Rosalie shifted from one foot to the other, her eyes glued to the bed.
When she had finally been allowed in Bella’s room the broken girl had already fallen into a drugged sleep. At the time the rhythmic beeping of the hospital machinery was comforting after hearing Bella’s heart stop back in the ballet studio, but now… The sound of that insistent beep was like a mallet between the eyes, making her flinch.
The sound felt loud in the otherwise silent room, all of the Cullens’ standing still as stone, not talking.
The tension was thick. Too thick. It probably wasn’t good for Bella, she mused, but the thought didn’t go any further. After all, what could be done about it? She wasn’t leaving, nor was anyone else.
She clicked her teeth together, crossing her arms tighter under the pressure of the room. In the opposite corner as far from her as he could get, Edward stood, clearly still seething, his face in a permanent snarl of teeth and heavy brows.
There had been no permanent damage, that much Rosalie had to thank him for. He hadn’t ripped anything off, leaving her with scars.
The fight had been hard to stop. Edward had attacked with a viciousness that Rosalie was sure she deserved. If Edward had to find out, it did not need to be that way. She had wanted to give him those blows, to take them in silence because he deserved them given that she had kissed his girlfriend. The problem was that the feelings of the previous months, the fury and jealousy had been too hard to ignore. She had fought back like a tigress, all slashing claws, and teeth.
It hadn’t been until Carlisle had shoved his way between them, his face very close to Edward’s gnashing teeth as he shouted that Bella needed a hospital else die that they had stopped. Then it had nearly picked up again when both had rushed to her side, Rosalie taking one hand, Edward the other, both trying to lift her. Edward had snarled, shoving Rosalie back. The only reason she hadn’t retaliated, her better behaviors hidden under stress, was that Emmett had stepped in and picked her up, cradling her broken body to his chest. Emmett’s throat had bobbled as he swallowed, his eyes going momentarily wild as the blood dripped from her head. Rosalie had braced herself, ready to act, but though she could tell that there were moments when he was close to losing control, he never did. Jasper had been forced to leave, too worried about Bella’s safety, and even Alice had been forced to excuse herself as the blood dripped, but Emmett, her strong amazing man, he had done it. He had held Bella as if she were something precious, and though the way she loved him was changing, she had loved him all the more seeing that.
Getting Bella a bed had been easy, all Carlisle had to say was that he was a doctor and this was what happened. No one had looked at her twice, no one had seemed to suspect that the story, as far fetched as it had been, was anything other than true.
They had waited in the waiting room, Rose and Edward snarling at one another until Bella had been cleaned up, given something for the pain, and put in a room. They had all snuck in, all wanting to be there and now they sat in silence.
At least, in an outward silence.
Rosalie had become so good at keeping her thoughts hidden, she had been so good at secret keeping. The car had become a legitimate distraction, a math puzzle to ponder. It was a shield she could bring up when Edward was too close.
Sitting there beside Bella’s bed, her body so broken, looking so small, she couldn’t seem to do it now. She kept trying to push her thoughts to the transmission that needed changing, but they wouldn’t go. Something had changed in her at the studio. Whether she had ever intended to or not, she had accepted what she had been running from at the moment that she had let her thoughts loose and that was it.
She wanted to be closer. Bella’s hands looked so cold, so lonely. However, every time she shifted to touch her, Edward’s snarl would make her step back. His eyes never left Bella, and yet his snarl was deep and foreboding.
Overpowering desire kept its grip on her, making her want to squirm. She knew he was hearing every thought, but she wasn’t sure what to do about it now. The cat was out of the bag, for better or for worse. She was mated. Mated. The thought filled her with warmth. That fact had stopped feeling like a curse, she suddenly realized. In one quick moment of acceptance, that had stopped feeling like an invasion.
Beside Emmett, Jasper looked smug. She glanced at him, wondering what exactly he was feeling from her, and received a wink. It was small, but it calmed her a little. She wasn’t alone. The first of the family might be dodging her eye, but at least she had Jasper’s support. He even looked genuinely happy for her.
Beside him, however, Alice’s face was still vague as it sometimes got when she was lost reading a vision. She had looked that way since the ballet studio and it made Rosalie wonder, what all did she see? Esme and Carlisle stood beside Alice, their faces the opposites of one another. Carlisle’s face was neutral, his eyebrows slightly drawn as he looked at nothing. Bedside manner had always made him a good bluffer. Esme, however, was rarely hidden with her emotions. Her face was twisted as if trying her hand at a complicated equation. Her eyes drifted back and forth between her beloved first son, Rosalie, and Bella.
