“Not real, huh, what do you call this then?” I pushed my finger into his chest and---just as I thought---I went right through Edward’s ghostly image. The mirage of him returning after I buried him inside for so long squeezed my heart tight, as if there was much left to hurt. I felt one single tear fall down my cheek and it enraged me.
Two years. Edward’s not coming back. Why should I cry anymore? It doesn't do me any good. Maybe I should do what he said. Forget him. Go on with my life. Could I really do that? Could I just pretend that I didn't love him? Would it be fair to anyone else? All relationships that I would have in the future would just end in misery because in the end they would all falter. I would never stop loving Edward and I knew this, but did I have to sit here and be swallowed by his forever absence? No! As much as I want to never forget and always hope for his return, sitting here with my insides decaying every single second wasn't going to happen. I have spent the last year and a half trying to get better and I know I’m much stronger than this.
I turned my head towards the permanent image of where my dad lies forever. I made Charlie a simple promise that I swore to myself I would keep. “I promise you dad that I will become stronger than what you saw before you had to go. I will not let Edward rule my heart any longer. I love you... I miss you. Don't worry about me anymore. Sleep well. See you soon.”
With that I felt stronger already. I made my promise and it was one that I would keep. I hugged myself and closed my eyes and pictured my dad's face in front of me and I shivered when I could clearly hear him say, “I love you Bells, never forget that. I'm always here.”
Again, tears fell down my cheeks. But these, I believe ,were happy tears. My dad was my guardian angel. My lips quivered slightly as I said, “I love you daddy. I will never forget.”
Everything felt surreal and I realized that coming here whenever I wanted shouldn't be a sad portion of my life, but a happy one. I would feel that much closer to him. Hearing his voice wasn't like hearing Ed—his. Dad was talking to me, he was actually talking to me. I opened my eyes to see nothing but the cold dark night and plots all around me, but I never wavered. I had to be strong from here on out. I had to learn how to open my heart again and let it heal and move on. This would be my first priority. I didn't tell my dad goodbye, instead I told him that I would see him soon and I began walking away to leave.
I was halfway through the cemetery when I felt a cold gust of wind rip through my core, my hair flying in every direction. My breath sped up a little with hope, but I quickly put that to rest. Of course, it wouldn't be him. Even so, I still looked around. To my right, I saw nothing but plots and in front of me the same. I turned to the left and felt the cold air suffocating me where I stood. I wasn't aware that anyone would be in the cemetery this late. It was only around eight, but night fell early here in Forks; even in the day, most times looked like night. The sky cast shadows hardly ever revealing the sun.
A guy about my age slumped over a grave. He didn't seem to realize that I was there. I heard his voice: slow and deep with emotion. He was talking to whoever lay beneath the soil below him. I walked as gracefully as I could to see who it was he was talking to, trying not to make any sounds. I didn't want to scare the him. I finally reached the side far off to his right, trying to see the writing on the headstone. Only the moonlight guided me. I froze when he tensed up, but he never turned; instead he began speaking again.
His voice reeked of remorse. “Father, if I could I would have saved you. I would have saved you all. My weakness brought you to your grave prematurely and for that, I will never forgive myself. It's that time of the year...your birthday and as you know, I will never miss it no matter where I am. Please forgive me for what I have done, but I swear to you that I had a reason. You guided me to be a man and I followed your words and example throughout the years. I do hope that when it is my turn to join you---wherever you are---that you do not turn the other cheek. I will respect your decision which ever way you choose. I did not choose to be this way and I hope you remember that when we see each other again. Until next time, Father. Happy Birthday.”
Why was I intruding on a man's private moment with this father? Had I gone mad? His voice entranced me. I couldn't walk away and I had no idea why.
He rested his right hand on the top of the headstone and lowered his head. He closed his eyes, seeming to say a prayer. I took that chance to look at the engravings.
His father?No! This is what I get for prying? The only way that that person could be his father was if...
“Have I entertained you enough yet?” the voice called out with sarcasm on his lips.
I froze in place. For once, I would like to have a normal day. It was me, Bella Swan, a magnet to all things supernatural. Of course, I sagged and lowered my not-so-smart prying head and couldn't find the words to answer him. My legs were shaking with embarrassment and fear, I started to leave, but he stopped me. Please, please, please, don't be a James or Victoria. My brain spun to the last time I saw a vampire...Victoria. I thought she came to finish me off, but I was very wrong.
