Chapter 1: Party “Alice, Bella said that she didn’t want her birthday to be celebrated.

Why do you have to be so difficult?” I said to Alice as we walked out the front door to go to school. Today was Bella’s birthday. September thirteenth. She’s eighteen years old today. An age I would never be. An age I never made it to. Bella didn’t want to celebrate her birthday. As usual, Bella didn’t do the normal, human thing. Most humans loved birthdays and presents…. If I wasn’t in her life, she would probably love her birthday. The only reason she didn’t want to celebrate it was because she was turning a year older than me. She had a horrid fear of getting older because I couldn’t get older with her. I couldn’t grow and change with her. She would get older and older and I would forever be seventeen. Her physical appearance would continue to change as I stayed the same. But her mind, her personality, her warmth, and all the other things that I love about her would remain the same. She would still have those same, mesmerizing, chocolate brown eyes. Eyes that I always got lost in. And although I also wished that we could stay the same forever together, that meant dooming her to a fate that she did not deserve and so I would just have to suffer in silence. Her soul and her future are too important. We can’t change what is supposed to happen. I want her to be normal. As normal as Bella can possibly be. If that means staying with her as she continues to grow old, than that is exactly what I’m going to do. I would gladly stay with her as she ages. She would always be my Bella. She would always be beautiful to me. Inside and out. “Well, she is just going to have to deal with it Edward. This is her eighteenth birthday. This is a big day. It should be celebrated. She’s only going to turn eighteen once.” Alice said back to me, interrupting my reverie. “But a party Alice! You’re already pushing it by bringing the gift you bought her to school. You already know how’s she’s going to react when she sees it.” This is her day. Even though she doesn’t want to celebrate it. I still want her to be happy today. Especially today. And Bella isn’t going to be very happy about this. But I can see Alice’s point. She will only turn eighteen once……… “Please, Edward. Please, please, please,” Alice pleaded.

“…………..Ok, Alice, but don’t push her too hard. You know how you get when you want something and don’t get your way. Be gentle with her. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be.” “You act like I’m going to tie her down and kidnap her. It’s just a party. A couple of hours. Geez, give me a break.” Alice said. I didn’t say anything else. I just threw her one last warning glance. She would know what it meant. ‘Ok, gentle, gentle I got it.’ Alice thought. We were pulling into the school parking lot now. Bella still wasn’t here yet, but I could hear her truck nearby. She would be here soon and I would be whole again. I missed her so much last night. I wanted to stay with her, but I needed to hunt. Especially since I wasn’t planning on letting her out of my sight today. It had been weeks since the last time I hunted. We spent every day together. We were practically inseparable. I hated being away from her. Not just because I was scared that something would happen to her, although that was definitely a concern, but because I just felt better….happier when I was near her. After that whole thing with James was over, I was overbearingly protective for awhile. I didn’t want her to be without my protection for a single second. This allowed so much time for us to be together. I thought that my protective nature would make her angry with me. But she didn’t seem to have a problem with it. She seemed to enjoy my company as much as I enjoyed hers. Out of all the summers that have passed in my lifetime, this past summer was by far the best I have ever experienced. And the fact that it was probably the rainiest summer the Olympic Peninsula has ever had didn’t hurt either. Although it wouldn’t have mattered. The sun would never keep Bella and I apart, as it once had in the beginning. Bella loved me, vampire and all. My sparkling skin did not scare her. She actually thought it was beautiful. Typical Bella. Bella pulled into the parking lot and parked her truck. As soon as I saw her face, my lips turned up into an involuntary smile. I would never tire of her beautiful face. She smiled when she caught sight of me and then frowned as she saw that Alice was holding a gift in her hand beside me. Here we go. I had almost forgotten Alice was standing beside me.

Alice skipped over to Bella to give her, her present. I decided to stay behind to give them their space. “Happy birthday Bella” Alice said once she got to Bella. “Shh” Bella said in return. Glancing around the lot to make sure no one heard Alice mention her birthday. Bella hated to be the center of attention. “Do you want to open your present now or later?” Alice asked her while they made their way to where I was standing. She already knew Bella’s answer. “No presents” “Okay..” Alice said and then thought “You’ll get more at the party anyway. This can wait until then”, “Later, then…… Did you like the scrapbook your mom sent you? And the camera from Charlie?” “Yeah. They’re great.” Bella said with no enthusiasm. “I think it’s a nice idea. You’re only a senior once. Might as well document the experience.” “How many times have you been a senior?” Bella asked Alice. “That’s different.” They finally made it to where I was and I held out my hand for Bella’s. It always surprised me how my cold skin never bothered her. Doesn’t repulse her as I thought it would. She was eager to hold it in hers. The warmth was always a pleasant feeling. I gently squeezed her fingers, silently greeting her. She looked into my eyes and her heart started to flutter. I smiled at it. Even though I couldn’t read her mind, her heart always gave her away. I lifted my hand and ran my finger across her lips. These lips……….. “So, as discussed, I am not allowed to wish you a happy birthday, is that correct?” Bella had forbidden me to even mention her birthday. She didn’t want me to buy her anything. I wanted to get her a gift. Possibly a new car. I could never quite understand what she liked about that hideously slow truck. But the most important thing was what Bella wanted, and she didn’t want any money spent on her. So I agreed. But………she told me not to buy her a gift, not that I couldn’t give her a gift. I made her a CD of some of my favorite compositions. One of which was her lullaby. She loved to hear me

Someday she would just have to accept other people taking care of her.” Bella mumbled and I could hear the sadness in her voice. but I knew the only thing that would comfort her was if I changed my mind about changing her into a vampire so that she wouldn’t get any older. It didn’t help Bella though. These were the times where I wished desperately that I could read her mind. sounding a little skeptical.” Alice said. But I knew that was out of the question. because she changed the subject. “I didn’t know I had plans to be there. And it was all because of me. “What time will you be at the house?” Great. Her voice was unsteady as she said this. You might have changed your mind. I hated for being the reason for making her so sad. To be unhappy. Again trying to comfort her. “Of course you’ll enjoy it Everyone is supposed to be nice to you today and give you your way. I would do anything for her. “Just” Bella was always the exception. What’s the worst that could happen?” Alice was just joking. I wish I could’ve bought a piano to put at her house so that I could play for her all the time. ‘ Sorry Edward’ she thought.” Alice said trying to comfort Bella. I wished I knew what to say to comfort her. Bella. She was so perceptive. Especially me. “Yes. This definitely wouldn’t make her feel better. When she was so quiet and thoughtful. .” Bella said. I tried to keep the smile on my face. “Don’t women usually wait till they’re twenty-nine to get upset over birthdays? “It’s older than Edward. She knew how I hated for Bella to be sad. She never acted like other humans. that is correct” she said. “Eighteen isn’t very old. So I just stayed quiet. but Bella answered her anyway” “Getting older” Bella said. What I wouldn’t give to be human with her and change and age as she did. She was still sad. Just by one little year. Thankful. I sighed. lost in thought. Alice laughed at my statement. Most people seem to enjoy things like birthdays and gifts. that Alice was there. I hated that getting older caused her so much pain. like she knew Alice had something up her sleeve. except that. “Technically. but it was hard. though.

” Alice . She probably thought I was going to let her miss the party. then she can. That was exactly what she was doing. Alice. She’s trading your shifts. be fair.” “ But Mr.” “So there” Bella added. Even though Alice was taking this whole birthday . She could take that test today and pass it with flying colors. Bella. Alice had already thought of this.” Bella would come up with anything to keep from going to this party. She said to tell you ‘Happy Birthday.” I told Alice. Mr. She was just as stubborn as Bella. thinking that that would end the conversation. Alice wasn’t going to give up though. “Relax. Shedid have the movie memorized. well. “I’ll get her from Charlie’s right after school. I. It’s her birthday.” Bella protested. “You don’t actually. Newton about it. I already spoke to Mrs. lost her patience with Bella. “This can be easy.’” “I-I still can’t come over. but one way or the other-“ I interrupted her then. I haven’t watched Romeo and Juliet yet for English.“Oh.” This would probably go on all day if I don’t jump in. Not only was this starting to get on my nerves but she was ruining Bella’s birthday.finally. And I specifically asked her to be gentle with Bella and not push too hard. “You’ve already seen the movie” “But not the nineteen-sixties version. or this can be hard. a little too smug. Berty said we needed to see it performed to fully appreciate itthat’s how Shakespeare intended it to be presented. “I have to work. I rolled my eyes. If Bella wants to watch a movie. Always so stubborn.” “You have Romeo and Juliet memorized. Bella! You aren’t going to ruin all our fun like that are you?” “I thought my birthday was about whatI want. Berty said it was the best.

He would just smile at Bella now to make her think that he had accepted our relationship. As long as she didn’t mind being close to me. didn’t want her missing anything.” I told her as I led her to our first class. All of Bella’s admirers didn’t like that too much. We’re going to be late for class. I put my finger to her lips to silence her protest. No instinct in her body warning of the danger. beautiful to humans anyway………wait. We had todie to be beautiful. Now we sat at Bella’s table with all of her friends. I was happy. but I guess he gets points for the effort. I would tell Alice later to drive the Volvo home. It was like she had nofight orflight reflexes. but that didn’t bother us. so that left just Alice and I stuck in high school. . please-“ she started. We were used to humans being repelled by us. “I’ll bring her over around seven. Jasper. See you tonight Bella! It’ll be fun. I knew better. maybe I could kill him………… Bella seemed to relax as the day progressed. I still didn’t understand why Bella wasn’t afraid to be so close to us. Alice laughed. We were pretending to be seniors this year. Don’t worry’ Alice thought to me before she spoke. Pleased that she was getting her way. Rosalie. He still secretly wished that I would fall off a cliff so that he could comfort Bella in her time of need. Of course he couldn’t pull it off. I would ride with Bella to keep her from trying to escape. and Emmett were pretending to be off at college. Especially Mike Newton.” Alice kissed Bella on the cheek and then headed off to class before Bella could say anything else. That will give you more time to set up. They sat at the opposite end of course.” I told Alice. “Edward. If he wants to look like me. but I’m sure she would try anyway. I wouldn’t complain though. Bella turned to look at me with a pleading expression. too.thing too far. you’ll see. “Sounds good. that doesn’t sound like a bad idea. I. ‘She’ll love it Edward. I’m pretty sure Bella was thinking of ways to try to get out of the party. He even changed his looks that mimicked my own. Not that she could. I did understand what she meant about Bella not missing anything. I told Alice not to mention her birthday again so she didn’t. “Let’s discuss it later. I was able to get the administrators to rearrange my class schedule so that we had almost every class together.

but I guess I would have to settle for the radio.” “All right……. I knew she hated it when I picked on her truck. Probably about the party. she would be difficult. though. I decided to throw a hint about her needing a new radio. I could never make a mistake with her. “And what if I don’t want to be in a good mood?” It was working already because her breathing was uneven. “ It took everything in me to keep from laughing. I knew that Rosalie. I walked Bella to her truck and held the passenger door open for her. and her jaw line.” I said and leaned in to kiss her. “Your radio has horrible reception. I hated to stop . I loved kissing Bella. “You want a nice stereo? Drive your own car. Emmett and Jasper got her a new radio for her truck. I know how to make her forget her worries. And Alice will make sure to have Emmett install it first so that she can’t take it back. don’t I get to drive?” she asked. Of course. Happy birthday. At lease she can’t take the radio back.” I whispered to her. My mouth lingered on hers. I pressed the tips of my fingers softly against her temples. I shut the passenger door and walked past her to open the driver’s side.” “If it’s not my birthday. then I don’t have to go to your house tonight……. She needed one. Once it’s installed. her cheekbones. “Shh” she whispered and got into the truck. shaking my head while I was searching through the stations. just as you wished. today of all days.School went by quickly. “I’m pretending it’s not your birthday. “You should be in a good mood. Her lips were always so warm and soft.” I said. Which in turn did strange things to me… “Too bad. We were in front of Charlie’s house now and I reached over to touch her face. She always worried about the wrong things. She needed a whole new car. She said that with a sharp tone. Always keeping in mind how fragile she was.” I told her. which only meant that she was nervous. “It’s my birthday. While she drove. She frowned. She folded her arms and didn’t move.

it would undoubtedly be beating out of my chest too. I wanted to keep going as much as she did. That’s not very brilliant. The sound of her heart was the most significant sound in my world. I couldn’t bear not hearing it. “I really hope not” I told her. she sat on the edge of the sofa in front of me. If my heart could beat. I couldn’t lose control. all right?” “Your wish. he kills Juliet’s cousin. a few minutes after their wedding. I let go of her face and unlocked her arms from around my neck. “Well. “You know. “Do you think I’ll ever get better at this? That my heart my someday stop trying to jump out of my chest whenever you touch me?” she wondered. She should’ve known I wasn’t having that.” I went and laid across her couch while she started the movie. She loved the classics.” I whispered against her cheek. I’ve never had much patience with Romeo. Could he have destroyed his own happiness any more thoroughly?” I said to her. But I couldn’t.but it was always necessary. first of all. forced myself. He was a very complicated character. please. my command. And keep going still……. I wrapped my arms around her waist and pulled her against my chest. Her heart sounded like it was about to pound out of her chest. “Be good. After she fastforwarded through the opening credits.” I told her while the movie started. I loved when her heart fluttered like that. She sounded a little offended. She wrapped her arms around my neck and threw more of herself into the kiss. “Let’s go watch the Capulet’s and Montague’s hack each other up. “What’s wrong with Romeo” she asked. I’ve been doing everything in my power to make sure it keeps beating! She just rolled her eyes at me. I was always as eager as she was to continue the kiss but she always made my self-control worse by getting a little too carried away. he’s in love with Rosaline-don’t you think it makes him seem a little fickle? And then. I wanted her as close as she could get to me but I didn’t want her to freeze against my cold skin. And so I always had to be the one to stop. Mistake after mistake. I . as she always did.. I pulled the blanket off of the back of the couch to wrap her in it while she laid against my chest. I kissed her one more time and then. to pull away.

Bella sighed. I had to admit. “No. with her safe and alive in my arms.” My voice had become serious and I didn’t even realize it. And then I teased her.. And Bella has seen this movie countless times. “And he’s clearly in excellent health.” I told her and kissed her hair. “She’s very pretty” Bella said. Did she really think that I would envy him the girl? Especially when she was sitting right here in my arms. She was angry. So epic. Will you cry?” I asked her while I traced pattern on her arms. even now. “Probably. As we watched the movie. They know it’s not real. he really did have some great lines.nearly killed…. I whispered some of Romeo’s lines in Bella’s ears. I never understood why it became so popular. and it still makes her cry. although I didn’t understand Romeo. I never understood it when women cried over something they saw on a movie or on television. “What do you mean. wiping her tears with a lock of her hair.” It was hard. “I’ll mostly be watching you. “What?” “It’s something I had to think about once. I tried to make my voice light again.. to think about when I almost lost her last . anyway. when you were…. I didn’t want to upset her. “You humans have it so easy! All you have to do is throw down a vile of plant extracts….” It surprised me when she gasped. “What are you talking about? “ she demanded. and I knew from Carlisle’s experience that it wouldn’t be simple.really didn’t see the draw to the story. if I’m paying attention” she said. I do sort of envy him here” I said to her. “Do you want me to watch this alone?” she said. so when she did. But they cry anyway.” She twisted around in my arms with a frown on her face.. “I don’t envy him the girl-just the ease of the suicide” I told her. this is something you had to think about once?” “Last spring. I’m not even sure how many ways Carlisle tried to kill himself in the beginning….” I told her. “I’ll admit. it made me smile. “I won’t distract you then. after he realized what he’d become…. I thought Bella was joking when she said that she would cry.

I guessed. she yelled. outraged.or whatever it is that we do. “The Volturi are a family. “What is aVol t u r i?” she demanded.” “Put me in danger!”. Bella shook her head. without a doubt. so it’s a moot point. Always so forgiving. never. well as tight as she could. That was one of the worst experiences in my life.” I could tell she was remembering what happened too.” Her face turned from anger to horror as she took my face in her hands and held it tight. in Italy. but part of my mind was making contingency plans. Not knowing whether Bella would be alive when I got to her. She never thought I did anything wrong. She started to trace the place on her wrist where James had bitten her. and asked “Contingency plans? “Well. “Of course I was trying to focus on finding you alive. before he settled in America-do you remember the story?” I asked. you don’t irritate the Volturi.” “Anyway. I had told her this the first time she came to my house to meet my family. Like I said. Carlisle lived with them briefly in his early years. But I knew. They are the closest thing our world has to a royal family. trying to make the memory disappear.” Did she think I would just move on with my life without her? What a ridiculous idea! I continued. “Of course I remember. not unless you want to die. very powerful family of our kind. “So I was thinking maybe I would go to Italy and do something to provoke the Volturi. I took a deep breath and tried to regain my tone. never think of anything like that again. I suppose. At the hands of another vampire. “But I wasn’t sure how todo it. A very old. she was furious. She was too good for me. it’s not as easy for me as it is for a human. . It made me angry again as I remembered how close he had gotten. “You must never. with her kitten like anger.” They would surely find some way to get the job done if I caused any kind of trouble.I knew Emmett and Jasper would never help……” they would stop me if they even knew what I was thinking of doing. I wasn’t going to live without you. No matter what might ever happen to me. you are not allowed to hurt yourself!” she said. In that instance. “I’ll never put you in danger again.spring.

Bella didn’t catch him. it made me feel good when she grabbed my hand. There is no way that she would ever see herself clearly.” She said. But what would I do without you?” I asked her. “That’s not the same thing” Her response made me laugh. “I thought we’d established that all the bad luck is my fault? How dare you even think like that?” “What would you do. by far. but I decided against it. ‘What does she see in this guy? I don’t care what any of them say. She was determined to make her dad deal with our relationship whether he wanted to or not. especially over me. I’m not really that interesting. I was about to explain that to her. “What if something did happen to you? Would you want me to go off myself?” she asked. I still hold him responsible for what happened last spring’ Charlie thought. She continued when I didn’t say anything. we both heard the sound of Charlie’s cruiser pull into the driveway.” She said as if it were that simple. I needed to borrow Bella for the evening and I didn’t want to give him a reason to say no. As we did. “Whatever you were doing before I came along and complicated your existence. Even though I didn’t like her starting anything with her dad. let alone have to live it. I didn’t see the difference.” “It should be. “I guess I see your point……a little.that it was my fault. “Moot point” I said. Charlie walked in with pizza. She is. It seems like I didn’t even have a life until I met Bella. Like she was proud to have me at her side. And it takes a lot to capture my interest. And then I heard Charlie’s cruiser coming down the street. Bella took my hand into hers. I sat up and shifted Bella to the side so that we weren’t touching anymore. The thought of anything happening to Bella. even if I was already dead. was still painful. Going back to a time without her was unbearable to even think about. It drove Charlie mad when he saw us touching. I smiled to answer her question. if the situation were reversed?” I asked her. “Charlie?” Bella guessed. After a moment. the most interesting person I have ever met. I sighed “You make that sound so easy. He glanced at our hands for a split second. .

you kids have fun tonight. When they came back into the living room.” he said grinning. “Take it easy” Bella told me. It was so slow. I wanted him to know the truth.“Hey kids. “That’s fine-the Mariners are playing the Sox tonight. I opened the passenger door for her when we got to her truck. When I gave it to her. I passed on dinner. “It works” she said “That’s good. “Do you mind if I borrow Bella for the evening?” I asked him. He had been very grateful for Alice for helping Bella after her “accident”. . Hey. took Bella’s hand. I have never seen anybody watch sports as much as Charlie did. thankful that he loved sports so much. I tried to make it go faster. Probably because she could never find the turnoff to my house. “If they’re doing something fun at the Cullens’ tonight. I’ll tell her” Bella told him.” Charlie said. Dad. only to Bella. That I had actually saved his daughter’s life. I turned to Charlie. She didn’t argue as she did earlier.” “Good idea Charlie” I said as I gave the camera to Bella. as I always did. He loved Alice like she was his own daughter. Of course she missed it. She hasn’t been over in a while. They went into the kitchen to eat. Thanks. The engine groaned louder as I tried to force it to go past the speed limit. he couldn’t know that. I wanted him to accept me. and watched television until they got finished. you should take some pictures. “Nice save. “Okay.” Charlie said. Bella looked at Charlie liked she was hoping he would say no. so I won’t be any kind of company……here” he grabbed the camera Bella’s mom bought for her and threw it to her.” He was anxious to watch his game. Dad. He disappointed her. and pulled her from the kitchen. but I caught it before it hit the floor. say hi to Alice for me. “It’s been three days. I was a little jealous that Charlie didn’t like me as much as he liked Alice. But of course. I smiled. I have to admit. she turned it on me and took a picture. I smiled at my victory.” Bella said. “I thought you’d like a break from cooking and washing dishes for your birthday. Hungry?” “Sure. Bella. Because otherwise he might have wanted his daughter all to himself on her birthday. You know how your mother gets-she’ll be wanting to see the pictures faster than you can take them. Driving her truck was like torture.

I do mean all of them. I’ll behave. “There’s nothing wrong with my truck.“You know what you would love? A nice little Audi coupe.. I didn’t want her to hurt their feelings. They’re all very excited. but that reminded me. That is enough. “But……Rosalie? “I know.” “When I say they’re all excited….” She said. My face turned serious. Because she was so clumsy. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from Rosalie. “Please do. Cut us a little slack. “Good” “Can you do me a favor?” “That depends on what it is. if you know what’s good for you.” Rosalie was the only one who never warmed up to Bella. The others did spend money on her.” And able to go above fifty. I forgot to tell her that Emmett and Rosalie came back home for her birthday.” Bella said. you didn’t spend any money on birthday presents. “I probably should warn you….” I said. “Bella. “Emmett wanted to be here. and don’t be too difficult tonight. Very quiet.” “Fine. I thought to my self. Everyone else loved Bella. They are all really excited about this party. She could never make anything easy. lots of power….. And he also thought she was hilarious. Don’t worry. Bella.” “Everyone? I thought Emmett and Rosalie were in Africa.” Emmett thought of Bella as the little sister he always wanted. she’ll be on her best behavior.” I sighed. And speaking of expensive non essentials.” “Not a dime” I said. the last real birthday any of us had was Emmett in 1935. .

Especially since that was what she thought she wanted. We didn’t agree on anything.” She said. As she took my hand. We were pulling up to the house. “This is a party.” Why was she so determined to be a soulless creature. isn’t there anything that you’d like for your birthday?” “You know what I want. except Rosalie of all people. will you show up in the picture. I did know what she wanted. I had to laugh. “Not tonight. “So if you won’t let me get you the Audi. “That’s not fair!”. I heard Bella moan as she took in all of Alice’s decorations. At that. I took deep breaths to calm myself from the previous conversation. My teeth clenched together to keep myself from getting angrier. but the subject made me so angry. She was very creative when she was determined to do something.” She whispered.It was quiet for a moment. She wanted to be a vampire. I went around to get her door and offered my hand to help her out. She always went overboard when she organized parties. Of course this would be no exception. There were bright lights shining from every window on all the floors except for my floor.………. Please” “Well. Japanese lanterns hung from the porch. As always. Perfect timing. Bella was probably thinking about Rosalie. as a matter of fact all of them. Try to be a good sport. It felt weird to have Rosalie agree with me. until she asked her question. she yelled. “This isn’t going to be your last birthday Bella”. and big bowls of flowers lined the stairs on the front porch. Alice had overdid it.” “Sure” she said. maybe Alice will give me what I want. thought that it would be better if Bella were one of us. Bella. I decided to change the subject. Something that I could not bear to let happen. “If I develop this film. I really didn’t want to have this conversation tonight. she said “I have a question. Alice. playing with the camera in her hands. I helped her out of the .” I just waited. A growl escaped from me before I knew it. My tone was a little harsher than I intended it to be. Why did I have to change the subject.

car and pulled her up the stairs. We couldn’t rein Alice in” He said to Bella. “But I didn’t listen. Edward. plates. blushing even more. “You haven’t changed at all. Open it. but I could sense the tension rolling off of Bella. and Jasper’s present. It was easy to tell that he missed her. they all yelled ‘Happy Birthday Bella’. I expected a perceptible difference. On top of it were more roses. Emmett” Bella said. . There was a table next to my grand piano covered with a white table cloth. red-faced just like always. but here you are. Knowing how she hated the spotlight.” “I’ll try”. We opened the door and they were all waiting in the living room for us. Bella blushed. and a pink cake. Bella’s presents. Emmett laughed at her. We’re not going to try to eat it. roses were everywhere. Emmett. The radio that Emmett was installing outside as we speak.” Emmett teased. Alice skipped over to Bella and grabbed her elbow. so Alice took it and handed Bella Rosalie. Inside the house. she said and pulled Bella toward the table. but Alice interrupted her.” I half-smiled at her. What? So we would all just have to throw it up later? ‘I see you looking at the cake. then said “Don’t do anything funny while I’m gone. Emmett’s lips stretched into a huge grin when he looked at Bella. As we walked through the door. “Alice.” Bella was still holding her camera in her hands. “Thanks a lot. Bella said. Bella opened it and looked at it like she was waiting for the punch line. Still laughing. “Sorry about this Bella.” He winked at Alice. “I have to step out for a second. I wrapped my arm around her waist and kissed the top of her head to reassure her that everything is okay. I know I told you I didn’t want anything-“ Bella said. Alice gave Bella the empty box that the radio came out of. Geez. “time to open presents”. Cake? Plates? What was Alice thinking? That we were actually going to eat the cake. Esme came then and hugged her and then Carlisle. She missed him too. It’s just decoration.

“Um……thanks” she said. She even made Rosalie crack a smile. Jasper just laughed at her. He was still a little uncomfortable around her. Alice explained to Bella what it was. “It’s a stereo for your truck. Emmett’s installing it right now so that you can’t return it.” “Thanks Jasper, Rosalie” Bella said grinning. She threw a quick glance at me and then started smiling. She must be remembering when I was talking about her stereo earlier today. It must have clicked that it was all a setup. So perceptive. “Thanks Emmett!” Bella called out loud, as if he couldn’t hear her even if she whispered. Emmett started laughing and that made her laugh too. “Open mine and Edward’s next,” Alice said to her. Bella tuned to glare at me, “You promised.” I was about to answer right before Emmett came running through the door. He was anxious to see Bella blush once she opened the rest of the gifts. “Just in time,” Emmett said. “I didn’t spend a dime,” I reassured her. I brushed a strand of hair from her face. I don’t understand why it was so important that I didn’t spend any money on a gift for her. I would have loved to get her something really nice or take her to a really nice restaurant. But she was so stubborn. She took a deep breath and turned to face Alice as if she were facing a death sentence or something. “Give it to me,” she said and then sighed. It’s moments like these that I would love to be able to hear what she’s thinking. Emmett laughed at her reluctance. She grabbed the package out of Alice’s hands and while rolling her eyes at me for getting her something, even thought I didn’t spend any money, she stuck her finger under the edge of the paper and gave herself a paper cut. Right then, even though I wasn’t even paying attention to Jasper’s thoughts, I heard what went through his head. And I saw his actions in Alice’s foresight. The same thing that went through mine the first day I smelled Bella’s blood. He wasn’t Jasper anymore. He was a vampire. Through and through. He had no self-control. And didn’t care to try to restrain himself. All he saw was red. All he wanted was her blood. “Shoot,” I heard Bella say when the paper sliced her finger. A drip of blood dropped from her hand and that sent Jasper over the edge. “NO!” I yelled. I threw myself over to where Bella was standing and pushed her out of Jasper’s sight. I used too much force to push her back and she went flying across the table. The table fell with her, including the cake,

present, the flowers, and the plates, which shattered as they hit the floor. Bella fell into the shattered glass which made everything ten times worse. She held her arms out to try to catch her fall, but ended up scraping them in the shattered glass which made her bleed even more. Jasper slammed into me in an attempt to get to her. I loved my brother and I know he can’t help himself, but there is no way I’m going to let him get to her. No way. If I had to, I would kill him before he got any closer. Snarls were creeping out of his chest as he continued to try to shove past me. Jasper began snapping his teeth inches from my face. If he continued, this would not end good. It’s like Emmett read my mind, out of nowhere he grabbed Jasper in a steel grip. Jasper continued to struggle to get free, even then. His eyes were wild, excited, thirsty, and focused only on Bella. My world. My life. He was determined to get to her. To drink her blood. What a terrible situation. This has gone too far. I stood there, hands spread protectively in front of Bella. No one was getting past me. They would have to kill me and tear me to shreds before they got to her. It was now me against my family. This is what it has come to. I wanted to turn around to look at Bella, to see if she was ok. But there was no way I was going to get caught off guard. I heard all of their thoughts. I knew that they weren’t going to do anything to her. Except for Jasper. But they were all ravenous for her blood. All of their eyes were excited. But they controlled themselves. Still I wasn’t taking any chances. In that moment, it was me against them. We were no longer the Cullen family. We had separated that quickly. They were bloodthirsty vampires and I was standing in the way of their prey. It was going to be either me or them.

Chapter 2: Stitches I stood there, my arms spread wide, glaring at my family, but mostly at Jasper as he was still trying to get past Emmett to Bella.

“Emmett, Rose, get Jasper outside.” I heard Carlisle say. Emmett nodded to Carlisle, realizing the seriousness of the situation, for once, and said, ”Come on, Jasper.” I still stayed focused on Jasper. He was still trying to break Emmett’s hold on him. He was still reaching towards me, baring his teeth. He was still past reason. So I crouched further over Bella and sent him warning growl, just to let him know that I fully intended on doing whatever it takes to protect Bella. Whatever it takes.
Rosalie stepped in front of him then and helped Emmett get Jasper through the door. Rosalie’s face was smug as she helped him, ‘ I knew this would happen sooner or later. They didn’t listen. Ha, I told him’ Rosalie thought as she helped him out

the door. I didn’t have time to deal with her. I would soon enough thought. Esme held the door for them while they led him out. She held her mouth and her nose to keep from smelling the blood. She felt so ashamed that Jasper had reacted the way he did and also because, no matter how much she loved Bella, she was still a vampire and Bella’s blood smelled too good. She had to leave too. “Let me by, Edward.” Carlisle said, approaching me. I knew he was in total control, but, just for a second, I hesitated. I was on edge and the only thing that mattered was Bella’s safety. ‘I need to take care of her wounds, Edward. She’s still bleeding.’ Carlisle thought. I nodded slowly and relaxed my position. He knelt down beside her to examine the damage. I looked at her face. This was the first time I had a chance to look at it since she cut her finger. I couldn’t afford to take my eyes away from Jasper long enough to see how badly I had her. She was still in shock, of course. It was all over her face. If I asked her about it, though, I’m sure she would just deny it. But I could see it. She was trying her best to compose it, but it was too late. I already saw it. Alice stayed in the room also, but she had kept her distance until she could compose herself. She warned me with her thoughts before she stepped closer, my back was to her, ‘It’s just me Edward, and I’m fine. I just want to hand Carlisle a towel.’ I just nodded. “Here, Carlisle,” Alice said to him, handing him the towel. Carlisle shook his head at her. “Too much glass in the wound.” He made a tourniquet with a torn piece of the table cloth and wrapped it above her elbow. “Bella, do you want me to drive you to the hospital, or would you like me to take care of it here?” Carlisle asked Bella.

” I said immediately. Edward.” I lifted her out of the broken glass while Carlisle kept pressure on her arm to stop the bleeding. This is all wrong. I need to be here for her.” She was always worrying about me. “How are you doing Bella?” Carlisle asked her. would probably end up really killing her. The girl I love is sitting right here in front of me. Alice had returned and I sat her gently into a chair while Carlisle pulled up another and went to work on her arm. “You don’t need to be a hero. I can do this. I could get some fresh air and be right back. bloodied and bruised. “Carlisle can fix me up without your help. Carlisle looked at me then. pulling me from my self-pity.” she continued. but because this was my Bella and we were all still vampires. unlike him. I’m not doing anything useful here. and all I could think of was how sweet her blood smells to me. I wished there was something I could do. I wish I could take care of her like that. And here I am. Not frightened like she should be. I still stood over her protectively. “I’m fine. thirsting for her blood even more that Jasper was. I would end up in the same position Jasper was in. except not breathing in her scent. She knew at any moment it could be too much and I could kill her. . I kept chanting in my head. I know she could see how rigid my jaw was. please” she whispered.” Bella said. Why haven’t I asked her that yet? Why haven’t I said one word to her since this started? Oh…. still not breathing. but she had too much faith in me as always. and I. how her blood smells to me. Not because I sensed any real danger. This isn’t right.“Here. I told her. She knew. I hated being this weak.” Bella said to me. Here she was. “I can handle it. Her voice was surprisingly steady. What a mess. Carlisle continued working on her arm. I hate to see her in any kind of pain.that’s right. Never about herself. and she was worrying about how this affected me. Get some fresh air. “Let’s take her to the kitchen table. Carlisle was totally in control. I can do this. I was still in shock at what had just transpired. Afraid that if I did. She was right though. “I’ll stay. hurt. “I’ll go get your bag” Alice said. “Just go. he put some antiseptic on it to clean the wounds and Bella winced.” I responded back to her. I haven’t taken a breath since it started. even when she isn’t bleeding. How much effort I put into being around her.

As soon as I smelled her. He is more than capable to take care of her. had I planned to kill him and anyone else who got within ten feet of her? My family? What a horrible situation. “No. What was I thinking? I was so selfish to think that I could be with her. ‘She’ll be fine. And it’s not helping Bella to see you like this. He could sense that and so he walked over and sat beside me. started to think. Was God laughing at me? Probably. you’re not angry. my love? And. I’m so sorry. I went out back to the river and took a deep breath. Before I could respond. This has gotten out of hand. but I couldn’t bring myself to be angry at him. You really need to get some fresh air. “Go find Jasper. ‘ Edward. with a clear head. It took everything in my power not to kill her and every other witness in the classroom.” Bella quickly agreed. This was inevitable. I’m not angry. I haven’t taken a breath since she cut her finger. I was the one who couldn’t.” He concluded. I’ll make sure of it. You have no idea. I just smelled her blood and my thirst took over. “Edward.” “Yes. Edward. What had just happened in there? Had my brother just tried to kill Bella. I am so. I found the rock that I sat on when I came here to think sometimes. the package that it came in was my opposite in every way. A human.” Alice added. Am I never suppose to have happiness? The kind that Carlisle and Esme thought I deserved? When I thought that I finally found it. You don’t look so good. Jasper’s thoughts interrupted me. you may as well go find Jasper before he gets too far. Carlisle interceded.“Why are you so masochistic?” she mumbled. I don’t know what happened. surprised and relieved. and I doubt he’ll listen to anyone but you right now. I looked up at the stars and. I turned around with the intentions of glaring at him for his actions earlier. Just then he came around the corner. As much as I hated to even think the words.” “You might as well do something useful. “Edward. And I do need some fresh air. Especially with as clumsy as she was. I’ll take care of her.’ Carlisle thought. I know all too well. He was right. maybe Rosalie was right. so very sorry. I understand. every ounce of self-control had . He would take care of her. in turn. So they were all going to gang up on me were they. It was going to happen sooner or later. I simply nodded and left through the kitchen door. You should’ve seen me that first day in our biology class when I first got a whiff of her scent. I’m sure he’s upset with himself.’.

