Unlike the times before when Rosalie arrived, she did not settle with her back to the house and so, also unlike the previous weeks, she was able to see the goings-on inside. Arms crossed, she stood under the tree, rain dripping from chin and hair. She hadn't intentionally stood this way, and yet, for the first time she was able to see into the kitchen window. The evening was still early, just after six and so the house was still active. Or, at least it should have been, but it was strangely sedate despite the hour. There was no laughter, no conversation to be heard. Instead, it might as well have been eleven. The only sound was the sizzling of something in the kitchen and the television in the living room. Bella was there in the kitchen, still dressed in the clothes that she wore to school, busily shifting from foot to foot as she… Rosalie's head leaned to one side curiously, made dinner. She had such a strange look on her face as she did it, like maybe she liked to cook, but not as much as the meal required. Chief Swan walked in, rummaged through the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of cheap beer.
"Smells good," he mumbled to his daughter.
Rosalie watched Bella glance over her shoulder and give him half of a smile. Then he went back to the TV in the living room and Bella turned back to the stove.
She watched, unaware she was doing so, fascinated by this dynamic. Nothing was said between the two. Instead, they might as well have lived on different planets. Even her own house which was filled with ancient vampires was more alive than this. They mingled, they played games, they watched movies, they talked to one another. Watching Bella and the chief sit down at the small table and begin to eat in silence, Rosalie wondered if it was always like this between them.
The way Bella treated her father was interesting. She smiled, she laughed, but there was a sort of uncertain love on her face that surprised Rosalie.
Were they not close? Was that the answer here? Bella had moved there to be with him, hadn't she?
Just like everyone else in town, she had heard stories of chief Swan and his reluctant bride. It was impossible not to be up on all gossip in town when you heard everything, but she had never considered exactly what that meant for Bella.
She watched Bella take her last few bites, having eaten the meal so quickly that it had to be intentional. She took it to the sink and began to wash. There was warmth in her voice as she teased him about his inability to wash a dish, but there was a stiffness that Rosalie could detect, a politeness that she doubted was typical for a child/parent relationship.
Did Edward know why she would move there if she wasn't close to him?
"Okay kiddo, err, I'll get out of your way then." Rosalie heard Chief Swan say from inside as he awkwardly stood in the doorway, hovering between what seemed like Bella's space and his own.
"Yeah, dad, sure. I'll clean up and then get started on my homework."
Rosalie's arms crossed. So Bella cooked and cleaned? Was it that hard to wash a dish? She doubted it very seriously. Instead, he got another beer and headed for the soft-looking chair in the living room, leaving Bella with a sink full of dishes and a backpack full of homework.
Rosalie's jaw set and she clicked her tongue in disgust.
The riddle of the Swan house continued when Bella, with a long glance over her shoulder toward her father, sat down at the dining room table and pulled out a binder and books.
Her face twisted as she looked down at the paper, but her hand flew across the page quickly.
For her first time through high school, she finished very quickly.
So she was smart, Rosalie thought, considering. There had been nothing to make her think so before, not with the way she mooned over Edward. She was smart and… she was lonely.
A tug answered the thought in her own chest. Understanding. Empathy. Similarity.
Suddenly her jaw snapped closed, a growl leaving her chest.
Why was she paying attention? What the hell was she doing?
With a snarl she reached up and grabbed the branch above her, pulling herself easily into a spit in the tree branch.
Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. What the hell did she care if Bella was smart or if she was lonely? Or if she moved despite not loving her dad? Who. Cared. She didn't understand her. She didn't want to understand her. And she wasn't lonely. Bella could be the lonely pathetic teenager all by herself. She had Emmett.
She brushed off some of the loose leaves and dirt from the branch and leaned back, her hands behind her head to protect her hair and began to wait for dawn again.
Simple enough, ignore what was around her. She didn't care.
She didn't care... until a little while later when suddenly her eyes popped open, alarmed.
"What the hell is happening?" She asked the empty area.
The entire woods near her were suddenly drenched, flooded with Bella's scent. Involuntarily she took a deep breath, her eyes closing with relish. The scent was warm, clean. It was a lot, overwhelming even.