“Just do it Victoria, just put me out of my misery.”
“Oh Bella, the fun is over. What I wanted is nothing compared to this. You see human, I only wanted you dead because he wanted you for himself, but now, well now I find that he really didn't want you at all, so my fun---like I said---is over. Watching you for the past few months, I see this is a better punishment for you. Living...living without him has hurt you worse and for that I am grateful to you, because I know you can't stop how you feel. I want to kill you---trust me I do---but walking away knowing that you will continue to suffer like you do, well, that makes me smile. So Bella, you see, I am done playing with you. He ruined you, you know. It's the worse thing one of us could do to a human to be honest. Allow you to love him unconditionally and then leave you without a trace. I would feel sorry for you, but I don't have a kind bone in my body. See you around Bella...”
That was it. I never saw her again. I understood what she said and that just made it even harder to know that I couldn't even get Victoria of all people to stop the excruciating pain.
The vampire in front of me with his coal black eyes looked somber. He stared at me, but I couldn't find my voice yet to say a word. Quickly, our encounter became a staring contest... or so I thought.
“I don't mean to frighten you. I...I accidentally overheard you talking...” he slowly said.
I found my voice.“You...heard me?” My face flushed, knowing he heard me.
“Accidental, of course. I'm sorry, but I think we have evened the score, wouldn't you agree?” his eyes focused on the ground. In shame perhaps, but a wicked almost hidden smile suggested he knew full well that I was listening in on him, too.
“You...truly loved him, didn't you?”
Oh crap! I wasn't sure who he was referring to. I didn't know how to answer this at first, but I managed to fix it. “Yes, I loved my father very much and I still do.”
“I'm sorry if I'm prying, but I was wondering if you would tell me who it was that you thought wasn't real? If you would rather not, I wouldn't blame you, I was just wondering, intrigued more or less.”
For a vampire, his voice sounded very innocent. His eyes so much darker than my own. His dark shoulder length hair straight as a board and, even in the light of the moon, I could see his well-formed muscles through his tight black shirt. To say he wasn't captivating would be an understatement---not to mention I would be a fool as a woman to ignore it---but I was sure that he already knew that. I decided to not answer his question. I didn't know him and that was too personal. I decided that I should be the one asking questions instead.
“Why are you in the middle of a cemetery at this time of night?”
He snickered lightly to himself and his laughter was alluring. I didn't expect to have a smile crease my face from it, but it did. “I could ask you the same question especially you being a...woman and all.”
I got a little petulant about his remark. Just because I was a woman shouldn't mean that I couldn't go where I wanted when I wanted. “So you're trying to...” he cut me off. He actually cut me off.
“I don't mean any disrespect. It's just so late and in the middle of nowhere. Most woman wouldn't dare think of doing this alone. Please, before we become enemies because of my own carelessness, I would like to introduce myself, if I may.”
I could see now that he meant no harm by his former words so I let it slide and agreed that introductions were in order. I waved my hand gesturing to go ahead.
“My name is Gabriel. I'm new around here and what is the lovely lady's name?”
His demeanor was warm and inviting and that scared me... a little. Vampires had the gift of making a person feel the way they wanted them to, but with this one, I believed, was genuine and so I answered, “I'm... Bella. Now, can I ask you something?” What was I doing? Where did that come from? I cursed myself for thinking aloud.
“Please Bella, ask me anything and please, you have my name now, use it. It would make you feel more comfortable.”
And he's---Gabriel---considerate? I am in deep trouble. “Okay, uh, well, if you're new around here, why would the cemetery be the first place you would go to and at night no less?” He looked at me oddly, almost bewildered even. My legs began to twitch uncomfortably. Maybe I shouldn't have asked that yet.
I saw a smile crease Gabriel’s thick lips and finally he spoke, “Bella, you're very perceptive. If you must know, like you, I have relatives in this cemetery. Long passed, of course, but still my family.”
“How long ago? I would guess that it was someone you knew before your death... vampire.” What the hell was I doing? He could kill me now and never think twice about it. “Damn, I’m such an idiot...idiot... idiot...”
“Are you done chastising yourself, Bella? I should be the one with shock written all over my face, although it appears that shock has painted itself over that beautiful face of yours.”
