Sunday, March 16, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 7 & Pics

Chapter 7
September 2001
“It’s so fucking unfair,” Jessica whined, and I could feel her eyes on me across the library. “I get a C for my oral book report, but the freak over there gets an A. She didn’t even have to get up in front of the class.”
“Jess, she can’t speak,” Tyler pointed out, rolling his eyes.
He’d lost patience with her ever since they’d been busted by Edward a few weeks ago. I’d overheard him tell her that he couldn’t afford to get into trouble. He was here on scholarship, and he wasn’t going to mess that up. And Lauren stopped hanging out with them altogether. She was sitting across the room with Eric Yorkie. Apparently, the skeletons in their closets that Edward had threatened them with were scary enough to shut them up.
“Yeah, silence is golden, Jess,” Mike taunted her. “You should try it and shut the fuck up every now and then.”
She threw a book at him, but he knocked it away with a laugh.

I shook my head, keeping my eyes on my paper, thinking that Alice had been right about them. It was love-hate or something. They were inseparable, yet they fought all the time. It did seem rather unhealthy. But the more they bickered with each other, the less they set their sights on Alice and me, which was a good thing.
“Ignore them,” I heard next to me, and I smiled up at Rose. “They’re miserable little shits.”
Chuckling, I shrugged.
She sat down next to me, setting her books on the table. “No, really. Just ignore it. Jessica is jealous, and Mike is just an idiot.” She took a deep breath before continuing. “Tyler comes from a working-class family, so he’s pretty much left those two to do what they want, but Jessica and Mike are spoiled, pampered, and pompous. They’ve never struggled for a thing in their lives. You have to consider the source.”
“I know,” I whispered to her, studying her face. It seemed she had more to say.
She smiled when I spoke. “That’s the first time you’ve spoken to me directly.” When I looked apologetically her way, she waved a hand, still smiling. “No, it’s cool. I get it.” She sobered quickly, giving the group in question a glance before looking back to me. “They’ve also never been hurt or really truly scared. Not a getting caught type scared, but real, true fear.”
Rose had known fear. I could see it all over her face. It took experience in that type of fear in order to recognize it on someone else’s face. She’d looked death in the eye and survived it.
My brow wrinkled, and I whispered, “You okay?”
“I should be asking you that,” she said with a snicker, but she swallowed nervously before leaning closer to me. “A few years ago, I was out with some friends. It was the year before I came here. We’d gone to the movies in Manhattan. When we came out, it was raining. We should have taken a cab home, but we opted for the subway. My stop was before theirs, so I got off the train and headed up to the street. I didn’t make it past the first alleyway before I was knocked over the head and dragged between a dumpster and a stack of boxes.” She sighed, toying with her pen on the tabletop. “An old homeless woman found me the next morning and called the police. I’d been beaten, raped, and left for dead two blocks from my apartment building.”
She locked gazes with me. “You have your reasons for not talking, but I did the opposite. I was angry, pissed off, and I took it out on everyone.” She gazed across the library, smiling softly. “Until I got here and met Emmett.”
Smiling, I looked over at the guy in question, and he grinned back just as sweetly. He looked like an angry bear of a guy, but he was so funny and so very easy to be around.
“Emmett takes the bad stuff and makes it go away,” she said, looking back to me. “And he lives in New Jersey, so he was able to start going to therapy groups with me. Still does occasionally.” She sniffed a little, but smiled. “What I’m saying is, they don’t get it, Bella. They never will. They’ll skate through their cushioned lives without a care in the world. They’ll marry who they should, go to the college they should, and have their two-point-five kids. They’ll never know what it’s like to have to fight to survive. You can’t let them get to you.” When I nodded, she started to get up, but faced me again. “And take it from someone who understands… If there’s someone you can talk to, someone who makes you comfortable, or someone willing to listen, then take that and run with it.”
My thoughts immediately went to Edward. I wasn’t sure why, but he seemed to be the one person I could actually speak to aloud almost consistently. I wasn’t sure if it was our common love of music, or his easy way of letting me decide, or even just because I felt so calm around him, but I’d realized around our third or fourth piano lesson that I’d speak more than write to him.
There was also Alice, and even though I knew she’d listen, it didn’t seem fair to burden her with my problems.
