a lover’s bouquet
Isabella Swan could find her way around the little timbered town without the good people of Forks, Washington breathing down her neck, thank you very much. She may have balked at an unfamiliar streetway or two on the way to the local supermarket, but she could still recognize most of the dilapidated landmarks no problem. No matter what the Newtons thought, the free ride they had been persistently offering for the last ten minutes while sitting inside their family sedan was genuinely not necessary. Bella could make it on her own, happily, as a matter of fact. She liked walking. The splash of her gum sole boots on wet pavements, the cold drizzle seeping into her coat, the smell of rain – everything the opposite of where she came from. Different.
It was all a nice change.
Of course, despite her perpetual struggle with introversion, Bella found that she couldn’t really fault their adamant behavior when her father had all but set up a grand homecoming in her name. The truck was a bonus, but she drew the line at having dinner with the entirety of the town at Carver’s the same day she moved back in, two weeks before her senior year at the local high school started. Charlie should have known she’d put her foot down, and while yes, ten years was a long time to have stayed away from the strange township of woodwork and fishery, surely there were better, grander things for the townsfolk to fixate on other than her arrival. Surely.
With her recognizable features – dark, cascading curls, heart-shaped face, doe eyes, and innate demureness – it was naturally evident the sheriff was her father, and that meant that people felt an immense obligation to go the extra mile in welcoming her home.
But Bella was fine. She liked the wet splash under her boots, she liked the drizzle on her coat, and she liked the smell of rain. Very, very much. So, with a forced smile, Bella firmly repeated that she would walk and gave the Newtons a shy, final wave before turning on her heels and marching away.
Two weeks later, Jessica Stanley slid across to Bella’s seat at one of the cafeteria tables without so much as a “Hi!” or “Hello.” Bella startled for a moment, wide-eyed, before lowering the salad piece that was halfway through her parted mouth back to its crinkly plastic plate.
“New girl.” Jessica smirked. “Scrap everything you think you know about Forks.”
Angela Weber appeared, casually taking the other open seat next to the brunette and placing her own tray down. “Jess, didn’t we just agree to not terrify the sheriff’s daughter?” She threw an apologetic look Bella’s way and grimaced. “Sorry if she shocked you – it’s a small town, nobody gets left out. You’re practically family already. Name’s Angela, by the way.”
Bella tried to paste on a smile and hoped it looked at least somewhat appreciative enough. Through a deep, measured breath, “Hello.”
“Hey! You found my girl!” Eric Yorkie’s natural charisma eased the awkward tension as he and two other guys – Tyler Crowley and Mike Newton – settled into the opposite side of the lunch table. With a suspicious glance at Jessica he continued, “Please tell me you haven’t started on your conspiracies. It’s her first day.”
Angela snorted. “Too late.”
“Damn it, Jess,” Eric said at the same time Mike and Tyler groaned, “Bella, don’t mind her. She just likes to chatter. It’s a thing she does.”
Bella considered her sad salad for two seconds and took the bait. “…There’s something I should know about Forks?”
Angela and the others hung their heads in defeat. Jessica pumped a fist in victory and launched into a fervent spiel that seemed oddly practiced. Bella listened anyway.
“Yes, you do! And I meant what I said – scrap everything you think you know about Forks. This isn’t the same town you remember from your childhood. We’re talking supernatural. Alien, even. Monsters and murders. You can even ask your dad later, and I know he’ll spare you most of the gory details but – Bella, Bella, Bella.” Jessica clicked her tongue thrice. “Forks is dangerous.”
“Uh…” The brunette sounded out doubtfully as she side-eyed the rest of the table’s occupants. Neither Eric nor Angela made to counter Jess’ lively commentary, and the two other boys just shrugged as if to say it was something everyone already knew. Trailing her gaze back to her newfound friend, “Right. Dangerous. How?”
Jessica’s answering grin was positively ominous. “You’ll see for yourself. In three. Two. One…”
It wasn’t like the entire world had shifted, but when the Cullens entered, every second seemed to happen in slow motion. Their handsome, flawless faces; the silk-like paleness of their skin, the bright gold of their eyes; the noticeable difference in how they carried themselves, how they strode in a manner that bordered on vain.