She would never forgive me for this. I was angry. Of course I had more words for him. we’ve been at this a lot longer than you have. I will make it up to you. “I wasn’t sorry. though. I’ve never been sorry that I saved Edward. Go talk to Alice. He heard me in the dining room. And I’m sorry again. Edward. I should go in and check on her.” I said. You’ll need to change anyway. I saw that in his thoughts.” “Ok. She looked at her clothes and saw how bad they were. No harm done right?” I said to him. I admitted to him.” I walked through the dining room then. You’d give Charlie a heart attack the way you look. some that I would never speak in front of a lady. shaking his head. I have to get it together before I face her again. Alice met me at the stairs.” I told her and walked back out of the kitchen.” He said and walked away. I heard Carlisle talking to Bella about when he changed me. I don’t think I’ve told anybody that. . about what had happened.. I knew Jasper couldn’t help himself.”. I’m sure she isn’t upset with you either. I’ll have Alice get you something. I walked back in the house. trying to compose my face from the pain that was trying to break free. I just acted like an animal in there. She must’ve been terrified. “Edward. what’s going on? Your future……Bella’s future…. “Carlisle can take me. Don’t worry about it. a little.. Edward. I didn’t have it in me to argue with him now.” He paused. It’s happened to the best of’s…I don’t know. it’s fine. no harm done. She always saw through my pretenses.disappeared and I was just a vampire and she was my prey. covered in cake frosting and blood. And poor Bella. something’s changing. She will definitely know something was wrong. I’m still sorry Edward……” “Jasper. but I had more important things to think about now. I should’ve known she would see something was wrong. but that was still Bella. “ I’ll do that.” she said. “Right. “Jasper. Nor Alice……. But for now.” he paused. “I suppose I should take you home now. “I’m fine. It’s ok. I didn’t know what I was going to do next. I caught the end of it though. I have to figure something out.” Alice said. Thank you. “But you did control yourself.

He was concerned about me. Alice didn’t make it any better. Or her. They stole glances at me before we walked out of the door. I stood by the door waiting for Bella and Alice to return so that I could get Bella home safe and sound. I don’t want Charlie to see her like that.” I purposely avoided her question.” I assured her. How could she not? Even if she wasn’t as perceptive as she was. Anything but that. But he knew I would come to him if I wanted to talk. A solution to this problem was occurring to me. I don’t even know how to answer it. “How are you. I held the door open for her. I’ve just got a lot on my mind.” Alice told Bella while she handed her. . You don’t need to worry. what are you……” Alice insisted.“Could you please get Bella something to wear back home. I don’t know. She hurried to Bella to help her find something to wear. As always. I’ll get you something less macabre to wear” Alice said. “Sure…” she said. We walked silently to the car and I held the passenger door open for her.” “I’ll be fine. Wondering silently if I would be ok. I could hear him trying to control his thoughts. She got in without saying anything. She tore the ribbon off of the stereo and kicked it under her seat before I got in on the driver’s side. without saying anything. but that was far from the truth.” Esme and Carlisle told her goodnight. I didn’t even look at the stereo. I didn’t say anything when I got in. “Alice. But I cut her off. Carlisle looked at me with a wistful expression. I was still having a hard time covering up my grief about what happened. but I was trying to find any other way to fix this. He didn’t say anything. After awhile they came down the stairs. We walked back to the kitchen through the back doors. her presents and her camera. I could barely control my facial expressions. “C’mon. “Edward. We rode in silence. They headed upstairs to Esme’s room. Not yet anyway. it was obvious. Edward? You don’t look so good. I knew my voice would certainly give me away. that’s all. As she got to the bottom. Esme was the only one to speak. “Take your things. “You can thank me later. when you’ve opened them. I was still thinking of another option besides the one that was looming over my head. Can you just please do as I ask?” I said to her. She knew something was wrong. He didn’t want to make anything worse.

“If I’d been more careful. She was angry now.” “It’s still my fault.that hardly deserves the death penalty. but her words had made me angry. you gave yourself a paper cut.” I growled at her.” She said. “What do you want me to say?” I knew my voice would give me away.“Say something”. I’d rather die than be with anyone but you. It will only make me more disgusted with myself. the worst that could possibly have happened would be what? Maybe they couldn’t find you a bandage? If you’d tripped and knocked over a pile of glass plates on your own-without someone throwing you into them-even then. “I’d rather die than be with Mike Newton. He would be safer for her to be with.” she said. Taking the blame for something that was so far from her fault. Bella begged. Bella. nothing would have happened. Could I do nothing right tonight? “Mike Newton ended up in this conversation because Mike Newton would be a hell of a lot healthier for you to be with. with Jessica there and Angela and your other normal friends.and he wouldn’t be fighting the urge to kill you the whole time he was there. To . It had no emotion. tonight. “Bella. I had hurt Bella the worst. it had been accomplished. I had to throw her into the table and now her arms were bandaged up in gauze from her scrapes and cuts from the glass that I threw her into. Don’t try to take any of this on yourself. what’s the worst? You’d get blood on the seats when they drove you to the emergency room? Mike Newton could have held your hand while they stitched you up. She would be happier. Just like Bella. Not this. How could she blame herself for what happened? If her goal was to get me to say something. She started out with just a paper cut. She was not going to take the blame for this.” Under normal circumstances. “Your fault? If you’d cut yourself at Mike Newton’s house. “Forgive you? For what?” My words came out sharper than I intended them to. “Tell me you forgive me.” This made me even angrier. this would have made me happy.” “How the hell did Mike Newton end up in this conversation?” She demanded.

Oh. Trying my best to gather my thoughts. But tonight. I frowned.” “I’ll live. as she tucked the presents under her arm. I cut the truck off.” “Okay. then she never would’ve cut her hand.” she said. “Well. I flashed to her side to grab her presents. you don’t.” .” She said while hopping out of the car and reaching for her presents. now she wanted to acknowledge her birthday. The arm I hadn’t injured. And it was still her birthday. those words only made me angrier. I needed to think and she needed to rest. “You don’t have to take those. I hated being this angry around her.” I told her. like she asked. Her good arm. I’ll be in your room. Maybe she could salvage what was left of her birthday without me as a reminder of what happened tonight. If we hadn’t gotten her presents.” she said. Those presents were the cause of this whole mess.” she said. I just glared out the window. “Let me carry them. then. “Will you stay tonight?” she asked me.” I told her. “No. Why would she want me to stay after what happened tonight? “I should go home. don’t you be ridiculous. but my hands were still clenched to the steering wheel.hear that she wanted only me.” I told her. It felt like they were glued there. I’ve decided that I don’t want you to ignore my birthday. The words she used were right on point. “Don’t be melodramatic. Being around me kept her in constant danger. Carlisle and Esme spent money on you. please. “For my birthday. “You can’t have it both ways-either you want people to ignore your birthday or you don’t.” I didn’t respond back. “I want them. When we made it Charlie’s house. One or the other. at least. She would get herself killed trying to be with me. I’ll see you upstairs.

” I sighed and I leaned down to kiss her. She rushed while she was in the bathroom and then she was walking through the door. She reached up to make the kiss last longer. Renee is going to flip! You don’t mind. “Allow me” I told her. It’s been awhile since she’s seen her. for her. Nothing ever bothered her.” I replied. “If I’d had any idea that you could respond to a gift this appropriately. though. She came to the bed. do you? It’s sunny. “I can’t believe it. And I wouldn’t mind the vacation……. “Hi. Genuinely. Getting carried away as always. I tore the paper off the gift and handed it back to her. She was excited about it. Then she picked up Carlisle and Esme’s gift. She was in a hurry to get back tome.” she said. She didn’t converse long with her dad.I wondered out loud. and climbed into my lap. snuggling herself into my chest. I would have made you open it in front of Carlisle and Esme. “That’s the idea. “Can I open my presents now?” “Where did the enthusiasm come from?” . We didn’t need a repeat of what happened. She didn’t deserve this. I thought you’d complain.” she said back. “Happy birthday. “We’re going to Jacksonville?” she asked. “Hi” I said. I really didn’t deserve her. you’ll have to stay inside all day.She smiled and thanked me.” Always worrying about me. “You made me curious. I could be like this with her forever. And then a frown crept onto my face. I positioned myself in the center of her bed and twirled one of the boxes in my hand.if I were going with her. “Are you sure I can handle lifting the lid?” she said. I ran up the side of her house up into her window to wait for her.” I told her. surprised by her sudden excitement. I would get my emotions in order for her.” . Trying to be me. but I ignored her. I pulled away and smiled at her. Her smile encouraged me to try to put these negative thoughts and feelings away until I was alone. Carlisle and Esme had bought us two tickets to go see her mom in Jacksonville. pushed the box out of my hand. “I think I can handle it. Trying to calm myself. Especially not right now.

Never wanting to be taken care of. I didn’t say anything. I thought she would give me grief for getting her anything. her eyes started to fill with tears. I can’t believe it. What was wrong with her? “Does your arm hurt? I asked. It’s beautiful Edward.” “I don’t need anything. “What is it?” she asked. “Charlie. I waited for her reaction. It was the first song. “Now I wish I’d spent money on your present. “I didn’t think you would let me get a piano so I could play for you here. I simply took the CD from her and put it in her CD player and hit play. She always had a way of making all of my worries go away. You couldn’t have given me anything I would love more. It would ruin her reaction if I just told her what it was. As the music filled the room.” she whispered.” Bella will be Bella. “You’re right” “How does your arm feel?” I asked her. being with her now. Wow. of course.“Well.” she said and then became quiet as she absorbed my compositions. It made me laugh and the laughing felt natural. she really loved my gift.” she protested. I handed her the CD I made for her. The medicine would have worn off by now. it’s not my arm. I didn’t realize you were capable of being reasonable. it’s too much. it all seems like a distant memory. But I get to take you with me!” she said. Even after what all happened tonight. she set the tickets down and reached for my gift. I knew her arm had to be hurting.” I explained to her. I grabbed it before she could and unwrapped like I had the last one. at least I got one thing right tonight. Well. Would she like it? What was she thinking? As I watched her face closely for any reaction. We sat there until the music began. “No.” After I said that. but I ignored her and headed for the door. “Just fine. “I’ll get you some Tylenol. . Her lullaby was playing.

” “You’re greedy tonight. The truth would just upset her more. And I needed to think. that I’d like you to kiss me again. I handed them to her and she took them without any complaints. “It’s late. She had been through enough. She leaned her head against my shoulder and sighed. “Remember how I decided that I wanted you to not ignore my birthday?” she asked anxiously.” . “What are you thinking about?” Bella asked. actually. has turned into the wrong thing to do. She needed protection. convinced myself. She listened while my mind drifted to more unhappy thoughts. But now. wondering if I should tell her the truth. I laid her down and tucked the quilt around her.” I told her. “Thanks again. It was late and she had to be tired from the stress of the evening. “I was thinking about right and wrong.” she whispered.” The music was still playing in the background. I expected her to press the issue.“He won’t catch me. for her. and I laid down next to her. even given myself excuses. It just wasn’t the whole truth. and slipping back in her room before the door had time to close. grabbing the Tylenol from the bathroom cabinet and the glass. I wish I knew the right answer. Probably from thinking about right and wrong.” That wasn’t a lie. since it’s still my birthday. I told myself.” “Well. That’s why she changed the subject. I picked her up with one arm and pulled the cover back with the other arm. I hesitated for a second. but she decided to change the subject. Surprisingly. to probe more. Staying here with her as proved to be the worst decision I have made since I met her. “Yes. That I was thinking about leaving.” I told her slipping out of the door. so my temperature wouldn’t give her chills. that me staying with her was the right thing to do. She needed me. What is the right and wrong thing to do here? I had thought. interrupting me. that very excuse. I was thinking. She was trying to distract me. “You’re welcome.

gentle lips moving against mine. also tempted me in other ways………. I didn’t want to let her go. Let alone how. as it always did. Mold our faces together so that we could never be apart. What was I thinking? “No. “Heaven. and I’m sure to her as well. “ I said as I put my hand under her chin and pulled her face up to mine. “Sorry. I would not be able to hear her heart flutter. that I was breathless too. I frowned at her. I stopped immediately and pushed her away. Bella” . I would not be able to feel her soft. someday soon.” she said. Although oxygen wasn’t a necessity for me. “Try to sleep. As if she could be snatched away at any moment. but at the moment. to kiss her made me anxious. That feeling of loss. I sometimes forgot to give her time to breath when we were kissing. I want you to kiss me again. Her body close to mine. her body. Yeah. came rushing back and I suddenly had the urge to throw myself into the kiss. She fell back on her pillow.“Yes. “I don’t mind. My fingers twisted in her hair and I secured her face to mine as if I wanted to somehow mold them together so that they could never part. She has really had a rough night. gasping for air. her lips moving with mine. All because of me. “You’re overestimating my self-control”. I am-but please don’t do anything you don’t want to do. This was more than I usually allowed between us. Because I chose to allow her to be a part of my world. This feeling brought me back to when I had to leave her last spring to hunt James. the desperation to be near her. it didn’t matter. Like something inside me knew that. or pretended to forget. That was out of line. and as she did that I knew that I had taken this too far.” I said to her. which was nothing new. Her hands tangled in my hair also and if felt as if she wanted to do the same thing. but something was different. She never took seriously the fact that I could kill her if I got too carried away. While we kissed. I didn’t need the extra air. Made me feel different. This did something different to me. She never minded pushing me over the limit of my self-control. I said. of desperation. like I could ever not want to kiss Bella. so very much. her heartbeat started to flutter.” She said. I frowned at her. She crushed her body to mine eagerly. It came as a surprise to me. forbid that I should do anything I don’t want to do. Nothing mattered but her in my arms. especially when we were kissing. . She often forgot. being so close to mine. how her blood tempted me.” she added. Someday soon.

She still dreams happy dreams………. Of me. I thought.But I shouldn’t be thinking about that right now. I just continued to stare……. I grinned. How could I have let this happen?.I can’t go there right now. Feeling our lips move in synchronization like they were meant only for each other. Even after what I have put her through tonight. Every since she has become a part of my life. Did she really think I wouldn’t notice? I started to ask her about it. I got caught up in the moment.“Which is tempting you more. All expression left my face as I thought of that and then I was suddenly serious. but my cold skin seemed to make her feel better and that’s all that mattered. I felt her place her arm against my shoulder. How is it that this magnificent. Her face was so smooth with all expression wiped away as she dreamed. There is a more pressing issue that needs to be taken care of. Then I started to wonder if she felt the urgency of my kiss. I thought. though. I’ll bet every dollar I have that she was dreaming about me. how I don’t deserve her. She is so beautiful. she asked. free from any danger. she has been in constant danger from being harmed by our kind. and her collarbone……. my own brother has endangered her life. I have to do something about this impossible situation that I have created. Then I shook my head…. despite the fact that I was feeling totally and utterly helpless and unworthy of her presence in my life right now. I thought to myself. I couldn’t help myself though. Feeling her tongue trace across my lips and set every nerve in my body on fire. Far from magnificent. Her warm body did strange things to me……. my blood or my body?”. down her jaw. Hearing her breathing accelerate as I kissed her from her temple. Especially vampires. As she allowed herself to finally try to get some sleep. why don’t you stop pushing your luck and go to sleep?” “Fine” she agreed. if she was still in pain. And I ripped the image from my mind. free from vampires.More than likely she did. Is that a trick question?. . “It’s a tie”. Bella noticed everything. Oh. snuggling herself close to me. Maybe the coolness of my skin made her arm feel better.. perfect creature is meant for me. A monster. Now. “Now. She deserves to live a happy life. I could kiss her forever……. Bella finally fell asleep as I continued to stare at her face as she drifted.. I think she was trying to be sneaky about it. What I have put her through since we met. across her throat.

But I must. What am I going to do without her? How will I survive? And then I corrected that last question. But she was still sound asleep. but leave forever. She is dreaming of me. To my existence. I will make myself survive it all as long as I know she exists. How will I survive ……. She is my soul. When I got there. If I could cry. She must be safe. The strength that she put behind holding on to me. I will survive it. I am weaker than any human. As I got up to leave. I will love her enough now. I love her so much. Bella sighed as she dreamed.if something terrible happened to her? This is the most important question. no matter how much pain it causes me. I should have left when she first got to Forks like I wanted to. I am so weak. As I pryed her hands from my shirt. instead of being selfish. Well. Telling my family . It was as if she knew that I was about to leave. Leave Bella?.” she sighed again and then turned over with a slight smile on her lips. She must exist. I have to leave Bella. It’s amazing how the sound of my name coming from her lips still sends chills through my body. But I have to do whatever I can to make sure she is happy and safe. Her expression was mixed between a scowl and pain. she clutched her hands on my shirt. there goes every dollar I have. Edward……. I thought and let out a sigh. the agony.. That question overrules any feelings of indecision I have about leaving. Even after I realized I loved her. the suffering. Before I fell in love with her. “I Love You. This girl is everything to me. I looked at her thinking that she was awake. protect her from what I am. I have to leave.As long as we are together. I may be strong in strength. It’s going to be nearly impossible for her to let me go. tears would be streaming down my face. I should have been strong enough to leave. Alice met me on the porch. I have to go tell my family about leaving before she continues to speak the words that will compel me to stay. By the look on her face. Not just leave to go home. “Edward”. I should have loved her enough to leave her. Just the sound of those words echoing in my head sent a shrieking pain in my hollow heart. Just thinking those words pained my expression. I realized that this was going to be extremely hard. I leaped out of her window and raced home. the pain. she had to be awake. I had thought that this would be the easiest part of all of this.. I could tell that she already knew what I was there for. but internally. she will always be in danger.

I did not come here to discuss this. I said. She deserves to be happy. but I interrupted her. . Alice started to say something. If I wasn’t in so much pain from what I was about to do. You may leave if you wish.” She was yelling with a high-pitch now. But I must hold my confidence while explaining this to her. You cannot make this decision for all of us!. She had to forget me.” “She will get over it eventually. you can’t make me leave. Our presence in her life puts her in danger. Her voice always got high when she was angry. Alice would never know how much pain this is causing me to do this. especially me. She deserves to be free from danger. You are not the only one who loves her. Every time she has been in danger. They don’t need to detect any confusion about the decision on my part or they will do whatever they can to try to convince me to stay. “It’s the only way to make sure she is safe. But she is my best friend and I will not hurt her like this. Have you thought about that? Have you thought about anyone besides yourself? You cannot make this decision for her.” I kept my voice at stern as I could under the circumstances.that we have to leave. I think Bella should at least have a part in this decision. “The decision is made. I am hurting everyone I love the most. Not now anyway. “Edward. This affects her life too you know. as much as I wanted her to love me forever. “It’s for the best Alice”. I could see that this was going to be very hard for them to.” My voice broke on that last sentence. as I would her. Alice. To them. Can’t you see that!? If she would not have been in the clearing with us playing baseball last spring. We all love her. James would never have gotten a whiff of her scent and tried to kill her. “The best for who Edward. I am a terrible person. I should not exist. This will devastate her Edward. This is stupid! This is insane! I will not go along with it.” Alice practically growled at me. this would have been hilarious. It’s not the best for me. Jasper wouldn’t have tried to attack her. I came here to let you know that we ARE leaving and that you need to prepare to leave. it has been because of me. Alice. If she would not have been at our house. This affects all of our lives. What about Esme? You know she already considers Bella as a daughter.” As much as I didn’t want her to get over me. she had to get over me. As I approached. it’s not the best for you. She does not deserve this. “Edward. Over me. But looking at her face. and it is most definitely not the best for her.

It’s in our nature to be as still as stone. Five more to go………. You owe me this and you know it. I do owe you this. her expression changed from anger to defeat. saying the word made it that much more devastating. “Thanks…… Now can we go in and let the others know?” I said. Edward…………. She knew I was right. As vampires. I know that this was just a quarter of the pain that I would have to endure over the next few days. I have to be strong. literally. I will leave with you. I didn’t have time for this. “Ok. this is what was best for Bella and she is my first priority. “Please. I will desert my best friend. Which is why you should see how this is the best thing for her. She needs to be safe. As the words I said sunk in. I needed to get back to Bella. It . She breathed out a sigh. Her golden eyes pleading.” I told her. I know you love her. I have never asked them to explain their reason for leaving.. As painful as this was about to be. So I decided to speak first. Edward” she said with her thoughts. “I’m sorry Alice. “ I have moved whenever any of you have asked me to without a word or complaint. we could do this forever. Is that really all the time I had left with Bella? Days? Although I had known that we didn’t have much time left together once I made my decision to leave. All seriousness gone from my face before I gave it permission to.” I said very calmly. That cannot happen as long as we are in her life. I can’t begrudge you this. I was used to doing this with Bella whenever she got angry with me.We stared each other down for what seemed like forever. Happy to have gotten past one member of my family unharmed. a human.I thought to myself. Pleading for her to understand that this has to happen for Bella to be safe.” Her words were understanding but her voice and expression were still full of pain. She said. I was pleading with her. Every moment I had left with her was ticking away and this was taking away from that time. A sigh of defeat. Pleading for her to understand why this was the best thing for Bella. “I guess”. I haven’t tried to stop anyone when they wanted to move on. Then I realized that she was not Bella. at least for right now. She was a vampire. But I can’t think of that right now. As much as I hated to hurt my favorite sister. And that much more permanent. I had imagined being with Bella forever for so long now. Days…. She needs to be happy.

because I included her in one of our baseball games. I’m pretty sure that you all heard the conversation the Alice and I had outside and you all know why I am here. You are not going anywhere alone. This is all my fault. I think the best thing for . “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I thought this could’ve worked out.was hard to rap my head around the concept of only a few more days with her. I should have left when you told me too Carlisle instead of staying here and pursuing her. I winced as I recalled the memories that have haunted me since last spring. as I deciphered my family’s expressions and thoughts. All of them were experiencing different emotions about what I was about to tell them. “ So. Last spring. Sadness. but one emotion was consistent throughout all of them. I do not hold you responsible in any way. That will haunt me for the rest of my existence. “Our presence in her life is not good for her. Jasper. Yeah.” I said before he could continue. that when that happens it is impossible to stop yourself even though your mind is telling you that it is wrong. Jasper thoughts broke my concentration. happened. Edward.” I told him. You should not have to deprive yourself of the woman you love because of my actions. “This is not your fault. What happened. she has been in danger. I spoke first before their questions started to flood the room. I will leave. he attacked her and if we all hadn’t been there to get him under control he probably would have killed her-flinch-but I know that he did not want to hurt her. They were all sitting in dining room waiting for us. That has something to do with it but that’s not the only reason. What I did was unforgivable and I should be the one to take responsibility for---“ “No. “ I am not leaving because of what just happened tonight.” Before I could continue. Every since I let Bella interact with our world. I tried my best to word that last statement making very careful not to make Jasper feel worse than he already did. I walked in the dining room and looked at all of their faces. It was doomed before it even began. And as I said it I realized that I did not hold him responsible for what he did. she was pursued by two vampires and almost died at the hands of one of them”. Alice and I walked in the door together and. all too well. I forgive you. she was once again put in danger because of me”. His vampire instincts took over and I know. Alone. I knew that our conversation outside had not gone unnoticed or unheard. “Tonight.

No matter the price or pain that it entailed. “No. at first. Please make sure that you have exhausted every possible option. to resist her if they get a whiff of her scent. But there wasn’t. I would do it. Pain and sadness in her eyes. but she will get over it and go on to live a happy. are you sure? This is not a decision that should be made at the spur of the moment. I know you’re thinking of Bella’s safety. This would hurt her. as they processed my words. Any possible way at all that I could be human for Bella.” Carlisle said to me. and unless you know that secret. But I had to put on a brave face. “Does anyone else see any other option? Do you see any other way that Bella can be safe when she is confronted with any our kind? You all have smelled her. Have you thought this through? Maybe you should give it some time? There has to be another way. how I wish that there was a way. This is very serious. I challenged. this is the only option.” I said trying to console her. he started to say but I interrupted him. I don’t see any other way. besides Alice. no vampire .” Everyone sat there for a minute. This will have tremendous consequences. The only other way is if there was any possible way for me to become human for her.” It’s what’s best for Bella and that’s the most important thing.Bella is if we leave town. Whole. She was the one that was the most happiest when she knew I had fallen for Bella. do you see any other option?”. I would suffer it. I said as I answered her thoughts. “ Carlisle. Especially for Esme. but the thing that caused her the most pain was the pain that I was going to go through when I was without Bella. “Esme. Esme just looked at me.” Oh. If we’re not here. “Edward. Well. peaceful life.” So like Carlisle. I know how much she loves Bella and this was killing her to have to leave her. “Carlisle. don’t know how I was going to survive this. Thoughtless. She smells too good for any vampire. but-“. I will be fine. I. She had worried about my loneliness and unhappiness for eighty years and she was ecstatic that I was finally happy.”. Free from any danger that our world causes her. honestly. that’s not a vegetarian. Anything to deserve her. Don’t worry about me. “Edward. but this is going to be very hard on you also. always trying to find a bright side. But she knew just as well as I did that this was a lie. Carlisle was the first to speak.

I looked at Rosalie and Emmett. Then he snickered and said. “Well. Is your hatred toward Bella really more important than the love that you NEED to be showing towards your brother? We all love Bella. we . “Come on you guys. Like she was happy. If you do. “As much as I wish that you would reconsider your decision. Or course she wouldn’t care if Bella wasn’t in our life anymore. then turned back to me and spoke first. Alice interrupted me. I am capable of speaking without making a joke and laughing it off..would get close enough to catch a whiff. Edward. “Well sometimes”. She never liked her anyway.” Wow…. you know I love having Bella around. Like they were waiting for me to say that I was just joking or something. please enlighten me because I don’t. Emmett looked at Rosalie. They all knew how much Bella had made me happy. They were the only two that haven’t said anything about the situation. I would do whatever it took to make sure that Rosalie was safe. So I don’t see any other option. Everyone just looked at me. if she was as fragile and vulnerable as Bella.” He said.. even though I really only cared about Emmett’s.was all I think to myself. “So when do we leave”. Rare for Emmett. Before I could yell every profanity I knew at her for rejoicing about the situation. because I love her too. How her presence in my life has changed me drastically. Without an ounce of feeling about the situation.” He said this with no humor in his tone. I won’t contest your decision. although their views were not going to change my decision. “Do you guys have anything to add? I really do want to hear your opinions. They couldn’t believe that I was about to do this. I can understand. It surprised me. I looked around at everyone once I composed my face from the shock of Emmett’s words and they looked just as shocked as I did. I’m with you with whatever you decide to do. Even in the most serious situations. She has become my little sister. Emmett started to laugh. “ It was quiet for a moment. She hid her thoughts by thinking about all the clothes in her closet and trying to figure out what she was going to wear tomorrow.” I looked at both of them. “Geesh. Rosalie. can you be any less sympathetic? Your brother is about to lose the love of his life and you don’t even care. Rosalie said. A growl escaped from somewhere inside my body before my mind had time to register where it came from. He usually didn’t speak with so much seriousness in his voice. In my life anymore. I wanted everyone’s views.

I would have enough time to fight the magnetic force that pulls me towards her soon enough. I was beginning to ache from being away from Bella considering the short time we had left. “We have to tell her something………” Carlisle suggested. Simple. it is only going to make things harder for her. They all started yelling at once. I welcome it. we can’t just leave……”. Even though Emmett was joking. “I can’t leave without seeing her blush one last time……. . None of you can. You couldn’t be happier. As a question. you can’t say goodbye to her.” That did it. Carlisle answered my question.” “No. “So. Esme pleaded. it’s settled then. at least. “It’s ok Alice. could you? I just don’t understand how you can-“ Alice could have continued all night. I would get to Rosalie when I had time for that but right now all I wanted to do was get back to Bella. and their thoughts.” Emmett joked. but I interrupted her once I got a hold of myself. I have to. some kind of force. Seeing Bella blush scarlet. Not now. “No. She needs a clean break from us. I didn’t want to fight it. “Edward. There would time for that. as I told them that they could not see Bella again to tell her goodbye was more than I could take. Alice said. I would show her how unimportant she was in this decision.” I told them. apologize…………” said Jasper. The pain in their voices. I wouldn’t give her the attention that she craved.are all hurting because of this and you don’t even care. “If we make a big scene about saying goodbye. Edward. I shyed away from that image to cut them off in their rants…. It was like something………. Bella blushing. I didn’t expect anything else from Rosalie. We’ll invite Bella up here tomorrow to tell her goodbye and leave right after. that was one thing that I don’t know how I was going live without. we’re leaving?” I said. “I guess so.” That’s all I said. Right now I embrace it. “What? What do you mean we can’t say goodbye?. That alone would tear Rosalie up. was pulling me back to her. though I wasn’t really asking permission. I wasn’t going to fight it.

if you think that I’m going to leave without. I love her. But I will do what it takes to make her safe. but otherwise going along with the plan. We all love her. I’ll stay behind and say goodbye to Bella and meet you up there in a few days. I thought about what I was going to have to endure for the next couple of days. She is the single most important thing to me. at least. What is she going to think if we just leave like that? That’s not fair Edward! It’s not fair!” she screamed. Everyone else were sorting out their feelings. I had all the time in the world to deal with that. I climbed back into her window and laid . More than anything. I couldn’t deal with their pain right now. That is what my mind is going to be focused on for the next couple of days. I’m not denying that. The pain I was going to suffer to make sure that she was happy and safe. But if anything happened to her because she is with me.” Carlisle asked. “Alice.” And in that.” They thought about that and agreed. As I was leaving.Alice spoke up. Head up to Denali with Tanya’s coven until we figure out where to go next. “But Edward……” Alice started. he didn’t question me further. “So what’s the plan? You can’t just leave her without a word Edward. Everyone knows that. you all should leave tonight. And this will make her safe. but I could see that she was beginning to understand me. You are not the only who loves her. “Edward. They knew they owed me too. You all do. you know that’s what she needs.” They had to understand. “Edward. it’s the best thing for her. What I didn’t have all the time in the world for was being with Bella. “Well. It’s going to hurt much worse that dying a thousand deaths. And so I cut her off. it is just going to cause her more pain than necessary.” Carlisle was the last one to speak. please make……” “Carlisle. I blocked out their thoughts. I had to know that they were not going to try to see her before they left. silently. As I ran back to her house. I know that it’s going to be really hard to be without her. If she has to watch all of us walk away from her. I’m sure none of you want that. you know that. I’m sure you don’t want that. I would never be able to live with myself. “Alice. saying goodbye you have another thing coming.

I had another role to play. To see if I was still upset from last night. Here we go. Waiting to ambush me and tell me to stay. next to her. I would avoid kisses because every kiss would only convince me that leaving was the wrong thing to do. I felt better already. be able to say goodbye to Bella. even in unconsciousness. Just like back then. If I had a heart. I half-expected my family to still be here. I had a role to play. These eyes…. Or to demand that they. I repeated this like a chant in my head. I would avoid too much touching because every touch of her warm body to mine would only prolong my leaving. Relieved.down next to her. She looked me over and I knew that she was trying to determine my mood. I almost changed my mind about leaving. I begin to think about right and wrong again. I had to keep a constant reminder of why I was doing this. at least. I shouldn’t have left and stayed as long as I did. Chapter 3: The End I ran back home to change clothes and get my car to go to school. so I gave up. She woke that morning and looked very tired. This is for her. In my defeat. She must didn’t sleep very well. I told myself that instead of wallowing in my decision to leave this loving creature. she turned over and snuggled up close to me. But I couldn’t. and ducked out her window. These next couple of days I am going to have to be very distant towards her. My mind was made up already but that didn’t stop me from trying to come up with more ‘rights’ to overshadow the ‘wrongs’. Restless. The pain and the suffering begin now……. But not a second had passed before I remembered the role that I had to play and why I was playing it. not her lips. This thought brought me back to when we first met and I tried to stay away from her and show her that I was a monster. her eyes. which seemed like another lifetime ago. because she would be there. because every smile that we share would only make it that much harder to face being without it. but it was necessary. Like. Her safety. for a second. It was like my body felt her absence and her presence put me at ease. No smiling. she knew that I wasn’t there.these beautiful eyes. would send it hammering against my chest. staring into mine. But I couldn’t. She looked at me with those beautiful chocolate brown eyes and. But . I knew it would be so easy to change my mind and stay with her forever. I would just enjoy these moments. So I just kissed her forehead. As I pulled up my driveway. As soon as I got back into my position. But I would still enjoy every minute.

We walked in complete silence to class. I just need to change now and get to school. I thought about it all night. We left for Denali. We will be here until you arrive. She pulled in her parking space and I went over to open her door for her. Knowing that there wasn’t. No television. But coming back to this empty home. This made it official. “Perfect. The more I think about it. There has to be another way to go about this. I’m tired of thinking about it. Call if you change your mind. I heard her coming around the corner. again. To get into character. Made my decision a thousand times. Be distant. We got to . We are here for you. I heard nothing. Carlisle” I have thought about it. I told myself. I walked through the house. as you asked. no thoughts. Edward. The only words that passed between us was when I would occasionally ask her about her arm and she continued to lie. Good. Even though we hadn’t hugged or kissed. wishing there was another option. What would I tell her? I hated lying to her. son. Just being with her was heaven for me. We will decide where we will relocate to once you are back with us. I got to school before she did. I had to restrain my mouth from curving into smile. I was really leaving I walked up the stairs at the front porch. Not so long ago. Think about it. I matched her stride. nothing.” she said. looking around at its emptiness. I walked in the kitchen and found a note on the refrigerator. “How do you feel?” I asked. I still relished in this time with her. Especially when I saw her. somehow made it more official than it already was. She was a terrible liar. I had a hard time making myself smile. Even though we didn’t speak all morning. not wanting to rush the limited time I had left to spend with her. That’s ironic. I know we have already discussed this and I know your mind seems to be made up but just think about this some more. the more I’m probably going to end up convincing myself to stay………. “Edward. I dreaded going to lunch today. Before Bella. I knew Bella would question me when she didn’t see Alice. Take as much time as you need. Now I had a hard time not smiling. They were gone. I have time to get myself together. With the devastating future looming over us. My home.

the cafeteria and Bella looked immediately at our table. Alice always beat us to lunch. She was always waiting for us. But not today of course. Alice would never again sit at that table, waiting for us. She was gone where I soon would be. I didn’t say anything. I would wait for her to ask me. Maybe she wouldn’t, I hoped. I grabbed only a granola bar today before we sat down. I didn’t have any energy to pretend with a full tray today. Then she saw Ben and Angela. They were both in Alice’s class. Great. I knew once she saw them and not Alice she would definitely ask. “Where’s Alice?” Bella asked me anxiously. What would I tell her? I had planned on pretending to eat the granola bar, but my fingers decided otherwise. “She’s with Jasper.” I answered. “Is he okay?” “He’s gone away for awhile.” “What? Where?” I shrugged. Shrugging was good. Show my indifference, she wouldn’t suspect anything. “Nowhere in particular.” “And Alice too” “Yes. She’ll be gone for awhile. She was trying to convince him to go to Denali.” That wasn’t, completely, a lie. I heard her swallow hard and her shoulders slump. “Is your arm bothering you?” I asked her. “Who cares about my stupid arm?” she muttered. Disgusted at the situation, I suppose. Or disgusted at my strange behavior. I hated to have to do this. I hated to make her feel this way. I wish I could comfort her, but I couldn’t. So I said nothing and she put her head down on the table. I just sat there and looked at her. Looked at how her brown hair flowed down her back. How her hair set off the color of her skin. Then I caught a glimpse of her bandaged arm under her hair and regained my concentration. I have a role to play. So I just stared at nothing for the rest of the lunch hour. The rest of the day carried on like the morning. Silent. When we got to her truck she was the first to break the silence. I guess finally realizing that I was not going to be the one.

