Chapter Forty-Two: Summer Nights

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And I knew the reasons behind both expressions. Bella was frustrated that I continued to refuse to change her into what I was. No matter how many times I patiently explained my reasons for my choice, Bella refused to agree that vampires, especially “vegetarian” vampires such as my family, were still monsters. If only she had been awake during the nights she had spent in our home! The wildness of passion between the mated couples in our home frequently had driven me away from the house over the years as I was often unwilling to witness the animalistic couplings of the three sets of lovers though their thoughts.

Not that I didn't want Bella in that way; my imaginings tended in that direction far too often as I pictured Bella with an immortal, indestructible body that could not only withstand but also return all of the powerful love and passion I felt toward her. Bella had little idea of how strictly I had to keep myself in control to merely brush my lips against hers. Having to hold my feelings and desires so carefully in check frustrated me to no end, but my moral side, assisted by frequent encouragement from Carlisle, recognized that the glories of unrestrained sex were not reason enough to rob Bella of her precious humanity.

So my imagination was all I had...imagination and many ice-cold showers.

I also refused to steal her soul although Carlisle disagreed with me on that all-important point.

The month Bella spent in our home during her convalescence was pure torture for me, yet sweetly so. I adored gathering Bella's fragile body against mine and holding her there, all night every night, even with a blanket separating us to protect her from my coldness. Yet with Bella living with us, I could no longer escape our home during the displays of vampiric passion which, although held behind closed doors, were all-too-loudly displayed in my mind as their passionate thoughts relentlessly bombarded me each and every night. As much as I tried to concentrate upon Bella's lovely presence, her unconscious beauty, it was only during her episodes of sleep-talking, when I strained to understand her faint mumblings that expressed her love for me, that I could successfully block their intimacies from my mind.

Thus the cold showers while Bella slept innocently down the hall.

And both Bella and I were unbelievably frustrated.

Frustration was not easy, but I can handle it. However, the accompanying sadness in Bella's eyes undid me, tearing at my heart and melting my resolve to protect her, body and soul.

Especially when I knew that her sadness stemmed from her feeling as though I didn't truly want her...forever.

No matter how many times I expressed my love to Bella, through words and actions, she could not accept that I truly desired her...until I decide to keep her for all eternity.

Unfortunately, I had not come to this knowledge on my own; it took Alice sitting me down one afternoon while Bella worked at Newton's and gently explaining Bella's feelings to me from a woman's point-of-view. I sighed at the memory, recalling how doltish I had felt, having my sister convey Bella's internal struggles and insecurities.

So here I was, caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. I refused to destroy Bella's precious human life and beautiful soul by changing her into a vampire, yet because I refused her, loving her too much to subject her to a soulless existence driven by constant thirst for blood, Bella doubted my love for her. No matter what I said, no matter how many times I said it, she seemed not to be able to truly accept that she was worthy of my love or that I loved her with every frozen atom of my being...unless I was willing to make her like me—forever.

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