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 Consequences (Sequel to The Turning Point)

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helloeverybody
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PostSubject: Consequences (Sequel to The Turning Point)   Sun Jul 20, 2008 9:06 am

Consequences

Part 1 Bella’s POV
“What is it, Bella?” Edward glanced up at me, concern in his eyes.
I sighed. I didn’t see any way around this.
“Well, Edward, it’s just…it’s just…” I started to cry, unable to hold back my feelings of guilt any longer. “I don’t deserve you.” Edward pulled me to his chest and held me there, kissing me lightly on the forehead.
“Bella, you should know by now that it is I who does not deserve you.” Edward kissed me again, his lips moving down from my forehead to my nose. However, far from comforting me, this only made me cry harder. I leaned away from his chest so I could see his face.
“Please, Edward. Don’t make this worse than it already is.” I buried my face in my hands.
“Make what worse?”
“Edward. Before I tell you this, you have to know that I love you. More than my own life—more than my own soul.” I gazed intently at him, willing him to understand.
“I know, Bella, I know…so what is it that you want to tell me?”
“Edward, I thought I was stronger than this. I thought that I could handle it…for you. But…I…I couldn’t.” Edward looked confused. “You see, Edward, when I thought Jake could be dead, when I thought I might never see him again—” A sob escaped from my throat, and in the brief second I saw Edward’s face before I looked away, I knew that Edward understood what I meant.
Once more, Edward held me in his arms, rocking me back and forth.
“Shhh Bella…everything will be alright…I promise…”

Part 2 Bella’s POV
I couldn’t believe what I’d done. I was married to Edward, and a month later, I had already kissed someone else. What was wrong with me? Edward told me that he forgave me, that I was only human after all, but didn’t many human couples go through successful marriages without these kinds of problems? And even if Edward said it was okay, I saw the hurt in his eyes when he realized what had happened—what I’d done.
I decided that this was the last time I would let my weakness get the better of me—the very last time I would ever betray Edward like this. If the problem was that I was only human, then I was going to fix that—once and for all.

Part 3 Edward’s POV
I lay on my bed, trying to decide whether or not Bella was ready for the transformation, trying to convince myself that it wouldn’t do any good to go to La Push and punish Jacob.
There was a knock on the door.
“Come in,” I said, sitting up. The door opened, and Bella walked in, her exquisite, floral smell filling the room.
“Hey,” Bella said, wringing the bottom of her shirt with her hands with a nervous expression on her face.
“Hey.” I patted a spot on the quilt next to me. “Come sit.”
Bella smiled and obliged. I wrapped my arms around her, feeling her warm body shiver slightly at my cold touch.
“So…What’s on your mind?”
“Edward, I’m sorry.” Bella’s eyes were glazing over, threatening tears.
“I know, Bella. It’s okay…you’re here with me now. That’s all that matters.”
I leaned in to kiss her.
“Edward—I want you to know…that when you want to change me, I’m ready.”
I froze. I wanted to change Bella, to make her immortal, but she seemed unable to make up her mind; I didn’t want to dang her to an eternity of darkness, an eternity of looking over her shoulder and wondering whether or not she had made the right decision.
“Bella—”
Bella cut me off.
“I know that I haven’t been very consistent lately. But please, Edward, I know that I want to do this. And you promised.”
“Bella. I know I promised, but I—I can’t justify doing that to you right now. You married me, and I held up on the first part of the deal against my better judgment. Please, Bella. Wait a while. Please.”
Bella opened her mouth as if to argue, then closed it.
“Okay. I’ll wait.”
“Good.” I tilted her chin up so her face was level with mine. “Thank you.”

Part 4 Bella’s POV
I felt my heart jump erratically as Edward leaned in toward me once more. His cold, hard lips crushed against mine, and I eagerly wrapped my arms around his neck, pressing my body against his. I knew it would be only seconds before Edward pulled away, saying that we shouldn’t test our luck—that once was enough until I was less breakable. I felt him starting to pull, and I tightened my hold around his neck, knowing that wouldn’t keep him there.
“No,” I whined.
Edward grinned and gently pried my arms off his neck.
“Bella, you have no interest in your self-preservation, do you?”
“S’pose not,” I said, as I attempted to continue what we had started.
“Bella.” Edward’s tone was sharp now, his teeth gritted. “Seriously. Stop testing my self-control.”
“It wouldn’t work, anyway,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest and looking glum.
Edward smiled his crooked smile.
“You don’t give yourself enough credit, Bella. You have no idea how tempting you are.”
He traced the side of my face with his finger, his icy touch electric upon my skin. He pressed his cold lips against the base of my neck, making my skin tingle. I breathed in his sweet scent, shivering slightly. He kissed me again and again, working his way up my neck to my jawbone. Finally, his lips found mine, and my head was spinning, my heart thumping wildly in my ears. Edward chuckled softly, and he broke off the kiss.
“Much too tempting…” he muttered under his breath.