With a sigh, Rosalie looked away. She didn’t want to see the lack of support that she knew would be there.
In the bed, Bella sighed and both she and Edward’s attention shot back to her.
Bella had been given very heavy drugs, enough to make her sleep hard. She had been stitched up, given an infusion, and she was doing better.
She wanted. Rose wanted so much.
Her hands ached to reach out and touch her. Her eyes traveled over her face, over the bruising and the cuts. What would happen now? Had the family understood what had happened? She supposed someone probably clued the few unaware ones in. After all, Emmett and Jasper knew because of her, Alice knew, it only left their parents.
Would Bella want her now?
What would she do if Bella didn’t?
There was a chance that Bella would though. Bella had kissed her back. Bella had really kissed her back. That had to mean there was a—
Edward’s sudden bark was loud enough to make all of the Cullens hiss. In bed, Bella twitched and moaned.
She debated arguing, pointing out that she hadn’t spoken but what was the point? No one thought he had been referring to anything other than her thoughts.
Bella shifted and sighed again. They all watched intensely, not moving, not blinking, not breathing. Nothing was as intense as a room full of nervous vampires.
The sigh Bella let out this time was softer, warmer. Across the room Edward shifted forward, his face breaking its hard mask. His eyes softened, his mouth turning into a small smile.
Her teeth ground, looking away from him.
They all knew what the creepy fuck was waiting for. It was one of his favorite topics to ramble about. He had been open with them about the fact that he watched her sleep, in the beginning without her permission, and now, openly. They all knew. They had also heard more than once about the words she often mumbled. She knew what he was waiting for. It was his proof. She could feel his glee as if to say that it didn’t matter if she and Bella were mated because it was he that she spoke of in her sleep.
Her arms crossed tight, staring intently at the floor. The problem was, she couldn’t argue with that.
Looking self-satisfied, he gently took Bella’s hand, squeezing lightly.
The growl that slipped out of her was feline and harsh, and completely involuntary.
Esme’s hand closed on her arm as Rosalie stepped forward, a silent and for once soft matriarchal command and the sound cut off.
Bella shifted again, her face serene. Despite all of the bruises and the pain she might well still be in, Bella smiled a little in her sleep.
Rosalie looked away, turning to face the wall. It hurt. God, it hurt.
How could they be fine with him touching her? Didn’t they understand? Did they think that she had kissed Bella because she was just a bitch? Did they think she had kissed Bella simply for fun? Didn’t they understand that the feelings had been so strong that for just a moment, she hadn’t been able to stop herself?
She turned again, her cold mask in place and took a step forward, wanting to throw his hand off of her. Esme’s hand tightened irritating her.
Edward gave a low threatening growl, his eyes ripping away from Bella for only the briefest of moments to level her with a glare. “It doesn’t matter.” Edward’s voice was low, soft enough that it wouldn’t wake Bella, but clear as day for the rest of them. “She’s my mate.” He ground out. “Mine. I don’t care what you think you feel. You’re wrong. She’s mine.”
Beside her, Esme looked between them again, something new on her face. Understanding. So no one had filled them in then.
Rosalie glared at him, glared as he looked back at Bella and his face broke open. His lips pulled back, a dry sob ripping out of his throat as his thumb stroked her hand. “I love her.”
Rosalie winced, squeezing her eyes closed to avoid the sight. Her chest ached. There was so much pain in this situation. She didn’t want to do this to him. She didn’t want to take what he wanted for himself. She loved him. Even through their always tense relationship, even through all of their fights, and her jealousy, she loved her brother. She loved all of her family, even if they didn’t seem to know it.
She didn’t choose this.
Edward’s bleak eyes looked into her, hearing her thoughts. “Then choose to do nothing. If you love me, then leave. Don’t do this. Go and don’t come back.”
“Edward!” Esme hissed.
Rosalie stared at him, aghast.
“Very nice,” Emmett groused, his crossed arms flexing menacingly in his barely hidden anger.
Edward didn’t look sorry, just looked at his brother with a blank face.
“Asshole,” Emmett mumbled under his breath.
