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Rainbow Zebra: An ode to Vampire Bella by Master of the Boot

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Table of Contents
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Story Notes:

This story was a request for the awesome writer, Lion in the Land.  It is a birthday gift for her daughter, who celebrated her birthday recently.  Say happy bithday to Little LiLa. 

Author's Chapter Notes:

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or any of the characters. This is a non profit activity.

Edward didn’t understand. He just didn’t understand that one girl among the Cullens, the one they called Bella.

When Edward Masen, seventeen years young, arrived at Forks High school for the first time, he’d though he knew what to expect.

For the most part, he wasn’t wrong in his assumptions. Forks High was an abysmal collection of temporary buildings which housed students that possessed undersized brains due to fetal alcohol syndrome.

The girls were exceedingly unimpressive. Some airhead named Jessica had offered to be his “friend.” Like that was ever going to happen.

The first day was uneventful, full of morons and pedantic teenagers that think their lives have value. Really, it was no different from Edward’s old high school back in Chicago. There wasn’t a single soul in this crap hole that he’d actually want to spend more than five seconds with.

It wasn’t until lunchtime that Edward found something that was out of the ordinary in this sickeningly ordinary town.

They were the Cullens, and they were the talk of the town, at least until Edward had arrived. He was the new guy, the one thing different in a town that lived and breathed routine. Forks was a place that you went to get away from it all. Forks was not a town that made you want to stay.

There were five of them in the lunch room on the first day. He got the basic info on the Cullens from a meathead named Mike Newton. “Those are the Cullens. They’re the adopted kids of Dr. Cullen at the hospital. Stay away from them; they don’t mingle with anybody.”

Anything else that Mike Newton said, Edward didn’t need to hear. Everything else he needed to know about the Cullens, he could take in with his own senses and wits. Edward was good at reading people and estimating what they were thinking.

He did pay attention when Mike Newton started recounting him the names of the Cullen children.

The first Cullen he saw was a vapid, selfish harpy, beautiful beyond all means of measure. Edward couldn’t believe how good looking the girl was. Even the women on the cover of the most prestigious fashion magazines were not as beautiful as her. Still, something about Rosalie rubbed him the wrong way.

Next in the line was a hulking brute that seemed to be romantically involved with Rosalie. The guy was tall, and the guy was muscular, but his prodigious girth didn’t seem to be steroid induced. Edward had seen steroid users, they were not pretty.

Emmett Cullen looked godly; he could make the girls get on their knees and thank God for not having a Y chromosome. Emmett didn’t come across as overly intelligent. The testosterone that triggered the growth of his large muscles most likely left him with a shrunken brain and withered testicles. A mindless idiot like Emmett would be perfect for a self-centered she-viper like Rosalie.

The next two in this lineup of ridiculously beautiful people was a little pixie and somebody who looked like a shell-shocked war veteran faking normality. Alice Cullen was a bouncing little bundle of energy that looked too annoying to describe.

Edward would bet his bottom dollar that given the chance, Alice would take you and drown you in designer clothing that you hated and would likely never wear.

Her adopted brother and boyfriend, Jasper, somehow managed to look nonchalant and hostile at the same time. He had the look of a post-traumatic-stress sufferer, but he couldn’t have been more than eighteen or twenty, most curious.

There was one more, but she was facing away from Edward. Unlike the others, he couldn’t seem to form a good picture of her. She was unreadable. Maybe if he got a look at her face, he could see what she was thinking and what she was like.

Lunch was over all too soon, but clever old Edward got his chance to get a good look at the face of the final Cullen.

Packing up his lunchtime garbage, she walked past him to throw out her own garbage.

He saw the face of Bella Swan.

Stop the presses! Sound the trumpets! Throw the confetti! Step back, because that chick is about to go loco!

Isabella Cullen looked at Edward Masen from her vantage point in the lunch room and froze. She just looked at Edward with such . . . hate? Disdain? Loathing?

The poor guy didn’t know what to say or think. He’d never even met the girl before, and now she looked like she wanted to stab him in the heart.

Bella just glared at the bronze haired boy like some kind of statue meant to represent the goddess of hatred. Her eyes were topaz, like those of her adopted siblings, but they were dark, almost black around the center.