Correct me if I'm wrong here, but didn't I already proclaim myself an idiot? I had nothing now. No answer to give and my voice came to halt...again. I just stood there like a child after realizing that the word I just used was a bad one and waited for my punishment.
“Bella...” Oh how that name sounded coming off of his tongue. Stop it, stop it! I knew I just let go of Ed-him for good, but this is a little fast don't you think?
“I would love to know why you think I'm a... vampire?” He tried to play it off. His arm rested on top of a headstone, leaning into it in a way that well, I shouldn't be thinking about.
What was I suppose to say? I could play it like he did, but we both knew he was one so why bother. I wanted to be honest and I hoped he did too. I really wasn't up for games or lies, for that matter. “Just let me know now if you're here to kill me? Anything past a no we could work on.”
Again that laughter filled me. The blushing claimed its purpose without my prior authorization. At this point I knew I should be somewhat scared of his response, especially with my new found promise to my dad, but for some reason I couldn't quite place, I knew his answer would be no. He did not intend to kill me. He walked a few steps towards me and by the look on that face of his, he thought I would in turn walk a few steps back but I didn't. He looked surprised and walked even closer. Now he only stood about five feet in front of me. My heart pounded in my chest, emotions bouncing in every direction. I knew he could hear and sense the reactions in my body. I tried to calm down, but this was the first time that I had felt my heart beat in so long that I wasn't sure how to contain what was happening.
He looked down at me with such peace in his eyes and said, “Bella, I am not hear to hurt you. I truly did come here tonight to visit my family and ran into you. Imagine my surprise when your chocolate brown eyes walked over here looking so vacant. Although I may not know you, Bella, it saddened me to see you so...dismal. I would never...hurt such a...remarkable beauty... which you are. Again I beg this time, why do you call me a...vampire?” His lips dancing on his face.
I was stunned to say the least. I had no doubt he was trying to make me feel the way I was. And here it came, I couldn't keep my mouth shut when I knew I should have. “I've known others like you...” He took two more steps in my direction and my breathing almost winced in pain or excitement, I really couldn't tell which. “Please stop trying to make me feel this way. I know you can do that to me.”
“Bella, I'm not doing anything to make you feel whatever it is you're feeling. I don't do that unless I have to. So you know others like me, you say? Care to tell me who they are and if they are in this area?”
In a stern voice I blurted out, “No! They aren't here anymore.” That was all I could muster. If he was being honest and he wasn't trying to make me feel this way on purpose then am I to believe...
“No, as in you won't tell me their names?”
“You just want info from me then, is that it?”
“Bella, my mortal, if you knew what you were doing to me inside, you wouldn't have asked that question. No, I was just wondering because you mentioned others and sometimes we don't get along very well, just like that of your kind. My question was to only find out whether or not I knew them.”
“Well, they won't be coming back at all so your question wouldn't help you any.” I wanted to stay away from his first comment. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go there. Hell, I just met him. I took in a deep breath and realized I shouldn't have done that with him so close. I could smell the intoxicating fragrance coming off of him. Oh No! Now I...had to take a few steps back.
His eyes washed with...fear. Why would he fear me? I had to explain whether I wanted to or not. “I'm sorry, it's just that well, I can smell you and it...” A sense of easiness filled him.
“I understand, I think.”
“You think? What does that mean?”
“Bella, I am also perceptive. You don't seem to be afraid of what I am but more so of how I could effect you emotionally. Has someone hurt your...heart? Someone like...me? I couldn't fathom why on earth anyone would want to do that to you.”
He seemed a tad bit upset about this and I wanted to lie. I really wanted to because I didn't want to talk about this based on past experience. I knew all too well that I sucked at lying. So what was I supposed to do or say? I didn't have a chance to decide when he spoke.
“I can understand why you wouldn't want to answer that. I will take your unspoken words to mean that, yes I was right ,and that doesn't set well with me at all. At this point we know this much: one, you know what I am and that doesn't seem to frighten you in the least, which is good; two, you have been hurt and deserted by one of my own kind; and three, you need only a friend right now. That I can help you with and I am willing to be that person if you allow it. I will refrain from telling you anymore of how I feel because at this time it would, sadly, not help you heal. Bella...?
Was I hearing all this right? How could I be having feelings for someone I just met? How could I be having feelings for someone so soon? I have to be dreaming this...
“Bella, are you all right?” I felt my body folding beneath me, darkness swelling in my eyes and I felt a soothing sensation when something grabbed a hold of me...
