Preface I will touch the sun or die trying.

Of all of my plans, this one I would not feel ashamed of. I'd show them all the skin of a true killer. Sparkle, shine – they'd see it all. The Volturi will just have to take me out. It would immediately knock that smug look off of Aro's face. The clock began its descent to my fate. Each second the clocked chimed above my head I knew I was getting closer to the angel. Death was what I came here for, and now I would greet it with an untamed, wild pleasure. There was nothing left in me. Slowly, calmly, I unbuttoned my shirt and yanked it free of my body. It was meaningless. I held it between two fingers as my arm went limply at my side. Through the thoughts and the steady hum of the crowd there was a whimsical voice – beautiful, frantic – screaming my name. It was familiar. Bella, I thought devotedly. Was she calling me from the heavens? I'm coming, my sweet. My shirt wavered in the breeze filled air until it dropped lifelessly to the ground, a semblance of my impending doom. The booming chime from above vibrated in the souls of my feet, shook me deep in my core. I took a step, listening to the heavenly voice calling my name. "Edward!" I closed my eyes, picturing her heart shaped face, porcelain cheeks, and her long brown hair. I stepped closer to the golden glow of the sun, letting the light shine only inches from my feet. In two seconds I would cross the line from life to death. Forgive me, I thought, opening my palms face up in prayer – to whichever god would be listening – before I let it all go. Everything was meaningless, after all. "Edward, no!" I heard in the distance. Again, the angelic sound had returned, louder this time. A hallucination. My subconscious giving me what I needed in my final moments. My face was serene, tranquil. I had accepted my fate and here Bella was to greet me. Maybe things weren't so meaningless after all, I mused. The clock tolled again, the booming chime echoing through the square. The end had come. I took another step toward the light. "No! Edward, look at me!" I heard in that same musical, hysterical voice. And then, she was in my arms. My hands grasped her warm body immediately as I took in the sweet, seductive scent of her blood. She was tangible, real. It was in that second that I knew I was finally in heaven. 1. Romeo & Juliet

I do not sleep. It's a commodity I wish I had, a phenomenon that entraps me. Dreams are a state that I could never accomplish, or that is what I thought until I met Bella Swan; beautiful and smart to the extreme, selfless and one-hundred percent mine. My brain seems to find peace in her quiet mind. This was exactly what dreams were made of. So what was it about sleep that makes Bella look like an angel from heaven? It was just like on any other night. I was hugging her close to my body while she slept. The most intricate workings that made up her every curve were lined with mine. I was immersed in her warmth that was emitting from her body like the rays of the sun. Her head was lying on my cold chest; my nose in her hair. I drew her scent into my lungs, reveling in the most elaborate mix of flowers, strawberries and the hot seductive aroma of her blood. Her heart was beating at its regular pace, only speeding up as her breathing grew heavy when she would murmur my name. It was moments like those that I lived for. And longed for. But this was not just any other night, it was Bella's birthday. This day had many meanings to her, and I knew that she would bring up the inevitable conversation about becoming like me. So my plan was to distract her. She sighed and gripped me closer. This was just another moment in time that I could capture in my memory. She was deeply embossed in my brain to the point that I could picture her perfectly when I closed my eyes. I did this often when I was away from her for any period of time. Down the hall I could hear Charlie stir in his room. Light was beginning to brighten the sky as the sun rose over the trees, casting shadows in her room. The sky was full of grey clouds. I looked at Bella's alarm clock. In the corner the date stamp read September 13, the day Bella turns a year older then me. A fact I knew she would remind me of, and often. I thought about waking her early but thought better of it. She needed the sleep. Regardless, Alice would undoubtedly be awaiting my arrival at home so I needed to get back. She was overly excited about today. She spent every hour she could at stores around the greater Washington area. I tried to explain to her that this wasn't the best of ideas, but she refused to listen. In a quick fluid motion I released Bella. Leaving her warmth behind always made me feel cold inside, but I knew any moment Charlie would stick his head in to check on his daughter. I kissed her forehead lightly and bounded out of her window. Flying through the trees, watching them go by at extraordinary speeds, I could already imagine what Alice had up her sleeve this morning. I was moving with such velocity that my feet were barely touched the ground. In a short moments time I was back at my house. Alice greeted me at the steps, a routine that we seemed to have picked up. She was singing the birthday song in her head. I sighed and shook my head. "I told you that Bella doesn't want to celebrate her birthday," I glared at her. She didn't buy it.