The son of the Masens started to sweat. There was a plastic knife lying on the table, and he gradually started to move it out of Bella’s reach. “Hi, I’m Edward.”

Dead silence.

“Umm, I’m new here.”

Hateful glares.

“I’m going to go now; see you later.” He desperately tried to sound cheerful.

Eye daggers.

As Edward walked away, he made sure to take the plastic knife with him. He couldn’t be sure, but that girl looked like she wanted to kill and eat him. Were the Cullens a family of cannibals or something?

Walking away, he saw the young pixy, Alice, trying to talk to Bella like she was an animal about to snap.

He made a note to himself: stay away from Bella Cullen. Scratch that.

New note to self: Find out if Bella Cullen is a cannibal; start dating her either way. He couldn’t explain it. Nothing he’d ever seen could compare to Bella, not even Rosalie. Bella’s face and hair called to him as if they were tailor made just for him. If it wasn’t for her scary manner, he’d have been turned into a love sick pile of goo.

Good lord, if he kept thinking about her much longer he’d need a cold shower.

And so, the cynical and arrogant Edward spent the rest of the day pining for a girl that looked like she wanted him for the purposes of making a testicle fondue.

That night he went up to his room and began to consult the greatest source of wisdom and knowhow that he’d ever encountered: his collection of manga.

Edward liked the classics: Shakespeare, Poe, Verne and various other writers, but truly his favorite writers were the great mangakas of Japan. Kouta Hirano, Sunao Yoshida, Hikeyuki Kikuchi and Kiyohiko Azuma; these were only some of the manga authors whose work filled up the impressionable, young mind of Edward.

These men and woman had been a source of guidance and enlightenment to Edward for years. His bloody parents were simply too old fashioned and uptight. Well, at least they gave their son a healthy amount of leeway.

With his time block free, he began to ponder about Bella. About her soft, full lips, godly brown hair, porcelain skin . . . better to stop this line of thought right now.

The Cullens, what did he know about them? They were all beautiful and had topaz eyes. This was strange, given the fact that none of them looked related by blood.

There was something else, something less noticeable. They all had a predatory feel about them. Like a snake, there was an alien feel to them which made you instinctively uncomfortable. They never seemed to fidget; every single motion looked deliberate, down to the smallest.

It was a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes, but Edward did not solve it the next day, or the day after that or the day after that. Bella Cullen was absent for three full days. All her perfect siblings were there, but not she.

Darn it, he wanted her so badly that Edward could have bashed his head against a wall for hours in frustration. But by sheer willpower, Edward refrained from bashing his skull in with his mother’s cast iron skillet each day when she got home.

One afternoon, Edward was leaving school; the curriculum was easy and the students were idiots. It was still early spring, and in many places, ice threatened the footstep of the unready. That was when he saw her, when he got his first idea of what she really was.

One look at Bella Cullen and Edward’s jaded features lit up like a tanning salon. For reasons that he was unable to explain or quantify, Bella Cullen made his day. Maybe it was love at first sight, but she made Edward feel something that he’d never felt before. Rather than his trademark crooked grin, a giant smile plastered his face.

Bella was different now; her eyes were the same shade of topaz as the others. She looked much better with topaz eyes. She was truly different from the rest of the Cullens. Like her siblings, she had the predatory feel to her, but it was markedly reduced. Bella Cullen looked like somebody, or something, that you could walk up to and say hello to. She looked so kind, like the Virgin Mary, except sexier.

Bella saw Edward from the other side of the parking lot, and she waved. She waved, at him. She. Waved. At. Him.

Oh crap, Edward was going to faint with happiness. He felt like he was on the ultimate drug high.

The screech of tires brought him back down from cloud nine. It was that guy, Tyler. His truck had hit a patch of ice at speed and it looked like it was on a collision course with Edward’s fragile body. Mentally, Edward had mocked just near everything about Tyler, including his driving. It looked like the last laugh would belong to Tyler.

At the truck sped at him, Edward became aware of something. Something that he felt rather than saw. Bella Cullen was standing next to him. How?