Rosalie felt like she had been struck dumb. Is that really what he thought? Had he really just asked her to leave not only her mate but her life, her family? The hurt that pierced her was sharp and white-hot. She felt like she had just been thrown over. She felt… the hurt crystallized into anger.
In the bed, Bella’s head twisting a little on the pillow and she sighed a garbled sound.
Rosalie’s eyes closed again, braced, trying to hide from the pain that was coming.
Edward shifted a little closer, bringing Bella’s hand up to his lips. “I’m here,” he whispered into it.
The sigh was gentle, light, happy as Bella finally spoke. She said the name like a caress, like a beautiful treasure that Bella held deep and safe. She said it, and then with a small smile on her face, she stilled, slipping even deeper into sleep.
The room had already felt like a wax museum, already felt as though the tension could not continue to grow, and yet, in that moment it skyrocketed.
All eyes were on Bella, all woo wide.
Edward hadn’t moved, Bella’s fingers still against his lips.
Suddenly, making Rosalie yip in surprise, Emmett turned to her, his face alight. “All right, babe! Up top!” He cried, his hand raised and waiting for the high five.
She looked at him, a bubble of girlish giddy rising. She let out a small giggle.
There was a rumble of a growl. Edward flung Bella’s hand from him, making Rosalie hiss as it landed twisted. He glared at her as if she had suddenly transfigured into a maggot. And then he was gone. One moment he was there, the next simply not.
Rosalie stared at Bella, elated.
She had said her name! What did that mean? It meant something, she knew it did. She had said her name, and she had said it with such tenderness.
Esme’s hands were on her again, stopping her.
She turned, confused. But it was her name? Edward had left. Bella had said her name. Why couldn’t she go to her now?
“Rose!” Esme hissed urgently, pulling on her arm. “We have to go.”
“What?” Rosalie looked at her face, confused by the alarm on it. She listened and understood. From the floor below, they all could hear Charlie’s voice asking what room she was in. “Rose, we have to go.”
“But why?” she asked, not understanding. Charlie knew they were there, right? What story had they told him?
“Rose. Let’s. Go.” Esme pulled on her arm, the footsteps heavy on the stairs making it so easy to track where he was. “He shouldn’t find us here.”
She looked back to the bed, unwilling to leave Bella by herself. “I should stay.”
“Go. I’ll stay.” Carlisle nodded at her. “The story we told them didn’t include everyone.”
She nodded back, her eyes longingly shifting to Bella’s face. Reassured, she turned with her mother and fled with the rest of the Cullens.
There had been absolutely no room for Rosalie at Bella’s bedside once she had woken up, none at all. She had spent that first day in their hotel, waiting for… something, she hadn’t been sure what. But whatever it had been, it had never come.
There had been plenty of room at Bella’s bedside for Edward, the boyfriend, and even Alice, the best friend. But no room for Rose, the unacknowledged bitch mate who only brought misery with her.
It had taken Rosalie a full day to realize that she was waiting for a summons, for permission to go see her. It took her only hours to realize she was waiting for something that wouldn’t come and so, despite not wanting to and with fervent promises from Carlisle that Bella was on the mend, she rented a car and started the drive back to Forks. She had taken the drive slowly, only bringing Emmett with her, and the ride had been mostly silent.
They had driven together, Emmett’s hand on her thigh, and they both had been lost in their own worlds.
That had been three days ago now and nothing had changed, nothing except Rosalie’s mental state.
She was a mess again. Had she ever stopped being a mess since this whole thing began? She wasn’t sure she had. At first, she had been angry, her go-to response to the pain that her exclusion had caused. Then it had fallen into worry, and then worst of all, a bleak, grey depression. She had stayed in her room, in no mood to interact with anyone. There had been no reason to leave. Carlisle had been kind enough to come up and update her on Bella’s status every few hours, something that she loved about him, and that had been all she needed.
It didn’t help that the household was on some sort of low-level red alert. She was a pariah, that much was clear, and yet the tension was enough to make even the most placid member of their coven snappy. Emmett had told her that the family members with extra gifts had been at an exceptionally high-stress level. Alice, he had said, kept having the same vision over and over again, yet won’t share the details. Even Edward, unable to handle her thoughts, kept occasionally yelling at her to shut up from wherever he was in the house since his arrival that morning. Jasper, it seemed, had gone very still and silent, looking strained and overwhelmed.
So she stayed away, hidden behind her bedroom door.
