The morning of the third week in a row Rosalie didn’t even bother looking up when Edward approached her.
“Why?” she asked, her eyes still on her computer monitor.
Edward’s feet shuffled. He knew what she was asking. She was sure of that much and so she waited for the answer. Why her over and over again? Why had he abandoned asking his other sycophantic family members? She looked up and he was just standing there, hands in his pockets.
“Fine,” she grumbled.
Rosalie didn’t look up as she cranked the tire iron easily, pulling off another nut. She had to be careful. If she twisted too hard, she could pull them clean off.
“Hey,” Bella said, closing the door behind her.
She glanced up at Bella and then did a double-take. The smile on Bella’s face was too big to be meant for her.
The smile grew and damn it if Rosalie didn’t want to smile back.
She shot her a dry look.
“Right. Dumb question. Can I help?”
“I don’t see how,” Rose answered honestly.
She watched her go back to the corner she had occupied last time, her shoulders stooped in rejection.
Rosalie growled a little at herself and gave the iron a hard jerk. The whole car shuddered and —
“Rose!” Bella stumbled to her feet, shooting toward the falling car as it shook hard enough to push it off the jack.
Rosalie watched, her eyebrows high as Bella reached forward like she, the human, was going to somehow stop the car from crushing the vampire partially under it.
“Oh my god, are you okay?” Bella asked, eyes wide.
“Eeeerrrr…” Rosalie glanced at the car, which she was now holding up with one hand, completely undamaged. “Yeah, I’m fine.” She stared at Bella’s slightly pale face, bemused. “Bella, even if the car fell on me, it wouldn’t hurt me.”
She shifted in place, her over-white cheeks turning pink. “Yeah, I guess that’s true.”
Rosalie couldn’t seem to pull her eyes away from Bella’s still slightly panicked face. Why the hell did this girl care?
Joy burst across Bella’s face as she immediately dropped to her knees beside Rosalie.
“So move this so that it’s placed there, you see, so the frame won’t bend.”
“Okay.” With a look of concentration that Rosalie couldn’t help but watch, Bella wiggled the jack to the proper place. “Okay, got it. ... Rose?”
Rosalie blinked, remembering that she was supposed to doing something. “Great. Now pump it up.”
Bella did, giving small grunts as the jack steadily rose in tiny, tiny, very tiny, increases. “Like that?” She pant.
Smiling a little to herself, Rose reached over and gave the jack a few more pumps and then carefully placed the car so it was resting on it again. “So what you do now...”
Bella helped her take off the first tire, rocking it perfectly, and getting her hands greasy.
“Don’t worry, it comes off,” Rosalie chuckled, low in her chest when she saw Bella looking down at her hands with a. frown.
Bella just beamed at her.
She was actually pretty good at it, Rosalie had to admit. Changing tires wasn’t so big of a deal, but it was a little hard to remove the old tires from the rim and still Bella thrived. She was honestly, ugh, she was honestly cute as she did it, Rosalie had to admit. Watching Bella trying to carry the old tire, pretending that she wasn’t struggling, made her sides ache as she bit back her laughter.
“So, how did you start working on cars?” Bella asked, rubbing some sweat from her face and smearing it with grease.
Rosalie didn’t even debate it before she answered, her mind mostly on the job they were doing. “It was when our first car broke down. We didn’t get one until almost 1936, and once we did, we couldn’t find anyone to work on it at night. We weren’t living somewhere as safe for us then, and there were rumors about our nocturnal behaviors. Eventually, I got tired of trying and so I broke into the manufacture’s shop and well as the local mechanics and stole every book I could find about fixing them. It turned out that I was good at it. At first, Edward and Emmett tried, but I soon surpassed their abilities.”
Rose couldn’t help but to smile also, her smile a little arrogantly proud. “They were so surprised that a woman was able to do it at all, let alone better than them. I think it hurt Edward’s pride.”
Bella nodded, her eyes rolling playfully. “I can’t see him doing well with anyone being better at something than him.”
Rose clicked her tongue. “It is a weakness of his.” Her eyes were back on Bella’s face, studying. She had sounded a little exasperated, which surprised her. She had the impression that, to Bella, Edward could do no wrong. “He’s not perfect you know.” She didn’t know why she had added it, or why she had bothered at all. She doubted deeply if Bella could see that he wasn’t perfect in any way.
But Bella surprised her by sighing deeply. “I know.”
Rosalie’s eyebrows shot up. “Wh—” but she stopped herself, deciding instead to let it slide. At that moment there came a loud angry rumble, large and obvious from Bella’s stomach.
“Oh.” Bella pressed her hand against it and frowned.
