part one | part two | part three
This chapter’s song is The Thirst of Maharit by Spirits in Ambience. I searched high and low for a video other than what is played to Queen of the Damned images, but found nothing. Nonetheless, the song is perfect for Bella’s awakening—its steady techno beat is enthralling, evocative of a pounding heartbeat, and echoes of dark mystery.
It was the fierce burn radiating up from Bella’s chest to her throat that brought her back from where ever it was that she’d gotten lost. She found herself hurtling through the tunnel in a great wave of sensation and color and sound, as if she carried the heart, ears and eyes of a crowd of people. There were no words to describe what she felt, other than painfully, overwhelmingly thirsty. It made it next to impossible to feel anything else.
She gasped and growled in one sound, her body wrenching, going stiff in shock from the crushing weight for her desire of blood. Edward’s arms were tight and solid around her. Not cold, not carefully gentle, but tight. Hard, ragged sounds came from his throat, as if in reaction to her response at waking. His jaw was clenched, his mouth tense and unsmiling. One of his hands cupped the back of her head, his thumb moving in small circles against her temple. His eyes began to lighten from black to brown, but she could see they were still overly dilated in a predator’s intense gaze. Only this predator’s stare wasn’t callous, but anguished, gradually softening to one of relief.
Some of her hurt and unease lessened at the sight of his face, and he must have seen it. He moved, or she might have, and his lips grazed hers.
“Bella, it’s over, it’s over. I love you, you came back to me, I love you.” She inhaled his words, his breath, hoping to beat back that other craving that was building, building.
And then he was kissing her everywhere, whatever he could reach of her face and neck and shoulders, not yet able or willing to sense she was still stiff and in distress in his arms. Her hands curled into claws on his shoulders. She wished she wanted to return his kisses just as fervently, but it was a secondary emotion to that of the overriding thirst. And she hated it, hated that blood was her first thought, her first need, but it overruled everything else. She felt she’d die without it.
“Edward,” she whispered into his hair, oddly feeling as if her soul was being torn in half. I’m sorry.
With a snake-like movement, she was out of his arms, away from his hands, the wall of windows a breath away. One leap and she was there. Amazingly, her body no longer seemed bound by the laws of gravity. Her palms were against the glass, then through the glass as if the window was nothing more than paper, glass shattering in silver and white, the sound of it like music. Behind her, around her, she heard the echo of more than one indrawn breath. The hollow rush of air inside their bodies sounded like the deep tones that came from the biggest of the conch shells she’d held to her ear on the beach of Isle Esme.
As she burst through the window, colors of the night exploded at her in new hues as her eyes picked out starlight, even through the dense snowfall that softly blanketed the pyramid of firs. Where the trees were not so close together, the snow sank slowly in a dream-like quality to the forest floor’s long-dead moss, lichen and vines that made walking through them difficult, dangerous even. She inhaled, noting the differences between spruce, madrone and alder. The air was nothing more than a caress against her skin; her breath did not create a puff of steam as it once had. On her tongue, she tasted the moisture-heavy snap in the air of the still-advancing storm, all of it a profound assault on her senses, almost miracle-like because none of it seemed real.
Her bare feet landed against the hillside in a gentle thunk and a small spray of snow, but the impact was negligible, no more jarring than if she’d just taken a step. The tiniest sense of joy and freedom filtered through her bloodlust, and she realized immediately that she could land noiselessly the next time. She felt light and agile, felt the stirring of an incredible sense of power, awakened to all that surrounded her, in tune with nature, if nothing else. And for the first time ever, she ran with fearless grace. It felt like flying.
But she was being chased. They were behind her. Four of them, and they were being deliberately loud. Edward’s vanilla and honey scent was closest, followed by Jasper’s amber and sandalwood, Emmett’s pine and moss, and Alice’s firethorn and orange blossom.
“Ah-ah-ahhhhh,” Emmett sing-songed behind her. “The family that feeds together, stays together.”
“Shush, it’s happening exactly as I predicted,” Alice said.
Her mind processed their tones of happiness, recognized that they weren’t angry with her, or even fearful. Still, she ran faster, a matter only of thinking it; there was no effort involved. It seemed as if the trees were advancing on her, rather than she on them—as if she was a bullet shot from a gun. Now to find a target...
