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Watchful eyes

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The first time Isabella’s eye fell on the handsome Dr. Cullen was on a sunny spring Sunday morning in April.

He stepped through the church doors with his very pregnant wife on his arm. They looked cute, and in love.

Isabella smiled a bright smile for them, handing him - he was closest to her - the leaflet for this week’s service. “Welcome,” she said, recognising them as new to their community. “I advise the benches over there, they’re most comfortable,” she pointed and added, “they’re also really close to the ladies’ room.” She didn’t know much about pregnant people, but they seemed to be using the toilet every ten seconds, so it seemed important information. While speaking, her eyes involuntarily slid over his form, and her heartbeat sped up a little. He was undeniably handsome, nearly angelic with his golden hair, bright blue eyes and skin in a colour that reminded her of vanilla ice cream. There had never been a human before that made her feel like that. She was immediately hungry.

“Thank you,” the wife replied as they were already moving further into the church.

“Of course.” Isabella said it out of obligation, and she was pretty sure the couple was too far away to hear her regardless.

Behind her, her boyfriend, Edward, wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close to him, a little away from the attractive man. Edward’s fluttery, hummingbird-like heartbeat matched hers perfectly - they were the anomaly in their mixed church, the only halflings. “Come here, baby,” he murmured, brushing his hungry lips over her neck.

“Edward!” she giggled as she leaned into him, “not in church!”

“Yes, Edward, not in church.” Charlie stepped between them, separating the couple with a quick, easy movement. “In fact, not at all. Ever.” He looked at Edward sternly. “Understood?”

Edward nodded. “Yes. Understood.”

“Good. Now take your seats, we’re about to start.”

Isabella side-stepped around her father to grab Edward’s hand. “Come on.” She dragged him further into the church, taking their standard seats in the front row. It had been Charlie’s demand - this way, he could keep an eye on the randy teens as he preached to the congregation.

So far, this had been highly effective. Isabella was actually interested in the service, and Edward didn’t dare do anything with Charlie’s eyes on them.

It didn’t stop him from entwining their fingers, though. He brushed his thumb over her hand until he could place it solidly against her pulse point.

Isabella felt her cheeks heat up, but didn’t stop him. His hands on her always felt good - he’d never done anything to hurt her, and so she let him touch her, trusting he knew what would feel good.

Edward shifted, pressing his thigh against hers.

She pressed back, trying to suppress a smile.

He moved their hands, placing them on his thigh.

She tried to ignore it, tried to pay attention to the sermon. It was becoming increasingly hard.

When Edward shifted again, preparing to press closer to her, she freed her hand from his, and crossed her legs over each other, minimising their contact.

Edward was nothing if not a gentleman, and he took the hint for what it was.

The rest of the service went by without any incidents.

The second time was a few months later, when she darted into her father’s office to ask if she could take some liquid from the fridge. “Hi dad can I -”

The second she stepped inside, she saw the man that had drawn her attention a few months prior, and his wife, sitting across from her father, separated by the desk.

“I’m sorry,” she immediately began to apologise, “I should have knocked.”

“It’s alright,” the handsome man said, sending her an earnest, bright smile that made her knees go weak. She could almost taste his scent as she breathed in, biting her lip to keep herself from making noise.

“It’s fine,” Charlie said, his tone brusque in comparison to the other man’s. “I’d like you to meet Dr. Carlisle Cullen and his wife, Esme-Anne Cullen. They’re considering moving to the area, and joining our congregation. This is my daughter, Isabella.” He gestured at her.

Isabella swallowed her hunger and smiled gracefully at the pair. “That’s lovely. Welcome to the community.”

“Thank you,” the man - Carlisle - said.

“What did you end up having?” Isabella asked as she stepped closer to her father, making a small gesture at Esme, who now obviously wasn’t pregnant anymore.

“I’m surprised you remember,” Esme said, her tone light and friendly. “Twins. Girls. Rosalie and Alice.” She dug through her handbag and unearthed pictures of their girls. “Here they are.” She placed the picture on Charlie’s desk for Isabella to look at.

“They look very sweet.”

“When they’re sleeping, they are,” Carlisle chuckled. “They’re quite a handful.”

“I can imagine,” Isabella said, mostly out of politeness. As a halfling, she wasn’t going to have any children of her own, and that knowledge had made her feel oddly detached from people who did have them.

Charlie cleared his throat, making Isabella jump a little and take a step back - she hadn’t even been aware she had stepped closer to Carlisle, and his tantalising, mouth-watering smell. It had been almost a week since she’d fed herself with non-human food.

