It wasn’t like vampires, on average, to respond like this. Or rather, to be so unable to even think of a response, and yet here she was. He had to be kidding, right? Rosalie stared at Edward, her incredulity thick. Was this who they were now? She glanced around the library, taking in her family that all glittered a little from the light through the back wall of windows. Each was frozen with a different look on their faces, ranging from polite surprise to blank incredulity. So she looked back at Edward’s twitchy anxious face, bubbling over with obnoxious and obviously misplaced integrity.
“I just can’t. I know —” Edward paused, with a pinched scowl. His hand went out toward their adopted father of sorts, cutting off the automatic response that they all knew was coming. Rosalie could have quoted it. “I know I should trust myself. But I don’t. I can’t. Not in this. Not with so much to lose.”
Rosalie gave an indignant scoff. “So, you just expect us to do it for you?”
Edward’s eyes shifted warily to her.
She couldn’t help but notice that though they sat there in silence for a very long second, he didn’t respond. She shook her head, her eyes rolling in disbelief.
From what Rosalie had gathered, Bella and Edward had taken some sort of a day trip together to see – something, she didn’t know, she hadn’t been listening. Something had happened. Knowing Edward and his flair for drama, something small, probably. Now their lives were going to consist of this? Their lives had already gone normal, uneventful and right, to on its head. Their lives were already unforgivably changed. All because Edward didn’t trust himself not to drain his beloved dry?
Rosalie shifted in her seat, ignoring the flare of anger that the epithet brought. With a thick swallow, she turned to stare out the window, working hard to shove the thought back before it could fully surface into her conscious mind, becoming less of a feeling and instead a concrete thought.
No. No, she really didn’t think so. She really just didn’t fucking think so.
“Rose, you don’t understand!” Edward growled, the muscles in his neck bulging with the effort of, what? Of not yelling? Not crying?
Rosalie just stared back, unmoved.
“I love her,” he insisted, doing a fairly good impression of little Leo in Romeo & Juliet. Ugh, the trash.
But she knew these lines as well as they had known what Carlisle was going to say. Yeah, yeah, yeah, true love, a matching of souls, his one true partner, his mate, his love, his other half. Blah, blah, blah.
She gave a scoff that made Edward blink, confused by her attitude. He seemed continuously thrown when his angsty pain involving… her… left Rosalie unmoved. The rest of the family had been asking ‘how high’ the moment these speeches of ‘pure love’ began. Finding your mate and your mate bond was taken very seriously in their family. He didn’t seem to know what to do with her blatant disrespect for it.
Whatever. His ‘Oh, I’m so in love’ bullshit drove her nuts. He had been annoying before this, with his sullen ways and general I’m-so-alone moping, but now...
She had to turn away again. She was entirely sure she couldn’t vomit, and yet, she felt her stomach cramping like it wanted to push everything out of her.
“Look, the solution is this.” Giving up on her, Edward turned back to his family, all of whom were watching his speech with avidity. “I need to hunt a lot more.”
On the other side of Emmett, Carlisle nodded thoughtfully. “It stands to reason that if you never allow yourself to become thirsty then the temptation will remain low.”
Beside him, Esme beamed at Edward and gave his arm an affectionate pat, apparently proud that he had thought of this oh so complex answer.
“Yes. I think if I stay full, I will be less of a danger to Bella.”
The name grated against Rosalie’s senses.
Her thoughts whipped through her mind like a lash. If he didn’t feel like she was safe around him then he should not be with her. Pure, and simple.
Edward, apparently having heard that, glared.
She just stared back. Was she in some way wrong? She didn’t think so. After all, she had been around... the girl... before and she felt no specific desire to rip her throat out nor to drink... anything from her.
“In the cafeteria!” Edward yelled in response to her thought. “Around other students, other people where her scent has been diluted.”
Rosalie laughed once. Right. Because that scent could be diluted.
The rest of the family, used to Edward speaking directly to thoughts, all looked toward her with polite curiosity. She glared back.
“Why are we here?” She snarled, her anger hot, maybe even too hot. Why was he wasting their time with this? What did any of this have to do with them?
“There’s a complication,” Alice said, her head yet again slightly tilted, her eyes far away.
“Well, you don’t exactly have to see the future to understand that, now do you?”