It wasn’t the first time she felt this way, she often did. What was different was that for the first time, though she stayed to her room, she wanted the company, she wanted her family near her. She soaked in Carlisle’s presence when he came, soothed when he placed a hand on her shoulder.
She didn’t remember her human mother well. That wasn’t because she struggled to remember her human life, she seemed to remember it better than most of her siblings. She thought it was because her mother had been so distant before Rosalie’s death. She had been raised with a nanny, who hadn’t exactly been maternal but had been her main source of mothering. One thing she did remember, however, was the sense of relief and comfort she had felt as a small girl when her mother had held her, cuddling away her upsets.
She wanted that. She wanted that deeply. She wanted someone to hold her and stroke her head and tell her that though this seemed scary right now, that it would be okay in the end. She wanted someone to convince her of that.
And she wanted Bella.
She wanted to see her. She wanted to speak to her.
She had picked up the phone what felt like a million times to call her, to ask if she was all right, to ask to see her, but each time her courage failed her.
And so she simply sat in her window seat, unmoving from her spot.
It was funny, she thought. When Carlisle and Esme had mated, it had been a celebration. They had all been so new to this life, and yet, they had understood that their mating was a huge deal. When Carmen and Eleazer had met, there had been a ball at the Denali house. When Alice and Jasper had joined them, the family had been so proud to have another mated pair. It had been a badge of honor.
Mated pairs were revered.
It wasn’t everyone who found their mate.
There was a theory that having a mate wasn’t a given, that it didn’t happen for everyone.
But no one was happy for her. No one wanted to celebrate.
No one wanted to deal with her, as far as she could tell. Hell, her brother had asked her to leave them for the sake of his relationship with Bella and there had been little in the way of protest. So she was surprised when late into the third afternoon, there was a knock at her door and it wasn’t Carlisle.
Rosalie had been tuned out, trying hard not to listen to the whispered conversations going on all around her and so she hadn’t heard the person approach.
“Come in, Carlisle.” She turned a little, eager for the next update. They had become somewhat routine since Bella had woken. The next big update, she supposed, would be that Bella had been cleaned up and sent home. She knew it had to be soon. An anonymous donor had gifted the Swan family – and Edward - with three first-class tickets for a flight from Arizona back to Washington, that donor being Rose herself. The tickets, however, were only good through the end of the week. She hadn’t been doing something specifically noble when she bought them, as much as the thought of Bella shoving her broken body into those cramped airline seats had just been too much for her. First-class was much larger. It had pained her to buy the third, and she very nearly didn’t. However, Edward would have just bought a ticket for himself anyway, and she… she just wanted Bella comfortable on the flight, even if that meant she was with Edward. It had already been bad enough to hear that Renee would not be coming back to Forks with them. That news had hurt Rosalie vicariously, remembering Bella hunched over her phone, crying lonely tears for her mom.
Edward, had, instead shown up long before Bella was out of the hospital.
The door pushed open and to Rosalie’s muted surprise, it was Esme.
“Oh.” She sat a little straighter, the sense of exhausted foreboding already making her limbs heavy. She had been waiting to see if she would get into trouble for all of this, if someone at the head of the family would scold her. She had been waiting for someone, anyone in the family to come to her and ask her to honor Edward’s request. She supposed here was her answer now.
She looked at Esme’s strained face with dread.
She had already decided. If someone asked her to go, then she would. She would leave it up to Emmett to decide if he would join her in exile, but she thought he would. She couldn’t stay where she knew she wasn’t wanted. She couldn’t stay and watch Edward and Bella. She couldn’t stay and be… the person they had asked to leave.
She had thought that she would go to Alaska for a bit, and then decide what to do next. New York was still a possibility. She thought, perhaps, she might go abroad. She had never been to Scotland, and it seemed beautiful. Maybe she would find an organization she could join to help fight global warming, or getting clean water to those who needed it. All she knew was if she was going to be made to leave the only family she had known since her turning, then she wanted a completely different life. She would want no reminders of what she had left.
She could wait until one day she felt the bond wither away, broken when Bella died of old age, but she knew she wouldn’t come back then.
She gasped, her hand going to her heart as the thought sent a literal physical pain through it. The world without Bella. The world after Bella. It was a horrible thought.
Esme cleared her throat and closed the door behind her.