Instead of Tyler’s truck squishing him and Bella, she crouched down low and pretty as a picture, stopped the runaway truck . . . with her hand.

“Are you alright?” That was what she asked him.

Edward said something, but his conscious mind wasn’t aware of what it was. Of three things, he was certain. One: Bella Cullen was not human. Two: He was irrevocably and hopelessly in love with her. Three: He was so proud that he didn’t pee his pants in front of Bella.

Edward paced and cursed all across the length of his room. He didn’t know how many times he’d paced the floor of his cramped room. It’d been a solid week since Bella had saved him from Tyler’s runaway truck.

The room was crowded with a bed, a desk, a chair and a bookshelf crammed with all of Edward’s books and mangas. Posters of his favorite mangas covered every single wall, each one lovingly transported from Chicago to furnish this desolate place.

His opinion of Forks was still the same; this was the forgotten armpit of America. For reasons known only to God, Bella Cullen lived in this hellhole.

Bella Cullen. He’d spent the night wracking his brains over that girl. What was she; who was she? The answer was buzzing around his skull but he was unable to catch it. Through his piano player's fingers it slipped like water from his grasp. There was something that he wasn’t getting. Though he tried, it kept on eluding him.

Frustrated and sweating from stress and exertion, he plopped down onto the bed.

He’d had the chance to talk to her today. Did he ask her anything worthwhile? No! Instead, he’d gone and made idiotic small talk about anaphase and prophase and some shit like that.


Bella must think that he was nothing but some small time rube with two brain cells more than Mike Newton.

The child of the Masens wiped the sweat off of his face. Taking a few deep breaths, his heart rate slowed, and oxygen flooded his system. The mystery would never be unraveled if he got wound up. His mother often advised him that panicking would kill the logic centers of his brain.

He began to scan the walls of his room, comforted by the alien styles of the Japanese artists that held an almost completely different system of values and expectations as they did in America.

One poster in particular caught his eye. It was a dark thing, done in oil paints and purely in shades of black. The poster featured a beautiful figure wearing a massive hat and holding a long, crescent sword of great length. Vampire Hunter D.

Oh, God.

That was it.

That was the answer!

Edward Masen finally knew what Bella Cullen was!

Wait, no, it couldn’t be. She couldn’t be what he thought she was. Or could she? In hindsight, Bella’s mysterious absence during the blood tests at the end of yesterday was quite suspicious. God, she had to be what he thought she was.

Edward got up off the bed wearing his trademark slanted grin. He peered up at the feminine visage of Vampire Hunter D. “Thanks, D, you’re a lifesaver.”

A bell like voice shattered Edward’s macho investigator mode. “Who are you talking to?”

Edward jumped backwards and squealed like a girly boy. Oh, for the love of all things sacred, it was only Bella Cullen!

Wait, it was Bella Cullen! Edward’s pulse began to race, though this probably only made him seem more appetizing to her.

She stood before him in all her glory, a woman made specifically to woo him. She was doing a good job without even trying.

He began to pull himself together after his initial shock. As dangerous as he was aware she was, he had to appear sophisticated and sexy in front of her. Up close she was even more impressive.

Voice straining, he asked her, “How did you get in here?”

Bella gestured behind her, nonchalant, “I came in through the window, it wasn’t locked.”

Edward began to make a fool of himself, “But . . . you can’t . . . you . . .” That’s right, a girl who stopped a truck with her bare hands wasn’t capable of climbing up a two story house and opening a closed window so silently that he couldn’t hear.

He calmed himself for a moment. “What are you doing here?”

Bella shut her eyes for a moment, the action made her look serene, like an angel. When she opened them again, she spoke, “Edward, I’ve seen how you look at me.”

Edward blushed; it was a sight to behold, “Well, I have noticed you, if that’s what you’re referring to.”

Bella shook her head slightly. She seemed to hold wisdom and compassion far beyond what would be expected for one of her years. The human boy across from her knew, knew that her physical appearance had nothing to do with her age. “No, Edward, I’ve seen how you look at me. You’re smitten with me.”