“You’re hungry.” Her voice was light, but even Rosalie could hear the condemnation in it over the idea of Bella allowing herself to get to the point of hunger. “You should eat.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Her eyes turned on Rose and with a spark of something deep within her, Rose realized that they were very close. Her eyes shifted, her mouth dropping open. In her body, a longing began to build as she looked at Bella, and Bella looked back.
Her eyes, Rose realized for the first time, were such a deep and warm color. There were flecks of gold in them, and red, and black. Each freckle had its own unique shape, like stars across the night sky. Her eyes traced the soft pink of Bella’s lips and in response, she licked her own. Bella’s warm arm pressed into the side of Rosalie’s, burning with heat that Rosalie barely noticed. They were so soft, she could tell just by looking at them. A strange of Bella’s loose hair tickled across Rosalie’s skin. They were not hard and firm, but gentle and giving and — she suddenly pulled away. Panic screamed through her head. How had she gotten that close to her? What had she been doing? How had she not noticed? She had just gotten very close, very close indeed. Bella’s eyes were half-lidded, her heartrate high. That had almost been very bad.
Rose stood, clearing nothing from her throat and offered Bella her hand for a split second before changing her mind. “Come on, let’s go inside.”
“Huh? Oh, yeah.” Bella blinked a few times and then stood on what looked like unsteady feet. “Right. Err, time to go through that kitchen that Esme packed for me.”
Rosalie laughed a little, following as Bella headed toward the door.
“Actually, maybe you can talk to her.” Bella turned as she walked, her hands absently playing with one another, her eyes not on Rosalie at all.
“What’s wrong?” Had her voice sounded a little testy just then? Hmmm.
“No, no, it’s not bad. It’s just, it’s so much food. Edward won’t tell her that I can’t eat – shit!”
It wasn’t so much that it was slow motion because for Rose everything happened at an easily manageable pace. She saw Bella’s foot settle in the middle of the oil puddle that Bella had accidentally knocked over earlier and knew what was coming. Bella’s face shifted from pleading to surprise to fearful, and then she was tilting back, falling.
She reached out and instead of grabbing her from the air, she thrust her arms under her, catching her just before she hit the ground. She let out a strangled deep breath as Bella’s body, almost weightless in her arms, settled against her. She looked down, and everything stopped again. She was so warm. Even in this position, Rosalie bent over, Bella cradled against her as if in a New Year’s Eve kiss, she was able to tell that Bella’s warmth was all-consuming, wanting to eat away Rose’s cold.
Bella’s eyes had shut as she had begun to fall. Rose watched as they slowly began to open again, time seeming suddenly slow in her haste.
She let out another breath, the sudden stress of her trip falling away from her in relief and the breath blew into Bella’s face. Bella’s hands convulsed on Rose’s arm, squeezing tightly. Her eyes which had almost opened, suddenly dropped to half-lidded.
She was there. She was in her arms. She was so close to her.
Rose’s eyes closed with relish for a millisecond, without her permission and she held just a little tighter. The constant ache, the one that ached for her to reach out, that feeling that was more of a smell, that was more of a feeling, it suddenly lessened and then disappeared, like pouring cool water over a burn.
Bella’s eyes were fixed on her face and Rose, eyes slowly opening, was unable not to look back.
She almost pulled her in, almost held her closer, just wanting to know what it would feel like just for a moment. She wanted just one peaceful moment.
Bella’s hand shifted, fisting in Rosalie’s shirt over her chest. Rose looked at the fist and then back at Bella’s face.
Just once. She just wanted to know once.
Bella’s lips below her parted, blinking slowly once. They parted and—
Rose stood her up on her feet in a move so fast she wasn’t sure it wouldn’t send Bella sprawling in the opposite direction and disappeared out the car bay.
She stormed through the doors, up to her room, and into the shower.
That had been close, oh god, that had been so close. Had Bella been aware of how close that had been? Of course not, she supposed, but she had almost lost control. And good god, it had felt so good. It had felt so good to wrap her arms around her, to give in to the feeling for just a moment and have it disappear like steam. It was back now, the scent of her still on her like a catcall, trying to push her to go back. She wanted to wrap her up, she wanted…
She stepped in, the water acting like a hook that yanked her out of her fantasy world.
It didn’t matter what she wanted.
She didn’t want.
Her mind was still racing as she walked at a human’s pace downstairs and sat on the living room couch. Bella, it seemed, had eaten and was now cleaning up the dishes.
She clicked on the TV and began to flip to the guide, her eyes shooting to Bella every few seconds.
She looked a little wobbly on her feet, but that was probably from the scare of the trip.
A few minutes later Bella approached the couch, a steaming bag of popcorn in her hand.