She glanced at Esme’s face as she settled into the alcove too, her legs resting against Rose’s and then looked away again. She loved this view at this time of day. The sunlight filtered through the trees like liquid gold, swirling and spinning in a way that made her wonder about the existence of fairies. It seemed to dance, shimmering on the river. She breathed, able to smell that light. She could smell the water, so far into the distance, smell the dirt, the trees, the moss. It was beautiful. However, in the clouds she could smell the blank, stifling scent of snow. Bella wouldn’t like that. It was going to snow within the next few days. Rosalie didn’t like the scent of snow. It was too blank, too flavorless and nowadays it smelled too much of pollution. But it was late this year. There had been a dusting once or twice before Christmas, but it usually had hit the town by now.
She chuckled a little to herself. It seemed fitting then that it would snow soon, adding a layer of empty white over everything. That would fit her mood perfectly.
“What?” Esme asked in a low voice.
Rosalie just shook her head. She could feel Esme’s gaze on her, could feel that she was looking at her closely. She didn’t care much. She was startled, however, when Esme’s soft hand slipped around hers, holding it closely.
“I thought you might want to talk.”
The scoff was on the tip of her tongue, followed by whatever rude comment she could come up with. It was such a habit, especially with Esme who showed her love for Edward so completely so often. The comment was right there, and then it faded away, smothered by something that felt an awful lot like fear. She didn’t need to alienate herself any more than she already had. So instead, she stayed silent.
“I don’t know how to handle this, Rosalie,” Esme admitted, her hands squeezing Rose’s ever so slightly. “It’s unprecedented for so many reasons.”
Rose snarled, her bitterness bubbling over. It wasn’t at Esme, not exactly. She just… she didn’t need to hear it. She knew. She knew more than she ever wanted to. “Do you mean because it’s two women, because it’s me or because Edward thinks he mated with her?”
Esme’s look was stern in response, her hands closing like a vice. “I don’t care that you’re both women, you know that, Rose.”
She sighed because she did. Vampires had been mating with the same gender just as often as the opposite for as long as mating had existed, so always. Sometimes you got a vampire with more modern viewpoints, one who felt that same-sex mates were somehow less than, but they were the rare freaks of the vampire community.
“And I want you to be happy, Rose. I don’t love you any less than I love Edward.” When Rose didn’t respond Esme shook their hands, making her look at her.
She did, triggered by the expectant look there. “You openly prefer him, Esme! You never ridicule him. You put him first. You say that we’re all your children, but if that’s true, then I’m the bastard stepchild that you tolerate, and I have been since we met.”
To her surprise, Esme laughed. The laughter was the last thing that Rosalie wanted to hear. Incensed and hurt, she tried to snatch her hands away, but Esme held them tight.
“What’s so funny?”
“Oh, darling, I’m sorry. I was just thinking that I think it’s more a case of he never makes me. Unlike you.” Her voice was light, teasing and it almost got through the years of hurt around Rosalie’s heart. Almost. “I don’t love you any less, Rose, you just... try me more than Edward does. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love you though, dear.”
She looked down at their hands, feeling her stomach doing carnival tumbles. “I know he’s been alone for a very long time. And I have Emmett. I didn’t ask for this.”
Esme nodded. “I think that much has been made abundantly clear.”
They sat in silence for a while, both watching as a deer stepped out of the trees in the far distance and began to sniff the ground. Generally, animals avoided this house. That was either a very stupid deer, Rosalie thought, or it was just far enough for its dull senses to be unaware.
She looked up and into Esme’s strained face.
“Carlisle and I, we’re not sure what to do here. Usually, mates meeting is a little more cut and dry.”
She stared at Esme’s sweet face. Here it came. Here came the delicately put, but heavy as hell request. She swallowed, hurt and angry. She opened her mouth but choked on the words and had to try again. “Isn’t it possible he was never her mate?”
Esme’s inhale was slow and long, so long that the room was silent enough for them to hear the sudden slamming of the back door.
Rosalie winced, watching as Edward leapt from the back porch. The watched him take the river at a run, leaping over it in a single bound and then disappear, running by the deer so fast that it didn’t even startle until long after the danger had passed.
So it’s a stupid deer, Rosalie noted.
“Well…” Rosalie muttered. She had known that Edward was in the next room over, she had known he could hear her, but in a family such as theirs, it wasn’t always possible to hide conversations like these.
“Are you sure that’s what you’re feeling, Rose? I mean, how can you really know?”