A strange lassitude slowed her steps as she approached the rushing water of Hoh River, a sense of calm worming its way into the tempest of her need. Jasper. Edward was running beside her now. His smile was wide and triumphant, his stare fierce and loving as he reached out and took her hand in his. They took the leap over the water together, his jump stronger and longer, but his fingers tightened around hers, pulling her with him the rest of the way. She fought through the compulsive, desperate need and smiled her thanks at him.
“I love you,” he said again, but his voice sounded different. Deeper, more guttural, definitely animal-like. And for a moment, she thought she could feel his bloodlust echoing hers. It was quickly followed by the thought that she hadn’t yet said those words to him. Unease joined the painful burn in her throat. How could she have forgotten?
“I love you, Edward.”
He saw the apology her eyes held. As they bounded off the surface of an icy rock, he brought her hand to his mouth and kissed it. “I know,” he growled in that same animalistic voice, his eyes almost wild. And she knew without asking that her eyes mirrored the same fervor. In giving her newfound nature freedom, he released his. There was nothing to fear anymore.
They ran silent as wraiths through the trees that thinned out the higher they climbed. It was wildly beautiful—the deep valleys carved out by glaciers, the occasional waterfalls, ice-covered rocky arches, the areas where trees grew out of trees, the steep landslides bare of anything but slippery, icy snow. There were no trails; they ran where no human could go, their speed, strength and equilibrium allowing them to find leverage, to move forward, upward. She’d never been so close to Mount Olympus before.
Silent as they were, their passage did not disturb the small hearts of the creatures they passed along the way, although the sound stirred something primal within her. A few yards later, she heard the slow cadence of a large heart and her focus narrowed, sharpened. She heard herself growl, and it was a warning to those with her. The animal was hers; she’d fight for it. Edward dropped her hand, and they fell back as she cleared one fallen tree only to land atop another. Below her was the mouth of a den hidden partially under the fallen tree.
Her head cocked as she considered the scent and sounds that came from the dark hole. Dead maple mixed with musk, dirt, hot breath, and fecal matter. A loud heart meant the animal was big, and the raspy, irregular breaths indicated the bear was awake. Her eyes closed and she whined softly. There were two more smaller, faster heartbeats. It must be female with cubs.
She leaped off the tree, hit the ground without a sound, and dove headfirst into the hole. Her hands were claws in the thick fur, dragging the animal along the slanting slope of the den and outside it in one smooth move. Her growl was as loud as the startled bear’s—her savage need to conquer just as primal as the bear’s need to defend. It took a swipe at her and glanced off her waist, its claws tearing part of her oversized tee shirt away. She caught the animal’s limb on the downswing and jerked it down.
Need it, need it, need it.
Falling against the head and shoulders, Bella ground the gaping jaw into the snow with the palm of her hand and bit into the warm jugular. The warm spray of blood hit the back of her throat and she was gone, gone, gone, not caring that the bear still struggled, back limbs scratching at her legs, roaring in agony. There was nothing but the sound of a heart pumping sweet warmth and wetness into her mouth. She drank and devoured, and it was need fulfillment as she’d never expected. Wantonly, she readjusted her jaw and bit again, lower this time, wanting another gush to hit her throat. When it didn’t happen, she growled in frustration and rolled across the angry bear to the other side of its neck and sank her teeth again through fur, skin and muscle. Everything inside her was alive and electric, like a human experiences an adrenalin rush. The bear struggled to its feet, and Bella curled her legs and arms around the animal’s middle in a death hug. She moaned at the fresh flow of blood, and it was bliss, and she was elated that the bear was so huge.
When there was nothing left to drink, her head rose slowly, reluctantly, the after-effects of feeding like a drug in her veins. She was buried beneath the bear’s heavy blanket of furred body. Tracing a finger across her mouth, she stared at the crimson wetness in fascination, then sucked it away. The bloodlust still beat like a pulse in her throat, but it was manageable now.
The sound of the two little heart beats still inside the den made her tense. Should she--
Edward was crouched on top of the fallen tree where she’d made her attack, looking beautifully godlike against the severe terrain and black sky that still spit heavy flakes of snow. Like her, he was barefoot and barely dressed, his button-down shirt open almost to mid-belly. The way he was crouched left little doubt about the strength in his thighs, but as always, it was his eyes that caught and held her attention.
Wow. If she’d thought his eyes were mesmerizing before, she hadn’t fully understood the definition of the word. He could always do strange things to her insides when he stared at her that way with such intense adoration and love. She licked the rest of the blood off her lips and watched his eyes flicker, grow dark. Definitely animalistic. That wasn’t a look she had seen from him before—as if he wanted to devour her.