“That smells like shit,’ she bit out.
“Says the woman who thinks a zoo smells like a buffet.”
Rose’s breathing stopped, her mouth falling open in surprised delight. Gumption. She loved a girl with spirit.
Something changed after that, even Rose could see it, and it horrified her. The next morning when Rose was passing Edward and Bella, she saw Bella look up and smile at her.
Rosalie, before she could help herself, nodded back. “Bella.”
Edward, arms tightly around Bella, looked as if Christmas had come early.
Rose’s shoulders straightened and she marched past.
She needed to stop allowing herself to be near her. She was wearing thin and that was very fucking dangerous. She had held her in her arms. She had leaned in like she had any right to those lips.
Yet, when Bella and Edward walked in to the Cullen house while Rose was stretched out on the long couch, Rose didn’t leave when they settled beside her.
When sitting at lunch one day, Rose only froze when Bella stopped to gently tuck a tag back into Rose’s shirt, her fingers warm against the skin of her neck.
And the next week, before Edward could approach and ask, Rose found herself offering to stay behind.
Edward’s grin was a cocky one as she did.
“See, I told you she’s great.” He clearly thought that, like the rest of his family, she had finally been taken in by whatever stupid Bella charm it was that had grabbed everyone else. She supposed that when it came down to it, she couldn’t argue. So she just sighed, a sudden deep sadness she didn’t want to evaluate washing through her as she said, “Yes. It seems she is.”
That night Rosalie did her homework at the dining room table while Bella sat and ate. They were quiet that night, maybe Bella having finally realized that endless chattering wasn’t going to win Rose over.
When their homework was done, they both gravitated toward the couch, Bella flicking through until she found a movie just beginning.
They watched in silence, or at least Bella watched.
Rose, however, wasn’t watching the movie.
That night had been different. That nagging desire to be close had grown silent, calm and Rose knew why. She was slipping. She was allowing herself to feel what, god, what she didn’t want to admit she felt. But she felt it.
God. She looked again to Bella’s face and admitted to herself, that yes she felt it.
Instantly the last of the burn faded away and Rosalie sighed, leaning back onto the couch, relief deep.
She could relax now. She could breathe.
She glanced again at Bella’s profile and smiled a little as Bella chuckled over the movie, her nose wrinkling cutely.
She watched the way Bella’s eyes moved as the movie played. Her skin, she noticed, was flawless, smooth and milky, except for a small scar on her chin. She decided she liked it. She saw Bella’s throat work when she swallowed, saw the gentle and yet so important heartbeat thrumming against the skin of her neck. She had thought in the beginning when Bella had only been this stupid human there to ruin the Cullens lifestyle, that Bella wasn’t pretty. She had thought she was plain and boring. But Bella was beautiful. She could admit that now. Bella was, she sighed, her eyes drifting to her face again. Bella was beautiful.
“Do I have something on my face?”
“What?” Rose snapped, humiliated over having been caught looking. “No!” her head turned back to the screen and she refused to look back at her again.
Finally, the movie ended and Bella excused herself, insisting she had to go to bed.
Rose just nodded.
Upstairs she heard Bella getting ready and then slide under the covers of the bed bought just for these nights. There was a deep sigh and not too long after, the low steady breathing began.
Rose stretched out on the couch, her mood strange. She hated this. She didn’t want to be beholden to it. Her fingers ran over her own lips. It felt good to think about her though. It felt safe there in an empty house.
The modern taste was full and round lips. Actresses were constantly getting them filled and it disgusted Rose. When she had been human, however, the tastes had been different. The taste had been thin but shapely lips. That was exactly what Bella had. They were perfect. They reminded her of a painting, shaped well and often curled back in a smirk of some kind of secret knowledge. Rose wondered often what was happening in that mind of hers. Fingers hovering over her own lips, she wondered what it would be like to feel them against hers. To feel Bella over her, perhaps straddling her hips, her hair falling in sheets around Rose’s face. What would Bella be like as a kisser? She had thought before that she would be like kissing a dead fish, scared, boring. But now… she could see Bella atop her, hands on Rose’s ribs.
Her tongue slowly licked her lip. Her body was beginning to grow warm as she thought of it, static even. Gently her upper teeth grazed against her bottom lip, the feeling only fueling her fantasy.
To kiss Bella…
Could she do it?
Could she kiss her, touch her, take her as her own? What would that mean?
She shifted a little and then rose, slowly making her way up to her room, where she settled languidly on her bed.
Could she tell her secret? Tell everyone?
Her fingers lazily played up her stomach as she thought of it wondered what it would be like.