Bella blinked once. Twice.
“Don’t let their beauty lure you in,” Jessica’s voice dropped down to a conniving whisper. “That’s how they get you.”
Bella couldn’t help but ogle, but at the copper-haired boy’s pointed glare in her direction she finally dropped her eyes. Reddening to the tips of her ears, Bella hid her face behind the safe curtain of her hair. She gulped. “They’re very nice-looking, but you shouldn’t gossip, Jess.”
Jessica huffed. “It’s only gossip because nobody’s found good evidence yet. You’ll see. You’ll all see.”
Mike palmed his forehead, hard. “Jessica. Are you still going on about that?”
Why the hell not? Bella shrugged and took the bait again. “About what?”
Her two words seemed to be all the encouragement the senior needed to divulge her hypothesis.
“Forks used to be quiet,” Jessica hushed, leaning in. “And safe. But not long ago, the Cullens arrived – in their picture perfect, untouchable glory.” Bella recognized the slight envy in the girl’s tone and stowed it for later. “Then a hiker was found dead fifty miles into the west wood borders. Last week? Mr. Waylon Forge. At the docks. My dad’s the town mortician – he says it was difficult to prepare Mr. Forge for an open casket because he’d screamed so much prior to his death that his jaws locked open. Of course,” she threw in, “Don’t let that get out of this table, New Girl – out of respect for the Forge family.” A flick of her straight hair to the back of her shoulders using her freshly manicured, French-tipped fingers, “So guess what the Cullens were busy doing then? Hiking? Fishing? Rock climbing?” Jessica huffed out a single, unimpressed laugh. “Family outings, my ass. They’re connected to it. They’re so weird.”
Pushing the sloppy mess of a salad away from her person, Bella winced. “Eric was right. Too much for my first day, Jess.”
Mike spoke knowingly as he chewed, fork pointed Jessica’s way, “One of these days Dr. Cullen’s going to sue you for slander and defamation and no one, no one, will be able to bail you out. You’ll rot in jail, Jess. You’re too pretty for that. Stop gossiping.”
Jessica preened and batted her lashes at him sweetly. “Mikey, you think I’m pretty?”
Mike let out a long groan and rolled his eyes. The rest of the teens snickered and the conversation moved on until the bell rang. Bella snuck a final glance to where the Cullens should be but found an empty table and an odd, inexplicable emotion in her chest akin to disappointment.
Out of all the possible people she could have as her biology lab partner, it just had to be the grouchy, mercurial Cullen.
“You may begin!” Mr. Molina announced, clapping his hands together. “Remember – first team to finish the activity gets... The Golden Onion!”
Bella frowned. She’d have preferred a grade incentive, but it seemed like she’d have to settle for ramp fritters as dinner instead…
She flushed pink when she realized that the Cullen sitting next to her had been waiting for her to introduce herself. “Sorry, I space out a lot. Name’s Bella, I didn’t get to introduce myself… last time.”
The boy wasn’t as grouchy as the first time they had sat next to each other. Bella let it pass. Edward seemed distinctly laid back as he conversed with her now, casual enough to tease her. “Mm. Would you like to go first, or…?” Are you any smart? His eyes seemed to ask.
Bella’s temper flared. “Yes.” Without another word, she slid the first prepared slide onto the stage of the microscope and focused the image expertly. “It’s prophase.” she stated and moved to write the finding on the results sheet, but Edward’s lip twitched. Her eyes sharpened as she turned to him.
“Let me check that real quick?”
Bella stepped away from the microscope and pinned him with a dead gaze. “Absolutely.”
A beat later, a hum of agreement. “Mm. Prophase.”
She nearly rolled her eyes. “As I said.”
Edward hummed again, moving on to attach the next slide and so swiftly declaring, “Anaphase.”
“You know I have to check that.” Bella deadpanned. “You barely even looked at it.”
Edward’s smirk made her want to huff and grumble but she didn’t want to give him the satisfaction.