“You’ll come over later tonight?” she asked even though I always came over. Did she not want me over now? “Later?”, I asked, surprised that she even asked me that question. I always came over after school. “I have to work. I had to trade with Mrs. Newton to get yesterday off.” “Oh” “So you’ll come over when I’m done, though, right? She pressed. “If you want me to.” I said. “I always want you,” she said. Very intensely, like she was trying to convey some message.I’ll always want you too, I wanted to say. But I thought better of it. “All right, then,” I said simply, with no emotion. I kissed her forehead, not her lips again, and shut the door on her. I turned and went to my car. This was harder than I imagined it would be. It was a relief to get into my car and wipe this look off of my face. The look underneath it was no better. It was pained. It was sad. It was heartbroken, even though my heart was out of commission. Ten times worse than the indifferent look I plastered on my face all day. I drove out of the parking lot and went straight to myhouse. I went up to my room, even though I didn’t need to, I had the whole house to myself with no one’s thoughts to cloud my mind, but I still wanted to be in my room. I laid on my couch and stared at the ceiling. I laid there remembering the first time I brought Bella to my house and how I felt in that moment. Having her know every secret. The relief I felt when she still looked at me with nothing but love in her eyes. Still treated me like she would anyone else, instead of like the freak I am. That was one of the happiest moments in my life. She loved me unconditionally. And look at what I have done to her. I am despicable. Now I see why I don’t deserve to be happy with her. I have always thought that Bella always attracted dangerous things towards her, like a magnet, and I needed to protect her from those things. Even though one of those dangerous things that threatened her life was me. The worst of them all. But maybe I had it wrong. Maybe that was just God’s way of trying to keep her away from me. Even if it meant her death. Even if killing her was the only way to keep her away from me. Bad things only started happening to her once she met me. She got around just fine in Phoenix before she came to Forks. And Phoenix is a big city. Maybe this was god’s way of telling me

that I didn’t deserve to be happy. I didn’t deserve Bella…… Well, I can’t say I’m surprised. I never thought I deserved her anyway. I have to go through with this, though. I can’t afford to back out now. I can’t afford anything to happen to her because I was too weak to leave, as I had been before. I would only have to take satisfaction in the fact that these past few months have made me the happiest I have ever been in the hundred years I have existed. That at least I’ve had the opportunity to find Bella, my one true love, my one and only love. Some people never get the chance to experience love. Even a fraction of what I’ve experienced. And I have experienced enough to last me a lifetime. More than a lifetime, an eternity. I sighed when I turned to look out of my window. It was getting dark. I should head over to Charlie’s so that I can be there when Bella gets home. I don’t want to waste any more time than I have to. I don’t plan to stay with her tonight, as I do every night. I don’t think I can take her unguarded thoughts tonight. That would be too much. It was easier to be distant at school. We had class to take up most of the time. Now I had a couple of hours with just me and her…….and Charlie. If I make it there before her than I can pretend that Iwas watching television with him when she got there. Yeah, that would be my plan…I hope it works. I got to her house, thankful, for once, that she had the slowest car in history. She wasn’t here yet. Charlie’s cruiser was in the driveway parked in his usual spot, so I parked in my usual spot on the curb in front of her house. I looked in the direction of her house and took in the environment before I got out. . As plain and as uninteresting this sight was, I would miss this. I sighed and got out and walked up to the door. I heard ESPN’s sports center on the television. Charlie loved his sports. I knocked on the door. “Coming,” he yelled. Still not moving away from the television. It took a minute for him to come and open the door. “Hey, Edward. Bella hasn’t gotten home yet.” He said. “I know. If it’s okay with you, I thought I would wait here for her.” I told him. “Sure.” He said as he let me in. I walked towards the living room and he went towards the kitchen. “I have some cold pizza in here that I was about to eat. Do you want some?” he asked. Damn….it was easier to turn down food when Bella was here to eat with him. I can’t turn him down now. “Sure” I said. Already regretting my decision to make it here before Bella. I went to join him at the table in the kitchen. I looked at the pizza and thought about how I would have to choke this up later. Ugh…..

We ate a couple of slices and went back into the living room. We sat down and Charlie drowned in the television, as he always did. Where was she? She should’ve been here by now. Is she okay? Maybe I should……… Before I could finish my thought, I heard her truck not too far from here. Relief washed over me. When she turned on to the street, her heart started beating faster. What was wrong with her? Why did her heart start beating like that? What was she thinking? She pulled in to the driveway and I was about to smile. An involuntary reaction that happened only when I knew I was about to see her. I need to control this. I composed my face into the same face I had all day. “Dad? Edward?”, Bella called before she was even in the house. I would miss that. Hearing her call my name. Hearing how her voice wrapped around it like only her voice could. “In here,” Charlie yelled back. She hung her raincoat on the coat rack and appeared around the corner. I had to fight back the urge to look at her. If I did, I would lose all control. I had to keep myself in control. I focused my eyes on the television. Not really watching it, just making sure I couldn’t watch her. “Hi,” she said in a weak voice. She must be tired. “Hey Bella,” Charlie answered, never looking at her. “We just had cold pizza. I think it’s still on the table.” “Okay,” she said while she waited in the doorway. Waiting for me to acknowledge her, no doubt. I had to look now. As stubborn as she was, she could wait there for as long as it took for me to look over. So I looked over and said, “I’ll be right behind you.” I immediately turned my eyes back to the television. I could feel her stare still fixed on me as she waited there. I wanted to look back, but I didn’t. I continued to stare at the television. After a minute, she gave up and went in to the kitchen. I heard the chair scrape across the linoleum as she took a seat. I wish I could hear what she was thinking. I know she noticed the difference in me. It must be hurting her that I am being so distant. Why hasn’t she brought it up? She usually did. I hate this. And then I heard her chuckle. What could she be thinking about? I wish I could just ask her……..but I couldn’t. And then I heard her get out of the chair in the kitchen and run upstairs. What was she doing? The curiosity was driving me crazy. It hadn’t been like this since before Bella realized I could read minds. Every since I could just ask her. This was killing me, metaphorically.

She was up there for awhile before I heard her coming down the stairs. Slow for her. And then I heard her snap a picture. I looked around then and so did Charlie. “What are you doing Bella?” Charlie asked, frowning. Echoing my thoughts. “Oh, come on,” Bella said as she came and sat on the floor in front of Charlie. She was smiling as she sat, but something was different. Her smile didn’t touch her eyes. And not only that, it seems………….it looked like she was forcing herself to smile. “You know mom will be calling soon to ask if I’m using my presents. I have to get to work before she can get her feelings hurt.” Bella finished. “Why are you taking pictures of me though,” Charlie said. “Because you’re so handsome. And because, since you bought the camera, you’re obligated to be one of my subjects.” “I should’ve left it at the store,” Charlie mumbled, too low for Bella to hear. “Hey Edward,” Bella said, indifferently, “Take one of me and my dad together.” She threw the camera to me. It looked like she was trying to avoid looking into my eyes. I’m not complaining. I was doing the same thing. She knelt beside Charlie on the arm of the sofa and Charlie sighed. “You need to smile, Bella,” I told her. She gave the same empty smile as she had before. I took the picture. Charlie was just as uncomfortable with the spotlight as Bella was. That’s where she got it from. “Let me take one of you kids,” Charlie said. I tossed him the camera and Bella walked over to me. I put one hand on her shoulder and she wrapped her arm around my waist. Ahhh…………it felt like I haven’t felt her warmth, her body next to mine in forever. I wanted to grab her and hold her and kiss her and never let her go. I’ve missed this. It felt so natural, so comfortable……. “Smile, Bella,” Charlie reminded her as I had. And his interruption allowed me time to clear my head. This was the right thing to do. She took a deep breath and tried, again, to smile as Charlie took the picture. “Enough pictures for tonight,” Charlie said as he shoved the came rain the cushion of the sofa and laid over it, “You don’t have to use the whole roll

now.” I dropped my hand from her shoulder. As soon as I did, I felt electricity run up my hand from the absence of her warmth. I twisted out of her arm, hating every second of it, and sat back down in the chair. Bella hesitated before she went back to sit down against the sofa. From the corner of my eye, I saw her hands shaking. Was she cold? She must’ve sensed that I saw her hands shaking because she hid them by pressing them into her stomach. She stared into the TV as I did. She wasn’t crazy about television either, especially sports. She’s going to start asking questions soon. I can’t look into her eyes and lie. I’ve become a professional liar in the eighties years that I have been a vampire. I had to. I’ve never had a problem lying. But lying to her………..was unbearable. Wrong. I had to go. I won’t give her the chance to ask me any questions. Not now. She would know soon enough. When the program ended on the television that was my cue to leave. I stood up and said, “I’d better get home,” “See ya,” Charlie said without looking my way. Bella stood on her feet and followed me out the front door. I walked straight to my car and turned around. “Will you stay?,” she asked. It hurt so much to look at the pain in her face. “Not tonight,” I answered. She didn’t ask me why. I didn’t give her time if she planned to. I got in my car and drove away. I looked in my rearview mirror to see that Bella was still standing outside. Staring at the back of my car. This is painful. It had started to rain and she made no intentions to move. She was still standing there as I drove around the corner. As soon as I was out of her sight I pulled over and laid my head on the back of the seat. I closed my eyes and wished for sleep. Anything to pass the time. I’m tired of thinking. I’m tired of everything. As much as I don’t need sleep or rest, I was exhausted. I’ve never worked so hard to be…….unhappy. And even though the situation was a terrible one, I didn’t ever want to be away from her. Every moment with her, no matter how awkward they were now, was pure bliss. I had to work double time not to look into her deep brown eyes, not to get lost in them. Had to work hard not to smile. It was unnatural not to smile, especially when I was around her. I sighed, knowing that sleep was not going to miraculously take over me, not matter how much I wished for it. So I pulled off. I got back to my house. My empty house and did the same thing as earlier. I went to my room and laid on my couch. Eyes closed. Before I could get lost in my thoughts, I heard my phone vibrate in my pocket. I hoped it wasn’t Bella calling to talk. I grabbed it out of my pocket and looked at the number, hesitantly. Relief, that it wasn’t Bella. And sadness because I wanted to hear her voice. It was Alice. I picked up, “What is it, Alice?” I said.

My thoughts on the subject were already more than I could handle. Stop this. “Sure. Just stay. You see that. Mr. “Alice. but I changed my mind after I saw her face at school the next morning. I had planned on leaving the next day after her birthday. Again. I shook my head. I’ll be up there soon. Maybe we could…. The day that I would leave Bella forever. I couldn’t look at her. feel her warm skin……I had already stayed longer than I should have.. I promise. This was the day. Bye. laughing and playing.” I admitted. I couldn’t do it anymore. trying to shake away any thoughts……. And it was the truth. I’m not going to discuss it further. Bella leaned across our lunch table and spoke to Jessica. What was with her and these pictures? She handed Jessica her camera. okay?” Bella asked while she reached in her bag to get her camera.” I said and hung up the phone.” I whispered to her. And then I went back to trying not to look at her. Love would be lost forever after today. “Hey. “Edward. We were in English class now. So. smell her scent. The answer to Mr. This was it. Any emotions…….” Alice said. for the first time in . You don’t want to leave.. “You haven’t changed your mind. the decision is already made. twice. It’s harder than I imagined. take some pictures of everybody. the silence continued. This is not about me for a change. Berty asked Bella a question.. A normal life. I glanced up at Bella. They passed the camera around the table.. This was hard enough. I really am not in the mood for anybody else’s. Anything……… Everything. Drag this out. This is my last day of happiness. This had to be. I had thought enough about this.” Jessica said. and being normal.” “I’m trying to leave. Jess?” Bella said. I met her at her car as usual and we walked to class. The last time I would see her face. “What’s up Bella?” “Could you do me a favor? My mom wants me to get some pictures of my friends for a scrapbook. This is what Bella deserved.. I arrived for school at the same time she did today. She didn’t seem to hear him. At lunch. Berty’s question. Silently. The next time I looked at the clock it was time to leave for school. What was she thinking? Could she sense what was coming? “Her husband. She deserves this. what’s taking you so long?” she asked.. smiling as she took a picture of Mike who had a mouth full of food. We’ll figure out a way to make this work.. what are you doing?.“Edward. I will make myself leave..

“And I’ll still beat you there. I drove out of the school parking lot.. I would be gone before he got home…. Silent.. Maybe tomorrow. I pulled into Charlie’s spot. Yes. It was now or never. Could I really go through with it?. As I did yesterday. It would only make things worse for her. “I’ll do it. She doesn’t have to work. This was it. I saw the envelope on her seat and reached over and snagged it. “Uh-oh.. A hint of happiness? She had been so glum the past couple of days. If I didn’t do this as soon as possible. “Do you mind if I come over today?”I asked her before we got to the truck “Of course not. I closed my eyes and wished for sleep again. I just……. I couldn’t leave today. I was just going to drop a letter for Renee’ in the mailbox on the way.the past couple of days. Having to see my face like this. And turned to walk to my car. like I always did. I wasn’t going to go over to her house today.” She said. I can’t do it today. due to my behavior... I have to be strong right now. I wouldn’t call her. “Now?” I asked while I opened her door for her.” she said. I dropped the envelope in the mailbox and made it to Bella’s house in record time. She tried to smile back.” I smiled trying to keep it light. She had to work again today. This was it. then. I shut her door and headed for my car. that the look surprised me. After school. I can’t explain what it was.that thought alone . Tomorrow. I walked her to her car.” Jessica said apologetically. I’ll meet you there. Especially when she has to go to work.. “That’s okay.No.” I told her. “Sure. I think I already got pictures of everything else I needed.. “Okay.” Bella said.. I can’t doubt myself now. tomorrow. can’t. she would definitely ask me questions then. and saw something in her eyes. I think we used all your film.. I can’t leave today. In silence. I got in my car and drove away and went home. but I could see she couldn’t manage it. School the next day was much the same. Painful. We wereon our way to her truck after school when I decided that now wasthe time. I laid on my couch and blocked everything from my mind. I couldn’t wait that long. I would leave tomorrow.” she said. I would lose my nerve.

What did that mean? I got out of my car when I saw her step out of her truck and went over to meet her. She pulled in front of the house and parked her car. I could leave something of myself with her. I saw her scrapbook on her bedside table. Not right now anyway. I hope that she can know that the happiness that she finds is my final gift to her. Here we go…….I wouldn’t be here to lead her. I walked downstairs to her kitchen to leave a note for Charlie from her. but it felt wrong. Maybe she’ll play my CD and think of me. I traced up her window into her room. She was . wondering how I was going to do this. to make it seem like I was waiting for her. I heard her truck nearby and I composed myself. It was the picture she took of me before we went to that dreadful birthday party. She shook her head. in view of her house. I leaned against a tree and stared at her. This fragile girl had given me some of the best times in my very long life. Only a few steps into the trees.” she said. I would never love anyone else. “Okay. She had her backpack in her hand about to take it into the house. I hope she doesn’t find them. I grabbed it and put it on the seat of her truck. but this girl. For I will forever think of her. I grabbed the presents we got her for her birthday and was going to take them with me and put them in my car. let’s talk. Her face was so beautiful. When I was happy. when she’s found happiness with someone else. Maybe someday. she’ll find them and remember me. so she could find her way back home……. I went to look in it to see if she put the pictures in there. Only for her. As soon as I got back in my car. I want her to forget about me. She took a deep breath too. I decided to put all those things under her floorboard. I now I had to leave it behind. These were her things. She was so beautiful. The only girl in the world.pained me. I took out that picture. Finally letting the words escape my mouth. I pulled her along with me toward the forest. She didn’t say anything and I wasn’t giving her a chance to say no. I’m going to take her a little ways up the path to tell her goodbye and I don’t want him to be worried sick about her. we’re leaving. I made it back out to my car in record time. I knew this was wrong. along with the others of me from the other night. I hope she’ll forgive me and know that I did this for her. If she got over me. That’s the only way she’ll move on. With Bella. I opened it up and the first picture was a picture of myself. “Bella. “ I said. I want her to live a happy life. Who knows how long it will take to convince her that I don’t love her anymore? I wrote the note as best I could in Bella’s handwriting and left it on the table. on the trail.” I told her taking her hand.I took a deep breath. “Come for a walk with me. she was pulling around the corner. Whose heart I was about to break. Those were not so happy..

But the world that I belonged to just could not collide with hers.calm.It’s not the right place for you. and he’s claiming thirty-three now. I’m glad I left the note. I stared back. I didn’t have a life before I met her. with a cold expression.she thought I meant her and I. Why was she so determined to be with me? I’m no good for her. I can’t show any emotion. “When you say we-. How I wanted to believe that. Bella.surprisingly……. We’d have to start over soon regardless.” I explained to her. it would be nearly impossible for her to accept it. She had changed me so completely. “Where you are is the right place for me.” I told her. She shook her head mechanically. Where we’re going…. I’ll come with you. “Okay. She had to understand. I had a job to complete.” she said.” she whispered. She was the best part of my life.” “Don’t be ridiculous. “I’m no good for you. She stared at me. Emphasizing each word. “My world is not for you” “What happened with Jasper. Then a flicker of understanding spread across her face. “I meant my family and myself. and I knew once it did. “Bella. She looked at me like my explanation confused her. Edward! Nothing!” . Oh…. There was no telling how long we would be out here. “You can’t Bella.. replacing the confusion. It hurt to see this. How could she think that? Would she really have come with me if I had asked? I couldn’t let myself feel any happiness at that realization. You’re the very best part of my life.” She had that backwards. it’s time. I waited for it to sink in.” I told her. I cut her off. Had she suspected this? Did she know I was breaking up with her? “Why now? Another Year-“ she said.that was nothing. How much longer could we stay in Forks after all? Carlisle can barely pass for thirty.” she said.

“As long as that was best for you. furious now. for me. calmly.” It hurt to hear those words. it was exactly what was to be expected. Why is she so quick to believe me? what was she thinking? I . trying to find some lie to my words.” she said. I don’t want you to come with me. There was no life without her. this would work.was that it? is that all it took to convince her? did she really believe that I didn’t want her. Her darkest time.” I agreed with her. that changes things. She had given herself. this soon? I planned to be out here for awhile convincing her that moving on was in her best interest. This was unbearable.” If I had a beating heart. “Bella. completely to me. And beg for her forgiveness. The biggest lie ever told. “Carlisle told me about that. at her feet. She must be safe. isn’t it?” she shouted at me. I felt like my legs would give out. “No! This is about my soul. I held on to that fact and did what I thought I could never do. she was mine in every way that mattered.“You’re right.don’t…. “No. her heart. and I never realized how far her love went for me until this moment. I felt the urgent need to fall to my knees. not when she was constantly being put in danger around me.wan’t……me?” she said. Here she is bearing her soul. I’m not human. “You promised! In Phoenix. she wasn’t safe in my world. you promised that you would stay-“ she yelled.” I interrupted her to correct her. I don’t want it without you-it’s yours already. It was Like I haven’t said a word……. it would have shattered at those two ridiculous letters. Looking at her. pleading. making sure she understood every word. conveying to her that there was nothing left to find but the words I had just spoken. I looked at her face. Edward. “You…. A confused look crossed her face again as she sifted through the words I had spoken and picked out the ones that mattered the most. Why I thought that I could be with a human. that she would love me as completely as I loved her. I don ‘t know why I thought. and I don’t care. and it wasn’t the best thing for her. But I couldn’t. she had dominated every part of my world. I had wished for this. I stared back. How could I not want her? all I have wanted since she moved to Forks was her.. I got a grip on myself and looked up at her. I looked away into the trees to hide my face. I took a deep breath and stared at the ground. “Well.” I said slowly. watching her as she took in my words. I don’t care! You can have my soul. But I couldn’t have her. hoped for this since the first day I realized I loved her. She stared at me.

I can’t take it. if that’s not too much. here I was. What kind of an idiotic question is that? “Anything. But what happened the other night made me realize that it’s time for a change. and I’m sorry for that. Because I’m……. She already seemed convinced that I didn’t want her.. With more emotion than I had shown these past few days. If she wasn’t all this would be for nothing. Bella” I had turned my earlier words around. but I didn’t. This was important. after I composed my face. with the same expression. “Of course. I just wanted to scream. I wasn’t going to be here to protect her anymore. “Do you understand what I’m saying?” I asked . ‘Bella.kep my face to the trees as I spoke. “I would like to ask one favor though.” I just stared at her. She was too good for me.” she whispered. “I’ve let this go on much too long. She needed to be safe.” I said to her. She needed to know how important this was. I just continued…. my resolve wavered.” I said. Her face was as calm as if we were having a regular conversation. “You’re not good for me. I loved her so much and If anything happened to her……………. I couldn’t believe this. Right then. I’ll always love you…. The most important part of this heartbreaking decision. I am not human. and she was still willing to do anything for me. and I washer Edward. I looked back at her. but I can’t make this more confusing for her either. The Edward that only existed in her presence. But I didn’t look away. “Don’t do anything reckless or stupid. I wanted to let her know that I do love her even though I had to leave. “……in a way.” “Don’t. even though it didn’t seem like it mattered.. what is wrong with you? Haven’t I told you I love you a million times? What is the matter with you? Why do you believe these lies?’.tired of pretending to be something I’m not. comprehension spread across her face and she said nothing else. “Don’t do this. ” I said. How much it mattered tome. and it hurt even worse. but I had to get this over with. while my mind was doing back flips at her reaction. I still needed her to do something for me. I felt like I was going to burst. breaking her heart.” she said.. And as I said them.” of course it was too much. Bella. her believing that I don’t want her.

I probably wouldn’t leave. I would have to abandon this plan and stay here with her.” she whispered so low I barely heard her. I won’t come back. She nodded again. of course. I took a step away from her. As long as she was safe……………… “And I’ll make you a promise in return. He needs you.” I added. “I won’t put you through anything like this again. Bella. that she would be in every thought I have.her. I returned back to the emotionless expression.” I told her. I guessed. “No. We won’t bother you again. I suppose. I stayed behind to tell you goodbye. Time heals all wounds for your kind. “That’s everything. she nodded.” “Alice. So I smiled gently to reassure her.” .” “And your memories?” she asked. You can go on with your life without anymore interference from me. I didn’t fool her though. “Well-“ I hesitated. Keeping it neutral. It will be as if I’d never existed.” “Alice is gone?” she asked. “Don’t worry. but you won’t know. forcing myself to make my exit. I relaxed a little. Not believing the words as they came out of her mouth. But my kind……we’re very easily distracted. Lost in thought. Letting everything sink in. but I convinced her that a clean break would be better for you. “I won’t forget.” she whispered. I couldn’t just sit here and do nothing. “Goodbye. it was time. Of course I would always think of her. I shook my head slowly. Take care of yourself-for him. “She wanted to say goodbye. I promise that this will be the last time you’ll see me. “I’m thinking of Charlie.” She just stood there.” I smiled to make it light. This was the whole point of this whole ordeal. isn’t coming back.” I will come back to check on you. I was going to tell her that I would always think of her. any reaction. The nit would take me that much longer to actually leave. “I will. But I had to keep this distant. they’re all gone. If she collapsed. Waiting for it. I decided. You’re human-your memory is no more than a sieve. When she agreed. her knees started to shake and her pulse quickened. watching for her reaction.

So much so that the only way they felt they could be with each other was in death. This makes me think of Romeo and Juliet. ………Of Heartbreak……… For the first time ever. Really happy. guard down. I stayed there with my eyes closed as still as a statue. Only with her am I the happiest. But that wouldn’t help. Their relationship was constantly being challenged. reaching for me. I just kept running. I can’t dream. She would always have to worry about if I can resist her blood. I wished I could dream of her so that I could dream of us being together. A tragedy. Fate was determined to keep them apart. we have no guarantees that we . so hurt. I started reaching for her. If my family can resist her blood. I wish it were that easy. And even if I could die with her. I wish it had hurt me. The most content…… But I can’t sleep. of course not. Their romance.before I changed my mind and stayed forever. I grazed branches and tripped over stumps. fighting to keep us apart. I continued running until I ran straight into a tree… It didn’t hurt me. I just bounced off of it and fell to the ground. All I could think about was the look on her face. Not breathing. Free to love each other without worry. even if I found a way to end my life when hers did. With no obstacles in our way. So why fight fate when it’s determined to keep us separated. I told her and then I ran…. except for Bella. I wished I could sleep. just like ours. I wish I could feel the physical pain. Surely I could afford to give her a goodbye kiss. Not concentrating. My mind went blank of everything else. I wanted to kiss her and never let her go. So that. of course.I had to hold her. We would always have obstacles in our way. I wanted to grab her and hug her and comfort her. I can’t deny the similarities between that romance and ours. I lost control while I was running..But I could not die with Bella.“Wait!!” She yelled. “Take care of yourself”. she was so vulnerable. so I stopped myself and locked my hands around her wrists instead and pinned them to her sides. And Bella and I can’t be together without worry. I wished I could sleep so that I could dream of her. Anything to get my mind off of what I just did. Any longer and I would’ve stayed. I tried to convince myself. One last time. even if it’s only a couple of hours. Her eyes closed under my lips. Not that I could ever stop thinking about her. The look of pain.. I leaned down. I pressed my lips lightly to her forehead for the briefest second. Sleep may help ease some of the pain. I could be with her and be happy. Of sadness. Never suppose to be…. Although I never really liked the story. was ill-fated..

Bella and I are not meant to be. The look in her eyes was unbearable……. that’s not a strong enough word for what I’m feeling. all the thoughts and feelings that have been passed between us. I saw straight into her soul and all I could see was pain…. was another story. We are true star-crossed lovers. If I were human. I could quite literally lay here for the rest of my pathetic existence. the one promise that they would ultimately be able to be together through all of the chaos that was presented to them. I couldn’t have saved her and she would be dead. I would’ve been forced to watch death take her last breath by allowing Tyler Crowley’s van crush her right before my eyes. how could she believe me? I have told her that I love her on countless occasions. we never would have met. I don’t even feel like I can even move. This is the only way……. I’ve always hated it when Jessica Stanley would think negative thoughts about Bella. Even if I were human and really 17 years old in high school. most importantly. We can’t win. Hated it because if she heard them. At least. We’re not even meant to be together in the afterlife. a destiny. Hunter and prey. After all of this time together. at MY words……… How could I cause the one person in this world that I love the most so much pain? Never did I think that it would be the words that came out of my mouth that would be the reason for that look to come into her eyes. What am I going to do without her? I just keep replaying our last conversation in my head and it gets worse and worse every time…. we would not be together. but death…. all of that is true. I would be dead by now and she would go on to live a happy life. Either way you look at it. that I didn’t love her anymore. Life had a plan for them. how could she let one word negate all the rest? Watching her face as what I said to her sunk in. I am still devastated…no. I spent every minute I could with her without actually moving in. this is what I am trying to convince myself. How could I do that? How could I tell her that I didn’t want her anymore? And. I would’ve been unable to prevent her death. I’m a vampire and she’s human. If I had died in 1918. At least Romeo and Juliet had that one guarantee. There is no way around it. Every part of my body feels like it weighs a million pounds.. watching her accept it.will be going to same place afterwards. I feel lifeless. There are no words for what this feels like……… What did I just do? I thought to myself. like I was supposed to. was the worst part of that very life-shattering conversation. And although. I know that it would hurt her and I .

that once she developed them for me that would make it harder for me to leave. without her. it feels like it is being mangled and torn apart in every way possible.. Wherever I am. what do I have? Nothing. Bella proved me wrong. it didn’t matter. even then. I thought I was complete in myself. but as always. What do I do now? How do I live without her? How did I live before I met her? It seems like a lifetime ago. As I lay here and stare up at the sky. how can you settle for second best. all thoughts from my head. even though it will be the only home I will ever know. While the rain poured down on me. I didn’t even know where I was. it began to rain. On the ground of some forest. Hours? Days? . This isn’t doing me any good. I know that life is over for me. Maybe because there wasn’t anything that caught my attention enough to explore. I only existed before because I didn’t know what it felt like to be completely whole. or trying to anyway. speaking words that hurt her more than Jessica’s ever could…… As I lay there on the ground. And if I wasn’t with her. I have to stop. clearing. I shouldn’t have let it get this far. I was just following the routine of my life. As hollow as my heart is. And there I was. meaning……. She had opened me up so completely. It’s impossible to continue to exist when the one thing that makes you feel whole is gone. I left it heartbroken and alone on a trail in the forest in Forks. Why didn’t I just leave at the beginning? Leave before she developed feelings for me. Being with Bella had brought so much to my life that before her I wasn’t really living. Opened my eyes to a better world than my own. I didn’t want to know. Again I don’t know how long I’ve been here…….wanted to protect her from that. life. Love. I just continued to lay there. Not really. Her pain cripples me more than my own. I just laid there. A place that I shall never call home again. because I knew. Now. A happy place that could only exist with her. But once you feel what it’s like to be completely whole. Wallowing in my miserable existence. I wasn’t with Bella. not really taking the time to experience it.GONE Chapter 4:Midnight.

replaying my last conversation with Bella over and over in my head. I was filled with so much happiness being with her. The selflessness she embodies. I would shake uncontrollably while they tore through my chest. In those first weeks. Not closed to sleep or rest. How could she be so calm? What did that calmness mean? What was going through her head? I sighed and shook my head at the frustration. The pain hadn’t gotten better. of the way her legs shook when she knew I was about to make my exit. Each time worse than the previous. I haven’t really been keeping up with time. I don’t understand. every desire. Every time I thought of the pain I saw in her eyes at my words. to watch her reddishbrown hair blow in the wind. Watching her expressions and her reactions as she believed the lies I was telling her. Her calmness. So much joy and contentment.. I couldn’t stop them. that I wanted to read her mind more than in that moment when she accepted those words. My eyes must be jet black from the lack of hunting. The frustration and the pain of not being able to ever ask her those questions……… Oh. I knew that I deserved the pain I was enduring. Or the will. Never. That I am enduring. That face alone would get me through every agonizing day without her. My Bella. I don’t care. They reveal how pure and genuine her heart is. I felt the sobs trying to break through.Weeks? Month’s even? All those are possible. they were uncontrollable. At first. In my miserable existence. when I let some of those . I didn’t have the energy to. my love. Worse actually. to get a glimpse of her soul by just looking into her captivating chocolate brown eyes. I don’t have any energy to do anything but lay here. With my eyes closed. Eyes that tell every secret. They still escape me from time to time. because I can’t hear them anyway. the broken sobs would escape from my chest before I consciously gave them permission to do so. Without needing her thoughts. Why? How could she believe me? It surprised me. But I learned to control them…most of the time. Huh. in all the time that I’ve known her. every wish. I just laid there on the ground of some unknown forest. and tormented me. I would gladly take pain much worse than this to ensure Bella’s safety and happiness. to see her eyes light up with a big smile to welcome me. her eyes reveal everything that’s worth knowing. I wish!! But to see Bella’s beautiful face behind my lids. the longer I was away from her. To see soft crimson blush her cheeks. how easily and how soon she accepted that I didn’t love her. So at ease. at her expression when she realized that I was leaving without her. It’s astounding! I could lay here for the rest of eternity and just picture her face in my mind.

“Edward. I was already expending a tremendous amount of control to keep myself from running back to Forks and begging Bella for her forgiveness. Alice was stubborn enough to wait for an answer. What I deserved. Impatient. no matter how long it took for it to come.” I snapped at her. “Edward.” She said and then cut off when she saw me laying there on the ground. what do you want? I know you saw that I wanted to be alone.well. Remorse. Nobody to witness my self-destruction. She should’ve seen that.haunting memories invade my mind…. “Edward?” she asked but I couldn’t bring myself to speak. I didn’t even open my mouth to alert her of my location. interrupting my reverie. let is a bit of an understatement. Nobody to…. Probable from misuse. There are no thoughts to intrude my mind in this wilderness and nobody to bother me in my grief. I know you saw that I would be angry by you showing up.. Her thoughts went from confusion to sadness. the sooner she would leave me to my grief. “Alice. what are you doing?” she asked. “Edward?” Alice said again. “Edward. I wanted to be left alone. eyes . teeth clenched. I knew I had to say something. where are ……. then I could tell her that I just want to be alone without risking the breakdown that was sure to come if I made any move to acknowledge her. knowing the control wouldn’t last long. okay. I should’ve known Alice would come and find me. “I know he’s around here somewhere” Alice thought to herself from somewhere close by. If only she could read minds. Surprised at how different my voice sounded. Oblivious. If I even opened my eyes. But nonetheless. It felt like if I opened my mouth the only thing that would come out would be broken sobs. I tried to control them. I would have to answer her. finally getting irritated by me ignoring her. “What?” I said. The sooner I answer her. I used whatever control I had left to speak to her. It sounded husky. I didn’t open my eyes to find her. Silent. Couldn’t she see that I didn’t want her to come find me? Couldn’t she see that I just wanted to be by myself? To suffer by myself. So just laid there. I know you hear me” she said.

Look at how much pain you’re in. pleading. I can’t even describe what I’m feeling right now. Maybe we can………” Alice said and then let her words trail off as I finally opened my eyes and shot her a menacing look. emphasizing each word. day after day. I was worried. Maybe we should just go back and figure something else out.” she said. eyes closed again. A part of me knew that I shouldn’t be using this type of tone with her. “I just wanted to come and see how you were. waiting for you to do something……. I saw Bella when I closed my eyes. I’ve watched you in this forest every day. Why couldn’t there be a way to prevent this? Why couldn’t there be any other way to make sure Bella was safe? I loved her so much. to feel her in my embrace as I wished that I could mold our bodies together so that we would never be apart. But you just lay here.. She’s gone. almost as much as I did. anything. Everything hurts. It was easier to stay calm when I closed my eyes. please……. . GONE!!!!” and right then.I sighed and whispered. If I could go back I would. This can’t be the right thing to do. making her step back on her heels. the little control I had left melted away and broken sobs started to escape from my chest. Make our world safe for Bella. “THAT’S NOT AN OPTION. pleading with her. to feel her sweet lips move with mine with eagerness and excitement………. does she really think I would’ve been able to leave in the first place? “But look at what it’s doing to you. Every inch of me is in agonizing pain. but the other part of me really didn’t care. “How do you think I am. I shook my head mechanically to try to shake those memories from my mind. If there was another option. “Bella. If she only knew how much I wished it were that simple. Alice? I’m miserable……. to feel her warm fingers curl around mine. How could I not stay calm looking at that beautiful face behind my lids. I hated taking her away from her best friend. No. I hate this. that’s not even a strong enough word. I yearned to see her. That I could just go back and make everything okay. Edward……I’ve never seen you in so much pain. as I screamed that last word. “Alice.” She said and her voice sank into a deep sadness. Not moving an inch. We all are. Alice.” I said.” Too low for even Alice to hear.still closed. She wanted to go back to Forks. More than anything. There was no such thing as safe when it came to our world. “Oh.” I growled at her. More than myself.. but why can’t she see that there is no other choice. How much it’s hurting you.

As soon as I looked at her. I just closed my eyes again.. just let me be alone right now.’ Alice thought. What else could she possibly want? I said nothing. and I didn’t even think that was possible. Darker than before. Wishful thinking…… “Will you come back to Denali with me? Everyone misses you. just think…………” she said but I cut her off. It won’t get easier. no doubt. You haven’t hunted and you need to clean yourself up. Surprise at the loudness of my voice and pain at the severity of my words. I corrected myself. “Please. I didn’t want to hurt her. Edward. This isn’t healthy” she said. “Trust me. It hasn’t even been that long……” I said and then my brow creased as I realized that I didn’t even know exactly how long I’ve been…… where am I anyway? “ Do you even realize how long you’ve been out here?” Alice asked.“ Everybody’s . shining as bright as ever. Of course I didn’t know. and I had to face the truth. When I opened them. Hoping that she would just leave without another word. the sunlight would show itself.” My voice broke on that last word.“Edward. “You’ve been out here for two months. The sun that had risen in the middle of my midnight had returned to its rightful place. Or care.” I opened my eyes and yelled at her. Alice……. I had done enough hurt to last a lifetime. “The others are better off without me right now. I just wanted to lie here. Why couldn’t she see that? I won’t get over this. We want to help you.” I said. “But……”she started. It was both of surprise and pain. I was alone. I simply said. alone. As I would be for the rest of my life. Back to the unchanging midnight that had filled my life for so many years. Edward….” There was no helping me. And my world was dark again. “NO!!!! You’re making it worse than it already is Alice. Bella wasn’t with me. Or for the rest of Bella’s life. Please. eyes still closed. And I could see my Bella……….but only when I closed my eyes. With my eyes closed. Realizing that I had nothing else to say. But……when I closed my eyes. Her expression caught me off guard. Alice. Please. reality hit. but then stopped herself. ‘Just one more thing. my expression calmed. echoing my thoughts. I didn’t need to add more unnecessary hurt to my list of destruction. “No”. I can’t take anymore of this.

