After Edward tucks Bella into the crisp linen sheets of his antique sleigh bed, he kisses her forehead and takes his leave of her. She’s disappointed to be sleeping alone, if not at all surprised. He did, after all, make known his intentions to wait until they’re married. As much as she wants to be close to him, she doesn’t attempt to change his mind. Mentally and emotionally exhausted, she knows she needs to rest. She also knows she needs to think.
He’s a strange one—there’s no doubt about that—and so much about him remains a mystery. Sometimes it seems as if he’s keeping things from her, that what he’s told her of his life barely scratches the surface of who he is. Then there’s his coldness—both in affectation and body temperature. The former she can easily reason away as simply being the result of a formal upbringing; the latter is a bit more troubling. Though she’s not familiar enough with circulatory disorders to have reason to believe he’s being deliberately deceitful, something about it doesn’t sit well with her. In the quiet blackness of the hundred-year-old room in which she lies, there are no distractions—nothing to prevent her from thinking the worst. It isn’t long before her biggest fear—that she’ll once again be completely alone—overwhelms her and her mind conjures up dozens of morbid scenarios of varying possibility.
None of them end well.
Needing reassurance, she kicks the sheets away from her body and she bolts across the room. Her eyes close as she wraps her hand around the crystal doorknob, instinctively expecting light to wash over her the moment she pushes the door open. Except it doesn’t. When she steps into the hall, it’s every bit as dark as her bedroom.
She’s about to call for Edward when she hears footsteps above. Her instinct is to follow them— though Edward has yet to show her the third floor, he’s told her to consider this her home. Arms flailing in front of her, she grabs nothing but air until finally her hands find the hard wood of the banister. Gripping it as if it were a lifeline, she slowly makes her way upstairs.
“Is everything all right?”
Edward’s pale skin has an almost translucent glow in the darkness and, for a moment, she thinks she’s seen a ghost.
Her hands fly up to her face; she fills her lungs with air. “Oh my god.”
He wraps his arms around her body. Her surroundings may be foreign to her, but the familiarity of his cold embrace gives her comfort.
The irony escapes her.
“I thought you were a ghost…” She laughs. Despite still having all the physical effects of being startled, she knows how ridiculous she sounds. “Because you know hundred-year-old homes filled with antiques always have at least one un-dead resident.”
Smiling, he kisses the top of her head. She doesn’t know how right she is.
“Let’s get you back to bed,” he says.
Nothing the genuine panic in her voice, he takes a step back and studies her face.
“You’ve nothing to fear, my love.”
“I won’t be killed by a supernatural being while under your roof?”
Edward thinks of the soft heat of her body and how tenuous his control over his lust.
“I can’t promise you that,” he says. “Just that you won’t feel any pain.”
The next morning, Bella sleeps far later than usual. Though technically daylight, the sun is nowhere to be found. From a second-floor window, she watches Long Island Sound. The storm makes the water choppy, giving the illusion of waves. The weather was like this the day she scattered her grandmother’s ashes in the Atlantic Ocean. If she stares long enough, she can almost see her grandmother in the tide.
As long as I’m near the ocean, I’m not alone. She leans against the wall and watches the waves.
She thinks she’ll be safe here.