Part 5 Bella’s POV
When I woke up, Edward was gone. On the bedside table there was a note that said “Gone hunting. Be back soon. Love you.” I sighed. This was going to be a lonely day. I walked down the stairs to the kitchen for breakfast. As I started to scramble some eggs, the phone rang. Wiping my hands on a towel, I walked across the room to answer the phone.
“Hello?”
“Hey Bella. It’s Jake.”
I felt my breath catch in my throat.
“Um…what’s up?”
“Bella…I wanted to talk to you. Before you…change.”
“Okay then. Talk.”
“I meant face-to-face.”
I felt my stomach sink.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea, Jake.” I couldn’t lose control with him again. I wouldn’t let myself.
“Bella.” Jake’s voice was full of pain, betrayal. “I just need to see you. I’m…going crazy over here. Wondering if you are okay. Thinking about how any second he could change you—take away your soul—kill you, even.”
“Jake, it’s just…” A strangled cry escaped my throat. I couldn’t handle this.
“Bella…”
“Bye Jake.” I quickly hung up the phone and sank to the floor, wrapping my arms around my knees and rocking back and forth, trying to calm myself down.

Part 6 Bella’s POV
I don’t know how long I sat on that hard, wooden floor, trying desperately to master myself. All I knew was that after a period of time, there was a knock at the door. Wiping my eyes on my sleeve, I got up to answer it. I held the door open slightly, peering outside to see who it was. I couldn’t see anyone. I let the door swing wide, letting in a rush of cold night air. No one was there. I shuddered involuntarily, and I felt hair rise on my arms. Stop being stupid, Bella. There’s nothing out there. You’re being paranoid, I thought to myself, shaking my head to clear my thoughts. However, as I turned away from the door, I realized I wasn’t alone.

Part 7 Bella’s POV
I had barely opened my mouth to scream before I was on the ground, pushed there by an inhumanly strong force. Cold hands pinned me to the ground as a pair of glinting white teeth sunk into my arm.
“We’re done here, Jane. Time to go,” said Marcus, grinning in a satisfied way.
They left me there, sprawled on the floor, paralyzed with fear and pain. I curled into a ball, sobbing uncontrollably and waiting for the fire to begin spreading.

Part 8 Jacob’s POV
I knew that Bella had said that she didn’t want to complicate things by talking to me face-to-face, but I needed to see her. I decided that if she wasn’t going to come visit me, then I would visit her, despite whatever those bloodsuckers thought.

Part 9 Edward’s POV
Alice’s thoughts were frantic. I could see Jane and Marcus attacking Bella, Bella’s eyes wide with shock, her mouth open in terror.
I was shaking.
“Alice, where’s the rest of the vision?” I struggled to keep my voice even.
Her future disappeared, Edward.
No. This couldn’t be happening. Not now.
We have to hurry before it’s too late.

Part 10 Jacob’s POV
I pulled my car up on the Cullens’ driveway to find all the windows dark. I walked up to the front door to find it slightly ajar. I pushed it open. Bella was lying on the floor, tears streaming down her face and her fist in her mouth to stifle her sobs. The sleeve of her shirt was ripped, and there was blood flowing freely from her arm.
“Bella, what happened?” I asked, but I really didn’t need an answer. The sickly-sweet scent that stung my nose told me everything. Vampires—not just the Cullens—had been here. Which meant—my heart sank as I thought of Bella’s bleeding arm—that Bella had been bitten.
It was then that the screaming began. Bella shrieked and began to thrash violently.
“The fire! Stop the fire! Please! Make it stop!”
The venom was spreading. I cradled Bella into my arms, trying to keep her from hurting herself, trying to comfort her, hoping that some kind of help would come.


Last edited by helloeverybody on Sun Jul 20, 2008 9:09 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Consequences (Sequel to The Turning Point)   Sun Jul 20, 2008 9:07 am

Part 11 Edward’s POV
As I drove frantically toward the house, Alice was sitting in the seat next to me, her eyes blank, trying to see Bella’s future.
I pulled up in front of the house and raced inside.
Jacob was holding Bella in his arms, a terrified expression on his face.