Alice” I said.” I told her. my resolve started to waver…. just sitting there with his face in his hands. “Ok. You know that if the decision isn’t made I can’t see what will happen…I wish I could say or do something to make you feel better. I know you’re going through a rough time. And I’m not trying to shut you guys out. it really didn’t matter.worried about you. but I know that it’s nothing compared to how much you miss her. for hours at a time. I can’t promise anything though. That was definitely not my intentions. to cause pain to everyone I come in contact with. Edward. Not even including my own. “I’ll go back with you. Edward. Just imagining all the thoughts that I’m going to have to endure. Is there no end to my destruction of others? Maybe that’s my real purpose. “I don’t know. She’s so distraught. You know she always worries about you the most. What will I do though?Start over in a new high school? Start college? I have never beenthis lost and confused in my entire existence.. At least then you can give a proper goodbye to everyone and we won’t have to worry if you’re okay.” “I don’t have the answer to that one. You haven’t made any decisions about anything. Please?” Why did she have to bring up Esme? She knew how I hated to hurt her. I’m so sorry. “What do you see in my future. If it will ever get better. Alice? Do you see me getting past this?” I asked. If I didn’t hate myself before she showed up. Part of me didn’t want to know what my future held. Esme is worrying like crazy. At the mention of Esme. Please…… I don’t think I can take Esme’s pain anymore. She asks me how you are every hour it seems like. Don’t shut us out” she said. and hearing about her pain only made it worse. But you can try to deal with this and let us help. Taking extra shifts at a hospital he found up there. now I despise myself. You have no idea how sorry I am. that was an understatement. But then another part of me wanted to know how long this pain will last. “ I’ve never lost anyone I loved the way you loved her.. “Alice. If it doesn’t work out than you can always leave. To continue existing without her. suddenly. but I see him in his office sometimes. I just don’t know how. I can’t even imagine how that must feel” . how to go on. that he’s not worried.” Miss her. Carlisle is spending most of his time at work.. Leave it to me to hurt everyone I love with one decision. but you do have a family that wants to help you deal with this. If Bella wasn’t in it. For hurting you and everyone else. finally giving in. In one blow. I guess I could try to go back to my family. I know he misses you. He says that he’s fine. I’m not sure if there’s even an answer. I miss her too.

But she didn’t say anything or think anything. for one. She has always counted on her talent to direct her and when that failed it made her uncomfortable. I could tell she didn’t know what to say. I don’t think I ever will. I guess. Especially for a vampire. But nothing would make that go away. She put my arm around her neck and helped me up.once you know what heaven feels like. But I will attempt to be better than I am right now. “I can’t really put it into words……. It goes against the grain. That made her smile. Burning in my own grief.. My Bella. She even asked if I wanted her to carry me.” Alice murmured. It was an awkward smile. Alice…. I just don’t what to do now……. At that I had to smile. It’s like……. Relax. On the inside I will be writhing in agony. I was very weak. But the gesture was sweet. She wanted to find something to say or do to comfort me. I would gladly go through transformation a thousand times if I could have Bella in my life and have her happy and safe at the same time. I wasn’t going to be okay. But I couldn’t come up with anything that would sound even remotely close to what I’m feeling. I think I can manage running on my own. “I’m not that fragile. I would just have toget used to it.” She smiled. how can you go back to the way things were before?” “Ummm………. and she didn’t know what to do to help me.. On the outside at least. Chapter 5: Pretend . though. Longing for the one thing that I want most. but pain nonetheless. it feels like I was offered a little piece of heaven and then had it snatched away from me. I could barely hold my own weight. It was then that I realized I must have been here for as long as she said. wanting so badly to make my pain goaway. nothing but Bella would really make me smile.. Not the physical pain.. Even thought it was a total lie. She couldn’t see my future clearly. obviously. I have never felt any kind of pain like this before. A half-smile. For them. It’s even worse than my transformation.“I………” I tried to think of a way I could explain this to her. As I balanced myself she looked at me with the most agonizing expression. not because I thought she wasn’t totally capable of carrying me and racing back to Denali. you’re making me nervous” I teased her and then ruffled her hair.smiled. but because she was so small. but she was at a loss. let’s get you home” She simply said and helped me off the ground. “I’ll be ok. She just helped me up and waited until I regained some strength. I half. “Well. That’s rare. She was uncomfortable. That’s a first for Alice. Alice.

. her face behind my lids always held a bewildered expression. Even back then.most importantly……how am I going to explain this to Jasper? No matter how I may hide my feelings from my family. I would have been utterly content to live out the rest of my existence watching that bewildered expression behind my lids. suddenly regretting my decision to . I should’ve just stayed here then. Of course. I can’t promise that I’m going to stay here with you guys. Remembering how she used to cling to me when I ran with her on my back. though. Even secondhand. to ease my pride and my ego. Feeling the warmth of her body against my back. Surely I would be able to confide in him to keep the details of my pain just between us. this kind of pain will definitely knock him back on his heels. Not only my immediate family. But. But now. I haven’t been back here since I first met Bella and I fled here to get away from her. fighting the curiosity of her silent mind. lovelier Bella. I would just have to have a talk with Jasper when I got to the house. if I’m being honest. Tanya’s especially. adored. Jasper will be able to feel this searing pain flowing like waves of fire off of me. Alice looked at me and did the same. But even if I had never have come back to Forks. all I could think of was Bella. I still would have been thinking about her. Before we got there. just for the pure enjoyment. He didn’t like keeping things from Alice. feeling her breath against my neck sending tingles all over my body. Irina’s and Kate’s. that vision of her bewildered expression disappeared and was replaced with a happier. Maybe none of this would ever have happened. Any vision of Bella was to be treasured. I may collapse as I did two months ago in the unknown forest after……. after I have had the chance to know that magnificent creature. but also Tanya’s. all I would see was her face. I started to slow down. Edward?’ Alice asked with her thoughts.” I told her. unlike now. as if theirs weren’t enough. he’ll understand the need to keep it between us. How am I going to be able to mask this pain around them? And…. rather.I can’t even think the words.As we ran to Denali. to earn her smiles and be rewarded with the look that always came into her eyes when she looked at me. “I can’t promise you anything. but once he feels my pain. Alice. ‘What is it. I looked down and shook my head. Or her scent.. hearing her sweet giggles in my ear……… I hope we get there soon because any longer and I may not make it. We were close to Tanya’s house. I also knew that I had to prepare myself for everyone’s thoughts. before I even really knew Bella. when I would close my eyes. The look of complete trust and devoted love. Running would never be the same again.

We walked through the double doors to the house and were greeted by everyone.” she said. Well.I didn’t want to hear anymore apologies. You don’t have to apologize. I’m not doing a very good job. I deserve to be alone. and now look where we are. We won’t object to anything you decide to do. “Sorry.Bella. I haven’t had to think twice about what goes through my mind for a couple of months now. we all would understand that. “I know that Edward. just give it a try. What was I thinking? This is not going to work. It’s a worthless effort anyway. but I cut her off with my hand. Only Rosalie. We can’t even imagine what you’re going through. ‘It’s not like any objection on our part would work anyway. I need to be alone.” “Don’t worry about it.” She said. I could tell that they were all trying to control their thoughts around me. being with them. “I’m supposed to be trying to make you feel better. But I don’t deserve anyone’s pity or sadness. Carlisle. Rosalie was thinking of her BMW. and Alice. we objected to leaving Forks. Emmett was reciting the rosters of every sports team he could think of. I don’t think anything could make me feel any worse than I already feel about my decision. I already told you. dead. If you can’t stay with us. and I winced. not all of them. Carlisle was thinking about every disease known to man. It hurts to even think her name. Well. Everyone came one by one to hug me like they do the mother of a deceased person at a funeral. I felt like I had died all over again anyway. We just want to try to help however we can. to please Esme. Alice. I’ll try to watch my thoughts. I know that’s not making this better for you. I can’t be the Edward they need me to be. apologetically. She looked at me and the expression on my face was like someone had just shot a knife through me. That Edward doesn’t exist anymore. I’m sorry. “That doesn’t mean it wasn’t true.’ Alice thought. Not without …….come here in the first place. They were all thinking of random things. Emmett. and Alice had started to recite the Catholic . I guess it did kind of fit the occasion.” My voice was expressionless. I just wanted to get thisover with so I could find somewhere to go alone to wallow.” She started to say something else.

bible. I turned slowly to face him. I’m just so glad you’re back.I need to get out of here.. weren’t trying to hide their thoughts from me.I just…. but because I usually always got my answers to the tough questions from Carlisle and the answers to the other inconsequential things from Emmett. It’s only a matter of time before I breakdown again. Not because I didn’t trust his advice. You know I’m here if you need me. if you don’t mind?” I asked him. Edward…. He followed me out to the back garage.. but before I could even turn to face him. I didn’t need him to reiterate what I was feeling. his thoughts had already invaded my mind… ‘Whoa.’he could’ve went on and on but I had to cut him off. “Sure. “I need you to keep what you know about the pain that I am going through to yourself. Which I don’t because I’m not human. It didn’t sound like me at all. My brother and I were close. Jasper can I speak to you alone for a minute please?” I said. Jasper and Esme. “Uh. I can never be human……. Tight enough to cut off air flow. I need to ask you for a favor. “Jasper. ‘Edward!! I’m so glad you came. Once we got to where the others couldn’t hear our conversation. ‘ Esme thought.” He said.whatever you need. Unsure of what I would wanted to talk to him about. Are you okay? Well.I was feeling them. “Sure…. no. anything Edward.. “ and not let them see how much pain .” and not succeed. I can’t stand it if they have to worry more than they already are. if I needed it. and I don’t want to do it in front of Esme. on the other hand.. I’m going to try my best. I thought wryly. but I hardly ever went to him for advice. This much torture…Edward…. I was so worried about you.I don’t…I wish there was something I could do……this is awful……. he was almost as old as Carlisle.” He said. Please.I’m so sorry…I never knew anyone could feel this much pain. We’re going to help you through this son. But there was still one more thing I needed to do before I made my escape. How could I not.. Surprised at the sound of my voice. interrupting him. as she hugged me again. I know you’re not okay. I just needed to get this over with. I can’t hold myself together.

I just want to be alone” “I understand” he said.ah….. Seeing her face in my mind. I would’ve acknowledged that but I didn’t really feel like getting into it. anxious to get away.” I said simply. but I just can’t bring myself to move. My soul mate.I’m really going through. . Edward. Then he turned and walked away.” “No. Please. my addiction was satisfied for the moment. My Bella. I’ll be back later” “Want some company? I’m sure Emmett and Carlisle need to hunt too. I was using so much energy to hold myself together that it was starting to take a toll on me and I needed to get away from here.her blush…those… …. This is the only thing that will compel me to continue to exist. I know I really need to hunt. I miss her so very much. I feel like a drug addict who needs a fix. “Tell the others that I’m going hunting. I sighed. I still couldn’t stop the sobs from breaking out of my chest at this moment.” He said. You’re the only one who knows how much pain that actually is. just call it even.” “No.lips. I haven’t had time to even close my eyes to see…her…face. He was still blaming all of what happened on himself. “Of course. there she is. she exists. I just think it’s better this way. I was anxious for it. You don’t have to pretend to be okay. I found a spot that was off of any trail and I lay down and closed my eyes………. “Thanks. but we’re here to help. I was already running as fast as I can. sensing that I was anxious to go. I felt exhausted from having to play ‘happy’ already. My match. don’t tell Alice. Jasper. Not right now. And although.” he said. Knowing that somewhere in this world. We all know this is a very bad time for you. Those eyes….” “I know.. Before he was even out of the garage. Can you do that for me?” I asked. I found a patch of woods somewhere in the Denali National Park Wilderness that looked perfect enough for sulking. Not now. I’ll owe you one. “Okay.

Which only meant one thing. I heard nothing. find someone else. Being with them. How quickly and easily they get pass things. More than anyone else in this world deserves it. was me and my family. making her blush.I just lay there. I screamed in my head. And as those words flooded my mind. AHHHHH!!!. Just realizing that I had not seen . I noticed the sun rising. Wondering how I could have made a bigger mess of things. as much as I tried to protect her from everything that was ever a harm to her.and……. Picturing my face in her mind. worst of all. I had been out here all day and night. I just shook my head. Just thinking about forgetting her is painful enough. Because thinking of me and wanting me is not good for her. I wonder what she’s doing right now. I sometimes envy the way humans can change so rapidly. even though I envy that fact. Is she happy? It’s been a little over two months since I left Forks. and sure enough they were all there. sitting around. Human or other. Longing for me as I am for her. when that’s the farthest from the truth. This is going to be worse than I thought. However. thinking of her. “Where are the sisters?” I asked. doing nothing in particular. shaking uncontrollably from my sobs. But this has to happen. physically and emotionally. And. the broken sobs got worse. I got up off of the ground and headed back. Surely she would be better by now. She has to be with someone that can make her happy. the thing she needed protection from. I would rather suffer this pain for the rest of my existence as long as I am able think about her and love her than to simply be able to forget about her. But I can’t want such things. This is hard already. it was quiet. When I got back to the house. She must move on and be happy and…….Bella. It’s unbearable to think of someone else earning her smiles. Having to pretend that I’m trying to get better. someone else kissing her. I completely lost track of time altogether. warm. being given permission to touch her soft. She deserves it. My love. My life. skin. they were hiding their thoughts. I need to get back before Alice comes to find me. Without us she would surely be. But I still heard nothing. But the selfish part of me wishes she was thinking about me. My……. How could I possibly forget about such a creature? I hope she is safe. confirming my worst fears. I walked in. How. That is most important. How I could have hurt her worse that I have.

hoping he would let it go. Carlisle and Esme were reading together while Esme lay in his lap. Maybe because I hadn’t known what being in a relationship was all about. “Their away visiting old friends. I didn’t think I needed to have that. What was this feeling? I don’t think I’ve ever felt it before. “I wasn’t thirsty anymore” I said. I can’t be around this every day. But she couldn’t see where I was going. “But. It was envy. “I have to go. I have to leave. This was definitely new to me. But I’ll hurt her worse if I stay and she has to see me suffer. the sight almost knocked me to my knees. their relationships never affected me.” Esme pleaded. Alice’s head snapped up and I saw what she saw.” If she knew why I just decided to leave. But as I looked at them. She saw me leaving. that’s all.” I blurted out before I knew it. He did. “I just need to be alone right now. But now. after Bella. enjoying each other’s company. Before Bella. My eyes are jet black. Which would mean that they would try their best to keep their distance . I can’t be here. Alice and Jasper were just staring into each other’s eyes. They all would. I hated to hurt her. As soon as I thought about leaving. And Emmett and Rosalie were playing a video game laughing and teasing each other. I only came here for her. I forgot about that. having one of the private conversations that they had. I can’t do this. Damn. I’ve never felt that around my family before. Before Alice could say something. Sitting together. after losing her. it would hurt her and she would try to do whatever she could to make me stay. the irritation of their silent thoughts disappeared and something else took its place. when I was alone.” Carlisle answered. “Oh” was all I said in return. “I thought you went hunting?” Emmett asked.them since I’ve been here. I looked at them again and it hit me. why? You just got here. But I understood exactly where it came from. They were three completely devoted and happy couples. Esme.

giving them their proper goodbyes. I was aching to ‘see’ Bella. I turned to look at them one last time before I left.from each other. I nodded at him. call us when you can. But…. and he was trying his hand at the vegetarian diet. Or try to find me. not knowing when I would see my family again.Victoria is still out there……. “I know it doesn’t compare to how you feel. Just think about staying. as I had before. And there she was………. I just….Somewhere. can’t. and that would also be unbearable to watch.” I told her. Carlisle was to only one who finally unguarded his thoughts before I left. Now uninterrupted. he never wanted to hurt Bella anyway. On my own. then they would let me go. Do what you have to do to try to get better. To never touch in my presence. again. We all lost her. Or if I would. And not follow me. “Please. I growled involuntarily at the names. son. Satisfying this craving I had to picture her behind closed eyes for as long as I . As beautiful and perfect as ever.’ Carlisle thought. I would make sure that doesn’t happen. I’ll keep in touch. Except for Laurent. “It’ll be ok. James surely got what he deserved. She promised if I left again. Why did God allow so much to hurt her? Or to try to hurt her? Well. We could help each other. Esme. How do I know that she won’t come back for Bella? Try to hurt her…. “But we loved her too. I took one long last look at her beautiful face. I promised. but their loss was in no comparison to mine. Alice wouldn’t come looking for me. I would put all my energy into making sure she doesn’t get anywhere near Bella.” she continued.. Nobody else said anything aloud.” “I can’t. Besides. It was only James and Victoria. I lay down and closed my eyes. after my rebelliousness. For the first time since I came back to Carlisle. Where was I going to go? What was I going to do? I walked out of the door. I just ran. No one of my kind knows about her.. Edward. Well. back to my spot from earlier today. thankful for his understanding. We want to try to help you. she should be safe from vampires.” She said.while I’m not there to protect her. echoing my thoughts.

contemplating my next move to try to find Victoria. Her deep.. Well. I heard it.’Laurent thought.. Savoring every inch of her face. of us all in our protective stances in front of Bella.Their lifestyle is intriguing though……………. brown eyes. I tried to think about that day in the clearing. Hmmmm…I concentrated and focused on all the voices that were going through my head at that moment in the clearing.. I wish I would’ve paid more attention to her mind that day in the clearing. How strange that they would fight their own kind for this human? Why does James have to act like a total savage all the time? He is really starting to annoy me…. I recalled the thoughts that were going through James’ mind: ‘Mmmmm. Bella.she probably doesn’t have any intentions of going back to Forks. She would definitely pay for even thinking of trying to hurt my Bella and for helping James hurt her. I need to try to channel all of my pain and suffering and rage into determination to finding her...Interesting……’ I let his thoughts trail off as I tried to concentrate on the thoughts around me that were not my family’s at the time: ‘This is a strange clan. I need to concentrate.. I thought to myself. her blood is so sweet.. preparing to fight. Now I had a mission.and then. An obligation. I saw no danger to Bella. Picturing her eyes... Maybe her tie to him was equally as weak…. I was still in the Denali Wilderness. and could easily find her was all the motivation I needed.. Why do they protect this fragile little human? Why are they ready to fight for a defenseless little girl?. whether she intended to or not. His tie to her wasn’t that strong. She may not even want to avenge James’s death. Once I recalled the memory.could. That would definitely help in trying to track her.But if there’s even a slight possibility that she would return to Forks……just the fact that she even knows Bella.. Let’s see how good I can be at tracking……… Chapter 6: Where do I start? How do I even begin? Victoria could be anywhere….. . And making sure that she would never even have the chance to even get close to Bella. He was embarrassed my James and curious about us. I took a couple of slow deep breaths while on the forest floor sitting Indian style. Now I need to try to remember if I heard anything from Victoria that will give me some clue. you always said I was good at everything.

I really didn’t have time for this. she won’t be for long. I slowed my pace as I spotted the entrance to the airport and I strolled in. I could care less about Laurent. although it would bring me a lot pleasure. “Ahem. I needed to get there as soon as possible.“I’ll take the blonde first. “Oh my God. Mr…. yes. This only fueled my motivation even more. “Um. I walked up to the clerk while she was still typing away on her computer not paying any attention to me. “Mr. If she is in Texas. Okay.. Wanting to hurry this up. Can you tell me when the next flight is scheduled to leave for Texas?” I asked her. I inwardly cringed. Only one way to find out. “May I help…. her blood does smell absolutely delicious. Tiffany work your magic” she thought as she continued to stare at me. I waited with baited breath for her to acknowledge me. When she didn’t I cleared my throat to get her attention.. I’m sorry for staring like that.Mmmm.. a growl escaped from my lips as I heard how she imagined tasting Bella. I opened my eyes and stood.. “Yes. What can I do for you?” she said while batting her eyelashes.. Even more determined now than ever. She stopped typing to look at me with annoyance. She’s mouthwatering…’ as I recalled and distinguished her thoughts. “Will you be going for business or pleasure. my voice void of any emotion. “What now? Can’t they see I’m working?” she thought. He is absolutely gorgeous.” her voice trailed off as she met my eyes. We’re going to drop him soon anyway and head back to Texas……. “Hmm.I see” she mused.” she trailed off. Forgive me. I took off running through the woods until I came upon the road that would lead me to Denali airport. Cullen and it’s for business” I told her. It was awhile before she finally spoke. . She won’t have a chance to hurt a hair on James’s head. Victoria was a nomad. Where to start? Texas? She did say in her mind that her and James we going to head back there. just give me one moment while I look that up.” She started tapping away on her keyboard while sneaking glances at me.

I can’t afford to be distracted. closed my eyes. “What the hell was that? Did he just make that noise? They always sit me next to the freaks? I’m flying first class next time…. Ensuring her safety from my kind. She could be anywhere. I need to stay focused on making sure no harm comes to Bella ever again. I listen for any . Even though I couldn’t be there with her. Thinking this is as good as place as any to start and not be seen I take off towards the forest. I looked at the man seated next to me. On a different continent from happiness.things. And at night is when I will hunt.” I let his thoughts trail off. I went through the tedious process of checking in and boarding the plane. I need to stay focused. I started to think about where I’m going to start first. we were landing at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. It went quicker than usual since I didn’t have any baggage with me. I start to think about where I’m going to look first. but whatever it was had to do with the fact that I was actively doing something for Bella. I find myself in a clearing about 25 miles from the road. As I am walking and getting further and further away from the airport I come up to a sign that says the Sam Houston National Forest in 50 miles.. Entering the forest. It was far from relief. the vampires there feel less restricted. “I’ll take it” As soon as she handed me my ticket. I sprinted off before she could say anything else. I lay my head back on the seat. I stop and close my eyes to let my senses take over me.. I heard the low growl that escaped from my throat at the thought of her and looked around to see if anybody else heard it. I don’t know. and let the mindless chatter of the people around me invade my thoughts. He didn’t suspect anything out of the ordinary. But as I know all too well from Jasper. When I made it. I felt a surge of something I couldn’t quite put a name to course through me. I will let everyone’s thoughts serve to keep me from thinking too much about…. Before I knew it. I let my head fall back on my headrest and let everyone’s thoughts invade my mind once more. Texas is a big state. I heard his thoughts. Walking out the doors I decide head east.“Okay we have one leaving out in about 15 minutes if you can catch…” I cut her off before she could finish her thought. As soon as the plane descended. It was really hard for me to keep at a normal speed when I knew that I could most likely miss the plane going at this speed because the terminal was at the other end of the airport. Destroying anything in my path to get to Victoria. Although he seemed very interested in his window at the time. They only come out at night. As I was getting off the plane and heading to the doors of the airport. For once. Texas.

I couldn’t think about it. I can’t even remember that last time I went hunting. I come across a herd of mountain lions and overindulge myself just in case I don’t get to feed anytime soon. A scent that I will never forget. human or vampire. I take off to find my prey. I hear bushes cracking in the distance. I’m gonna need my strength for when I catch up with Victoria. Which tells me two things: one. there is more than enough wildlife here to feed on because that would be the only reason humans would stay away. That’s just how long it’s been. Walking around and smelling the wildlife inhabitants. I open my eyes and start to walk around to see if I can pick up any scents. Also because I don’t know how long I’ll be here and I will need to feed eventually. if at all. It only made it worse. I assumed that it was four months. and two. I immediately take off in that direction at the same time an involuntary growl escapes from my chest surprising even me. besides pain. It was all for her of course. This wasn’t where I wanted to be. but I could be wrong. Focusing on one scent and one scent alone. Thinking of Victoria made a small ripple of anger run through me. I smell the strong scent of other vampires which means that this place will be crawling with them come nightfall. It had been raining for three days straight and almost all of Victoria’s scent had been washed away.thoughts of anyone nearby. I whipped my head around just in time to see a flash of red hair. Victoria. I refocused on a droplet of water hanging from a leaf in front of my face. I have one thought and one thought alone in my head as I’m running. I continue to sniff around. Logically I know that I will need all my strength if I do stumble upon Victoria. I was a useless tracker anyway. As I am finishing up. I didn’t really know because it didn’t matter. I don’t hear anything which means that people don’t live near here. I was in the middle of a jungle somewhere. Victoria. I’m pretty sure that if this a hangout for vampires of some sort than she will undoubtedly end up here if she came to Texas. Deciding that I need to hunt because I probably won’t get anywhere in the daytime. Anger was pretty much all I felt anymore. pray I don’t find you…………… It had been about four months now. Brazil I thought. The last thing I need is to finally find her and then let any nearby wildlife distract me because I haven’t hunted. To make . my mouth starts to water. Well. I can tell right away that humans don’t visit this forest frequently. I stopped the thought in its tracks. I hadn’t really been paying attention.

lifeless. . The tiny pieces of my heart ached painfully. more quietly this time. I uncurled from my position. I thought about calling Alice. But I couldn’t. told me that she would be found. But I couldn’t help it. Bella. How could I leave her? The sole reason for my existence and I left her! What if she is still lying there. Thinking her name will just make it harder. I scolded myself silently. I knew that. A moan escaped my lips. I knew. closing my eyes so I could smell Victoria better. one hour at a time. Sighing I fished it out of my pocket. begging for me to stay.the world safer for her. I regretted it instantly. She was so fragile. begging for her to take me back. Her deep chocolate eyes stared back at me. “Hello?” my voice was empty. assure me that she was moving on. pleading. I shook my head violently. Just to catch a glimpse of her. It was broken beyond repair. Who knew a silent. waiting for me? No. that she was happy. If she was happy I could last a little bit longer. It was coming down to minutes. sitting on the forest floor. un beating heart could break? Mine certainly had. frightened. confused. I moaned again. Anguished. that I wouldn’t last much longer not seeing her. so soft— No. I was past trying to live through one day. glancing at the call register to make sure it was really Alice. knees to chest. so of course the phone vibrated in my pocket. beyond a doubt. Looking back at me from behind my eyelids was Bella’s face. Alice had called me. One look and I would be on the ground in front of her. The last expression I had seen her with. I stood up quickly. I had to go back. Alice was the opposite. I told myself again. chin to knees. to make sure. How could she believe me so quickly? After all the times I said I loved her? What was she thinking? I needed to know she was alright. but I couldn’t dislodge the thoughts of her swirling around my head.

” I didn’t know if I could though.” She gushed. My voice was still dead.. I could feel my resolve wavering.” She warned me. If this was the good news. “Alice. A deep growl built up in my chest. “Edward.” I waited.. I could almost hear Alice biting her lip. somewhat impatiently..” Alice squeaked.. I was surprised. making me shake.Umm--” But then it clicked. tell me” the words came out in a growl. even faster than usual. “Careful of the phone!” I realised that the plastic of the phone was bent almost to breaking point.. well I’ll tell you the good news first then.” Alice rushed on at full speed. “Alice? Are you still there?” not that it mattered anyway.” She was running out of steam. then I'm going to keep going after Victoria.. “And. A flicker a shame ran through me. My breaths came uneven and rough and it felt like the huge. Alice went on. I’ve seen how you’re going to react to this news..” She rushed through the words. “Bella’s going out to see a movie with Jessica tonight. “Edward. I could just go back for one day. I'm still here. cutting her off. Their going into Port Angeles and tomorrow she’s going to volunteer to answer a question in class. Willpower alone made me loosen my grip.” She said quietly. “Umm. Alice was never quiet. “Yeah. and I don’t really want to tell you. I know why your calling and I swear I wasn’t keeping tabs of her. The way she said this made me think it wasn’t a regular occurrence.. gaping hole my torso had grown to twice its . “She smiled today and she talked to Charlie without him starting the conversation.. it’s just I'm already attuned so I can’t control what—“ “Alice that’s fine. I realised Alice hadn’t said anything. Her scent was almost completely washed away.“Edward! Why didn’t you call sooner? Esme has been frantic.. “Anyway.” I said. “Don’t break the phone. “I just want to know how she’s been.

Alice. I couldn’t breathe. “Four months?” my voice was scarcely a whisper. Even though the burn was still there. I began tracking Victoria where I had left off. but the vibration was annoying. talking even faster. but she is getting better! She smiled and laughed today! Just because it happened later than you wanted doesn’t mean anything! She’s getting better!” Alice insisted. that was more than I could say for myself. The deep growling in my stomach got louder. “Hello?” my voice was even worse than before.size. The rain was coming down harder but I didn’t even notice. I had no desire to keep hunting. I just kept repeating to myself over and over. so I struggled to catch the words. Silently. It sounded almost human it was that rough. I briefly considered ignoring it. “Will you come home?” Alice asked.” I flipped my phone shut. Just think about calling me and I’ll know. The voice that answered me was a stark contrast to my voice. “I Love you Edward. ***** ***** Seven months had passed. An odd choking made its way up my throat. she’s getting better. It sounded like golden wind chimes. . Four months. Well. but I had reached my limit. and I was hunting. I had already caught two jaguars.” I was whispering again. I had been trying to ignore the burn deep in my throat. “Edward it’s alright. “She still hasn’t gotten over me after FOUR MONTHS?!” “I know it’s hard to take in. Bye. I—I can’t. It would just hurt everyone more. The choking sound faded. already resigned to my answer. but the pain made the words choked. “No.” There was no need for anyone else to see me like this. I’m sorry.” “Thanks. she’s getting better. “Thanks. Alice. she’s getting better!” “Four months?!” I repeated. I was about to return to tracking when my phone vibrated in my pocket. I fought the urge to shudder.

I froze. I stood there. Absolutely motionless. it couldn’t be true. Rosalie was reluctant? “What’s going on?” I said quickly.I’m sorry. Edward.. I shut the phone and put it my pocket. NO! The world would feel different somehow. dialling out a number I never thought I would again. menacing... What if she was dead? “He’s not here.. “What do you want?” I said in my dispassionate voice.. motionless. I was bordering on rude.. .. Alice is going to forks now to help Charlie.” I hung up. I was frozen. my body like ice. I couldn’t exist in a world where she didn’t. “Swan residence. “Is Charlie there?” I didn’t ask for Bella.. “Where is he?” my voice reacted to the change. “It’s Dr.” Rosalie was as direct as always..” Rosalie was sorry. It was cold. My head was trying to process the information. “Edward?” Rosalie’s tentative voice came over the phone. Bella was dead. The phone rang twice before a deep.I. “Edward I. husky voice answered.. phone to my ear.” I recognized the voice from somewhere but it didn’t register.. She jumped off a cliff.” Rosalie said nervously. No.but. My finger moved to the end call button and I hung up.” The voice had changed. but it was too painful.. Rosalie was sorry?! I didn’t answer..she’s dead. What could make Rosalie sound like this? “She... Cullen..” Rosalie was reluctant. My fingers moved over the keys. Without being aware of my reaction.“Edward? You sound like crap. “What is it?” my voice had an undercurrent of panic in it. Nothing mattered but my next question.” Some part of my brain still working gave me what I needed to’s about Bella. I don’t know how to tell you this. I didn’t even hear her. “Ummm. “He’s at the funeral. There was a short pause before the answer. I stood there. No.

This was faster anyway. I ran constantly. My mind was made up before I had even comprehended what I was thinking. still figure. I decided to be direct. What did it matter anyway? I broke into a run. I thought with no emotion. ***** ***** The flight to Florence was a nightmare. I couldn’t save her this time. I knew I was in denial. It was Hell. I was empty. I was empty inside. crowning the peak of a steep hill. I immediately recognized the figure as Alec. Her thoughts had been paralysed as she stumbled away. dressed in a dark grey cloak that was almost black. it’s better than running into Jane. Without realizing. worse than a nightmare. and standing just behind the wall of moonlight was a tiny. The fountain threw moonlight in all directions. I was going to Italy. Not that I cared anyway. I briefly considered stealing a car to be less conspicuous. Walking out into the street. until Volterra’s ancient sienna walls and towers appeared. As I prepared to cross the square. nothing left. let alone where in Italy. but quickly dismissed the idea. I made my way through the dark cobblestone alleyways until I came to the main square. I began to move more cautiously and stuck to the shadows. moving so fast human eyes wouldn’t be able to spot me. bathing the square in its silvery glow. I turned my head towards another dark ally. She couldn’t be dead. It was just after dusk when we landed. I was beyond pain and sadness. I missed the usual feeling of exhilaration as I ran. something I hadn’t even planned for. The hostess on the plane tried to offer me refreshments at the start of the flight but the look I gave her scared her half to death. I could barely communicate that I wanted a ticket to Italy. I don’t know how long for. Bella. Well. but it couldn’t be true. .I was too late to do anything. some thoughts on my left caught my attention.

Even drowning in my depression I was a gentleman. “May I?” Aro held out his hand as if to shake mine. barely noticing the cosily placed couches and tall vases of flowers lining the walls. I would never see them again. Anything to try and relieve me of the pain that filled my entire body. brimming with happiness. He wanted me to join the guard. I listened to his thoughts. Walking through the antechamber that resembled the sewers below. He would be very disappointed. bowing his head before turning slightly to bring me to Aro’s attention. . Aro’s happiness sparked a wild reaction from me. I choked back a black humoured laugh. But Alec wasn’t thinking about anything vaguely interesting. It was still in that position when I walked into the room.Without pausing in the step I was already taking. just for something to do. How could he be happy? How could anyone anywhere ever be happy again? Luckily I kept my thoughts silent. “Alec! I wasn’t expecting to see you until morning! Do you have news for me?” Aro’s soft sighing voice filled the room. “Master. I inclined my head in greeting and wondered how much time I would have to waste on idle conversation. I turned towards the small vampire and followed him deeper into the forbidding. ancient city. My face scrunched in agony. Curiosity dawned on his face. Alec must have picked up on my mood because he hadn’t once tried talking to me. As it turned out. very little time was wasted. Behind him Caius and Marcus were seated on thrones. which quickly turned hopeful. her smile. beautifully embroidered and painted gold.” Alec greeted him. my mind returned to thoughts I would rather forget. I listened to his shocked thoughts. Bella’s laugh. I nodded again. Or maybe that was just my current frame of mind. listening to his thoughts. My silence brought my mood to his attention. I was disgusted though. I followed Alec into the plush reception. “Edward? Is that you? You look so much like Carlisle!” Aro exclaimed happily.

my love. her pure. “She. Moving through my mind in chronological order.. I gently tried to release my hand. My time tracking Victoria came next. my life. Edward. her laughs. I concentrated hard on his mind and was slightly shocked when I saw my entire life flashing through his head. My Bella. I turned quickly so I couldn’t see his expression. causing me to quiver. the first time I watched her sleep. Rosalie’s phone call. The first time I saw her.I. She jumped off a cliff. Every kiss.she’s dead.” Pain.. every touch. Aro released my hand and it fell limply back to my side. are you sure that is what you wish to ask for? There is no going .I’m sorry. I noticed Caius lean forward slightly. The last expression I had seen her with. Bella. her aversion to gifts. frightened. pleading. “Edward.. Dead. Agony ripped through me. worse than anything yet crashed through my head. I would soon follow one way or another. Her deep chocolate eyes stared at me. but Aro kept a firm grip. begging for me to stay. I waited impatiently. Alice is going to forks now to help Charlie. confused. I shuddered. I couldn’t stand it.. But Aro kept going. the time I saved her in Port Angeles. and waited for him to get to the reason I was here... He was literally looking at every thought I had ever had. The last time I had seen her flashed through Aro’s head and I felt like I would collapse.. but then Aro grasped my hand.Out of the corner of my eye. the times I had stalked her with my mind in school. I wanted him to stop. something that was not lost on Aro. gone. Her face was anguished.. seven months of my life flickered by in less than two seconds. good heart. Hearing it again only made it worse. I realised what he was going to see.