While she lost herself in just staring and admiring, he jumped down and lifted the bear off of her. And even though she didn’t need help standing anymore, she took his hand when he offered it just so she could touch him.
“That was the most uninhibited display of lust that I’ve ever seen,” he said, dropping his gaze to her mouth.
She lifted her free hand and slid it under his shirt to caress his chest. His beautifully hard, exquisitely muscled chest. “More,” she said. “I want more.”
He stepped closer, and they were thigh against thigh and belly against pelvis. She hissed; it was the first time he’d ever deliberately pressed his erection against her. One of his hands came up to cup her palm against his chest, while the other dug into the hair at her nape, and pulled her head back.
“More what?” he growled against her neck.
“I’m still thirsty,” she whispered as his lips descended to her collarbone. “And…and the bear—” She swallowed as his hand moved from hers on his chest to her waist and began to climb. “—the bear has cubs.”
His fingertips brushed the underside of her breast. “I’ll take care of them.”
The sting of electricity between them brought every nerve in her body alive. His touch was the same, yet different. Where once the tip of his fingers rose goosebumps, now they left a wake of fire. He was still a drug she couldn’t live without and its pull was stronger than ever. And now she wasn’t sure what she wanted more—blood or Edward.
“Ar--aren’t you thirsty? Where is everyone else?”
“Always so curious,” he murmured, cupping her breast, his mouth leaving a trail of kisses up her neck. “Everyone else is over the next rise, chasing a small herd of elk.” He pressed his lips against her chin. “One less herd after tonight.” Now the corner of her mouth. “And…I’m only thirsty for you.”
He backed off enough to slowly lick his way across her bottom lip and when her eyes opened, it was to see his look of pained, savage need. Holy everlasting crow. It was like feeling the drive of her human hormones and needs amplified by some impossibly high number.
“You consumed that grizzly,” he ground out, his breath a caress against her mouth. “Now I want to consume you.”
With a growl, she sank her teeth into the hard flesh of his bottom lip. She tasted his gasp just before he bit her back and then they were soothing each other’s lips with their tongues. And in his kiss, she felt the fall. Her world spun out of control again and all she could feel was his body and his mouth and his tongue. His hands on her shoulders, her waist, her buttocks as he pulled her roughly up into his arms. His tongue as it swept past her lips, into her mouth, a slow sensuous brush against hers. Their first time. Moaning, she wrapped her legs around his waist, rocking her hips into his, moving her hands to his face. She wanted to touch his mouth as he kissed her, like he often did her. It was safe now.
It was safe now.
It was also erotic as hell being able to taste him with her finger pads and her tongue, to feel him lose his steely control. Their kiss quickly turned savage, the intensity between them growing, and the night was no longer silent as their breathing raced out of control, became panting, frenzied growls of raging desire finally, finally being let loose. She backed off often, just so she could come at him again. A strangled sound came from her throat as his arms lifted and lowered her, moving her against him. Her fingers hooked into the deep opening of his shirt and tore it from him, baring his chest. She laughed once, the sound of a wild woman, then mimicked the movements of intercourse with her tongue in his mouth. He was giving her what she’d wanted for so long. Right here, right now, her thoughts were centered on him and nothing else.
With a choked moan, he sank to his knees in the snow, releasing her only to yank the sweats down her legs, the rest of her tee shirt off. She lay against the blanket of snow and pulled him close by the waistband of his jeans, but he resisted, hovering above her body. His eyes were black as he stared down at her. One of his hands smoothed through her hair that was splayed against the snow.
“God, you’re beautiful,” he said.
You make me feel that way. She unbuttoned his pants. “For you, Edward.”
His hands moved with a tender savagery down her breasts, along her stomach, over her hips. She couldn’t help the way her body arched up to seek his, couldn’t stop the sounds ripping from her throat at his touch. “Mine,” he growled.
“Forever,” she panted and jerked the zipper down as her desperation grew. Now TAKE me. She ached to have him naked and hard against her.
He swiftly tore the jeans down and off and she admired his body as he had hers. Just the sight of his lithe, tight-muscled stomach made her gasp. Never, never would she grow tired of looking at his hard male’s beauty. She slid her hand down his stomach and touched him, curling her fingers and palm around the hard length of him. He’d never let her before. He hissed and she watched every muscle on his body tighten, a dangerously distracting feast for her eyes. It took her a long moment before she could raise her gaze to his. His eyes were wild again, but the expression on his face was torn. She tightened her grip and moved her hand slowly up and down, anxious to stir a reaction like what he’d pulled from her so many times. She needed this, needed to do this for him.