“I see you have an idea,” she stated, patting my shoulder. “Think about it.”
Nodding, I gazed more at my paper, but stopped her before she left the table. “I’m sorry that happened, Rose.”
“I’m sorry for you, too,” she answered, but smiled. “But like Emmett once told me, it takes a lot to keep a good bitch down.”
Giggling, I nodded, and she left me alone at the table, until Alice joined me a few minutes later.
She dropped her books heavily on the table, glaring my way. “Biology is done, Calculus test is over, and English Lit is just reading. Can we finally take a fucking breath?”
Chuckling, I shoved my Spanish work her way. “No.”
She slammed the book closed with a smirk. “Yes. Where’s our ghostly journal?” she asked.
We’d been so busy starting the second week of school that I’d hardly had the time to eat, much less think about anything outside of homework, tests, and my piano composition. The journal had gotten shoved to the back of the list, which was okay, given that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.
Grinning, I reached into my backpack and pulled it out.
She snatched it from me, shoving my Spanish book out of the way. “You’ve got all this coming weekend to do Spanish. It’s not due until Monday. I want to know about MG, dammit.”
I shook my head at her nickname, but it fit. Masen Ghost. She opened the journal, rereading his reply, only to pull another sheet of notebook paper and a pencil to her. She started making a list of what he’d revealed. While she worked in silence, I finished up my Spanish homework. I honestly didn’t want to leave it for the weekend.
“Okay, so let’s see what we have,” she whispered, scooting closer so that her list was between us. “I’ve been thinking about this all damn day. We needed two lists: things that are a given, and hints that he dropped.”
She pointed to her lists, and I nodded, reading them over her shoulder. One list was really short, while the other one went on and on.
“We know he’s solid. He said so, and really, aren’t ghosts just energy?” she asked me, and I shrugged. “I’m just saying, if you can walk through walls, you couldn’t pick up a damn pen.”
Grinning, I waved her on.
“He says he’s a man, but…not,” she grumbled, circling that point. “He writes like a guy…a man, but I don’t get the ‘not’ part. We’ll come back to that.” She tapped the other list. “Here’s the clues he left, just the things I picked up. He has rules to follow. Now…are those rules, as in laws? Or some sort of secret code of silence?”
Shaking my head, I tapped the next few points.
“Right! Exactly. So if he’s some mythical thing, then there would be rules. I mean, Clark Kent just didn’t go around telling the world that he was Superman and from another planet!”
Snorting, I had to bury my laugh into my backpack, but she had a point.
“Look at this,” she said, pulling MG’s reply closer. “He mentions books, fairytales, and ghost stories just before myths, beasts, hidden in shadows, and long lives.” She tapped her chin. “There are only a few things…beings that have to stay hidden, but live long lives.” She tapped the notebook, gazing slowly around the library before getting up suddenly.
She returned quickly, setting a book down in front of me. “This.”
My mouth fell open at the sight of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I met her gaze, which was completely serious.
“It’s that…or this.” She tossed another book down with a grin.
I stared at JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, shaking my head slowly as I laughed in silence.
Alice sat next to me with a giggle as I totally had to wipe tears away. “Think about it, Bella. Must remain secret, hidden in shadow, long lives, ghost story, myth, beast,” she counted off on her fingers.
I pulled a piece of blank paper to me, writing quickly.
So you think there’s some sort of blood drinking, undead creature wandering around in the east wing? Is there a coffin somewhere I’ve not seen? Or a flying ten-year-old in green tights?
Alice chuckled. “Technically, they’re immortal. Undead would be a zombie.” She tapped Dracula a few times. “This could be the reason I can’t see anything up there.”
I let out a frustrated sigh, but gave her a wry smirk before writing to her.
Okay, so let’s ask him.
She grinned. “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!”
I pulled MG’s letter closer, rereading it. Ignoring all his cryptic clues about himself, I focused on his questions, the sound of concern, and the pleas to be careful. The pull to answer him truthfully was so very hard to resist, so I started writing.
