it had to be admitted, she continued on. “I’m not entirely sure she’s capable of feeling the mate bond.”

He studied her with a frown. “Have you not told her yet?”

“No.”

“Why?”

She scoffed. It was an obvious answer. “She can’t, right? She can’t feel the things that I feel?”

“You mean because she’s human?”

“Yes.”

“I honestly don’t know, Rose, I’m sorry. I know you don’t want to hear that.”

“You’re right! I don’t!” she snarled.

Carlisle gave a slight apologetic nod of his head before he continued on. “I have to imagine she can feel the bond to a point. After all, whether through the bond or because of the bond, you two have taken to one another very well.”

She scowled under his gaze.

“I understand your hesitation, Rose, but you understand that things are not as simple as they once were.”

“Which means?” She snapped. Here it was. She had known it would come to this. She stared back, her gaze hard enough though her insides were beginning to feel sore.

“I think you know what I mean.”

“Uh-huh. Right.” She looked away again. She shouldn’t have to defend this. She wasn’t going to have this conversation. She simply wouldn’t. “And intimacy? That is the pinnacle of the bond, right? That is the point where the pulling sensation will stop? So is it a possibility? I mean—” she huffed. “I know it is, but...” ugh, forget it. This wasn’t worth it. She should have talked to Esme, who then would have talked to Carlisle and brought back what he said. That would have made more sense.

She trusted her ability. She had hurt Bella a little, but she could be more aware.

“I think if you’re very careful that it could be a wonderful experience for you two. One that she should have while still human. But I do not think it’s the pinnacle of the bond, no. Nor do I think it will cause the sensations you’re speaking of to slacken.”

Teeth grinding she stared, wanting to break something. “You just said that we need to mate to be mates.”

“I didn’t mean sex, Rose.”

“Right,” she threw back like a fastball. “You think I should bite her.” She closed her eyes as the tingle went up her spine, betraying her and angering her. “You think I should take the life of a teenage girl!”

When she opened her eyes again Carlisle had sat back, his fingers steepled, apparently very aware of what Rosalie’s body had just done.

She growled a little.

“I’m going to tell you the same thing that I told Edward, Rose.”

The hiss that she let out was sharp.

 “If Bella is your mate then things are different than they would be if she were a mere romantic interest. If most vampires only get one mate then surely it must mean our mates are predestined. Else, how would any of us be in the right place at the right time to meet them?” He chuckled a little. “Can you imagine the strength of destiny for those who mate with two or three people? I know that Edward is always worried that our souls are doomed, but that to me speaks of divinity. Seeing you and Bella together, I do not doubt that you are indeed mates. And that, Rose, I did not say to Edward.”

She sniffed. That helped. It was stupid, but the thought that he hadn’t said that to Edward did help soothe some of the anger in her chest.

“You’re trying to tell me that you think intimacy will increase the strength of the bond.”

He nodded slowly. “Doesn’t it for every couple?”

She didn’t respond.

“But Rose, it’s only fair to let it.”

“Right.” That was her cue. “Okay, thanks.” She pushed herself to her feet, ready to leave this awkward situation.

Carlisle’s hand went up, his voice sharp. “Sit down. Please.”

Alarmed and suddenly even more anxious to leave, she sat.

“Rose, there can be no halfway in this. It isn’t fair to try to contain it like you’re doing.”

“It’s not that simple!”

“Tell Bella, Rose. Tell her, and see what she says. After all, she deserves a say.”

 

 

Chapter Text

As not to be late, Rose drove from the hospital and directly to the high school campus. The first bell was only minutes away when she stepped out of her car, worried that she had forgotten to switch to the M3. She had parked at the far end of the lot, but she had tried to think of everything to make this morning simple. It was a stupid mistake she had forgotten. With careful precision, she smoothed her hair, her back straight, her face blank. Her shoulders felt heavy. She wasn’t sure she could breathe under the weight of them. She glanced toward the school, sure that Bella would have started to class by then. Even from that distance, however, she could see as well as sense Bella in the small huddle of people beside the parking lot. Mike was telling some story, the look on his face goofy, Jessica was staring at him with love. From what Rose could tell, the two had recently begun to date and that was good. It still didn’t seem to stop the moony looks from Mike toward Bella though. Even though she was smiling, Bella’s eyes were on Rose, perhaps only partially listening to the story.

Her heels clicked on the cold ground as she started toward them, her gaze downward.

Carlisle’s words echoed in her head, making her brooding mood darken all the more. She didn’t know what she had expected from her talk with Carlisle. Well, no, she did. She had expected encouragement toward sex, and the general attitude that if she was feeling anything unusual then it was probably the bond. She had also expected encouragement to change Bella. She hadn’t expected it to make so much god damn sense. She hadn’t expected to feel so guilty. She hadn’t been trying to contain their bond, had she? She was sure she hadn’t. Why would she? Why would she try to take away something good? But if she hadn’t then why did that sound so familiar?

Her mind was full, too full and she didn’t care for any of the things swirling around in it.

“Morning,” she nodded at Jessica and Mike as she approached.

Although she spoke to both of them a few times a week, they both paused, looking startled.

She didn’t bother to hide her rude and very-tired-of-this eye roll.

They gave her quick greetings of their own, looking like they wanted to bolt.

“Err, I’ll see you in class, Bella,” Jessica said, her eyes switching to Rose every few seconds. She wrapped her hand tightly into Mike’s and began to pull him away.

Mike resisted a little, his eyes longingly on Bella before he allowed his pushy little girlfriend to drag him away.

“Right,” Rose mumbled, this not helping her mood.

She was fearsome. This was a perfect example. Was it any surprise she was trying to keep Bella’s world simple? Couldn’t Carlisle see that? Couldn’t they, everyone who had opinions about Bella, all see that?

“Hey.”

Rose pushed through her grimace, giving her a bright smile. “Hello.” She was a good actor, she knew she was. It was a part of their life. The smile must have been too bright though because the smile that had been on Bella’s face slipped away like a stone.

Come on, Rose, she chided herself, trying to force the smile to look natural. It wasn’t as if she wasn’t happy to see Bella. She just... needed to think.

“Are you okay?”

“Of course I am.”

Bella’s eyes traveled her face, her brows furrowed in thought.

All around them the first bell rang.

“Come on. Let’s get you to class.”

They walked side by side, Rose doing her best to keep her face neutral as her thoughts spun. It wasn’t divinity that brought mates together. How could it be? But what other answer was there to the same thing she had wondered again and again. How could her mate have been born so much later than her? Was it random? Was it chance? Was Edward right that their souls were lost and therefore they lived outside of the universal plan? Was Jasper? Carlisle?

She felt Bella’s eyes on her as they made their slow way to the classroom. She smiled back once, but the rest of the time she simply pretended that she hadn’t noticed.

There were too many things to think about.

One thing was clear to her. She had been stalling the progression of their relationship, hadn’t she? She had told herself that she was being respectful, that she was letting Bella set the pace, but she had been stalling for weeks. She knew that Bella was interested in more from her; she had told her so over a week before. Yet, she hadn’t – and they hadn’t. And it wasn’t just the physical. Emotionally Rosalie had been holding back too.

And she hadn’t told her the truth.

Carlisle was right. She deserved a say in what the bond was doing to her, to them. She deserved the right to know. She had the right to know. Carlisle had meant something very different with his words, but that wasn’t even an argument. There was nothing and would be nothing to discuss taking Bella’s life. It wasn’t hers to take.

And then there was one other thing, one thing that she refused to have on her mind and yet played there constantly like a bad musical number she couldn’t forget. She didn’t want to notice it. She didn’t want to think about it. She didn’t want to give it sway. There was no use in denying it any longer. He was back. Did he still want her? Did she still want him? Did she still love him? Why couldn’t she tell for sure?

No, she pushed that thought away. He didn’t matter. Bella had been so warm to her, so open. She had told her that she didn’t think she had ever loved him. So then... why did his face keep popping up in her mind, toying with her, making her worry.

It wasn’t until she felt a warm hand on her wrist that she realized they had stopped in front of Bella’s classroom.

She looked up, surprised, and into Bella’s anxious rich-brown eyes.

“Rose, what is it?”

She looked down at her, the hand on her wrist centering her more than she ever could admit. Her mouth opened, her hand taking Bella’s and holding it tightly. She felt vulnerable there under Bella’s gaze, and that was all to the good, right? Her mouth closed again. There was just too much to say.

“I’ll see you at lunch.” She winked and turned toward her class.

 


 

Lunch wasn’t much better, Rose could tell. If anything, Rose had actually had more time to get stuck in her head and once they were all sitting at the table together, she found she couldn’t make herself pretend to feel as she did every day. She was quiet and it didn’t take much to see that it was making Bella uneasy. She had sat them with her siblings, hoping they would cover for her, but it hadn’t worked.

After school, instead of the usual lingering by the car as they often did, Rose looking deeply into her eyes with longing, sighed, and turned to go.

“Hey.” Bella caught her arm. “You’re not coming over?”

Rose smiled a little. “I think I should head home. I have some things on my mind today.”

“Yeah, I can tell.”

Rose sighed deeply, enjoying the scent of her in the newly budding spring. “I’m sorry.”

“Can I still come over tonight?”

“What? Yes, of course. I had assumed you would.”

Bella nodded, some of the stiffness leaving her shoulders. “Okay. I’ll see you then.”  

 

Rose was thankful when she finally was able to sneak up to her room to be alone with her thoughts. She didn’t feel alone, which was what she wanted. The house was too loud, too full and her hearing was too good. But it was close enough. She debated for a long moment the merits of canceling with Bella that night and heading to her B&B for some honest silence and decided against it. She wanted to be alone, but not that alone. Instead, she settled into her window seat, her head falling back against the wall.

Edward had already made up his mind about Bella, hadn’t he? She had heard the arguments before Bella had come over for the first time and she had heard he and Alice fighting when she said she saw Bella becoming one of them. At the time she had thought it was foolish to bet against Alice. Now she envied him that arrogance. It wasn’t that she was wavering. She would never waver. But she envied Edward’s willingness to let Bella grow old and die naturally, and still be with her up until that point. It was silly, it was a moot point since she and Bella were basically together, but she didn’t think she could do it. She didn’t think she could be with her fully, knowing she would lose her. A human’s life was so short. How did you build a life with someone when you knew one day they wouldn’t be in it? One not so distant day.

God. She had been here before. These thoughts were not new and as they always did, they swirled around to the same thing.

How could she take something so precious from Bella as she had with Emmett? How could she ever live with herself? The fact that she was even thinking of this at all disgusted her.

But what if everyone was right? They had all said it at this point. Carlisle, Alice, Jasper, Esme had all told her that this was how it was meant to be. What if they were right and this was the way things were supposed to be? What did it mean if it was? It would mean her whole philosophy on life would need to change. She was meant to be dead. She had always thought so. It was a horrible way to go, but she had always known, had always wanted to have slipped away on those dirty cobblestones of that dark alleyway. And yet, here was Bella, walking and talking proof that she might have been wrong. And if she was wrong... and here was the part where Rose always turned away because she didn’t want to think about this. If she was wrong, if she was not meant to die back in 1933 but to live to meet her mate in 2005, then what did that say about Bella’s life?

If only – if only there was a way for Rose to be human with her. Their lives could be so different. They could have met and fallen in love simply because they worked, not because of the bond. They could begin to date in high school and then spend the summer in tears thinking that they were going to have to break up, only to decide at the last minute to go to school together. They have gone off to college together where they shared a dorm and spent weekends studying, eating dorm food, and learning one another’s bodies. They could have bought a house while working on their graduate degrees, had babies while becoming doctorates. Their life could have been a movie. They could have been a family. She had started over the last weeks watching as many lesbian movies as she could get her hands on. Most of them she thought were terrible, but there were some that she watched and she wanted to cry. She wanted to live like them. Instead, it had to be this. Instead, there was this constantly reoccurring question: did Bella being her mate mean that Bella was supposed to become a vampire? She moaned a little as the thought filled her. She could see it. Bella would be exquisite. They could move through time together, always at one another’s side, always happy. There was so much of that life that she had wanted that they could have. Who said they couldn’t have children? So many children needed homes in their world. Who said they couldn’t find a way? They could break off from the family if anyone felt as though the struggle to have a human around fulltime would be too much, but she doubted they would. It’s true, she would outlive those children but she could give them a happy life. They could. Or perhaps they could become foster parents and give temporary homes to those in need. There were ways. She wanted it so much that it physically hurt. She wanted it so much that she knew when she heard Bella knock on her door that she couldn’t talk to her about this. Not now. She couldn’t and let Bella see how much she wanted something that she would never allow. She wanted her. All of her. Forever.

She ran her hands over her face, harshly rubbing. She had to change her mood. She absolutely had to. She couldn’t stay like this. She shook out her hair, running her hands through it until it was smooth and then opened her mouth wide, stretching the muscles. She effort, she clicked on her best plastic smile.

“Come in, Bella.”

The door opened and Bella pushed her way in. Rosalie beamed at her, genuinely happy to see her despite this ache in her chest.

Bella’s shuffling crutches stopped before she was all the way through the door, her eyes on her face. “Still upset, huh?”

Rosalie’s fake smile dropped like a severed marionette.

Damn it.

She tried to push the smile back on her face, but it was like an engine that wouldn’t start. Frustrated, she gave her a small half-smile. “I’m sorry. It’s not you.”

Putting her crutches in the corner and hobbling on her boot, she made her way over to Rose. “What is it then?”

She shook her head, sighing when Bella stepped close, a hand falling on her shoulder. She tilted her head. There was always so much pain in her and at that moment the weight of it just felt like too much. How was she supposed to carry it all around? How was she supposed to deal with these questions?  She turned her face and nuzzled Bella’s hand. It felt good to be close to her. She wanted to be closer, to soothe the wounds that felt suddenly raw.

Why was it when one hurt festered, it created a chain reaction, leaving her insides rotting? Would she never be allowed to unload them? Why did the question of not being allowed Bella make her think so much of her death, of her lonely life, of all the things that brought her pain?

As if she could feel Rosalie’s aching insides, Bella stepped closer and so Rose turned, scooting so she could instead rest her face against Bella’s chest. Breathing in the scent of her skin, her eyes closed as Bella’s hair tickled over her face.

“Whatever it is, you can tell me. You know that, right?”

She nodded, but she didn’t want to talk. She wanted a distraction. She wanted to not have to think about these things, to wonder. And this, she turned her face to warm the other cheek, this felt so good. The feeling of Bella’s arm around her, it made her feel something that she had never felt with Emmett. The beginnings of peace. It was alarming. It was addicting. It was arousing in a way she had never been, and she and Emmett had never lacked in that area.

But if she kissed her, if she touched her, would it only make things worse? If she kissed her too intently or touched her in the wrong spot, would it increase the pain she felt when she left Bella? Would it create some new and as of yet unheard of sensation that would only make this harder?

The questions made her want to sob. Why couldn’t she just have this one thing without fear? She just didn’t want to be afraid anymore.

So she turned her head again, letting her lips trail across Bella’s chest.

They were alone. She had planned it that way the day before, knowing that everyone was due for a hunting trip. So she gave in a little, ignoring the questions pounding in her mind. She nuzzled Bella’s collarbones. “Can we do some of this instead?”

She had to be honest with herself. It wasn’t only Bella who hadn’t pushed over the last week.

But why?

Why?

Why?

Why hadn’t she held her like she wanted to every day? Why hadn’t she let herself touch her? Why had her mood been so abysmal?

God, she just wanted these thoughts to stop!

Bella’s fingers raked into Rose’s hair and she groaned. “Need to get out of your head?”

Bella understood. How was it that Bella always understood? “Yes, please.” Without waiting for an answer, she turned her face, kissing the underside of Bella’s jaw, her throat, her hands unwrapping from around Bella to slide up her back.

Bella was nodding, though Rose wasn’t sure if Bella knew why. “Okay,” she hummed and crawled into Rose’s lap, straddling her, arms around her neck to hold her tightly.

Rose liked that. She liked that Bella wrapped around her like a sloth when they kissed, liked that she held her like she was hers. Which... she was... even if Bella didn’t know it. She was.

Her lips moved to Bella’s ear, enjoying the gasp she got when she carefully sucked on the lobe.

“Where is everyone?” Bella asked, her voice already growing gravelly and thick.

“Hunting.”

“Oh.” Bella hummed as Rosalie licked her throat, tasting her skin. She sucked lightly, working hard not to leave a mark while wanting very much to leave a mark. “Rose?”

“Hmm?” She hummed against Bella’s throat, her hands pushing under the back of Bella’s shirt to touch her skin.

“Are you upset because Edward is back?”

Rosalie’s lips froze, her entire body following suit. Her eyes opened violently fast and she had to work to swallow the wince she felt.

Usually, when the vampires around her froze, Bella did too, so worried that it was her fault. This time, Bella didn’t freeze. Instead, she moved faster and with more intent. She held her tighter, her hands running up the back of Rosalie’s neck, so familiar, so intimate, and into Rose’s hair. She was holding her against her, and though Rose knew she could have broken her grasp, she didn’t want to when Bella was so insistent on her staying close. Her eyes closed again, though this time with tension as she enjoyed the feeling of Bella’s fingers pulling her hair just a bit. She could feel a challenge in it, an aggression that she wasn’t sure how to face.

“You’ve been different this week.”

Her teeth ground.

“Do you think—”

 “No,” she finally interrupted. Because it wasn’t, damn it, it wasn’t the point.

So then why this her chest throb with pain when she thought of Carlisle and Edward having a conversation very similar to the one she had with him? Why did she feel Edward’s eyes on her when she was at the house? Why was she waiting for Bella’s eyes to fall to him?

“Rose...” Bella started, perhaps about to call her bluff that she refused to acknowledge.

She didn’t want to hear it though so instead she stood quickly, sweeping Bella up in her arms.

Bella gave an unhappy squawk as Rose’s hands wrapped her legs around her waist. Bella spasmed, wrapping her legs around her, clinging to her with an unhappy whine of her name. The trip was short, however. Rose merely turned toward the bed and crawled on, holding Bella to her with ease.

Rose sighed as she rested Bella on the bed, hovering over her on her hands and knees.

This was what she wanted. This was perfect.

Bella looked up at her with complete trust, little patches of pink in her cheeks, her eyes the same combination of excited and nervous that they always were when she and Bella traveled into uncharted – for Bella – territory together. She settled, her body splayed across Bella’s, her face resting in the spot she liked just under Bella’s jaw.

Bella sighed out a long and somewhat shaky breath, her heart staccato in her chest.

When Rose kissed the skin there, she kissed it with intent. She forgot to be mindful of all of her worries, she forgot to care that this could become complicated. She just intending to touch her in all the ways that Bella was comfortable with at that moment. She didn’t know if she was ready to let the bond increase. She didn’t plan on allowing the touches to turn into sex because she didn’t have any answers yet. She did know, however, that she wanted to touch her, needed to touch her, to feel her. Pulling back a little, Rose looked down at Bella and gently stroked her hair, nuzzling her cheek before pressing a light kiss to it.

Bella’s eyelashes fluttered.

Had she surprised her with the gentleness she was showing? She cupped her face, pulling her chin up and kissed her lightly once, twice, until Bella’s head lifted a bit, not allowing her to pull away again. So Rose cupped the side of her face, turning so they were side by side, her free hand wandering up and down Bella’s side.

Rose smiled a little as her hand moved, passing over Bella’s ticklish spots.

“What?” Bella asked, her lip quirking in the corner.

Rose just silently shook her head and continued to look at her, to study her face, learning it perfectly.

“Stop it,” Bella blushed, hiding her face.

“Don’t be shy.”

Bella grunted, obviously very shy and vaulted forward to kiss her.

Rose was smiling a little when Bella crashed into her, but she accepted the kiss, letting it tip her back into want.

There was something different in their kisses today, something that made Rose feel exposed and electric. Bella seemed to notice it too, little sounds and moans coming from her without Rose needing to touch her.

Rose stroked her cheek, meeting Bella’s kisses with an intense tenderness. Flipping them back over, Rose settled across her again. Bella’s eyes were hooded, heavy with desire, and yet she was looking at Rose in disbelief. Was she really so cold that a few moments of affection from her surprised Bella so? If that was the case then she vowed there and then not to let that be true anymore. Running her hand down Bella’s arm, she intertwined their fingers and kissed her again, letting her tongue sweep Bella’s moan into her mouth.