It made her want... she didn't know... but she wanted.
The scent filled her mind like wine. It made her dizzy. She let out a single girlish giggle into the growing darkness, suddenly giddy, almost drunk.
And oh god, she wanted. A flash of arousal ripped through her body, starting in her belly and moving everywhere. She breathed deeply, long and slow. Her over-warmed body grew heavy on the branch, leaving her perfectly balanced but boneless, a puddle of aroused vampire.
Hazily, she glanced toward the house and saw that the bathroom light was on. Bella was showering, filling the air with the warm clean scent of her body, of her.
The feeling of comfort increased and she lazily ran a hand up and down her belly, simply comfortable.
She was angry in general. She was an angry vampire and had been a vapid, stupid human. Everything made her angry. She had little tolerance for most people, which was why she avoided them so much. Or at least, that was what she let most people think. But now, being enveloped by the scent hanging in the woods, that anger suddenly felt calm, like it had just drifted away.
What the hell is happening to me?
But the question wasn't forceful. The cloud surrounding her wasn't a drug. It didn't anesthetize her. Instead, it was as though her pain, all the pain she carried around with her, felt better. Her past didn't hurt as much. She didn't mind at that moment that she had been turned into a monster without ever giving her permission. She didn't mind so much that she had been saved from the hell her dying body had found, only to be dropped into a new hell. She didn't care that she was suddenly mated to a teenager.
She glanced back at the bathroom window. It wasn't all of that high and would be easy to get to. The scent spoke clearly. It told her that if she could just be closer, maybe crawl into the bathroom window just to be near her, then it would all be okay, good even. It told her that she would be happy, that she would finally find peace. She sat up, her hands on the branch above her, ready to crawl across it and scale the house.
Her mind suddenly caught up with her just as her foot braced against the window ledge, ready to push the old fashioned window up.
What the hell was she doing?
She let out a yell, ripping herself sideways so she went whirling through the air, landing with one foot and one hand on the ground. She pushed off hard, sprinting into the distance, far enough to see the house in the far distance but not close enough to smell it.
"Arrrruggghhh!" She cried into the night, gulped the clean air.
Clear your head, clear your head, clear your head.
Hands on her knees, she bent over, drinking in the clean air.
She searched through the scents and cataloged them. Animals. Wet trees. Old leaves. People.
The feeling in her body faded slowly, very slowly, but it did go.
She stood, pinching the bridge of her nose in frustration and fighting the desire to go back, to be closer.
Edward was right. She smelled too good. It was like trying to save a kitten from a tigress.
That thought made her laugh a little. She's the tigress, wasn't she? Beautiful, ruthless, deadly.
Then again, did Bella smell this good to everyone? Was this a trick of this thing she felt?
She didn't know, but she needed to be more careful.
The following week Rosalie was dressed and ready with her excuse book in hand before Esme had even risen from her spot on the couch to go get dressed. Eyes wide, she only nodded when Rosalie informed her that she was off to guard duty.
The week before, she felt as though maybe she had a reason why she had insisted on being the one to go, as thin as it might have been. This week... this week she was just trying not to think about it.
She arrived and pulled herself up into the tree, agitated to smell that Edward had stalled his departure and was still inside, hidden in Bella's room from Charlie.
She watched, annoyed as Bella fluttered back and forth past her bedroom window. Each time she went past her face was obviously anxious, the sound of her feet on the floor too quick to be casual. Tension both excited and nervous poured from the room so thickly it was almost a scent.
Why? Just because Edward was there? Didn't that bother him?
Trying to clean up her room in records pace, Bella turned with a few items of dirty clothes and tripped over a shoe, going sprawling into Edward's arms. He laughed, the amused grin on his face Rosalie's answer.
No, apparently her agitated state didn't bother him at all.
"It's okay, Bella," Edward promised.
"I'm, err, I'm making somewhere for you to sit."
"I don't need to sit. I can stand all night."
Rosalie's eyes rolled. Arrogant bastard.
"I have to go anyway, remember?"
"Oh." Bella shifted a little in place, her blush still securely intact on her face. "Right. Hunting night."