Her skin had grown sensitive, her mouth, her lips, wanting something that was only in her mind.
But these were dangerous thoughts, very dangerous.
She shivered and enjoyed them for a second longer. Everyone would be home soon. She rolled over, pushing the thoughts back, and letting her body begin to cool.
She opened a book and was lost in Wuthering Heights by the time she heard feet on the back stairs, her family arriving back.
She rolled over, ready to fall back into the pages of the book when her door suddenly flew open.
Rosalie gave a start when it wasn’t Emmett, as she had expected, but instead, Alice stood there, a hand still on the doorknob, her eyes wide and staring directly at Rosalie.
Rose stared back, frozen in fear. She hadn’t thought about the consequences of her thoughts, hadn’t planned…
She stood, her eyes averted. “Good hunt?” She asked, meaning to slip by Alice, only just before she could, Alice’s hand caught her arm.
Rosalie stared back, ice in her veins.
“I saw…” Alice’s confused eyes darted around the room and then landed on Rose.
Rose’s eyes bore into her, willing her to stop talking, willing her to have seen nothing of importance.
“You saw what?” Emmett’s happy voice broke the tension.
Instantly Alice’s hand dropped and Rose stepped away, but her eyes did not leave Alice’s face.
Please, whatever you saw, don’t say anything, her mind begged. She had messed up. She had changed her thinking for just a moment and it was enough to send Alice a vision.
Alice’s eyes locked with Rosalie’s and Rose was sure. Yes, she had done something bad.
Avoiding Alice wasn’t easy. She had managed it just fine in the Cullen house because there was no way to talk privately. However, after her first class of the day had released the following morning, she had stepped out of the classroom door, her mind still mostly panic, and there Alice had been, coming down the hall, her eyes narrowed on Rose.
She had turned and taken off the opposite way, only giving the smallest start like she had somewhere to be. There had been little subtilty in it.
After school, she had been able to breathe a little better when she found out that Alice had decided to go over to Bella’s that afternoon with Edward. However, the moment she returned Rose heard her feet on the stairs.
She had shot up, looked around for an escape once and then had vaulted out of her bedroom window, hitting the ground running.
She couldn’t avoid Alice forever, her mind jabbered at her, sounding more and more insane as she ran. She couldn’t. She couldn’t. She was caught. She had let herself get caught and it was all for nothing. It didn’t matter if they were mates. She wasn’t like Edward. She couldn’t just be with Bella for the next forty or fifty or sixty years and then move on. It was not better to have loved and lost. It wasn’t. And she could never make Bella a vampire; that much at least Edward had right. It didn’t matter if they were mates. She had Emmett and she didn’t want anything else.
But she heard the words in her head, she heard their lackluster insistence and that scared her the most.
When she arrived back, she was pleased to discover that both Edward and Alice were gone. That was good because she wasn’t sure she could keep her thoughts to herself.
Now it seemed more critical than ever. Maybe it was time to leave. She and Emmett could pack up a few things and just go. They had done it before. They could go to Alaska for another twenty years, and by then the girl would be gone. Hell, they could go for a simple five and probably return after that. In fact, it would be time for the Cullens to disappear by then anyway so they would meet her most likely. She hated staying with their cousins. They were even more coven-y than it was in Forks, but it was somewhere to go. She and Emmett often broke off from the rest of the family to get a break from coven life and it had been a while since they had gone somewhere new. New York. They could always go back to New York. It had been a long time, and she loved New York. You could live a completely nocturnal life there and no one noticed or cared. Yes, Emmett was more of a mountain man, but a ten-year break in New York could be fun. The film festivals in New York were great. Or even Paris. They could live the same kind of life in Paris.
... Emmett hated Paris though. The town was small, cramped, and her huge man didn’t fit into it – literally.
Had she accepted it? If she had accepted that they were mates then everything was lost, and she hadn’t, had she? She hadn’t. She wouldn’t. Thinking someone was beautiful, wondering about kissing them, that wasn’t the same.
God, this had happened so fast.
She settled onto her bed, her thoughts twisting and spinning, torturing her slowly.
What was she going to do? Was there something she could say to Alice that would make her believe whatever she had seen hadn’t been real?
There was a soft knock on her door and Rose sat up fast.
“It’s just me.” Jasper’s voice was soft from the other side of the door, apparently having felt her surge of anxiety.
“Oh. Um, come in, Jasper.”
The door opened slowly and Jasper’s gentle smile greeted her. “Hey.”
“Hey.” She blinked at him, knowing he could feel her guilt. She tried to push her feelings away, to disallow them, but they didn’t want to go.
“I was wondering if you would take a walk with me.”