I wrote in my spare time and just before I’d go to bed for the next few days. I’d missed putting my feelings on paper, and I wasn’t sure why, but MG seemed to have replaced my journal. Something about that was scary – the letting go of my father – but there was a feeling of curiosity there that I couldn’t ignore. Since I’d been at Masen Manor, I’d seen things I couldn’t explain, things I wouldn’t have seen in Boston, so I needed to learn to accept the strange: the psychic best friend and the possibility that a ghost lived in the east wing of the castle.
By the time I finished my last class on Friday, I’d filled almost two full pages with an answer back to MG, and I had enough time to place it in the east wing before meeting Edward for my piano lesson.
It had been almost three weeks since I’d stepped behind the tapestry and into the old piano room. Nothing had changed. Dust and debris were still everywhere, and the late afternoon sun still cast eerie shadows in corners, at the top of the busted stairs, and along the rubble-filled fireplace. I inhaled deeply the musty scent of the place, just to catch that sweet smell that I liked. Dropping the notebook in its usual delivery spot, I gave the room another long, slow gaze before hastily retreating out the secret door.
After making my way to my dorm room for my music, back down the stairs, along two long hallways, and into the auditorium, I felt like I’d run miles to get there. I was out of breath when I finally dropped my things onto the piano bench. As I pulled out the sheet music for my composition, I heard the auditorium doors open.
I fought my eye roll and swoon as I watched Edward walk down the aisle, only to forgo the steps and pull himself up onto the stage with a quick and graceful push of his hands and a lift of a long, strong leg. It really was unfair how gorgeous he was, and I was pretty sure he was clueless. He never dressed like the other male teachers – dress shirts, ties, or sometimes, suit jackets. He preferred jeans or casual pants, sweaters or button-down shirts that he wouldn’t tuck in, and today, it was sneakers and dark denim jeans that sat low on his hips and a black sweater with the sleeves shoved up to his elbows. And always, there was the hair that looked like he’d been flying, all windblown and carefree.
A smile curled his perfect mouth as he came to stand on the other side of the piano, and I waited for the words that always made my stomach feel like butterflies were battling with swords and armor inside of it. I wanted to punch myself for the way that he made me feel, but I simply couldn’t stop it.
“Hello, Bella,” he said with his usual velvet tone.
I waved, smiling his way and going back to my music in order not to stare.
“How were classes this week?”
I shrugged, but sighed. “Busy.”
His chuckle made me glance his way, but he nodded. “I’m sure. It’s hard to come up for air around here.”
I shrugged again. “It’s okay. Keeps me from thinking about home,” I answered him without thinking. How he had the capability to get me to do that I had no idea, but sometimes, the truth just…came out of my mouth when I was with him. No one had ever been able to do that, and the power he had over me scared me.
“Are you homesick, Bella?” he asked, sitting down at the edge of the piano bench and giving me his complete attention.
I shrugged, shook my head, and then finally held up my thumb and forefinger just centimeters apart.
“A little?” he verified, and I nodded. “It’s understandable to miss home. What do you miss most?”
I took a deep breath and let it out slowly, eyeing him for a moment. He had this way of looking at me, of asking just the right questions to get me to answer him.
“Chelsea,” I whispered, frowning at the fact that I couldn’t say my own mother or my stepfather, but I missed Chelsea like crazy. “My room, my own bed,” I said, smiling when he laughed, but as I gazed back down at the notes on the sheet music, my smile fell. “I miss being surrounded by memories of my dad.”
My voice had been barely audible to me, but Edward had to have heard it, because the sadness that crossed his beautiful face matched what I felt inside.
“Don’t be sorry, Bella,” he sighed, standing up from the piano bench. “You’re not the only one that has lost a parent. Both of mine are gone, though I miss my mother more than my father. He and I didn’t have what you would call a good father/son relationship.”
I gazed up at him, my brow furrowing at what looked like dark anger and deep-seated sadness crossed over his face, and I wondered what had happened to them, although I wasn’t brave enough to ask.
However, he cracked the heartbreaking, crooked smile that I’d learned to crave. “But I have my aunt and uncle. They’ve been like a second set of parents.”
My eyes narrowed on him. “How old are you?” I asked without thinking.
He grinned, breaking into a soft chuckle. “Twenty-two…and getting older every day. We need to work today, Bella.” He tapped my sheet music with a long, graceful finger.