Jasper’s wide eyes turned on her, his body slightly blocking Alice from her vicious words.
“Yes.” Edward sighed, running his hands through his hair in strain. “There is an immature wolf pack.”
Rosalie’s eyebrows rose, grudgingly surprised.
“It seems as though Bella was born into it, or at least raised around it without knowing. Her father has been friends with a Quileute tribal elder for some years. I doubt very much that I have the power to sever that tie. In fact, because of this friendship, she has recently befriended a young wolf who should transition very soon.”
The feelings that spread through her seemed to get lost amongst the shock of the rest of the family, and for that, Rosalie was thankful. She was not concerned about her safety, she was not, would not be worried. And yet, she felt the sensation creeping through her like unwanted bugs, a black mist of anxiety that was smothering. Young wolves were volatile at best, easily able to rip apart someone they loved in a fleeting moment of emotion.
Damn it. She clenched her fists. What did it matter to her, after all?
“And Bella…” Edward sighed in both exasperation and warmth. “She smells so good. Surely any roving vampires would notice her, and Alice has seen that nomads are wandering around the area. She is sure to draw them in.”
Her fists clenched tighter as the feeling under her skin grew. She wanted to rise, to go, to protect. It was annoying. It was very fucking annoying. She slumped lower in her chair, her hands coming to rest on the arms, holding herself in place. She didn’t care. She didn’t care if Bella put herself in a hundred dangerous situations. It meant nothing to her. But he was right. Bella did smell amazing. Bella smelled good enough to attract that wandering coven as well as anyone else who came within a hundred miles.
She glanced up and her thoughts froze. Edward was staring at her, daring her as if she were suddenly a threat found within his own house. Her eyes rolled at him. “I’m not a saint.”
Edward’s eyes narrowed, waiting for more. She knew him, knew he was waiting for some sort of mental confession like ‘oh yes, Eddie, I’m planning on waiting until you are no longer paying attention to me and then I will rip out the throat of your darling-dear.’ She looked away. Besides, Bella smelled amazing, but, again, she had never once felt a desire to taste her blood. Edward’s eyes narrowed all the tighter, a physical pressure against the side of her head.
Rosalie’s mind shifted. A 1959 Caddy was an interesting car. She liked the wings on the back. She hadn’t seen the bones of one for sale recently, but she was sure if she checked all over the country, she could find one. Or perhaps an Aston Martin DB6. Hell, a 57 Bugatti could be fun, or even a Duesenberg Model J. Both of those would be a lot of fun. Her fingers made soft pattering noises as they drummed on the arms of the couch. But after all, she would never be able to drive it, she realized. She was due for a new project. She needed something she could do slowly, taking her time.
Absently she noticed Edward lose interest, drawn in by Carlisle and his questions about the wolves.
She didn’t want another muscle car. So perhaps one for Emmett. So then... a Firebird TransAm? A 69 Camaro? She had already built, and sold, a 65 Mustang for herself. She had found that once it was built, she hadn’t liked it as much as she had thought she would, and she had been promising to build Emmett something for —
“Would you pay attention!” Edward suddenly roared at her.
Rosalie didn’t jump, wasn’t even phased by his sudden anger. Instead, she just snapped right back at him. “What, Edward? What are you trying to ask? You want her watched. Okay, what does that mean?”
His jaw set and for the first time, he looked slightly abashed.
She had been listening. She had heard him telling Carlisle about the wolf pack, about having sensed it but having always thought it was no more than one or two. She had heard Carlisle estimate that if this boy was to transition close then perhaps the pack was about to expand. She had heard it. She just didn’t want Edward to hear her.
Edward had turned from her, his attention drifting back to the rest of his family and Rosalie was able to breathe again. His head was slightly bowed, his eyes pleading. “I want to ask you all for your help in keeping her safe.”
Semantics, Rosalie mentally snarled. He wanted them to babysit her without her knowledge.
“Okay, yes!” He growled at her.
“You want us to go over on the nights when you are hunting and stand outside and watch her.”
She had hoped, for his sake, that Edward would protest. She had hoped that he would insist that he hadn’t meant it how it had sounded, that he understood that doing something like that would cross many lines. But he didn’t. Instead, only he nodded once.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” she scoffed.
“Rose, she’s my soulmate.”