Five seconds later, “Yes. It’s anaphase.”
Edward snickered behind a pale hand and she wanted to hit him.
“As I said.”
Bella shook her head and sighed in defeat. “Right. Let’s start over. Hi, I’m Bella Swan. I’m not usually this snarky or chattery or grumpy but—” she glanced at the wall clock. “It’s almost lunch. I’m very competent in science, but right now I’m also very peckish. So. Teamwork so we can get out of here ASAP?”
Edward’s answering grin was endearing and charming and perfect. “Of course, Miss Swan.”
She couldn’t help but blush. “Thank you.”
Edward likes her. He like likes her. And Bella, melting and turning into a gooey, cheesy mess inside every time he laughed and smiled and quoted Shakespeare, decided that – yes. She like liked him, too.
Bella knows that she’s at the age where she should be mature about it, but…
She had a boyfriend.
MUTILATED CORPSES FOUND IN LA PUSH BORDERS
Five teenagers who had been trekking after the summer storm chanced upon two mangled bodies at the western perimeter of the La Push Reservation. County police have closed off the scene since, and rangers have been dispatched by Sheriff Swan’s office to monitor for any suspicious activity in the surrounding acreage. As of 16th April, after careful investigation, the Forensic Coroner’s Department and the County Office have authorized the release of their findings regarding the victims’ identities.
Jacob Black, 16, and Sam Uley, 23, were said to have been seen last at the cliff sides following the recently concluded Quileute festivities. The victims’ families have permitted the release of their names in this article in hopes of finding justice for their children. They join the Sheriff’s Office in requesting that all leads pertaining to this tragic event be communicated through proper channels – anonymous or otherwise – at 870-256-7893.
Bella gasped. Her hands dropped the newspaper as if she’d been burned. Her gaze flew to her father and her lips trembled. She couldn’t believe it. “No!”
Charlie’s eyes were dark as he stirred his coffee across from her at the dining table. “I know he was your friend, Bells. Jake was a good kid.” He leaned forward and rubbed at his temples. “Billy’s broken. Raging. I don’t have answers for him. Not even a motive.” His eyes met Bella’s with strict concern. “I don’t want you going near the woods, you hear me? For the moment, curfew is at seven. Pepper spray at all times. I’m serious, Isabella.”
Bella blanched but she could live with that, with all that was going on. “Okay, dad. Just… please be safe.”
SERIAL KILLER PATTERN FOUND, STATE LAUNCHES MANHUNT FOR THE BLOOD BARON
“The Blood Baron?” Rosalie echoed incredulously. “Please tell me they did not just inspire Stephen King’s new novel. Please.”
Emmett sniffed. “Well, the humans are catching up, at least. And how sure are we that it’s not Jasper hunting according to the sweetest blood type?”
Alice’s wicked snarl could kill from across the living room. “How odd. Emmett’s future just suddenly disappeared. On a completely unrelated note, Emmett, do you want to spar with me right now?”
Jasper snorted. “Don’t take it to heart, doll. I appreciate the suspicion. Keeps me strict on myself.”
“You three, stop it.” Esme admonished, wrapping herself in a shawl as she sat on the chaise lounge, more of a habit than anything. “Carlisle must be more troubled than he’s showing. The attention we’ve been getting is less than amiable but if we leave now we’ll be cemented in history as plausible suspects.” Esme sighed. “It’s not us, but it might as well be. We’re the only coven in the Olympic Peninsula.”
“Great!” Rosalie threw her hands up. “The Volturi will kill us for humans we didn’t even kill. What else did we turn vegetarian for? And where the hell is Edward?”
“Bella’s,” Alice and Jasper answered at the same time Emmett piped up, “Perched on Bella’s tree.”
Inferno unleashed, “I will actually kill your eldest son, Esme.” Rosalie hissed. “Edward has been acting like a complete idiot since—” Rosalie cut herself off, her eyes golden and widening. “How sure are we that it isn’t Edward?”
Esme shot to her feet. “Rosalie!”
But in the following silence, Alice, Jasper, and Emmett shared a surreptitious, meaningful glance.