Groaning, I nodded, plopping down onto the piano bench. About an hour later, we were both frustrated with my song, and my fist came down onto the keys, causing a foul note to echo around us.
Edward laughed, bracing his hands on his knees. “Okay, okay!” he said, still chuckling as he held up his hands in surrender. “Let’s try something different.” He shook his head, grinning and pointing to the keys. “Play…anything. Something that speaks to you or an influence…or even something that represents your mood.”
I started a death march with a belligerently raised eyebrow, which made him fold his arms across his chest and counter with his own dangerous, yet sexy eyebrow.
“Seriously, Bella.”
Smirking, I nodded and started something contemporary, yet slow and sad. The words swirled in my mind silently as I played. I wasn’t sure if Edward knew the song, but one look at his face told me that maybe he did. He paced, though, a hand raking through his hair for the hundredth time since we’d been on that stage.
When I finished a song about being pulled to a person without the ability to stop it, I took my hands off the piano. I sighed wearily, thinking my crush on Edward had grown into more, but I was no closer to finishing my song than I was the day I’d met him. And I was feeling too much at one time.
“I can’t finish this song, Edward,” I whispered, fiddling with my charm bracelet in my lap, but he’d heard me, coming to kneel next to me. “I miss him too much to do it.”
“You can, sweetheart,” he whispered back, waiting until I met his sad eyes that seemed darker at the moment, more amber-honey than the usual gold-hazel, surrounded by the longest, darkest eyelashes I’d ever seen on anyone. “I know it’s hard, but you have to take what’s in here,” he said, tapping my temple, and then pointed to the piano, “and put it there.”
I tried to ignore the term of endearment he’d just used and focus on what he was trying to tell me, but I just shook my head.
“Emotion drives music, Bella,” he went on with an urging in his tone. “Happiness, sadness, anger, love, jealousy, heartbreak… More songs are written about missing someone or loving someone or even inspired by someone than any other music out there. You know this. And you’re strong enough to do this.”
“I wish people would quit saying that,” I huffed, balling up my hands in my lap. “I don’t feel strong.”
He got quiet for a moment. “You realize you haven’t written a single word to me today?”
My head snapped up to gape at him, and he smiled, jerking his chin toward the blackboard that sat there blank, save for a few notes we’d tested.
“Nope. Not one.”
Staring at the blackboard for a moment, my vision blurred from tears. The comfort and ease he gave me scared me. I wondered if he’d be the only person to whom I could truly open up, and that really hurt because I was pretty sure he only saw me as a favor to his aunt. When my tutoring was over, or next year when I graduated, we’d go our separate ways, and that thought made my chest ache. It didn’t seem long enough.
He sighed deeply, shaking his head without taking his eyes from my face. “What’s going on in that head of yours, Bella?” he asked aloud, but softly.
Frowning, I shook my head. “You don’t wanna know…”
He huffed a humorless laugh. “Yeah, I do. Probably more than I could explain.”
I glanced back at the blank blackboard and then back to him. “I only do that with you,” I admitted softly.
He grinned. “Then I’m honored, Miss Swan,” he said with a grandiose hand on his chest, which made me smile. “It’s a good thing, Bella. And I don’t take that lightly. I hope you know that. You’ve been through hell, and if you ever need to…”
I shook my head, waving him away and getting up from the bench. “You don’t mean—”
Suddenly, Edward was in front of me, grasping my shoulders gently to make sure I was looking him in the eye. “I damn well mean it.”
Swallowing nervously, I nodded, but he was too close and smelled too good, like sandalwood or laundry soap, so I stepped back and looked away. The urge to hug him or kiss him was right on the surface of things, but with that also came a deep desire to scream and yell and blurt out everything that I felt, and my stomach churned at the thought.
Edward groaned, again gripping his hair. “I think we’re done for today,” he said, sounding weary, and guilt ravaged me because I’d made him feel that way.
“Sorry,” I whispered, gathering up my things and starting for the stage steps, but before I got to the bottom, his voice rang out.
“I don’t want you to be sorry, Bella. I just want to help you,” he stated, and I knew he believed the words he was saying.
I shook my head and looked back at him. He didn’t want that. It was too much for me, so I was damn sure it was too much for anyone else, especially someone like Edward.
