Chapter 10

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Would wonders never cease?

Bella was taking his news of being from the future, and his talk of weapons, force fields, and aliens like a champ, and McCoy was flabbergasted she happened to know the vampire that had joined Starfleet.

Or would in the future. He refused to let himself get sidetracked by all the riddles and conundrums of time travel and possible futures.

“You do?” McCoy peered down at the photo glowing in the tricorder screen, one eyebrow crawling upward.

Unless someone knew the guy was a vampire, no one would be able to tell, except for the eyes. But even dark red wasn’t all that out of the ordinary. McCoy had met beings with eyes of all colors. With humans, he disregarded it as a fad, but some had taken to wearing contacts in shades to match their clothing. Others had gone so far as to have their irises dyed.

McCoy felt the procedure was a little drastic for mere vanity’s sake, but no one had asked him. He supposed it was no different than those who colored their hair or had cosmetic surgery.

In all his travels, he’d never seen eyes as lovely as Bella’s.

Harrumphing at himself, he forced his thoughts back to the question burning in his mind. “Oh?” He struggled to sound and appear as nonchalant as possible. “You know him?”

There was no denying the male vampire would be considered … attractive … being four or five inches taller than McCoy, and having a rather proud, roguish presence in his Starfleet uniform. McCoy returned to his cot across the room from Bella and dropped onto it, setting the tricorder on the bedside table after turning it off.

He idly wondered if Bella noticed the similarity between Garrett’s eyes and shirt.

Propping her head on her fist, Bella sighed. “After the farce of the wedding, he just showed up at the reception. And I think Alice only wanted to do a wedding so she could have another stupid party and dress up,” she groused. “Anyway, Garrett said he happened to be in the neighborhood.” Bella lifted her hands in a what are you going to do motion. Then she burst into laughter. “Alice was so upset because he wasn’t in a tuxedo, and he was just ruining her vision!” Her hand swept through the air in a graceful arc.

“He was wearing worn out blue jeans and an old leather coat.” The laughter ended with another long sigh. “He was introduced as an old friend of Carlisle’s who had been accidentally vampirized during the Revolutionary War. Edward,” she said in a withering tone, “wouldn’t let me anywhere near him because he had red eyes and was dangerous. Of course, according to Edward, everyone and everything was a danger to me.” She rolled her eyes.

McCoy was positive he heard a growl. He found it difficult to believe such a threatening sound came from someone so beautiful.

“I haven’t explained things very well. I keep mentioning people and you don’t know who they are.” Her fingers drummed out a staccato pattern on the table. “You gave me your abbreviated life story. I’ll give you mine. I was born in 1987. My parents broke up. Mom took me and left. When I was seventeen, I moved back to my home town. I met Edward, who happened to be a vampire, in high school. We sort of dated and I met his coven. They were pretending to be a human family—none of them are actually related. The cover story when I met them was Carlisle Cullen, and his wife Esme, were the parents of the foster kids—Jasper and Rose were twins, and Edward, Alice, and Emmett were siblings.” She shook her head forlornly from side to side. “Some stuff happened. Edward dumped me. Being young and stupid, I let him talk me into getting back together. Then I let him talk me into getting married. I thought I was in love so I finally agreed, and Alice was off to the races!” She flung her hands out, jumped to her feet, and proceeded to stomp across the wooden floor.

More agitated than she had been during the previous bout of pacing, and McCoy considered it wise to stay well out of her way. He scooted to the end of the cot in the corner and just observed, admiring the flashing movements of her hands and the way her hair flowed around her as she did an about face to head in the other direction.

“And it’s not like the wedding was even for me—it was all for Edward! They knew I didn’t like to make a big deal out of things, and wasn’t into showy, expensive parties, but Alice had to have her way!” Bella knelt in front of the potbelly stove and angrily shoved more wood inside. “I was still human at the time, which is why I thought Edward wouldn’t even let me talk to Garrett.”

Bella snatched a larger log from the stack, and with her bare hands, tore it into strips and threw the thin pieces into the fire.

McCoy was astonished at her strength, but kept his mouth shut.

“I didn’t ever really meet Garrett, but he seemed like a fun guy. He was dancing with all the women but me—human and vampire—and laughing and chatting with everyone. Somewhere in there, he was introduced to one of Edward’s pretend cousins, Kate, and they hit it off. When Kate and her family went back home to Alaska, Garrett went with them.”

Slamming the cast iron door shut, she growled again. “I heard all that after my so-called honeymoon on a tropical island. It was two weeks of Edward doing everything he could to avoid me while trying to keep me busy with stupid chess games he always won, and snorkeling in the ocean, and hiking through the jungle.” Fingers pressed to her temples, she mumbled, “Some honeymoon.”

Faster than McCoy could perceive, Bella was on her feet. “After two weeks of that, I had enough and told him I wanted to go home. He never even … he wouldn’t … arrrrgh!” She shook her fists in the air. “When we got back home, he was trying to put me off again. The whole family had to surround him and force him to change me into a vampire, like he promised, so we all wouldn’t get in trouble with the … the leaders of the vampires.”

She darted across the room and back, halting in front of McCoy. “And you know how in the movies the vampire takes his beloved and bites her in the neck to change her? It’s all so very personal and intimate, and kind of erotic but scary all at the same time? No, not Edward! You know what he did?”

As Bella leaned toward him with her fists planted on her hips and a blazing fire in her darkening eyes, McCoy could only gawk at her and shake his head. Her growing fury was making him a little nervous.

“Well, I’ll tell you! He, who I stupidly thought was so dreamy and romantic … he took a syringe full of his venom and injected it into me. He wouldn’t even touch me to bite me!” In a blur, she twisted around and stalked away from him and toward the door. “Could he have been anymore cold, impersonal, and clinical about it? After I woke up as a vampire, he still wouldn’t touch me! He kept trying to treat me like I was made of spun glass!”

McCoy hated to admit it, but he was frightened. If she decided to take her frustrations out on him, there wasn’t one thing he could do about it.

After another beat of tense silence, the snapping sparks in her eyes just died and Bella’s face fell. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered. “I didn’t mean to yell at you. It’s not your fault.” She spread her hands wide, reaching out toward him, and then snatched them back. “I get so … If Edward wasn’t interested, or didn’t really like me … I tried to be patient and understanding, and talk to him, but he never listened anyway and didn’t want to talk about it. I don’t know if it would have made a difference at the time, but he should have told me he wasn’t into … a physical relationship. It’s not fair. He was more interested in controlling every little thing I did rather than—” She gulped. “Because he lied, I have to spend eternity—” Her hands moved up to hide her face. “And why am I telling you all this?”

Her hands dropped to her sides in defeat. “I’m sorry.”

In the next instant, she was gone. The only evidence of her passing was the flutter of the curtains and the slam of the door.

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