"Happy Birthday Bella," Carlisle's voice came from behind Bella. Soft and endearing.
A shiver ran up Bella's spine. She didn't dare turn around to look at him, she'd only be greeted by the beautiful caramel color of his eyes and find herself lost as she always did. She swallowed thickly and fiddled with several loose strands of her hair. A habit that had not gone away with immortality.
"Are you alright, dear?" he asked. She could sense him stepping closer to her, and then his hand on her bare shoulder.
She fought back another shiver and nodded her head, quickly pulling herself out of her thoughts.
"Yes, Carlisle," she insisted and her lips pulled up at the corners in a soft but weary smile. "I'm sorry, thank you so much."
Her golden eyes met his in the dimness of the room. The only light was that of the stars and moon shining into the large windows of the house that they had build just a few years before along the outskirts of London. Bella could hear the cars throughout thick tree line, honking horns and rumbling motors. She could hear the sound of music playing in another nearby room, the others in the family talking happily, waiting for her to come in.
"I know birthdays aren't quite the same anymore," Carlisle told her, "...but, I like to celebrate each and every one. Yours included."
Bella sighed, turning away from him, and her eyes focused in the glass until she could see vividly Carlisle's reflection next to her own. The affectionate way he looked at her. If she were still able, she would have flushed from her cheeks to her toes.
"Parties don't seem to go so well for me," Bella insisted, and shook her head.
"Isabella..." Carlisle touched her shoulder once more and forced her to face him. His fingers brushed the loose strand of her hair she was fiddling with behind her ear. The rest of her chestnut hair was pulled up into a delicate and beautiful braided up-do. "You're not human anymore, such things cannot happen," he sighed, "...and we all miss Edward. More than I can voice. Having you here helps more than you know."
Bella felt her cold heart somehow squeeze within her chest. She shook her head, uncertain how to reply. There was an electricity that sparked along her skin as Carlisle tilted her chin up with his fingers, but it only lasted a mere second before he was removing the distance between them.
"Now come," he ordered with a soft smile, "...the party is waiting."
In the living room of their grand house Esme, Alice, Jasper, Rosalie and Emmett all stood with glasses of warmed Elk blood and presents for her. Rosalie had grown to appreciate her presence more than before, but there was still a little bit of tension between them. Considering that she had been against Alice turning her in the first place and blamed her for Edwards death. Nevertheless, four years of living with Bella had allowed them to at least start to become friends. Rose was there, a small wrapped gift and a soft smile on her face.
While Emmett, despite seeing Bella almost every day, and having seen her only two hours before, still wrapped Bella up in a hug that was the most comfortable and uncomfortable she would ever experience. Alice was grinning ear to ear, always excited to toss up decorations for each of their birthdays and put on their designated playlist. Jasper was leaning against the piano with a crooked smile, and Esme stepped over to kiss Bella's cheek and then step beside Bella and take Carlisle's arm.
Bella couldn't help the ache that spread through her stomach and chest as she watched this, and she shook her head gently. Playing her sudden breathlessness off as excitement.
"Well, I'm going to need some blood." She chuckled.
Friendly dancing, blood drinking, opening of thoughtful and extravagant presents was quickly followed by blood-tipsiness and a playful remark by Emmett about truth or dare being the game of all games, and Rosalie insisting it was the most silly of all human pass times.
Nevertheless, with a slightly buzzing head and laughter, Carlisle was agreeing to a 'dare' from Jasper.
"I dare you to kiss the prettiest girl in the room!" Jasper chuckled.
Bella immediately suspected Esme, but if it wasn't Esme, surely it would be Rosalie or Alice.
She looked over to see Rosalie tossing her hair playfully and turning her cheek so that Carlisle could give her a friendly kiss on the cheek in following Jasper's dare.
Bella snickered. "It's Esme," she insisted and turned her head to look at Esme who was smiling bashfully.
Carlisle however, locked eyed with Bella. Suddenly, she could no longer hear the music. In a split second, Carlisle was leaning down from his towering stature. His lips pressed to hers. Tender, warm to her in a way she had never experienced. Her eyelids fluttered closed for that brief moment as her body arched closer to his. Her lips melted against his as though it was where they were meant to be.