The last thing I wanted was to upset Bella, but if I didn't give Alice some free reign she'd be disappointed. I know, I know, she thought but her smile was blinding as she showed me a vision of Bella's infectious laughter at our house this evening. It was a relief to see her cheerfulness. "Okay, but I warned you." I cautioned. Her visions were always accurate. Example: Bella is still a human and not a vampire as Alice had once envisioned. As I walked into the house to get ready for school she continued to sing, "Happy birthday to Bella, happy birthday to Bella…" aloud this time. Alice will be Alice. It was our senior year at Forks High School. Only Alice and I remained at school after Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie graduated in the summer. I had compromised with Bella about her driving to school, so I was no longer her chauffeur. "It will give my Dad some peace of mind," she told me. I caved eventually – reluctantly. Who knew what kind of damage could come of her if she were to wreck that thing. But, I would give her anything that she asked…except for the one thing she wanted the most. The one thing I knew she'd be thinking this morning when she awoke to her alarm clock displaying her date of birth. Above all the worldly gifts I could give her, she wanted me to extinguish her flaming, bright gold, beautiful soul. I refused to take something so amazing out of this dreadful world. That didn't stop her from arguing. Alice and I were standing beside the Volvo, awaiting Bella's arrival at school. Two minutes, Alice thought, excitement apparent on her face. She didn't need to tell me how close Bella was. You could hear her truck from miles away. I listened as the engine strained to make it down the street. I heard the exhaust backfire a few times and tried to suppress a laugh. "Alice, maybe you should wait to give her that gift," I pleaded, pointing towards the small box in her hand. "No way!" she exclaimed. Her vision was of Bella refusing her gift, but that never stopped the very tiny, annoying, Alice. She always had hope. Bella's truck loomed into view as she turned into the parking lot. We both watched her carefully. Alice's eagerness was radiating off of her in waves and I couldn't help but feel energized to see her too. Then again, I felt thrilled to see her no matter the day or meaning. I watched Bella's eyes as she caught sight of us waiting for her. She frowned when she saw the gift in Alice's hands and then parked. When she exited her truck she slammed the

door so roughly that flecks of rust showered the ground, sending little metallic reflections back at her. A human wouldn't notice this. Bella turned around slowly, like she was thinking of getting back in her truck to run for it before she started walking towards us. Alice couldn't take the anticipation and she danced over to her, present raised high in the air for Bella to see. I stayed next to the car to witness, not wishing to be apart of the conversation I knew was about to take place. "Happy birthday, Bella!" "Shh!" Bella hissed. Right on cue, I thought, watching them intently. Bella's eyes started darting around the parking lot like she was afraid someone would overhear her. "Do you want to open your present now or later?" Alice trilled eagerly. "No presents," she complained in a low whisper. Again, I told Alice that this wasn't a good idea. She is going to open this present whether she likes it or not. Alice narrowed her eyes slightly."Okay…later then. Did you like the scrapbook your mom sent you? And the camera from Charlie?" Bella sighed. "Yeah. They're great," she mumbled. So it is possible for her to accept gifts? Excellent. Alice continued to think of the best ways to give Bella all her gifts. "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 questioned. "That's different," Alice frowned. I knew this was coming, I knew it! She's been in the parking lot for only one minute and already she has brought up the dreadful I want to be a vampire conversation. They finally reached me when Bella's scent hit me. My usual desires flared in me, but I was so used to them that it was no big deal for me to cage any beasts that wanted to escape. I offered her my hand. I still wanted it to be her choice. Her frown quickly turned up and she grabbed my hand eagerly. When our skin met I was instantly warmed, the current running sinuously through our bodies. My cold body finally receiving what it was craving since I left her this morning. I squeezed her fingers gently. Her gaze met mine