Part 12 Edward’s POV
Alice burst through the door. When she saw the scene in front of her, she froze, a perturbed look on her face.
I was numb. I couldn’t think about anything but Bella, thrashing against Jake’s arms and screaming in agony.
“No…Bella…” I whispered, kneeling down by Bella’s side. Each of her shrieks cut through me like knives.
“Do something.” Jake’s voice was ragged with pain. I didn’t need to hear his thoughts to know that each of Bella’s screams was tearing at him the way that they were tearing at me.
“I…can’t.”
“But—” Jacob’s voice trembled, “You can suck the venom out. You can keep her human.”
“No.” I couldn’t suck her blood again. I wouldn’t be able to stop, and then she would be gone forever. “I can’t.”
“You have to.” Jacob’s limbs began to shake. “Otherwise she’ll…she’ll…” Jacob’s voice trailed off, lost in his thoughts.
I knew he was right. It was I that left Bella all by herself without anyone to protect her. If I didn’t do something now, I would be responsible for singlehandedly destroying any chance of Bella’s humanity. If I didn’t do something, she would be eternally damned to a life as a nineteen-year-old vampire, ready or not. And each second that I delayed took her farther from life.
“Okay. I’ll do it.” I gritted my teeth. I looked at Alice, who was biting her lip, but she didn’t say anything. I turned back to Bella.
“I’m so sorry, Bella,” I said. Then I placed my lips to her wound and sucked her blood, trying to get all the venom out. However, as I drank, I realized that there was too much venom. It had spread too far throughout her body. If I kept drinking, she would die from blood loss.

Part 13 Bella’s POV
I lay there on the floor, waiting for the pain to start, calling for Edward, for anyone to help me. I muffled my sobs, not wanting to attract the Volturi again. I heard the door creak and footsteps come up behind me.
“Bella, what happened?” It was Jake’s voice. He sounded horrified.
Just then, I felt the fire begin in my arm. Then it began to spread through my shoulder and up to my head. Then my whole body was on fire. Every inch of my body was searing with pain; the cold fire was mingling with my blood, changing my DNA. After a while, I didn’t know what was happening—I couldn’t remember my own name. I could feel my arms and legs flailing around me. I couldn’t control anything. I was suffocating in pain.
Jake was there, his tear-soaked face swimming in and out of my vision, his incomprehensible voice comforting me. Through my suffering, I wanted to comfort him. I wanted to reach out my hand and touch his face and tell him I was alright. But I couldn’t. I wasn’t capable of intelligible speech or voluntary movement. I could feel my memory slipping away from me. I clung to it, desperate to remember. The pain escalated. Every limb in my body was aching. I cried for release, for death, for the agony to end, and Jake just held me in his arms, sobbing with me, for there was nothing he could do.

Part 14 Bella’s POV
Then the angel, Edward, came and knelt down beside me. I heard his voice, filled with grief and guilt, murmuring incomprehensible apologies. I wanted to conceal my suffering from Edward, to smooth that look of self-hating torment on his face, to make Edward understand that for him, I could bear the pain, but all that came out of my mouth were terrified shrieks. My body convulsed violently, a reaction to the fire that was spreading systematically throughout my body and making it impossible for me to control my movements or to speak coherently. Jake and Edward were arguing, both voices desperate and pleading. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but Edward seemed to be going through some internal struggle before nodding at Jake and bending over me.
Edward’s cold lips rested on my arm, soothing the burning slightly. Then it was pain, pain as I had never experienced before. Edward was trying to suck the venom out, but this time the venom wasn’t going away. This time it had spread too far. I writhed in agony, sobbing uncontrollably, waiting for Edward to realize what I already had.
Then Edward stopped, looking at me with eyes that were no longer golden topaz. Instead, a ring of red surrounded his pupils.
I was excruciatingly aware of my surroundings now. I could feel the life draining out of me. The pain was beginning to dissipate.
“Alice. Get Carlisle and tell him that Bella’s losing too much blood.” Edward’s voice was harsh and urgent.
Alice left without another word.
My eyelids felt extremely heavy. Numbness was beginning to creep up my arm. I felt myself beginning to lose consciousness. Edward’s icy hands gently gripped my shoulders. Jacob removed his shirt, pressing it against the bite, trying to reduce the blood flow from my arm.
“Bella, stay with me…stay awake, love…” Edward’s face swam in and out of focus. I struggled to keep my eyes open.
“Edward,” I said, my voice quavering violently, “I just want you to know that if…if anything happens, I love you.” Each breath I took was costing me a great effort.
“No, Bella. You’re going to be fine. Carlisle will be back any minute now.” Edward grasped my hand tightly.
“Yeah, Bella, you’re going to be fine,” Jacob choked out, tears starting in his eyes.
“But just in case,” I continued, “Jake, I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“It’s okay, Bella…just relax…everything is going to be fine.” As Jake said this, he stared hopelessly at my wound, the cause of this whole problem.
Then, as I looked at the faces of the two people I loved most, I felt myself slip away from the grasp of reality.