It was over as quickly as it had begun.
Everyone was silent. As Bella's gaze adjusted and she looked at those around her, their faces were shocked. All but for Alice. Whose face was a blend of knowing tension and uncertainty. Uncertainty. Since when was Alice ever uncertain?
"Excuse me," Esme choked out and went flying out of the room and down the hallway.
"Esme," Carlisle called too late. He looked around, and gave a glance to Bella. Their eyes locked.
He didn't say anything before he darted quickly after Esme.
Bella's throat was tight. Her lips were tingling. She could still taste his lips on her own as her tongue darted in between them.
"Bella-" Jasper started, but she put a hand up.
"No I-I, " she stuttered, "...I don't want to--" she shook her head, and flitted out of the room to her own bedroom. She locked the door. It wouldn't actually stop any of them from getting inside strength wise- but she didn't see them as ones to disrespect the boundary.
Her throat was tight, breath caught - and though she had been a vampire for four years, she was still not used to tear-less crying. It felt wrong. She almost missed the burning in her eyes. The stinging and the damp along her cheeks. Almost.
Bella sat down on the small bed in her room. Not sleeping didn't mean she didn't enjoy laying, curling up on a soft mattress... Edward had taken things so hard, so seriously, like he had to live his undead live...uncomfortably. She had realized this after her own undeath. Vampires could be comfortable, happy. She was.
She wasn't sure how long she had sat there, staring at the floor. At some point she had changed out of her deep blue party dress and changed into a light green pajama set, shorts and a tank top. When she blinked, out of habit and not need, she was sitting on her bed still, but dressed differently. Her hair cascading down her shoulders. How quickly she could do things now. So quick that she almost didn't need to think. Auto-pilot.
There was a knock at her door. She hesitated. It came again.
"Bella." Carlisle's voice.
She stood, but still she hesitated in front of the locked door.
"Bella, I need to talk to you."
She chewed at the inside of her cheek nervously. A soft creaking heard inside her head from her teeth against the somehow pliable marble like flesh inside her mouth. If she bit any harder, she might crack her cheek. It would heal, but it was a pain in the ass.
"Let. Me. In. Bella, please." Carlisle's voice was harsher than usual, serious.
She shivered and her hand reached for the lock. She turned it. Not a second after the lock had turned, the door opened, closed, and Bella's back was against the wall.
"Carlisle-" she gasped in surprise. His golden eyes met her own, hungry - in a different way than she was used to seeing - and his hand was beside her body against the wall. His body was so close to touching her own. If she just arched her back a little more...
He blinked, seeming surprised of even himself. He started to step back.
"Bella, I'm...sorry," he shook his head, "I shouldn't have done that."
"The door, or the kiss?" Bella asked, her voice hushed despite the fact that there was no such thing as privacy or not being heard in the Cullen house.
They looked into each others eyes, silent, for a long moment. Carlisle was frozen in his movement backwards, but started to come to life again and move back.
Bella grabbed his wrist as his hand was moving away from the wall.
"No!" she choked out, "...please."
For the first time since she had turned, she felt...dizzy. Truly dizzy. Was it possible to feel anymore dizzy than she did right then?
Carlisle looked at her with surprise. His eyelids drooped slightly as he removed the space between them once more.
"Bella," he cooed, "...you don't want me."
Bella's brow furrowed. Was he right? No, she knew he wasn't. Could she really admit it out loud. No words would escape her mouth.
She pulled Carlisle's hand down by his wrist, and in a moment of confidence, placed it between her thighs.
"D-does...that feel like I don't want you?" Bella asked him. She knew he could feel it. The wetness that was dampening a small section of her shorts. The energy that flickered between her body and his.
She watched his eyes darken. She gasped as his fingers twitched. His mouth moved closer to hers, but in a second, he was pulling away.
"We can't," Carlisle mumbled. She watched the struggle of want and guilt across his face.
Bella's stomach sank as he left the room as quickly as he had entered, locking it behind himself. Her thighs pushed together as she leaned back against the wall. Her head knocked against it, and she closed her eyes. Her throat tight and burning with hungry fire.
"What am I doing?" she whispered.