“His eyes were dark a week ago.” Rosalie said in the quiet. “And the month before that.”
Alice felt defensive for her immortal brother and reminded their siblings stiffly, “Some humans do have certain scents that do that to us. Bella has that effect on him. Edward has told us this.”
“He’s also said that he nearly killed her the first time he scented her.” Rosalie grit her teeth together. “That he nearly lost his mind.”
“You know Edward wouldn’t—”
The front door opened and closed. The Cullens froze from where they conversed and turned towards the newcomer.
“Carlisle!” Esme was by his side in a split second. “I didn’t even hear the car. You ran?”
“Yes, as I have urgent news.” Carlisle’s tone rang morose. Alice’s visions glazed, and her mouth curved into a shape of horror. “Aro called. I’ve told him the truth. It’s not us, but… he’s coming. He wants to see the situation for himself.”
Esme shut her eyes tightly. “Is he bringing the guard?”
“Worse,” Alice cut in, eyes focusing. “He’s bringing his brothers.”
Rosalie met Carlisle’s sadness with great disdain. “Get. Edward. Here. Now!”
a lover’s bouquet
Sinking ebbs of mistrust sowed into Bella’s mind in small increments. At first, she brushed them away because Edward – beautiful, beautiful Edward – had peculiarities like everyone else, and a unique way of thinking that made him naturally impossible to predict. And Bella respected those parts of him...
It was gradual. The way he hadn’t held her hand since that time he’d suddenly shown up in Seattle, saved her from a group of unsavory men, when she’d said his fingers felt unbelievably cold. It was how he never ate with her or never came to school when the sun was out. It was the way his eyes changed color.
He always had a reason ready for her. And she’d have accepted them like the ones he’d offered before, if not for the glaring conclusion she’d arrived at once he powerfully stopped Tyler’s van from crushing her in the icy parking lot. Adrenaline pumping in her veins, she cowered into his chest and barely managed to breath out before yielding to the stress of the ordeal and losing consciousness—
“You’re… a vampire.”
And just like that, her ebbs of mistrust transformed into roots of deceit, and their honeymoon phase was over.
She has questions. So many questions. And he answers all of them, calmly, patiently, in the flowery meadow she had followed him to in the week she finally found it in herself to be brave.
And something must be wrong with her. Very wrong.
Because he tells her that her scent drives him into a wild frenzy, that he had killed before and will kill again, that he drinks blood to survive.
And the first thing she does is open her arms and kiss him straight on the mouth.
CITYWIDE SEARCH FOR MISSING UNIVERSITY STUDENT ENDS, BODY FOUND IN OREGON WAREHOUSE
Mr and Mrs Biers have confirmed with Daytime News TV that the remains discovered last night at an abandoned warehouse in West Oregon belonged to that of their missing son, Riley Biers, 22, who was a sophomore student in the Diplomacy honors program at Oregon University. The search for Riley now ends after three weeks of persistent operations. University officials have released a memorandum and are implementing curfew restrictions for students staying in the dormitories. An assistance fund has been launched by the University for the Biers family.
“How… very… interesting.” Aro murmured as he walked, his low tone slightly clipped as he surveyed the embalmed corpses assembled before him on their metal gurneys. “Their jaws were dislodged. Their blood used to be – sweet.” He turned to Caius, “Perhaps a gifted one with a talent for scent. And,” he added, “The honed instinct of a tracker.”
The platinum-haired monarch beside him was unsmiling. “Aro has confirmed your innocence, Carlisle. But your eldest son remains nowhere to be seen.”
“It builds our suspicion,” Marcus agreed. “Bring him to us. If your coven is crimeless then there is no reason to fret.”
Carlisle draped the white sheets of plastic over the deceased and deposited them back into their respective mortuary lockers. “Not entirely guiltless,” he admitted carefully as he looked over to Aro. “As Aro has seen from my thoughts, he knows that Edward is…”
“Pursuing a romantic relationship with a human. Very insolent.” Aro chided, a playful gleam in his eyes. “But Carlisle understands the law. He will change the girl.” Aro finished pointedly.