She wanted more. She always wanted so much more. “Bella,” she murmured.

Bella didn’t answer but instead hummed against her lips.

Instead of speaking, Rosalie pulled their intertwined hands to her own ribs, leaving Bella’s hand there as she kissed her. She wanted to feel her on her skin. She wanted Bella to take her as her own. She wanted to see Bella desire her.

Instantly Bella’s hands balled, her nails digging painlessly into Rosalie’s skin, burning her delightfully.

The little sounds Bella was releasing were too good, pulling on her mind, on her body. She shifted, deepening their already skin-tingling kisses, meeting her tongue with abandon. Bella hadn’t understood her request, so she decided to show her. Her hand moved up, over the rib she had bruised and then carefully up and over Bella’s breast, squeezing very lightly. Bella’s lips pulled away, falling slack as she gasped, her eyes wide as they looked back at Rose.

Rose bit her lip, still cupping her breast gently, waiting to see what Bella thought. When she didn’t protest, her eyes simply dilating more, she let her forehead rest against Bella’s, watching as she carefully ran a thumb over the firm nipple below her hand. Bella’s mouth fell open, her body jerking with surprise.

“Are you all right?”

Bella’s wide eyes were fogged over as she nodded with uncertainty.

“Shall I do that again?”

Bella’s nod was fast and decisive and so she did, gently using her thumb to trace the shape of her nipple.

Rose could see her trying to stay there with her, wanting to watch something on Rosalie’s face but her head kept dropping back onto the pillow. Liking it, Rose leaned down and kissed her throat, massaging a little.

Bella’s back arched and Rose didn’t let her go, her lips moving down to Bella’s chest. Her eyes closed, drinking in the scent of her skin, the scent of her body in arousal. The feeling of the bond was there, as it always was and Rose let herself fall into it, her arms wrapping tightly around Bella, holding her close with relish. Some of the pain she had felt all day slipped away as Bella gasped in her embrace. Bella’s eyes had flown wide and it made Rose wonder if she could feel what she had just done, if she could feel it every time she gave in to the bond. Her cheek came to rest against Bella’s, wanting to be closer.

Perhaps Carlisle was right, perhaps it was the bond. With Bella so close, with her so aware of the feeling of the bond, she felt that sensation lessen.

Her hands tightened on Bella, holding her as she felt herself rock as if she were on a ship, rocking with the sea. Her eyes squeezed closed, waiting as the overwhelming desire to bite rose in her and then faded. She gasped, Bella’s arms tightly around her, her body bowed into their embrace. Her chest gave a dry sob into Bella’s skin, her face hidden.

She wanted…

She wanted.

“Please,” she sobbed. “Please. Please, don’t be in love with someone else.”

Bella, still shaking from Rose’s touch, stilled. She pushed hard against Rose’s shoulders, and though she was embarrassed to show her face, she let Bella push her back so she could see her. She couldn’t look at her though. She couldn’t make eye contact. Bella pulled her chin, trying to catch her eye but humiliation made her hold stiff.

“Hey!”

Flinching, Rosalie looked into her face.

Bella’s expression softened as she saw the tormented look on Rose’s face. Her head shook. “I’m not.”

And Rose believed her. How could she not when Bella was still shivering from her touch, with the look of certainty on her face?

“You’re not?”

Bella’s head shook, her eyes intense. “I’m not.”  

So she let go of the worry she had been refusing to acknowledge, she let go. She was hers. No one was taking her form her.

Her thumb ran down Bella’s chin, pulling her lip down before she kissed her, this time harder, this time fuller. Bella let out a sound that Rosalie couldn’t help but mimic.

Her hands traveled politely. Now that she had touched her once, she wanted to do it again and again. She wanted to discover her in new ways. Bella’s hips cocked against Rose’s, surprised by the sudden onslaught, Bella’s head fell back against the bed as Rose’s chin moved down Bella’s chest, pulling at the button of her button-up. She waited, her lip between her teeth. Bella nodded and Rose, with nimble fingers, popped the first button open, waited, and then popped open the second. Desperately anxious and far too excited, Rose groaned a little as the expanse of Bella’s pale cleavage was exposed. 

She wanted to attack with her mouth, to rip her free of her clothes, to touch and taste so she paused, looking back at Bella uncertainly.

Bella’s mouth opened, her cheeks pink. “Rose, I’m... I’m yours.” The words were stilted, timid and embarrassed. Rose, however, moaned loudly, intoxicated by the statement. Her mouth moved, burying into the soft warm skin she had exposed. Nothing had ever been so arousing as hearing that come from Bella’s mouth. Dimly in the back of her mind, she could hear her own voice reminding herself that she would not do this today, that she would not make this choice about the bond or about telling Bella today. That voice felt so distant in the face of this. Her body pulsing, Rosalie moved, pushing the cup of Bella’s bra away with her chin, her lips brushing the skin of her breast for the first time.

Rose sighed in pleasure. She hadn’t known that there could be areas of Bella as of yet unexplored that could possibly be softer, and yet this was. So much softer, so much warmer. Bella’s hands were in her hair again, lightly pushing Rose back to her skin as her body shook. Still, she didn’t move. Instead, she pulled the cup away with a finger, wanting to see the reaction. The rosy hue of her nipple was such a warm and pleasant color that Rose hadn’t expected. She let her fingers brush against it, amazed to find it soft as cashmere and yet hard in its pebble.

Bella’s reaction was powerful. Her back arched as she let out a broken gasp, her hands tightening punishingly hard in Rose’s hair.

Rose smiled a little. She felt powerful as she gently touched her again. That wasn’t a completely new feeling, after all, she could rip apart a tree with her bare hands, she could split a car in two with little effort. This was the first time that she felt powerful in her gentleness. Leaning down, she carefully closed her mouth over it, sucking lightly.

“Shit,” Bella mumbled, her hips jumping up against Rose. “Cold.”

Rose smirked. Teasingly she blew against the nipple, knowing her breath was just as cold. Bella shivered hard, a strangled sound ripping from her.

They had never gotten this far before, but any time they had gotten close it had been Rose who was the aggressor. So when Bella gave a grunt and pushed her back, Rose was honestly surprised.

Bella was not soft or gentle as Rose was with her. She straddled her fast, a metal glint in her eye as she pushed her shirt up, exposing her stomach.

She sent Rose a quick glance which Rose responded to with a smirk. Then Bella, slightly awkwardly, and yet fully enthusiastically leaned forward and kissed her stomach.

Rose groaned as the warmth of her tongue ran over her belly button. She hissed when Bella’s teeth bit her rib.

“Fuck, Bella,” she gasped, her stomach muscles flexing. Had she said she wanted to wait? She wasn’t so sure she did in that moment as Bella’s hair tickled over her sensitive skin.

“Your stomach is so hard,” Bella mused as her hands bit down on Rose’s pants covered hips.

Rose’s mouth opened as she nodded. The thought wasn’t a pleasant one, shaking her out of the state she had just been slipping into. She had been told what they felt like to humans. Marble. Stone. Rock. Bella was making these small mewling noises as she moved across Rose’s skin. What must it feel like to kiss something as solid as rock? Was it really so arousing?  Bella bit just above her hip and Rose growled. The sensation of her on her skin for the first time was almost too much, going to her head and ruining her resolve. Her hands twitched, wanting deeply to go to her pants and rip them off, wanting to grab Bella and to take her hard and fast. She bit her lip, her hands covering her eyes, forcing herself to be calm.

“Would that feel different if I were a vampire too?”

Rose just nodded, only half aware of anything other than the feeling of her on her.

Bella pushed up, her hands reaching under Rose’s shirt. She cupped her breast and it was all that Rose wanted. She could feel Bella’s hot and fast breath against her bra and—

Jesus wept!” She pushed, rolling them back over so fast that Bella yelped. She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t let her touch her that way knowing it would feel like stone to her. She wanted to be soft, to be beautiful. Instead, she buried her face against Bella’s skin, lavishing her nipple, first one and then the other, pushing the bra away, moving up and kissing her harshly.

She could still feel her on her skin, and oh, it was so good. She wanted more, she wanted her unclothed against her, wanted to touch her everywhere. She wanted to find all of those warm secret places, hear all of those secret sounds. It was almost impossible to keep her hands above Bella’s waistline as Bella panted and groaned, their hips bucking together as their tongues moved, as Rose’s fingers played with the newly exposed skin.

“Rose, it’s okay. It’s okay.”

Rose moaned, her hands pressing into the bed hard so they didn’t press into Bella as her mouth worked down Bella’s side. Oh she wanted, she wanted.

Her hand fell to Bella’s thigh, curving to cup her ass, pulling her closer.

Bella nodded a little absently. “Yeah, that’s – that’s –”

Rose’s hand slipped, coming around and cupping her through her jeans, her mouth sucking just above the waist of her jeans. Bella let out a sound like Rose had never heard from her, a delightful amazing sound that she wanted to hear again.

Her resolve was gone. She wanted her in her mouth. She wanted to be inside of her. Her fingers went to the button at Bella’s waist, moaning her name into her skin. Bella’s hips rocked, pressing herself into Rosalie’s hand, Rose’s name on her lips.

BAM!

The door flew open hard enough that a spidering crack splintered all the way up to the ceiling.

Rose’s head shot up just in time to see Edward’s livid face before he had her by the arm and she was flying.

It had happened too fast. Her mind had been so fogged over by what she had been doing with Bella that she hadn’t been able to think quickly enough to stop herself. She hit the glass of her large window, twisting in the air like a cat as she smashed through it to land hissing and spitting on the grass of the backyard.

Enraged, she let out a panther scream and launched herself back toward her window. Edward, seeing her coming, threw himself at her, his face ripped open in fury. They collided in midair, the sound huge. Furious, she ripped, teeth exposed in a threat as she wrapped herself around him, taking him down to the ground with her. They hit the grass hard, dirt flying and she rolled, Edward trapped between her legs. She released and he spun twice before he righted, landing with one knee on the ground, his eyes wild. 

“What the fuck, Edward?”

“I will not let you hurt her, Rose!” he bellowed. “I will not let Bella be hurt that way! I will not let her be hurt by you!” He shot at her, hands reaching. She sprang out of the way, getting a solid punch to the side of his head as he passed.

Too angry not react, she launched herself, missed, launched herself, and finally landed on him.

“STOP! STOP!” The backdoor flew open and Bella raced out, throwing herself between them.

It was like throwing herself between two high speed trains.

Rose roared, leaping and twisting through the air so that she missed Bella, going over her head, while Edward spun so that he went around her, both missing her by millimeters.

She was too angry, furious at him for his attack, for his words.

“STOP! WHAT THE HELL!” Bella shouted.

Rose leapt over her again, her hands landing on Edward’s back, but he must have gotten a glimpse at her thoughts because his hands came up, grabbing her by the neck and slamming her bodily into the ground. “I won’t! I won’t let you!”

Bella jumped, reaching for Rose to physically stop her if she needed to, but her grip was broken as Edward shoved himself between them, blocking Bella away.

This didn’t help. Rose screamed like a banshee, dodged and then grabbed his arm, yanking hard enough to make his arm scream metallically. 

“I wasn’t hurting her!” she shouted as she swung him by the arm, sending him into a tree. Bella was her mate, how dare he! Her anger turned primal. “Go inside, Bella!”

“No!” Bella yelled back, trying to grab one of them. “Edward, stop! Rose!”

“Go inside!”

No!”

She whirled around, exasperated and at that moment she looked away from Edward he attacked, shoving her face into a boulder so hard that the stone cracked.

Bella screamed in horror. “Edward, stop!”

Rose ducked, suddenly couching and grabbed him by the ankle. He flew over her head and high into a tree.

“I’m not afraid I’m going to hurt her!” She yelled at him. “I’m not like you, Edward! I’m not afraid!”

Bella was running at them again.

Rose jumped high in the air, avoiding Edward’s attack.

“BELLA, MOVE!”

Edward, perhaps unaware that Bella had been coming at them, barreled under her, headed straight for Bella’s breakable body.

“Bella!”

Bella’s face set, and she didn’t move. She crossed her arms, an unmovable object in the way of Edward’s unstoppable force.

His face twisted as he ground to a stop, digging a deep divot in the ground. He stopped a mere few inches from Bella, making Rose fall to her knees in relief on the boulder where she stood.

Bella, however, didn’t seem to care that she had nearly been turned into roadkill. She roared and shoved Edward hard in the chest. “Rose won’t hurt me!” she shouted, punching him in the chest. “She – won’t – hurt – me!”

His scoff was cruel as she caught her hand easily. “You can’t know that!”

Perched on her boulder, ready to attack should the need arise, she watched the confusion in Bella’s face. “But... I can.”

Edward’s face twisted, raw and tormented. “So I guess you made your choice then.”

Bella gaped. “What do you mean? We broke up, Edward! You left me!”

“No,” he insisted, refusing to release the hand he still held when Bella yanked it. “I told you to choose.”

Rose watched closely, sure that this needed to happen and yet every instinct in her wanted to attack him again, to force him to let go of Bella’s hand, to rip his off.

“And then you left!” Bella’s shrill scream bounced off the trees, making Rose wince. “You don’t get to stand there and act like you didn’t! You might have said it poetically. It might have been thinly veiled. But that was what you meant!”

The look of pain on Edward’s face didn’t change as he took a deep breath, finally releasing Bella’s hand. “Maybe I did.” His hands sunk deep into his pockets, his shoulders slumped as though he hadn’t just attacked his sister and destroyed the back of the house. He turned, his eyes staring deeply into Bella’s. He took a step away and then turned back.

Rose was on her feet in a millisecond, at Bella’s side blocking Edward in less than that. Edward’s face had changed, no longer the melancholy mourning and instead all violence and anger. She hissed harshly, her stance protective. He would not hurt her. She wouldn’t allow it.

The look on his face faded and he turned, heading back out to the woods.

Rose watched him go for a long moment before she realized the body against her was shaking.

Her body was sore, her face specifically painful as she turned. “Hey, it’s okay.” She pulled Bella into her arms as she shook and cried.

“I know!” Bella roared, shoving out of Rose’s arms. “I’m mad! Okay!”

“Okay.” Rose nodded, trying to fix her ripped shirt.

“Do you think he thought I was going to be waiting for him whenever he came back?” The anger cracked and Bella sobbed again.

“Hey,” she cooed, pulling Bella against her again, stroking her head when Bella’s face fell to her chest. “I think he decided that was going to happen, despite all that he knew. He wanted that to be the case.”

Bella sniffed.

Rose held her a long time, held her until Bella’s shaking grew stronger and she realized that Bella was cold.

“Come on, you. Let’s get you home.”

Chapter Text

The drive back to the Swan house was silent. It wasn’t uncommon for Bella and Rose to sit in silence together and when they did, it was usually comfortable as they both drifted in and out of their own thoughts. This, however, was not comfortable. This reminded Rosalie very much of the skin chilling, torturous sensation of nails on a chalkboard.

Generally, there wasn’t much that could affect Rosalie’s physical self. There were very few things that could physically damage her. However, the spontaneous fight had been vicious if not quick and now her face throbbed, and there was a spot on her leg where, she had a feeling, she would be finding a new bite mark. That, she had to admit, royally pissed her off. She hadn’t bitten him. She could have. She had wanted to rip his throat out, but even when they were fighting they were family. The prick had gone too far. He had left her with a scar. The prick had gone too far in more than one way. What had he even been doing there? Why had he come back early from hunting?

Beside her, Bella seemed to be lost in her thoughts as well. Her arms were wrapped around herself, her face set into a look of complete horror and anger. She stared dejectedly out of the passenger window.

Rose looked to her frequently, trying to come up with something to say. The problem was, she didn’t want to speak. She wanted to yell. She wanted to yell about Edward. She wanted to yell about the fact that Bella had thrown herself between two vampires more than once, an act that could have been the end of her. She wanted to tell her how stupid it had been. She could feel it bottled up inside of her, threatening to break free and so, she didn’t speak.

It was late when she finally pulled into the driveway and turned off the car, alarmed by the loud roar of the engines stall. She had to get Bella to let her work on this thing, she thought yet again.

   She turned a little in her seat, unsure exactly what Bella wanted.

“Are you okay? Did he hurt you?” Bella asked, not turning to face her.

Rose shook her head. “No.” It was a white lie, she thought. “Not badly, anyway. Do you want me to come inside?”

Bella was silent for a long moment before she nodded.

“Okay. Come on.”

She got out of the truck and opened the door for Bella, surprised and yet not at all surprised to see that her hands shook. She was trying to be calm, to be soft with someone who seemed pushed past her point of endurance, but the anger hadn’t left. It simmered harshly under her skin, burning her from the inside out. She couldn’t leave things like this. She was going to have to talk to him, to find out what the fuck was wrong with him. She was going to have to say something, else this anger might eat her alive.

Up in Bella’s room, Rose wrapped Bella into her arms. Kissing her head, she sighed. “Are you okay?”

Bella nodded, but the nod was stiff, disjointed. Rose watched her as she turned and sat on the bed.

“You’re hurt.” It wasn’t a question. In the car Rose had thought she had been cradling herself, upset or even cold, but now she saw she was cradling one arm.

“I’m fine.”

“Bella!” Rose dropped to her knees, frustrated that Bella probably wouldn’t have told her if she hadn’t noticed. “Let me see, please.”

With a long look of indecision, Bella finally pulled off her jacket.

“Bella!”

The bruise was still forming, but it was going to be a magnificent one. Her right arm from shoulder to elbow was inflamed, red and already turning purple. Seeing it, Rosalie’s vision wavered. “What – happened?” she ground out.

Bella shrugged as if this were no big deal. “I think something bumped into me.”

“Don’t say it like that!” she cried, snapping far too hard.

“Like what?” Bella shot back, all fire and she shoved Rosalie away from her.

“Like it’s nothing! We hurt you!”

“I don’t think that’s the biggest issue here, Rose!

Rosalie sat there, still as a statue, her eyes on the bruise as she tried to maintain her temper. Which of them had it been? She had thrown herself in the middle of them more than once, so which one of them had been the one to bruise her?

She wasn’t sure it mattered.

“Are you mad at me for this?”

“Yes!” Bella shot back so fast it was as though she had been waiting for the question.

Rose flinched, another slice inside of her beginning to bleed.

Bella groaned, rubbing her arm softly. “I’m sorry, no, I don’t. I promise I don’t.” She reached out for Rose but she flinched away from Bella’s seeking hand.

“Rose?”

Rosalie’s eyes flicked up to Bella’s, hard and steely. Her teeth ground. She wasn’t breathing.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. I just – I don’t understand. What was that?”

Teeth clenched to bite back the unyielding anger, Rose gently she moved her hands, placing them over the forming bruise.

Bella sighed. “That feels nice.”

Rosalie didn’t respond. She felt like she was going to shake apart. The anger simmered and boiled.

“You’re shaking.”

“I’m angry.”

With a long look, Bella nodded. “At me?”

Rosalie’s eyes dragged up to Bella’s face, looking at her for a long time. “No, sweetie, not at you.”

Bella nodded like she didn’t believe her.

“Hold on.” Rose excused herself, and though Charlie was in the living room, she moved at full vampire speed down to the kitchen, filled a few bags full of ice and then reappeared in Bella’s room. “Here. Use these, please. I’ll bring you some arnica later tonight.”

Bella looked up, alarmed. “Are you leaving?”

“Yes, but I’ll be back.”

With a cry, Bella’s hand shot out, grabbing her wrist.

“Don’t do that!” Rose dropped back down, tucking Bella’s arm into her body. “You probably bruised the muscle, love. Here.” She pulled a scarf off of Bella’s dresser and with quick efficient hands, she bound the arm to Bella’s body, immobilizing it. “When I get back we’ll do some stretches for the muscle.”

“Rose…”

“I have to go, Bella,” she said, not looking at her.

Bella looked up at her, face unreadable. “Will you stay with me tonight?”

Rose blinked, taken aback. She glanced at the bed and the door. She had never stayed with her overnight, not once. She wasn’t sure why, but she hadn’t. “All right.”

Bella’s face didn’t change. “Are you going to talk to Edward?”

Should she lie? She knew without having to ask that Bella wouldn’t like the answer. Bella shivered and so Rose picked up the blanket on the bed and wrapped it around her. “I am.”

Bella nodded. “To fight more?”

“I don’t know.” And she honestly didn’t. She wanted to. She wanted to rip him apart. “No. I don’t think so. I’m not sure. I think he and I need to talk.”