Though I could easily banish my desires from taking over. it will happen. "You might have changed your mind. Those lips… "So. I frowned down at the tiny vampire. I reached out and caressed her face with my finger." She thought of the absurdity of my statement. "Don't women usually wait till they're twenty-nine to get upset over birthdays?" she wondered. Alice knew that would be her response." I continued. Bella. Bella and I were in our world now." Bella groaned. She had no idea what she was asking of me. What's the worst that could happen?" "Getting older. You know. "Eighteen isn't very old. thanks Alice. There was a car that came to mind. a smile playing on her lips. completely ignoring me. I glared at her but Bella was oblivious. She was on Bella's side of the argument. Bella could see the thoughts through my facial expressions and pursed her lips. I didn't even notice Alice standing there anymore. lingering at her lips." I returned her smile. "Most people seem to enjoy things like birthdays and gifts. "Just checking. "It's older than Edward." I distracted myself. I smiled at the thought that I still could make her pulse dance and her blood boil. "I am not allowed to wish you a happy birthday. .and her heart skipped a beat and her pulse raced. She wanted me to change her into the deplorable creature that I am. I have seen it several times. I didn't mind when my passion flared up. is that correct?" "Yes. Her beauty could not be changed by the slow decay of time. That is correct." Bella complained. Of course this would be what Bella was thinking. "Of course you'll enjoy it. Unbelievable. I knew she would never let me get her a gift of that magnitude." she responded. I thought bitterly." Alice said. Just give in Edward. as discussed. I quickly banished that thought. "Everyone is supposed to be nice to you today and give you your way. On this most momentous of days I wanted to give Bella so many things. if you just change the girl we wouldn't constantly be having this discussion. Her age would never matter to me. I sighed." Alice began laughing loudly at the non-joke.

" Bella exclaimed. Alice was right – what could go wrong? "I'll get her from Charlie's right after school. Berty said we needed to see it performed to fully appreciate it – that's how Shakespeare intended it to be presented. well. I gave her a grave look."Technically." Bella tried but the excuses were a feeble attempt. Alice snapped out of her divination and was instantly angered. Alice's vision abruptly shifted back to what it was this morning. be fair. Bella! You aren't going to ruin our fun like that. Bella was abruptly missing from the party.'" A smile broke across Alice's face. She knew that she won this argument." Bella was struggling to find an excuse. but according to Alice's vision there was no getting out of this party. just by one little year. she was efficient. "You don't. I still remembered the vision from earlier. "What time will you be at the house?" she continued. 'Happy Birthday." I told her. "Oh. "I. "I have to work." Alice said. I haven't watched Romeo and Juliet yet for English. are you?" "I thought my birthday was about what I want. still hopeful that I might change my mind. If Alice was anything. any money she needed or wanted I would have freely given to her. That's better." Alice exclaimed. "I didn't know I had plans to be there. "I – I still can't come over. I was not very pleased about this. She's trading your shifts. Newton's sporting goods store. actually. directing them toward me. This is not helping. I already spoke to Mrs. Newton about it. but caved. "You have Romeo and Juliet memorized. Some help? she finally pleaded. We had many arguments over this subject but it was what she wanted and I gave in to her in the end. She said to tell you. "But Mr. I will! Alice's thoughts continued in a more visual way. Alice snorted and I raised an eye brow at this news. She didn't need her uncanny ability to see her future to know this. Bella should have known that she would have seen this line of argument coming a mile away and would have prepared for it. I groaned internally." Alice and I both gave her a doubtful look. . During the summer Bella applied for a job at Mrs. though. If I have to drag her there myself." Bella tried to get out of the plans." I watched through Alice's eyes now as a vision flashed in her brain.

