Thirsty. So thirsty. I clawed at my neck, wishing I could rip out my throat and stop the burning. If I wasn’t careful, if I let my thoughts stray for even a second, the burn would control me. I’d turn into the monster I was trying to prove I wasn’t. I wouldn’t be that again. I couldn’t. Not since I had seen another life. Another way.
I looked around me, taking in the tranquillity of the trees. I was safe here. People would be safe from me. I couldn’t harm anything here but animals that dared to come too close. No one should be in here. Not at this time anyway. Far too late. No moonlight could penetrate the clouds that hung over this town.
What was that?
“This is ridiculous.” I muttered, rubbing at my sore eyes. “They make absolutely no sense.”
“Don’t rub your eyes,” Edward pulled my hands away from my eyes. “You’ll make them worse.”
Edward lay next to me. Sun shone into my room through the window. His bare chest sparkled in the sun that touched his skin. I touched his sparkling skin lightly with my fingers, amazed his skin could produce such an amazing effect. I knew he wasn’t covered in glitter. It was the excruciating process that had made him a vampire that did this to him. The strengthening of his skin had turned every little cell in his skin into a facet that reflected the light, very much like diamond. And diamond is a very strong and hard substance, just like him. Amazing in my opinion.
“Everything about me is amazing to you,” he murmured, caressing my cheek with a pale finger.
“I hope you feel the same about me,” I said, clasping his hand in mine.
I grinned and kissed his cold hand.
“Enough about how amazing I am,” I said, sitting up. “We need to do something about Charlie.”
He was up and pacing my bedroom floor before I could blink. His forehead creased in concentration as thoughts flitted in and out of his head. He threw rainbows around my room at intervals as he walked in and out of the sunlight.
I had no clue what was going on. These visions were jumbled up. I was seeing Charlie being killed but I was also having flashes of some vampire and his troubles with who he is. It made no sense.
“We’ll have to tell Charlie,” Edward said, coming to a stop at the end of my bed. “You are not able to deduce who it is that will kill him so therefore we have to tell him in order for him to be prepared and protect himself.”
“What annoys me is that it’s obviously someone he knows and yet no vampire he knows would kill him.”
“Unless he knows another vampire.”
I laughed at Edward and he stared back at me, clearly annoyed I had laughed at his theory.
“Please, how many vampires other than you live in Forks?”
“He could meet them outside of Forks,” he pouted like an upset child, folding his arms and turning away from me. I smiled and crawled down to the end of my bed. I kneeled behind him, waiting for him to turn back around.
“Come on,” I said, trailing my fingers lightly down his back. “You’re not really upset with me.”
“How do you know?” he said. I could hear the smile in his voice.
“I can read your mind,” I said. “And you’re really mean to do this to me. Make me think I’ve upset you.”
He chuckled and turned around, scooping me up in his arms.
“That was a very good theory,” I said, kissing his lips. “But, honestly, how many vampires in this world are vegetarian?”
Edward remained silent.
He rolled his eyes and placed me very gently on the bed.
“How about we go see the family today?” I said, smiling. “I haven’t lost to Emmett on the games console in a while.”
Edward’s eyes widened.
“You are suggesting leaving the house?” He feigned shock and fainted.
“Very funny,” I said, not bothering to go to him.
“It was,” he said from the floor.
“I can’t breathe for laughing.”
“What about Charlie?” he said, standing up. “His life is in danger.”
“Not right now,” I said. “I would know about that. Anyway, I thought you wanted to get me out?”
“Okay, but don’t complain if Alice wants to give you a makeover.”
The trees around me swayed gently in a light breeze. The sun blazed down from a brilliant blue sky that was rare in forks. I tugged at the collar on my shirt, feeling the heat creeping up on me. I glanced at my watch again and sighed. I told the guys at the station I would only be gone for an hour and already a quarter of that had passed. Where was she?
It was only to be expected. Her father didn’t know about time-keeping either. The sun was out today. Maybe that was why she was late. Walking down the street with him might not be as inconspicuous as usual.
I heard the loud, southern accent before I saw the owner. My niece stumbled towards me, tripping over a root. That was unusual for her. Her hair fell around her face in dark brown curls and her chocolate brown eyes looked tired. She stopped in front of me and smiled up at me apologetically. I frowned at her, wondering why she was like this.
“I couldn’t leave him,” she explained, worry clouding her eyes. “He’s struggling. It’s hurting him so much and I don’t know what to do.”
I understood now and immediately my heart wrenched for her. I didn’t know what to do either. If she wasn’t so in love with him I would have killed him to spare him pain and his potential victims if he couldn’t handle it. He was a danger. But I couldn’t do that.
“We have an over population of deer,” I suggested.
“It’s what they’re all eating now.”
She laughed and I saw the worry disappearing for a moment. Perking up, she smiled cheerfully.
“So, what’s up?”
Remembering one of the reasons why I was meeting her today, I turned serious.
“You aren’t doing your job, Lex.”
She frowned up at me, her eyebrows knitting together in confusion.
“Is Kayla alive?” she asked.
“Well, yes,” I replied, confused myself.
“Then I have done my job,” she said, happily.
“No,” I shook my head. “You haven’t.”
She shook her head.
“You said,” she pointed at me with one elegant finger. “That I had to protect Kayla from harm. I’ve done that.”
“You,” I pointed at her. “failed that. Mitchell got to her.”
“He’s dead now, isn’t he? She killed him, right? I didn’t fail in anything.”
She folded her arms across her chest, satisfied she had explained enough to get out of trouble. Well she hadn’t.