“Let me come with you? Please?” Bella begged.

She shook her head. “You were already in too much danger today.”

“I wasn’t.”

“You were, Bella. You were.”

Bella’s anguished face stared up at her.

“No more fighting, okay?” She bent down and gently kissed her cheek.

Bella’s fingers caught her wrist again before she could turn away. Rose paused and then smiled down at her. “I’ll be back. Go take a long shower and try to relax, okay? I’ll be back soon.”

Bella nodded and reluctantly let go.

 


 

Tracking Edward wasn’t exactly hard, and she was no tracker. She had always left that skill to Emmett or Jasper. However, the moment she dropped to the ground under Bella’s window, she had been able to catch his scent.

That only stoked her anger more.

How often was he there? Did Bella know he was there? Did he just come to stand outside? How dare he ignore Bella’s right to privacy!

Dropping from the window, she had truly felt what she had said. No fighting. They needed to talk. But now, as her nose filled with his scent, she wished she hadn’t said that. The smell of him only enraged her further. Why was it there? The creepy fuck. Teeth bared, she started off in the direction of the freshest scent, enraged to find that it was so fresh that it could only mean he had been there that night.

When? 

While she and Bella were talking?

Before they had arrived?

She moved at a quick pace, holding back just enough speed that she had time to calm herself a little. If she found him this way she would hurt him, really hurt him. And that would hurt her family. She just couldn’t get this out of her head. He had been there. He had attacked her, he had done that, and then he had come to her mate’s house!

The things he had said… she hadn’t thought much of them until now, running through the trees in search of him. What the hell gave him the right? How dare he make those assumptions about her! If he was so sure that everyone was a danger to Bella then that had to come internally. That had to mean that he was sure that he would hurt her, and if that was the case then she didn’t want him anywhere near them. He needed to go back to Alaska. He needed to take a break for a while until he could get himself under control. He needed a good bought of self-reflection because this was unacceptable!  

Her anger grew as her feet pounded on the forest floor. When she burst into an unfamiliar clearing and saw him standing there looking up at the moon, her fury tripled.

No fighting, no fighting, no fighting, she reminded herself but the words echoed hollowly in her head. She roared and crouched, ready for his attack.

It didn’t come. He only stood, his shoulders slumped, his eyes now downcast.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” She boomed, only just managing to stop herself from lashing out. She stopped inches from him, her face in his. “She’s hurt! I don’t know if it was you or me, but one of us hurt her because you – because you –” she roared in fury when he didn’t move or respond in any way and shoved him hard in the chest. “She’s fucking hurt, Edward! Don’t you care about that at all?”

“Of course I do!” He shouted back, making a flock of night birds suddenly take flight over them.

“Do you?” She gave him another hard shove in the chest, sending him staggering. “What was that? Why were you at Bella’s house? Huh? Why?”

His mournful eyes slowly drew up to hers, but he didn’t speak.

Why, Edward? Why were you there?”

“I had to see her.”

“What the fuck?” She had to take a step away from him. She had to, else she would do exactly what she had told herself she wouldn’t. “No. Okay, no! You decided you got the call the shots when you were together, well now I do and the answer is no! You do not get to invade her privacy! You do not get to stand on the edge of my relationship like a mentally unstable voyeur begging for scraps!”

“Your relationship,” Edward scoffed, laughing deprecatingly.

“That’s right, Edward, my relationship. Scoff all you want, but it’s mine.”

Edward didn’t respond, his head shaking a little as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“Why did you attack me? No, why were you even there? Why did you come back? Huh? The whole family knew I was spending time with Bella. That was why I didn’t go!”

His head turned away, grimacing. “I know. That’s why I came back.”

She froze, stunned by his honesty. “What?”

His head shook, his voice cracking with pain. “I just couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand the thought of you spending one on one time with her.” His face twisted again. “And then I heard her…” he stopped, shaking his head. “I just couldn’t stand it.”

Arms crossed, she glared down at him, unmoved by his pain. “You couldn’t stand what?

“To hear her that way!” He bellowed, his arm sweeping back toward the direction the house was in. “To hear her say your name like that!”

She screamed in anger, horrified to be reminded of the fact that he had overheard that intimate of a moment. She resented it. She resented that the first time Bella said her name in pleasure was something she had to share. That should be hers to cherish and keep close to herself. She should have to share it with no one!

“I don’t understand,” he whined. “How are you able to be so close to her?”

“Because I’m not weak!” She snapped. She knew it was a cruel thing to say, but she couldn’t find it in herself to care. Not right now.

“But you are!” He howled like a wounded animal.

“Excuse—”

“Clothes, cars, money. Those are the things you care about. Those are what you have always cared about! Possessions! It’s what got you killed! You cared more about what he had than who he was!”

She stared, her insides burning cold as ice, searing her. She couldn’t argue. That was the worst part. She couldn’t argue with him. “Do not talk to me about my death,” she warned in a low voice. “Do not make that mistake Edward.”

“But it’s true! I don’t understand!”

“I can’t more for her health and happiness than about the fact that I’m sure Bella’s blood would taste amazing. I want her — I need her to be happy and whole.”

“Is that why you haven’t told her that you think you’re mated.”

The words did as intended. Already off-kilter because of his horribly true comments about her life and death, that statement sent her reeling into self-hatred. They were like a slap to the face, and she did not miss the keyword there: ‘think’. “It’s complicated.”

The roar that Edward let out froze her in place, her teeth bared. “You mean because she’s mine?” He shouted, the fury pouring out of him in waves. “You mean because I love her? Because I care about her? Because she loves me?

“She is not yours!” She barely bit back the desire to shove him again. “No one owns her, Edward! Not you, not me! And you lied! You lied to everyone! She told me that you told her that you were mated! That doesn’t make you better suited for her than me, Edward, that makes you a creep who used something against her that she couldn’t fight or argue!”

Surprised, he took a step away from her. “What?”

“You. Lied. You lied!”

He began shaking his head and somehow that cut Rosalie off. How could he argue this? There was no way to argue this.

“I didn’t.”

“You did!”

He scoffed, looking up at the moon again. “That’s not true.”

“You’re telling me that you felt what I felt? Hmm? I know you’ve felt it in my head when you go investigating. I know you have.”

His head was still shaking and she wanted to knock it off of his shoulders.

“I’ve been surrounded by mated pairs for a hundred years, Rose. A hundred. Everyone else has romance. Everyone else has sex. Everyone else has… someone… something. I have music, and school, and my books. Can you blame me if I jumped at the chance to be with someone?”

She glared. “Under false pretenses. That’s not love, that’s manipulation!”

“I didn’t lie!”

“Then you clearly don’t know what it feels like when you find your mate.”

“No!” he shouted back. “I don’t!” With a snarl, he turned away, trying to calm himself. It didn’t seem to help. The moment he turned again, the snarl was there. “I trusted you!” He roared. “I asked you to stay with her over and over again because you were the only person in our family who seemed just as aware of her as I was! You stood up for her, even against me!”

“Didn’t you ever think about why that was?” She asked it calmly, not shouting and that seemed to anger him more.

“I trusted you! You’re supposed to be my family! She is supposed to be mine and you took her from me! You took her!” He snarled, his teeth exposed, his body semi crouched, ready to attack.

Rose didn’t retaliate, didn’t respond in any way. She wasn’t going to fight him. His desire for the brawl suddenly made her desire falter and die. She just stared at him, at his enraged face and slowly shook her head. “I’m sorry about that, Edward.” And she was. She always had been. “I honestly am,” she said gently. “I didn’t do it on purpose. I fought against it.”

“Not very hard.”

“I did.”

“I want her back, Rose. I’m getting her back.”

She laughed a little, looking up at the night sky. The stars were beautiful, so many in the sky that they were without number. He wanted her back? He didn’t get that choice. Even if she and Bella weren’t mated, he didn’t get to just make that choice. How was it that he still didn’t understand that?

“Is that funny to you?”

She shook her head slowly, her eyes dropping back to him. “No. It’s not. I’m sorry, Edward, but you can’t have her. Don’t you understand that yet?”

“You would refuse her if that was what she wanted?”

Rose thought about it, honestly thought about it. Would she? If Bella told her tomorrow that she wanted Edward, or Mike, or Jessica, would she refuse her? The answer, she found, was surprisingly easy. “No.”

“I’m getting her back.”

She looked at him and a new feeling rose in her, one that she hated because it wasn’t from anger and it wasn’t from pain. Pity. She pitied him. And that – that made her all the angrier. The guilt, the pity, it was all ridiculous. It was all so unfair. “I’m sorry, but that’s not how this goes.” She turned ready to leave.

Her vision pulsed as something sharp and hard grabbed her by the shoulders. She hissed, spitting furiously as he was suddenly there, his teeth a threatening inch from her neck. “Always the same, aren’t you? The same Rosalie. A selfish, vain bitch who doesn’t care about anyone else but herself.”

“You would attack me when my back is turned? Is what who you are now, Edward?” She screamed, ready to throw him off.

“You’re going to be poison for her, Rose. You are poison. You were rotten as a human, and now your decay leaches into everything that you touch.”

Her hands began to shake again, her vision blurring with upset as she listened. She was spellbound, hearing everything she feared from someone she loved.

“You will be her undoing,” he hissed in her ear.

Her face turned away from him. She knew that she shouldn’t listen to him, that he was just trying to hurt her, but the words sank into her, dropping on her skin and hissing like acid. They sank in, touching the part of her she tried to ignore.

“You will take her, you will use her, and then you will discard her when you’re bored. And I will protect her from that.”

“No. I won’t.”

“You will. You can’t help it. It’s who you are. I’ve seen it in your head.”

I won’t!” she shouted.

Anger pounded in her head.

“You will. You were broken that night and now you can’t help but break. It’s who you are, you vile bitch.”

Her fingers twisted into claws, about to rip him from her when he promised one more thing and then disappeared into the woods.

“I’m getting her back. I will protect Bella.”

She stood, barely in control of herself. Pity, guilt, anger, a sneaking sense of betrayal, and pain.

Shaking, she stood in the darkness, shocked by the sudden tilting of her world.

The words swirled through her.

You were broken and now you can’t help but break…

Blind, she took off at a run, her head pounding with the unshed anger and disgust. She pushed harder, her feet moving at a speed she wasn’t sure she had hit before.

He was wrong. He was wrong. She told herself this over and over, trying to stop the words that sounded so much like her own fears. Did she not feel dirty? Did she not feel rotten on the inside like a bad apple? Did she not feel the pain of being broken, of man after man penetrating her as she bled and screamed? Did she not still hear their laughter in the silent moments of her life? How could she not poison someone as pure and good as Bella?

Was he right?

For her own protection, should Rosalie give Bella up?

She passed the town, unable to stop her forward motion, turned and then came back to it.

The anger was still there, the barely controlled, pain riddled rage.

He had done this to her. The man she was supposed to marry, the man who was supposed to love her, he had done this. He had taken a girl and he had ruined her. Why? For a moment of pleasure? She was poison now and it was because of him. She hated him.

She moved through the town like a ghost. She moved, not feeling human at all, feeling like something wild as her mind ground through her anger, turning everything else to dust. It was instinctual. She didn’t plan to go there. She hadn’t agreed to do so at all when she pushed herself through the window and found herself in Bella’s room.

She froze, staring at Bella in shock.

Edward was right, she realized. He was right. How horrible, how disgusting was she to come to the one person she was supposed to protect when she was in this state?

Self-loathing made her mouth taste vile. Her lips curled back against it, a low growl rumbling up from her chest.

She heard the sound and with an agonized internal cry, she turned, pressing her face into the corner, afraid of herself, afraid for Bella, and yet unable to leave this room that smelled so much of her.

He was right.

She wanted. And so she had come here. She had put her love in danger. Why? For her own needs.

“Rose.”

She whined in fear; the sound of an animal caught in a trap.

“What happened?” Bella breathed from behind her.

Rose didn’t respond. She took a long deep breath, and then another, concentrating. She wanted to rip his head off. She wanted to hurt him. She wanted to hurt herself. He wasn’t right. He wasn’t, he wasn’t, he wasn’t.

Did this make her like him? Her coming here when she could so easily hurt her right now? Did this make him right? Was she willing to endanger Bella for her own sake?

She didn’t want to leave.

“Rose?”

She snarled when she heard Bella rise from the bed and take a step toward her. Horrified at it, her hand clamped over her mouth, turning to look at Bella in revulsion.  

Bella paused, her eyes wide. Slowly, moving like a mouse before a cat, she reached out her hand.

Rose flinched away, turning toward the corner again, hiding her face in it.

Was she so disgusting? So vile? So horrible?

“Rose,” Bella said again, her voice a gentle whisper.

Rose flinched when the hand touched first her arm. Looking down, she saw the pale fingers move around to the front of her arm, pulling her so she would turn. She blinked, searching for her humanity, searching for a way past the anger, past the pain and the guilt.

Bella’s hand ran slowly down her arm, into her palm. Squeezing tightly, she lifted the hand and carefully brought it to her lips, kissing it.

Rose watched, surprised and slightly distracted. Bella didn’t look afraid of her. It was confusing with the shouting and clutter in her head.

Slowly Bella took the other hand and did the same, kissing it lightly.

Rose watched fascinated as she looked into Bella’s eyes. They were calm, caring, and Rose…

“I would never make you be with me if you didn’t want to, Bella.” The words had just come out of her, and yet they were the right ones, she was sure.

Bella looked up at her, startled. “What?”

“I wouldn’t.” She grunted.

Bella’s head shook. “I… I know that.”

Rose shifted in place.

“Do you know that?”

She didn’t answer.

“Do you, Rose?”

She blinked a few times, fighting back that feeling of tears where no tears were present.

Bella didn’t ask what happened, instead, she turned and sat on the bed. “Come here.”

Rose hesitated. She wasn’t one to do this. She wasn’t one to have so many… feelings. She wasn’t…

Bella reached for her hand and gave it a small pull.

Rose let herself go. She fell onto the bed beside her, wanting this desperately and yet so resistant.

She didn’t want to be poison. She didn’t want to be.

Bella shifted until Rose’s head was in her lap. Gently Bella’s hand began to softly stroke her hair.

Rose’s eyes closed. It was a feeling so foreign. Emmett didn’t do this. No one did this. She let it happen, let Bella soothe her.

“I know you would never make me.”

Rose’s eyes opened, staring in pain at the wall across from her.

The anger faded, but the pain did not.

She had to tell her.

She had to.

Bella’s fingers scratched across her scalp and Rose’s eyes slowly closed again. Just maybe… not that night.

Chapter Text

Something in Rose felt different the next day.

As the sun had come up, Bella asleep curled into her side, she had felt things settle. She jogged home the following morning, feeling somewhat off balance. She was so used to swallowing her pain, her anger. She put up a wall around herself, allowed herself to be called a bitch, and that was that. Even Emmett, who had loved her so well, had never gone so far as to simply hold her. But Bella had. She had held her head in her lap until the worst of Rosalie’s feelings had faded, and then she had insisted that Rose crawl under the covers and lay with her for a while. She had wrapped herself around Rose, holding her tightly as if she were something precious, and they had stayed that way, talking quietly until Bella began to shiver from her nearness. Even then, Rose hadn’t left. She had instead put a movie on so low that Bella could barely hear it, and she had stayed by her side.

The pain was still there. The truths that Rosalie knew deep within herself still existed. And yet, she had been cared for.

Bella had reminded her that she was hers.

There was no arguing with fate, apparently.

So much of her pitied Bella. She was stuck with a rotten apple. Yet, so much of her felt blessed.

As she jogged, she looked up through the trees, unsure. Forks was never exactly a bright and sunny place, however, as summer approached the skies brightened more often. The Cullens often missed more and more school toward the end of the year because it became more and more unsafe for them until finally summer was there and they could leave the public eye.

She might be rotten, but she felt better, and that was amazing.

She paused just outside of the house, standing in the sun and debating who she wanted to be. She could let herself sleep into her darkness, could sink into a pit of pain, or she could allow what had happened through the night with Bella to lift her. She sighed and clicked on a smile.

“Good morning,” she called as she entered, hearing her family all standing together in the living room.

They all turned, returning her greeting. All but Edward, who seemed to be unaware that she had entered at all. He sat at his piano, her fingers moving gently, playing the song he had written for Bella.

That was fine with her. She didn’t want to speak to him, to even notice him.

“So what do you guys think?” She asked, aware they had been discussing what was on her mind.

“I’m not sure,” Carlisle admitted. “I think I will go into the hospital since I will be indoors all day, but for you guys, I can’t say.”

“It’s not quite bright enough,” Alice offered, but even she seemed unsure.

“Yes, but is it still too bright?” Esme asked, studying the sky.

Alice tried to look into the future, her face going slack. “I can’t see much. There will be a few looks, but I can’t tell if they are from the sun or if they are the usual looks we get.”

Hand on her Esme’s waist, Carlisle nodded. “I think each of us should make up our own minds today. You all know best. If you’ll excuse me.”

Behind Rose, the piano stopped abruptly as Edward stood. “I’ll see you all later.”

“Edward, it’s a bit early for school, isn’t it?” Esme asked but Edward didn’t respond.

Rose snarled as she watched him go through the front doors and out into the woods. Her skin prickled when he was near. She didn’t know what would happen, but it had only been hours before that he had threatened her with his teeth at her neck. The bite mark on her leg had finally stopped burning, however, the fact that there was a bite mark in the first place was a very significant thing to her. The only time she had ever bitten any of her coven members was the one time she had bitten Jasper as Bella lay dying, and she hadn’t done it purposefully. She hadn’t realized he was there, nor that it was her brother.

She glared after him.

His words still bounced through her head, and she hated that.

How was it she could know that he had only said it to hurt her and yet still feel they were true?

She stared after him.

Was there a way she could not be poison?

If she fought hard enough and long enough, was it at all possible to change what her past had made her?

She wanted to. She wanted to be more. She wanted to heal.

The house, too, seemed to reflect her uneasy mood. There had been no hiding what had taken place the night before. From her bedroom, Rose had seen Esme step out to survey the damage, her hand over her mouth in horror. Emmett had been beside her, discussing how they would fix it and she had made eye contact with him from a floor up. His look had told her that they knew that something had happened between her and Edward. Still, whether Jasper had been able to feel the leftover violence or Alice had seen it, no one had bothered to ask what had happened. They all just seemed to know.

It made her uneasy. Did they think she had started the fight? What would they do, what would they think if she told them that Edward had attacked her, had bitten her, had possibly hurt her mate? Would they support her, insist that Edward was out of line, talk to him about moving on? Or would they give him sympathetic frowns and remind her that he had recently had his heart broken?

She wasn’t sure, didn’t trust that they would be on her side, and so she didn’t ask for support.

Instead, she put in headphones, feeling somehow isolated from the rest, and began to clean up the broken wood, plaster, and glass.

 


 

The rest of her family seemed to split in half about whether or not the sun was too bright for them that day. Alice and Jasper decided to go to school, whereas Emmett – who didn’t often get called beautiful and might be noticed if the sun hinted at his extra beauty – decided to spend the day with his gaming console. Rose, having had enough of the tension in the house, decided it was for the best and dressed and went.

She was almost late as she pulled up, having put the decision off until the last moment, and so she was honestly surprised when she glanced over the quad and did not see Bella standing there waiting. Was she so late? She glanced at the clock and saw that there were still four minutes before the bell rang.

She frowned and, hoping she wouldn’t seem desperate, casually passed by Bella’s classroom. If she was inside then Rose couldn’t hear her, and her scent seemed old.

She went to her morning classes somewhat bemused.

By lunch, when it was clear that Bella wasn’t there, she was worried.

“Have you guys heard from Bella today at all?” she asked the table at lunch. Both Alice and Jasper shook their heads. Edward, it seemed, had also decided to play hooky.

Concerned, she excused herself and headed toward the parking lot.

“Ms. Hale!”

She was about to slide into her car when a voice rang out.

Ms. Hale, we do not offer off-campus lunches.”

Rosalie straightened, stepping back out of the M3 that she needed to remember to list soon. She snarled a little to herself. Her mind hadn’t been on the surrounding campus, too worried about Bella, and so she hadn’t listened for teachers. She turned, a huge Rosalie-Hale-smile on her face that was both polite and simpering at once. She found her Calculus teacher descending on her with a foreboding look on his face. “Good afternoon, sir. How are you?”