He tried to keep it suave and casual, but he was more than aware that he didn’t impress her, and nothing that he could do would ever arouse more from her than amusement. So, in that way, he was farther ahead in the game than most males. “Well, um, I won’t deny that I do feel a certain small attraction to you. You are a very striking girl, beautiful, I mean.”

Her tone took a hint of annoyance at his denial. “Edward, I’m not blind. I can see the way that you’ve fallen head over heels with me.”

He could have protested, but that would have gotten him nowhere fast. He tried the direct approach; women always love a man that goes to the core first. “So, if you don’t mind my asking, why are you here?”

Her tone was solemn. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard such a tone from her. He’d seen her outmuscle a speeding truck, what person wouldn’t be curious. He’d asked her, at every possible chance, to explain to him what had happened.

Each and every time she answered, it was always a rejection or an evasion. Her favorite turn down was, “It’s safer if you don’t know.” As much as he had a crush on this perfect, glorious angel, her refusal to satisfy his curiosity drove him up the wall.

Now, the tune that Bella sang had changed. “Edward, it’s not safe for you to be anywhere near me. If you’re as smart as I think you are, you’ll stay far away from me.”


“Why what?”

The tone of Edward’s voice was different now; he was through playing the love sick school boy. Now, he was going to assign himself the role of the boy that will not allow himself to be manipulated, coerced or cowed, not even by one such as Bella Cullen. “Why are you dangerous to me? Give me one good reason that I should listen to you at all.” His anger did heaps to build his confidence.

Bella had expected a reaction like this, but she still didn’t like seeing him in this state. “Edward, I’d explain if I could, but just have some trust in me: you’ll be better off if you stay away from me.”

Edward shook his head. Bella’s predatory nature prevented him from getting closer, but he held his chest proud and his head high. “No, Bella, you’re beautiful, but you haven’t given me a single reason to trust you. You saved my life and then blithely expect me to go through life with blinders on my head. Your entire existence makes me notice you, Bella.”

“I know what I’m asking you isn’t easy.”

“You’re damn right it’s not easy.” Edward was raising his voice now; it was rather fortuitous that his parents weren’t in the house right now.

Bella cut him off with a voice that was gentle but commanding, “Edward, I mean it. If you continue to associate with me in any way, you could be killed.”

Edward’s anger was reaching the boiling point. No matter what she said, he couldn’t let her get away without answers.

“What are you?”

She feigned ignorance. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Edward laughed. It was a scathing, sarcastic laugh. “Bella, don’t take that tone with me. Regardless of what you think, I’m not an idiot. I know you’re not human.”

Bella said nothing to confirm or deny Edward’s statement. Her extreme beauty was the matched by extreme stillness, making her look like a marble statue.

Edward pointed an accusing finger and said something that he immediately regretted. “I know what you are.”

This seemed to shock Bella. No words issued from her mouth, but her goddess’s face was twisted by a look of unpleasant surprise.

There was no point in delaying it; any hesitation on his part may prove disastrous. He took his first step towards her since she ghosted her way into his room. “Superhuman strength, the ability to walk during the day, cold skin and a strange need to keep away from human blood: you’re a dhampir!”

Bella’s heart hadn’t beat for almost a full century, but if it did, it would be racing up and down the walls by now. Edward was a perceptive boy. He was stubborn as well. He wasn’t just going to drop this. Of course, he wouldn’t be half as appealing as he was to Bella if he wasn’t stubborn.

However, appeal on Edward’s part wasn’t the problem. He was her singer, a huge problem for a vampire trying to appear human.

Then he’d gone and called her “dhampir.” Was that some kind of new slang word that the kids were using these days?

Bella just stared at Edward like he had said something stupid. “What?”

Suddenly, the remainder of Edward’s anger and confidence left him. Oh yeah, his theory was SO brilliant. Just how smart was he? Not as smart as he thought he was, obviously.

Ed began to stutter again, “Y-you’re . . . not a dhampir?”

“I don’t even know what a dhampir is.”

Well, at least he was less worried now that she’d try and drink his blood. “A dhampir is the child of a human and a vampire. I thought you were a dhampir.”

That’s what he got for being that obsessed with manga.

Bella bit down gently on her lower lip. The gesture seemed very human. After a split second’s though, she instructed him, “I’m going to show you something; hold still.”