Part 15 Edward’s POV
The moment Bella’s eyes closed, Jacob’s limbs began to shake, his thoughts dark and full of grief.
“Don’t you dare transform, dog. You’ll kill her.”
Jacob took a deep breath, and the trembling ceased.
Bella was still alive, but barely. I could hear her heart beating weakly, pumping blood throughout her body at an increasingly slower speed.
As I saw it, I had two options: One, I could bite Bella again and try to keep her alive long enough to go through a transformation. Two, I could wait for Carlisle to come and help Bella, but every second I waited, Bella drew closer to death.
Or I could just let Bella die in peace. But I wouldn’t let that happen. I was too selfish.
I pushed a strand of hair out of her face, my finger lightly brushing her cheek. It was alarming how cold Bella’s skin was. I knew I had to make a decision quickly.
Either way, it was a huge risk. I glanced at Jacob, who continued to press his bloodsoaked shirt to Bella’s arm, staring at Bella’s face, salt water threatening to spill over his eyelids.
I put my face in my hands, growling in frustration. What was taking Carlisle so long?
I dialed Carlisle’s number. No one answered. I sighed. This left me only one choice. I turned to Jacob.
“Jacob, you’re not going to like this, but I really have no choice.” He nodded, knowing what I meant, biting his lip as his body began to quiver violently.
I grabbed Bella’s uninjured forearm and prepared to bite, hating myself.
The door burst open, and I paused, surprised. Charlie was standing in the doorway, taking in the scene before him, his eyes wide in shock.
“What the HELL are you doing?!?”
I cursed under my breath. This was all I needed right now.
“Listen, Mr. Swan, there’s a perfectly logical explanation for this. I swear. But right now is not the time.”
“No. You listen to me, Edward. I’ve put up with you because Bella loves you, but this time you have gone too far! Get away from her!”
“Charlie, you don’t understand. Edward’s trying to help Bella,” Jacob said.
“Jake, stay out of this. Don’t talk about things you don’t know.”
“Mr. Swan, you don’t understand the situation. You have to leave. I have to help her,” I pleaded, trying to reason with him.
“I mean it, Edward. If you don’t step away from Bella right now, I’ll arrest you.” Charlie’s voice was shaking as he spoke.
I’d had enough.
“Do you not realize that your daughter is dying?!?”
Charlie fell silent.
“Okay. I just need to think for a moment. Really, you should leave, Mr. Swan.”
“I’m not going anywhere.” Charlie crossed his arms, a stubborn expression on his face.
“Fine,” I sighed, exasperated.
So much time had been squandered on useless arguing. At this point, I wondered if it wouldn’t make sense to wait a couple more moments for Carlisle. I tried calling Carlisle again, and still, no one answered. I called Alice.
“Where the hell are you?” I demanded frantically.
“We’re in the hospital. Carlisle’s picking up some stuff, and there are no cell phones allowed in the supply room.”
“You need to get here. Now.”
“We’re on our way.”
I hung up.
I could keep Bella alive for another 20 minutes, couldn’t I? I stared at Bella’s prone figure, her chest rising and falling rapidly in short, shallow breaths. This was all my fault. I was the reason Bella was inches from death, all of her blood seeping out onto the floor. Wave after wave of hot guilt washed over me as I waited for Carlisle to come.