He snorted, apparently not appeased by her courtesy. “Kindly explain to me what you’re doing. I know for a fact that you have my class in an hour and a half. School has not been canceled.”

“Of course! And I’m sure I’ll be there. However...” Lying wasn’t hard when you lied about every facet of your life and so the lie slipped off of her tongue with ease. “I have an appointment with my father. He called a few days ago to inform the school.”

Her teacher frowned.

“Don’t worry, I plan to do my best to be back before Calculus.” She grinned, putting all of her charm into it.

“I wasn’t informed of this.”

She shrugged a little. “I’m sure someone meant to inform you, sir.”

His eyebrows rose and the stern loon on his face broke. He chuckled and reached forward to pat her shoulder, his hand lingering for just a moment. “Ah, well…” he sighed, looking a little like he suddenly felt dizzy. “What is being a senior if you can’t leave campus now and then, huh? It will be our little secret. Mind you make up your assignments though.” He insisted with a waggle of her finger.

She beamed at him, fluttering her eyelashes. “Of course, sir!”

He smiled down at her as she slid into the car and turned over the engine.

“Now don’t say I’ve never done anything for you, my dear.”

She smiled up and him and slowly pulled out. The moment she was out of the lot, she let the bullshit smile fade.

Creep.

 


 

She supposed it was dramatic to go to Bella’s house simply because she wasn’t in school, but she had spent the entire night with her and Bella had never mentioned anything. That gave her the feeling that something had gone wrong.

Bella’s truck wasn’t in the driveway when she parked, still she knocked. Nothing.

Should she worry? The night before had been so chaotic, so dramatic that she could understand if perhaps she was being driven by her emotions that day.

Disconcerted, she got back into her car and started home because she wasn’t sure what else to do. She knew that Bella’s boot was coming off sometime soon. Had she forgotten the date?

Had something happened to her on the way to school? Should she perhaps go by the station and speak to the chief?

Her confusion only grew as she pulled up to the house, ready to follow the road around it toward the garage, and she saw that Bella’s truck was parked out front.

“Bella?” She called as she entered the house.

Esme stepped from the library, a book in her hand. “She’s upstairs. In your room.”

She didn’t like the look on Esme’s face at all. “What is it?”

Esme didn’t answer. Instead, her lips just pressed into a thin like.

Worried, Rose nodded a little. “Thank you.” She turned and headed up the stairs.

“Bella?” she asked, opening the door to the bedroom.

At the edge of her bed, Bella sat, face drooped, staring down at the floor.

She rushed to her, pleased to see that her arm was still in the makeshift sling that Rose had put it in. Had she hurt herself trying to keep her arm tucked and be on her boot? Bella was walking well on the boot now, but had she done even more to get Bella hurt? “Bella?” she asked again. “Are you okay?”

Bella shifted and her face turned toward her.

Alarmed, Rose froze. Her face was splotchy and red, her eyes swollen. She had no idea what had happened, but Bella had clearly been crying for a long while. “Oh my god! Bella! What’s wrong? Hey, what’s wrong?” She tried to pull her into her arms but Bella resisted. “Bella?” She frowned as Bella looked into her face and she saw that her eyes were hard. She leaned back on her knees, confused.

Bella sniffed thickly and rubbed at her nose.

“Bel—”

“We’re mates?”

Rosalie froze like ice, staring back at Bella’s ruined face. “What?” she breathed, unable to believe she had heard those words. Those words had been so long-awaited and yet they were impossible. She couldn’t have heard that correctly. Those words weren’t supposed to exist in reality.

“We’re mates?” Bella said again, her voice stronger, an accusation.

“Bella, wha—”

“That’s what Edward told me, at least.”

“He what?”

Bella ran her fingers through her hair, her hands shaking as she breathed out. “Is that just like the Cullen go-to line with human girls?” Frustrated, she ripped off the sling and threw it on the bed, running her hands a little easier.

Rosalie’s mouth dropped open. She was having trouble following, too numbed by her shock. They were there. Bella knew. They were there. And Edward had told her? Edward?

“Wait, go back. I don’t understand. What did Edward say?”

“Is it?” Bella bit, her chin jutting with her anger.

“What? No, that’s not what we tell all the girls.” She waved that off. “Please, tell me what happened.”

Sniffing again, Bella’s hands balled in the sleeves of her jacket, fisting into her lap. “He came up to me when I first got to school and asked to talk. I told him no, not after last night, but he didn’t really give me a choice. He kind of just carried me out into the woods.”

Rose growled.

“I was so mad at him! I don’t know what he said to you, but I knew it was something and I wanted to tell him that he was wrong.”

“Bella—”

“He was, Rose. You don’t have to tell me what he said, but he was.” Bella’s throat worked as she swallowed. “But then he told me that he wanted to be with me. And that the mate bond didn’t matter. He said he knew of vampires that had ignored the mate bond so they could be with someone else of their choosing. He said that we could go away together.” Bella punched her lap a little, her anger barely contained. Rose wanted to reach out and stop her but she was too frozen in her shock. “He said that’s what you think. That we’re mates.”

Bella looked at Rose, waiting, and she just looked back, not breathing, not blinking, not moving. Her mind, usually so fast, felt stuck in the mud. She sprang to her feet and turned away from Bella, her hands pressing into her temples.

Edward. Edward. She paced fast. He hadn’t. Surely, he couldn’t have… her brother… Pain lashed through her. How could he?

“He said you weren’t going to tell me which proves that it isn’t true.”

Rosalie swung around. “That is not true! Ugh, the fucking asshole!” She exploded. “That fucking asshole! I wanted to tell you, but—”

“But you didn’t!” Bella suddenly shouted, leaping to her feet as well. Her fury rolled through the room like thunder. “So is that it? The big secret? We’re mates? Huh? Like Alice and Jasper and Esme and Carlisle? Huh?” She demanded, her face burgundy with anger.

“The secret?”

“Oh come on, Rose,” Bella scoffed. “You guys are about as subtle as a bulldozer. I knew there was something. So is this it? Is it true? Is he right?”

Rose winced, unsure of exactly what to say. She had no interest in outright lying, but this… this was not how this was supposed to go. No one else was supposed to tell her. She was supposed to find the right time. She was supposed to know what to say. She didn’t know what to say yet. She wasn’t ready. “What else did Edward say?”

“Is there more that he should have?” Bella shot back.

“No! I mean, I don’t know,” she amended. Was there more? She wasn’t even sure she knew.

“Answer me!”

Rose shrank back under her glare. She whimpered a little. And what if Bella decided that this was too much? God, what if she didn’t want to be tied to her this way? She looked at Bella, her eyes furious, daring her to lie and she couldn’t. “Yes.”

“Yes? Yes, it’s true?”

“It’s true.”

Bella just stared at her. Rose swallowed and twitched.

“Bella, I—” she tried, but Bella didn’t seem to want to hear from her at that moment.

“God, what is it with you Cullens and your secrets?” She shouted. “Is this even real? I mean, that is what Edward told me, so —”

“Of course it’s real! Bella!” She stepped toward her but Bella jumped back, snarling. She stopped, her hand falling limply to her sides. “Bella, of course, it’s real. I – I knew that Edward wasn’t your mate because I knew you were mine. It’s why I never approved. It wasn’t because I didn’t like you. It was because I wanted you.”

Bella blinked at her with eyes as wide and round as dinner plates. “Do you have any idea what this feels like? Huh? I’m so tired of always being treated like the stupid human who can’t handle your stupid vampire stuff! This is exactly how Edward treated me. You should have told me! I had the right to know that, Rosalie! I had a right to know something this big! I deserve to be told things!”

“But Bella, don’t you understand? That’s exactly why I couldn’t tell you!” She groaned and sat heavily on the bed, her face in her hands. “What could I say? Hi, we’re destined to be bound for all time, and oh, by the way, I’m Rose. Or oh hey, I’m Rose, and I don’t hate you, by the way, I think you’re beautiful. And also my brother is wrong. Or just maybe hey, you’re not Edward’s mate random girl that I don’t know, and I know this because you’re mine.” The sarcasm was dripping heavily in her words now as she spit them, all the frustration overflowing.

“You’ve known for that long?” Bella shouted, her voice so loud that it cracked in the middle. She stepped forward, her eyes hard as she got in Rosalie’s face, fuming. “When? When, Rosalie?”

She looked back at her, knowing she was about to dig her own grave. She was so beautiful, she thought mournfully. Even like this… especially like this… she was a beauty. Oh, she didn’t want to lose her. She didn’t think she could handle losing her. She licked her lips. “When you came over to meet us… the first time.”

Bella frowned deeply. “But you weren’t there that time… I remember… you weren’t even there.”

“I was.” She shook her head. “I was until a second before you walked in.”

The look of shock and horror on Bella’s face felt like a slap. This was her fault, she knew that. God, if she had only just told Bella from that day… she had left Bella open to this confusion. But… she just couldn’t seem to regret that choice, not fully. It was so much to learn. It was so much to deal with. She knew that Bella could handle it, but what it came down to was… could she, Rose, handle it?  

Bella staggered back, blinking furiously. “Are you kidding me?” She gasped.

“Bella, it’s a lot to tell someone.”

“I can’t believe you’ve known this for that long. I can’t believe you’ve been keeping this from me!”

“There are reasons!” She snarled and then crumpled. “Bella, I’m so—”

“No!” Bella’s hand went up and Rose recoiled from the finality in her voice. “No, I’m so sick of this. I’m so sick of everyone knowing things that I don’t. I’m so sick of being the stupid human.”

“Bella,” she tried. She reached for her, but Bella snapped her hand away with a glare.

“No, Rose! I can’t do it anymore! I hate this!” She turned on her, a finger out and jabbing. “You need to make up your mind! If you’re going to treat me like Edward did then I have no interest in this.”

“Do not compare me to him! I was going to tell you! I just—”

“Either this stops or we stop, okay? I’m not stupid or frail because I’m still human.”

“Bella, no!” She tried, unsure of how to progress.

“I’m not!”

“I know you’re not! I never meant to make you feel—”

“No!” Bella snapped and Rosalie’s mouth closed. “Just… think about it. When you want me to know everything… if you want me to know everything then come and let me know. Otherwise, just leave me alone.”

Rose didn’t move, stunned as she watched Bella slam the already cracked door to her bedroom and stomp down the stairs as best as her boot would allow her. She could chase after her. She could apologize, but she didn’t. Was there more? Maybe one other thing. Maybe that she loved her. But that was implied, wasn’t it?

The truck roared to life and Rose moaned, her face in her hands again.

How had she let this happen? How had she allowed things to get to this level without telling her? She had taken the easy way out and she knew it. She had known it as she was doing it.

A small knock made her look up, distraught. Her look turned cynically into a glower the moment she sat that it was Esme.

She could have at least warned her.

“I heard.”

Rose’s lips pressed together. “I’m sure it was unavoidable since she was screaming at me.”

“He told her?”

“After doing this!” Rose waved at the wall. “He fucking bit me, Esme! He came home early from hunting, found Bella and me together and attacked me.”

Esme sighed and Rosalie was alarmed to see that her look didn’t say that she was surprised in the least. “Are you okay?”

She scoffed. What was she supposed to say to that? No. She wasn’t okay. How was she supposed to be okay in the face of the last twenty-four hours?

“Rose, you need to fix this.”

She leapt to her feet, her constant emotional rollercoaster whipping her from one direction to the other. “Yeah, I know that, Esme, thanks!” She stormed at her, was about to pass her when Esme’s hand shot out, grabbing her by the arm.

Rose snarled, willing to turn on her, to yell, to hurl horrible words. She felt like she was bleeding from the inside. Before she could do any of that, Esme pulled her in, wrapping her up tightly in a hug.

Rose gasped, shocked. She stood against her, stiff, unsure despite the crushing hug.

“Why didn’t you tell us that he turned on you?”

Rose scoffed, her breath blowing out of her in a rude noise filled with uncertainty.

Esme pulled back but didn’t let go, her face waiting for the answer.

“Because everyone prefers him.”

Esme just shook her head, her eyes sad. “Rose, you don’t seem to understand, so I’m going to say it. We respect your relationship with Bella and your right to have it.” Esme’s hand wandered up, cupping Rose’s cheek. “You didn’t do anything wrong, sweet girl.”

Rose stared, staggered.

“I think you need to stop assuming that no one is on your side.”

She had no idea what to say. She had done exactly that, hadn’t asked for help or told anyone after Edward had attacked her. “He told her because he’s trying to get her back,” she admitted in a low voice. “He said... he said horrible things to me. About who I am... and who I used to be.”

“I hope you didn’t believe him.”

Rose looked away, shrugging.

“Rosalie Hale, you are not a bad person.”

Unable to answer, she just stood there. She didn’t know what she thought anymore.

Esme nodded. “I promise, I’ll talk to him.”

She swallowed, Esme’s hand on her cheek comforting and oh so disorienting.

“Come here.” Esme pulled her back into a hug and this time Rose melted into it, holding on tightly. “I do love you.”

Rose just sighed.

“Now. Go talk to Bella.”

She nodded.

“Don’t be withdrawn!” Esme called after her as she fled down the stairs. “Tell you how you feel!”

Rosalie moved out of the house, determined. Esme was right. She did need to fix this. She paused at the garage, decided against a car and set out on foot.

The trip was quick and easy. Halfway there, she heard the spluttering roar of the truck as she passed so she knew Bella wouldn’t be home yet. And as she came up through the woods behind the house, the driveway was indeed empty. Nervous, she pulled herself up into the tree and started toward Bella’s always unlocked window when she smelled him.

Her face shot up, sniffing the air with anger. Edward. The scent was new, was too fresh to be anything other than current. She turned, balanced perfectly on the branch, her hair fanning in the breeze, ready to attack and to not care if she did. A hundred yards away she saw him standing under a tree, his hands in his pockets, watching her.

Anger like a whip crack shot through her and she only just managed not to shatter the branch she was touching. She stared at him, unbelieving, and he stared back. “You need to leave.” She didn’t yell this time, bolstered by Esme’s words. Besides, she knew that he could hear her.

Edward didn’t move, didn’t blink. “I’m waiting for her.”

“You’re going to be waiting a long time then.” She snarled as, behind her, the truck angrily pulled up. She looked at him for another long moment, wondering how the hell their relationship would ever be fixed at this point and then climbed into the window. She had more important things to worry about. Let him stay there. Let him hear. She was going to be honest with Bella, going to tell her everything. All she needed was that chance to do so. Her stomach swirled with nerves as she waited by the window, half expecting Bella to throw her right back out of it.

Downstairs the door slammed forcefully with a grunt of what sounded like frustrated anger. “Charlie?”

Silence and so Bella’s feet began hobbling up the stairs.

Rose took a deep breath, turning so she faced the door. She could do this. She could do this.

The door swung open and before Rose could say anything there was a piercing scream. Bella tripped backward, stumbled over her feet and would have fallen if Rose hadn’t caught her.

“The fuck?!” Bella shouted, struggling out of Rosalie’s arms. “What the fuck, Rose, how did you get here so fast?”

Rose paused, frowning and wondering if it was a real question. “Vampire,” she finally answered when Bella just glared.

Stomping into her room, Bella turned on her. “What are you doing here, Rose? Did you not just hear what I said?”

Rose sank onto Bella’s bed, her chest heavy, her breathing shallow.

She was scared. She was woman enough that she could admit that to herself. She felt honestly scared. Carefully she pulled her legs up to her chest and hugged them. It was hard to know exactly where to start. She pressed her cheek into her knee, her mind feeling sticky and stuck.

“If you’re just going to sit there then—”

“I’m not,” Rose promised.

Bella glared, Rose could feel it, but still, she stared at nothing. She wasn’t looking at her, so her voice, when she spoke next, was startling. “Your hesitation is because of me, isn’t it?”

Rose looked up and her heart ached at the look on Bella’s face. The anger had gone, and in its place, Rose could see a soul ripping pain. “What does that mean?”

Bella shifted. “You guys all feel the same, I think. You want me, but I’m not good enough, right?”

“What?” Rose gasped, dropping her legs. What could that even mean? She dreaded to know what that meant.  

“Ugh!” Bella cried, obviously frustrated, her hand jerking in Rose’s direction. “You! God! Look at you! You’re beautiful!”

Rose flinched back, speechless.

“You like beautiful things! Your cars, your clothes! Your bedroom looks like a freaking palace!” Bella’s face was agonizing to look at, ripped through with pain and horror and anger like it was. “And then there’s me. One of these things is not like the other, right? So you can’t. Or you don’t want to, whatever.”

Rose stared at her, confused. This line of thought didn’t make any sense. She didn’t understand where it was coming from, nor what she even meant. “But you’re beautiful.”

If she felt confused, it was nothing to the look on Bella’s face. She frowned deeply, lines appearing in her face that Rose had never seen before. She blinked once, twice, her shoulders slumped and she shook her head. “Not enough for you to love though.”

Rose frowned. When had she gotten to her feet? She didn’t remember standing. Bella too looked alarmed at the sudden change. She had no idea what she wanted to do now that she had stood. Should she demand, should she be gentle? “That’s not it,” she insisted, coming out somewhat between the two. “You don’t understand.”

“Then explain it to the stupid human!”

“Bella, please,” she begged. “Please, stop saying that. I don’t think that at all. That’s not why I didn’t tell you. This is so much more complicated than that! Don’t you understand what this means?” She dropped back onto the bed, her hands rubbing her face then scratching through her hair. “This bond. It means you have to like me. You have to love me. Your choice would have been taken away from you the moment I told you, Bella, don’t you understand?” She knew she was pleading, she thought she should be embarrassed by that fact, but all she could feel was desperation. You deserve your free will! You deserve the choice! You deserve not to have to feel this pressure because it is pressure. There would have been so much pressure for us to be together because Edward told you what it means to be mated and you’ve seen the mates in my house.” She looked up at Bella, wishing desperately that she wasn’t so far away. She wanted to touch her, to be near her, she wanted reassurances she knew she couldn’t ask for right now.

“And?” Bella cried, her arms flapping out and slapping back into her thighs. “The universe forcing me to be happy isn’t such a bad thing. You’re the only one, Rose, who could be upset with forced happiness!”

“But then I’ll never know!” she roared back, offended. “Don’t you get it? I’ll never know if you actually cared about me or if I’m just a vampire that drew you in or if it’s the mate bond!”

“But—”

“Nothing good can come from it anyway,” Rose moaned, folding over so her face could rest on Bella’s bed.

“Wow.”

She shot up, not liking the tone that Bella had just used.

Bella had sat in the computer chair, her eyebrows high, her face pale. “Wow, Rose. Wow.”

“No, no, Bella, what I mean is that there is no way for this to work. What can we have? A short life together before you die? It’s all wrong. It’s not how it should have been!”

“That’s not the only choice,” Bella said in a soft voice.

Rose’s teeth grit. And here they were. It hadn’t taken long.

“No, you listen to me!” Bella cried, having seen Rose’s expression. “Right before James happened, Edward and I had this talk.”

Rose growled.

“I already told him that I wanted to join your family! That hasn’t changed. I assumed it was still happening. Didn’t you?”

Oh. A few of Bella’s comments suddenly made more sense. Of course, that was what she had been thinking, how had Rose not seen it?

“No.” She insisted. There was no room for negotiation in her voice.

“Rose!”

No. I’m not taking what is not mine to take.”

“But aren’t you telling me that it is yours to take?” Bella shot right back with ease.

“I don’t want that,” she insisted, shaking her head fast. “I don’t want this life for you. I don’t… I don’t want that.” The pain the thought filled her with must have been obvious because Bella rose from her chair and went to her, pulling her so her face settled against Bella’s stomach.

Rose wrapped around her, holding tightly, drinking her in.

“It answers so many questions.”

Rose chuckled once. “Does it?”

Bella nodded, running her fingers through Rose’s hair.

She sighed, a sound of pleasure much like a cat purr coming from her chest. “I like that.”

Bella didn’t respond, but her fingers scratched her scalp a little harder.

“What does it explain?”

Bella gave a sound of frustration, her fingers snagging in her hair a little. “After we kissed, it was really hard not to be near you.”

She chuckled with a nod. That was definitely something she had experienced.

“And… I think about you all of the time.”

Smiling a little, Rose tried to look up at Bella but Bella’s arms held her down. Rose instead turned her head, nuzzling into Bella’s stomach.

“I feel more comfortable when you’re here. Like, um, complete, maybe?”