He smiled – sadly, I noted – but shot me a wave. “Have a good weekend, Bella. I’ll see you next week…if not sooner.”
Smiling back a little, I waved and left the auditorium.
As soon as the auditorium doors closed, I sat down hard on the piano bench, my hands clawing at my hair. I wanted so badly to just wrap Bella up and take that fearful look off her face. I’d been so close to doing just that for a split second that my hands shook. My whole body physically ached to simply do something to help her, to hold her, but there wasn’t anything I could do.
Standing up, I ran for the hidden passageway, but instead of heading toward the east wing, I turned, taking the tunnel that led out to a far point of the grounds. I needed to get away from the castle, but I needed advice, too. By the time I came up to the surface, the sun was starting to set and the smell of Leah’s wood-burning stove was sharp in the air.
I took the path toward her cottage at a human pace, my hands shoved deep into my front pockets. It wasn’t until I was about a hundred feet from her front door that I smelled him.
Smirking, I said, “I need to see your mother, Jacob.”
Stepping from the trees, Jacob huffed, snorted, and shook himself. His deep red fur fluffed up, but he walked to me. The older he’d gotten, the bigger his wolf form had become. He’d been the size of a large regular dog the first time he’d transformed, but now, he was as tall as a grizzly bear. He sat down playfully in my path, tilting his head to the side.
Jesus, Edward…you look like you lost your best friend, he thought to me.
“Not now, Jake,” I sighed, my head falling back as I rubbed the back of my neck. “I need her help.”
His head bowed forward, but he got up and stepped aside, his thoughts hopeful. He liked Bella, and his thoughts were a mix of her and Alice and the times he’d taken them into Hunter’s Lake. She’d never spoken aloud to him, but he liked her all the same. My eyes narrowed on him when Jasper, and then Alice, entered his thoughts, but he quickly moved on to his mother and what time dinner would be ready.
I chuckled. “I won’t keep her long, I promise,” I vowed to him, shoving him a little when I walked by.
He barked roughly, but took off for the woods to give the perimeter a check.
Making my way up Leah’s stone walkway, I glanced up when the door opened before I could knock. Frowning, I gazed up at Carlisle.
“Is she okay?” I asked him.
“She’s fine. Fighting every suggestion I make concerning her medical care. She’ll be happy to see you, though,” he replied sarcastically, grinning when Leah’s scoff met my ears from behind him.
“I’m an old woman, you two. I’m supposed to be cranky and creaky and wrinkled. I’m deaf, not dumb,” she prattled on as she wandered about her kitchen. “Not everyone gets to stay perfect and pretty like you.”
“Oh boy,” I said, stepping over the threshold and into the warmth of the little cottage. “Aren’t you in rare form tonight?” I asked her, leaning down to kiss her cheek, which she gladly accepted.
Her almost-black eyes glared up at me, but she poked my chest. I went with it so she wouldn’t hurt her fingers.
“You… Just where the hell have you been? I have to hear from Jacob, not you, that your ‘swan’ is real,” she chided, pointing to her kitchen table. “Sit. Tell me about her.”
“Should I leave you?” Carlisle offered, but I shook my head no.
“Please stay,” I sighed, resting my elbows rudely on Leah’s table, but I buried my face in my hands. “I need…help.”
Carlisle took a seat at the table, and Leah made herself a cup of tea and joined us. When I looked at her, the sarcastic belligerence was gone from her face, and in its place was warmth, her thoughts filling with worry. Carlisle’s were similar, though his were more toward what could’ve happened with Bella to have upset me.
So, I told them everything: how the piano lessons were going, the journal, the pull to Bella, and lastly, the fact that she spoke to me.
“You should’ve seen her today,” I said to Carlisle. “She answered every question I asked her verbally, even blurted out questions to me. She’d never done that before. I think she shocked herself, because her emotions were all over the place.” My hands curled into claws on the table. “I don’t know how to help her, and I don’t know if I can…”
“Edward, son,” Carlisle urged, stopping me. “Can’t you see? You are helping her.”
I shook my head no.
He sighed, but a patient smile curled his mouth. “Edward, her emotions are all over the place because the walls she’s built up since her father’s death are starting to crumble. I won’t lie to you, son. When they finally fall away, she’ll shatter, but she’ll be better for it. You just have to be there for her. It’s obvious she trusts you.”