Edward wanted to protest, he really did, but he didn’t even have time to blink before he found himself held in Bella’s arms bridal style. She cautioned him, “Close your eyes.”

Faster than he could have thought possible, Bella started to run with Edward in her arms. She wasn’t going at full tilt since she didn’t think that Edward could handle it, but even three quarters speed for her was pretty impressive.

Wind blew into Edward’s face as though shot through a giant fan. The powerful breeze blew back his hair and made his cheeks flap and reveal his teeth like a cartoon character.

Just as quickly as it had begun, the ride was over.

Before he could get his bearings, Edward was dropped to the ground like a stone. Fortuitously for him, the ground that he landed on was soft with grass.

He didn’t want to get up too quickly, because Bella was a better ride than the rollercoaster at the fairground. On the soft grass, he took in his surroundings. His breath was taken away.

They were in some sort of meadow, inaccessible to the townsfolk and lush beyond description. Even in the fading daylight of twilight, Edward could appreciate the vast variety and beauty of plants within the meadow.

Flowers of every hue and color, the greenest grass and picturesque trees surrounding it. A man from the Far East might have well thought that he was in Shangri-la.

Even so, the meadow’s considerable beauty paled next to Isabella Cullen, who looked like she might have been the queen of this unreal place.

Edward checked his watch, roughly seven-thirty; his parents wouldn’t be home for another hour.

Bella took a step towards him. God, she was so graceful. Again, his ears had the pleasure of listening to her musical voice. “Edward, when I say I’m dangerous, I mean it. I’m going to show you what I am.”

She moved forward until their noses almost touched. The speed at which she moved was so great it seemed to Edward that she instantly teleported into place.

Her smell was heavenly; she emitted the smell of freesias, strawberry and something unidentifiably appetizing.

Involuntarily, he took a step back.

She elaborated, “Every single thing about me is attractive to you, though, not as attractive as you are to me.” How could he be attractive to her at all? He’d proven himself a fool more than enough times tonight, and she was far more beautiful than he was handsome.

Suddenly, she began to zip around him, running in a circle fast enough to create a small twister and then stopping and starting, making it look like there was more than one of her.

She leapt higher than most office buildings, shooting up like a rocket and coming down like a comet. Her landing created a mini crater some twenty feet across, evidently, she was much heavier than she seemed.

Her tone was hard and carried a warning better heeded. “In a million years, you could never outrun me.”

Striding at human speed, Isabella walked up to a massive tree, fifteen feet across. Edward didn’t have long to wonder what she was up to.

Putting both arms as far around the tree as they would go, her fingers dug deep into the wood. Bella bent her legs and started to push against the ground. Her feet sunk into the ground and her arms sunk into the trunk.

There was a colossal sound of roots snapping and then suddenly Bella had uprooted the tree.

Edward didn’t have a single coherent thought in his head as he watched Bella hold up how many tons of wood and then throw it a good thirty feet.

To hammer the point home about her strength, Bella snatched a three hundred pound boulder sitting next to Edward and flung it like a softball. The massive, eliptically shaped rock went sailing past the edges of the meadow and went out of sight.

Bella simply said, “That’s how strong I am.” She went on, “I am a predator, perfectly adapted to catch and feed on humans. The venom in my mouth paralyzes you and causes you agonizing pain at the same time. Edward, I am a vampire, and I’m trying not to kill you right now.”

Ironically, the first thing that Edward felt was relief. He was relieved that his ridiculous dhampir theory wasn’t totally ridiculous after all.

Bella didn’t wait for Edward to respond. He was too amazed to be up to the task. “That first day I met you, you thought that I was hostile. You’re my tua la cantante.

Tua la cantante, now Edward was as confused as Bella had been when he’d first mentioned the word dhampir. He politely told her, “I don’t speak . . . whatever language that’s in. Is it French?”

“No, it’s Italian.”

He nodded; things were starting to make sense now.

“It means that you’re my singer. Your blood sings to me.”

Edward honestly had no idea what that entailed. Did his blood sing Elvis or the Backstreet boys? If his blood sung the Backstreet Boys, he hoped it was Larger than Life instead of I want it that way.