Rose only nodded again. Her eyes closed, her body tingling into response as Bella’s fingers moved and begun scratching down the back of her neck as well. She could tell she was using a lot of pressure, but it only felt good. Somehow, it was comforting, relaxing, and erotic all at once. She shifted a little, aware of her body.

“I want you. All of the time.”

Those words shot through her white-hot, searing everything they touched. Her teeth ground together, her hands balling. Holding her by the hips, Rose leaned back, breaking Bella’s firm hold on her. Bella wasn’t looking at her. Instead, she was staring straight ahead, her face red, but also set into something fierce. “Carlisle thinks that the bond is trying to…” How to put this?

“Seal the deal?”

Rose laughed, her hands moving from Bella’s hips down to her legs and back up, holding her tightly by the high backs of the thighs.

Bella cleared her throat, her face going a deeper red, her heart suddenly picking up pace.

“Yes, exactly,” she admitted. Carefully, she lifted Bella’s shirt a little and let her lips run across Bella’s lower belly.

Bella’s breath shuttered.

To her very high satisfaction, far enough away that Rose almost couldn’t hear it, branches snapped with the clear sound of vampiric feet moving fast away from the house. Edward. They were alone.

Smiling to herself, she let her tongue flick out, quickly brushing the soft skin of Bella’s belly. Bella’s hands were back in her hair, on her neck and it made Rose hum.

“Bella, I don’t want this for you. I don’t want this pressure for you. I —” Bella’s nails scratched hard and her voice broke, not with upset but with the sudden arousal that she couldn’t stop herself from feeling. She coughed out a grunt, closing her eyes to steady herself for a long moment. “I just want things to be normal for you. I want… I want to be human with you.”

Bella’s hands clamped down hard, pulling Rosalie’s hair with a pressure that should have been painful.

Her mouth popped open, letting out a strangled cry. “Jesus wept.” Bella’s nails raked down Rosalie’s neck hard enough that Bella gave a small grunt of effort. Rosalie squirmed in her seat, trying to bite back the sound of pleasure that she couldn’t exactly cut off in time.

“Well, you can’t. So let me be a vampire with you.”

What did she say to that?

Leaning down, Bella kissed her forehead. Rose turned to meet the kiss before it touched her head, met it with fire, sizzling through her body.  

Emphatic, Bella crawled into her lap, straddling her as she did so often. She pressed into Rose, her tongue flicking against Rose’s lip and then aggressively against Rose’s own.

Rose moaned, feeling her body react fast and hard as it did whenever Bella behaved this way. Her hands slid up Bella’s back under her shirt.

They had more to talk about. They had a lot to talk about, in fact, but Rose could feel it this time. She could feel that this was going to be the time and to her surprise, she wasn’t nervous. She didn’t feel worried that she would forget and bite her. She didn’t think she would hurt her. Bella’s mouth moved to Rose’s neck, placing fumbled open-mouthed kisses under her jaw.

Rose’s eyes closed, every brush of her lips felt everywhere. “Bella, I don’t want you to feel like you have to now.” She tried to open her eyes, but the feeling of Bella’s teeth on her neck was driving her crazy. She swore a little as Bella sucked hard. Her hands dropped from Bella’s back and to her own tights, pressing down. “Ahh-ahhh,” her voice broke.

Bella’s pulled her hands back up, shaking her head. “Uh-huh,” she instructed, placing them on her waist.

Rosalie moaned. She had to pull it back in. Bella was just doing all of the things that drove her insane.

“I didn’t know yesterday, and I wanted this.” Bella pulled back and Rose’s body gave a long and hard pull of longing. Bella’s lips were already pinker, her pupils blown wide, and though she was smiling, there was something very serious in her face too. “Or have you forgotten?”

She chuckled. No. She definitely hadn’t forgotten.

Carefully, slowly, barely able to control her speed, Rosalie drew her hands up Bella’s stomach, taking her shirt with her. She watched as she pulled it over Bella’s head, intrigued by the soft downy skin, so pale and flawless in the early afternoon light.

She groaned. The warmth from Bella’s suddenly exposed skin was delightful, the sight of her like this crawled over her was one she wanted to see more of.

She wrapped her arms around her, wishing deeply that she could bare herself to soak her in. Instead, she let her hands move up her back to her bra.

Try as she might, she couldn’t contain her enthusiasm and there was a ripping sound a second later.

She watched Bella’s jaw drop as she looked at the piece of fabric in her hand.

“I’m sorry!” Rosalie cried, but Bella just laughed.

A soft blush crept up Bella’s body, making Rose pause. The shy blush was a good reminder to be slow, to be gentle. It was Bella’s first time.

She shoved the ruined bra under her to hide it and lightly, she ran her hands down Bella’s sides, taking her in.

Bella shivered and her nipples hardened to small little points.

“Oh, Bella,” Rose whimpered.

Still seeming shy, Bella gave her half of a smile.

“Are you sure?”

Bella didn’t answer. Instead, her hands reached down to take Rose’s shirt off too but Rose held onto it.

Like a bucket of cold water, Rose’s smile fell away. All at once, all of the things that Rose hated about herself popped back into her head. She might look beautiful to Bella, the perfect shape for a woman to have, but her skin would be hard, her breast that would feel like marble… she couldn’t stand it. “No,” she said gently. “If I do, then you’ll be cold.”

Bella frowned, obviously doubtful so Rose leaned forward and gently began to suck on the underside of Bella’s breast.

They had been somewhere close to this before, but everything felt so new this time. When she moved up and took one of her nipples into her mouth, she felt the rush of hot breath that Bella expelled, making her body respond by arching into her. When she twisted them, laying her down on the bed and carefully stroked Bella’s stomach, her chest, her face. She could feel Bella shivering, but she was sure it wasn’t from the cold.

She trailed her cold mouth across her breast, down her stomach, up her neck, over her mouth, needy to touch to taste. It was Bella, however, that reached down and unbuttoned her jeans.   

She paused, watching Bella’s do it, listening to the nervously excited pace of Bella’s heart.

Bella’s fingers fumbled with the jeans as though they had forgotten how they worked, unable to get the button to release.

Taking pity on her, Rosalie pushed her hands away and unbuttoned them. Then she leaned back and pulled them off, exposing the pale creamy skin of her tights.

“Oh Bella,” she sighed, immediately leaning over so her lips trail down the side of Bella’s thigh. She had never thought of Bella this way. Of all the ways she had pictured Bella, and there had been many, she had never thought of her laying on her bed in nothing but her panties, her body shivering.

She wanted this. She wanted this badly.

With soft fingers, she pulled Bella’s panties away.

Hands in the blankets she was on, Bella’s face turned, the blush returning.

Rose turned her face back, shaking her head. “Don’t do that. You’re beautiful. Don’t hide from me.”

Bella frowned, something Rose wasn’t sure she liked. Holding her chin, she kissed her long and slow. The kiss was tender, warming Rosalie’s cold interior. As she kissed her, Bella seemed to settle again. Her hands came up as she moaned lightly into Rose’s kiss. Her soft legs shifted, rubbing together, clenching and releasing. Rosalie was too focused on Bella’s reactions, on her nakedness, her responses. She didn’t notice when Bella’s hands came up and brushed against Rose’s clothes breasts.

The kiss broke as Rose gasped, surprised by the intensity of the sensation.

Bella smiled a little, her hands growing firmer, her thumbs moving across Rose’s nipples in the same way that Rose had done to her.

Rose’s mouth dropped open, a soft grunt falling out of her. It felt good, too good, even though her clothes.

Hungry, she wrapped her lips around Bella’s nipple, sucking until Bella’s hips were canting, her breath in obvious gasps. She released, letting her teeth slide across Bella’s skin for Rose’s own pleasure. Her hand moved down Bella’s hip, around and cupped her bare backside and squeezed.

Bella let out a small cry and Rose knew, a little sadistically, that there would be fingerprints on Bella’s ass the next day. She smirked, which quickly turned into a gasp when Bella bit her neck, hard. Her whole body stiffened, her moan strangled. She pressured her forehead into Bella’s, dizzy with want.

“Are you okay?”

Bella nodded.

“Good,” Rose choked out. Carefully, she let her fingers wander, tangling in the soft patch of curls between Bella’s thighs, fingers sliding down and through her for the first time.

Bella bucked, her hands balling in Rose’s shirt as her mouth dropped into an O.

Instantly, Rose’s eyes snapped shut, a moan that was less sound and more a broken exhalation coming from her. She was so warm, so slick, so—

“Rose?”

“Still okay?”

Bella nodded again, kissing Rose’s cheek, face, throat, chest. “I know you don’t want me to touch you.”

She pulled back, her eyes searching Bella’s. Had she been so obvious?

“But, if you’re going to touch me like this, then can I too? Please?”

Emotions passed through Rose in a dizzying wave.

“Please?”

Unsure, she looked at Bella for a long time before she nodded.

Eager, Bella cupped her breast.

She whined and that seemed to encourage Bella. She tried to push her back, but Rose resisted, letting Bella kiss her, testing what she could reach. “That’s good, Bella. That’s good.”

“Yeah?”

“God, yes.”

Panting, she began to stroke her.

Bella shook. Soon both arms wrapped around Rose’s neck, her body bending into Rose, and that was okay with Rose too.

“Should I keep going?”

Crying out a little as Rose gently circled Bella’s clit, she buried her face into Roses shirt, nodding, her noises muffled. So she held her close, her own deep rich hunger building in her as she continued to stroke Bella. Her body shook in Rose’s arms, her sounds so light, so surprised, so deliciously sexy. Her mouth moved, taking a nipple into it, sucking and slightly purpling Bella’s throat.

Never having been with a woman before, Rose had thought she might feel lost when they finally made it into bed together. Now that they were there, Rose was pleased to find that she didn’t. Though she had only been touching Bella for a few minutes, she could tell it wouldn’t take long.

She envied her this. What was this like for her? What was it like to have her first time be sweet and tender?

At the thought, Rose leaned down and kissed Bella’s face, her closed eyelids, her cheeks, trying to make her touches as gentle as Bella could need them to be.

Bella cried out suddenly, her whole body stiff, her arms clutching Rose.

“That’s it,” Rose whispered when she was sure Bella was falling into her first climax. “I’ve got you.”

Bella’s strangled cries fell from her as her body bent off the bed.

“There now,” she purred in Bella’s ear, her fingers still carefully swirling. “There now. That’s a good girl. I got you.”

She didn’t stop as Bella’s wooden body relaxed, her arms moving so it was only her fists balled in Rose’s shirt. Instead, she traced her lightly and then slid first a single finger inside of her and then a second.

Bella stiffened again, crying out.

“Relax, kitten,” she hummed.

“Kitten?” Bella laughed.

Rose frowned, her nose scrunching. She wasn’t sure why that was what she had said, but now wasn’t the moment to care. She swirled her finger very carefully once and Bella stopped laughing.

As if desperate to touch her too, Bella’s hands began to fumble, pressing between Rosalie’s thighs.

She cried out as Bella brushed against her. She groaned against Bella’s lips, rocking against her hand as her fingers began to move inside of Bella in earnest.

She expected the quick second wave of orgasm from Bella. What she hadn’t expected was what it would make her feel. Bella’s walls clenched around her fingers, the fingers that played lightly with Rose stiffened, pressing hard. Bella’s hips stopped rocking and instead jerked up once, pressing her into Rose, she cried out in shock and need at the power, the need she felt in her own body. She ground down into her fingers, panting at the sensation of Bella, holding her close. She cried out as something within her changed. Bella’s sounds doubled, echoing Rose.

Bella went slack under her a moment later, her body tight against Rose’s, her eyes still closed. From up close, Rose stared at her in awe, studying her face, studying this new feeling when she looked at her. Why had she waited? This... nothing about how this felt was bad. Holding her close, she crooned to her until she felt Bella begin to shiver. Then she tucked Bella under the blankets, keeping herself on the outside. She laid back, her body still aching with want, her mind remembering all that had just happened. She wanted to bask in this feeling. Carlisle was right. She felt different. She felt very different. That hadn’t been like the sex she had with Emmett, not at all. She had always enjoyed, even really enjoyed sex with Emmett but that had been so much better, so much more exciting. There had been something in it that she hadn’t known she had craved, a whole new component thanks to the fact that Bella was a woman. She smiled to herself. It had felt so different to touch her mate. She felt at peace, she felt warm, she felt oh so happy. Unable to help herself she laughed a little. “I can’t wait until we get good at that.” Grinning, she turned her head toward Bella.

Beside her, Bella was not smiling.

“Oh, no, sweetheart,” she cried, leaning up. “I just meant it takes time to learn one another’s bodies.”

Bella nodded, but there was still no smile, no sign that Bella felt anything that Rose was. She cringed. She felt light. Whole. Happy. She wanted Bella to have that too.  

“You might have to let me touch you for that to happen, kitten.”

Whatever happy words Rose had been about to share died in her throat, hurt. “What?” she squeaked. Panic rose as she looked into Bella’s blank face. She hadn’t enjoyed herself? She felt… but things were different now… everything felt different, like the world had shifted. “Bella…”

Bella turned and, in a move that shocked Rose entirely, she rose from the bed, holding the blanket to herself. Rose watched her walk around and sit down beside her. Rose sat up, wrapping her arms around herself in protection, honestly scared.

It was a beautiful sight, Bella sitting there, the blanket draped over her, her back exposed, the small bruising that Rose could see. It was powerfully arousing. But the look on her face, the unavailability. It was like Bella had closed herself off behind a wall.

“Did I do something wrong? Did I hurt you?”

Bella looked at her for a long moment and then leaned over.

Rose met her in a searing kiss, hot and ready for round two if that’s what Bella wanted, ready to fix whatever she had done wrong. The kiss was long, deeply stroking. She growled a little as Bella pulled away, letting in the space that Rosalie desperately didn’t want.

“You need to go.”

“Huh?” Rose asked stupidly.

Bella nodded, kissing her again before she turned away. “Nothing has changed, Rose.”

Rose spluttered something unintelligible.

“Nothing has changed, Rose. You have to think. Please. Go.”

Rose just stared at her as Bella rose and left the room.

A moment later she heard the shower turn on.

She stood, shaky on her legs, staring at the door where Bella had left.

What?

She glanced around Bella’s room, unsure of what to do. Did she leave? Did Bella really want her to?

Did she not feel this?

She rubbed at her chest, gasping.

What should she do? She didn’t know.

Panicked, she tried to think.

Emmett would say to leave. She could almost hear him saying it. He would tell her that Bella had told her what she wanted, and that was right. She had.

Unable to believe the turn of events, the harshness, Rose righted herself and, because what else could she do, she left. 

Chapter Text

Mood bleak, Rose didn’t run home as she normally would, too impatient with a human speed. Instead, she walked, ignoring the rain sloshing into her high heels, trying to sort out everything that had happened recently.

Edward had told her secret in an attempt to steal her mate from her. In the last day, he had shattered any familial lines that perhaps should not be crossed and proved again and again that he cared more for himself and his wants than what the universe said was right. Or for the people he supposedly saw as family.

How many times since she had joined them had he told her that they were a family and that was all that was important? How many times had he boasted that he was a better family member than her with her constant snark and anger?

And now this.  

Bella had challenged her, had almost called their relationship off.

They had finally been together physically and everything had changed.

She felt different. She felt like a different person. For the first time, the feeling of peace that Rose so often felt when with Bella had stayed with her after she had left her. The pull wasn’t there, nor was the tugging of the bond. Instead, it was as if she had divided, one whole becoming half of something new. It felt steady, easy, yet factual like the ground under her feet. She was Bella’s. Bella was hers.

The bond had been completed, at least mostly, and now it was solid. It was permanent. Only, Bella was angry with her. Bella didn’t want to see her. So now she felt like she was hobbling on one leg, missing half of herself. She felt lopsided and it confused and overwhelmed her.

She opened the front door, feeling the wet drops of rain running down her back and, though the living room was full of people, she didn’t bother to acknowledge them. She didn’t want to talk. She wanted a fresh pair of clothes and her bed.  

“Whoa! Rose!”

She looked up, not interested in that moment in whatever Emmett had to say. He was planted in front of the TV, a football game on. Beside him, Carlisle sat still in his white coat, Esme curled up into his side with a book. Across the room, beside the stairs, Alice and Jasper sat at the small table with a chessboard set up.

All of their faces were turned toward her, all beaming as if she was bringing them a great gift.

Behind her, the piano suddenly blatted to a halt. There was a creak of wood, a splintering sound, and keys littered musically to the ground.

“Edward!” Esme scolded, her eyes ablaze with maternal disapproval.

She hadn’t even noticed Edward there. She glanced at him and saw that he looked as he had so often these days, his teeth bared, horrified anger on his face.

“What?” She asked the room at large.

Emmett’s grin grew. “You smell different again, babe.”

She glanced at all of their pleased faces again. “Oh.” She looked between them and because she didn’t know what else to say, she cleared her throat. “Okay.”

Carlisle’s eyebrows rose.

Did they mean her personal scent? It didn’t surprise her, she thought, not after having Bella in her arms, her orgasm rippling around Rose’s fingers. That had been so intimate, so —

Enough!” More keys hit the floor as Edward shouted, his hands ripping through the wood as though it were butter.

Startled, she glanced back at him, once again having forgotten he was there. She tucked the memories away deep within herself, not wanting to share. Mentally she snarled at him.

“So, it went well?” Esme prompted.

The last few keys fell from the shattered front of the piano, drawing her attention. “Yes, I guess I owe you a favor, asshole,” she snapped at Edward.

He didn’t move, didn’t blink. He was a vampire statue of petulance and Rose just did not care anymore.

“Will you tell us about it? I mean—” Esme’s hands went up, a mother horrified by the idea, “—not in detail, but something?”

The thing was, she didn’t want to talk. Not to them. She wanted to be with Bella. She just shook her head and started up to her room.

She didn’t bother to shower, as she normally would. For once she didn’t care that her hair was ruined, nor that her feet were muddy. Instead, she pulled her wet hair up off of her neck, changed into dry clothes and sat on her bed, looking out through the broken wall.

She felt, as a whole, horrible.

This feeling was too new. She hadn’t been given the time to adjust to it. She needed Bella. She needed Bella near her, just for a little while. She craved her like she craved warmth. It wasn’t only her body that she wanted, though there was so much more she had wanted to try, so much more she had wanted to learn. It was more like her walls, her inhibitions had been removed. She missed her. She wanted desperately to figure out this grey area they were in. She wanted desperately to talk to her, to fix all of this. It was like being extremely thirsty. Her throat didn’t burn exactly, as much as there was this never-ending ache inside that made her want to ignore the fact that she had been ordered away from her and go and crawl into Bella’s bed with her and hold her while she slept. It made her hope that her dreams would be of Rose, and that was something she just couldn’t wrap her head around.

She was miserable. She hated this. And what was worse, she had no idea how to fix it. She couldn’t make it right by being beautiful, nor by being smart, nor by being wealthy. She couldn’t even talk her way through it.

And she ached.

So she took turns between pacing and sitting on her broken window seat in thought.

As the sun began to set, she called and made plans for her wall, only speaking to Edward to inform him that he and Emmett would fix it the next day as it was his fault that it was broken in the first place.

Finally, around one AM, she gave in. She knocked softly on Carlisle’s door and stepped in before he could invite her. She grimaced at him.

Without needing to be told her issue, Carlisle began to laugh.

She snarled silently, her pride already feeling particularly low at that moment.

“Don’t worry, the beginning is pretty intense, but it fades into something a lot more manageable,” he promised.

She whimpered, wishing dearly she could cry. She felt like crying. How was it that she so often felt as though she needed to do something that vampires couldn’t physically do?

“But Bella seemed fine when I left. She kicked me out. She’s mad at me. She kicked me out five minutes... after.”

“Right after? There wasn’t time to let things settle?” Carlisle asked with professional interest.

“No.”

“Well, that would explain why you feel so bad, I would think.”

“Obviously she doesn’t. She isn’t exactly here either. Can this be one-sided?”

With his signature sympathetic smile, Carlisle rose and put a hand on her arm. She sighed at its steady confidence.

“Take another deep breath.”

She did and had to admit that it did help the rising panic.

“I think you know that nothing is one-sided in this.”

 


 

Unable to stay in the house, Rose finally slipped out and into the night air. From the cliff where she had first kissed Bella, she watched the sunrise, thankful a new day was beginning. She would see Bella. They would talk.