"Yes." Edward's smile grew.
"Do you have to go now?"
Rosalie flopped down onto her back, settling so the branch lined up perfectly so she didn't need to worry about balance.
"I do. But I'll be here to pick you up in the morning."
There was silence for a long second. Rosalie glanced over. All at once her body felt hot, the spike of rage warming a body that was unable to be warmed. Edward had Bella, holding her stiffly by the arms as he very slowly leaned in and kissed her cheek. Her nails created gouges in the branch under her hand.
A second later, the branch dipped as Edward climbed out the window and into the tree.
If he was surprised to see Rosalie there then he didn't show it.
"Rose." He nodded.
Anger still thumping in her temples, she swallowed thickly. "Stalker."
"Right," he mumbled, rolling his eyes and then leapt from the tree, taking off quickly.
She was glad he hadn't wanted to hang around. Her skin felt overly sensitive. She wanted to bite something, and she would have been happy if it had been Edward's face.
Stupid, stupid, child of a girl, her mind grumbled as she laid back again.
She was determined that night not to be like the last time. She would not watch Bella. She would not. She had taken the game of avoiding eye contact to a new level as of late, and she was not going to give in.
The thought of that kiss, that stupid kiss... he didn't even have the decency to paw at her properly. That right there was proof in and of itself that there was no real way she and Bella could be mated. No mate of hers would be satisfied being kissed that way.
That... that was for sure.
So no, she was not going to watch her because who cared.
Certainly not her.
Inside the room, she heard a sniffle.
Rosalie's head jerked so fast that the tree branch swayed.
Was she... a surf of disgust and horror hit her, making her face twist. This girl wasn't crying because Edward had left, was she? She could put up with a lot of pathetic behavior from the person who was supposed to be her mate, but that... she had her limits.
For the love of—
From on her bed, Rosalie heard the sound of a cordless phone being dialed.
The phone rang a few times and then something picked up. Even from her spot outside Rosalie was able to hear the voice perfectly. It was slightly raspy, sounding much like Bella's only older.
"Hi, this is Renee and Phil. We can't come to the phone right—" the call cut off.
Temptation too strong, Rosalie lifted her head just enough to see inside.
Bella sat in the middle of her bed, her face twisting. Even Rosalie could tell she was fighting hard against tears. Her head bowed, her shoulders slumped, a sob fell from her.
Rosalie froze, already half up on one knee.
She was homesick, Rosalie realized. It wasn't about Edward at all.
Renee, that had been her mother, right? She had heard that name before, she thought.
Mildly panicked, she lowered herself into a sitting position. What should she do? Did she ignore it? Did she call Alice and ask her to go visit her? Of course, she could do nothing, but was there something she could do?
Ugh, she wanted to do nothing, she insisted to herself. Still, she watched, on edge as Bella rose, put the phone in its holder and then pulled out her homework. She watched as Bella gave herself a small pep talk, shaming her tears away.
The talk seemed to have worked. As Bella worked her way through her homework, the sadness on her face fell away.
Rosalie watched her with fascination. She hadn't worked through whatever had made her cry. Instead, she had buried it deep, even Rosalie could tell.
That was something that Rosalie knew plenty about. Bury the pain. Push it down until it wasn't there anymore. Hide it.
It took Bella very little time to finish, yet again. Once the homework was tucked away, she on a small TV that Rosalie hadn't noticed there before. As Bella's face changed from sad to blank, Rosalie's limbs began to relax as well.
She couldn't tell. Had the danger passed? Was Bella feeling better? She seemed different. In fact -
As she watched, making sure Bella was okay, something dawned on her.
It had bugged her every time and now she finally could see the difference.
The anxiety was gone. She was no longer shuffling around. Her shoulders no longer looked as though they were made from rock. The moment that had Edward left, Bella had calmed. It was like removing the catnip from a kitten.
Okay, the kitten metaphors needed to stop.
She watched Bella change the channel and sink a little more into her bed, scoffing at some joke on-screen.
She's different when Edward isn't around. That's the change. She seemed on edge without him but also she was less… pathetic, maybe?