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PostSubject: Re: Consequences (Sequel to The Turning Point)   Sun Jul 20, 2008 9:08 am

Part 60 (“The Turning Point”) Bella’s POV
“Bella,” Edward whispered in my ear, his cold lips gently touching my skin, “It’s time to wake up, love. We’re home.” Edward helped me out of the car, and we walked toward the house.
Once we were inside, Edward wrapped his arms around me and kissed me lightly on the top of my head. I heard Alice head upstairs to give us some privacy. Edward and I just stood in the kitchen together, our arms entwined and our eyes never leaving one another’s faces. After a time, though I don’t know how long, the phone rang, breaking the silence.
When Edward answered the phone, he looked worried.
“Yes. We just got back.” I looked at Edward curiously. ‘It’s Charlie,’ he mouthed, turning back to the receiver. “Well, Bella is extremely tired after our trip, so maybe tomorrow night? Okay, thanks. Bye!”
My stomach sank. I had completely forgotten about Charlie…and Jacob. I turned to look at Edward, knowing he wouldn’t like what I had to say.

Part 16 – Charlie’s POV
When I pulled up in the Cullens’ driveway, I found that the house was dark.
Kids must have forgotten I was coming for dinner. Newlyweds. I chuckled to myself, reminiscing. As I ambled toward the front door, a bloodcurdling shriek pierced my thoughts. Bella. I sprinted toward the house and burst through the door, adrenaline pumping through my veins.
My eyes immediately fell upon Edward, who was leaning over Bella’s prone and bleeding body with his teeth an inch from her forearm.
I felt a surge of anger and protectiveness overcome me.
“What the HELL are you doing?!?” I roared, starting forward.
Edward muttered something to himself, looking upset.
“Listen, Mr. Swan, there’s a perfectly logical explanation for this. I swear. But right now is not the time.”
Perfectly logical explanation my foot. I’ll give you a logical explanation.
“No. You listen to me, Edward. I’ve put up with you because Bella loves you, but this time you have gone too far! Get away from her!” You sick, disgusting pervert. Get your filthy hands off my daughter.
“Charlie, you don’t understand. Edward’s trying to help Bella.”
I started with surprise, not having realized Jake was in the room.
“Jake, stay out of this. Don’t talk about things you don’t know.”
“Mr. Swan, you don’t understand the situation. You have to leave. I have to help her,” Edward pleaded. Help her? Yeah, right.
“I mean it, Edward. If you don’t step away from Bella right now, I’ll arrest you.” Even though I could hear my voice quivering in anger, I felt a sense of calm wash over me. I had reached the moment of decisiveness that always reassured me.
“Do you not realize that your daughter is dying?!?” Edward yelled, desperation in his voice.
I didn’t say anything. There was nothing to say, really. I knew Edward was right. I could see that Bella’s life was ebbing away. If someone didn’t do something within the next half-hour, she would die.
“Okay. I just need to think for a moment. Really, you should leave, Mr. Swan,” Edward told me, looking as if he knew how I would answer.
“I’m not going anywhere.” I was not going to leave my daughter here like this, especially with Edward.
“Fine.”
Edward stood up and walked across the room, picking up the phone receiver and dialing a number. When that failed, he called another number, and apparently that one worked, because he did not hang up.
I knelt down next to Jacob at Bella’s side.
“How is she?”
“Not good.” Jake’s eyes were full of fear and worry. I noticed that he held a shirt to Bella’s arm that had completely soaked through with her blood. I took mine off and handed it to Jacob. He immediately removed the one he was holding and pressed mine against her arm.
“Where the hell are you?” I heard Edward say into the receiver.
“Jake, we should make a tourniquet to cut off the circulation to the arm. It should stop the bleeding. Go find something that we can use, like a sheet or whatever you can find.”
While Jacob rushed upstairs to find something, I continued listening in on Edward’s conversation.
“You need to get here. Now.” Who was Edward talking to? Carlisle?
Jacob ran back, carrying a sheet in his arms, and I turned my attention to him once more.
“Okay, Jacob. You keep applying pressure to her arm, and I’m going to tie the tourniquet.” I ripped off part of the sheet and tied it tightly around her arm.
Edward hung up the phone and gazed intently at Bella for a moment. Then he came over and bent over her, whispering reassurances to her even though she could not hear.
“Don’t worry, love, Carlisle’s coming.”