Caius scowled at his old friend in disappointment. “You will leave Washington once you have changed her. Then what else will the humans think?”
“We will leave,” Carlisle confirmed, “As it is what’s right; but the killings will continue. It is not my coven that is responsible, after all.”
“Perhaps a nomad,” Marcus drawled insightfully. “A wandering monster, driven to mark territory.”
“Perhaps, but for now,” Aro intoned, clasping his hands behind him and turning to the Olympic patriarch, crimson lips stretched into a cordial smile. “We simply must meet the happy couple.”
The Fairmont Olympic’s presidential suite is infinitely more extravagant than Bella had assumed it would be. Where she expected soulless business architecture, she found marble and chenille damask. And waiting for her, in the center of the main sitting room, were three of the most powerful royals in all of history.
The black-haired man in the middle rose to greet her with a coy smile. “Ah, at last – Isabella Swan.”
“Bella,” she corrected in a whisper. “It’s a pleasure to meet you and your brothers, Aro.”
“How I wish we could say the same.” Marcus interceded shortly, his red eyes darting to where Edward stood rigidly next to her. Marcus’ head tilted as he surveyed them, “Young Edward is… strangely attached… to you. Protective.”
He’s special to me, Bella wanted to reply. To him I am not a meal. Instead, she steeled her voice and managed to say, “Edward would never hurt me.”
The lips of the scowling man sitting on the French armchair upturned slightly. “Not you, no. Perhaps others?”
Bella looked up to send Edward an assuring smile, but she found his eyes dark, and his features hardened. His hand tightened on the side of her waist. Her heart sped up.
“Would you do me the honor, young Edward?” Aro inquired, holding his palms out to him. At Edward’s hesitation, Aro pressed hospitably, “I’m afraid your father insists. To clear your name, you understand.”
Bella nudged Edward forward. He took a deep breath and nodded.
“Of course, Aro.”
Aro’s hands closed around her lover’s, and while the telepath browsed through Edward’s memories Bella grew nervous. Still, she managed to keep quiet, biting her bottom lip and waiting patiently. Suddenly, Aro’s hold on Edward released and he pulled his hand back from the ancient vampire like he’d been wounded by the interaction.
Aro’s eyes trailed to hers, and he smirks.
“Be careful, Bella,” The telepath advised knowingly, “There are dangerous monsters in this little corner of the world. Sometimes they even stand beside us.”
With that, their meeting was done. Caius waved an impatient hand dismissing them and Bella let Edward and Alice pull her to safety. Lost in her thoughts, she doesn’t notice they had whisked her back to her own house until she had already been tucked into familiar purple sheets, staring into the dark.
BARON LAYING LOW? FORKS COUNTY SAYS STAY VIGILANT
Edward doesn’t return to her that night.
Or the next night.
And the night after that.
One by one, the Cullens leave town without her and Bella feels...
THE BLOOD BARON RETURNS WITH FIVE CONFIRMED KILLS
VALEDICTORIAN OF LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL ABDUCTED, SHERIFF FEARS THE WORST
MISSING GIRL FOUND DEAD IN MOUNTAIN MEADOW
Charlie refused to let her leave the house, trek the forest, look for her missing boyfriend. She’d have braved the woods if it meant finding the Cullens, to demand that they take her wherever it was they’d gone to since erasing their existence from all the local records three months ago.
“Renee thought I would be safe here, but—” Bella took a sharp breath. “The murders, Charlie… They’re not stopping. Jess was my best friend.” She took her father’s calloused hands and begged him, “Please… Please. Let me go. I’ll still visit. I promise.”
With the light in Charlie’s eyes dimming and mirroring the somber state of her own, Bella embraced her dad a final time before heading upstairs and packing her clothes.
a lover’s bouquet
Isabella Swan hadn’t expected to inherit her father’s skills in criminal profiling and sleuthwork, but she doesn’t complain. Tracking Edward down is no easy task, but steadily she builds her repertoire as a detective. She graduates near the top of the program and takes cases more mysterious and monstrous than any career detective would ever want to touch. She learns how to establish a reliable network of contacts across the continents, how to follow the ghost of someone she’d loved after he’d disappeared without trace. She takes her sentiments and bundles them in her soul like a slowly rotting carcass of a past she’d never have closure for until one night… she catches him.