Rosalie was still musing over this when a car pulled up out front. She shifted, crawling back a little so her back was against the tree, making sure she was invisible.
The car's door opened and Rosalie froze, the scent hitting her fast and hard.
Wet, foul, animalistic.
If she had hackles, they would have risen at the realization. There were wolves pulling up to Bella's house.
She watched as a gangly boy got out and went around to the side. She shifted, perched, ready to jump in if needed.
Wow, she had to admit, she didn't want to say it but again, Edward had been right. The boy was going to change any second. She doubted if it would be more than six months to a year.
A pang of stress hit her chest.
He wasn't safe.
Six months to a year was not tonight, but it was still soon, even in the relatively short lifespan of a human.
He was dangerous. He was a threat to Bella.
Her eyes tracked him as he moved up the walkway, his smile large as he pushed a man in a wheelchair.
The newly arrived duo was greeted with enthusiasm from inside. Tense and feeling a bit like a predator herself, she dropped down to the ground, forgetting to be grossed out by the spying.
It only took a matter of moments for Rosalie to decide she didn't like this boy, not one fucking bit.
She snarled, her teeth exposed as the kid went in for a hug that picked Bella up and swung her around.
He was young and inexperienced, but it was clear he was crazy over her, over Bella, over her fucking mate!
Was there anyone who didn't want her?
A green streak of possessive jealousy ripped through her, making her snarl as the boy casually tossed an arm over Bella's shoulder.
Rosalie reached up, meaning to pull herself back up into the tree, but instead with a loud snap, ripped the branch clean from the tree trunk.
That had been loud, but she had disappeared back up into the tree, seething, before any heads had turned toward the sound.
She paused, scowling. Had she said her mate? No. This stupid girl. She was just a stupid girl. She didn't have a mate, she didn't need a mate.
And he was a child. A silly, stupid child. Why did she care? She didn't care. She didn't. Still, it wasn't until the strangers were in their car and pulling away that she was able to settle back against the branch again.
This was getting confusing.
Bella didn't shower that night, to Rosalie's great relief. Instead, she tried her mother again, still getting the answering machine.
Her shoulders slumped so far after that one that Rosalie had her small flip phone pulled out, ready to call Alice for the hug that Bella obviously needed. It was clear that the lack of answer caused Bella pain, very clear even.
Bella dropped the phone beside the bed and sigh a heavy sigh, clicked the lights off.
Rosalie rested back, eyes closed, ready to wait for the morning... to wait for that slow and even in and out breath that lulled her so. Not that she would admit that to anyone at all.
Instead, unlike the other nights, she heard a shifting of blankets. Automatically, her head tilted to the side, trying to pick up what the sound was. Evidently, a lot was happening in Bella's life, something that Rose had never known. She can't blame her for being restless. Was it the calls to her mother that pushed her into unrest or something else?
Inside, music softly began to play form Bella's room. It was nice, something kind of quiet and light.
Before Rosalie could help it, a small smile spread across her face as she relaxed.
More shifting of blankets and then...
At first, Rosalie couldn't understand what she was hearing. It wasn't loud, in fact, it was more of an absence of noise, a slight breath.
Horrified, Rosalie sat up straight.
She wasn't –
A soft hitching breath released from the direction of Bella's room. It wasn’t much. Just a slight gasp, tiny really. A small inhale that caught and then a tiny sigh, but it was filled with —
Rosalie was moving, her feet hitting the ground and then taking off at a run as her mind screamed at her.
Oh! Oh! Too much! She ran blindly, trying to escape the little sound playing over and over in her head.
She didn't stop until she was flying through the front door of the Cullen home.
"Rose!" Alice blinked up at her. "You're back early."
There was condemnation in Alice's voice and Rosalie didn't care in the slightest. She twitched in place a little, unsure of exactly how she felt.
"Why are you back early?"
Rosalie glared, her anger, her confusion making the snarl sharp enough that Alice stepped back a pace. "It's creepy and it's wrong. We're not doing it anymore." She said it as an announcement, knowing the whole house would hear. Then she turned, and marched out to the car bay, slamming the back door behind her.