Part 17 – Edward’s POV
By the time Carlisle arrived, Bella’s breathing was labored, and her heartbeats were slowing, coming farther and farther apart. Carlisle immediately knelt down and began examining Bella solicitously.
“Good. You stopped the bleeding. But still, she’s lost a lot of blood, she’s going to need a transfusion right away. Either that, or we’ll have to—” Carlisle glanced at Charlie. “—see what else we can do.” I tuned in to Carlisle’s thoughts. Edward, I know you won’t like this, but really, the likelihood of getting Bella a transfusion in time… She’ll die either way unless you make up your mind. Soon. Either way it’s a huge risk…we can drive as fast as we can to the hospital, or we can try transforming her. Your choice. I’m so sorry, Edward.
This was all my fault. I shouldn’t have left her alone to go hunting. I shouldn’t have tried sucking the venom out. I should have stopped sooner. Now, Bella’s chances of living were slight. I didn’t want her to die, but I didn’t want to take her soul away either. But she wanted me to take her soul. And I had promised. I was so confused. What was right and what was wrong had always been divided by a distinct line for me. Now, the line between right and wrong had blurred, making it impossible for me to separate my desires from the truth. Morality and sin seemed to have merged, and whichever option I chose, I knew there would be consequences. Bella would not come out of this unscathed.

Part 18 – Edward’s POV
Then, out of the silence, Charlie spoke.
“Do you have the supplies for a transfusion with you?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. But what good could they possibly do us here?” Carlisle looked slightly wary.
“Bella’s my daughter, isn’t she?” Charlie’s voice sounded like a growl, fierce and protective.
Carlisle appeared nonplussed.
“We have the same blood type,” Charlie said, tones of exasperation and urgency in his voice.
A look of sudden comprehension spread across Carlisle’s face, followed by a grin. There was hope after all.
“Let me just get my stuff out of the car. I’ll be right back.”
Carlisle ran at full speed to the car and returned with a large box full of various medical tools. Rummaging through the box, Carlisle fished out what he needed and pushed the box aside.
“Okay, Charlie. You’re going to have to hold out your arm and relax…”

Part 19 – Edward’s POV
The transfusion went surprisingly well, especially with the lack of hospital equipment. Bella’s pulse, though still slower than it should be, had increased to a somewhat normal rate. Her breathing was deeper, more calm. I exhaled a sigh of relief. Bella was going to be okay.

Part 20 – Edward’s POV
“Wake up, Bella…Wake up, love,” I whispered to Bella, my lips lightly brushing her ear.
Bella’s eyes fluttered open.
“Edward?” Bella looked surprised and relieved to see me. She struggled to sit up, her efforts fruitless.
I came closer and pulled Bella into a sitting position. Bella leaned toward me, falling forward, grasping the front of my shirt for support. Her lips crushed against mine, the urgency in the kiss unsettling.
“Are you alright, Bella?” I asked, feeling uneasy.
“Yes. I’m fine. I was so worried about you!” And with that, Bella broke into sobs. I didn’t say anything, thoroughly confused as to what was going on. She continued, “I thought I’d never see you again! I thought you might…” Bella went silent, tears running down her cheeks.
“Bella. I’m perfectly fine, see? And I’m here now. Don’t worry…Shhh…”
Bella sobbed indiscriminately into my shirt for a while. Then she leaned back, a puzzled look on her face.
“How did you get past the Volturi? The last thing I remember happening is getting hit over the head with something.”


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PostSubject: Re: Consequences (Sequel to The Turning Point)   Sun Jul 20, 2008 9:08 am

Part 21 – Bella’s POV
I could tell from the expression on Edward’s face that something was wrong.
“What’s going on?” I could hear my panic in the question.
“You don’t remember anything after getting hit on the head?”
A flicker of memory stirred in my mind. There was a flash of a an empty, cobbled street, a kiss in the dark, and a set of teeth biting into my skin. Then I remembered the cold fire burning my insides, the searing pain that made me writhe in agony.
Human memories fade, Bella. I pressed a hand to my chest. I could feel a pulse. Then why, if I was human, did my memory fail me?
“Bella, I’m so sorry.” The guilt on Edward’s face was unbearable. “The memory should come back…the memories were gone when I first changed, and they came back, and then they slowly ebbed away.”
“Are you saying that after a while, all my memories will cease to exist?”
“No, Bella. You’re human. So they will just take a while to come back. But if you want to become a vampire, they will fade again.”