I stopped. Their delicious scent was everywhere. I moved as fast as I could. “I will convene with my brothers and we will call for you when we are finished. darker than they had ever been before. I would force their hand. Wasteful. his slight anger. The person inside smelt delicious.” Aro voice resonated pity but not sadness. I slid forward into a hunting crouch.Never reveal our existence. something I would never do this close to humans normally. I tried to block out Aro’s thoughts but with little success. moving at inhuman speed to the closest house. out into the dawn. just meters away from my intended victim. But he didn’t.” Aro smiled weakly at me. so I couldn’t hold it against him. I nodded again. I would break the rule. That was what he was thinking. A thousand different plans moved through my head. but maybe Caius and Marcus would vote differently. I knew why. Excess Venom was building up in my mouth and the burn of my throat was almost unbearable. Anger pulsated through me. His pity. I knew what I could do. weaker than the pain but still very powerful. Each one dismissed because it wasn’t enough. I nodded once more before turning and leaving at inhuman speed. I would make it so they would have to kill me. Marcus had voted against my request. The one and only law our kind had. . the first rays of sunlight glittering faintly off my face. I would go hunting in their own city. If only Alice was here to tell me what they would decide. He had lost his mate and he thought he knew what I was going through. The one thing that would anger the Volturi enough to kill me. If you please just wait in the reception area. No one did. I knew there were dark lines under my eyes. a waste. Caius had been all for it. They would not give me what I wanted. My eyes were pitch black. Of course not. I already knew what he had decided.back after all. I was dangerous. I let my instincts take me. but Marcus wouldn’t hear of it. but they had nothing on Bella. I couldn’t bring myself to speak. ***** ***** No.

I didn’t stop until I was alone in an ally shrouded with darkness. but there were some that were happy. and for that I was glad. That was it. The sun rose slowly and I just sat completely still watching it creep down the clock tower. The crowds built very quickly but no one ventured down the alleyway I had chosen. A small family of four stood at the entranceway of the side-street I was sitting in. even when Demetri and Felix appeared. They would be the first ones to see me when I revealed myself. There were red flags flying everywhere. when I picked her up off the footpath because she was ill at school. All of them hurt. . I paid little attention to the thoughts around me. Watching her sleep while she dreamed of me. The look of surprise on her face. and dropped the garment at my feet. I watched from my place as the sunlight hit the top of the clock tower. When the clock high above my head reached one minute to twelve I stood. The reason of my existence. to keep an eye on me I supposed. but could I risk it? Risk my eternity with Bella? I turned and ran as fast as I could. I would wait until the sun was as high as it could go in the sky. the nineteenth. The sooner the end came the sooner I could be with Bella. cruelly taken before her time. something that wouldn’t harm anyone. It was right next to the clock tower and very dark. I would do something else. The sunlight. I spent my remaining time with Bella. Time moved more quickly than I was anticipating. Her reaction the first time I kissed her. slowly releasing the buttons on my shirt. Saint Marcus day. I chose the least painful memories I could.Hadn’t I always tried to be better for Bella? To make sure she didn’t love a monster? What if she was in heaven and this one act sent me to hell? It was a slim possibility that I would go to heaven anyway. then step out into the crowded street. Even better. Perfect. I looked up.

A small smile barely lifted the corner of my mouth.” she whispered. It would be easier for Demetri and Felix to tear me to pieces. not really believing in a life that awaited us after death.” I thought back to how I had patronised him. How strange. “Carlisle was right. nothing compared to what I was going through. I began the step forward that would put me directly in the light of the sun. Over and over I heard it. waiting for the last toll of the clock tower. coming closer each time. It sounded like Bella. Fear. breathless voice was marred by something. . deep bags under her eyes.My chest glittered faintly in the darkness. I heard running footsteps and a second later. The clock tolled again. I greedily took in Bella’s appearance. A deep. “You’ve got to get back in the shadows. I’ll be with you soon. I relaxed my body.” I said quietly. I'm coming. making the stones throb under my feet. but I ignored it. she slammed into my arms. I thought. A thrill went through me to hear her voice again. I was surprised but incredibly happy. I moved right to the edge of the shadows. Ah. The smile on my face more pronounced. I briefly wondered if Alice would see my death. I hoped she wouldn’t. but I hoped she wouldn’t hurt. bringing with it Bella calling my name. I knew their orders. It was so close I could feel it. before slowly opening my eyes. booming chime echoed through the square. the first time I had seen her in seven months. I would cause her pain. If I acted to expose us. they would act faster. that was it. My end was coming. She was a little more tired than I remembered. how lovely it was to see her again. “Amazing. You have to move!” her perfect. I caught and steadied her automatically. After the roar of the chime I heard someone call my name. “Edward. The calls seemed to grow more desperate with each toll that passed and by the eighth chime I was ready.

she made my mouth water.” I murmured. hath had no power yet upon thy beauty. After she was as safe as she could be in the present situation. just when I had her back. we have to move. “I can’t believe how quick it was.” I only just managed to keep my composure. before spinning her away from the sunlight. “I’m not dead. “I don’t think I’ll be requiring you services today. being polite. the thoughts of Felix and Demetri. I caught hold of Bella.” She interrupted me. I didn’t feel a thing—they’re very good. but I was only just hiding my fury. reminding myself to be gentle. I noticed how I had healed in her presence. the hole in my chest gone. They couldn’t take her away from me again. that hath sucked the honey of thy breath. if you would send my thanks to your Masters.” I kept my voice smooth and calm. They can’t be far away!” she twisted in my arms and I became confused. I’ll take it. I turned to Felix and Demetri.” I went on conversationally. I made sure she was tight against the wall before turning to face the threat. I didn’t even notice.” It was true. “What was that?” I asked.” I voiced my thoughts. “Death.It felt like she was trying to push me back but I couldn’t tell. not yet! But we have to get out of here before the Volturi —” The ramifications of her words rushed through my head. but nothing could diminish the happiness of the moment. I would appreciate it very much. “We’re not dead. quoting Romeo’s line spoken in the tomb. “Greetings. I don’t care. however. I automatically spread my arms wide in front of Bella. Gentlemen. “So maybe this is hell. “You smell just exactly the same as always. . the people’s thoughts and closer still. “And neither are you! Please Edward. Not dead? And then I noticed the noise from the square. My life had ended so quickly. protecting her. All I could concentrate on was her touch against my bare skin.

“I don’t think so. “Aro would simply like to speak with you again. and I shifted my weight.” I agreed.” Demetri was apologetic. Demetri could see that this conversation could get out of control very quickly.” Behind me. why don’t you go back to the square and enjoy the festival?” I knew my ploy to get her out was doomed before I even spoke. Felix’s answer was swift. His eyes were constantly flickering to the small family standing closest to us. “No. bring the girl.” I answered his thoughts and his words. “We do have rules to obey. “I don’t believe that will be necessary.” I answered dryly. “I’ll be right behind you. “Felix merely meant to point out the proximity of the sun. “Shh.” I heard Bella mouth the word behind me. He did not want this to happen here. “Felix. trying to infuse all my love into the simple sound. yet she was concerned for me. He wanted her for himself. Let us seek better cover. preparing for the fight that Felix wanted. “But the girl goes free. if you have decided not to force our hand after all.Felix spoke menacingly. Demetri didn’t like where Felix was going with the conversation.” I whispered only for her. I know your instructions.” His placating tone matched that of his thoughts. I haven’t broken any rules.” he cautioned. “I’m afraid that’s not possible. “Certainly. She was scared. Bella’s breathing hitched and broke. The anger suddenly got harder to control and my voice became hard.” .” His thoughts turned to his hunger.” Although I had come quite close. “Not here. and he tried a soothing tone. She must be terrified. He knew he could be unpredictable. “No. “Bella.” I was bargaining but I knew I had nothing to bargain with. My voice was icy.” He turned to me. explaining. Felix. “Shall we take this conversation to a more appropriate venue?” his subtle threat was not lost on me.

He was toying with the idea of taking me on his own in the fast approaching fight. Felix and Demetri followed suite. according to Felix’s thoughts. She thought before continuing her performance. “That’s just fine. spreading out slightly to force me back. “Aro will be disappointed. Next to me.” I answered. “There are ladies present. but from further down the alley. even for a second. Felix and Demetri stole closer toward the mouth of the ally. Abruptly. less than half a second behind me. It’s the only way to get out. waiting for the attack. but she could not hide her thoughts as well. The perfectly choreographed move had worked many times. I didn’t move. I turned my head in Alice’s direction. “We’re not alone. I didn’t even turn to look at the family standing at the mouth of the alley. her body language showing no tension. “I’m sure he’ll survive the letdown.” Demetri sighed. Alice was playing out one of her visions. I concentrated on Demetri and watched as he shook his head. . following it like a script. it seemed to everyone. He didn’t like even numbers.” She came to stand at my side. I knew to keep the advantage I should have shifted but I couldn’t expose Bella. I listened closely to Demetri’s thoughts. Demetri.” My mind was going through the options. “Let’s behave ourselves. Both Volturi guards both straitened up and Felix’s thoughts soured. tying to figure a way out. shall we?” Alice’s lilting voice announced her arrival to Bella.“Then I’m afraid that I’ll be unable to accept Aro’s invitation. which were yelling my name at top volume.” She reminded them. It didn’t look good. I heard a very familiar set of thoughts.” Felix purred.

Just stick to the script. We walked in step with Alice as the alley angled downward and narrowed. her childish voice a monotone. “Well Alice. Demetri and Felix relaxed instantly. no deviations.“Please. “Jane.” . Who would dare appose her? Felix gestured for us to go first. Without turning to see if we were indeed following. Alice was already following after Jane so I wrapped my arm around Bella’s waist and pulled her gently alongside me. but I just shook my head. She didn’t need to check if we were following. Bella looked up at me. with no one the wiser. feeling Bella pressed to my side. smelling her wonderful scent. “At least let us discuss this more privately. Felix was watching us closely. his thoughts centred on Bella.” He said. She had seen what would happen if a fight broke out now.” I countered. “Let’s. let’s be reasonable. and I dropped my arms in defeat. If she said anything it could compromise Alice’s plans. “No.” Jane’s high. she led the way back down the alley. Alice crossed her arms and remained impassive. a thousand questions in her eyes.” I tried to tune out Felix but his thoughts were very loud.” Jane spoke again.” I went on conversationally. smirking.” teeth come together in anger. “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to see you here. “And we’ll leave quietly now. but it was likely that I would have asked anyway. I heard my Felix smiled. “Enough. Edward. reedy voice came from behind us.” Demetri sighed in frustration. Alice’s thoughts came from beside me.” I sighed in recognition and resignation. My role in Alice’s vision was coming up. “Follow me.

she did jump off a cliff. “What happened?” “It’s a long story. Laurent. I already knew she was waiting but I was making Bella feel safer.” Bella’s cheeks flushed with embarrassment as Alice quickly told me the story in her head. Near-drowning. Well. “It was my job to set it right. it was dark for her. Bella hadn’t noticed where we were heading until Alice disappeared. but she wasn’t trying to kill herself. I felt her resist and when I looked down she looked paler than usual. “It’s all right. Bella. but with Demetri and especially Felix standing behind us. Her pain. Jane had already dropped through and Alice didn’t hesitate or break stride as she strode toward the wall behind it. Victoria. Bella” Alice reassured her. Bella’s all about the extreme sports these days. With easy grace she slid straight through. .” Was all I could manage.” Alice’s eyes flickered toward Bella then away. What had I done? After a loose curve in the alley we reached the open hole in the street. I took her wrists.” I tried to comfort her in a low voice. doubt all over her beautiful face. “Ready?” I asked Alice. I only just managed to respond. “Alice will catch you.” My curiosity spiked and I fought to keep my voice uninterested. and lowered her into the darkness. “Hm. “I'm right here. I didn’t want her to be scared but I didn’t have a choice.” She looked at the black hole. carefully holding on because she was so fragile. I was forced to relinquish my grip of her waist as she crouched down over the hole. I didn’t want her to have to go before me. “Alice?” she whispered. her voice trembling.” Alice answered in the same tone. “In summary. Jacob and his werewolf friends. before lowering her legs through.“It was my mistake. I couldn’t risk leaving her without Alice or myself.

before towing her forward. the first time in seven months. both her arms encircling my waist. Behind me. I held her more tightly and reached my free hand over to stroke her face. I heard Alice catch her. as she tripped and stumbled her way along side me. Her frantic heartbeat and erratic breathing told me how she was faring. Bella started shaking. I thought it was from the overwhelming fear of the tunnel and our company. Her fragile cheek. just enjoying the smell of her. trying to warm her with the friction. but then her teeth started chattering. the iron bars rusting. I traced her lips. I didn’t have a choice. so soft and warm like her cheek.” She chattered throwing her arms around me.“Drop her. I saw Bella’s face crumple with terror but I let her fall. and felt the happiness of it.” Alice called. I could see every detail of the walls and ground. keeping only her hand. I realized she was cold and let go of her waist. I didn’t want to but she was a higher priority than what I wanted. was warm to my touch. I moved closer to her. I saw the end of the tunnel long before Bella did. but as . just silk over glass. I kissed her head. realizing this may be the only reunion we got. We continued to move through the tunnel at her pace. I was sure she was close to screaming. She responded. offsetting the fear the subterranean tunnel must be causing her. Felix sighing behind me. but I knew it would be very dark to her. But she didn’t want me to let go. I pressed my face into her hair. “N-n-no. Felix was frustrated with the pace we were moving at and every now and then he would sigh. wrapping my arm around her again. I moved my hand up and down her arm. and moved at inhuman speed so I could be with her sooner. She pulled herself closer to me every now and then.

I was still rubbing her arm but I kept my eyes firmly locked on Jane. Too my surprise she knew exactly what we were. Stepping inside the elevator the three Volturi relaxed.thick as her arm. Their hoods fell back and their faces became calm. His thoughts filled with relief as Jane walked around the corner. “They send you out for one and you come back with two. another kind of welcome was waiting. waiting for us.” He smiled reaching for her. “Alec. snapping a lock shut at the same time. I gave the deceiving hallway a dark look as we followed Jane to an elevator at the end of it. Gianna’s thoughts becoming incoherent as she giggled. She was very good at her job.” He complemented her.” She responded. She was bored because we had come so easily. Bella cringed against me. interlaced bars stood open. We moved into the brighter room and Demetri closed it with a bang. “Gianna. embracing him.. but I tensed. my jaw clenched tight.” He said. Standing in the corner. passing a woman called Gianna who acted as receptionist.” Her face held no hint of the curiosity that burned inside her..” As Felix walked past her he winked. We walked through the reception area. Bella relaxed automatically as we walked into the brightly lit hallway. noticing Bella. As we walked past the receptionist.and a half. her expression indifferent. A door made of thinner. Jane. Her thoughts confirmed the expression. “Good Afternoon. We moved through another set of doors into the same hallway I had walked through before. “Jane. Jane was holding the elevator open for us. Alec was standing. Jane’s delighted laughter filled the room. I barely noticed as the door was shut behind us and a bolt slid home. Jane nodded to her. “Nice work. .

“You are such a comfort to me. contemptuous. He was claiming Bella for himself.” She warned. a low snarl building deep in my chest.” Alec greeted me. “You seem in a better mood.” I agreed in a flat voice. Felix smiled. but Felix’s thoughts interrupted me. the ever angelic child.” I nodded once. you’ve returned!” he said with evident delight. He couldn’t understand my love for the beautiful creature beside me. dear one.” Alec said as if nothing had passed. but he still complemented her. excluding Caius and Marcus. “Aro will so pleased to see you again. “Patience. to anger me. Almost all of the Volturi was in here. “Marginally. I turned. “And this is the cause of all the trouble?” he was very sceptical. Holding hands. Jane. We walked into a different room to the one I had entered last time. I took a deep breath before turning back to Alec. Although I was happy Bella was alive. He moved forward and kissed Jane lightly on her lips before moving back slightly. That could not happen.Alec’s attention turned to me. just as you wished. I was extremely angry of our present situation. “Dibs. Edward.” Jane answered. preparing myself for what was coming. “Jane. Her vision showed what would happen if I fought Felix.” He called casually from behind. “Let’s not keep him waiting. Alice stepped forward. touching my arm. “I brought him back alive. “Welcome back. I smiled. raising his hand in a gesture that said bring it on. Alec chuckled before turning to look at Bella.” Aro hadn’t expected anything different. Master. Alec and Jane led the way. I fought the urge to shudder at seeing the picture of Bella dead on the ground. . “Yes. eager to agree with him added. Aro was expecting us but he was still happy to see Jane again.” Still smiling.” He had picked up on my uplifted mood. now that I knew Bella was alive.

“This is a happy surprise! Wonderful!” his thoughts were possessive. Alice flicked a glance at me.” She “You're too modest. “What did I tell you? Aren’t you glad I didn’t give you what you wanted?” “Yes. How does he even know me? I couldn’t answer because longing had filled Aro again.” Aro sighed. his curiosity taking over. “It’s just that I feel like I know you already. in a peculiar way. “And Alice and Bella too!” he exclaimed clapping his hands together. . I am.” Aro chided. You see. “I love a happy ending. especially of Alice. “Your brother seemed to think you were infallible. “You see Edward?” Aro scolded like an adoring grandfather. and I must admit I’ve never observed anything like your talent. “I’ve seen some of your more amazing exploits. Master. How did this happen? Alice?” he turned to Alice. But I want the whole story. He so wanted her to join the guard because of her unique gift. “Felix. tightening my arm around Bella’s waist. I share some of your brother’s talent. “They are so rare. have we?” Aro continued. an undercurrent of longing in his thoughts. He turned from us to Felix. “I’m sorry. Wonderful!” he exclaimed again. but at the same what I can do? so I kept silent. I’m far from infallible. Your brother introduced us yesterday. and I watched as his smile became ecstatic. taking in our group. the envy breaking through his composed voice.He turned to us. smile.” Felix nodded and disappeared back the way we had come.” “Oh.” I agreed. we haven’t been introduced properly at all. but for a different reason this time. as I cure them. and I tend to get ahead of myself. Aro.” “Yes. be a dear and tell my brothers about our company. I cause problems as often finished. only I am limited in a way that he is not.” Aro shook his head.” She flashed a dazzling time was asking me how does he know There was no way I could answer her “As you can see today. but apparently there was some mistake. I’m sure they wouldn’t want to miss this.

lightly touching his hand. “That would be so convenient.” Marcus glided to his chair. So that’s how he knows so much about me? Everything you know. I watched as Aro shook his head. Marcus. It’s just so difficult to understand.” Aro sighed. Marcus was surprised by the amount of love I had for Bella.” Alice was very frustrated..” Alice raised her eyebrows. slowly followed by Felix. “That’s quite interesting.” Aro smiled again. “Aro needs physical contact to hear your thoughts. Aro didn’t miss that either. and Alice is here with her! Isn’t that wonderful?” both Marcus and Caius looked the same as they had last time. and practice. look!” Aro crooned. “It takes quite a bit to surprise Marcus.” Aro said.” Aro went on.” Aro looked over us and I heard the thoughts of Caius and Marcus enter the room. I snorted quietly. He’s surprised by the intensity of ours. staring at my arm still wrapped around Bella. “Amazing. Caius. “Absolutely amazing. more to himself than anyone else. What’s amazing?? Would it kill him to say it out loud? I quickly explained. and the amount she felt in return. “Thank you.” He repeated. “But to be able to hear from a distance.” Aro said in his feathery voice. . I looked at her and swiftly explained. their thoughts the same as well. he knows? I inclined my head. Then he spoke to us. Everyone turned to see the new arrivals. “Bella is alive after all. “Let us have the story. “How can you stand so close to her like that?” Love. even now. Marcus and Caius glided toward their thrones but Marcus stoped next to Aro. “Marcus.“And also exponentially more powerful. and of course Bella turned the slowest. gestured to us and the exchange that had just taken place. Aro hears ever thought your mind has ever had. but he hears much more than I do.” Alice’s frustrated thoughts interrupted me again. I thought to myself. “Marcus sees relationships. tell me! I added dryly. Edward. I can assure you.” He said. “So convenient. You know I can only hear what’s passing through your head at the moment..

somehow.“It’s not without effort.” I couldn’t help the sarcastic tone of my voice. “Your memories of him are quite a gift for me. how I miss my friend Carlisle! You remind me of him—only he was not so angry. ” I didn’t like being compared to Carlisle.” I didn’t see a need to reply so I kept silent. Aro laughed again. I am surprised by how it.” Aro already knew how I felt. “But still—la tua cantante! What a waste!” I laughed once without humour.. impatient now.” “Hardly.” Aro mused. Beside me. “I am gratified by his success.” Aro laughed. “A very high price. “I did not know such strength was possible. Yet.. He was much better than I was. I wouldn’t have believed the call of anyone’s blood could be so strong. “But your restraint!” Aro sighed. and yet you. “I look at it as more of a price.. I expected that he would waste. I knew the preliminaries had to end soon. his success in this unorthodox path he’s chosen. The accusations. but you put him to shame.. I’d scoffed at his plan to find others who would share his peculiar vision. though they astonish me exceedingly.” I kept my face impassive as I gazed back at Aro. Bella’s breathing spiked. I would not have believed. not just once but again and again—if I had not felt it myself. I’m happy to be wrong.” I said. “Ah. weaken with time. Most of us would trade much for such a gift.” I finished the sentence for him.” “I certainly never thought to see Carlisle bested for self-control of things.” I answered calmly. She had sensed the impatience in my voice and knew what was coming. To inure yourself against such a siren call. “Carlisle outshines me in many other ways as well.” “Opportunity cost. but he was still sceptical. “Waste it. I’ve never felt anything like it myself.pleases me. “If I hadn’t smelled her through your memories. . but I knew it was coming.

“So very interesting. and I knew what he wanted.. contemptuous. “Ask her.” He said as he drifted back again. “I mean her no harm. .” He said addressing her directly now. He looked down at Bella.” I tensed. was thinking of doing something not in Alice’s plan.” Aro reassured me. Bella raised hers also. how rude of me!” Aro exclaimed. “May I?” he asked eagerly. Aro moved closer reaching out to take her hand. He was going to get Jane to try her talent on Bella. “It makes me thirsty. I couldn’t help it. He thought I made decisions for her.Bella must have seen my underlying anger. “Bella. terror plain in her eyes. “I’m fascinated that you are the one exception to Edward’s impressive talent—so very interesting that such a thing should occur! And I was wondering. He couldn’t be more wrong. like I was in charge. It was necessary for Alice’s vision that she take his hand. as well?” Bella looked up at me. I nodded in encouragement. There was a slight smug smile on my face. I listened to Aro.” His curiosity burned. but Aro’s thoughts were amused. But I am so curious. since our talents are similar in many ways. I realised that Aro believed his talent would still work. as his face showed doubt before the cool mask returned. and in his frustration. Everything I did was for her. “Don’t be disturbed. “Of course.” I said in a flat tone. about one thing in particular.” Aro chuckled. She didn’t want to go anywhere near him. lifting one hand. “Just remembering how she appeals to you. if you would be so kind as to allow me to try—to see if you are an exception for me. It was trembling. because her breaths were not entirely even.. but his thoughts showed that he was frustrated. interest alive and bright in his eyes. I watched.

and his expression turned sulking. “Stop!” Bella’s voice rang out as the pain. Everyone in the room was thinking of me and the monstrosity I was inciting.. I got quickly to my feet and looked at Bella. but Aro glared at him. the sound ripping out of me as I looked at Aro with malevolent eyes. . “Don’t!” she cried. “I wonder if she is immune to other talents. “He’s fine. Aro continued. The worst had been when I thought Bella was dead. and I was frozen in surprise for a few seconds.” He said to himself. Caius moved closer. not paying the slightest attention to me. but I shook her off. because I knew that would hurt Bella even more. but she voiced her warning just as I leapt at Jane. because Jane had now turned her torture on to her. He couldn’t resist watching pain and suffering. smiling happily up at Aro. It was not the worst. I heard Alice’s terse voice.” Aro called in a tranquil voice.. but it was already too late. Jane turned to face us with her angelic features. Jane was delighted that she would get to use her talent. my dear one. Unbelievable pain filled me. Master?” she asked. Alice was yelling at me in her thoughts. “Jane. making me writhe and squirm on the stone floor. the second worst pain I had ever felt ripped through. dear?” “No!” I snarled the word. Felix grinned hopefully. Alice grabbed my arm with a restraining hand.Jane.“A first. I was snarling louder. and for that I was glad.” She said to Bella. “I was wondering. I just kept from crying out loud. The pain stopped.” My furious growls got louder and I moved in front of Bella to protect her from Jane’s vindictive gaze. if Bella is immune to you. “Yes.

” Aro chortled again. “Your talent would be an excellent addition to our little company. My gaze flickered to Jane and back again.” I hesitated. In front of us. ha.” I thought each word through before I spoke it.” He chuckled. “So what do we do with you now?” Aro sighed. Aro started laughing. and saw her shrink back into Alice who was holding her tight..” . Alice didn’t hesitate. This was the part where everything could go wrong.I looked at her horror-struck. “You’re very brave. thank you.. and I relaxed in relief. “Alice?” Aro asked.”Aro said in a comforting tone. disgusted..” Jane’s upper lip curled back over her teeth as she continued to glare at Bella. “Ha. “This is wonderful!” Jane hissed in frustration.rather.” He shook his head in admiration. I still hadn’t decided what to say. ha. Bella was fine. dear one. still hopeful. “She confounds us all. I just glared at him.not. “Don’t be but out. ha. “I don’t suppose there’s any chance that you’ve changed your mind?” Aro asked hopefully. “No. I moved quickly back to Bella’s side. Bella started trembling. “Ha. sinking forward into a hunting crouch. Alice and I stiffened. her thoughts malignant. placing a powder-light hand on her shoulder. but she was fine. touching Alice’s arm so she surrendered her to me. to endure in silence. “I’d. Alice’s vision had been a little cloudy here. I asked Jane to do that to me once—just out of curiosity.. Edward. ha. I saw Bella look over at Jane.

they will serve to sustain us.” I glared at Caius. Edward.” Aro chided him affectionately. You have exposed our secrets. I knew what he was thinking. I was fuming. but Caius broke the slight pause. “The law claims them. “Join or die.” he agreed. but he needed to say it out loud. Not for you. “We were already convened here. her voice breaking in her terror. is that it? I suspected as much when we were brought into this room. How could he ask this of her? How dare he? “No.” I tried to sound irate. I hissed. That is not your plan for .” This was it. thank you. low but loud. “What?” he demanded of Aro. as well. So much for your laws. but Caius was the one the lines were meant for. Can you imagine the possibilities if she is one of us?” Caius looked away. “Caius. “That’s unfortunate.” Aro was genially surprised. Such a waste.” Aro blinked. my most important line. awaiting Heidi’s return.” Caius hissed. He pointed at Bella. astonished. How could he even ask her this? Bella seemed a little shocked. barely more than a whisper. “Of course not. “But when they are no longer useful to us. “She knows too much.“And you Bella?” Aro continued. “Yes.” “There are a few humans in on your charade here. Caius’s face twisted up into a smile. indignant. “How so?” I demanded.” I pointed out. “I haven’t seen a prospective talent so promising since we found Jane and Alec. but my words had the ring of a well rehearsed actor. Aro sighed. surely you can see the potential. “Aro.” Bella spoke. his voice flat. I hissed.

She still wanted it so badly. Though it is true. “Therefore. “I wouldn’t—” Bella began in a whisper but Caius silenced her with an icy look. I wouldn’t destroy a chance at her never ending happiness.” Aro raised his hand up in front of me. smiled hugely when Aro tacked on his little condition. Alice stepped forward toward Aro. only her life is forfeit. are you prepared to destroy her? I think not. .. “Please. His thoughts were different. I stared down at Bella. “But I'm afraid you would have to mean it. “Unless. I knew what she was going to do. pure. her hand upraised like Aro.” Caius continued.” I felt my expression twist at the tone of her voice. she is a vulnerability.” Caius scoffed. eager. kind-hearted person deserved an eternity in heaven. He knew very well I would never leave Bella again. This good. “Unless you do intend to give her immortality?” Aro finished. “That’s what I thought. He looked unhappy at the way the conversation had gone. for this. agony written all over her heart-shaped face. If she betrays our secrets. beautiful face staring up at me. Behind me Felix leaned forward.” His expression turned more hesitant as he set the trap. who was getting very frustrated. You may leave if you wish.this one. “Nor do you intend to make her one of us. She was going to show him the rock solid future of Bella. “And if I do?” Aro smiled. but I couldn’t give it to her. happy again. “Why. Caius. “Mean it. then you would be free to go home and give my regards to my friend Carlisle. He knew I didn’t but I tried to bluff. I knew this was coming.” Caius voiced his thoughts. pale white with blood red eyes. and I couldn’t risk it for her.. But before I could even say anything.” Aro interrupted. her soft.” I bared my teeth.” she whispered. but I couldn’t mean it.

Alice had meant him to see only the one vision. Certainly there is no problem. “To see the things you’ve seen —especially the ones that haven’t happened yet!” he shook his head in wonder. “That was fascinating!” Aro continued. Felix and Jane seemed to feel the same way. “I’m glad you enjoyed it. He bent his head over their joined hands. But I couldn’t. “Do not fret. yes.” Aro smiled. white and red eyed. including the one of Bella cold. “Ha. “Then we are free to go now?” my voice was even. .” She said dryly.. let Caius know my true feelings. Aro seemed oblivious to Alice’s discomfort. Aro’s soft laughter broke the silence. “Yes. but I wanted to answer in scathing tone. sounding like a pouting child. his head still bent forward. He was seeing everything. after looking at all of Alice’s future visions. Besides.. so Aro answered. Alice wasn’t happy. My teeth snapped together in anger. his eyes closing as he concentrated. “Aro. The feeling of possessiveness filled Aro’s head.” Alice reminded him quietly and calmly. ha. his eyes bright with excitement. “But that will. Caius was having difficulty talking.Aro looked at her with an acquisitive glint. her face blank. Imagine the joy young Alice alone would bring to our little household.” He laughed. his anger overwhelming. his thoughts possessive. but we can always hope for the future. The time passed slowly and I felt Bella grow tenser with every second that went by. her whole life. Alice was motionless. He looked up slowly. Not if I wanted to leave with Bella by my side. Finally. but his curiosity was insatiable. but there was a very subtle threat concealed in his words that I didn’t miss. ha. it’s quite determined.” Caius’s thoughts were chagrined and a look of bitter disappointment crossed his features. Think of the possibilities! They do not join us today. humouring him. I listened to the thoughts running through Aro’s head. I’m so terribly curious to see how Bella turns out!” Aro was soothing Caius. “Dear Caius.” Caius complained.

but to state one so openly? My jaw clenched together tightly.” Caius promised. I chuckled. Felix groaned behind us. dismissing Caius.“Yes. Best not to push my luck. images of what was coming. alerting me to his hunger. “In that case.” Images filled Aro’s head.” Aro agreed for an entirely different reason. I didn’t want to put it on. “That’s a good idea. Please wait below until after dark. “But please visit again.” Aro added. Aro sighed. Caius smirked and drifted back to where Marcus still sat. “To be sure that you follow through on your side. We do not offer second chances. I put it on anyway. “It suits you. clearly not wanting to spend any more time here than necessary.” Suddenly the strange longing Aro felt became impossibly humours. if you don’t mind. “Ah. leaving the hood down. looking more dangerous like this than any other expression. “Heidi will be here at any moment. eyes half closed. but I nodded. Bella couldn’t see that. Patience. surrounded by the thoughts of numerous other people.” Aro smiled. and I almost winced. Felix came forward at once.” How could he? Subtle threats were one thing. Accidents do happen. amused. and Aro unfastened the grey cloak he wore. I would not delay too long. Were I you. yes.” I agreed quickly. Felix. It’s been absolutely enthralling!” Caius recovered himself enough to leave us with a threat. “And we will visit you as well. but stopped suddenly. Wise of her. I knew what Aro would think. perhaps we’d better leave sooner rather than later.” “Yes. “And here. unmoving and uninterested.” “Of course.” Aro replied pleasantly. . Heidi’s thoughts had interrupted me. He tossed it to me.” The edge in my voice was clearly discernible. Bella cringed against me. motioning to Felix with one finger. though. “Hmm.

” A man’s voice came from just outside the antechamber.“Thank you. The smallest gap appeared in the crowd. setting off the way we came in. guests! Welcome to Volterra!” Aro’s melodious voice called. haughty and self absorbed. Demetri gestured that we should follow. standing on Bella’s other side muttered “Not fast enough. “Demetri. Her breaths came shallow and quick. She was still shaking slightly. “So Medieval. Bella’s eyes flickered towards the sound. Bella would surely realise what the people were for. so I knew she could hear him. Heidi. I almost did when Alice. his eyes bright with anticipation.” The babble of voices was loud to me.” She responded in a velvet voice. Her thoughts were like Rosalie’s. and I pulled Bella forward. She still didn’t realise what was happening. Heidi smiled absently. confusion was written in her eyes. My eyes were fixed on Bella’s now pale face. I pulled Bella along by my side. Loud. I didn’t want Bella to feel this. her eyes now flickering between Bella and the cloak I wore.” Bella shrunk back against me as we pressed against the wall to let them all through. but by the scared look Bella gave Alice.” I whispered urgently to Bella.” Aro stared in Heidi’s direction.” We needed to move quickly. “Let’s go. “Goodbye. “Welcome. Agony filled me. young friends. Alice quickly following. but I was a second too late. but when I quickly glanced down at her. Heidi. she couldn’t hear them yet. . and moisture swelled up in the corner of her eyes. Aro. “Well this is unusual. We’ll wait below. I barely glanced at Heidi. “Welcome home. and a tiny crease wrinkled her forehead between her eyebrows. I pulled Bella’s face against my chest in an effort to stop her seeing what was in front of us. A strikingly beautiful woman stood in the now empty hallway. wishing I could pick her up and carry her so we could move faster. her eyes focusing on my arm wrapped around Bella. staring at our small group. A shrill female voice answered.” Demetri greeted her from behind us.

Stress leaked through into my voice. so she was running to keep up. “Do not leave until dark. Demetri left us in the reception area with Gianna. Demetri tacked on. I pulled Bella along fast. I focused on Bella who was shaking. Was she serious? “It’s all right. too low for Gianna to hear. Save a few for me. taking pleasure in the feeling of her sitting on me. shh” I said. She still retained her detached look even with her curiosity as strong as it was.” I desperately chanted again and again. “Thanks. anxiously trying to calm her.” Demetri complemented her. trying to grab the beautiful woman’s attention. “Nice fishing. Heidi nodded and ducked through the door with one last curious look at Bella. Maybe you should slap her. “Shh. She was incredibly curious. Bella. “I think she’s having hysterics. who was sitting behind her highly polished desk. “She’s going to pieces.” Bella’s teeth started chattering and strangled sobs were ripping up her throat. I threw a frantic glance at her. and was uninterested in everything else. “Are you alright?” I whispered. and getting worse. and Demetri quickly hurried away.” I nodded. not really caring. and Bella shook harder. She had caught a glimpse of herself in the glass of a picture frame behind us. you’re safe. Demetri was anxious to get back to the feast. She really was very good at her job. pulling her ever so gently over to the couch as far away from Gianna as possible. “Aren’t you coming?” “In a minute. flashing a stunning smile.Hmm.” Alice muttered. . I pulled her onto my lap. but we still didn’t get far enough away before the screams started. I wonder I he made a deal with Aro? She thought.” Alice suggested.” So Felix doesn’t get them all.” She responded. it’s all right. “You’d better make her sit before she falls.