She glanced at Esme, surprised and saw her look. The question was a test, if Esme’s slightly anxious look said anything.
The thing was, she didn’t know how to answer. Where was her proof? There was none, except for the fact that it had been exactly like Carlisle had always said. She just had known.
Esme’s eyebrows rose and she saw that she had been wrong. Whatever Esme had thought, whether it was simply that Rose had been jealous or something else, Esme hadn’t been sure she believed her. Now, she could see that she did.
Esme sighed and her shoulders slumped. “I guess I knew that. II would be a lie if I said I didn’t. You’ve been so different lately. You’ve always been angry.”
Rosalie looked away, her jaw tight.
“But lately… with Bella, you haven’t been. You’ve seemed happy, Rose, and that means something to us.”
Rosalie didn’t melt, didn’t look back at her. She knew it was supposed to be a compliment, that it was supposed to be sweet, but it didn’t feel like it. The comment, it felt like a crack. It felt like a hit below the belt. She had always been angry? Well. This was exactly why she had always been angry. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“And then when Bella was hurt, I saw something different in you.”
Rosalie glanced at her and then away again.
“This explained a few things, if I’m being honest with you.”
Rosalie didn’t know what to say to that. She knew she had shown more feeling than had been required of someone uninvolved, but what else was she supposed to have done? Because she didn’t know, she asked a different question. “Do you think it’s true what Carlisle always says? That a person… a vampire only has one mate?”
“Rose, you are a person.”
Rosalie’s eyes rolled, as Esme reached out and pushed some of her long blonde hair out of her face.
“And you’ll never get me to say otherwise. You have to stop hating what you are so much.”
Rosalie glared. This wasn’t the first time they had this conversation. In fact, they had gone through it so many times that she knew it by heart. Only this time she didn’t want to ask the question that always followed, she didn’t want to ask why Esme wouldn’t have preferred death. It was a question she never felt like she got the proper answer to. Esme had always just insisted that the pain of losing her child had been somehow soothed when she had met Carlisle. It had always felt ridiculous when Esme had promised that she had felt different after meeting him, that life had suddenly felt full of possibility instead of suddenly feeling like the end. It had always felt like a passive woman, being unwilling to admit that her choice, her voice had been taken away from her.
Now, to Rosalie’s chagrin, it didn’t seem as stupid. Now she thought she understood. The pain of her child’s death was still there in Esme, but there was more now.
“To answer your question…”
Rose’s eyes shot to her, alarmed by the sudden hesitance.
“I don’t know.”
Rosalie snorted at the answer.
“The Volturi always taught Carlisle that it was so. Sometimes vampires mate in groups of three or four, but I think that means they all mate with one another as a trio or a quartet, not individually. I think that’s how it is with Alexi, Elizabeth, and Jamie. They are a pair… the three of them. You and Edward never—”
“No.” Her voice was short. This was not a multiple love situation. This was not meant to be she, Bella, and Edward all in love. This was supposed to be she and Bella. Period.
“Right. No, I suspected. No, I knew.” Esme sighed. “I don’t know, Rose. We were all lucky. Carlisle found a mate in me, Alice in Jasper…”
“I understand.” She was saying no. She didn’t know for sure, but the thing about the Volturi was that they had been around for so long that it was hard to dispute their word. Sometimes Rose thought that might be dangerous, but it was hard to argue with them when they were so old that they knew these things because they had centuries beyond centuries of experience. If they hadn’t seen it even once then it wasn’t a possibility.
She pulled her legs up, hugging them close to her chest, uncomfortable. Only one. She guessed she knew that. But hearing it, even in that roundabout way was hard. “Do you think I should leave Bella alone?”
Esme was quiet but Rose couldn’t make herself look at her. The entire house had gone quiet as if everyone were waiting to find out, would life change or would it stay the same.
Just when Rose was beginning to think that Esme had decided not to answer, she finally spoke.
“I love you all, Rose. You are all my children, all of you, and I love you all.”
Peeved, she glared at her, waiting for something real.
Esme’s lips pursed, her hand coming up to silence her. “I think… I think Edward might be upset now, but in the long run, he loves you too. He would want you to be happy.”
“You don’t want me to leave?”
Esme’s lips thinned, pressing together harshly. “No.”
“I’m ashamed of Edward for asking you to do that and he has already been given a piece of my mind. If you leave, Rosalie, I will never forgive you. Not if you leave because of this. He’s angry, but given some time, I think he will accept your happiness with his own.”