Part 22 – Bella’s POV
I knew the consequences of becoming a vampire. I had felt the pain of the transformation and experienced the loss of human memory that comes with being a vampire, and now I was feeling the physical after-effects. My limbs ached constantly, and I found that even after nine days, I was unable to stay standing for more than a few minutes. Most of the time, I sat up in bed propped against the heap of pillows Edward arranged for me. Edward. He had never left my side since I regained consciousness, and he had been there the whole time I was incapacitated. I could tell. The rings around his pupils were still crimson, meaning he hadn’t fed since he drank my blood. However, even with Edward’s presence, my dreams were full of vampires with evil, red eyes, followed by darkness and high-pitched shrieks. The worst part was that Edward was blaming himself for the whole thing.
“Edward?”
“Yes, love?”
Even though I knew that the transformation would be agonizing, I still yearned to become a vampire; I wanted to be with Edward, regardless of the excruciating pain.
“You’re still going to change me.” It sounded more like a question than a statement.
Edward exhaled deeply, confirming my uncertainties.
“Edward, you promised.”
“But Bella…I nearly killed you. To put you through this again would be…” Edward shuddered.
However, I was through listening to his side. I stood up.
“Edward, I have waited plenty long enough for this. We had a deal.” He opened his mouth to speak, but I cut him off, beginning to shout. “Why does the world just seem to be hell-bent against me becoming a vampire? First, I get kidnapped for not being transformed just as you’re about to bite me. Then, Jake goes missing and kisses me, and I start doubting my decision to become a vampire. Then, when I’ve made up my mind, you leave to go hunting, and the Volturi bite me. And what do you do?!? You come up with the bright idea to suck the venom out, even though you promised me that you would change me. And here I am, human. It’s been over a month since we got married, Edward.” My voice broke. “Don’t you want me to be with you forever?”

Part 23 – Bella’s POV
Edward stared at me, stunned, his eyes full of emotion.
“Do you really have to ask?”
“I just did,” I said, my voice sounding harsher than I had intended. The instant those words had come out of my mouth, I regretted saying them.
“Well, if that’s really how you feel…” Edward turned away, averting his eyes, concealing the hurt I knew I had caused.
“I’m sorry, Edward. I didn’t mean it.” I came up behind Edward and wrapped my arms around his waist. He twisted around to face me, gently pulling me to his torso.
“Bella, I love you.” He tilted my chin up so I could see his face. “I love you, Bella Cullen. Do you believe me?”
“Yes.” I was beginning to feel lightheaded.
“Good.” Edward smiled his crooked smile and kissed me. Eagerly, I kissed him back, opening my mouth slightly, hoping he wouldn’t stop. Blood raced through my veins, and my arms snaked around Edward’s neck, my fingers running through his hair. His icy hands ran up and down my back, keeping me pressed close to his chest. He lifted me up in his arms and carried me downstairs into the kitchen. Setting me on the counter, he grinned broadly and asked, “What do you want for breakfast?”
“I don’t care…whatever you have.” As Edward began pulling food out of the refrigerator, I glanced at his scarlet eyes. “You know, Edward, while we’re on the subject of eating, you really should go hunting.
“Bella…” Edward protested, sounding exasperated.
“Well, it’s unnecessary to push yourself like this.”
Edward chuckled at the defiant expression on my face.
“Did I mention how much I love you?” Edward put down the carton of eggs he was holding and walked over to where I was sitting on the counter. I leaned forward to kiss Edward again, laughing softly.
A gagging sound came from the doorway.
Jacob was here.

Part 24 – Edward’s POV
The dog grunted in disgust.
“Get a room!”
I listened in on Jacob’s thoughts, which spewed dislike and jealousy. Just to spite Jacob, I leaned in once more to kiss Bella. Bella had insisted that I not torment the wolf, but he deserved it. He had twisted the truth around, forcing me into a decision. In order for me to be able to stay with Bella while she recuperated, Jacob said that he had to be allowed to see Bella at least once a day. Alone. That was the deal; technically, Jacob said, I had broken the treaty by drinking Bella’s blood, even though the dog had agreed to it. Bella didn’t let on to how much her being alone with him confused her, but I could tell. After seeing the wolf, she would be more distant, more reclusive. I’d leave Bella alone in the bedroom, pretending, for her sake, that I could not hear perfectly her sobs for Jacob through the shut door.
I understood why Jacob was doing this; he hoped that by seeing Bella every day, he could sway her decision to stay with me and become a vampire. However, I knew his plan wouldn’t work. Or did I just hope it wouldn’t work? I shook my head to clear my thoughts. All that mattered to me was Bella’s happiness, whatever she chose. With one final peck on the cheek and a glance between the two of them, I was out the door and running through the woods, leaving all my problems behind me.