Bolstered by that idea, she went home and readied herself for school.  

 A solid forty-five minutes before the morning bell was supposed to ring found Rose beside her silver beauty, hollering for Emmett.

“You do know what time it is, right?” he asked when he appeared in the garage.

She did.

“If you want to ride with me then now is the time. If not, you’re welcome to the backseat of the Volvo.”

Seemingly stricken, Emmett disappeared and then reappeared a second later with his school things. “We’re taking Sappho today?”

“My car is not named Sappho!” she snarled, sliding into her Aston.

They pulled into the empty parking lot, minus one or two cars and Rose slammed her door a little as she got out.

“Oookay, we’re here.” Emmett glanced around the empty campus as he settled himself next to Rose on the bench beside the lot. “Now what?”

“Shut up, Emmett,” she bit and began to wait for Bella.

 


 

The lot began to fill slowly and they didn’t move. Now and then Emmett threw her a concerned glance but from behind her sunglasses, she could pretend she didn’t notice.

“Do you think something happened to her?” Rose finally ground out when the rest of their family arrived as well as Mike and Jessica.

“Who?”

She sent him a glare and he nodded.

“Ah. This sit-in is about Bella, huh?”

She looked away, not answering.

“Man, being mated seems hard.”

Her eyebrows bounced, staring vacantly at the teenagers around her. “Only for me, Emm. Only for me.”

The bell rang, but she didn’t move. The quad slowly emptied and still, she didn’t move. Emmett excused himself to class and still, she sat, her jaw clenched tightly.

Finally, just after the late bell, she rose and strode away.

The first chance she got, she was buying Bella a fucking cell phone.

This newest development didn’t at all help how she was feeling. She spent all of her first period worrying, wondering if Bella had skipped school because of her – because of them. All of second period she considered leaving. It wasn’t until she walked into her third period and the scent of Bella was strong that she calmed. Bella was fine. Bella had been there. She took a step back and sure enough, at the end of the hall was Bella walking with a small brunette that Rose knew she had been introduced to.

As if she could feel her looking, Bella’s head turned, looking straight at her. Rose didn’t move, barely breathed and after a short second, Bella turned away again.

Everything in Rose screamed for her to follow her, to go and talk to her. She took a step in that direction and stopped herself by sheer force of will. She wouldn’t. She refused. If Bella didn’t want to talk to her then she wouldn’t force her.

At lunch, she was already sitting in her usual spot when the door opened and Bella came in with a horde of people. Rose had been playing with a grape but upon seeing Bella that way, surrounded by the people who were allowed to be near her, people who were distinctly not her, a rage of jealousy washed over her. She threw the grape down hard enough that it smashed into the tray, splattering.

It was clear to see now why Bella had been late. She was a little shaky without her boot, but she moved much better. She watched her pick up a tray and begin to pick out her food.

She must be pleased, Rose thought absently, the angry green jealousy not at all gone. Bella paid for the tray and turned with her friends. At least puppy-boy wasn’t carrying her tray that day. Actually, puppy-boy for once seemed entirely moony over the annoying one, so that was something. Or at least Rose thought that was something until Bella, with a long and lingering look at Rose that filled her with hope, sat down with her friends a few tables over.

Jasper gave a low whistle.

“Ah! Let go, Xena!”

Rose barely heard him, barely noticed that she had a grip on Emmett’s arm that was clearly painful.

Laughing down at his tray, Edward gave a low snicker. “Trouble in paradise?”

Rose spun on him, wanting to slap that stupid grin off of his face. She let out a snarl so low so bestial that the Cullens as one stopped smiling and began looking around. All of her want, all of her frustration was behind it. “Fuck off, Edward.” She rose fast, and stormed across the room, throwing her tray full of food at the garbage can in the corner. With a resounding crack, it hit the wall hard enough to be satisfying but not hard enough to break it.

The rest of the day was no better. In her next period, she was pulled aside by her teacher and informed that she now had detention after school thanks to her ‘stunt in the lunchroom’. It was so mundane, so human in her life of secret mating and life and death questions that she laughed... which hadn’t helped her case.

She now had detention that Saturday as well as the next.

She was in a rage when she started toward Sappho – no. No! She would not be calling her car that. She would not. In her pause, she heard the familiar and still slightly uneven gate across the parking lot. Bella was looking at her when she looked over her shoulder.

She turned on her heels and started toward her, catching her just before Bella got to her truck.

She grabbed her arm and spun her around, pinning her against the truck as she breathed fire.

She was not this pathetic. She was not this desperate. Jesus wept, all she wanted to do was ravish her. She hadn’t meant to let out a snarl, but it still uncurled from deep within her.

Bella’s eyebrows rose, impressively unimpressed.

“What exactly is it that you want here?” Rose demanded.

Bella’s mouth opened and then she paused as a few girls walked by the truck.

Rose distinctly heard them begin to giggle as they passed, one of them gasping at the other ‘oh my god, I can’t believe it’s true!’

“Hey. Look at me!”

Bella glared, giving Rose her own small snarl.

Well?”

“I want to be like you.” Bella hissed. “I don’t understand how that wasn’t always your plan. I don’t understand how this is news to you!”

Rosalie scoffed, crossing her arms but also not stepping out of Bella’s personal space. Whether it was in challenge or because it felt nice, Rose didn’t care.

“Look, Rosalie, this is obviously the path my life is supposed to take!” She shouted at her in a low voice. “I think that’s clear now!”

Rosalie groaned.

“We’re mates, Rose!”

I know!

“Well then!”

How can you know that you want to be like us? You don’t know that you want that! You’re too young!”

“Stop saying that as though it’s an excuse!”

“You don’t know what you will want in the future, Bella! So many things will no longer be possible for you!”

“So many things will be possible for me, Rose! We’ll be together!”

Rose sneered to hide the sudden leap of desire she felt.

“Or is it that you don’t want me? Hmm?” Bella stepped closer, her eyes shooting a challenge at her.

“What the hell does that mean? Didn’t we already cover this?”

“You hated me. I’m good enough to be your friend, I’m good enough to – to do things to but not to be your mate, is that it?”

She could tell Bella was poking her, pushing her and still, Rosalie felt her anger rise. After all, Bella couldn’t still think that, could she? Her arms knit tighter around herself as she spat her words. “I would love to love you, Bella.” And that... the truth at last. The weight of it softened the snarl on her face. Her voice was much softer, so much more honest when she spoke again. “For all of my days.”

Bella shrugged, as though she hadn’t said something significant. “Then do it.”

 


 

Then do it, Rose sneered to herself as she slammed into her car, watching the truck rumble out of the parking lot. What the fuck did Bella think she was trying to do? She wasn’t trying to build a missile or trying to break a team of horses. She was trying to love her, god damn it!

Putting the car in reverse, she took off at full speed, only slamming to a stop at the edge of the parking lot when she heard Emmett yelling her name from the curb.

Once home, she wasn’t sure exactly what to do with herself. Bella wasn’t coming over, that was for sure.

She glanced around her room and knew she didn’t want to be there. The light classical music coming from the room next to her was only confirmation. She wanted to be alone. Just knowing he was one wall away drove her short temper over the edge.

Roughly, she grabbed a bag and began to throw things into it. Her B&B. She would head there in Sap- in her new baby, going top speed and in thirty minutes she could be relaxing in a scalding hot bath away from all of this.

She still couldn’t believe him. She wanted to rip his arms off. She wanted to make him feel just a little bit how she was feeling now.

“I did what I had to do.” His voice came, not from the room next to him but instead from the floor below.

And on top of everything else, he had the balls to be in her head right now? Was he fucking kidding?

She snarled, ripping her barely surviving door open and at full speed flew down the stairs to the kitchen, planting herself right beside him.

He stiffened, she was happy to see.

In retaliation and to make her point her mind began to play the same scene over and over again: Bella at school, turning to her as Rose approached, her eyes alight and happy as she said her name. The scene was innocent, but the look in Bella’s eyes had filled her with such happiness.

His jaw worked, his hands fisting on top of the dining room table where he sat.

‘It wasn’t yours to tell. It was between Bella and me.’ Her voice carried no less venom for being in her mind.

Esme approached the doorway, not entering, but also keeping a close eye on her feuding children.

His eyes shifted first to Esme and then coldly up to Rose. “I’m involved too.”

“Edward, if you think there is any reason why what you did was —” Esme’s words cut off when Rose held up a hand.

Glaring down at him, the scene in her head faded, taken over by honest hurt. She pulled out a chair a few away from him and sat, trying to stifle the pain, not wanting him to taste it in her thoughts. “You’re supposed to be my brother,” she accused.

In the doorway, both Alice and Jasper joined Esme, looking tentative. A second later, Emmett appeared as well, his arms crossed, his muscles flexing threateningly as he glared at Edward.

“If you had found your true mate, I would have supported you.”

“You never supported me!” He growled through his clenched teeth.

“Because she was my mate, Edward. Are you really telling me that you don’t understand that?”

His scoff was so derisive, so dismissive that the scene began to loop in her head again.

With a grunt, he pushed away from the table, moving fast up to his room.

Rose smirked, viciously pleased, and wholly hurt.

She wasn’t going to get what she wanted from Edward. They had always had a rough relationship, ever since they discovered that they could not love one another the way that Carlisle and Esme had. But this... she had never thought that it would get to this.

She glanced up at her family watching and felt smothered.

The forced smile still on her face, she went to her room. Throwing on a sweater and some running shoes she often wore when hunting, she leapt through the hole in her room and started into the woods.

She wasn’t thirsty. And she hadn’t thought to bring even her wallet so she wouldn’t be going to her B&B so instead, she followed the trail of the river, listening to it gurgle as she made her way deep into the woods. Wandering, she eventually found a spot where the river pooled into a small lake overlooked by a very large boulder. Climbing on top of it, she sat and watched the overfull spring lake, seeing through the water, seeing the stars reflected.

It was quite beautiful there, surrounded by trees.

She wanted to think. She wanted desperately to decide what to do; hated that she hadn’t as of yet figured out the perfect plan that would make everything right. The problem was, there was nothing new to think about. As always, it was the same wall. How could she take Bella’s life? She supposed now that she had always known that Bella would want her to. Perhaps that was even partially why she had put off telling her. She didn’t want this responsibility, this burden. Did Bella honestly understand what that would mean? How could she give Bella something that she herself hated? The night buzzed around her. Night creatures moved about, generally avoiding her. Once she thought she smelled a wolf, but the scent was gone by the time she rose to her feet. So she laid back and looked at the stars, seeing all the flares of color between them, the different gases that made up the sky. It would have been peaceful but it wasn’t. Instead, the vast sky felt empty.

Or maybe it was simply that she felt empty. She missed Bella deeply, which she couldn’t stop herself from criticizing herself for since she had just seen her that day.

It was insane.

She was the worst thing that had ever happened to Bella. Now, because Rose still existed, her life was in question. Because of her, Bella’s mortality was in danger and instead of being a better person and disappearing and leaving Bella to her normal human life, she obsessed with her, wanting to be near her always, wanting any drop of love that Bella could give her. This was the proof that she as indeed poison. Edward had been right that way.

All she wanted to do was to protect her, to hold her, to love her and keep her safe. She closed her eyes against the pain of it.

She was never good enough, never right. She went into this with the best intentions not to ruin everyone’s life, and yet, here they were.

It was Jasper’s voice she heard in her head when the question trickled in. She could hear it as clearly as if he were standing there, feeding her his own opinions.

But... what if she wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened to Bella? What if everyone was right? What if this was the way it was supposed to be? What if this had been inevitable?

What if she wasn’t rotten from the inside out? Or if she was, what if she could be healed? Had she not felt closer to that in the moments after making love with Bella?  

She rolled onto her side, rubbing her head. She didn’t know. She couldn’t think. Why couldn’t she fucking think properly?

Frustrated, she gave up and started back to the house, heartsick. She didn’t want to go back. She didn’t want to be where Edward was. She didn’t want to be where so many were watching her.

She just wanted to be near her. But what would she have to do for that privilege? Agree? This wasn’t fair.

She took a sharp turn, heading toward town.

Chapter Text

Rose couldn’t help but ridicule herself as she jogged. Bella didn’t want her there. She needed to give Bella space. She wasn’t Edward. She wasn’t creepy like this. She didn’t sneak in while Bella slept. She didn’t stand by watching. She listened to what Bella wanted, damn it.

But jesus wept, her soul ached, begging for comfort.

The house was quiet as she approached, something she had expected. She paused behind the house, buried in the forest and sighed. This was what she had come to. She pulled herself into the tree she had spent those first few nights in and Bella’s scent, the sound of her deep breathing washed over her like a blissful cool to a burn. The night must have been warmer than she realized, that or Bella wanted her room cold because the window was open, letting it roll out.

She stretched herself out long on the branch and closed her eyes, but it wasn’t enough so she scrambled up to the roof, just beside Bella’s window.

Hands behind her head, she closed her eyes, reveling in the feeling of being able to breathe again, of being able to be still.

She missed her so much. When was the last time that things were just easy between them? It felt like so long ago, even if it hadn’t been.

She didn’t know, but she knew she didn’t want to think. Instead, she rolled onto her side, much like she would have if she were spooning with Bella, and closed her eyes.

She stayed there, meditative, her mind finally quiet and calmed as the sun began to rise. When Bella’s alarm went off, she didn’t move, didn’t stir other than to turn onto her back, looking up at the foggy sky. She listened to Bella yawn and stretch from inside of the room. She smiled a little when Bella groaned. There was a flutter of blankets being tossed aside and then Bella’s pattering feet as she left for the bathroom. The smile on Rosalie’s face fell. She had found a place of zen in the night, listening to Bella sleep, but now the anxiety came fluttering back.

Bella wasn’t going to talk to her that day. It was a simple thought, only one simple thought and it brought all of the problems back. Her teeth ground, her skin suddenly feeling a little too tight. She sat up, wrapping her arms around herself as she tried to breathe. But what was she supposed to do to fix it? There had to be something other than agree to change Bella into a vampire. She had to see that doing that wasn’t an answer but instead a death sentence.

She was still there on the roof, holding herself and unmoving when Bella said goodbye to Charlie and let herself out to head to school.

Perhaps she wouldn’t go that day, Rose thought. This charade of trying to be a high school student was beginning to wear thin. She watched Bella go down the walk toward her truck. She knew she was about to get caught. Unlike if she had stayed in the tree, there was nothing to hide her there. Not only that, but her light yellow sweater and brilliantly blonde hair would be easy to spot. Still, she didn’t move. Bella wasn’t going to talk to her, and she didn’t know what else to do.

She smiled just a little as Bella tripped over a crack in the driveway, stumbling but not falling and then swung herself into the cab of the truck. Rose looked down at her face, taking in the deep V of her brows that meant that something weighed heavily on her mind. The truck roared to life and yet even over that noise, Rose heard the startled scream that escaped Bella when she looked back at the house and saw Rose there.

Rose didn’t move, her chin and nose buried between her knees, her arms wrapped around her drawn-up legs. She just looked down at Bella as Bella stared up at her.

Maybe she had wanted to get caught, she could admit that to herself as she and Bella stared at one another, the truck idling at top volume. It was a confession, if nothing else.

Bella’s hands tightened on the steering wheel, her eyes narrowed.

Behind her knees, Rose smiled just a little. She wouldn’t have thought it could be seen but Bella glared, a sudden grit in her eye.

Rose’s eyebrows popped in response.

Then, with a jerk of her head, Bella looked over her shoulder and began to pull out.

Still, Rose didn’t move, listening as the truck went to the corner. Head tilted a little to the side, Rosalie listened to the truck departing, debating what she wanted from the day. The thought of going to school sounded insufferable. She didn’t think she could handle the inanity. The thing was, she didn’t want to be home either.

Her brows furrowed in confusion when three streets over Bella turned not to the right, which would take her to school, but instead to the left.

Where was she going?

Frowning, Rose hopped down and started up at a jog. Was she supposed to follow? Was that what she had meant by the little head jerk? Where the hell was Bella going? She caught up with the truck easily, but it wasn’t until she turned off the main road and toward the outskirts of town that Rose understood. She took off at full speed, beating Bella back to the house easily and was met with a living room full of people.

She paused just inside, her eyebrows high. All of the faces of her family turned as one, their looks expectant. She took a step back, somewhat on edge. “What’s going on?”

Alice had her head tilted, seeing something as she shrugged. “You tell us.”

“Right.” She mumbled. She supposed she didn’t know any more than they did, but she had seen that glint in Bella’s eye, so she knew it was something.

She turned and joined the party of living statues, going still and quiet as the truck slowly made its way up the drive.

As always it took an impossibly long time before Bella, without knocking, threw open the front door and marched into a room.

None of the others moved so much as a twitch, watching Bella with curious eyes. Rose smirked, impressed. It never failed to amuse and surprise her how willing Bella, their natural food source, was willing to throw herself into a room of vampires. She walked in like she owned the damn place.

“Err...” she paused, also surprised to see every single Cullen there.

“You wanted to speak to us?” Alice asked.

Bella nodded once. “Family meeting.”

Beside Rose, Esme beamed at her.

Rose almost rolled her eyes, knowing that it was Bella using their own family words that she loved, knowing that it was the fact that Bella included herself in them that made her happy.

“All right.” Carlisle nodded, already dressed for work. He glanced at his watch and then nodded once. “We’re all here.”

“Yeah.” Bella glanced around, her eyes lingering on Rose and avoiding Edward.

Rose shifted, crossing her arms, her eyebrows high in challenge. “Well?”

Both Bella and Esme sent her a glare which made Rose uncharacteristically wither. She was nervous. She was woman enough to admit that. She didn’t know what Bella wanted, but if she was coming to the whole family, Rose was sure it wasn’t going to be small.

Bella cleared her throat, her face set despite the obvious nerves. “I have a question to ask and it’s very simple. I just need a yes or no.”

“All right, dear,” Esme smiled and reaching forward, she squeezed Bella’s hand.

Bella squeezed back, Rose saw, probably with enough pressure that it would hurt anyone not made of stone. She took a deep breath, her eyes on the warm face of their matriarch as she said it. “I want to know if you all want... me.” For the first time, there was a hitch in Bella’s voice and uncertainty that Rose didn’t like. Did they want her? Rose opened her mouth to speak, to argue, but Bella cut her off as if she knew exactly what she was going to say. “I’m not asking you.”

Her teeth made a loud click as she snapped her mouth shut with an offended scoff. “Fine!” She turned away from Bella, giving her mate her back as she snarled inwardly. She should have known. What else could Bella possibly want to talk to them about?

 Bella, it seemed, was entirely unaffected by her petulance. “I want to know if you want me, or would mind if, I joined the family.”

Esme’s answer came so fast it almost made Rose laugh. “Yes! Of course, yes!” Watching surreptitiously over her shoulder, Rose saw her move at a speed that wasn’t exactly human as she went to Bella, wrapping her in a tight hug. Bella yipped with surprise and then sank into it, sighing with relief.

After a second, Carlisle joined them, his hand falling to Bella’s shoulder. “It’s going to be complicated, but I think the answer is a clear yes.”

Rose stared at them, hurt. She had known their opinions, but to voice them like this, to ignore so openly all of the other issues that came with this.

Bella didn’t turn to look at her when Esme released her from the hug and wrapped an arm around Bella’s waist, even though Rose’s eyes were desperately digging into her, needing to not be ignored in this. Instead, she looked at Alice.

“All signs have pointed to you joining us for a long time, but they finally became solid when Edward told you that you are Rose are mates.” Alice beamed, her voice so happy it was almost a song. “So yes. It’s going to happen, Bella, don’t worry.”

Rose glared. Stupid, fucking, obnoxious pixie.

She hated this. This wasn’t fair.

... And yet, her mouth filled with venom, something fluttery tumbling in her stomach. She swallowed it down and squared her shoulders, fighting the strange desire. She would not do it. There was no chance.

Bella nodded, her eyes moving to Jasper. Only, Jasper wasn’t looking at Bella. He was looking at Rose.

Her chin rose. So he could feel what she felt, fine. That meant that he could feel that desire, but that had to also mean he could feel her resolve. It wasn’t her that felt that want to fill Bella that way, to tie her to her. It wasn’t. It was the stupid vampire side of her, and that side didn’t get to win.

He seemed to sense it all. She saw all of it pass across Jasper’s face as she stared back. Slowly it faded, his own feelings taking back over. The look he gave her was soft, understanding, and it made her want to lash out in anger.