That didn’t make her feel less annoyed, not by a long shot. Soulmates, what a stupid, childish term.
“I’ve been alone for so long,” he told the family at large.
Her head dropped back to the chair. Oh here, we go, she thought with an internal groan.
“You all know I have been. I’ve been alone, and now I have found my happiness. I have found my pair. Now that I found her, I must keep her safe. I have to keep her safe from me, from the wolves, from anything and everything that would hurt her in any way.”
Esme had scooted to the edge of her seat, so anxious to agree that she hadn’t been able to sit still. Rosalie sneered. “Yes, Edward, yes, of course,” Esme nodded, her eyes desperate with love for her favorite son. “Keeping Bella safe is a priority and I’m sure we all would agree—”
“– that she has to be protected.”
Edward’s shoulders relaxed. “She’s my everything, Esme. I feel her... in my soul.”
The other mated couples in the family were nodding along as though they understood this inane comment completely, as though these words were anything other than melodramatic. They all nodded along like members of this elite club, a club that Rosalie didn’t belong to.
“I would do anything for her now,” Edward promised.
She couldn’t look at them.
“Of course, you would.” Esme crooned, leaning a little closer into Carlisle.
It was crap. She loved Emmett. She... she loved him, damn it. But the trigger point of her nerves was coiled too tightly and it snapped at the exclusion. She just couldn’t bear it any longer. She couldn’t stand it.
“Why?” The word came out like a slice, a hiss that popped the bubble of his monologue. “Why are you so sure this girl is your mate? Because you want her blood? Because she has a taste that you find exotic and alluring? That you would enjoy?” Her words were a vicious snarl, a snarl so sharp that it almost – almost covered the stab of pain that radiated through her.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Jasper still, his face thoughtful. What did he think, she wondered. Did he think, as all mated couples seemed to, that Rose was angry and jealous about not being in a mated pair?
It just wasn’t true.
“Rose.” Carlisle’s voice was soft, his face kind as he nodded knowingly at Edward. “As you have doubtless heard me say countless times, there is no denying the mate bond.” He said it with such honest emphasis, leaving no room for doubt. “There is also no mistaking it. When you meet them, it is very clear.”
Rosalie just stared at him blankly for a long moment, resentment building. Yes well, she knew something that Edward didn’t, didn’t she?
“And what’s that?”
Her body stiffened, frozen for a millisecond before she leaned back in her chair, her legs crossing. Her body seemed relaxed, completely belying the panic that she felt. She shot him a glare, covering for her horrifying moment of carelessness with her thoughts.
“That you’re an idiot.” She spat bluntly. “That you’ve been alone for so long that it’s turned you into a creepy fuck.” Because that’s what this was. Following Bella? Watching her through her bedroom window? Watching her without her knowledge? It was creepy. And it was wrong.
Edward’s lips pursed. “Do you want her to die the same way that you did, Rose?”
There was no pause for silence, no gasp of outrage or surprise from the other members of the family. More than anything else, there was no pausing or assessing from Rose. She hadn’t thought. She wasn’t thinking. In one millisecond he had said it, his face chastising, his hand swiping in a harsh gesture, and in the very next breath of time, Edward was caught, pinned against the far library shelves, his arms pinned behind his back. Perhaps it was her shock that had kept him from seeing what she had been about to do, perhaps it was because it was instinct, but she had lunged, catching him easily, slamming his face into the volumes. A feral snarl was rumbling from her throat as she leaned in, her fury beyond measure. She might be a bitch. This was something she knew about herself. She might even be a cunt at times. But to say that to her, to use her past against her that way.
“I would never.” She growled, her venom coated teeth a breath away from his face. “I would never wish that on anyone. To anyone. Ever.”
“You’re right.” Edward’s voice wasn’t strained enough for Rosalie in her anger and so she pushed, the shelves groaning, pulling his arms so they gave an ominous creak. “You’re right,” Edward said again, this time sounding slightly breathless. “I apologize.”
Still snarling, her anger still white-hot, the pain in the core of her being still exposed, she pulled a little harder and Edward gave a grunt.
God, she would love to tear them off. She would love to rip his fucking arms off and toss them into the forest. She would love to leave him with the scars of having to reattach them as a reminder that you did not make light of sexual violence, that you did not hint a threat of it.