Part 25 Bella’s POV
“Hi, Bella.”
“Hi, Jake.”
An awkward silence passed between us. Jacob attempted to break the tension by speaking.
“So…the weather’s nice, isn’t it?” We both looked out the window at the dark gray sky that threatened rain.
“Not really.” I laughed gently.
More silence.
“Um…how are things going?”
“Good.”
“That’s good…” Jacob’s voice trailed off, and he looked preoccupied.
“Is everything okay, Jake? You seem a little out of it today.”
Jake didn’t answer at first, he just looked at his feet, avoiding my eyes.
“Oh, it’s nothing. I’m just tired, I guess.”
Neither of us spoke for a moment; then, Jake inhaled sharply, as if steeling himself to say something he didn’t want to say.
“Actually, Bella, there is something.”
“Oh?”
“Yeah. I was wondering what you and—” a sour expression appeared on Jake’s face “—Edward are planning to do with, well…What I mean is, have you guys talked about when you’re going to become…one of…them?” He barely got out the last word.
“Well, actually, we haven’t talked about it at all since…” My voice trailed off, and I shuddered slightly as I remembered the ice that had spread through my veins like fire.
“Really?” The relief in Jake’s voice was obvious. He smiled.
“But I’ve been thinking about it. A lot.” Jake’s smile faltered.
“And?”
“And I think that it’s still going to happen, but there are many things I need to take care of beforehand. Now, I have a very good idea of what’s going to happen; I know what I’m giving up, what—who—I’ll forget, the pain of the transformation, everything. Now, it’s just a matter of preparing for it.”
“Do you think you’ll ever be ready?”
Jacob’s eyes met mine, and we just sat there for a while. I could see my answer in Jake’s eyes.
“I…I just don’t know. It’s all just so complicated.” I could feel tears of frustration prick the corners of my eyes, but I blinked them back. I couldn’t let myself to fall to pieces, not in front of Jake. I couldn’t do that to him. I took a deep breath, trying to regain my composure.
However, Jake had already seen through my charade. He strode across the room and swept me into a bone-breaking hug.
I felt safe in his embrace. I buried my face in his shirt, letting everything that had happened wash over me. Jake bent down and whispered softly in my ear.
“Bella, no matter what happens, I just want you to know that human or not, I love you.”
I began to pull away, but Jacob held me to him.
“Wait—I’m not finished. Just listen for a minute. Well, like I was saying, human or not, I love you. It makes no difference what you are; you’ll always be ‘Bella’ to me, one way or another. And I know you’re married. I know that you love Edward more, too…All I’m asking is that we can stay friends.”
Just as I hugged Jake once more, the door opened, and Edward walked in.

Part 26 Bella’s POV
I felt my heart stop in my chest. Oh, no. This cannot be happening.
“Bella?” Edward took a step toward where Jake and I stood, looking anxious.
I just stood there, staring at Edward, dreading what he had to say. I suddenly became aware that I was still in Jacob’s embrace, and I quickly disentangled myself from his arms.
“Edward, this isn’t what it looks like,” I said, crossing the distance between us and laying a hand on his arm. The muscles in his arm were tense, but they relaxed at my touch.
“It’s okay, Bella.” As he said this, Edward glanced in Jacob’s direction, not looking as if he was angry but with a somewhat quizzical expression on his face, as if he was merely trying to put the last couple pieces in a difficult puzzle.
“Hey, Jake, I think it would be best if you go now.”
Jake nodded at my suggestion, and he left without protest, exchanging a meaningful look with Edward on the way out.
That’s odd...
Now Edward and I were alone, and for some reason, I felt like a treed cat.
“I’m sorry Edward…”
“It’s okay, Bella,” Edward repeated, holding me in his arms and stroking my hair.
For a moment, I felt that familiar dizziness come over me, and I was rendered temporarily speechless. Then, something snapped in my brain.
“Edward, what were you doing back so early?”
Edward hesitated before answering.
“Well, if you must know, I was out in the woods, and then I heard Jacob’s thoughts. They were…less than chaste,”—I felt myself blush crimson—“and I could tell he was trying desperately to come up with a scheme to keep you from losing your soul to me.” My breath caught in my throat. “I was afraid that you would get hurt again, and I can't just stand by and let it happen.”
Overwhelmed with emotion, I nestled into Edward’s chest and breathed, “I love you, Edward.”
He smiled his crooked smile, and before I could say anything else, before I could explain myself, he kissed me.

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