She knew what was coming and she wanted to shout at him.

Jasper looked back at Bella and without words, he nodded.

Rosalie’s hands balled into fists.

When Bella turned to Emmett Rose expected a joke or a tease. She expected something very Emmett of him. Only, his arms were crossed and his face was very serious. He too was not looking at Bella, but instead at her. She looked back at the man she had loved for so long, the man she still loved in so many ways. She knew that he knew how Rose felt about this. Surely, this would be the one person who was on her side. Except, fire touched her gaze as she realized that no, she knew what he would say. Of course, she did. She knew it because Emmett had loved Bella from day one. She knew it because she knew him well enough, had loved him well enough to know that he would vote against her when it was, in his mind, for her own good. She knew it because she could see the apology in his face.

“I’m sorry, Rose.”

She let out a frustrated cry.

“I know you think it’s taking something from her, but it’s not.”

“No, it’s giving me something,” Bella agreed.

“Yeah. So I say yes.”

Bella grinned at him when he winked at her. She swallowed and turned.

Rose’s eyes followed hers to the last remaining Cullen.

Rose had forgotten to notice him in this conversation, had forgotten that he was there at all. Looking to him now, she was startled to see him. His hands were clenched, his eyes dark, murderous, his neck muscles popping.

“Edward?” Bella asked in a small voice.

“No!” He roared, standing and smacking his fist into the wall, which spit drywall everywhere.

“Edward! My wall!” Esme cried.

Emmett’s head shook. “Uncool, man, uncool. You gotta stop breaking the house.”

Rose barely heard them, however, over Bella’s shout. “Are you serious? So because I won’t be with you, I can’t be with the one I’m actually supposed to be with, either? If you can’t have me then no one will?”

Rose’s eyebrows shot up again, shocked by the forwardness of the comment. Actually supposed to be with? 

Behind Bella, Rose saw Jasper give her a warm smile as if to say ‘see’. Rose ignored it.

“She cannot be turned! She cannot be changed!” Edward roared. “How can you vote for this – this –”

“Edward!” Esme warned.

“No! This has to be – this has to bad a joke! A farce! You cannot be taking this seriously!”

Edward!” Rose suddenly snapped, unable to listen to him for even another second. She only just was able to manage to stop herself from launching at him and grabbing him by the scruff of the neck like a puppy that got into something he shouldn’t. “You do not get to yell at her!”

Edward spun around and Rose’s back straightened. “Someone has to!”

“Edward, it’s understandable that you would have feelings about this. No one doubts that you once cared deeply for Bella.” Carlisle said.

Bella scoffed.

“We understand your upset, but you do not get to dictate—”

“I do! I do because someone has to! She will not be changed!”

Carlisle shifted. “No, Edward, that’s exactly what I’m saying! You don’t get to—”

“No!”

“Edward, I’m not sure that’s your choice anymore!”

“Dick.” Rose scoffed at him, unbelieving at his behavior.

He turned on her, breathing hard, teeth exposed. It was a threat and Rose knew it. “If it makes me a dick to be the only one making sure Bella is protected then I’ll be that dick! I will protect her soul!

“Whoa! Hold on!” Bella cried. “Hold on a second!”

“Even if you were still together, Eddie, you still wouldn’t get to choose! Don’t you get that?” She glared in turn at Edward and then Carlisle. “She isn’t an extension of you! She never was and she isn’t that to me!”

The latter nodded once. “You’re right, that was bad wording.”

“My soul is not in danger!” Bella shouted over their raised voices.

“We know that, sweetie,” Esme cooed, but also, Rosalie noticed, quieted her while the others yelled.

“Our souls are damned!” Edward shouted, his voice rising higher and higher.

“Our souls are not damned!” Carlisle cried, exasperated. “If they were then why is it we can walk into a church with no recourse?”

Rosalie scoffed. It was an argument that she had heard from them hundreds of times.

“You cannot change her when she has no way of understanding what it will do to her soul! You cannot! I will not let her!”

“She has a right to her own choices!” Rosalie shouted over all the other voices, adding to the cacophony.

Bella spun around, finally looking at Rose.  

“She has a right to her... own... voice...” She frowned, her last few words trailing away when she saw the look on Bella’s face. She looked like she had just seen the possibility of her next checkmate. Rose took a step away from her, wary. “What?”

Bella’s smile grew into a wide smirk. “So then you’re going to do that, right, Rose?”

“What?” Rose frowned as Emmett laughed loudly. She didn’t... mentally she went through what all had happened and saw it. She gawked at herself. How could she have been so stupid? She had trapped herself.

“You don’t want me to be oppressed. You feel so strongly that I’m my own person that you’re going to let me choose my path, right, kitten?”

Emmett’s laughter doubled. “Kitten? Whoa now! Kitten?

Bella barely shot him a glance. “Like you said. Because you do believe that, don’t you? ”

Rose scoffed, her mouth hanging open at the noose she suddenly found around her neck. Worst, her stomach suddenly felt warm at the stupid nickname that never should be a thing, and yet was quickly becoming one. Apparently. But she wasn’t supposed to like it. Her eyes flicked to the faces of her family and back to Bella. She was cornered. She did believe it, but this wasn’t what she had intended from it. “Uh, I uh...”

“I think she’s got you there, Rose,” Jasper said in his softest, mostly gentlemanly voice.

Humiliation rose in her. How could she argue now?

Carlisle spoke, coming to her rescue and she loved him for it. “Well, Bella, to be fair, Rose should have some say since it’s her bed you’ll be sharing.”

Edward’s teeth ground audibly.

“Okay then. Rose? Do you want me in your bed?”

Even though she didn’t want to, she felt herself smirk. “Is that what it’s about now? Sharing my bed?”

Bella’s cheeks went pink, holding her gaze defiantly.

Edward pushed away from the ruined wall, shaking his head. “This is wrong. I hope you all understand that this is very wrong.” He gave one last long look at Bella before he turned. “I can’t be here for this.”

They all watched him leave the house, heading slowly toward the woods.

“You know, we really know how to get Edward out of a room these days,” Jasper chuckled.

“So? Rose?”

She looked back at Bella’s determined face and something new rose. Pride. Look at how strong her girl was. A smile almost twitched to her lips but didn’t quite make it. “Bella, it’s not this simple.” Her voice sounded remarkably like she was begging, even if she refused to see it that way. “I would be the one who would have to do it. How can you ask that of me?” Didn’t she understand what it was she was asking?

Bella shrugged. “You’d be doing something I asked you to.” She said it with such flippancy that Rose wasn’t exactly sure how she was supposed to argue. “So which is it? Do you respect me enough to let me choose my own path? Or…”

Rose didn’t answer, her eyes on the floor.

“Do you love me enough?”

Rosalie’s eyes shot to Bella’s face, the wobble in her voice demanding her attention. Bella’s eyes were bright, suddenly damp, nervous. Did she love her enough? That question made her want to laugh and cry at the same time. Did she love her enough? My god, she loved her enough. Trapped, she gave the only answer she could. “Of course I do,” she breathed out.

Bella nodded, sniffing. “Okay. Then it’s set. Let’s go.”

Rose’s stomach dropped out. Now? Just like that? Now?

“Hold on, hold on,” Carlisle jumped forward, chuckling. His hand clasped Bella’s shoulder with an indulgent smile. “I appreciate your enthusiasm, but it’s not that simple, Bella. We need a plan.”

Bella nodded once, looking like she might ask for a handshake on their agreement. Instead, she moved over to the seat closest to Rose and sat. “Okay then. Let’s plan.”

As a family, they began to discuss, each offering their concerns and thoughts. Rose, however, stood beside Bella’s chair, not listening. She was busy looking down at her, the ever-present smirk on her face gone.

What did she do now? Did she fight? Did she become allies with Edward, someone whom she felt was wrong to force his opinions on anyone? Could he be wrong and yet she agree with him about this? She didn’t think so. She didn’t want to be on the same side as Edward. “Bella.”

Bella’s face turned up to hers and Rose saw an honest light in her eyes, a joy that Rose just couldn’t understand. She bent, kneeling beside her, taking her hands. “Sweetheart, you might want this now, but who knows what you will want later,” she pleaded. “You’re so young, love. You’re so young.”

The sincerity of her voice seemed to focus Bella. She turned in her seat, focusing entirely on her. “That’s not how this works, right? Vampires mate for life.”

“Yes,” she sighed, touching her cheek. “But humans don’t.” Gently she leaned forward and kissed her face, soaking in its warmth. Maybe this time it was about letting Bella be her own woman. Maybe it was time to trust fate. But how could she? Fate had been cruel to her.

Bella smiled gently, warm and just for Rose, and for just a moment Rose wondered if that was actually true anymore. The past had been cruel to her, but here was Bella, looking at her like that.

“Bella… the person I was at eighteen is very different from the person I am now.”

“I know. But I think that for me this is an inevitability. Whether I’m nineteen or twenty or thirty, this has to be my future.”

“But why? Just tell me why. Please.”

Bella shook her head, her eyebrows drawn. Her chocolatey eyes flicked over Rose’s face. “Because, how could I ever want anything else?”

Vampire life. Immortality. Of course.

“I mean you, Rose.”

She stared, her mind struck silent and stuck. How had she known exactly what she was thinking? How had she known… was it true? Was it at all possible that it was true?

The room had grown silent, so very silent as they looked at one another.

“This is my choice and I want to make it.”

Rose didn’t respond. What could she say?

“Well, Bella…” Carlisle finally broke the silence after a long moment. “I have to head to the hospital, but we will continue this talk soon, okay? Be patient.”

Bella laughed, her eyes alight again. Her smile was so big that Rose thought she might be able to feel the rays of the sun from it if she got close enough.

Rose didn’t look away from her profile.

How could she want anything else either?

“Come on, Bella, I’ll walk you out,” she offered, rising out of her crouch.

Bella nodded, her hand slipping willingly into Rose’s.

“Are you okay?” Bella asked as they stepped out onto the porch.

Rose’s smile wasn’t large, nor was it natural. She opened her mouth to speak but the words dried when to the side of the door, Edward stepped out of the shadows.

Rosalie felt her body stiffen, making Bella turn in surprise.

“Please. Bella, let me talk to you. Let me try to talk some sense into you,” he begged.

“Ahh!” Bella gasped as Rose’s hand tightened.

“Shit, I’m sorry.” Rose let her hand go, glaring at Edward. She didn’t like the look on his face, didn’t want to leave Bella with him.

Beside her, Bella gave a large sigh. “All right.”

“Bella...” Rose started.

Bella shrugged. “It’s okay, Rose. I’m fine. This is gonna have to happen eventually. You don’t have to worry. I choose you.”

Edward took a step back, his eyes averted in pain and while Rose’s chest felt suddenly warm, it wasn’t exactly that which she was concerned about.

“Okay.” She nodded a little and with a snarl at Edward, stepped back into the house. She could still hear him, and she knew that Edward knows that. Still, she did her best to force herself to go and sit on the couch, to try not to listen.

She glanced out the front windows and away again.

Edward was walking her to her car, her hand in his.

Silently, Alice loped over and folded herself into the couch beside Rose, her head resting on Rose’s stiff shoulder.

Rose swallowed thickly, taken aback and at the same time, pleased.

The silence outside was strangling, a horrible counterpoint to the stressed chaos inside of her.

“What did you see?” Her voice was thick, choked as she asked the question that she didn’t want the answer to. “Before. What did you see?”

Alice didn’t move, not at all surprised. “Are you sure you want to know?”

Rose gave a deprecating cough of a laugh. If that wasn’t the stupidest question… “No. But I think I need to know.”

Alice nodded. “Well. The first thing I saw was confusing. I saw it right before Edward brought Bella to meet us.”

“Wait, what?”

Alice nodded again. “It was just you and Bella, but you were looking at Bella… um, like you do now.”

Rosalie shook her head a little. So Alice had seen something before Rose had even known? “Why didn’t you say anything?”

To Rose’s surprise, Alice laughed. “To be fair, you had been with Emmett for a long time. I never would have thought… I just thought you two were going to become friends.”

Rose snickered. She supposed that was reasonable.

“But then I saw you kiss her. It didn’t make any sense until you started to avoid me. I mean, did you really jump out of a window to avoid me?”

Rose chucked. “I did.”

Alice shook her head, scooting in a little closer so she could take her hand.

Rose’s smile faded. “What do you see now?” Her voice was heavy, unsure she wanted the answer and even more unsure that she didn’t already know it.

Alice sat up, her hand still over her sister’s. Her face was distant, looking at something that only Alice could see. “I see struggle. And…” Alice’s eyebrows drew together into a deep frown. “And things that I’m not sure I understand. There are… gaps… I don’t…” she suddenly shook her head, snapping herself back to the world around her. She blinked and smiled a little. “I see happiness for all of you though. In the end.”

“But Bella.” She pressed.

Alice sighed. “I can’t make that choice for you, Rose. But I’ve always seen Bella as one of us.”

“So I’m going to do it?”

Alice nodded. “You always were going to, Rose.”

Despair filled her. So she hadn’t changed as much as she wanted to then.

“You’re going to be happy, Rose. You just need to let yourself.”

She nodded, locked in her grief.

She was going to do it. She supposed she knew that. How could she not do it now?

“Bella, just because you two are supposed to be mated doesn’t mean you have to be together. You’re human. You don’t feel what she feels. You told me that you would always want me. We can leave.” He begged. “Be with me. We can still do this.”

“But I do,” Bella said on a sigh. “I do feel what she does.”

In her seat, Rose pulled her legs up, holding them tightly, smiling. She does. She did.

Outside, whatever silence that Bella and Edward had been locked in finally broke.

“Okay, I’ll talk first,” Bella said. “Edward, I’m sorry I’m hurting you. I really really super don’t want to be. But we weren’t good for one another. I didn’t feel strong when I was with you. I don’t think what we had was real.”

Edward made a noise of protest but Bella continued.

“I think Rose was right that it’s my blood that you want. Look at you, Edward, you’re struggling just being this close to me. I can see it.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“We’re not mated, Edward. I’m sorry. I know that because now, with Rose, I feel something different.”

“Bella, no—”

“I’m sorry, but I want to be with her. I want to be.”

“You’re wrong, Bella. You’re—”

“But I’m not. And I think it’s time you accept that. It time for you to be a good brother and to let this go.”

“Never. I will. Never let this go.”

“Edwards, that’s…”

The silence outside stretched after Bella’s fading words. Rose waited, and when it didn’t change, she rose, giving Alice’s hand a squeeze, and went to the porch.

“He left,” Bella sighed, looking out toward the woods.

Rose just nodded.

Chapter Text

Rosalie stood in front of her full-length mirror and smoothed her dress again with a critical eye. She had wanted to dress up for the day. It was a significant one. But looking at herself she frowned, wondering yet again if it was a mistake. Who traveled like this? No one got on a plane for fifteen hours dressed in a red pencil dress and black heels. Was she giving away their plot before they had been given the change to try?

“Stop second guessing yourself, Rose. You look beautiful.”

She smiled a little uncertainly over her shoulder at Esme. “It’s not too much?”

Esme shook her head. “Not at all. Not for today. And I’m sure Bella will love it.” She smirked, her eyebrow rising in suggestion.

She bit her lip and looked at her reflection again. She hoped Bella would. That was the point. “Is everything else ready?”

Esme just nodded.

“And everyone?”

Her hand settled on Rose’s back, lightly pressing, massaging the muscles that were far too hard. “Don’t worry, it will all go according to plan.”

She cleared her throat. “All right.” She smoothed her hair and cleared her throat again. “I’m going to tower over her in these.” She laughed a little, but it was hallow and nervous. She was nervous. Oh, she was far more nervous than she had thought she would be once they finally got there.

“Well—” Esme leaned in, divulging a secret, “—sometimes us little people like that.”

She had to laugh. “I guess you would know.” Esme was tiny in almost every way, and far below Carlisle’s stature.

“I would.”

She studied herself, looking for any flaw. She was stalling just a bit, she knew that.

This was it. Once she left the house, this was all in motion and she still wasn’t sure that this was right. Despite what Alice had said, despite the euphoria Bella had been living in, despite her own words in Bella’s defense, she wasn’t sure.

Right or wrong, however, the choice was long out of her hands. Every time her hesitance came up, every time she began to remind Bella that she had reservations, Bella said the same thing. ‘But it’s my choice, right, Rose? And you respect me enough to let me make it, right?’ It hogtied her.

The worst part was that she did believe that Bella deserved to make her own choices as a separate person from her. It was one of the ways that she and Emmett had always worked. They had never needed to be one. They had always been comfortable being two together.

That wasn’t saying that she hadn’t protested. She had spent a solid few weeks in a terror of a mood because her own choice was gone. It would be she, after all, who would be stealing her mate’s human life.

Then when Bella, understanding but immovable, changed her plan to have it be Carlisle who did it, her attitude had changed. The thought of it being Carlisle and not her had sent her into a jealous fit. She had barely been able to talk to Bella for a full day. She had refused to allow someone else’s venom in her.

That fact had sent her into a week-long depression, confused and upset because part of her did want this and that made her hate herself.

She had been disgusted.

Bella hadn’t understood what was happening in Rose’s head, but Carlisle apparently had. He had pulled her aside and promised her that this was the right thing to do. Though she had always hated it, and hated him to a point, he had never been anything but good to her, and she had listened.

So as the school year had drawn to a close, Rosalie graduating yet again, she, Bella, Carlisle, and Esme had made plans. It had come down to this.

Bella was to tell her father that she had applied for an exchange program in Spain for her final year of high school. Charlie, according to Bella, would most likely be a little confused but happy for her and proud she was such an achiever. Renee would protest, but since Bella wasn’t living with her anymore and had grown increasingly busy lately, Bella had been sure that she could escape any argument Renee made.

It had gone exactly as Bella had said it would.

 

Rose smiled warmly, keeping a respectful distance from Bella.

Charlie’s face turned up to her, confusion thick. “You wanna go to Spain, Bells?”

Bella rolled her eyes just a little. “Well, yeah, dad! This is great!”

The room filled with silence as Charlie stared at her with vague eyes and Bella waited.

The lack of expression in Charlie’s face made Rosalie nervous. Unsure if he was imploding or thinking, she stepped in.

“It’s a really great opportunity, Chief Swan. I’m going too as a post-graduate.”

“You are, huh?” He asked, seeming a little intrigued by that. “All of you Cullens get good grades, right? Didn’t you get into—”

“Harvard Med,” she nodded. She hadn’t actually applied and instead had just named the first school that had come to her mind when Charlie had asked the month before. She supposed it was good to have a place she was supposedly off to.

He blew out a whistle. “Harvard Med. That’s quite a school.”

Rosalie smiled, sending Bella a quick wink. “The admissions board seemed very impressed that I was going to be part of this program.”

“They did, huh?”

She just nodded. “Carlisle says it’s an opportunity that I’ll probably never get again. Bella too.” All right, she thought she was laying it on a bit thick now. Bella, it seemed thought so too. She sent her a warning glare, but Charlie seemed to be eating it up.

“He did, huh?”

 

In the end, Charlie had agreed, seeming bemused but proud.

Then all they had to do was wait out the summer, spend some time with Charlie, and send Bella to go visit her mom. In truth, she hadn’t seen Bella much over the past few weeks and that had been hard, but not as hard as she had thought it would be. It was as if their bond had known that her absence was not a malignant one. It was as though their bond knew that it was about to get its way.

A few weeks later Bella announced to her father that she had gotten the spot and that was that. Their plan was in motion.

Bella had shown up from Phoenix the week before, seeming stressed after her time with Renee. She had come over to the Cullen house in the middle of the night, something that seemed to have become a habit, and had announced that it was time. She had insisted that they could say she was going to settle in early, that she was ready, but the Cullens had held to their plan. 

Which was a good thing. It had given Esme the time she needed to prepare the house, readying it for the next few days and then for the possibility of being empty for the next few years. It was an alarming prospect, but also one that was far too real.

Rose sighed into the mirror and turned. It was time to go. She smiled at Esme, whose face was the face of a mother on her daughter’s wedding day. Her hands were clasped together under her chin, her expression dewy.