“You were asking?” Charlie reminded her, a hint of amusement in his bright, honey-coloured eyes. He always saw through his daughter.

“Um right, uh, I was wondering if I could take some liquid out of the fridge?” Blood rose to her cheeks to form a peachy blush.

“Of course,” Charlie said, patting her shoulder. “Now…”

Isabella knew a hint when she saw one, and with another graceful smile towards the Cullens, she darted out of her father’s office again.

The third time she saw him was at the church’s yearly summer barbeque, almost two years later. He was by the barbeque, grilling some meat whilst looking around for someone to pass the boring task to.

Isabella stepped towards him, breathing in his divine scent and letting it roll over the roof of her mouth. She was older now, and more in control of her thirst. It would have been impossible to be part of their community if she’d been feeling thirsty every time she saw a human. Her father would never have allowed it. She was in control.

“Dr. Cullen, it’s so nice to see you again!” She greeted him with a warm smile.

He turned. “Oh, hello, ahm…”

“Isabella,” she told him, stepping closer to join him at the grill. “How are you? Did you finally move to Forks?”

“We did,” he confirmed as he turned over the hamburgers. “It’s our first time living in a mixed community.”

“I’m sure you’ll find it to your liking,” she said, “we’re all very welcoming.”

“I’m aware.”

He sounded reluctant to volunteer information and Isabella dialled down her enthusiasm, her amicable attitude. “Here, why don’t I take over for you.”

“Oh it’s - it’s okay,” he murmured, looking down.

“Don’t you want to play with your girls?” She’d spotted Esme with the twins on the other side of the church courtyard, playing with some of the other children.

“Esme’s got it covered, thank you.” He sounded stiff, as if he felt uncomfortable with her next to him.

Isabella took a small step away from him. “Well, if you’re sure…” She didn’t want to force herself on him.

He shifted his weight, stepping back close to her.

She didn’t understand. He seems so uncomfortable, why does he…

“Baby!” Edward joined them at the grill, swinging an arm around her waist and pressing his lips against hers, almost territorially so.

The taste of his sweet, heady blood on her lips made her both wish they were alone, and curse him at the same time. She kissed him for the shortest time possible, only long enough to let her tongue pass by the superficial wounds on his lower lip to close them. Trying not to be obvious, she waited a fraction of a second before swallowing what he’d given her. It left her throat dry, parchy, on fire for more than just a taste.

Carlisle had taken the exchange in with interest, saying nothing.

Isabella cleared her throat, obediently leaning into Edward’s embrace. “This is my fiance, Edward.” She tried to hide the embarrassment she felt over the exchange - of course the freaks of the group do freaky things. I can’t imagine what he’ll think of this.

“It’s nice to meet you.” Carlisle extended his hand to Edward, forcing him to let go of Isabella.

Slightly grumpy, Edward did the polite thing and shook Carlisle’s hand. “Likewise. I understand you’re new to the congregation?”

“We just moved here,” Carlisle confirmed. “Esme’s flipping houses and I got a job at the local hospital. We’re still looking for childcare options, so for now, Esme’s been taking the girls with her to work.”

“Hmm-mm,” Edward hummed, drawing Isabella back to his side. “Well, church is a great place to recruit a few babysitters.”

Carlisle chuckled. “I can’t deny we haven’t thought about that.”

“Maybe Isabella can help you guys out.” Edward let his fingers casually smooth down over Isabella’s hip, making it hard for her to focus on the conversation. So she did the polite thing, “Mhm-mm, I’m sure I can help out.” The words came out automatically, robotically. She was the pastor’s daughter, of course she was going to help out the congregants.

“Thanks, I’ll make sure to ask Esme what she thinks.” Carlisle stepped away from the grill a little, and Edward stepped into the space he’d left, taking over the spot of main-griller without complaint.

“Uh-huh,” Isabella nodded, wrapping her arm around Edward’s waist too and digging her nails into his flesh, too lost in the temptation of his body to pay attention anymore.

“Thanks again.” Carlisle took the hint and left them alone.

It didn’t matter how often she saw the handsome doctor - every time she saw him her mouth filled with saliva, her teeth itching for a taste, her already fluttery heartbeat sent into overdrive.

She was acutely aware of how wrong this was. The temptation to give in to her desires was strong, but she did not give in.

Instead, she focussed on being a model daughter, a model fiancee, unleashing her hunger for the other man upon Edward, who eagerly played along whenever the urge to sink her teeth into something struck her.