A harsh, humorless laugh escaped me. “She shouldn’t. Everything about me is a cheap façade invented to cover up the demon that I truly am. If she knew everything, all that fragile trust would simply evaporate, and she’d hate me for it. I’d be proof that she couldn’t trust anyone, and she’d push me away.”
“Wrong,” Leah piped up, gazing at me over her mug. “If she knew everything, then your souls would connect.”
“How, Leah? She barely trusts her best friend. She’s been hurt before, and I’m not sure she can take it again. She’d run. If that happens, I don’t know what I’ll do… I can’t live without her in my life in some capacity. Even these piano lessons aren’t enough,” I admitted to the both of them, but turned to Carlisle. “How’d you do it? How’d you stay away from Esme for so long? This is killing me.”
He smiled sadly. “I left her.”
I shook my head. “I can’t. Maybe I’m too selfish, or maybe it’s wrong, but I can’t. I love that it’s me that she talks to, and I can’t leave that. And I can’t get her to open up, only to walk away from her. No. Just…no.”
Carlisle’s hand landed on my shoulder, giving it a squeeze. “The age of consent in New York is seventeen.”
“Don’t be crass, Carlisle!” I growled, knocking his hand away, but he laughed. “That’s not what this is about.”
“Isn’t it?” he countered seriously, raising an eyebrow at me. “You must understand that, if she feels the same way, which I’m sure she does, then this will be real. It will be something that eventually will come out.”
I waved him away. It was something that I’d have to deal with later, but not at the moment. Even though I was feeling everything for Bella all at once, it was her emotional stability that concerned me the most at the moment.
“I don’t know how you can be sure she feels the same,” I muttered, giving him a side glance.
“Because he’s not wrong, Edward,” Leah stated, pointing to her crystal ball. “She feels the same because my grandmother told you that your soul mate would belong to you and only you.” She shrugged, silently daring me to argue, which I didn’t. “When the truth comes out, which it will, it will set your heart free. Never mind this age business. What in the world does that matter? Technically, you’re a hundred and twenty-two.”
Carlisle snorted, and I rolled my eyes at the both of them.
Leah set out her tarot cards, humming softly to herself, and pointed to them. “Nothing’s changed…” She held up her hand when I opened my mouth. “Except for this: secrets revealed. Yours.” She nodded once. “And look at what’s still on top.”
“Love,” I whispered in awe, shaking my head and staring at the card that had plagued me for a hundred years. “And death? You still see three?”
“Unfortunately,” she sighed, frowning at the skeleton on horseback. “Though, I don’t know what type of death we’re seeing here.”
“What do you mean?” Carlisle asked, sitting forward.
“I mean, my grandmother called Edward’s death, but he’s not dead now, is he?” she countered, shrugging a shoulder. “This isn’t an exact science, and I’m usually close, but that one’s tricky.”
“Technically, we’re dead. My heart doesn’t beat,” I argued.
“Yet your heart is as full and big as the house we’re sitting in,” she snapped, glaring at me. “Don’t assume that just because it stopped beating, it stopped feeling. If it had, we wouldn’t be sitting here worrying about your beautiful swan, now would we?”
I felt thoroughly chastised, but said nothing.
“So death could mean someone becoming one of us,” Carlisle surmised, sitting back in his chair.
“Or it could mean the end of a life,” Leah added, grimacing a little as she nodded.
My chest ached when the next question popped out of my mouth. “Is it Bella?”
Leah’s eyes softened at that, and she reached across the table and took my hand. “I don’t know, sweetie. I’d have to give her my own reading. I’d have to meet her, and even then, if I saw death, I couldn’t tell you which type of death.”
“But…” I sighed deeply, clawing at my hair. “But you’d see her with me, right? I mean, Giselle saw my ‘death,’ but she saw Bella coming later. Wouldn’t it be the same?”
“I don’t know,” Leah sighed, tapping the love card. “But this doesn’t change, Edward.”
Nodding, I stood up and walked around the table to kiss Leah’s cheek again. “Thanks, Leah.”