After a year of pretending to be in Spain, Bella would tell Charlie that the program had given her the choice to renew for another year and at the end of two years they would see if, with some hints not to ask questions, they could reintroduce Charlie into their lives so that there was no real suspicion. If Bella didn’t seem ready then Bella would announce she had decided to stay in Spain, for school or for love, Bella would decide later. The Cullens would flee to Alaska where they would all stay until it was safe to come back. Bella was uncomfortable with that idea, feeling guilty about them possibly needing to leave. Rose thought it wasn’t so much of a problem since they only had one more Cullen in school, and then within the next four or five years, they would have to leave anyway, waiting a generation or so to come back.

That was all if things went according to plan. Esme, however, had prepared the house just in case. Bella as a new vampire was likely to be erratic and possibly a danger to others. If so, the house was ready, the Cullens were packed for an impromptu move. Carlisle had spoken to a hospital in Anchorage about a possible job, and the rest were willing.  

But that was only if things went as badly as they could.

Having descended the stairs with a nervous stomach, she slid into her car, which she still refused to think of as Sappho and headed over to the Swan house.

 


 

“Hello?” Rose called as she knocked on the open front door.

“Hey!” Bella jumped up on the couch, her eyes over large and a little pale. Her hands were shaking like she had downed a few cups of coffee, but her smile was huge… maybe too big to be real, Rose considered. “Errr…”

Bella blinked, her eyes trailing down Rose’s body and back up.

Rose smiled and winked. It was amazing how often Bella made her smile like that. “So you like it?”

Bella swallowed, her already over-blown eyes bugging.

“Are you ready to go?” She asked it for Charlie’s benefit, her eyes asking a different question. Are you ready? Are you sure?

Bella seemed to understand, but what her response was, Rosalie wasn’t sure and that made her anxious. She took a step forward, her hands out to touch Bella but from behind them, there was a clatter of footsteps as Charlie came out of his room.

“I don’t know how the hell we’re going to get all of this to the airport,” Charlie grumped, dropping another bag on the pile. “The airline doesn’t have a bag maximum?”

Rose turned and laughed when she saw the pile of bags beside the door. It was indeed a lot, far more than they would be allowed if they were going anywhere overseas. “Don’t worry, Charlie, the program pays for our baggage.”

“Still,” he grumped, eyeing them sullenly. Rose thought she noticed a slightly nasal quality to his voice, like perhaps he had been crying recently. She studied Bella’s father’s face, surprised and impressed. His eyes weren’t very red, but there was just enough. She wondered if Bella knew.

An awkward silence fell as they all stood in the foyer, eyeing one another, all seeming unsure what to do or say next.

“Well, uh, let’s get loaded up.” Charlie finally said with a clap of his hands.

“Right.” Rose picked up a handful of bags without thought and then caught sight of Charlie’s surprise. She let out a fake cry of strain and dropped half the bags.

“Here, let me help, Rosalie,” he mumbled, grabbing a few bags.

“Oops,” she laughed as Charlie headed out the door.

“Thought you were stronger than you were, huh?” Charlie chuckled.

“I guess so, Charlie,” Rosalie forced a laugh.

Bella rolled her eyes at her.

“What?” Rose cried, indignant. She didn’t get it right all of the time, she knew that. She had forgotten for just a moment to pretend. It happened.

Bella just shook her head and snuck a kiss to Rose’s cheek, making the glare Rose had been giving her drop right off of her face again.

Following Charlie, she threw the bags she had carried into the bed of Bella’s truck. They would be stopping at an office building where they had told Charlie that their luggage would be picked up and shipped by the program. Really it was an office that Carlisle sometimes used for off-campus meetings. She and Bella would swing back by on their way back and gather the bags.

After weeks of planning time, no detail had gone unseen or planned for.

 


 

“That’s Rosalie’s car?” Rose heard from the truck in front of her a few minutes into the drive. Being stuck behind the truck, and not only that but Charlie driving said truck, was a little nerve-wracking. It was incredibly slow. Rosalie put a CD on and hummed along, trying to get her mind off of the forty-five she was going.

It was an insult to her truck, that was what it was. No car this beautiful should be stuck going this slow.

“Errr… yeah?”

Rose chuckled a little at the confusion in Bella’s voice.

All right, they had planned for everything, but they perhaps hadn’t thought about the fact that Rose should have driven something a little less eye catching.

Charlie huffed and Rose saw his eyes on her in the rearview mirror.

She pushed her sunglasses up a little tighter, pretending to be singing along with a CD.

“Nice car.”

“Oh. Err, yeah, it’s not hers. It’s Carlisle’s. He lets her use it.”

Good girl, she smiled a little to herself.

“And she’s just parking that at the airport?”

Rose sighed. Of all times, this was exactly the worse time for Charlie to begin to notice what was happening around him.

“What? Oh, no. Um. One of the Cullens is flying in from a trip tomorrow. They’re gonna take it.”

“Oh.”

After what felt like an entire vampiric lifetime, the three walked into the airport stiffly, Rose trailing a little behind Bella and Charlie. Looking around in confusion, Charlie directed Bella to the left toward the airline on their tickets. As far as Charlie knew, they were supposed to take a puddle jumper to Seattle, a flight to New York, and then from there a direct flight to Barcelona.

“So I guess this is it, huh?” Charlie said, glancing around the airport.

Bella nodded and Rose wasn’t surprised to see tears in her eyes. She hoped, deeply hoped that Bella wouldn’t have to lose him. In her opinion, Charlie was deeply lacking in the fatherly department, but she knew Bella loved him.

She took a small step back from the father and daughter. This was a big day. She would be there in whatever context Bella wanted.

“Okay, c’mere, kid.” Charlie pulled Bella in, his own eyes looking so much like Bella’s as they also sparkled. “I’m glad you came here, kiddo. I hope it wasn’t a miserable time.”

“Of course not, dad.” Bella sniffed into his jacket, holding on to him awkwardly.

Rosalie averted her gaze, turning to studying the poster beside them.

He gave a nod and held her at arm’s length. “Now you call me every day, you hear? I gave you about a million calling cards. I put them in your blue duffle.”

Bella nodded.

And they would, for the first few days. But then…

“I know, dad,” Bella gave a watery laugh and eye roll. “You told me twice this morning, remember?”

“Oh. Err, that’s right.”

Bella glanced at Rose, fear on her face.

Rose took a step forward, holding her gaze, trying to communicate sympathy and love. If she thought for a second that the fear was for her life and not leaving the nest then she would intervene, she would put her foot down. She would welcome it. As it was, Bella took a deep breath and the look faded. “I gotta go, dad.”

He nodded and pulled her in for another hug before pushing her back again. “And don’t forget to call your mom.”

“I won’t.”

He took a quick step away, clearing his throat gruffly. “You uh, you look after her, Rosalie.”

She stepped up beside him, doing her best to make her face warm and comforting. If she were human, she thought, this would be a time to touch him. She should put her hand on his arm, or even hug him. As it was, she did her best not to touch humans and the last thing she wanted was to suddenly alter Charlie that there was something different about her. In that moment, she mourned that inability. She deeply wanted to give the man who had created her mate some type of comfort. “I will. I promise, Charlie. I will take very good care of her.”

“She will, dad,” Bella agreed with the smallest of teasing smiles for Rose.

“No parties. No boys.” He insisted, shaking a finger at her.

Rose nodded, her face solemn. “I promise,” she said with all the vehemence she could, “no boys.”

Bella choked.

“Good.” He clapped her on the shoulder, something she found she kind of liked. “Goodbye, Charlie.” She smiled and leaning forward she kissed his cheek, then pretended she hadn’t noticed him go red. “Shall we?”

Bella took a deep breath, taking the ticket from Rose. “Yeah.”

They joined the small line to go through security, Charlie silently wiping his eyes in like just as Bella was.

“You don’t have to leave him,” Rose reminded her in a gentle voice. “We don’t have to do this.”

“Yes, I do.”

“We don’t. You could stay as you are. You could still move in. We could get an apartment in Forks or somewhere else.” Rose looked at her small mate, saw her pink nose and wet eyes. “Bella.”

“It does have to be this, Rose. I want it to be.”

Rose nodded. She had already known that would be the answer.

Her eyes were so beautiful that way, wet, slightly red as she did her best not to cry. She wanted to reach out and touch her, to pull her into her, but they had never agreed to let Charlie know about their relationship. So instead she just stood awkwardly in her affections, the thought echoing in her head: ‘Bella, my love, I will do anything to make you happy.’ “All right, I promise, we’ll do everything we can so you can still know your parents.”

She would do everything she could for Bella’s happiness, whatever it took.

Bella smiled a little.

They made it through security and then with one last wave at Charlie, they turned the corner and started down the long hallway toward the terminals.

“You know,” Rose gave her a sly grin and a nudge. “We could use these tickets. We never talked about that idea.”

“What do you mean?” Bella asked, her look suspicious.

“I mean we could get on a plane. You know, spend a few weeks in Spain.”

Bella eyed her. “You’re not getting cold feet, are you?”

“My feet are always cold.”

Bella groaned. “Ha, ha, very funny.”

Rose smiled a little. “I’m not, if you’re not, Bella.”

Bella nodded, twisting to avoid a stationary man in the middle of the walkway.

She felt the warmth suddenly coming from Bella before she realized that Bella was having some type of thought that was making her blush deeply.

“What?” she asked, intrigued.

“Nothing.” Bella shook her head fast.

“Clearly.”

Bella glared a little from the corner of her eye. “I was just thinking… have you thought about what this is a lot like?”

Rose’s lips pursed, a single eyebrow bouncing as she looked straight ahead, ignoring an ogling man. She had, actually. It had occurred to her not long after their plans had been set in stone. The moment that Rose’s teeth sank into her skin might as well be the moment that Bella said I do. Perhaps it could even be argued that it had already happened the moment they had separated from Charlie. The moment she bit her, however, their bond would be sealed. They would become one another’s other half. “I have,” she admitted, surprised by her own sheepishness.

The silence from Bella didn’t surprise her. Still, without looking at her, she squared her shoulders, standing a little higher in her insecurity. “Do you want to do it in a more conventional way?”

“What?” Bella squawked. “No! No way! I’m a teenager!”

Rose scoffed. Old enough to become one of the living dead, but too young for marriage. “Are you sure?” she teased. “We could go to Vegas. Or Niagara Falls. We are in an airport, after all.”

Bella spluttered and hiccupped, trying to say something that looked like words, Rose was sure.

“You’re going to have to marry me eventually. I like weddings.”

“You like parties that are for you.”

“That too,” she laughed. “Are you sure that you don’t want it to be now? I’m sure we couldn’t find you a big white dress today. Something traditional and—"

“Don’t do that!” Bella cried.

Rose just gave a slightly evil chuckle.

 


 

They waited a solid thirty minutes before they headed back through security, dumping their useless tickets as they went.

“I didn’t see,” Bella said as she covered her eyes to shield from the sun. “Where’d you park Sappho?”

Rose’s feet stopped. “My – car – is not – named – Sappho!”

Bella looked at her curiously. “Oh? Did you get a new one? Because I could have sworn I saw you drive Sappho up here.”

Lips pursed, Rose haughtily decided the best idea was to ignore her.

“Hey!” Bella called, laughing. Rose had left her in the dust as she started toward her car, which was more certainly not called Sappho.

She paused just long enough for Bella to catch up, her hand slipping into Rose’s. Bella gave a pull, but Rose still ignored her. Bella pulled harder. She turned, her glare hard.

Bella, seeming completely unconcerned by it, leaned up onto her toes and pulled Rose’s face down.

“You’re too tall in those. They have to go.”

“Like hell!”

Bella was still smiling when she kissed her, which in turn made Rose smile. “You look beautiful, by the way.”

Rose’s mouth opened, feeling that school girl pleasure again. “Do I?”

“Very.”

This time Rose kissed her, long and deep. “Thank you.” She pulled Bella’s hand up to her lips and kissed it. “Come on. I think the sun is going to come out soon.”

 

Chapter Text

They took back roads as they made their way to the Cullen house, as not to overlap Charlie in the truck that Bella had been honestly heartsick to give up. Rose opened the windows, letting in the hot breeze and put on another CD, but as they drove, Rose couldn’t help but to notice Bella’s silence, their hands intertwined on the gearshift.

Bella’s grip wasn’t a soft one either. She held on tightly, surprisingly tightly.

“Bella?” Rose finally asked when she heard a small sniff. She could smell the scent of her tears and that alarmed Rose.

“I’m sorry,” Bela sniffed.

“What is it?” she asked, turning a little in the driver’s seat, only the most casual of eye on the road.

Bella shook her head, not looking at her. “Nothing. I think I’m still just surprised that he gave me up so easily.”

Rose nodded a little, understanding. She had found it surprising too. Charlie hadn’t put up much of a fight at all. But from what Rose understood, Charlie didn’t put up much of a fight about anything.

“He was crying this morning.”

“What?” Bella looked over, startled.

“He was,” she nodded. “When I came over, he had been crying.”

Bella’s face fell open, her nose so pink that it was adorable.

“Besides, Bella, we set it up so he thought he was doing the right thing by letting you go.”

“He is.”

She squeezed her hand. “He does love you though.”

Bella nodded. “Thanks.”

 


 

The tears dried not long after that and were replaced by a stiff and nervous excitement. They picked up Bella’s bags, Rose teasing her about the amount of them.

When they pulled into the garage, Rose turned to her with a nervy smile. “Welcome home.”

Bella’s eyes widened a little but she smiled.

They went through the garage door and Rose stopped, grinning foolishly at her family. Bella laughed to see them, Esme and Carlisle on the stairs, Alice and Jasper on the landing, Emmett sitting on the couch. All trying to make it look like they happened to be there, and not like they were waiting.

“You guys aren’t very subtle, you know,” Bella teased.

“How do you feel?” Esme asked, appearing at Bella’s side.

“Nervous,” Bella admitted.

“It’s a big day for you.”

Bella shifted a little, glancing at Rose awkwardly. “I wish people would stop saying that.”

Rose watched from the living room as Esme bubbled over with pride, showing her the fridge and the cupboards that were stocked full of food.

“Oh my god, Esme,” Bella laughed. “I can’t eat all of this in two days!”

“Well, should anything happen and it needs to be longer then we’re prepared.”

Bella shook her head vehemently. “Two days.” She turned and pointed a finger at Rose. “Two days.”

Rose help up her hands in surrender. “I didn’t say it.”

“Uh-huh,” Bella eyed her but the look was more playful than suspecting. Rose had thought that there was a good chance that Esme had been going overboard, but it made her so happy that it was hard to argue with her. Whatever food Bella didn’t finish, Rose would take over to the food bank on the other side of town, she decided.

Looking a little overwhelmed, Bella turned back to her.

Rose just smiled at her, thrilled and nervous to say what she was going to say next. “Shall we bring your things upstairs?”

Before Bella could answer, Emmett laughed. “Why? Does dinner get to have a room?”

She shot a glare at him, not at all amused, but the rest of the room, including Bella, laughed.

“I have to admit,” Carlisle said through his good-natured laughter. “I never thought there would be a human living in this house.”

“It’s only for a few days!”

He smiled down at her, the fondness in his face pleasing Rose deeply. “Very true. So.” He turned and clapped. “Is everyone ready?”

Edward had fled to Denali weeks before, hiding away after his loss of the fight, but he was the only one missing from the living room. The rest now stood with a bag, nodding their assent.

“So we’ll be back then in a few days, yes?”

Bella nodded, that look of slight overwhelm on her face again. Rosalie really couldn’t blame her.

“Have fun, you two,” Esme said with a smile, kissing each of their cheeks.

“Yeah, don’t do anything that I wouldn’t do,” Emmett teased, ducking to avoid a blow from Rosalie’s purse.

Together, they waved the family off, each getting into their sportier cars for the drive up to Denali.

When the last car wove around the bend, Rosalie dropped her hand, her stomach filled with butterflies. She glanced down at Bella and saw, with some relief that she looked a bit nervous as well.

“Come on.” She took Bella’s hand and they started inside. She hadn’t done much to prepare for this day, perhaps a little unable to believe it was happening. She had emptied the side of her closet she had only just filled back in. It had been a struggle giving Bella a full half. With Emmett it had always been more like Rosalie two-thirds to Emmett’s one. She had added back a second dresser, one that matched her own. She had also done one more thing.

She settled herself on the bed, waiting for Bella to get her bearings.

“The bed is different.”

Pleased, she nodded. It was actually a new bed altogether. She had first bought new linens, only to decide that she didn’t want to use a bed she had shared with someone else. Especially given that the bed had never been used for sleep. “Yes, I didn’t think the gray was right for our bed. Do you like this?” She had picked instead a pale purple that had been very similar to Bella’s own. When Bella didn’t answer, she turned to look. Bella hadn’t moved, her face hadn’t changed at all. “What’s wrong?”

“Our bed.”

Rose bit her lip to hide her smile and debated pulling Bella down onto it now. They were alone and there had been very very little of that over the past weeks. In truth, they hadn’t been together since their first time. There just hadn’t been the chance, and Rose would happily admit that she was looking forward to it. However, Jasper had reminded her again and again that Bella might need some time and space over these next few days. So instead of moving forward and taking Bella into her arms like she wanted, she took a step away, giving her some physical space. “Are you hungry?”

Bella shrugged, her nerves showing in her face. “A little.”

It was endlessly fascinating to her. What was it exactly that made Bella nervous? Was it the fact that they were alone together? Was it the end of these two days? She wanted to ask but decided against it.

“I’ll make you a sandwich. Would that be good?”

Bella’s eyebrows shot up and the peaceful, calm air that Rosalie was trying to keep snapped like a dry twig.

“I can make you a sandwich, Bella. If I can build a car engine, I can make a sandwich!” She snapped it, perhaps not harshly or aggressively, but also not calm and kind and immediately began to kick herself.

Bella just shook her head a little. “Okay.”

Rose nodded matter of factly once and stood. Once downstairs she didn’t go to the kitchen, but instead to the couch. She sat and listened. Did Bella seem happy? She wasn’t sure. Was she happy? She was, she knew she was, but this thing she would have to do hung over her head like a guillotine blade. Would she be happier after it was done?

It was all so much.

That thought she shoved away, unwilling to face it.

She sat unmoving, not even twitching as she listened to Bella slowly move around the room above her. As she sat, she worried. She wanted Bella to feel welcome. She wanted Bella to feel like this was her space too. So how did she do that? She knew that the family wanted to find them a place they could call their own over the next few years, a sanctuary for the newly mated pair. Perhaps that was the best way. Start them on neutral ground. She sighed and ran a hand over her hair carefully. She had a feeling that she was overthinking this a little.

Upstairs Bella’s feet carried her further to the left than they had thus far and the door opened.

Rose was up and making a sandwich half a second later.

“Looks good.” Bella smiled a little as she poured herself a glass of milk and then sat at the table where she had left Bella’s plate.

Rose slid across from her, not watching her, or at least doing her best not to watch her.

Bella took a bite, chewing slowly.

“It’s not too salty?”

Bella looked up, startled. “Did you add salt?”

Rose looked away, studying the clock as though it would tell her something of interest.

“Okay, what?” Bella dropped the sandwich back to her plate

“What?” Rose asked, affronted.

“Why are you being so weird?”

“I’m not being weird!” she cried. She wasn’t! She wasn’t being weird at all. If anything, she thought Bella was being weird sitting there and staring at her.

“You so are.”

“Am not.”

“You are.”

“Am—” Rose cut herself off before she could give in to the silly argument, pressing her lips into thin lines so they didn’t disobey her. “I’m trying to be supportive!” she snarled, sounding much more like her usual self.

Bella took another bite, her eyes narrowed in consideration. “You’re weirding me out.”

Rosalie rolled her eyes. “Are you happy? Are you okay?”

“I would be if you would calm down.”

“I am calm!” she snarled harshly, annoyed.

“That’s better.”

Bella!” she groaned, her head falling to the table. “Even if what is... coming... weren’t coming, it would still be a big deal. Leaving the nest is a big step.”

“You did research, didn’t you?”

Rosalie stiffened, sniffed and looked away. She had, actually. She had read a few books over the past few weeks on the things youth struggled with once away from home. Most of it had been unenlightening drivel. It was amazing how much medicine and psychology could advance while offering nothing new.

Her silence seemed to be a confession to Bella.

“Is there anything you would like to do today?” she asked, hoping for the distraction.

Bella shifted a little, her mouth full.

“What?”

“Um, well, err. I’d uh, never been in your bathroom until today.”

“Our bathroom.”

“Right.”

“And?”

“Your tub.”

“Our tub.”

“Right.”