It's her birthday. It almost always broke my resolve. Or worse. Bella. She was a stubborn little thing. Not even an "I broke my ankle. I captured . We're going to be late for class. I need to stop by the store again. "This can be easy. "I'll bring her over around seven. Cope to put me in almost all the same classes as Bella. As every day passed I didn't have to worry about her being in a class and some guy hitting on her. a frown prominent on her face. you'll see. Bella! It'll be fun. please. that's that." Excellent." Alice's smile turned into a glare because her vision had not shifted back. The day dragged on. or this can be hard." Alice accused." might have been better logic because she had watched the movies and read the book so many times I was surprised she tried to use it as an justification at all. I watched her every action and reaction." "So there. At the beginning of the year I had convinced poor Ms. "Edward. Alice's vision had changed again. Bella's eyes were watching Alice prance away. "If Bella wants to watch a movie." I had to step in at this point. That will give you more time to set up. I continued before she could actually stick out her tongue. I couldn't stand it when she begged and especially when she said please with those persuasive brown eyes.I rolled my eyes. She bent forward. but one way or the other…. I saw her expressions and her eyes lighten at knowledge. her hurting herself in gym." she continued to giggle. It was so easy to please her. My attention was always centered on Bella." Bella added. then she can. Bella was yet again nowhere to be found in the Cullen house this evening. Alice added mentally while an exuberant laugh came out of her mouth. She was quiet but the desire to bring my lips to hers was almost overwhelming. This is going to be so much fun. "I'm sick." or "Charlie demands I stay home." Her vision suddenly shifted back to the first outcome of Bella at the party because of my master plan. "Relax. kissed her on the cheek and danced off towards class. Mr. Maybe. Sometimes when Bella makes up her mind. "Let's discuss it later. I couldn't believe she was trying to use this as an excuse in the first place." Bella's attempt to avoid Alice's plans became more pathetic. "You've already seen the movie." We walked to our class together. See you tonight. "Sounds good. To stop her from pleading with me I placed my finger over her lips. No future visions will stop that. I distracted myself. Alice." she begged. A grin spread across her face at her victory. "But not the nineteen-sixties version. her tone not as friendly. Berty said it was the best.

"If it's not my birthday. knowing deep down she did enjoy me saying 'happy birthday' to her. not wanting to receive a phone call from Alice chewing me out for another vision shift. The aroma was warm and my hunger was insatiable. "It's my birthday. "Your radio has horrible reception. just let it take over for a second. The only reason I was on this earth was to be with Bella. Rosalie is pretty pissed off that he wanted to come back just to see Bella. He bought her a stereo for her truck. Those pesky desires were always around the corner of my mind. "I'm pretending it's not your birthday. When I entered the truck her scent assaulted my nose and daggers ripped through my throat. I thought I would play up how bad her radio really was. Alice reminded me mentally for the millionth time today. Saying the words made me feel free. When Bella and I reached her Chevy she folded her arms and refused to move after she noticed I was going for the passenger's side to open her door. This school year Alice and I had moved tables to sit with Bella and her friends. I just wanted to be alone with her and school was not the place to do that." I interrupted. The Volvo rounded the corner and then she was gone. contradicting the look she was throwing at me." I replied with a smile spreading across my face.everything clearly in my head and continued to add to the list that I started keeping in my head from the first moments I came back from Alaska. Alice was already in the Volvo and about to turn onto the road to go back home. I needed to distract myself and then I remembered what Alice told me about the stereo. I didn't mind this." . I reveled in the delicious fragrance for a moment. When the school day finally came to a close I walked Bella to her truck. don't I get to drive?" she muttered. I shut the passenger door and walked over to open the driver's side. Humans could always tell there was something off about the Cullen's which kept them at bay. she thought as she drove off." I told her. The fragrance was incredible and I was ready for her to be in the warm truck where her aroma would fill every particle of the air. I never knew what she was going to do next. You better not forget to bring her. but I still enjoyed the silence of her mind. just as you wished. Because I just saw that Emmett and Rosalie will be there tonight." she whispered. Edward. I'd wanted to tell her this all day. She glared at me. She was so adorable when she was trying to be angry – like a little kitten. There was a smile on her face. which wasn't threatening in the least. "Shh. Her human reactions were always difficult to read. The rain was making her scent excruciatingly painful. As long as she was there I didn't care. make her appreciate Emmet's gift more. "Happy birthday. though their conversations never included us. My fingers started fiddling with the dials. then I don't have to go to your house tonight…" "All right.