“Mmhm,” she hummed, looking up at me. “Whatever it is you’re doing, it’s working.”
I nodded that I’d heard her, but I said, “Please listen to Carlisle’s advice, Leah. If you don’t do it for us, do it for Jacob.”
She looked a little guilty, and her thoughts matched her childlike pout. “You don’t play fair.”
I tapped my temple, winking her way. “Mind reader. I don’t know how to play fair.”
“Oh, pooh,” she huffed, but her smile and her thoughts at least told me she’d try the diet Carlisle was suggesting.
Just before Carlisle and I walked out her door, I stopped and faced her. “What do you know about seers? Vision seers?”
Her eyebrows shot up. “They’re rare. Very rare. Why? You’ve met one?”
“Yeah,” I answered her, nodding a little. “It would be interesting to get you two in the same room.”
Leah’s laugh was loud and lighthearted. “I bet it would be.”
Carlisle and I were quiet on the way back to the castle. We walked at a human pace, taking the path around the lake. When the castle came into view, the windows were full of activity around the dining hall. And because the night was cool and crisp, some students were eating their dinner out in the courtyard.
Bella’s presence instantly called to me, and I caught sight of her and Alice sitting at the table in the corner. Her smile was small and apologetic when she saw Carlisle and me.
I turned to him. “I can’t mess this up, but I feel like that’s all I’m doing.”
He sighed deeply. “Listen to her, Edward. Let her tell you what she needs. Everything else will fall into place.”
We walked inside, and I gave one last glance to Bella before I closed the door. She seemed to be arguing with Alice, who was grinning like a loon. Leaving them to their dinner, I shut the door.
Carlisle and I separated at the back stairs with waves and promises to see each other the next day. Mentally, he was going over everything that we’d talked about with Leah, most likely getting ready to tell Esme when he got to their wing.
The very second I hit the third floor, my nose caught Bella’s scent. Inhaling deeply, I realized that she’d been at the hidden door behind the tapestry recently. After a glance around to make sure the hall was empty, I ducked behind the hanging fabric and through the hidden door.
I’d all but given up on her replying back to me, so when the bright purple journal sat atop my broken piano when I stepped fully into the room, hope and nerves exploded in my chest. I had the book in my hands in the blink of an eye, racing up the broken steps and into my living quarters. Shutting and locking my door behind me, I fell down onto the edge of my sofa and stared at the book before cracking it open.
Dear Masen Ghost (or MG for short),
I apologize for the delay in my answer. You gave me too much to think about. I want to still be mad at you for reading my private thoughts, but I have to admit, even an invisible mystery such as yourself is better than if my classmates got ahold of my journal. I suppose I have to take you at your word that you’ll keep my secrets. They, on the other hand, would not be so kind.
Your cryptic and dark descriptions of yourself were not much help. In fact, it only made me come up with more questions. You speak of rules, but are they forced upon you? Are you held captive in the east wing, never able to leave? That would explain the destruction up there; I would’ve gone crazy, too, if I were trapped. Or are they self-imposed? Are they something you’ve learned to use in order to keep people away?
You mentioned fiction and fairytales, myths and beasts…and danger. The list is endless of what you COULD be. If I left it up to my friend, Alice, you’d either be Dracula, sleeping in the daytime in coffins, or you’d be Peter Pan, never growing up. The latter doesn’t seem to fit. This isn’t Never Never Land, there is no Captain Hook, and no fairy dust could make me fly. Though, maybe that’s a lack of happy thoughts on my part. I don’t know.
I did come to the conclusion that you aren’t a real ghost. I can accept a lot of strange things in life, but that isn’t one of them. I can’t accept that one spirit could stay behind, yet others simply go away, leaving their families, their loved ones, alone to suffer without them. No, you’re real…or solid, as you put it. Otherwise, you couldn’t write.
How long have you lived inside this castle? Long lives could mean anything. It could mean immortality, or simply a very old man.
You speak of my scar, my strength, and my friends like you know me. You don’t know anything.
I rarely think about my scar. I used to cover it, but allowing it to show makes my inability to speak out loud an easier explanation. People look, they make their own conclusions, and they move on. Would I like it to go away? Probably, but I’ve learned to live with it.