She leaned forward to run her tongue up one of his pelvic bones and when he tried to push her back, she bit him there. In answer, he fell against her body and took her mouth again, caught her hands in his and pinned them above her head. Her mouth and tongue gave him what he demanded as she rolled her hips up against his again and again. He was silky smooth and hard against her. She growled. Damn it, she wanted to touch him.
And so she fought for dominance, knowing how it would affect him. Hooking one leg behind his knee, she dug her foot into the snow and shoved hard to the right. She had one moment of glee at being on top before he allowed the momentum of her spin to carry her right back to the bottom again. Their mouths didn’t break apart once. Growling, she bit his tongue. He released her, growling back as he grasped her thighs just under her buttocks. She went right for his hair and tugged hard, holding his mouth to hers.
Now, now, now.
She widened her thighs and lifted her hips, and he sank inside her with one hard move. Tearing her mouth away from his, she screamed in pleasure. His teeth were against her throat, his hands on her hips, moving upward until he had her by the shoulders. She dug her heels into the snow and met his every thrust with equal fervor. Their bodies melded, colder than the snow they mated upon, but inside her, a fiery inferno rose. Not painful this time, but equally as consuming, and as strong as the bond between them. He moved against her wantonly, unrestrained, knowing exactly how to reach that spot inside, claiming both victory and annihilation over her body. As if there had been any doubt; he’d always had control over her body’s reactions. Her orgasm was so intense that the sounds coming from her throat broke in uneven places.
Her body still shuddering, she watched him fight the fall. His face was tense, his amazing jaw clenched, his beautiful mouth compressed, then open as he gasped for breath. Wild-eyed, Edward gave way to a moment of fear—he’d never been able to let go of his control during ejaculation.
She tightened around him, dragged her nails down his chest. “Let go, Edward.”
He threw his head back and began to pound harder against her, his movements quickening, becoming erratic. She moaned as he grew larger, stiffer inside her. He began to convulse, the growls trapped in his chest breaking free, growing louder. And then he snarled, a deep sound that filled the night and her heart. He fell against her and bit her savagely above her left breast, and she gasped, losing control as he lost control, and came hard again.
It wasn’t until he swept his tongue across where he’d bitten her that she opened her eyes.
“I’m sorry,” he breathed, his eyes impossibly soft and loving again, curling around her heart like chain locking into place.
She snarled. No more damn apologies. “I bit you first.”
His soft breath stirred the hair at her temple. “My little lust-driven girl.”
“Vampire girl,” she amended with a note of amazement.
“No,” he said against her ear. He kissed his way along her jaw. “Just my girl.” Pressed his lips gently against hers. “My wife.”
She shifted under him. The thirst was swelling again. “Are you still…sorry that you changed me?”
The gaze in his eyes was unfathomable. “Yes. No. I don’t know. For the most part, no.”
“I didn’t mind at all just now,” he grinned, then pulled her to her feet and up hard against his body into a hug. “We can talk about this later. For now, you have to feed again. Let's go catch up with our family before they drain all the elk.”
She dressed, turning away when he snapped the necks of the bear cubs. Their fierce little cries of distress, cut off so abruptly, hit her with a sense of regret. A part of her had known how this would end as soon as she attacked their mother, but that part hadn’t cared. Hadn’t been able to care. In that state, she had been mindless. And she felt the same crazy intensity building again now.
. . . . .
Edward’s breath caught and hurt at how lost she looked. Her eyes, the chilling red of a newborn, yet beautiful as she would always be to him, were vulnerable and confused. She was still in the throes of coming to terms with the transformation, and he let the full force of his love—so deep he felt it in the marrow of his bones—play across his face and in his eyes, willing her to feel it, to begin to heal.
“Bella?” he whispered and held his hand out to her.
The soft cloud of her chestnut hair flared as she spun for the higher ground and the promise of more blood, but she kept her hand in his, and her fingers gripped him like a lifeline.
. . . . .
I’ve bent the rules of Meyer’s vampires a bit. In my little tale, Bella is not stronger than the others, because restraint and physical power can only increase with age and experience. Obviously, though, it doesn’t affect how dangerous she is one little bit.
This wasn't supposed to be the end, but I kind of lost steam on this idea. So ... consider this the end. :-)