Bella seemed to sense his confusion and plied the appropriate response. “Human blood, the smell and the hue of it all call to me like a siren. But your blood is a thousand times worse. It’s like I’m an alcoholic and you’re a hundred year old brandy.”

A small frown graced her visage momentarily. “No, that’s not right. It’s like I’m addicted to heroin, and I’m trying to kick the habit, and then I find exactly my brand of heroin that I can’t say no to.”

Finally, the seventeen year old boy seemed to grasp the gravity of the situation. “What do we do now?”

For the second time today, surprise graced Bella’s pretty features. She bit her lower lip; apparently she had a habit of doing that when she was distressed or indecisive. Eventually, her topaz eyes met his emerald ones. “I don’t know. I’ve given you your answers. I’ve put my family in danger to bring you to this point. What is the next move?”

Up until now, Edward hadn’t been able to guess what Isabella was thinking. Seeing her face had done nothing for his intuitive ability to second guess the minds of others. He could only guess now what she was thinking because she had opened herself up to him. Her cards were laid on the table. Perhaps he should do the same.

“Well, I haven’t exactly got a fool proof battle plan, but your secret is safe with me. And I’d like to thank you for answering my questions.”

She smiled. Oh, what Edward would give to see her smile unrestrained.

“You’re welcome. That is very courteous of you.”

Edward pretended like it was nothing at all. “Make no mention of it. After that little show, I’ll think twice in the future about insulting you.”

Bella laughed. It was a sound which could soften the heart of even the most hardened wretches. Her voice and manner took a slightly sad tone, though. “I guess that I’ll never be able to keep away from you, will I?”

His heart broke for her; it took a mental effort to keep his eyes dry. “Don’t be sad, Bella. Maybe this is for the better.”

Sadness etched itself deeper into her heart and face. “How can this be for the better? I have an overpowering urge to eat the first boy that I’ve had feelings for. I don’t understand why you’re not running away right now.”

Edward started to walk towards the beautiful girl, who looked so downcast. It wasn’t right that somebody like her should feel this way. He took her ice cold hands in his warm ones. It shocked him, not only the coldness of her flesh, but the hardness of it. It was like she was made of stone.

He hoped that his words would warm her heart as his hands warmed hers. “Bella, I have faith in you.”

Her sharp teeth ran the risk of cutting through her stone like lip. Biting her lip had never been so hazardous when she was human. Human: something she hadn’t been since the year nineteen seventeen.

She wanted this boy, and not only for his blood. She wanted everything of him. She wanted his blood, his face, his mind, his emotions and that hair. That lovely bronze colored hair who’s wild style held her mesmerized.

What she asked him next was in a small voice. She sounded like somebody who had been in the dark for untold years and had finally found the light. The only downside was that a single moment of carelessness on her part might extinguish the candle forever.

She knew, intellectually, that this warm, bright light would go out in too short a time. To keep him shining, she would have to steal his warmth, make him just like her.

She didn’t think she could do that, but she could deal with all that later.

Bella asked Edward a question. Her voice was so small and bare that he almost didn’t hear it. “Edward, will you be my boyfriend.”

Edward’s sad heart was touched by a powerful current of joy, but sadness wasn’t entirely dispelled. “Isabella Cullen, if that is what you want, I’d love to be your boyfriend.”

It all happened so fast, Edward’s slow human reflexes couldn’t process it. One minute, Bella was holding his hands and the next she had her cold, strong arms wrapped around him.

Certainly she was taking it easy on him, but he could feel his bones creaking under her tremendous power. He couldn’t breath!

The demon of sadness had been exorcised from Bella by this valiant knight in designer jeans. “Oh, Edward, you’ve made me so happy.”

She waited for his response and reply of undying love, but all she heard was a grunt from him and the raising of his pulse. Suddenly, she realized what was going on.

He was starting to go red from the inability to breathe when Bella released him. No sooner had he sucked in a fresh lungful when Bella scooped him up like a baby and began to rock him.

She was painfully reminded of her own clumsiness and felt horrible because of it. “Edward, I’m so sorry,” she wailed. “Did I hurt you? Are you alright?”