You may be right about my friends. I certainly see a difference now compared to the ones I had before. Alice is tenacious and loyal, Rose is understanding, and my poor piano tutor, Edward, has the patience of Job. But how would you know that? How could you presume to know they weren’t heartless? Can you see them? Read their minds? To have that ability would be helpful. I’d love to read Edward’s mind. Sometimes, his face is a mask, though I’m sure it’s to cover up the frustration of dealing with me, but sometimes, he looks at me in a way that makes my stomach flip-flop. He’s as much of a mystery as you are.
Since I’ve been at Masen Academy, more people have told me I’m strong than I can count. It’s simply not a word I’d use to describe myself. I can’t understand where it’s coming from. I can’t speak to people I don’t know. At all. I can’t raise my voice above a whisper without panicking. And I honestly don’t know how to change that. Believe me, I’d love to be normal and not the freak that everyone sees, the freak that needs a doctor’s note for every teacher, or the freak that has to point to a menu to order something to eat. I’d love to be seen for what I CAN do, and not known as someone with “special circumstances.”
I did write to my father because he is gone and I miss him. He was everything to me. And having you read my letters to him took that away. But I’m not sure I shouldn’t thank you. There’s a part of me that knows – deep down – that I need to let him go, but it hurts. I’ve been told by countless doctors that I had to let him go, but it was so much easier to go on writing to him as if it was our old chats. He used to come in my room, and we’d talk about everything. He’d sit with me and watch dumb movies and TV shows, and I miss laughing with him. He’d listen to me practice the piano for hours while he worked at his desk, always wearing a small smile that was only for me.
I wrote to him out of guilt because it’s my fault he’s gone. One night, we were robbed, and I thought I heard something, but I didn’t wake up quickly enough. When I went to get him, it was too late. My voice was too late, and I wanted him to know I was sorry, that it should’ve been me that died and not him.
See, I’ve seen monsters, MG – monsters with knives and ski masks that laugh when you’re bleeding to death on the floor, monsters that still roam free and faceless – so your mysterious warnings didn’t scare me off. The monsters scare me, but you don’t. You could be a blood-drinking vampire, a snarling werewolf, or an angry centaur, but you promised not to hurt me, and I believe you.
Who is the one person you wish could see you? You said you were hidden, but that you wanted one person to truly see you. I understand that feeling. I hope they do.
A dry, fruitless sob erupted out of me, and I dropped the notebook to the coffee table. My hands clawed at my hair in frustration and sadness. For the first time since I’d been changed, I prayed for real tears that would never come. Tears for her. Tears for her pain.
It was all I could do not to run to her room, to tell her just how wrong she was. She’d been a child the day they’d tried to kill her, but she still blamed herself.
Suddenly, anger swelled up within me, and I snatched up the notebook, taking the hidden passageway at a run. In seconds, I was pounding on Carlisle and Esme’s door.
Carlisle opened the door, and his eyebrows rose at the sight of me. “Son?”
“She blames herself,” I growled, walking through the door and holding up the notebook. “They gutted her like a fucking fish and laughed as she almost died, and she blames herself!”
“Edward, sweetheart, calm down,” Esme soothed, guiding me to the sofa. She was shocked at my language, but I couldn’t find it in me to apologize at the moment.
“She doesn’t talk because she doesn’t think it did any good. She was only a child,” I rambled, shaking my head, but my glare shot up to Carlisle. “I want them. I want them dead! I want them to suffer! I want their blood on my hands!” I snarled, my hands curled into claws.
Carlisle stared at me for a moment, his expression void, but he reached down to pick up the notebook. “May I?” he asked softly, and I nodded once.
His thoughts were on the letter, his lips twitching at her wish to read my mind. But like me, anger was sharp and deadly at the sound of her fears. He handed me back the journal, starting to pace.
He turned to me, nodding a little. “I’ll need the police report, but I’ll see what I can do. It’s a cold case, son.”
“I don’t care,” I groaned, leaning into Esme’s arm around my shoulders. “She deserves justice.”
Carlisle’s mind was similar to mine, but it was Esme that sealed it for us.
“Yes, she does.”


aelita48 said...

It is a good chapter and a good fiction.
Edward wants to avenge Bella, he is going to arrive there.
Thank you.

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