“No.” She sobbed. she had only just stopped crying.” As soon as I said the words. “Yes. “Does she know what’s going on here?” Bella demanded. “She knows it’s a possibility. I answered truthfully. before giving Bella a warm smile and walking away. anything to distract her. the little colour in Bella’s cheeks left her face. She had such a good heart. protecting her from my cold skin. She still felt bad for those people. Of course she would ask the question I didn’t want to answer. “Is there anything I can get you?” she still managed to look detached. She knows everything. sensing my anger. “All those people. carefully watching her reaction. but not succeeding. I tried to ignore Gianna but she had come over. “I know. “Does she know they’re going to kill her someday?” Bella whispered.and wrapped the thick woollen cloak around her.” I said. so I explained. She was getting control of her breathing. .” Surprise flickered across her face.” I answered coldly. even though the furious look I gave her sent her heart thundering furiously along at double time. and violent sobs still wracked her frail body. “She’s hoping they’ll decide to keep her. I wanted to snarl at her but I didn’t want to scare Bella more. “Yes it is. She nodded. I could hear it evening out.” I whispered. “I wish you hadn’t had to see that. even when we were still in danger ourselves. Her eyes were filled with tears. obviously trying to stop the tears. pain twisting my features. “It’s so horrible. I didn’t want to upset her again.” She took a couple deep breaths.” She replied.” I agreed. trying to calm herself.

we’re alive.” She replied.” I breathed. Bella let out a huge sob and started crying. “I’ll see Jasper in less than twenty-four hours. “The outlook is quite good. “That’s a good one. she whispered. For one. She didn’t answer. It felt so good to have her in my arms after so long. “How can she want that? How can she watch those people file through to that hideous room and want to be a part of that?” The implications of her words hit me. checking her reaction. I was a part of that. but before I even tried.“She wants to be one of them?” I nodded. Alice chose that second to come in. Edward. “And. studying my face.” she agreed. My features twisted and I saw Bella looking up at me. noticing how right it felt. slightly uneasy. “Oh. her gorgeous voice breaking twice. .” She showed me their reunion at the airport. “Is it really sick for me to be happy right now?” she asked me.” “Hopefully.” I whispered. tears streaming down her face. we’ll still be alive tomorrow. I wrapped my arms tightly around her. but there was a small tightening of her eyes. “I know exactly what you mean.” “Yes. “What’s wrong?” I asked. instead she threw her arms around my neck and hugged herself closer to me.” “And together.” She said loudly. anxious. one quick hard jerk. I tried to get my poker face back. rubbing her back in soothing circles. Too long.” she said reassuring Bella while showing me a vision of the family moving back to Forks. A shudder went through Bella’s entire body before she answered. Esme would be thrilled. She nodded. “But we have lots of reasons to be happy. with any luck. She didn’t want to be a part of that. enjoying scent that was coming off her in waves.

rememorising her perfect face.” She whispered back.” I supplied.” I whispered. I wouldn’t have given my thirst a second thought is she hadn’t brought it up. her perfect nose. I was able to completely ignore my thirst. “Yes.” I shrugged. tracing the circles with my fingertip. Alice laughed at my explanation. The shape of her lips. even with her sitting on me. even smelling her incredible scent. There was no excess venom in my mouth and muscles were completely relaxed. I was surprised when a yellow Porsche filtered through Alice’s head when we were discussing our ride to the airport. I noticed the deep purple circles under her eyes. Even though I was talking to Alice. They call her my singer—because her blood sings for me. “Don’t be ridiculous. I could see in her face that she didn’t want to move one inch. still staring at my face. At one point Alice asked.” And it was true. her melting chocolate eyes. although there were a thousand questions in her eyes. her soft. Her tears had dried .I turned back to Bella to find her staring at me. I looked back. I’ve never been in better control of that side of my nature than right now.” But right now. “And you look thirsty. so deep I could get lost in them. so I discussed how we were getting home. her glorious mahogany hair. “What was all that talk about singers?” “La tua cantante.” Thirst was very low on my priority list right now. I was relieved that Bella seemed to have calmed down. “It’s nothing. always thinking of everyone else before herself. and finally. I almost smiled. I couldn’t seem to keep my eyes off her.” She offered. “Are you sure? I could go sit with Alice. “They have a name for someone who smells the way Bella does to me. “You look so tired. I shrugged. that. That was my Bella. my eyes never left Bella’s face. Bella seemed content to just sit in my arms. delicate cheeks.

the panic spreading to her voice. But of course that’s how humans portrayed us. We walked through the narrow alleys.” I muttered. but it had been so long. We reached the dark stone archway that marked the exit to Volterra without incident. remembering moments like this from almost eight months ago. When I kissed her she was so careful. I lifted her slightly. I led Bella out following the directions Gianna had given us. even . Still carrying most of her weight. I led her over to a navy blue. “She’s stealing a car.” I kept my arms tight around Bella’s waist. When we reached the rough cobble stones. “Not till we’re outside. I would lean down and kiss her.and her breathing was even. Had she moved on? Had I hurt her so much that she couldn’t love me anymore? But it looked like she did. Like she was holding herself back. The Saint Marcus celebrations were in full swing in the streets. avoiding the celebrating people. my lips brushing her hair. “She went to retrieve your bags from where she stashed them this morning. A slight smile lit up her face and the corner of my mouth lifted in response. so I was watching when confusion and a slight look of panic crossed her face. soothingly. I didn’t know if I could read her anymore. She was still as clumsy as ever. But even though I wanted to. low class BMW sitting in shadow. her forehead. Bella breathed a sigh of relief. Alice could drive. Bella seemed absorbed in the sights and sounds of the party. like she had to be careful what she did. Even while we were walking my eyes kept flickering to Bella’s face. almost tripping on the uneven surface. and as we walked through Bella shuddered. Every little bump in the road was causing her to stumble and I almost picked her up and carried her. “Where’s Alice?” she whispered. I helped Bella into the back seat before sliding in next to her. isn’t she?” she guessed shrewdly. preferring to suffer in silence. I thought there was love in her eyes. her heart would speed up before settling back into its normal rhythm. plastic fangs a predominant feature on his face. I never kissed her lips. too.” I answered quickly. I couldn’t help grinning this time. so she didn’t notice when Alice left to go and get the bags and find a car. the end of her nose. “Ridiculous. so her feet were off the ground for a second. We almost ran into one man. But of course she was the quiet martyr. Now and then while I was talking with Alice. Every time I did. all the adults wearing black satin cloaks and absurd plastic fangs now that the children were in bed. She was the only one who looked back at the ancient castle.

” She said quietly.” I saw and heard her swallow hard before answering me. I had been smiling so much today. . “You’re still just as stubborn.” She said. She sighed. “Yellow. “I don’t want to sleep. Alice started in an apologetic tone “I’m sorry” she gestured vaguely toward the dashboard.” I grinned. Why wasn’t she sleeping? “You can sleep now.” I was feeling generous and happy so I made her a promise. I wanted my time with Bella to last as long as possible. and her incredible scent quickly filled the entire car. “Try.” I encouraged. Bella. I kept Bella tight in my arms.” I was about to lean down and kiss her lips. “They can’t all be 911 Turbos. soft skin in the hollow under her ear.” I finished. But all she did was shake her head. but her eyes remained open.though she was slower than my usual driving speed. pressing my lips to her smooth. “It’s over. Her breathing was deep and even. She needed her sleep. “I may have to acquire one of those legally. It felt right. but I stopped myself. completely ignoring the road for a minute. I sighed. smiling.” Alice turned and beamed at me. making her see sense. I learned down slowly.” I murmured. I couldn’t help but smile softly. before turning back to the twisting road. Alice. trying to sooth her. the lie exceedingly obvious. all because of Bella. “It’s fine.” I almost laughed out loud at the longing tenor her mind took on when she thought about the yellow Porsche. “I’ll get you one for Christmas. It was fabulous. “There wasn’t much to choose from. I’m not tired.

but instead. our time together would . I spent the entire car drive to Florence with my eyes focused entirely on Bella’s beautiful melting chocolate eyes. After abandoning the car. but I kept a hold on it. Her mouth became a hard line and her expression looked like that of a stubborn child. If she had moved on than I only had so much time left to be with her. There was no extra venom in my mouth. I waited for her answer. I’ll see things I don’t want to see. and I would make the most of it. I so desperately wanted to talk with Bella. but her voice trembled very slightly at her words. If I close my eyes now. The whole flight back to Atlanta was filled with silence. “I don’t want to sleep. to get the answers I needed—needed but not really wanted—but I knew that if I talked with her now.” I said disapprovingly. she asked the flight attendant for a coke. I knew that she had a low tolerance for caffeine. I sat with her in my arms and I longed to touch her soft skin. her brown eyes closing briefly. “Bella. so she was purposely keeping herself awake.. and looked noticeably happier after.” She probably didn’t notice. She almost did. barely listening to Alice telling Jasper when our flight was scheduled to land. I ignored the pain that thought brought and finished my sentence. I didn’t argue with her after that. I hoped that once we got onto the plane Bella might go to sleep. Alice disappeared but quickly returned with a change of clothes for me and three plane tickets to Atlanta via Rome.. If she had moved on. not longing for it as I usually did. Had she moved on? Depression swept into me. Her scent filled the entire car.I remembered her hesitance from before and pain rippled through me. Bella had the chance to brush her teeth and change into clean clothes. but the city lights of Florence woke her. but my usual reaction didn’t take place. I found myself just enjoying her scent. but she was wrapped in the cloak Aro had given me. She seemed so tired and I hoped she would fall asleep. I couldn’t keep my eyes from her and Bella seemed to share my feelings. I’ll have nightmares. my limbs were relaxed and went with the contours of Bella’s body.

I managed to keep these emotions under lock and key. She quickly moved from Bella to me. I kissed her too. It would be worse this time. “Sorry. If these were my last hours with Bella. so the hug was awkward but still filled with love. I refused to let cut drastically short. but the rising sun woke her again. Even though the majority of my concentration was focused on Bella’s weary face.” . Her eyes were still open when we touched down in Atlanta. I wanted to kiss her lips. but restrained myself. but not now that I had Bella. I would make them as good as possible. I constantly traced her delicate. Relief was the predominant thought of Esme and Carlisle. while she sat contently in my arms. Bella still wouldn’t concede to sleep. She touched my face too. repentant.” She nearly growled. I led Bella off the plane. and Bella’s mouth came up into a smile. Esme reached out and grabbed Bella fiercely. her warm fingers leaving blazing trails on my skin. she still would not sleep on the plane to Seattle. I could still hear the thoughts and feelings of my family. I had some idea of the reception awaiting us at Sea-Tac airport. over and over. As much as I loved her. love rolling off them in waves. Bella shuffling sleepily forward. and although I was carrying her whole weight. stubbornly drinking soda. She wanted to be angry but all she could feel was relief. her wrists. Esme and Carlisle waited patiently for us to get to them as we were moving slowly. and I expected nothing less. her forehead. she might no longer love me. still supporting her entirely. Once I might have been jealous of their love. Her nose. As soon as we were within reach.” Esme whispered to Bella. I could feel it. When we landed her eyes were barely open. I could feel myself sinking into depression. I grinned. beautiful face. Mom. hugging me strongly. “You will never put me through that again. “Thank you so much. Jasper and Alice were gazing into each other’s eyes.

even though she was faint from exhaustion. “Don’t. My words were greeted by sadness from Rosalie.” “She should.” Esme couldn’t stand there being a rift in our family. her gorgeous. “She feels awful. Let’s get her home.” She said very quietly. Well I didn’t forgive that easily. but she still managed to talk.” Esme scolded me. Alice and Jasper were waiting in the dimly lit parking lot when we finally arrived. Her beautiful face looked up at me. “We owe you. melting chocolate brown eyes shining. I didn’t want too. That surprised me again. anxious for Bella to sleep.” I answered. I thought Bella had been pretty much out of it and her words came out mumbled with exhaustion. Esme firmly holding her other side. “It’s not her fault. The crease between her eyebrows showed that she was slightly irritated. Bella’s pace was very slow. I stiffened just as her thoughts hit me.” Carlisle said. She should feel awful. but before I got the chance.“Thank you Bella. Bella started talking. I pulled Bella along towards the exit.” “Hardly. I didn’t want to forgive her. Rosalie was remorseful. Who would? Everything that had happened in Italy was her fault. but also understanding.” Bella mumbled. She was sorry for what she had done. “Let her make amends. Esme saw me stiffen in Rosalie’s presence and quickly rushed to her aid. Finally. “We’ll ride with Alice and Jasper. I wanted to raise my finger to her brow and smooth it out. keeping my voice loud. but as I turned I saw Rosalie and Emmett leaning on a black sedan. She had caused me one of the worst times of my existence.” she pleaded.” Esme said quietly. and Bella had been put in danger because of her. Esme was thankful for Bella’s input. . I could see she was minutes away from crashing. Bella must have felt me hesitating. “She’s dead on her feet. I was brought up short when something I didn’t expect reached me. I looked around for our car. so Carlisle.

garbled as they were. let Bella sleep? I wanted to yell at her. but my relief turned to exasperation as the car purred to life. Bella’s eyes opened in surprise. It was no secret that she didn’t like Bella. Edward. She didn’t make me fly halfway across the world.“Please. “I’m so very sorry. “Yes. “I know. Thinking back. But instead I sighed. Please say you’ll forgive me. she shouldn’t be apologising to me. Finally Bella’s eyes closed. ask for forgiveness. I’m the one who jumped off the damn cliff. She shouldn’t be asking my forgiveness at any rate.” Rosalie began. and so grateful that you were brave enough to go save my brother after what I did. anything to see you happy. I feel wretched about every part of this. I realised this was the first time Rosalie had spoken directly to her. She laid her head on my chest. . but that wasn’t what caught my attention. I wanted to say. She meant what she said. the words slurred together. She didn’t make me leave her father in a time of grief. but when it came. Bella’s answer was slow because she was so tired. She didn’t make me walk right into a life threatening situation where I almost died! No. “Edward. Rosalie began uneasily. Why couldn’t she just keep quiet. I was equally surprised. Rosalie?” Bella mumbled quietly but hesitantly. “Of course. but I cut her off. Bella. Anything. It was remarkable how quickly my anger vanished. her voice soft and welcoming. because Rosalie seemed to pick up on my thoughts immediately.” She whispered.” I answered. her tone was slightly shocked.” The words were only just recognisable. “Bella?” Rosalie said. It’s not your fault at all. Of course I forgive you. and I tried to make her more comfortable. Rosalie was going to talk. Rosalie. The thing that caused my anger to almost completely dissipate was her sincerity. My expression must have been have given me away. I was relieved she was sleeping.” Rose seemed embarrassed by her speech. Emmett and Rosalie got in without a sound while I helped Bella in. she should be apologising to Bella. and grudgingly led her towards the car. Rosalie must desperately want to make amends. my tone hostile and cold.

I shouldn’t be wasting my last precious moments with Bella thinking such foolish thoughts. I thought bitterly. I knew I should leave her the first chance I got. I was dreading the time when I would have to leave her. Rose. I was sure she wouldn’t want me to stay with her. Pain extended through me. I wanted us to stop driving. Bella needed to get home and sleep. “Let her sleep. Her eyes drifted shut. Not if I lived for all eternity. Minutes passed but they felt like seconds. If I had known. speeding up the journey back to her house. as the sound was drowned out by the gentle thrum of the engine. It was not helpful to anyone. I looked down at Bella’s calm face. her smile becoming more pronounced.Rosalie’s sincerity and Bella’s forgiveness combined to completely rid me of my anger. Firstly I wouldn’t put Bella through that kind of pain again. I loved her so much. Time seemed to move in fast forward. It was already selfish enough of me to wish for more time. through my cold. The next time I looked up we were almost halfway there. a slight smile raising the corner of her mouth. ever so slightly. She was too good for me. I sighed very quietly. her response making me smile. and the second reason I could not leave her held me strong.” Emmett chuckled. I was utterly convinced that she didn’t love me anymore. still heart. I couldn’t leave her because I wasn’t strong enough to. I couldn’t live without her. He knew just the spot to come in to lighten the mood. my soul. “It doesn’t count until she’s conscious. so quietly it was almost inaudible.. She was my one true love. my life. Her breathing was deep end even and her dreams seemed serene and peaceful. but I knew it wouldn’t be right. prolong my time with her. but I couldn’t. It doesn’t look like she’s having a nightmare. God. Was she dreaming of me? Probably not. Neither Rosalie nor Emmet heard me. too pure. “I’m conscious. what she thinking. I cringed at the very thought. I didn’t deserve it. not after what I put .” Bella managed to get out. For the millionth time I wanted to know what she was dreaming about.. too kind. I flinched. She shifted slightly in my arms. but instead I wanted it to slow down.” I insisted. I would never forgive myself for leaving her.

and I could see she was waking up. I looked up.” He demanded.her through. “Shh. “Please just let her rest. I was the only one that heard her however.” Bella muttered with more volume. shaking her head slowly and trying to wake up. Her eyes opened and she struggled to focus. I caught the anger in his thoughts and the tail end of something else. I didn’t want to leave her. her mouth setting in a tight. Dad. There was no need for her to wake up. “Get your hands off her!” I tried to comply but Bella clung on to my shirt with stubborn. “Cut it out. It was the only thing keeping me together. soothingly. “It’s okay. Just sleep. “I can’t believe you have the nerve to show your face here. Her eyes flickered up to the sky. “Be mad with me. I understood perfectly. obstinate fingers. We were at Bella’s house already. I was so engrossed in Bella’s face that I didn’t notice Charlie until his loud and rather angry voice reached my ears.” Charlie was too furious to even listen to what I said. It was so cloudy it was hard to guess the time of day. and Charlie yelled again. I lifted her gently out of the car. “Charlie. A crease appeared between her brows.” I whispered. but I knew I didn’t have a choice.” I reassured her. you’re home and safe. I was still wrapped up in my thoughts when the car slowed.” Bella breathed. shocked. “Don’t tell me what to do! Give her to me.” She finished. stubborn line.” I assured him quietly. “She’s just very tired. . Charlie. “What’s wrong with her?” Charlie roared.” Bella groaned. Dad.” Charlie thundered. I still managed to hold on to a little hope. I hesitated for a split second. At least it wasn’t raining. Charlie was standing close enough to hear her this time. “Bella!” he shouted front the front door. Relief? “Stop it.

I sighed lightly and moved away. It hurt to let her go. but there was still relief in his thoughts. Let me down. I didn’t know what the ache was. I knew what he was going to say.“You bet I will be.” He muttered. Again it hurt to leave her. I saw her tilting forward towards the concrete. and being sleep deprived hardly helped her balance problems. I could see that she was very unstable. Charlie was in front on me. “I won’t be far. “Just let me get her upstairs. rage clear on his face. a deep feeling of aching went through me.” She sighed. even for a second. but that didn’t make it any easier. I prised her delicate fingers away from my clothes and tucked her hand under her covers as well. but she still cried out loud when it did. but respected her wishes. As soon as my foot touched the bottom step. She seemed peaceful for now.” I had no real intention of leaving her tonight. but she refused to let go of my shirt. Almost immediately when I let go. but it made the fact I couldn’t ever leave her again. After I released her. As soon as I caught her safe in my arms the pain left me. so holding her gently but close. “Get inside. She still looked more asleep than awake. She seemed to accept my words.” Charlie promised. As gently as I could. and forced myself to catch her slowly while Charlie was watching. but Charlie needed to calm down. What choice did I have? I set her on her feet and Charlie move out of the way so she could walk past him. but I knew I had to face Charlie. .” I whispered into her ear. glaringly obvious. even though a tiny crease was still between her eyebrows. I placed her gently under her covers. “Then I’ll leave.” I pleaded with Charlie. his red face right up to mine. panicking.” She whimpered. “Kay. I carried her upstairs. “No. I didn’t really want to. She trembled slightly and I instantly regretted what I had said. The words seemed to register with Bella slowly. so low Charlie didn’t have a chance of hearing.

“Get outside. and I immediately understood. I moved out into yard before turning to face Charlie. And he did just that. She was an empty shell.” He paused. she woke up screaming every night. His face had gone from red to a light shade of purple. For once I was relieved that I could only feel the tenor of his thoughts. I opened my mouth to say something. “So I thought. and he couldn’t control his anger anymore. The tenor of his thoughts contained pain now. wouldn’t eat. but suddenly I realised I deserved Charlie’s anger. “Don’t hold back. she slept. I didn’t know what to do. his hate.” He seethed. and the pain. now just anger.” Hate entered his voice. but every time she got up in the morning.” He muttered. waiting. now. barely keeping himself from screaming at me.” I whispered quietly so he could only just hear me. I stood quietly in front of him. The mask on my face slipped. Wouldn’t sleep. I could feel the tension and anger building. .” He added quietly. That was your fault. scream at me. his voice rising with every word. but she wasn’t her. but she was better. but his anger hadn’t lessened. I wanted to say. Charlie looked at me oddly.” Charlie began. wouldn’t do anything. This was going to be hard enough without them watching. “Then she seemed to recover. Agony seeped into my words. she did nothing. and I took the opportunity to say something. “You did this to her. I deserve it. I nodded tightly and did as he wished. Sure. “For one full week. “She went to school. This stopped Charlie for a second. regret and anguish showed clearly. she ate. not what he was actually thinking. “For a week. Yell. When I got out the front I was glad to see Rose and Emmett had left. He was seconds away from exploding and I realised this might be the only chance for me to say anything.” He voice got a fraction louder. I blamed you. At least I had a degree in medicine so I could help him if he had a heart attack.

It was entirely my fault. She was exactly where I left her. even if I lived for all eternity. .” I finished. I would never forgive myself for leaving her. and her hand clenched and unclenched three times before ending in a fist. ever forgive myself. I hung my head. “I will never. and if you come within a mile radius of my daughter. I will have you locked up so fast. she was a shell. “Now. GET LOST!” he finished. who knows where. I deserved it after what I had done. and I felt slightly better. recovering. Pain swept through me. Charlie. She went out with friends. “You had to know what leaving would do to her! She wasn’t Bella anymore. Don’t you ever set foot on my property again. and I knew it was about you! She was getting better. “You had to know how she felt about you!” he said. she talked and she smiled. “You will never know how sorry I am. Bella mumbled indistinctly. I understand that you never want to see me again and I will respect your wishes. if looks could kill ran through my head. “I never what to see you again. I just stood there. Her window was open as it always was.” Charlies face hardened. and then you come into her life again! Why couldn’t you just leave her alone? Haven’t you caused her enough pain?!” Charlie yelled at the top of his voice. I looked up at him and couldn’t help the pain that crossed my face.“It was your fault!” he yelled. your head will spin!” he was so worked up. I flinched. a husk. There was just one thing I had to say to Charlie. crying and screaming in the middle of the night! I couldn’t do anything! Finally things started looking up. so help me if I do. The saying. For months she was in pain. As I watched. I waited until he was inside before I ran as fast as I could to Bella’s side. Tentatively I reached out to hand and gently smoothed out her fingers. and as I slid through her beautiful scent hit me. taking his anger and hate. spit flew out of his mouth as he yelled at me. In less than half a second I was kneeling by her bed. fingers tightly digging into her palm. Charlie was still red in the face so I turned away from him and walked at human pace until I was out of his sight. using the past tense. I knew that. except for one hand that had managed to escape the covers. “Then I get home after a funeral and I see a note saying she’s gone.” I said quietly.

I refused to destroy her soul. so perfect. I started noticing how beautiful the scent was in a very good. Longing for Bella. I wrapped my arms around her carefully. She visibly relaxed when I wrapped my arms around her and I was relieved. It sounded like she was calling for me. engrossed in her beautiful face. “Shh.” I whispered. hadn’t felt any emotion except pain and a deeply ingrained longing. I had always wanted to know what she was thinking. I hadn’t smiled once. no matter what Alice had promised Aro and the Volturi. I couldn’t help but picture Alice’s vision of Bella.Shh. but I was used to that. I couldn’t live without her. I couldn’t. Again. I didn’t want her to be frightened. . Gazing at her face. hadn’t laughed. I wouldn’t. non-food way. and my smile grew bigger. I looked up from her hand to her face.. “Edward.for my future couldn’t exist without herand what it would bring. Instead of noticing how mouth watering the scent was. More intelligible words came from Bella’s perfect lips. stopping my thoughts in their tracks again. so gorgeous. cold. listing to her breathing and her steady heart. She was so beautiful. trying to clear the image. but my thoughts shifting at a million miles an hour.A smile lit her features at my touch and I felt my face smile in response. Since I left her. onto the edge of her bed on top of the covers. I moved from my position kneeling on the ground. I knew I wouldn’t change her. and as I watched fear crept into her features and her smile disappeared.” She spoke a little louder. just for my own selfish needs? I sighed quietly.” Bella whispered. I was still kneeling. hard. I leaned in closer. but I found myself caught up in the little changes of expression on her face. with bright red eyes. I thought of our future. I hadn’t smiled. take“Edward. I tried to go back to what I had been thinking about before. I shook my head. dragging me away from my train of thought. a vivid ruby.. It felt so right to smile. inhaling as her breath caressed my face. I wanted to know what she was thinking. I focused harder on her face. The slight hint of strawberries from her shampoo mixed with her scent. Her smile was still pulling at one corner of her lips even though they were slightly open. the fear and a trace of panic now evident in her voice. making sure my cold skin wasn’t touching hers. How could I live with myself after? Destroying her chance at heaven or whatever was waiting for us in the afterlife.

It was meant to be better for her. Careful about the way she touched me. What if she had moved on? What would I do? I knew that if she wanted to leave I wouldn’t stop her. How could I have done that to her? I groaned quietly. The amount of pain I had caused. what I had done to her. the reason for my existence. after what I had done. I’d rather suffer in pain than keep her from what she wanted. My fault. a groan broke through my lips. The sooner she woke. How could this have happened? I wanted to scream out loud. Thinking about her made me open my eyes and look at her beautiful face again. It took a great portion of my self control not to. I moved off Bella’s bed. The pain in Bella’s eyes. I so desperately wanted to go and hold her. even the way that she looked at me. illuminating everything. disgusted in myself. I was certain. Bella stirred. My thoughts from the plane came back to haunt me. the sooner she would ask me to leave. Like she was stopping herself from kissing me. But that wasn’t why I still hadn’t taken a breath. not worse. I deserved her leaving me. Charlie’s words. All my plans had gone wrong. alone and forlorn. As it was. a million thoughts running through my head. besides the fact she moved on? . I breathed a slight sigh of relief. Even looking away for seconds hurt. Charlie’s words.But did I still? A thought hit me with the power of one of Emmett’s punches. bitterly etched in my mind. The crease between her brows became much more pronounced as she stirred and then slipped into a deeper sleep. the meteor flying across my sky. I moved over to the corner. ran through my head again. Did I really want to know what she was thinking? She had been so careful the whole time I’d been with her. my sun. making me breathe out in a sudden gust. to keep the depression at bay. overpowering my thoughts. backwards. I was glad I hadn’t woken her. but I was too disgusted with myself. This time I couldn’t stop the depression from rising to the surface. and I immediately froze. lowering myself into the rocking chair that still stood there. all my fault. What other reason could there be for her reluctance. My head fell into my hands and my eyes closed. Bella. the thoughts and memories Alice had shown me. ringing with finality. It was why she was careful.

facing the wall. She was so heartbreakingly beautiful. I moved onto the bed. I barely recognised them. Only time would tell. “Hush. but the fear was still clear on her face. My eyes snapped open and I took in her face in a second. I closed my eyes and breathed in. My thoughts were so chaotic. I turned slowly.. I was a monster. I stopped a foot from her bed. I moved closer. Her heart rate slowed. I had seen it so much over the past 24 hours in her eyes. a deep ache centred in my chest stopped me from breathing. I got up and turned abruptly. I sat. but the revulsion was always there reminding me of what I had done. I’m here. Her steady heartbeat filled my head and I felt better.Please. Bella. The monster I had fought against for more than seventy years had broken through. absorbed in every little detail. her stance. She needed me so I wouldn’t leave. enjoying her scent. and her voice. not longing for it. my arms wrapped securely around her. The amount of pain I had caused and I still didn’t want to let her go.” The pain was so clear in her voice. enough to organise my thoughts. and her hand on top of the covers opened. love. I was still listening to her heart when its steady rhythm became faster. I knew there was only one way to make it stop. my eyes would be wet with tears. don’t. A shudder wracked my entire body. whispering comfortingly in her ear. “No. It wasn’t hard to see what expression now filled her features. . just watching her face.. a wordless plea. and one look at her unbelievably gorgeous face had me moving closer. a mahogany river. just in a way I hadn’t expected. an internal battle raging. thinking things through. Hush. Unconsciously. listening to her heart. Facing the wall. Her hair cascaded around her face. the same position as before.I was so selfish. breathing in her scent.” I whispered. what I would say when she woke. In the end desire won over disgust. If I could have cried. Fear. But I was sure that when she woke it would be another matter entirely. moving in closer to talk into her ear.

which only served to confuse me further. The only thing keeping me relatively calm was Bella. like freesia. I had forgotten how incredibly frustrating not hearing her thoughts was. If my heart were still beating. pain evident even in the whisper. it would have been racing. my voice anxious. from wonder to understanding then the frown returned. Why hadn’t she opened them straight away? I heard her sigh.The day passed quickly. the grey of the clouds abruptly giving way to an even darker twilight. And because I couldn’t hear. As it was. enjoying the warmth. to make it more even. I could have stopped breathing all together but then I wouldn’t have been able to smell her beautiful scent. Throughout the day and then night. she let out a little gasp. but I was slightly confused. The black night followed slowly after and every minute Bella slept seemed like seconds. What if she hadn’t expected for me to be this close? I was barely three inches away from her face. She slowly opened her eyes and as soon as she focused on my face. nightmares disturbing her sleep every so often. a frown appearing. every time I thought about moving. I didn’t let go of her as I waited for an answer. I waited. “Oh!” she breathed. Bella squeezed her eyes more tightly shut. in fear of what she would say. Sooner than I wanted. floral. I tried to time my breathing with hers. Or what if she hadn’t expected me to be here at all? Did she want me to leave? I watched as she slowly lowered her hands and opened her eyes again. I was still lying next to her on her very small bed. etched deeper in her forehead than before. Bella would start trembling and murmuring quietly. She was so restless. I chose to start with the easiest question first. She seemed reluctant to open her eyes. Softly. I was dreading the time she would wake. Or. I decided to wait patiently. I touched her forehead. and might have been imagining it. Each time I would sooth her. I was watching as her expression changed. but I could tell she was awake. Again. I hope I hadn’t frightened her. my breathing was shallow and quick. how she would react to my presence. at least pretend to. but it sounded somewhat resigned. I was surprised when she spoke next. throwing her fists over her eyes. Instead of open her eyes like I expected. sure she would open her eyes when she was ready. Bella started to wake. . “Did I frighten you?” I asked. singing quietly.

“If I was in hell. As if I could end up in Heaven.” I disagreed. you wouldn’t be with me. I was only confused further. That was not what I was expecting. Still focused entirely on her face. crumpled into a grimace. a look of horror on her face for what she thought she had done. “You’re not dead. She thought she was dreaming.“Oh. because I’m dead. crap! This is going to kill Charlie. “Sure. “And then it will be worse when I wake up. Did you commit any murders while I was away?” it was the only explanation I could come up with. Her eyes quickly focused back on me and a blush began to colour .” She moaned. She looked up at me. her voice rough with sleep. “What’s wrong. She shook her head. She looked vaguely put out. If I wake up. crap. right?” she asked. Crap.” I smiled grimly.” She answered. the frown still there.” She started.. raising her eyebrows. “Obviously not. but I must have been out of practice. “But I can’t imagine what you could have done to wind up in hell. And Renée and Jake. crap.” She said. just silk over glass. Such flawed logic. “I’m dead. I hoped I would never take that for granted. Poor Charlie. This is awful. “I can see where you might confuse me with a nightmare. disagreeing with me.. I needed to convince her she was awake. Bella. That’s what you want me to think. Ah. I watched as her beautiful face. to look out the open window to the pitch black night outside. I watched as her eyes flickered away from my face for a second.” she trailed off. Bella?” it still felt good to say her name. “I did drown.” I sighed. that made sense. “Then why am I not waking up?” she challenged me. I felt a frown appear on my face as I answered.” I tried to make my voice compelling. but I couldn’t think why. It must resemble a nightmare. A thought occurred to me. I didn’t know why she would think that. sure. “You are awake. which I won’t.

“Maybe you should go back to sleep. “But. It seemed right.” I answered so quickly Bella didn’t notice a break. “I’m not tired anymore.” She mused.” I answered. said wasn’t really appropriate.her cheeks. I couldn’t help but frown as Charlie’s words ran through my head. not technically. You’re not coherent.” I realised in shock. “How strange. shout was more accurate. Well. yes. “Did you know I’d never been further east than Albuquerque?” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. I guessed it was embarrassment that brought the colour to her cheeks. “Did all of that really happen then?” she asked quietly. The corner of her lips rose fractionally as her blush deepened. still. but the circumstances surrounding our recent overseas trip still made me livid. So about fourteen hours. natural. My smile was still stiff.” She seemed bewildered. taking my joke seriously. Bella stretched as I spoke.” I teased. Would she support Charlie because of all I had done? . I didn’t know what she would say now. “That depends. then. I flicked a glance at her alarm clock so quickly she wouldn’t have noticed. “You should probably know that I’m breaking the rules right now.” I finished.” I really tried to make my voice a little kinder. “I really went to Italy. and I came through the window. “If you’re referring to us nearly being massacred in Italy. “What time is it? How long have I been sleeping?” she looked up at me. her expression questioning. the intent was clear. Of course she would see the humour of the situation. since he said I was never to walk through his door again. ever practical. looking like cream and roses. embarrassment unmistakable in her voice. holding her breath. my mouth a hard line.” I paused. It had felt like a great deal less. the whole conversation taking less than a second to think through.” She told me. “Charlie?” she asked. “It’s just after one in the morning. “Sleeping.

blatant disbelief filling her face before quickly giving way to her kitten like fury. What was she confused about? What could she possibly want to know? Ah. how easily frustrated I was with her silent mind. “What have you been doing. “Fabulous. a rhetorical question. Longing? I couldn’t be sure. “Actually. anyway?” she was obviously trying to count back days in her head with little success. staring at me with her irresistible melting chocolate. and I knew the questions were about to start.. I was hoping you might have a good explanation. Could I do nothing right? “Just three days.But of course she didn’t. again. My face must have turned wary because the corner of her lips turned down. constantly wanting to know what she was thinking but at the same time. The stiff set of her shoulders relaxing as she looked intently into my eyes. How much I had hurt everyone I hold dear. brown eyes. but underneath was a different matter. “What’s the story?” she asked her voice light and casual on the surface. surprising me again.. frightened of her thoughts.” I said a more natural smile appearing on my face. “So. maybe Alice will come up with something. Of course she would start with a question that revealed nothing about her. anticipating her response to my next statement. I watched as her expression went from anger to curiosity. The emotion was hard to pick. I’ve got nothing. “What am I telling Charlie? What’s my excuse for disappearing for. “Charlie banned you from the house?” she asked. She willingly elaborated. “What do you mean?” I countered. but much too much from me. Sadness must have been obvious in them for all I had done. Our months apart hadn’t curbed her curiosity. And she looked comforted.” Bella groaned. but it didn’t reach my eyes. It hit me again how much danger I had put her in.” I offered soothingly. She needed to be calm for the following long was I gone.” She muttered.” she began. “Did you expect anything else?” I asked quietly. . “Well. up until three days ago?” she asked. Her anger made me smile.

” she pursued her lips.” I finished. “What were you tracking?” she asked. I didn’t really want to give her too many details.” I weighed the word before I spoke it. “If you tell me. How to word it just right.” she said after a second of thought. any unsolved mystery. I waited patiently for her answer. “Well. considering. I didn’t want to deny her the answer. I hoped she would leave it at that. “Of course not. but at the same time I knew she wouldn’t. contradicting me immediately. or at least pretended to wait patiently. She was still the same. after all. “I wasn’t hunting for food. her face falling into a pout. will you finally believe that you’re not having a nightmare?” I asked. “If you were. “That definitely doesn’t prove I’m awake...” I said. still watching her expression as it changed quickly to fascination with a burning curiosity visible in her eyes. choosing each word with care.” I tried to decide the best way to describe what I was doing. “I’m not very good at it.. I couldn’t help sighing. dismissing the question. She was so absurd.” I murmured. For what else could it be.... Victoria was one of them. but a nightmare? “Nightmare!” she repeated scornfully.. I hesitated before speaking slowly.“Nothing terribly exciting.” The word seemed appropriate. instantly curious.. “Hunting. “Is that the best you can do?” she demanded critically.. I was actually trying my hand at.” Sincerity radiated from her words.” She was so absurd. . “Why are you making that face?” I asked.. watching the reaction on her face. insatiably curious about anything she didn’t know. just a dream. “Maybe. that’s exactly the kind of thing you would say. intrigued.tracking. “I was. “If I tell you. but I would rather leave her ignorant about some things. My imagination must be used up.” She mumbled.