When her rocking slowed down a bit, Edward gave her the courtesy of a reply. This was the closest he’d ever been to her. and it was one of the best places he’d ever been, safe in Bella’s arms. “I’m fine, Bella, you don’t have to apologize.”

She hugged him like an oversized teddy bear. Her smell made him giddy with happiness, “Yes, I do have to apologize. God, I’m so clumsy.”

“Clumsy?” Never in a million years would Edward have thought to put clumsy and Bella in the same sentence. “You’re not clumsy at all.”

Bella signed, “Compared to other vampires, I’m very clumsy.” Gently, she placed Edward back on his feet. She figured that he didn’t like being held like that. She was wrong. “I might have the second best control in my family when it comes to blood, but I’ve broken more chairs, tables, vases and other things than all my siblings combined.”

Edward was slightly sad to be out of Bella’s arms; he found her strength comforting. Still, he was the boyfriend, and he needed to show a certain amount of manly virtue. “Well, to me, you’re the most graceful person I’ve seen.”

Bella smiled demurely. As a human she’d been a prodigious blusher. If she was human now she’d be red as a Canadian flag. “Thank you, Edward.”

His crooked grin returned to him, and a swagger filled his steps. “Alright, since I’m your guy and you’re my girl, I was wondering if you’d like to do something with me tonight.” He intended to sweep her romantically off her feet, but she was so heavy that he almost threw out his back.

He grunted and groaned as he tried to pick Bella up. But after a few seconds of trying, he gave up, panting. “God, Bella, how much do you weight?”

Bella smirked at him and responded with playful annoyance, “Listen, buster, I don’t know much about when you were a kid but when I was truly seventeen, nobody would dare ask a woman her weight or age.”

Edward blushed now, his fair complexion lit up. He’d gone and asked a stupid question. So much for his much vaunted maturity. “Sorry, Bella. I’ll keep my mouth shut more often.”

His display of repentance seemed to make her giggle like a teenaged girl. “Don’t take it too far; I don’t want a mime for a boyfriend.”

Before he could lose himself in her beauty again, he asked her, “So, what would you like to do.”

At those words, Bella’s features took on a mischievous look, “Can we do anything?”

“Short of killing somebody, I think we can.”

She laughed again, a laugh full of joy and youth. She held him under the arms and raised him up like a mother holding up her baby. Suddenly, she brought him down again and planted a peck of a kiss on his cheek. Oh God, he hoped that she didn’t notice that his wiener was stricken with rigor mortis.

“You just know all the right things to say.” She ran a hand through his hair like a beloved pet. He wouldn’t mind being her pet, actually. “Well, I want to go to the zoo in Seattle and paint the zebra in a rainbow.”

Edward blinked several times. He laughed a little, “What?”

Bella saw his surprise; there was much of it tonight. “Edward, you’ve seen what I can do. With my help, the pair of could easily break into the zoo unnoticed with some buckets of paint.”

Edward relented, eager to please his girlfriend, but still, his sarcasm broke through. “Of course, how ungentlemanly of me. Let’s go and commit vandalism against an innocent animal. I’ve always wanted a criminal record.”

Bella scolded him good naturedly, “Don’t be that way. Worrying doesn’t suit you. Besides, you make me feel young. I haven’t felt seventeen in over ninety years.”

No other boyfriends did this sort of thing with their girlfriend. Then again, none of the other fellas were in love with a vampire. So, rainbow painting a zebra must fall within the norm for a relationship like this. “Alright, let’s go to the zoo. Do you want to carry me again?” He hoped she would.

“No, you can ride on my back this time.”

Even better. “I’ll pay for the paint.”

“That’s sweet, Edward, but you don’t have to. Now, climb on my back; time’s wasting.”

The next morning, one of the zebras at the Woodland Park Zoo was found with the white portions of its hide painted red, blue, green, purple and orange in acrylic paint.

The task of washing off the painted animal was fussy, but it got done.

The trials, tribulations, pleasure and pains experienced by Bella and Edward, however, were only just beginning.

Chapter End Notes:

This has been a gift to the sweet daughter of the wonderful Lion in the land. Happy Birthday, dear :D

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