I smiled and pulled her gently away from my body before I exploded in exultation. "You want a nice stereo? Drive your own car.Her lips turned down and she snapped back at me. She brought every curve of her body against mine in an effort to be as close to me as possible. too." I whispered. I did not want the sensations to stop. it would only take a slight jerk of my fingers to crush her skull. please. far too good. I was gentle." I whispered. As always. Explosions of pleasure rippled deep in my body. reading the satisfaction in my voice. I moved in closer to her. I folded her arms across her stomach. "And if I don't want to be in a good mood?" she breathed. her silent thoughts finally made my desire break free. I thought about how eager she was in this moment." Her kitten-like outrage was comical. I tried to suppress a chuckle though it was evident on my face. "Too bad. She rolled her eyes then. Her fragrance enveloped me and I never wanted us to be apart in this moment but the beast was rattling my chest and clawing up my throat. The warmth of her body engulfed me and her heart began working harder with her pulse racing." I was breathing heavily. today of all days. she was good. enjoying the sound her heart was making at this second. inches from her face. I brought my lips to hers again but pulled away before Bella could react. They were warmed instantly. Her lips moved with mine. "Let's go watch the Capulet's and Montague's hack each other up." I brought my lips to hers. just as eager as I was. Her lips were delicious. However. After being around her all day. all right?" . I reached out slowly and very gently pulled her face into my hands. The creature inside me rejoiced at the sensations that went spiraling through my veins. "Do you think I'll ever get better at this?" she pondered. far. "You should be in a good mood. She moved one hand and placed it over her heart. I slid myself closer to Bella in the tight little space. "Be good. just like I could hear it. her warmth. We reached her house and she parked in the driveway. Her skin burned mine and sent electric jolts of jubilation through me. I realized this was wrong but not wrong enough. something I craved. her scent. just in case she thought seducing me was a good idea. She raised her arms and encircled me in her embrace. "That my heart might someday stop trying to jump out of my chest whenever you touch me?" "I really hope not. She could feel her pulse beating at an alarming rate. Her breathing became panting. My fingers moved greedily. tracing all the lines of her beauty. I knew to take care of what was between my palms.

" I commented. I mentally told myself." I confessed. large round tears escaping her eyes. "You humans have it so easy! All you have to do is throw down one tiny vial of plant extracts…" She interrupted me with a gasp. "What?" I sighed. "I'll admit. inhaling the alluring scent. he's in love with this Rosaline – don't you think it makes him seem a little fickle? And then. I'll mostly be watching you." I lied effortlessly. To think of my life without her was so painful that death was the only answer to ease the pain. Once she put the movie in she walked over to the couch and sat at the very edge in front of me. I reached out and pulled her waist towards my chest. "It's . When Juliet awoke to find Romeo dead. My distraction. keep up the distraction. knowing my skin was cold." "I won't distract you then. I took her aroma into my lungs.When we entered her house I laid on the couch. knowing she would join me. I brought my lips to her hair. I do sort of envy him here. Goose bumps rose and she shivered in pleasure. That's not very brilliant. Her breath had the most seductive scent. She looked offended. warning me to keep my mouth shut. "You know. I wasn't ready to let her warmth escape me. "No." she admitted. "Do you want me to watch this alone?" she asked. first of all. Her scent was amazing after she had stood in the rain. She had no reason to be sad and I found it amusing. Mistake after mistake. anyway. She cuddled in nicely with my body. A distraction was already needed before I decide to place my lips to hers and let ourselves get carried away. I grabbed the blanket that was on the couch and wrapped it around her. I've never had much patience with Romeo. "if I'm paying attention." I clarified teasingly. "She's very pretty. My lips were at her ear. I was already thinking of ways of distracting her…instead of myself. As the movie progressed I found other ways to keep her mind on me. "Will you cry?" "Probably. "What's wrong with Romeo?" "Well." I said. remembering the night I thought James had killed her. I knew every line to the movie. I brought my fingers to her arm and began tracing little lines. I had no hope. She trembled and I could tell it was working. Bella began crying. he kills Juliet's cousin. Ugh! "I don't envy him the girl – just the ease of the suicide. I whispered every line of Romeos to her. a few minutes after their wedding." Bella guessed wrong. Could he have destroyed his own happiness any more thoroughly?" She sighed.