“She wasn’t supposed to. That was your job. Did you not understand that part?”
Her eyes narrowed, suddenly filling with anger. She drew herself up to her full height and stared at me hard.
“I understood everything very clearly but as I said before, I cannot keep stalking my cousin.”
I raised my eyebrows.
“Stalking?” I repeated. “I asked you to watch over her.”
“You might have said watch over but you really meant stalk her.”
“No, Uncle Charlie, no,” she said, stepping back, the anger dying as fast as it had appeared. She held out her hands in a sign of defeat. “I can’t keep doing this for you. I love Kayla, but I can’t be a guardian angel for her. I’m struggling as it is to juggle my working life with my Azdi life. I need the money and it’s get increasingly harder to explain why I’m missing days or leaving half way through a shift or refusing night shifts.”
“I didn’t know it was this troubling for you,” I said, concerned. “You should have said.”
“Do you think I’ve not tried?” she laughed, humourlessly. “Every time I meet you I try, but you only go on about Kayla.”
“I don’t,” I argued. “It’s not always about Kayla.”
“Give me a time when we spoke, after that thing with Dad, and it wasn’t about Kayla.”
I thought for a moment, trying to remember the times I’d seen Lexi last.
“Do you remember when I called you to tell you about the Felinatas that were spotted running through the Olympic Forest?”
“You were worried they would come too close to Forks and Kayla would stumble upon one and be killed.”
“Kayla would go after it, you told me.”
“Jenzis in Port Angeles.”
“You thought Loren would be a part of them and you wanted me to keep an eye on them.”
“See!” I said, triumphantly. “Nothing about Kayla!”
“You feared they might attack Kayla,” she finished, with a sad look in her eyes. “It seems to me, dear uncle, that you feel nothing for me. You keep all your love for Kayla.”
I stared at her in shock. Surely she must be joking? She couldn’t think that. But I saw only sincere hurt staring back at me. Her chocolate brown eyes, my eyes, filled with pain.
“That’s not true, Alexandra,” I said, quietly.
“Spare me the lies, Charlie,” she turned away and I heard contempt in her voice. “You blame for what Dad did 17 years ago.”
“Then why haven’t you told Kayla about me?”
“She knows who you are,” I said.
“Of course she does, her mother would have told her all about me, but that’s not what I meant.” she turned back around to face me. “Why haven’t you told her that you meet up with me? Why doesn’t she know that I’m looking out for her?”
I looked away, feeling awkward. I knew why. I wasn’t going to tell her though, her feelings would only be hurt more. I couldn’t do that to her.
“Exactly,” she pushed past me and walked away. “I’ll see you around.”
“Lexi!” I called to her. “Don’t go!”
She didn’t stop. She just kept on walking. As I watched her retreating back, memories flooded back.
“WHAT ARE YOU?” Sarah screamed at me. “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU?”
I stared at her in confusion. What was going on? I had only just walked in the front door and here she is, screaming her head off.
“Honey, calm down,” I spoke in a slow and soothing voice. “What’s going on?”
I reached out to touch her arm but she jerked away from me.
“Don’t touch me!” she hissed, teeth bared and eyes blazing.
“I don’t understand. Why are you like this?” I felt hurt. Why wouldn’t she let me touch her? Everything was fine when I left this morning. She was happily feeding Kayla in the kitchen when I kissed them both goodbye. What had happened?
“Ted came around to see me,” she said. “Had something to tell me. Something about your heritage.
She turned her back on me for a second to look at Kayla, who was sitting in a high chair playing with building blocks, to see she was okay. Satisfied, she turned back and smacked me across the face.
“You stupid ass!” she brought her hand across the other side of my face. “Why didn’t you tell me? Why did I have to find out from your brother?”
“Sarah, please,” I said, rubbing my stinging cheeks. “Stop this.”
She laughed coldly. “I most certainly will not. You deserve it. How could you lie to me? I’m your wife.”
“I didn’t know how to tell you.”
She shook her head and I saw the anger fade quickly.
“I can’t look at you the same anymore, knowing what you are and how you’ve kept it from me. I can’t even look at our daughter without fearing she’ll start levitating and doing calculus.”
“Sarah, no, you can’t do this to me.”
“You don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“Yes I do and you can’t. You’re my wife, she’s my child, you can’t.”
She dropped her gaze from me, her hands twisting in front of her.
“I can’t trust you anymore,” she said quietly.
I could see it all in her mind. It was killing me. Every word she spoke was like a dagger piercing my heart. She couldn’t leave me. She couldn’t. What would I do without her? How could I live without her?
“It was one lie, everything else about me is true.” I knew whatever I said wouldn’t convince her to stay but I had to try.
“It’s not that, it’s what you are. How can I trust you alone with her? Knowing what you do.”
“Ted is crazy, you know that. He hasn’t been right for years.”
She didn’t say anything. She lifted Kayla out of the high chair and walked to the front door.
“We’re getting the next plane out of here,” she said. “My mother knows we’re coming. I’ll call you when I get there, just so you know Kayla is okay.”
Her hand rested on the doorknob. She was hesitating, maybe she wouldn’t leave me. Maybe I still had a chance.
“Sarah, please, I love you.”
She shook her head and twisted the doorknob, pulling the door open just a crack.
She shook her head again and opened the door fully.
“Just let me go, Charlie.”
I shook my head, trying to get rid of one of the worst moments in my life. Lexi was gone now. I didn’t know if she wanted to speak to me again. I didn’t get to tell her the other reason why I wanted to see her. The one that involved me.