I thought it was safe for you here. It was her overconfidence that clouded her feelings about him—that kept me from seeing the depth of them. That she even had such a tie to him. immature.” I stopped for less than a second. much more than that. it would do nothing but shorten our time together. She couldn’t disguise her eyes as well. even now. volatile. But I needed her to know. the bond there. “I owe you an apology. but my mask slipped. I had no idea that Victoria-” the anger overflowed my carefully laid barrier and my lips curled back over my teeth. when I saw her that one time. I didn’t want to be having this conversation now. unnecessary breath to calm myself.” She interrupted me. exactly what I was going to say. “Please know that I had no idea of any of this. “would come back. sick to my core.” I shuddered at this sentence. But I just didn’t see that she had this kind of response in her. unnoticeable to Bella.” Even when I could feel the heat from her body. So safe. “No. the worst thing out there besides Victoria herself-. But you have to know. it was still hard. She looked like she was struggling with some internal dilemma. the emotion wiped clean.” She said quietly. “Not that there’s any excuse for what I left you to face.“Nothing of consequence. of course I owe you much. Was this the part where she would tell me she had moved on? I watched as her face became blank. “I am the most miserable excuse for--” “Stop. and smell her luscious scent. Her chocolate brown eyes melted and my resolve melted with them. I hesitated. I was surprised she hadn’t been seriously hurt. “I—” I took a deep. I didn’t realize the mess I was leaving behind.” I tried to seem light and casual. I knew that as soon as she confirmed she had moved . I feel sick. “I don’t understand. When I heard what you told Alice—what she saw herself—when I realized that you had put your life in the hands of werewolves. I’ll admit. the thought of him failing never occurred to her. I was paying much more attention to James’s thoughts. Werewolves. “that I had no idea. I think I realise why now—she was so sure of him.” I began but it wasn’t enough. she must have seen how uncomfortable I was. “Edward.” She started. when I can see and feel you safe in my arms. torn. Even though I had thought this all through before she woke.” the words started moving faster with my agitation and I had to work to keep slow enough for her to understand. gazing up at me.

“Even . But she still thought I didn’t love her.. She still loved me.on. This thought filled me with relief and happiness. “Think of Esme and Carlisle and—” she stopped to take a deep breath. She thought I was only guilty? “-rule your life. but you really can’t let that make you go to such extremes. and I managed to get my brain moving again.” Her was rising slowly. “Intensely so.” “Then. that I could never not love her. didn’t realize.” She admitted.. She hadn’t moved on. “Feel guilty?” What a silly question. but still burning with passion. How could she even think that? “Isabella Marie Swan. it’s just how life is for me..” She added.” I spoke softly.. but I held onto my composure. and not your fault.. “. “This has to stop now. this guilt--” she paused again. It was impossible. “You can’t think about things that way. I know it’s your. your nature to shoulder the blame for everything. You can’t just go running off to Italy because you feel bad that you didn’t save me. my chest would open up again. that would have been my choice. “Even if I had jumped off that cliff to die.” Her words became quicker in her agitation. If she didn’t know I loved her. What are you saying?” confusion crossed her features.. still brought me pleasure. you have to realize that it’s not your job to take the blame. Even though I was dreading her next words.” I spoke her name with adoration.. Of course she didn’t understand. “I went to the Volturi because I thought you were dead. hearing her say my name. Pain rippled through me. You can’t let this. It was so hard to believe. unable to keep the anger off my face.. how could she possibly comprehend what I was saying? “Bella. My mind got stuck. She didn’t know. If I trip in front of a bus or whatever next time. That wasn’t what I had been expecting. So.” She said. “I don’t understand.” she struggled for a word. More than you can comprehend.” I whispered. “Didn’t you?” She asked in a small voice.. “It’s very irresponsible. None of it is your fault. seriously. worse than before. The way her lips moved when she spoke it. She didn’t think I loved her. You can’t take responsibility for things that happen to me here. but she wasn’t finished.. “Do you believe that I asked the Volturi to kill me because I felt guilty?” Incomprehension flittered across her face. She thought I only felt guilty.

completely confident. I ran back over my words and realised what she must have heard in them.” just speaking her name brought me so much pleasure.” my voice trailed off..” She finished. “I can’t live in a world where you don’t exist.” she said whispering. I have to be. I stared at her. Bella. “Bella.” She claimed. all her muscles tightly held in place and her breathing stopped. “The odds are always stacked against us. rather than accepting it second hand from Rosalie.” I couldn’t believe she didn’t understand.” As soon as I spoke the words her whole body froze. needed her? I stared more deeply into her eyes. I closed my eyes. “I am. How to make her see? “I thought I’d explained it clearly before. Mistake after mistake. what was I supposed to think when the boy said Charlie was at the funeral? What are the odds? The odds. Bella.” she searched for a word. I would have gone to Italy. .” The frown on her face became deeper. “confused.if I’d had no hand in your death--” I shuddered. unsure if I actually wanted her to hear me. The odds. It was almost like the world was against us.. really. So what?” Her words shocked me. I shook her shoulder. I suppose she wouldn’t if she thought I didn’t want her. shaking my head back and forth. trying to loosen her rigid pose. How can she not realize I loved her? “Don’t you remember anything I told you before?” “I remember everything that you told me. a slight smile on my lips. “That’s my whole point.” I spoke quietly. I reached out to gently brush her pouting bottom lip. Obviously. unable to say the last word with same volume as before. “So what if I was dead?” she demanded back. you seem to be under a misapprehension. “But I still don’t understand.. How could she believe my lies and not the truth? Why couldn’t she see how much I loved her. I should have been more careful—I should have spoken to Alice directly. incredulous. But. I’ll never criticise Romeo again. “even if it wasn’t my fault. Had I heard correctly? “Excuse me?” I demanded. “I’m a good liar..

“Really.. and it didn’t work. “I could see it in your eyes. each agonizing second played with perfect clarity. incomprehension clear in her eyes. but her features will still locked in their frozen state. but her teeth still rattled together.” “A clean break. when I was telling you goodbye—” I tried not to remember.” I could never apologise enough. “I could see that. “Bella. tears running down her cheeks. sorry because it was a worthless effort. She still didn’t get it. excruciating. I lied. All the things I had thought through when she was sleeping came flowing out of my mouth and I was unable to stop them. “Exactly. Maybe she needed time? I shook her again. “But how could you believe me?” I went on. I knew I did because Bella remained frozen. for you to believe me so quickly. I hoped that.” She whispered through her stiff lips. her breathing shallow. gently. but the moment played back in my head like a colour movie. if you thought I’d moved on. what were you thinking!” And then she started crying. Sorry that I couldn’t protect you from what I am. her eyes filled with pain. so would you. “You weren’t going to let go. It was almost as if I needed her to know what I was thinking. “After all the thousand times I’ve told you I love you. “I’m a good liar but still. memories of that night coming back to me. “That was. as hard as it was. I lied to save you. “When we were in the forest.. it would just take you that much longer to get on with your life.” I whispered.“Let me finish!” I spoke with a bit more volume. and I'm sorry—sorry because I hurt you. I didn’t want to do it—it felt like it would kill me to do it—but I knew that if I couldn’t convince you that I didn’t love you anymore. But I never imagined it would be so easy to do! I thought it would be next to impossible—that you would be so sure of the truth that I would have to lie through my teeth for hours to plant the seed of doubt in your head. that you honestly believed that I didn’t want you anymore. How I loved to say her name. incredulous. how could you let one word break your faith in me?” Bella looked up at me. I'm sorry. her eyes wide and shocked. What had I done now? .” I sighed. ridiculous concept—as if there were any way that I could exist without needing you!” I expected Bella to say something. The most absurd.” I knew I had to explain in more detail.” I winced.

I caught her face between my hands. Oh. Her breath was caressing my face. “When you leave again. reminding myself to be careful. “I’ll prove your awake. but when my lips were just half an inch from her's she spoke.” She whispered. I was thinking of you. “Please don’t. Her scent was coming off her in waves and the heat of her skin warmed mine slightly. “How can you believe the lie. it was the very blackest kind of blasphemy. stunning me.” Did she understand yet? I watched as she slowly shook her head.” She sobbed. beautiful voice breaking twice. I was too frustrated to feel humour at the moment. I have always loved you. I ignored her efforts to turn her head away and leaned in towards her face. “When I wake up” she began and I opened my mouth to protest. I had the perfect way to do it.” What? Was I really that unbelievable? How could she believe my imperfect lies so easily yet completely dismiss the truth? “Your impossible.” I said then laughed without humour. Abruptly.” I promised. To make her believe me. What if she never believed me? What could I possibly do? “You don’t believe me do you?” I asked. but not the truth?” “It never made sense for you to love me. every second that I was away. Hadn’t we already been through this? “Okay. seeing your face in my mind. tears still falling from her eyes. heartbreak in her voice.“I knew it. it’s going to be hard enough without this too. I’m here and I love you. but how? “How can I put this so that you’ll believe me? You’re not asleep. forget that one—” she cut in quickly. When I told you I didn’t love you. and you’re not dead. burst to the front of my head. “Why not?” I couldn’t form a longer question. and I will always love you. I leaned in closer. panic hit me. her delicate.” I pulled my face back an inch to .” She whispered. A thought that had been at the back of my mind since Italy. I always knew that. There must be some way to make her see sense. how I had missed her. I needed to explain to her I loved her without loopholes. seeking assurance through my rhetorical question. “I knew I was dreaming.

“Just answer it. wary of what she would say. The seconds our lips were apart. I needed to know. and her answer was not what I expected. now wasn’t the time. each second building the tension inside me. I ran my . the sound loud in my ears. Please. so careful.. She thought I was leaving. “I need to know why. making my tone softer. but I was dreading the answer. making me giddy. please—” Because that would be so Bella. I couldn’t deny anything to the beautiful creature in my arms. I whispered her name. and yet still the same. Even if it killed me to leave I still would.” I spoke lovingly. Of course I love you—and there’s nothing you can do about it!” she stated.” Still perfect in every way. pointless.” I went on staring into the depths of her melting brown eyes. All the time I had spent worrying. Can you?” I whispered now. I could feel her warm body touching mine. Her heart was beating at double time. you were so. “Is it because I’m too late? Because I’ve hurt you too much? Because you have moved on.stare at her nonplussed.. She stared darkly at me for a long moment. So don’t try to spare my feelings. when I would touch you. “That’s all I needed to hear. “-just tell me now whether or not you can still love me. “I won’t contest your decision. quite fair. I leant in and pressed my lips to hers. I vaguely noticed she was holding her breath and I moved away from her for two seconds so she could get her breath back.. hesitant. but I resisted. I would have no choice but to. originating from her warm lips before spreading throughout my entire body. and it was all I could do to remind myself to be careful. I wanted to add. “The way I feel about you will never change. and before she could react. The frown was back again. and she pulled herself closer to me. It was like an electric current was passing though me. nervous of her answer. after everything I’ve done to you. as I meant for you to? That would be. It was time to confront her. Denying me the truth to spare me pain. and relief flooded through me. “Yesterday. so deep I could get lost in them.. “What kind of idiotic question is that?” she demanded. if that was what she wanted. but what if she wanted me to leave? If she wanted me to leave.” Even if it was unbearably painful. looking right back at me. I wanted to sigh by I held it back. Even thinking about leaving hurt.” I added to the end.

She was human with restrictions. to understand. I wanted to keep kissing her.” I made my voice more serious. It was becoming easier to read her again. Contemplating leaving for even a second was. she knotting her fingers into my hair. If I hadn’t thought you would be better off. I’m not leaving you. Only you could be more important than what I wanted. I have too many excuses to stay— thank heavens for that!” I tried to inject some humour into the conversation. So I had to try. I leaned in. so I reluctantly pulled away. happy. “I only left you in the first place because I wanted you to have a chance at a normal. Instead of stroking. The scepticism was clear in her eyes. “I’m not going anywhere. but her needs were far above mine. taking you away from the world you belonged in. The hole in my chest that came with her absence was all but a distant memory in this moment. and I know I’ll never be strong enough to leave again. I’m much too selfish. ending the kiss.. I didn’t want to pull away but her breathing was coming in jagged bursts. It was still beating at the same pace as a startled rabbits would. We lay there for a minute. at this moment. such a needing to breathe. . Instead of putting any distance between us. what I needed. I lifted my head and gazed into her eyes again. risking your life every moment I was with you. She didn’t say anything. but I could guess what she was thinking. She didn’t believe me. I had to do something. refusing to let go. and it seemed like leaving you was the only way. her heart beating in a disjointed rhythm. this perfect moment. When it reached an acceptable rhythm.fingers through her hair and stroked her face as she did the same. I wanted to live in this moment forever.” I needed her to know. I could never have made myself leave. I truly did. and her breathing came in light gasps. I could see what I was doing to you—keeping you constantly on the edge of danger. unbearable. I knew I would never be able to leave her again no matter what happened or what she thought. What I want and need is to be with you. I spoke to her in a casual tone. Not without you. with her secure and safe in my arms. laying my ear over her heart. with her warm hands shaping themselves to my cheek. human life. waiting for Bella’s breathing to slow and quiet. every line of her body matching mine. Her scent washed over me and I became lost in it. How I lived for even a week without her was now a mystery to me. “By the way..

She grimaced before answering. She had responded well to them in the past. I’d be happy to beg now. but she didn’t answer. I was already past trying to live through one week at a time. Very dark. searching her face for the answer. Nothing had I kept my eyes locked on her face.” I kept looking into her eyes and was saddened to see the pain return to them.. no matter how many miles I put between us. “You think I’m lying to you?” I demanded. Abruptly I was angry. when she had first discovered what I was. but there were stars—points of light and reason.” It was the only way I could describe how I felt. when you think of all the reasons you left in the first place? Or next month. seeing if she was finally understanding. “It isn’t as if you hadn’t thought the first decision through. “Before you. “Don’t promise me anything. shaking her head lightly.” I insisted with more force than necessary. my life was a moonless night. .” I said. “You’ll end up doing what you think is right. I flinched. “I’m not as strong as you give me credit for.and then you shot across my sky like a meteor.” Again I expected her reaction. I thought back to that night. I am. Right and wrong have ceased to mean much to me. “You could mean it.. everything went black. Maybe it would help again.” Her voice lowered again. “Will you please hear what I’m telling you? Will you let me attempt to explain what you mean to me?” I waited. please. But what about tomorrow. an analogy. the pain in her eyes carrying into her voice. I couldn’t see the stars anymore. when the meteor had fallen over the horizon.. there was beauty. or even one day.. but my eyes were blinded by the light. there was brilliancy. It was only a matter of time—and not much of it—before I showed up at your window and begged you to take me back.” “Oh. I was coming back anyway. if that’s what you want. Suddenly everything was on fire. When you were gone.“It seems you can’t be safe. Bella. And there was no more reason for anything. when Jasper takes a snap at me?” her voice rose a little. “No—not lying. “Be serious.” She answered. how close it had gotten. I was fighting to make it through a single hour. is it?” she guessed.” She whispered. Before Rosalie told me the news.

I should have left it at that. and I looked up at her face. but I went on.. I wasn’t going to let her get away with. It was an obligation. love. sighing. “Well. “It was never a distraction. Like I’d left everything that was inside me here with you.” She said quietly . still slightly faster than normal. “No.. moving on with a thoughtful expression “I thought it was just me.” I answered. but I couldn’t stop myself from going on. “Funny?” I asked. I was at a loss. sounding curious. For the second time in as many minutes. mumbling her response. “And my heart. she was understanding. There was no distraction from the. “It means that. I could see that her face was torn.” I said.” I knew she wouldn’t understand and so I was anticipating her next question.” “That’s funny. even though I never expected any danger from Victoria.” It was hard to believe. . “That was definitely lost.” She breathed in deeply.” I stopped and quickly changed sentences. “That’s just the problem—they can’t. “What about your distractions?” she asked weakly. “What does that mean?” she questioned. too. “Your eyes will adjust. “I meant strange—” she said quickly. “My heart hasn’t beat in almost ninety years.She looked away for a split second..” She answered. but this was different.” Even that word wasn’t enough.” she added. Lots of pieces of me went missing. It was like my heart was gone— like I was hollow. There was no humor at all. I was horrible at it. the agony. listening to it beating. like I said. “Tracking wasn’t a distraction then?” she asked. as if to prove her point. I leant in again. a hard sound that was off somehow.. I laughed once. At last. closing my eyes and placing my ear over her heart. Still curious. I traced her as far as Texas. she didn’t believe her argument anymore. but I could tell from her voice that she didn’t believe the words herself. “Just part of the lie. I felt her cheek on my head and her warm breath rustling my hair. I haven’t been able to really breathe in so long. raising an eyebrow.

Bella. There’s really no reason to looking for her. “Really?” I managed to get out. A snarl began to build deep in my chest. .” As much as hated to admit it. My teeth clenched together and I had difficulty opening them. struggling to hide her panic. “Then what would be your greatest problem? That would make Victoria’s returning for you seem like such an inconsequential matter in comparison?” I finished trying to hold onto my calm. but thought better of it. Beside’s I’ve got bigger problems than Victoria. Jake’s pack probably scared her off.” I groaned. “That isn’t exactly compatible with an extended tracking expedition. as she snorted. worse than my worst fears—” that was when she cut me off. We could discuss Jacob another time. is it?” I frowned. out of the question.. again. Werewolves. trying to seem calm. not after—” she interrupted again. “I wasn’t talking about Jacob. but not now. “But I’ll do better this time. But Victoria is going to die.” I answered.” She said. “Maybe she’s not coming back. My problems are a lot worse than a handful of adolescent wolves getting themselves into trouble.” She said. I had been so far off! “I wasn’t even on the right continent! And all the while. I hated them. I couldn’t leave. Soon. trying to decipher her outraged expression while listening to see if Charlie had woken. Damn. she was right. but she looked stuck for words. I almost said something.” I waited for Bella to answer. The werewolves are a problem. She won’t be tainting perfectly good air by breathing it in and out for much longer.” The snarl became more pronounced near the end of my sentence.but then I followed a false trail down to Brazil—and really she came here." I felt disbelief. “I will keep my promise. I nodded. even if I wanted to.. so I spoke through them instead.” She managed to choke out. I didn’t want to upset her now. “Didn’t you just promise that you weren’t going to leave?” she asked. “It’s true. she was right. her expression horrified. “Not well. I might have let the other time slide. blatantly disregarding my statement. “Let’s not be hasty. shooting through two octaves still sounding beautiful. “You were hunting Victoria?” she all but shrieked. “It’s too late for her. “That is.

” She noted. I managed to get my thoughts back into a straight line. I became genuinely anxious. I could see her hesitation over the words before they came out in a quiet whisper. When tears started to build up around the rims of her eyes. “Well. a slightly putout expression hidden in her features. And she was always accusing me of dazzling people. Hadn’t we gone through this? Why did she still not believe me? What I would have given to hear her thoughts right now.” I said with as much conviction as I could. Dazzling yet equally dazzled at the same time. “How about the second greatest?” she hedged.” she whispered heartbreakingly. I watched as horror rushed through her face. “The Volturi are only the second greatest?” “You don’t seem too upset about it.” I said. She paused.” She reminded me. Time means something very different to them than it does to you. “All right. carefully. she was so fragile. . Their depth was unfathomable yet crystal clear. speaking in my most gentle tone. my voice thick with suspicions. pain filled her eyes and her front teeth went to worry her bottom lip. I looked straight into her eyes. or even me. I sighed. I lost track of my thoughts for a second. She must be truly frightened of Victoria for her to overtake the Volturi. I was waiting for relief to cross her features but I was again surprised.” I agreed. “There are others who are coming to look for me.A look of uncertainty crossed Bella’s face. They count years the way you count days. “I will never leave you again. her deep brown eyes pulling me in. I took her face between my hands. I had to be so cautious. we have plenty of time to think it through. I won’t let them hurt you. dazzled as I was. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were thirty before you crossed their minds again. “While you’re here.” I finished lightly. “You don’t have to be afraid. Her reactions were always wrong.

kissing the tears away. It was an easy question.” Even though the very thought caused me pain. Yet again I so desperately wanted to hear what she was thinking.” She whispered.” I breathed against her cheek. but I will not destroy your soul. sick. leaving trails down her cheeks. I promise I wouldn’t stand in your way if you wanted to leave me. but let me get all old anyway? Right. How could she feel like this? I had explained it time and time again.” a new thought occurred to me and I flinched slightly. Of course. She deliberated for a moment before continuing..“But you said thirty. Was that what she was worried about? That I wouldn’t love her when she grew old? I leant in to her face. I had just gone through the consequences of her death. Scepticism. Had she forgotten? “That’s exactly what I'm going to do. What choice have I? I cannot be without you.. “I’ll follow after as soon as I can. anger making them glimmer.. “You will always be the most beautiful thing in my world.” She found the word she was looking for. the pain in her eyes clear in her voice. “That doesn’t mean anything to me.” The tears spilled over now. “Yes?” I prompted. What question was too hard for her to ask? “But what about when I get so old that people think I’m your mother? Your grandmother?” her voice was pale with disgust. . caressing me.” “Is this really.” “That is seriously.. “If you outgrew me—if you wanted something more—I would understand that. right?” she demanded. revulsion. “You do realise that I’ll die eventually. With a different question. “What? You’re going to stay. Her warmth rolled off her in waves.. or maybe disbelief hid in her features.. Her eyes were easier to read.” she looked like she was struggling with the question. I meant every word. Bella.

it’s the only right way left—” I began. Pain shot through me as she pushed my arms away.” She said angrily.” I answered slowly. Even if they don’t think of me till I'm thirty—” she literally hissed the word. “No. How did you plan on getting there?” I asked honestly curious. but I think I had a plan.. “But?” she demanded. “Let’s just back up for a minute. They’ll kill me. only to be interrupted again. right? I can’t stay human forever.” “Naturally. her kitten-like anger trying to persuade me but failing entirely.” I trailed off. “May I ask where you’re going?” I enquired. “And these plans. shaking my head. But. I watched as she took a deep breath.” she asserted. squaring her shoulders. “—do you really think they’ll forget?” I had come to that very conclusion while she slept. still looking around for what I assumed was her shoes. dark to her anyway.” I decided on. “These plans all centre around me staying human.” I watched her suspiciously as she climbed out of bed before stumbling around the dark room. “Here are your shoes. unwilling to clarify further. I tried to keep my face smooth and voice even. “I’m going to your house. I got up.” She said. coming out arrogant and curt. moving to her side and grabbing her shoes on the way. “No.. unable to wait. . Well.”I'm leaving. unsure how to phrase the sentence. I grinned. “I have a few plans. her eyes narrowing. but I didn’t entirely succeed. pulling herself into a sitting position.” I replied.“Bella. We stared at each other. “You do remember the Volturi. “They won’t forget. “Do you want me to leave?” I asked dreading the answer. growing more acidic with every word. my tome reacting to hers. Now she knew how I felt.” Bella said.

“Okay. I was still in the dark with her motives though. Why couldn’t it wait till morning? “Stay here. “No dice.” She shrugged. But then Alice’s thoughts from Italy played in my head. too.” She encouraged teasingly. I moved quickly in front of the door. But you go ahead and make yourself at home.” “And why is that?” “Because you’re extraordinarily opinionated. How she was into extreme sports these day. I wasn’t. “He’ll blame me. How much more trouble can I really get in?” “No.” I sighed.” “If you have a better idea. seeming resigned to that fact already. honestly. very blasé.” She answered quickly.” No. stopping her.” She said looking innocently at me.” I contradicted immediately.” I put in. not you. and I’m sure you’ll want a chance to air your views. you know. I’ll be grounded for weeks as it is. She frowned at me before turning abruptly around and heading towards the window. “I know. hoping to deter her. You’re not the centre of the universe. But. “Either way. never really believing there was a chance of convincing her. “I’ll give you a ride. I'm all ears. heading towards the door. . “This isn’t just about you anymore.” Now I was feeling “My views on which subject?” I asked through my teeth. She was. apprehensive. But you probably should be there. “That will probably wake Charlie. She sighed.” I suggested.“My truck. She wouldn’t.

her eyes as clear as her intentions. “Not really. “Does that mean you’ve decided you’re awake?” I hoped it did.” “A say in what?” I asked.” I muttered. but she started laughing. her previous reaction to my running. Her had avoided my question how many times now? She looked up at me. strands of it wrapping lightly around my neck. “It’s me I don’t trust. soft lips pressed against me. I worried slightly that she might be unwell. then your family ought to have a say. “My mortality.” Bella looked at me warily and I tried to reign in my disapproval. “All right then. I helped her onto my back.” I said to her. if it’s my final act. her warm cheek against my neck. I knew I wasn’t going to win any arguments though. as did her heartbeat. I felt her move slightly before her warm. her warmth easily penetrating my clothes. but her breathing held steady.” she hurried to assure me. The night air was blowing her hair. I’m not trying to wake up. mostly to myself. each word separate and distinct. so stunning.” She answered and I could hear the smile in her voice. I'm putting it to a vote. For the first time in seven months. before I started running. listening more to her heartbeat than anything else. I tried not to make it too obvious. and I realised that was the first time she had kissed me herself. so without further argument I picked her up in my arms jumping out the window and landing on the grass some 12 feet below. Not tonight. running was exhilarating again. “I trust you. Was this so important that it couldn’t wait till morning? At least then she would have to get through Charlie. but my face was a dead giveaway.” .” Either way? It was so frustrating! Why was it so hard to believe I loved her? “I’ll earn your trust back somehow. but I knew that might only be because Bella was clinging to my back. It felt incredible. either way. Her breath was leaving tingling trails where it touched my bare skin. “More that. I was not impressed. up you go. “Thank you.“If you’re going to bring the Volturi down on us over something as stupid as leaving me human. It was such a beautiful sound.” As soon as I realised what she was doing.

She didn’t think she could hold me. leaving the sentence hanging. “”You can leave me. understanding.” I stopped for a second before continuing. please. To deserve you. “The Volturi. I didn’t have to try and be gentle. “Well—” she stopped. “Don’t. enough. “I don’t trust myself to be. I nodded.” I said grimly.” I stopped. the pain. I reached around to pull her from my back.. and to my horror. “I’m worse than the Volturi. I set her on her feet before wrapping my arms tightly around her. pain spread from Bella’s eyes to cover her features.” She stopped and I was forced to wait tensely for her next words..” I whispered into her ear. “What?” she asked.” It just hit me that I had just assumed who her greatest problem was. It was all written on her face. “Never doubt that.” She sighed before reaching up to touch the tip of my nose with her soft. “I’ll give you one guess.” I said.” . my hands automatically adjusted for her. that it was true. We weren’t far from the house. her chocolate brown eyes.. warm index finger. curiosity immediately sparked in her deep chocolate eyes.” She whispered.“Explain that.” I murmured. “I guess I’ve earned that. the sadness. Victoria. She thought she didn’t deserve me.. “Don’t be sad. I could hear the thoughts of everyone inside. “The worst the Volturi can do is kill me. Pain ripped through me with such force that I was unable to keep a composed face.. “You never did tell me.” she explained. but it made no sense. They’re nothing compared to that. struggling to find the right words.” She rolled her eyes.. hugging her close to me. “What your greatest problem is. “Your hold is permanent and unbreakable. slowing to a walk. There’s nothing about me that could hold you.” And I could see in her face. how much I had hurt her.

“I knew it was wrong. never stopped believing that you still cared whether I lived or died. but I wanted to leave something of myself with you. “Time. my subconscious maybe.” I whispered. Can I have my stuff back?” she spoke in a falsely light tone.Sad didn’t even begin to cover it. “I’m not sure.” “Really?” surprise and happiness filled her face. A questioning look came into her eyes before she asked “So—since you’re staying.” The corner of her mouth pulled up slightly. I suppose. a smile lighting her eyes. I attempted a smile. “What did you know?” I asked. while I immediately began questioning her sanity. Bella was upset that I was in pain. but she shouldn’t be upset. slightly cheered that she was so happy from finding out this trivial fact. It was stupid and childish. how she was curious and not the least bit frightened. trying to distract myself. I was glad to see her happier again but the pain was still flowing through me at full force. I think maybe I knew it the whole time. I had already caused her far too much pain. but even my best efforts failed. but I needed to hide this from Bella. “Some part of me. of risk hurting her more.” Curiosity flickered and I tried to push the pain away. Her attempt at a distraction was so transparent that I laughed. will be the way to convince you. the pictures. I had been unsure of her sanity then . “If there was only some way to make you see that I can’t leave you. I remembered back to when she first found out what I was. That’s probably why I was hearing the voices. “Okay.. I nodded.” She stated.” She said agreeably. but the pain was still there.” I explained.” she began slowly. but I wonder. The CD.. since I promised you peace without reminders. the tickets—they’re all under your floorboards. “I think. The idea must have pleased her. “Your things were never gone.

I always knew that you hadn’t stopped loving me. “I’ve got time. with the motorcycle—” “Motorcycle?” I cut in.. about that. I found that. “Voices?” I asked in a flat tone..too. I could hear it. underneath it all. At least there were options. looking like she was confessing to murder. “It’s pretty pathetic. Mostly I tried not to think about you. and I could visit her whenever I was allowed. an odd look of relief in her eyes.” I said. It’s a long hear—” tell me.” She seemed wary.” she bit her lip. trying to retain my calm.” “Er.” She said. “Do you remember what Alice said about extreme sports?” I spoke the words without inflection or emphasis...See. that she wasn’t experiencing normal things. “No. And. “You. but this didn’t hurt so much—it was like you were protecting me again. Like you didn’t want me to be hurt..I could remember you more clearly.. Well. like you were right there next to me.. I wondered if that had anything to do with the expression on my face. I wonder if the reason I could hear you so clearly was because.” I answered.. “I could remember how your voice sounded when you were angry. unable to form a complete sentence . “And before that. knowing she would She looked thoughtful for a second before starting.” She said. right.. a sign of tension. “Well.risking your life. “Well.were.. well. my words came out sounding strangled.” She looked nervously at me. trying to keep my voice as even as possible. it was my fault this time. Yours. . just one voice. “You jumped off a cliff for fun. Carlisle knew the best psychologists. “I guess I didn’t tell Alice about that bit.when I was doing something dangerous or stupid. as normal as could be in the current circumstances. What was she relived about? I waited..” I was so appalled.

” She smiled such a smile that it brightened her whole face. smiling. I’m embarrassed to admit that I more or less curled up into a ball and let the misery have me.” she stated simply. “It was much more pathetic than hearing voices. at least.. you know.” she interrupted me.. “Oh!” she exclaimed quietly. you know I do that.” I grinned lovingly at her. I was not used to being so patient. Okay. I couldn’t guess. I was about to say something. “Bella?” I needed to know. I couldn’t be around my family—I couldn’t be around anyone. When I wasn’t actively tracking. You got up in the morning. “Your epiphany?” I asked. “You. “. about what. the pain.. tried to be normal for Charlie. You were better at it than I was. I leant my forehead against hers. I smiled.“Shh. curiosity colouring her tone. And. “Surviving. “You love me. ..” I answered simply. too. Relief was evident on her face. and I struggled to remain quiet.” Her face looked thoughtful. I took her warm face into my hands and kissed her until her heart was beating at double time. my voice sounding strained. I was.” I grinned sheepishly.” I told her. “Oh. it had been so long and I was out of practice. “I only heard one voice. completely ignoring me and driving me insane at the same time. unable to hold my tongue any longer. “Hold on a second. of course.” She corrected. I think I’m having an epiphany here. I see.” I thought back to the forest. both of us breathing harder than usual. “Truly.totally useless.” She said. followed the pattern of your life. “Better at what?” she asked. now. made an effort. when a look of happiness and understanding washed across Bella’s face. I do.

Alice’s thoughts the loudest in my head. I take It this is a matter of mortality issue? He asked as he spoke out loud. I pulled her forward towards the house. due to the hour. That’s what she called her mortality. “Of course. I called everyone.” I mentioned broadly to the house. too. Bella. I lead her through the open front door into the dark house and flipped the lights on. Carlisle cast a look at me as he answered Bella. It’s so good to see them together again.” He said smiling.I laughed exuberantly before pulling her into my embrace. About something important. raising the surface temperature of my skin by a degree or two. “It doesn’t matter the slightest what they say. tight against my side. “Welcome back. saturating my side with heat. but I was resigned to the meeting about to take place. I shrugged indifferently.” Carlisle said. “I’m just humouring you with this. complaining and telling me to hurry up. “What can we do for you this morning? I imagine. he thought wistfully.” “This affects them now. I was sure my expression was a bit critical. I would never take it for granted again. Her warmth seeped through my clothes. She wanted to get back to Jasper. It was pure pleasure to have her with me again. that this is not purely a social visit?” Bella nodded. Carlisle stopped beside Bella and she looked at him in slight surprise. “I’d like to talk to everyone at once. Esme had already put all the sheets away and cleaned the house.” Something important.” She sounded totally confident that she would get her way. now totally at home. “Carlisle? Esme? Rosalie? Emmett? Jasper? Alice?” everyone’s thoughts were curious except Alice. “Why don’t we talk in the other room?” I gave a quick nod before following Carlisle through into the bright living . She knew exactly what was coming. if that’s okay.

“Good.” Alice assured her quickly. Although it was silent.” I watched as she swallowed nervously. no doubt collecting her thoughts. now. seeming to become more sure of herself. I watched as she shot Alice a meaningful look. “So. I on her left. everyone’s thoughts were filling the room. “Then we’re all on the same page. I was so not used to Rosalie being timid. turning lights on as he went. yelling. “The floor is yours. “Well. around the corner into the dining room. I squeezed her hand under the table.” she began. while Rose gave Bella a timid smile. to what she had promised. “Alice promised the Volturi that I would become one of you. Rosalie’s thoughts were not as loud as usual. her face sincere. Esme and Rosalie all had their suspicions. this involves you all. the barest hint of pleading . Carlisle sat to Bella’s right. I'm sorry about that. Everyone except Alice was predominantly confused.” Bella sighed with relief. drawing their own conclusions. and I'm sure that’s a bad thing—something to avoid. focused on the thoughts of everyone around me. more subdued. “I’m hoping Alice has already told you everything that happened in Volterra?” “Everything.” She paused for a second. but Carlisle. I have a problem. She sat quickly as everyone else walked into the room. Alice was grinning. They’re going to send someone to check. “That too.” she paused. “And on the way?” Alice’s thoughts went back to their plane trip over. I told you this would happen! Bella looked around at everyone. Carlisle nodded toward Bella. straightening slightly.” Rosalie’s thoughts were the loudest at this point. she already knew exactly was about to Bella smiled back just as tentatively. And so. her eyes flickering downward and her teeth moving to her lower lip. Emmett and Jasper were both curious. Carlisle held out a chair at the head of the table for Bella.” Alice answered nodding. Everyone was waiting patiently.

then. “But. .” Bella sighed next to me. and I didn’t want to clue them her eyes. it’s not really a problem. If you decide you don’t want me. “About the danger Bella’s referring to. Bella held up one finger to stop her. not so subtly prodding me forward. but Bella purposely ignored me.” I couldn’t help but notice the way she half-smiled with her last words. then I'm not going to force myself on you. but I was almost too annoyed to notice. but before she said anything. but before he could say yes. if you don’t want me. the sceptical look on her face an exact match to the look on Bella’s.” her forehead creased adorably.. there was more than one reason why I didn’t want to shake Aro’s hand there at the end. “Which was?” she asked. “I have something to add before we vote. Do you remember Demetri?” I directed at Bella. and my eyes narrowed slightly. She gestured for Carlisle to cast his vote.” I continued. I raised my eyebrows. “Please let me finish. I want you to vote yes or no on the issue of me becoming a vampire. and with good reason. I can’t have them coming here.. Alice was having none of it though.” I interrupted. too. then. I cut in. “The Volturi are overconfident. I guess I’ll have to go back to Italy alone.” Esme opened her mouth to speak. I got ready to drop my ace. whether Alice is willing or not. pausing for suspense. “Taking into account. moving on quickly. “Just a minute. I think the only fair way to decide is for everyone to have a vote. her thoughts echoing sadness that Bella thought we didn’t think of her as a part of the family already. She looked at me last and I couldn’t help the grimace that was on my face. You see. A deep growl rumbled in my chest. “I don’t think we need to be overly anxious. that I won’t put any of you in danger either way. faking innocence and squeezing her hand under the table. Bella glared at me through narrow eyes. highlighting her displeasure. There’s something they didn’t think of.” I grinned. You all know what I want. When they decide to find someone. And I'm sure you know what Edward thinks.