She returned her gaze to me. I wasn't going to live without you. seizing my eyes. 'this is something you had to think about once'?" That wasn't the reaction I was looking for. never think of anything like that again! No matter what might ever happen to me. "You must never. Again." she said obstinately. "The Volturi are a family." I rolled my eyes. very powerful family of our kind. "What do you mean. you are not allowed to hurt yourself!" she almost cried." I explained. hoping to ease her terror. but part of my mind was making contingency plans. "I'll never put you in danger again. She shook her head trying to erase the memories. "What is a Volturi?" she demanded. when you were…nearly killed…" I took in another large gulp of her heady scent. "Last spring. "Of course I remember. "Well. She was probably remembering that fateful night. I thought it was obvious. and stared at nothing. "Contingency plans?" she gulped. She grabbed my face and her palms started warming my cheeks. before he settled in America – do you remember the story?" I asked. it's not as easy for me as it is for a human. I suppose. never. "What are you talking about. They are the closest thing our world has to a royal family. "Of course I was trying to focus on finding you alive. "Anyway. She looked me directly in the eyes." I explained.something I had to think about once. She looked up." I remembered Carlisle's stories and memories of the Volturi. reveling in her aliveness. so it's a moot point. I watched her face show many emotions ranging from anger to horror." she demanded. I guessed. I remembered how I thought about this when the one person that really mattered in the world was possibly dead. Bella turned her body to face me. A very old. Her eyes met mine and she looked terrified. She didn't understand. she surprised me with her words." . in Italy. and I knew from Carlisle's experience that it wouldn't be simple. "But I wasn't sure how to do it – I knew Emmett and Jasper would never help…so I was thinking maybe I would go to Italy and do something to provoke the Volturi. Carlisle lived with them briefly in his early years. you don't irritate the Volturi." I smiled. Like I said. I didn't want to bring her mood down so I smiled again. I'm not even sure how many ways Carlisle tried to kill himself in the beginning…after he realized what he'd become…And he's clearly still in excellent health. not unless you want to die – or whatever it is we do.

"How dare you even think like that?" her voice had raised several octaves. "You make that sound so easy." she mumbled. kids. "I thought we'd established that all the bad luck is my fault?" Her anger flared. I could hear Charlie struggling with something in the car. "Would you want me to go off myself?" Thinking of Bella no longer living sent the worst pain plummeting through my stomach and almost shattering my heart. I smiled. "That's not the same thing. I chuckled in spite of myself. "but what would I do without you?" I would wither and die…more like I'd beg for death to take the pain away." . Thanks. "I'm not really that interesting" She was insane. I sighed. There really was no point in arguing because I knew where my feelings were and where they would forever lay. "Hey." "It should be. She was the most interesting creature I had ever come across in my existence." I admitted. finally. "What if something did happen to you?" she cringed. "Whatever you were doing before I came along and complicated your existence. "I guess I see your point…a little." he smiled at Bella. "Sure. Dad. and walked inside. I was speechless by her outrage but quickly composed myself. Suddenly I heard the murmur of Charlie's thoughts from down the road. He was carrying a pizza box. I very nearly compared to the way I felt during the night in Phoenix. "I thought you'd like a break from cooking and washing dishes for your birthday. if the situation were reversed?" I asked. "What would you do." she explained like this was obvious. "Moot point. moving Bella away from me. He reached the door. She was so absurd. "Charlie?" she asked. Bella reached out and grabbed my hand with a smug look on her face." she argued."Put me in danger!" she growled. Hungry?" he asked. I sat up quickly." I pointed out. The cruiser pulled into the driveway.