Or better yet, he finds her.
They’re standing twenty feet away from each other in a weather-beaten, ramshackle building in the middle of nowhere. Bella, for all she’s worth, realizes that Edward has changed, that he is not the same, not after the years she’d spent looking for him, pining.
Not when he’s hunched over a fresh corpse, breathing hard.
Because Edward looks tired. Defeated.
“I can’t stay away if you...” He rasped from a dry throat. “If you don’t stop.”
She took a step closer to him.
The tip of her tongue traces her teeth inside her mouth. “Why should I?” she asked him. “Because of all those people?”
The sound that came from him echoed like a choked sob.
“Jacob Black was just a friend.” she told him. “Jess meant well when she tried to help me move on. I wasn’t going to.”
Edward’s lips trembled.
“What happened in Oregon…” Bella shook her head. “I would have followed you anywhere, Edward. Any university. You didn’t have to feel insecure. I wasn’t going to leave you.”
“I can’t fight anymore, Bella.” Edward declared as he stood upright. “I can’t protect you.”
Her eyes widen when he turns and looks at her.
“Not from yourself.”
She sees the cold finality in his gaze, and her heart sinks. Her chest breaks as she breathes in, the clenched roots of betrayal growing into seeds so venomous in her soul that all semblance of hopefulness has left her.
“The hikers, the shapeshifters, the ones who had answers for you and the ones who asked too many questions.” Edward muttered morosely. “You knew exactly what you were looking for when you came to Forks – a monster.” He smiled ruefully. "And you found me."
Bella clenched her fists.
“Was Phoenix not enough of a hunting ground, Bella?” Edward sniped. “It would have been awfully difficult to find our kind in a place ruled by the sun. And you must have realized that, too.”
As Edward strode to meet her in the middle of the room, she noted that his eyes were dark gold.
“But what you did, Bella…” His voice broke. “You pulled their jaws open. You raged when you didn’t find fangs. You mutilated and hunted and—” He swallowed, pinching his eyes shut. “I can’t love you.”
You’re a monster, too, he says without words.
Bella’s darkened gaze lifts from the fuel pooled on the granite floor, and she knows he’s meant it. He offers no reasons and no excuses this time. Instead, Edward closes his eyes and kneels before her, his head hung.
Bella’s rage finally emerges, and she reaches for her pocket lighter without another word. She clicks it and drops it to the floor, setting her once beloved ablaze and leaving him to rot.
“What a waste,” Bella bit out, turning away, “I thought we understood each other.”
Slow claps rebounded from the walls, and Bella whirls around to find their source. The inside of her mouth runs dry when she sees Aro leaned against a doorway on the second level of the decrepit house, shadowed by the setting sun. She recognizes the figured outlines of cloaked guards hounding the exit too.
“Beautiful, beautiful Bella,” Aro’s smile was saint-like. “Would you care to join me on a trip?”
“I’d rather not.” She huffed, crossing her arms. “As I’m sure you’ve just heard, I’ve just gotten my heart broken, and I don’t really appreciate any company right now.”
“You were very patient,” Aro murmured as he leapt over the railing to the first level and stood before her. “And meticulous,” he added, nodding towards the sorry pile of ashes and smoke. “I’m very impressed.”
“I’m glad to have entertained you.” Bella sniffed. “Manslaughter is a neglected art form, you know.”
Aro laughed joyously. “Oh, my dear, what I plan to do with you!” His tongue darted out to lick his lips. “The way you collected them… One offering after another, sweeter than the last! A bouquet for a love you hardly knew…” Aro couldn’t repress his shiver. “You must come with me. I have a place for you.”
“Locked in a tower? Screaming? Helpless?” Bella asked dryly. “You might not be so fond of me when I’m irritated.”
But Aro just smirked, then offered a hand. “Shall we?”
Bella looked at it and sighed in defeat. She placed her hand in his and held on firmly. At his surprised gaze she smiled coyly.