” She tried to remind me. my brother. I had been listening even if most of my concentration had been centred on Bella. It works over immense distances. enthusiasm.” Emmett laughed. “And I can take care of myself. “it will be like looking for a piece of straw in a haystack!” I exchanged a glance and a smirk with Emmett.. But after Aro’s little experiment.” That wasn’t exactly a lie. extending a fist. As long as Bella was safe.” I shrugged. His ability is loosely related to what I do... my own safety was unimportant. leaving the sentence hang.She shuddered delicately. clearly not impressed. Now the whole time we were with any of them. looking forward to the promised fight already. “But they can find you. They’ll be helpless. so I took that as a yes. He’s a tracker—a tracker a thousand times more gifted than James was..” Just the expression on Aro’s face had me laughing internally. getting as much information as possible. “so I saw how Demetri’s talent works.” He said with I stretched out my arm to smack Emmett’s fist with my own. He catches the. “Excellent plan. He relies totally on that other sense..” Bella seemed slightly confused.” Bella said flatly. “Absolutely not.. Bella still seemed confused. “So how does that solve anything?” “Quite obviously. and then he follows that. “No. I couldn’t help my smug grin. I was picking their brains for anything that might save us. “I’m sure of it. why they keep him..” Rose hissed.flavour? I don’t know how to describe it. When it doesn’t work with you they’ll all be blind. . “He finds people—that’s his talent. He leaned across the table.the tenor.. or what Aro does. “You think he won’t be able to find me. but I had already thought of that. Alice will be able to tell when they’re paying a visit. well.” Bella agreed.of someone’s mind. and I’ll hide you.

“Not that way. Sorry. She knew how I would react. sounding slightly relieved that Alice had voted yes. It’s for Alice. My face must have been hard when I answered. She obviously was not pleased with the way things had gone. Bella straightened up again. I was the only one in the room who knew her face well enough to detect the slight hint of disappointment that was masked by her features. I’m sorry Edward. deceptively calm.” I clarified. “You’re staying human. but was slightly frustrated. sure she was hiding the outcome of the votes from me. “All right. Edward has offered you an alternative for you to consider. The way she had worded the question would make it sound like I didn’t want her if I said anything but yes. because Bella’s eyes hardened slightly and she wore a stubborn expression. However.” She said coolly. Jasper . It was almost unfair. “Do you want me to join your family?” she asked bluntly. “Idiots. you know how she feels about this.” Jasper’s voice was appreciative.” Alice muttered. “Jasper?” she asked. Edward. Maintain the same business like expression she moved on to Alice.” It was infuriating to watch here move past my vote with almost total indifference. Bella had moved on. It made it seem like my vote wasn’t as important. “Let’s vote. currently consisting of the Star Spangled Banner being translated into Latin.“Nice. now looking to Jasper. before quickly replying with a small. taking charge.” She looked at me first this time. then. sad smile. asking me first. her thoughts silent. seeing as everyone already knew what it would be. already sure of her answer. Esme just glared at me. even if I was unsurprised. I tried delving deeper into her thoughts. that Bella had already disregarded it. to find her mind busy with other matters. Alice thought. seeming to have decided that it was better to get my vote over and done with. “Alice?” she asked. I would have believed her calm expression if it hadn’t been for her heart beat suddenly rising to a staccato allegro beat.

no doubt imagining Demetri and Emmett fighting.” He looked at me. “Yes. Rosalie was hesitating. “Hell.” He said. “No.. At least this was one vote I could count on. so how could they understand? “No.” She said quietly. .shot me a quick. my anger finally taking hold. I already knew what Carlisle would say.” Esme voted without Bella’s prompt. I listened closely as she struggled to find the words.” Bella nodded slowly. “Edward. yes!” he grinned. It was one of the rare times where Rosalie and I were seeing eye to eye. trying to resume her original expression. He went on quickly. She turned quickly to Esme.” she pleaded. “Let me explain. Sorry Bro.this is not the life I would have chosen for myself. “I don’t mean that I have any aversion to you as a sister. a slightly beseeching expression in his eyes. “Rosalie?” Bella moved on. “Yes. before turning to Emmett. Even if it was Alice wanted. of course. as Emmett would have phrased it. I couldn’t take it. I already think of you as part of my family. She bit her bottom lip in a characteristic Bella movement. having successfully maintained her neutral expression.” I growled. more than ever to restrain my feelings. I was out voted.” Bella grimaced. It’s just that. his voice grave. Sending me a quick glance that obviously said. I was struggling. Bella kept her face smooth and went to move on but Rosalie wasn’t quite finished. understanding. meaningful glance and then answered in the same fashion as Alice. I was trying to keep my anger in check as Bella moved on to Rosalie. “We can find some other way to pick a fight with this Demetri.. Bella. I wish there had been someone there to vote no for me. it didn’t mean he entirely approved. Why did what everyone else say matter anyway? They didn’t love Bella as I did.

The anger became impossible to control. her voice light and cheerful. fear plain in her eyes. but I was still too angry to move away from her. . trying to find a way out of this mess. reaching for the first thing my hands touched. beside myself. I feel exactly the same way about all of you too. “Have you utterly lost your mind?” I felt the instantaneous. and that doesn’t leave me a choice. shouting obscenities in my head. Alice. pushed back from the table and walked quickly from the room. I ignored it. moving right up to Bella’s face. Thank you.. calm down! Alice’s thoughts came seconds before she spoke. For wanting to keep me. “That’s all I needed. “You’ve chosen not to live without her.” I was calming down slightly.” I heard Bella begin. “No! No! NO!” I roared. I’ll need to prepare.” She sounded so happy. Happy? Esme spoke too. “Thanks. I needed to vent it. familiar sense of shame and Bella cringed away from me.” I dropped Bella’s hand.” I heard her whisper. “Um. afraid that I would do something I would regret near Bella. “Dearest Bella. There had to be a way. I was growling under my breath. She twisted back. I heard Carlisle sigh before answering Bella’s unasked question.” Carlisle insisted.” I heard Bella reply. Bella. “Where do you want to do this?” I heard Alice’s confused and terrified thoughts as I ran back to the room yelling. “I guess you know my vote. “I don’t think I’m ready for that. Emmett’s brand new. her voice distinct from the other room even though her words were only mumbled. “Are you insane?” I shouted. her hands over her ears.” she finished uncertainly.. I let out the breath I had been holding and looked at the wall. I felt my hands crush the thin metal as I threw it at the wall. but really listing to Bella. “Well. Edward. top of the line biggest plasma television.“It’s the only way that makes sense.” she cut in with an anxious voice layered with tension.

” I knew I had to appeal to Carlisle’s sense of logic. Bella! I don’t have any idea how to not kill you.” Bella answered very quickly. but it felt better with her looking at me. hoping I would let go of Bella.Seriously.” I was struggling to remain calm.” Bella replied.. My anger and guilt were two opposing armies. If I could just buy some time then maybe. but I reached out for her face. I snarled in fury. just maybe I could talk her out of this insanity. glaring. The look of stubbornness was back. “It doesn’t have to be now. the guilt was too far outnumbered to be of any consequence. but.” “Sounds good. The way she was talking about this. “I’m able to do it.Bella moved so she could see Alice under my outstretched arm. “You promised. stopping her from turning her head. Alice shot me a quick glance before turning to Bella and shaking her head. but the words were still muffled by my hand.” . “Of course you can. I tried to salvage the situation. “I know.. “I can think of a few. “Hold on. looking panicked.” She still sounded slightly shocked. turning to look at him.” I couldn’t help it. “There’s no reason for it not to be now. and losing immensely. “I trust you. “You can do it. “You would be in no danger of me losing control.” She replied sourly.” She accused. Her words came out slightly distorted because of my grip but I was still struggling to remove my hand.” Bella encouraged.” Carlisle replied quickly. trying to turn her head at her but still unable to move. “Carlisle?” Bella asked. but so far. He was slightly worried about how tightly I was holding her. I don’t know what I hoped to achieve with this action.” I spoke between my teeth. I didn’t know what I was doing. ending her life. then I might stand a chance. “Now let go of me.

“It’s a reasonable request. “I suggest that we put this conversation off. Renee. seeming oblivious to her words. “I should probably take you home. “In about two hours.” She said. Carlisle agreed with me. Relief flooded through me. “I’ll consider it.” To my relief.” Bella’s forehead creased adorably between her brows. Even if I only had a couple of months I might be able to dissuade her. How could I have been so stupid? I continued.. Hope began to swell inside me. but I could see her thinking it over. “After graduation?” “You have my word. You can take me home. I knew what she must be thinking of now.I immediately removed my hand and folded my arms safely across my chest where they wouldn’t do anymore harm. “Okay. all her friends at school. slightly uneven because her bottom lip was slightly out of proportion with her upper one.” I went on. At least now I had some time. Bella. “In the interest of remaining inconspicuous. tearing my eyes away from Bella with difficulty and looking towards Carlisle. looking none too pleased.. “All three of them.” . She pursed her lips.” She answered. Charlie will be here looking for you.” unable to completely mask my hurry to leave. Was I imagining it. at least until Bella finishes high school. “Just in case Charlie wakes up early. I hoped she would reconsider. brown eyes flickered to Carlisle. I wouldn’t put it past him to involve the police. and moves out of Charlie’s house. I was still talking through my teeth. Charlie.” He pointed out.” She breathed in deeply before turning to me with my favourite smile. I relaxed and my teeth unclenched.” Bella’s clear. Maybe I could find something she wanted more. or were Bella’s cheekbones slightly darker? Had I hurt her? The guilt finally managed to overthrow my anger in light of my actions.

“If you don’t mind. but illuminating the contours cast by her nose and lips. I pulled back the covers to reveal her face. Now. relishing the warmth her body gave off.I quickly rushed her out of the house.” Bella groaned. why not just ask? . just from not being able to see her. her strawberry shampoo floating around me like a halo. She finally grew tired with my incessant pacing. the light from her luminescent clock throwing shadows over her face. throwing herself back on the bed and pulling the quilt up over her head.tell me something.” I murmured quietly to her.” And how could she possibly know that? “Shh. “I’d much rather you didn’t hide your face. the brush of pain all but forgotten. She was so adorable. Without pausing I jumped through her window. breaking the silence. Would it work? Could it work? Is this the way to buy more time? On every turn I looked quickly over at Bella. running with her back through the moonlit forest. I’ve lived without it for as long as I can stand.” Was my brilliant response. rather unwillingly.” “What?” she asked. what would she trade for it? I started pacing. I extended my hand and gently brushed some hair back from her cheek. “Whatever you’re planning.. I had an inkling of what she wanted most. but would it work? Would she fall for it? If there was something she wanted more. it’s not going to work. I quickly set her on the bed wordlessly. but rather than guessing.. I’m thinking. I lay on the bed next to her. and I had an idea of what that would be. I small stab of pain swept through me. I was thinking intently. Without a sound that she would hear. “Ugh. Her fathomless eyes reflected the light as well. watching as her expression grew more and more frustrated. I had an idea. shining clear and bright. The sight of her face brought instant relief.

“You said anything. “Anything. It was slightly funny. she knew me too well. anxiously watching my expression. So anything but that. what would it be?” I watched her face closely. Besides. “What would you be willing to trade for that?” Amazement lit her face as quickly as a smile would have. I felt a slight smile on my lips... I decided to aim high. “I would want. watching her wary expression.” Exactly what I expected. Her face twisted into an expression somewhere between chagrin and horror. but. “You.” I could see she was still unsure what I wanted. “Five years?” I asked hopefully.” I shook my head impatiently.” I reminded her quickly. It was not difficult to see the scepticism in her eyes. “You’ll use the time to find a way out of it.” I frowned at her explanation before presenting my new offer. trying to keep her poker face but failing.” She answered quickly.. “Yes. She would work me lower no matter what.Carlisle not to have to do it. Quickly I tried to get my thoughtful expression back..” Damn. but also saddening. “Isn’t it worth anything to you at all?” She considered quickly. I must have frightened her before. I would want you to change me. anything at all. “Something you don’t already have. Perfect.” she struggled with her excuse. “I have to strike while the iron is hot. She thought carefully before answering. She wanted this a lot. This might work. “Three years?” “No!” she exclaimed loudly.“If you could have anything in the world. . pursing my lips. it’s just too dangerous to be human—for me at least.

“I am one hundred percent serious. screaming yes. hiding the tumult of emotions of underneath.” She looked at me. “Okay. I just proposed to you.” Her retort was swift. curiosity. I had hoped though.” “One year. “You’re wounding my ego. and suspicion. What’s the punch line?” I sighed. “Not geed enough. If you want me to be the one—then you’ll just have to meet one condition. indignation.” “At least give me two. “Nineteen I’ll do. If your staying in you're teens forever than so am I. It was so Bella. gazing into her now worried eyes. “All right.“Six months?” she counter offered. Bella.” I tried to keep my exasperated face. cautiously. “Marry me first. .” She stared at me. But I’m not going anywhere near twenty. Couldn’t she tell. “That’s my limit.” Exasperation rushed though me. then. I knew how she would take this. This was the reason? I knew this wasn’t working so I tried a new tactic. please be serious.” I bargained quickly. slightly anxious. she didn’t know how much I wanted this. just kidding. and you think it’s a joke. I couldn’t help rolling my eyes. she answered me with a curious mix of emotions.” She said.” I answered. I spoke slowly. chagrin. “No way. I knew she would react something like this. What had I expected her to say? I had always known she would never jump up and down. immediately suspicious.” “Condition? What condition?” she asked. Forget time limits. by what I was offering in return? “Edward. Bella! When she realised no words were forthcoming. obviously waiting for me to say something along the lines of.

She has some really intense opinions on getting married before you’re thirty. “Well. “I’ll give you eighteen months.. but her eyes gave her away. “Dammit. “You know what I mean. and I knew it.. “That’s not it exactly.” I answered quickly. calling her bluff instantly.” She muttered. you know? It was sort of the kiss of death for Renée and Charlie. then—” I didn’t wait long. I smiled widely. Time to pull out the ace.” I saw the hint of panic she was trying to hide as she looked out the window. Bella looked at me quite seriously. “Sure. “Interesting choice of words..” But I wasn’t giving up that easy.” I asked disbelievingly..” she interrupted. “I’m only eighteen. “Look marriage isn’t exactly that high on my list of priorities. but I wanted this so much.” She looked back at me. “Bella. if you compare the level of commitment between a marital union as opposed to battering your soul in exchange for an eternity as a vampire. “What if I did? What if I told you to take me to Vegas now? Would I be a vampire in three days?” she asked.” I laughed darkly and the unbelievable words.” He face fell.” I commented mildly.afraid of Renée.” She said slowly. “If you’re not brave enough to marry me.” I shook my head. attempting a look of innocence.“Oh. “Well. “Please don’t tell me that you’re afraid of the commitment.” . “I’ll get my car. C’mon.” she said. her voice climbing through the octaves and sounding slightly hysterical.” And the look on her face proved it.” She muttered. wondering how long it would take for her to interrupt. “You think you’re joking. I inhaled deeply and unnecessarily. “I’m. I knew something she wanted just as much. “Because she’d rather you become one of the eternal damned than get married. It’s time I settled down. her face under slightly more control. Why didn’t she want this? annoyed. I’m nearly a hundred and ten.” I was being selfish.

I was pretty sure she would change her mind before graduation.” . “Now you’ve done it. “I She tried he stubborn face. then?” “No.” I said. I wanted this now. “Is that why you won’t marry me?” All she did was groan again. obviously trying to clear her mind but answering a stubborn no at the same time. her face brightening instantly with a smile. Please. “Please. I’ll have Carlisle do it when I graduate. grinning. It was painfully obvious she didn’t want me to leave. I thought about it for a very small portion of a second. but I wouldn’t be near enough to feel the warmth of her body.” “Charlie’s getting up. I would keep an eye on her. “You’re impossible. I didn’t want to wait though.” “If that’s what you really want.” she whispered eagerly.” laughing. She looked at me apologetically. She stopped breathing for a moment before shaking her head quickly.” I said with resignation. I leaned in closer. “No deal. “Oops. throwing me off balance but also waking Charlie. “No! No rings!” she very nearly shouted.” I whispered. smiling. “A monster. I gauged her expression for a second. smiling my most innocent smile. “Would it be childish of me to hide in your closet.” I chuckled. Her heart stopped beating. “Fine.I almost felt like like this condition. Bella?” I breathed. Bella’s reaction was much stronger than mine. “Would this have gone better if I’d had time to get a ring?” I asked.” She groaned. “Stay.” I shrugged nonchalantly. or stare into her gorgeous eyes. trying my best to dazzle her. trying to keep a hold of my thoughts as her deep brown eyes scattered my concentration. I’d better leave. and her whole face filled with fear and pain.

I smiled before moving over to her closet and shutting the door in much less than a second. I peered through the hole in the doors, watching her face. She was waiting for Charlie with a mixture of longing and frustration. I watched, amused, as she mouthed the word ‘cheater’ to herself. The bedroom door creaked open, Charlie slightly hesitant. “Morning, Dad.” “Oh, hey, Bella.” He sounded embarrassed at being caught. “I didn’t know you were awake.” “Yeah.” Bella replied smiling. “I’ve just been waiting for you to wake up so I could have a shower.” She started to get up, but Charlie wasn’t having it. “Hold on,” He said gruffly, turning the lights on. Bella blinked in the sudden light. “Let’s talk for a minute first.” Bella grimaced. I remembered we had forgotten to ask Alice for an excuse. “You know you’re in trouble.” Charlie tried to sound angry but relief was evident even in his muffled thoughts. “Yeah, I know.” “I just about went crazy these last three days. I come home from Harry’s funeral, and you’re gone. Jacob could only tell me that you’d run off with Alice Cullen, and that he thought you were in trouble. You didn’t leave me a number, and you didn’t call. I didn’t know where you were or when-or ifyou were coming back. Do you have any idea” words failed him as he drew in a sharp breath. Bella sat still, guilt thick on her face. He moved on. “Can you give me one reason why I shouldn’t ship you off to Jacksonville this second?” I watched as Bella’s eyes narrowed. She sat up straighter, pulling the quilt around her. “Because I won’t go.” She said, blatantly.

I stood there silently in Bella’s closet, her beautiful floral freesia scent engulfing me, listening as Charlie’s anger began to build. I didn’t know what Bella was playing at. Did she want to get kicked out? Then she could live with me... “Now just one minute, young lady—” Bella cut in. “Look, Dad, I accept complete responsibility for my actions, and you have the right to ground me for as long as you want. I will also do all the chores and laundry and dishes until you think I've learned my lesson. And I guess you’re within your rights if you want to kick me out, too—but that wouldn’t make me go to Florida.” I could imagine the colour Charlie’s face would be right now. He breathed deeply a few times before continuing. “Would you like to explain where you’ve been?” I peered at Bella again, watching as her face as she realised she had no excuse. “There emergency.” She stated, somewhat hesitantly. I wondered how she would get out of this. She took a deep breath in before blowing the air out noisily. “I don’t know what to tell you, Dad. It was mostly a misunderstanding. He said, she said. It got out of hand.” Well, she was mostly sticking to the truth. “See, Alice told Rosalie about me jumping off the cliff...” I watched her scramble for words then stop suddenly. Charlie obviously didn’t know about the cliff diving. “I guess I didn’t tell you about that,” she managed to choke out. “It was nothing, just messing around, swimming with Jake. Anyway, Rosalie told Edward, and he was upset.” That was putting it mildly. “She sort of made it sound like I was trying to kill myself or something. He wouldn’t answer his phone, so Alice dragged me to...L.A, to explain in person.” She shrugged and I was left thinking about how incredibly close to the truth she had gotten. Unfortunately, this fantastic excuse was almost lost on Charlie. “Were you trying to kill yourself, Bella?”

“No, of course not. Just having fun with Jake. Cliff diving. The La Push kids do it all the time. Like I said, nothing.” Anger began to creep back into Charlie. “What’s it to Edward Cullen

anyway?” his words left me dazed. His anger brought back what I had done to Bella. “All this time, he’s just left you dangling without a word—” Bella cut in quickly, her face like stone. “Another misunderstanding.” “So is he back then?” he demanded. Confusion crossed her features. “I’m not sure what the exact plan is. I think they all are.” “I want you to stay away from him, Bella. I don’t trust him. He’s rotten for you. I won’t let him mess you up like that again.” Each word was like a blow, because it was true. “Fine.” Bella answered quickly and I froze. Did she mean that? Charlie rocked back on his heels, obviously relieved. The exact opposite to what I was feeling. “Oh.” He scrambled quickly, exhaling loudly in surprise. “I thought you were going to be difficult.” “I am. I meant, ‘Fine, I’ll move out.’” Bella looked at him strongly. I breathed out silently in relief. She went on quickly. “Dad, I don’t want to move out.” Bella said in a much softer tone. “I love you. I know you’re worried, but you need to trust me on this. And you’re going to have to ease up on Edward if you want me to stay. Do you want me to live here or not?” “That’s not fair, Bella. You know I want you to stay.” “Then be nice to Edward, because he’s going to be where I am.” She said it with such conviction that I smiled. “Not under my roof.” Charlie refused to accept what Bella was saying. She sighed heavily. “Look, I’m not going to give you more ultimatums tonight—or I guess it’s this morning. Just think about it for a few days, okay? But keep in mind that Edward and I are sort of a package deal.” “Bella—” Charlie stuttered.

instead of thinking we were both dead together. gazing at me lovingly.” she grinned cheekily.” She whispered. Carlisle was right. sure of herself. “so eager for eternal damnation. “And while you’re doing that. You don’t. . slamming the door and storming down the stairs. could you give me some privacy? I really need a shower. you would have realized immediately what was happening. please.” “Oh. “If you really believed that you’d lost your soul. after all.” Charlie hesitated before leaving.” I murmured quietly. then when I found you in Volterra.” She stated. triumphant.. but she cut me off. then there’s no need for a graduation deadline. Or are you trying to tell me I have nowhere to go?” she widened her eyes in false alarm. before opening my mouth to speak. “If Charlie kicks me out. because she was absolutely right.” She breathed as she gathered up her things for her shower. I moved at inhuman speed.” she insisted. “I will start exactly as much as necessary. “You know you don’t really believe that. “Sorry about that. “It’s not as if I don’t deserve far worse. But you didn’t—you said ‘amazing. Besides. “Don’t start anything with Charlie over me. “There’s hope in you.” she reminded me. and no more than that.” “Don’t worry about it. I couldn’t help but smirk.” I was speechless. is there?” I flexed my jaw.. “No. I looked angrily at her. Exactly where I used to sit and watch Bella sleep before she knew what I was.“Think it over. “You’d move into a house full of vampires?” “That’s probably the safest place for someone like me. don’t I?” I fumed quietly. settling into the rocking chair in the corner.” I muttered.

We were in the middle of another one of these Jacob Black conversations as I picked Bella up from work.” I got up slowly. If you stay. as I knew I would be accepted pretty much anywhere. but I’m sure she had guessed. He was ignoring her completely. “That’s all I'm asking for. with one little expression. speaking quietly and trying very . That might have worked with any other boyfriend. He may have been taller than me. Bella have missed work while abroad.“So let’s both just be hopeful. I had resumed school. Finding Bella a college became a top priority. I don’t need heaven. Mike’s expression and thought on my first day back had left me near hysterics. I tried to control my feelings and language when she brought up the subject. “Forever. I knew I couldn’t cross the treaty line without provoking a war. He had so little self control because he was still a child. so as it stood. with varying degrees of bribery needed. She still missed the dog. but being able to silently climb through Bella’s upstairs window defiantly had its perks. Bella was happy again. stretching up on her toes so she could press her lips to mine. but now had every class with Bella. all right?” she suggested. Alice and I had better grades to pass than she did. “Not that it matters.A so little to her liking. I had a new stack of applications for her to fill out every day.” I whispered. the driving rain making it even harder to see.” She said. but that was all he could lay claim to. if I had been human of course. many of the female employees unable to hide their delight that Esme had found life in L. I was allowed to visit Bella. and tried to pretend that I didn’t exist with different levels of anger. The hatred he felt towards me only seemed to have increased. and because of her ‘house arrest’ she wasn’t at liberty to go and see him. putting my hands on her perfect face and staring into her eyes. but only in my designated visiting hours. Charlie was very unhappy with Bella. refusing to answer her calls. Carlisle was welcomed back to the hospital with open arms. Almost everything went back to normal. I patiently listened to her angry outburst. I hid that particular little fact from Bella. The windscreen fogged slightly as Bella entered the car. and I couldn’t let Bella near that dog in fear of her getting hurt. which was annoyingly a lot of late. I was secretly relieved at this. looking over to me.

her heart beat rising. Tears sprang to her eyes. She looked out. is probably not going to kill you.. shock distorting her features. I started again. Charlie’s head was filled with undiluted anger. Bella was still staring at me. before anger began to colour her cheeks.. “Yes he’s waiting for us there. but I wasn’t quite able to hear it. The rain had also slowed to a light drizzle.”I started. “Charlie. Bella. realising I had stopped in my concentration. sitting loud and proud on Charlie’s driveway.. “Charlie. Something red flashed through his mind. I looked back towards the house. his cussing quite loud. I pulled past the house. I took a deep breath. “Your already in more trouble.” I told her. His yelling was almost as loud as his thoughts. tears of anger.hard not to hurt her feelings.” I had no doubt about who he was angry with. As much as I hated him. Bella slid closer to me. smiling half-heartedly. “My Dad?” she yelled sitting up straighter. “What? What is it?” she asked in a timid voice. I could hear the dog as well. “Why? Why would Jacob do this to me?” she looked absolutely appalled. “Is he still here?” she hissed. “No!” she gasped. parking slightly before the trees of the surrounding forest. “What did I do?” she asked me.. was Bella’s motorbike from her daredevil days. Bella finished her little rant and looked at me. I turned my face towards her. Bella liked him. there. I wasn’t paying much attention though. sounding highly uneasy. following my gaze. but he’s thinking about it. I knew what Charlie was angry about now. nodding towards the slender path . and so I had to be civil and understanding when this topic came around. my calmness managing to settle her heart rate a little.” I started driving again.

She was scared. Quickly she launched herself out of the car. Obviously she associated Jacob with Paris. he may brick over the doorway.” Bella became completely still and I almost dropped her. It was a fair association. Charlie had heard her.” I muttered staring at Jacob through the trees. and both her and I had previously pointed out parallels to our love. Jacob’s thought were starting to annoy me. her voice shaking. There was no way she was going near the pup. I didn’t let go. He’s acting as. “Just give me one round with Jacob then I’ll deal with Charlie. delicate waist before she made the path. his face bitter.” I wasn’t exaggerating either. but she still tried to escape my grasp. She mouthed the words Paris falls. They were the stage directions for the return of Romeo. Then I realised the significance of the quote. .. “Let me go! I’m going to murder him! Traitor!” she shouted the epithet towards the trees. “More or less. I looked down at her. “Charlie will hear you. “He’s not here to fight me. I knew that was Bella’s favourite Shakespeare.” I tried to quieter her. She struggled slightly before yelling.. spokesperson for the pack. her slender hands curled into tight fists. “Don’t worry. wrapping my arms around her warm.that split the dark fringe of the forest in two. That’s why he’s still here. “How much more?” Bella asked. so my answer wasn’t very articulated.” I struggled to complete the sentence without hurting her feelings.” I murmured soothingly. Fear began to creep into eyes. and his anger was rising. Was that a Romeo and Juliet quote? “Talk?” she asked very quietly. I brushed some stray hair from her face. “Jacob Black wants to see me.” She struggled futilely to break free. They fight. What did she think she was doing? I quickly followed her. “And once he gets you inside. Paris falls.

I tightened my arms around Bella’s waist and pulled her quickly towards the woods. “Bella. Jacob’s hearing was better however. Bloodsucker’s shorter than I am. Charlie’s getting impatient. He didn’t want to hurt her. “Why?” Bella’s little heartbroken whisper asked.“Oh.” I offered as way of explanation. “We should hurry. anger creeping back into her voice. A low snarl made its way up my throat.” He voiced his thoughts. but thought it was for the best. As soon as I was sure Bella could see him I stopped. to low for Bella to hear. but his face was still hard. “How could you do that to me Jacob?” Pain rippled through the dog as he realised how much that hurt her. leaving as much distance between us as possible. I hated her being even this close to him. shifting Bella so that she was behind me. his face twisted in hate. His sneer disappeared. A particularly large swearword caught my attention as Charlie’s impatience grew. calming slightly.” Jacob said as a greeting nodding once to her without taking his eyes off me.” She said. I turned my body. “Do you want Charlie to strangle me? Or did you want him to have a heart attack like Harry? No matter how mad you are at me. Ha. I watched with anger and unease as his fists shook. “What’s that supposed to mean?” she demanded. His mouth stretched into a humourless sneer. He noted with pleasure. We found Jacob waiting further up the path. “It’s for the best. how could you do this to him?” . and he shrugged away from the tree. showing his lack of control. and felt slightly happier when her anger registered with him. I felt Bella lean around me to stare at him.

” Anger and outrage flashed across Jacob’s face at the intrusion into his mind.” I clarified. and I let out another very soft growl.” He snapped. “Bella wasn’t exaggerating about your. “That’s why?” he asked her. Who was he to me what to do? Jacob shuddered once. but before you begin I need to say something. “.. watching as he cast a look to Bella.. sincerity ringing with every letter. “I’m already grounded! Why do you think I haven’t been down to La Push to kick your butt for avoiding my phone calls?” again.” his mind flashed to that memory.” “Yes. “I didn’t do it for your benefit. I replayed what he thought to Bella. “When I. Jake!” Bella groaned. intent on Jacob. I will owe you for the rest of my.” “Stop that. but quickly disappeared again. she deserved to know. him and Bella on the beach. “I will never be able to tell you how grateful I am. his eyebrows pulling together in thought.. gritting his teeth.existence. so you must already know why I’m here.” I said. I explained again. the Dogs eyes flashed to Bella’s face. so that you wouldn’t be allowed to spend time with me.” “Edward—” Bella started to say.... Damn.didn’t. For the first time.” I wondered how he would take this.His resolve faltered. confusion showing through.. “For keeping Bella alive. Understanding rushed through him before his cold mask returned.. I needed to do this but I didn’t know if he could take it. I thought it was him that was stopping her. not Charlie. “Aw.abilities. “He didn’t want to hurt anyone—he just wanted to get you grounded.” I tried to find the right word. Jacob was looking at me in shock.” . but I held my hand up. “He thought I wouldn’t let you. I was thankful for Charlie’s stringent rules. “Thank you.

but he answered her. I’m here till she orders me away.. The thought he was trying to hide from me.” I said at the same time Bella demanded. The treaty is the only thing stopping me from ripping his throat out right this minute. I’m a quick learner Jacob Black. “I just needed to remind your bloodsucking friends of a few key points in the treaty they agreed to. the truce is . “We haven’t forgotten.” “Whose then?” he growled. But that won’t keep me away from Edward. What more do you want?” Jacob kept his eyes on me. going through the rules of the treaty. a slight frown replacing her happy expression. but keeping something from me.” Bella looked up at me a slight smile turning her lips upwards. Jacob eyed me suspiciously. leaving him slightly off balance. If any of the bite a human. “I thought you should know. There’s nothing that can do that.” I trailed off. “Never. This couldn’t end well. I looked down at my beautiful Bella.” She whispered. “That’s not I'm my power. Jacob?” I noticed how she was using his full name again and I smiled. raising one brow. But that doesn’t erase the gratitude I feel.” My change from hatred to gratitude startled him. “Charlie might just send me to military school.“I know. Jacob made a gagging sound and Bella turned towards him. and my heart swelled. “Was there something else you needed.” Then he let it slip. and I don’t make the same mistake twice. enjoying the sight of her. “What key points?” Jacob was still glaring at me.. “You wanted me in trouble—mission accomplished.” She went on. How about you leave? I shook my head. If there’s ever anything in my power to do for you. “Hers. “The treaty is quite specific.

“Crap. I would never hurt her.away. and I knew Bella heard it. Jacob scowled at me.. “We’ve found no trace of Victoria on our side of the line—have you?” “The last time was while Bella was. We’ll —” “She killed on our turf. but her voice trembled. but then the implications of her words hit him.” he hissed. She was too compassionate for her own good.. “She’s ours!” . Bite not kill. Jcob’s furious expression faltered. “When she comes back. A slightly louder hiss escaped my lips.” I warned her. “YOU GET IN THIS HOUSE THIS INSTANT!” We all froze. “Bella!” Charlie’s roar echoed from the direction of the house.. “That’s none of your business. pure hate evident in his eyes.” Neither me nor Bella missed the inflection. He was close though.” I said to Bella before turning to Jacob.” I nodded.” “Thanks. but didn’t phase. She took a half step towards him. “I had to do what I could—I had to try. She hasn’t come near our lands since. she caught your little female’s scent and bailed. I could quite clearly hear Charlie pacing. He looked at Bella. “Urg.” The tremor in her voice ruining the sarcasm. but the she took off like a bat out of hell. We let her think she was slipping through—we were tightening the circle. I felt her stiffen next to me.over. she’s not your problem anymore. getting ready to ambush her. and decided to finish the conversation. or the accusation it contained.” that followed. “I am sorry about that. Near as we can tell..” he muttered. but quickly pulled her back behind me. “Jake? You okay?”Bella asked anxiously. “Just one more thing. “The hell it—” Jacob began. He almost started convulsing.” She said coldly. listening the silence Bella spoke. “Careful! He’s not under control.” He emphasized.

What if she never came back? What is he took her from me? I just couldn’t handle it. trying to show me the trust she felt. furious again. but I held her back. “Me too.. Not to him.” he whispered so low. “Jake. right?” He shook his head slowly.“No—” Bella began.I can’t see how to keep trying. A glint of anticipation flashed in his eyes. “ISABELLA SWAN!” .” She looked up at me... “It’s okay..!” Charlie didn’t bother to finish his threat. wheeling to face Jacob.. Bella wouldn’t have heard him.” She reminded him desperately.” she tried to take a step towards him.” He mouthed stretching his arm out in a last ditch effort.” Jacob snarled at me. getting ready to phase..” “Let her go. Not now. “No! Edward—!” Bella tried to cut in. “Let’s go.. I knew my expression was cold. “No. “BELLA! I SEE HIS CAR AND I KNOW YOU’RE OUT THERE! IF YOU AREN’T INSIDE THIS HOUSE INONE MINUTE. but. “You know how hard I’ve tried to keep that promise.” Bella choked out. “Bye. “Miss you. only to be cut off by Charlie. and of course Bella immediately forgave him for everything.” I said quickly. “Still friends.. He shuddered. I pushed Bella behind myself. She was just like that. Bells. moving her hand out in an imitation of his.” He looked upset. I just couldn’t let her go. it’s not.” “You promised. “Sorry. “She wants to!” He took two long steps forward. my expression identical to his.

looking in panic towards the house that contained the very angry Charlie. compared to how I would feel if Bella left me. nothing. pain crossed his features. But just because I was a gentleman didn’t mean I wouldn’t fight harder. I was here. I wish. . “I’m here.” I whispered in her ear. Another time then. Paris falls. I pulled her back slowly. I squeezed her gently. Yeah. We walked back to the house. I knew that. They fight. always keeping my eyes on the dog as we retreated. but not for Charlie. Yes. but it was nothing. and I relaxed again. Just as he vanished behind the trees. Jacob Black would fight dirty. She took a deep breath and walked towards the house. but Bella dragged her feet.“Come on! Charlie’s mad!” her voice was panicked again. She tugged on my arm. and he wasn’t.

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