Rosalie just stared, surprised. She thought hearing that might make her feel better, but it didn’t.
Things just weren’t that easy.
She sighed, her head falling back hard against the wall, making a dull thunk. “It’s just not that simple.”
“What do you mean?” Esme asked, her finger coming up to gently caress Rosalie’s cheek.
“My choices aren’t good!” she cried. “My choices are to stay with Bella until she dies or to not be with her at all.”
Esme’s hand faltered and below she heard a scoff that could only come from Jasper. “But surely there’s another choice. The right choice.”
“Thank you, Esme!”
“Shut up, Jasper!” Rosalie growled.
There was a chuckle below and then silence.
“Rose, Bella deserves to be one of us now.”
She shook her head, genuine sadness coating her voice as she spoke. “I want to. I want to turn her more than I ever thought I would want to turn anyone.” And she did. The weird constant longing she felt to fill Bella with her venom, it haunted her, feeling her with longing whenever she thought of it. She cleared her throat, her eyes on Esme, refusing to feel what that thought made her feel. “But if I love her or will love her, then I can’t take her life from her. And I don’t know if I do, but I think it’s clear that I will. Every time I fight this, I lose.”
Esme’s mouth opened as she leaned in, a question obviously on her mind. She seemed to think better of it and leaned back, only to lean forward again, her eyes slit with thought. “Have – have you told Bella that you’re mates?”
“Bella doesn’t know any of this.”
“Oh, Rose.” Esme sighed. “No, Rose, she deserves to know. She deserves a say. This affects her too.”
Rose’s hands pushed through her hair, groaning. She understood that. She had since Jasper had said it. She knew she should get up right then and go to Bella and explain, but she couldn’t. It was just not that simple. Bella had been so angry after Rose had kissed her, had been angry for the sake of her relationship with Edward. Bella had said her name in her sleep, but she hadn’t heard from Bella, hadn’t seen her.
She glared out at the setting sun.
It was where the anger had come from, she had realized over the last few days of soul searching. She had been angry with Bella the day they played baseball, perhaps even before that, for thinking that she was in love with Edward because she couldn’t be, right? Wasn’t that the point? After meeting your mate, you couldn’t love anyone else. It just didn’t work. A friend of Rosalie’s in Rochester, Loren, he had decided to separate with his mate, Liam when Loren had decided to try the vegetarian lifestyle. He had tried to love other men, and it wasn’t until he was back in Liam’s arms that he had felt anything at all. So why was Bella so able to think she loved Edward? How was it that she could think he was a better partner to her and for her than she would be? She would love her like Bella never had been loved, nor ever would be.
She was mad at Bella for not wanting her, for not letting them be happy.
Of course, that wasn’t rational, and she could accept that fact. It didn’t change the feelings though. What she did know what that the anger she had felt meant little more than nothing on this side of Bella’s near-death experience.
There was a soft knock on the door, distracting both of them.
Carlisle poked his face in, apologetic.
Rose sat up straighter, her hand closing on Esme’s again.
“She’s all right,” Carlisle promised, seeing that.
Rose nodded but didn’t let go.
“I just got an update. She’s on a plane on her way back as of this morning.”
She sat up straighter. So Bella was probably either on her way from Port Angeles or even home already. She was back. An ache in her soul soothed. She supposed that made sense.
“That’s right.” Carlisle smiled at her and then gave his mate a quick wink before disappearing.
Esme sighed, almost giggling a little at the quick affection from her mate.
Rose chuckled, shaking her head.
“He is rather cute,” Esme admitted, her face bashful even if it couldn’t actively blush.
“I want that.”
Esme sighed, a slight look of frustration crossing her face. ‘You can. You have it. You just need to take it.”
“She’s too young, Esme. She’s too young to know what it really means to lose her life.”
“She’s not losing her life, Rose. She’s just gaining a new one.”
That wasn’t true and she was sure that Esme knew it. This new life had so many limitations, so many limitations that Bella might not understand yet. “She’s too young.”
“I don’t think it’s fair for you to decide her future for her, Rosie.”
But Rosalie just looked away. She didn’t want to hear this. She didn’t want to think about it.
Eventually, Esme sighed and squeezed her hands. With a kiss to her temple, Esme departed, leaving Rose staring out the window.