Resigned, she sighed and nodded, allowing Jasper’s outstretched hand to grasp hers and help pull her up.
The night air was clear and crisp as they stepped out, moving slightly faster than human pace. As usual, Jasper stood close, his hand resting very lightly on the back of her arm.
Usually, Rosalie hated it when men did that, taking it as a sign of possession or dominance. With Jasper though, it never felt that way. She knew if she pulled away then he would let her go. It was more, instead, that he was giving her his affection in his chivalry.
“Look at the moon,” Jasper nodded up.
“It’s beautiful,” she admitted, her voice somewhat strangled.
He looked at her for a long moment, a gentle blush of calm washing over her. “Come on.”
They were silent as the house disappeared behind them, silent for so long that Rose began to grow nervous again before he finally spoke.
“Rose, I know.”
She stopped, expecting it but still feeling blindsided. “Know what?” she tried.
He turned leaning against a tree, his face thoughtful as though he hadn’t bothered to take in what she had said. “It took me a long time to understand what I was sensing. At first, I thought you were just being belligerent about her, or that maybe you were jealous. I have to admit,” he gave a small laugh, his head shaking, “I never thought it would be a mate bond, not until tonight.”
Rose turned, a small wail falling out of her. She couldn’t look at him as her body hitched, crying without tears. She was humiliated. She was horrified. She was so relieved.
“It was like walking into a neon sign. The house was drenched in yearning.”
Rosalie groaned, hiding her face in her hands.
“Why haven’t you told them?”
She gave a brittle laugh. “What do you mean? Edward thinks she is his mate.”
He nodded a little. “Yes, but mistakes happen.”
Rosalie just scoffed.
“They’re happy, Jasper. They think they are mates. They’re happy. Bella doesn’t even seem to feel it. Why would I ruin everything for everyone by telling them?”
His head shook in his slow lazy way. “I don’t think you’re right. I think you should tell them.”
“It’s not that simple.”
“But Rose, that’s the thing about this. It is. It is that simple.”
She just stared, completely unsure of what he could possibly mean.
“You could be happy, Rose.”
“No,” she laughed darkly. “No, I couldn’t. There’s no way for this to work. There’s no future between us.”
This time Jasper looked confused. “She’s your mate. Of course, there is. If Bella wants it, there is a lifetime of a future before you, and Bella will want it.” He reached out and took her hand, squeezing it lightly. “I think you should tell the family, tell Bella, and I think, if she wants it, you should let her be turned.”
Rose’s hand jerked out of his grasp.
“I know what it feels like to be mated, Rose. She will want this. But I’m not sure if it works right if one of you is human.”
“I can’t do that,” she spit at him, horrified and angry.
“I think it’s cruel not to.”
His words were so matter of fact, that they stopped the pacing that Rose had just begun. “What?”
“It’s selfish to refuse.”
Rose scoffed but it was hollow. Jasper was often like this, blunt, matter of fact. It was something she usually appreciated but now made her want to rip into him. “Excuse me?” she shouted.
Jasper just looked back at her, completely unrattled by her sudden anger. “Rose,” he said in his softest voice. “Bella will never know a love like you in her life. You two are a perfect combination, predestined. There will always be something missing for her if you just let her go. She will never be truly happy. It would be cruel to keep her human.”
“You’re insane, Jasper. How can you of all people, who know what vampires are, think that she would be better off?”
“Because there’s beauty in our life too, Rose, you have to see that. This is fate. You can’t argue with fate.”
“Fate,” Rose scoffed. “Fate wouldn’t break Emmett’s heart.”
Jasper paused. Sorrow moved across his face and he nodded once. “I think he would understand.”
“Fate wouldn’t mean I had to break a good man’s heart, Jasper!” She shouted. “That is not fate! This is not fate!”
“It is. It was set in motion from the moment Bella was born, maybe even since you were.”
“What does that mean?”
“I mean that the only way your single mate could have been born so much later than you were is if it were fate. I don’t understand why you’re not excited. We just got the answer to if it’s fate or nature. Only fate could have brought you two together! You can’t get in the way of that. Please, don’t get in the way of that. She is meant to be yours.”
“I don’t want her, Jasper,” she sighed.
“Of course you do. You want her, that much is clear.”
“You do! Come on, Rose, admit it. I can feel it from you.”
“I don’t!” She growled, her teeth exposed. She wanted to hurl herself at him, to rip him apart just to make this stop.
“You both deserve happiness.”
Rose stared at him, her insides feeling raw.
She had understood the concept, she had understood the vampire attitude of respect for it.
But fate between her and Bella? No. That was impossible.
She snarled like a wild cat at Jasper.
He only shrugged in response.