Hmm, I felt cold but cozy. Calm washed over my heart. Even with Ed-him, I had never felt this way, I was sure of it. What was making me feel this way..?
“Bella, open your eyes, sweetie.”
Huh? I opened my eyes to see that I was being cradled in the arms of...Gabriel? I shot up fast. As usual too fast. I was falling back down just as fast as I had shot up and Gabriel was right there to keep me steady. I pulled my arm away from him out of instinct, but in that same moment, I didn't want to let go. What was happening? What did happen? How did I end up in his arms and...feeling the way I did?
“Bella, you fainted from my barrage of questions. I am truly sorry. I shouldn't have asked you all of that. It was too much for you to grasp so quickly. I...”
I raised my hand up to him to remain quiet because I wanted to say something. Except I couldn't figure out what it was I wanted to say. So I took a moment to catch my breath and think. Did I want to invite Gabriel into my life? Did I potentially want Gabriel as a friend? Or was I hoping for more? Was this somehow my way of getting past everything else? Would my heart betray Gabriel and myself in the end, when I realized that he was only a crutch for me? Could I do that to Gabriel? Maybe getting past Ed-him would be harder than I thought. Or was this feeling towards this fairly unknown person in front of me real? How was I supposed to find out if it was real or not? What do I do? I became a silly little girl then and didn't know what I said until it already came out.
“Why don't we start with phone calls?” Really Bella? That's what you wanted to say? He smiled, happy about this. He must have thought that I would say no to all of it.
“Bella, you are unpredictable, did you know that? Yet so endearing too. I can agree to those terms. We can work our way to wherever you want this to go. I will...be there for you Bella. I won't hurt you physically or emotionally. I begin the dreaded part of my life next week and that is called school...”
“Wait, so the ones I knew aren't the only ones that go to school?”
“No, I suppose you couldn't begin to know how many of us are in the schools across the world. It's just...”
“Easier to blend in.” I finished his sentence.
“Yes Bella, my intuitive new friend. It's become common practice for most of us young enough looking to do so.”
“I have one more question. Please don't get upset with me for asking it okay?”
“I couldn't get upset with you if I tried; what is your question?”
I felt like I was cocooning myself while I asked it. “Do you uh, take the lives of other humans to feed or do you use the animals?”
I cringed when he said that. Oh crap! Well maybe I wasn't as smart as I once thought. He knows now who had been here and didn't look at all happy about it. His eyes eased up apparently seeing me realize my mistake.
“Bella, I will not lie to you. If this changes your opinion of me entirely I can understand that, but I will not lie to you, ever. I do take the lives of others. I do not however take the lives of the innocent...”
“Wait, what does that mean exactly?”
“It means that I only take from those who have taken the lives of others.”
“I see.” I had to think on this for a moment. Did it upset me that he still took life at all or was I happy to know that some kind of justice in this world was being done whether or not he deemed himself judge and jury? His eyes are black in color. It would have been too hard to see any redness in them as Victoria. His skin wasn't as white either, how could that be? A question to ask later...later? Apparently I have made my mind up already. I did want him to be in my life. So I would not turn him away even though he did take the life of humans. I did have some comfort that he only took from those that has taken themselves. I reached out for his hand and took it and said...
Wait. The surge of happiness running through me gripped my heart, crumbling the emptiness that has plagued me for two years and his hand...felt, well, as if I were ice cream melting right into his...perfect...
He was just as bewildered as I was. I pulled back and shook it off for the time being. We just looked at each other in wonder and finally I could speak getting back to what I was going to say before.
“Gabriel.” Wow, saying his name was so natural. “I accept. I accept you the way you are.”
He smiled that incredulous grin of his and said, “I am thankful. Would you like me to call you or rather you call me... when you like?”
“Um, I'll call you, bye... Gabriel.” and I began to walk, but my steps felt as if on air. So light.
“Bella, are you forgetting something?”
I turned too quick, feeling my neck jerk and crack. “Am I?”
“Would you like my number?”
Oh crap! Yep, I was in LaLaLand for sure. “Um yeah, sorry.” that was all I could say, knowing my blush had said the rest for him. He wrote his name down on a card from his wallet and handed it to me. “Don't be afraid to call Bella. I'm here for you.”
With that I smiled and walked away. For some reason, I felt that my dad was there with me the whole time.