“Rose.” Emmett’s voice came from behind her, gentle and understanding.
She pulled harder and Edward groaned, his arm making a metallic grinding noise.
With a grunt, Rosalie let go.
She wasn’t always like this. She hadn’t always been this explosive. Things of late had just been...
She turned, not bothering to give Edward another look, and strode over to Emmett. She curled up in his lap, taking comfort from his big arms, from the smell of him, the feel of his protection. She bunched a hand in his shirt and blanked her face, refusing to give away how much that had upset her.
She had heard from before that she was ‘sensitive’ about her past. She didn’t think it was sensitivity. She thought she had been through something that no one should have to face and then was forced to continue living on the other side of it.
Edward groaned a little as he pulled himself away from the bookshelves, stretching his arms.
“Edward.” Carlisle chided.
Edward only glanced at Carlisle and then turned back to Rosalie.
“Look, Rosalie, I know that you feel strong inclinations toward women’s rights because of how you died, and I approve of that.”
Rosalie’s teeth clenched, her mouth filling with venom. It was disgusting. This disgusted her. She did not have strong inclinations because of how she died. She had them because they were right. The fact that the prick didn’t understand that was exactly why she had such strong inclinations. Her eyes flicked to him, burning into him.
“I do understand that. I’m a feminist too. But this, huh,” he gave a small stressed laugh, “this is for her own protection.”
“You can’t do whatever you want because it pleases you, Edward, and say it’s for her protection.”
“I’m not! She is weak! She is vulnerable.”
She glanced around the family incredulously. Surely she was not the only one who thought this was wrong. Just because they were vampires didn’t mean they had carte blanche. Surely there was someone…
“I don’t know, Rosalie,” Carlisle said, thoughtful. “After all, the intent here is to be sure that Bella is safe, not to violate her privacy.”
“And she is such a frail human,” Esme added.
“Mmm,” Carlisle nodded in agreement.
Rosalie grumbled. She sure couldn’t argue with that.
“Well, Alice could keep an eye out for her on those days, right, Al?” Jasper’s arms crossed over his chest as he made the recommendation, nodding a little toward his tiny counterpart.
Rosalie sighed in relief, thankful there was someone who seemed uncomfortable too.
“I could do that,” Alice offered, but Edward was already shaking his head.
“Your visions are too susceptible to change.” He insisted. “Any little thing could mean her safety is compromised, and she is too important to risk.”
Rosalie groaned. Fine. She mentally threw in the towel. What does she care if he’s a huge creep? Bella meant nothing to her, would never mean anything to her. This was not on her. “Fine. Whatever. But I’m not doing it.”
There was no way she would be getting that close to Bella. There was no way that – her thought shifted, stuttered and she immediately brought the cars back up to the forefront. There was no way that she could stand there in the shadows and watch Bella, nor give her that much attention. Not now.
“No, Rose, I think the best way to do this is fairly.” Carlisle insisted.
Rosalie ducked her head, letting it fall against Emmett’s shoulder. She knew what was coming. The thing about her life was that if the coven made a universal decision, then she had to do it too. It was coven life. Otherwise, her family will tell her she’s being a bitch again. Otherwise, she would actually be the bitch that they seemed to always think she was. She moaned quietly. She could already feel her choice slipping away from her.
Emmett chuckled at little at her noise and wrapped her up tighter. “Come on, babe, it won’t be that bad.”
She didn’t respond. The worst part was that she had to because this was her family. She was already often the odd one out, somehow always seeming to have less of a relationship in the family and to the family than everyone else.
“I’ll need to hunt tomorrow night, at the latest.”
“Then we should pull sticks for who goes first,” Carlisle announced the edict. His hands came together, clapping lightly. He nodded once and disappeared for a moment.
The room grew silent in anticipation. This wasn’t the first time plans had been made this way.
Carlisle reappeared a second later from his study, the premade sticks in his hand. He had no more turned to Esme to allow her to draw first when Alice’s voice sounded, shrill and sweet.
She groaned. She could at least let them draw the sticks first.
Alice’s smile was apologetic.
Emmett’s laugh rumbled through the room. “Bad luck, babe.”
Rosalie just grit her teeth and with a nod of loathsome consent, left for the car bay, muttering under her breath as she went.