“Are you dangerous?” she asked plainly.
A short chuckle. “Perhaps. See for yourself.”
Bella hummed as she considered him from head to toe, then began walking beside him to the doors. “Don’t disappoint me.”
“Such high standards,” Aro teased. “But no. I don’t think so.”
Brown eyes held red. Bella’s breath hitched.
In a divulging whisper, Aro confessed, “I’m just like you, you see.”
Like her? Bella swallowed and looked away, hiding the small smile on her lips. “Good.”
Aro held the car door open for her. His smile was anything but trustworthy. “If you would, beautiful.”
Bella’s eyes narrowed warily. “Don’t disappoint me,” she repeated.
“I assure you,” Aro’s thumb caressed the back of her hand. “Your bouquet was well received.”
Bella’s nose scrunched and she gave him a single sniff. “You smell… sweet.” she realized, her eyes widening, “Very sweet.”
“As do you.” Aro hummed and tilted his head towards the sedan, “Well? Forever awaits.”
There was a tense moment of silence as she stared at him, then—
“You’re too easy,” Bella jokes. “One bouquet and you fall?”
Aro laughed and ushered her in. “In my defense, they were rather aromatic.”
“I should make you another one. Just to prove how serious I am.”
“Oh?” Aro’s eyes glinted in the dark. “Please, by all means, do.”
a lover’s bouquet
Bella likes walking. She likes walking under the sun of Volterra, scorching bright and flourishing like the one in Phoenix. When nighttime comes, the city is obscure enough, guarded, just like Forks. And when she can’t fight the urge, Bella does what it takes to feel at home.
Aro still lets her play with flowers. Lately though, he’s adopted a “no flower arrangement in Volterra” rule. It annoyed her at first, but it’s fine. Bella’s learned to collect her flowers… elsewhere.
But that man, Aro Volturi. What a scent.
Absolutely nothing like him.
He finds her perched on one of the rooftops, quiet.
“Isabella,” Aro crooned as he sat down beside her. “Not thinking of jumping, are you?”
Bella awards him a dry look. His brows arch pointedly at her. After a beat of silence, she bows her head.
“I just feel lonely lately,” she finally admitted.
Aro let out an affronted gasp. “Have I been neglecting you?”
Bella shook her head and turned away to gaze at the charming Tuscan sunset again. A heavy sigh came from her lips.
“Would you feel better, if I gave you a bouquet?”
Bella’s lips pursed. She eyed at Aro skeptically. “You would?”
“But of course.” The vampire said simply. “You’re my lover now, aren’t you?”
Bella froze and scowled. “You are teasing me again.”
“I am not.”
She considered Aro again, searching his face for telltale signs of mockery and mischief. Finding none, she echoed suspiciously, “Am I? Your lover?” Her brows pushed together. “Is that why you haven’t changed me yet?”
“Sweet, beautiful Isabella,” Aro crooned again, hand lifting to caress her cheek. By instinct, she angled towards the soothing cool of his touch. “Perhaps I should have been clear from the start.” He clicked his tongue. “You were made for me.”
Bella rolled her eyes. “I am more of a monster than you. Even Caius says so.”
Aro hummed as he stood and pulled her up with him. “Let me prove it then. I can be very convincing when I want to be.”
Bella glared at Aro. Ever since she met him, she’d wanted to wipe the smirk off his face. He was always provoking her, always taunting. Isabella this, Isabella that.
Suddenly feeling bold and aflame, she stepped into his space until they were toe to toe. Aro’s eyes widened. Bella soldiered on.
She pulled his face down to hers and locked her lips with his. The rage in her burned and calmed as the feel of his tongue began to taste her back.
Bella pulled away first, her cheeks nearly scarlet. “You…!”
Aro just smiled down at her. His fangs gleamed. “Yes?”
Bella’s shoulders dropped. “Whatever. Fine. Make me a bouquet. Make me an entire field of flowers and see if I care.”
Aro chuckled as he bent down and placed a kiss atop her head. “Anything for you, beautiful.”
- FINIS -