I never told Bella that his thoughts were usually half-way hidden from me. The corners of my lips went up as a smile broke across my face. I realized that Alice was probably going to go insane if I brought Bella over any later than seven. pointed it in my direction. It was absolutely disgusting." Charlie smiled." Charlie picked up the camera and threw it towards Bella. Dad. Sometimes his thoughts were as clear as a picture and other times they were completely unreadable. Charlie's thoughts were usually a light humming or murmuring in my head. "It works. Charlie. She hasn't been over in a while. You kids have fun tonight. anyway. "So I won't be any kind of company…Here." Bella fiddled with the camera. "If they're doing something fun at the Cullen's tonight. It took all of us to finally get her out of the house! At least Alice wouldn't be angry at me for not bringing her. "It's been three days. "I'll tell her." she paused. "Do you mind if I borrow Bella for the evening?" I turned my gaze to Charlie. 2. I'm sure she could see it clear in her mind now. say hi to Alice for me." Bella noted. Bella. "Good idea. Hey. I reached out effortlessly and caught it." Charlie called out. I suppressed a chuckle at Bella's reaction. "Nice save. He wanted to watch his game and I wanted Bella to receive her gifts from everyone." I was instantly gratified by him recommending this activity. "That's fine – the Mariners are playing the sox tonight. you should take some pictures. You know how your mother gets – she'll be wanting to see the pictures faster than you can take them. It flashed. I looked at the time. I continued to watch her eat. I didn't know how they could eat that food. "That's good. When Bella was finished she returned to my side." Charlie explained. I watched Bella's eyes turn to Charlie. She grabbed a slice out of the box and took a bite. That is one vision she didn't have to worry about anymore. She didn't even get close to the camera when she tried to catch it. The Monster ." Charlie was ready to have us out of the house.Bella's hand left mine as she got up to help Charlie with the pizza. "Okay. warming me immediately. Hope was apparent on her face. marching to the TV." Charlie exclaimed. He should have known better.

"Not a dime. "You know what you would love? A nice little Audi coupe. apathetic. I kept my pace contemptuous. I hid my smile. Cut us a little slack. or the best I could." She didn't know how wrong that statement was. She didn't argue about this. pulling her into my side and practically dragging her to her truck. Maybe she would be on her best behavior after all? I didn't question her new aplomb attitude. I sighed. I'll behave. Rosalie was a different matter. the rest of the family wasn't hearing any of that. "I probably should warn you. "Bella. letting it have its way with me for a very long second before I let out a gust of air. "Good. Normally I would be extremely aggravated." I replied with the merest flicker of a smile. but." she continued. She shifted in her seat to face me. brining her scent deep into my lungs. satisfied." She glanced at me suspiciously as her lips came together firmly as if she was thinking of retorting but then thought better of it." she sniffed. but not this evening. thinking back to what I really wanted to give her for her birthday. Very quiet. She gave a little nod. Even Emmett. keeping my voice low. human.I seized Bella from the kitchen. lots of power…" "There's nothing wrong with my truck. Everything was going well." That was a relief." her tiny eyebrows crinkled together to give her a slightly perplexed look. "And speaking of expensive nonessentials. The engine growled in anger when I broke the fifty mile per hour speed limit." Regardless of what her stipulations met for me. instead. "Take it easy. though. "if you know what's good for you. As I opened the passenger door I became momentarily stunned. I helped her up into her seat and then shut the door." she rounded on me. But this was no time for arguments. "That depends on what it is. They all spent money and loved every second of it. They're all very excited. you didn't spend any money on my birthday presents. making my way hastily to the driver's side where I slid in with smooth grace. Would she? "Can you do me a favor?" I asked softly. the last real birthday any of us had was Emmett in 1935." . I could still tell she was apprehensive. But I was limited with her trucks internal speed limit. Of course. she wouldn't get angry at them. and don't be too difficult tonight. "Fine. Hopefully.

"Please do," she answered serenely. Okay – maybe those weren't the wisest choice of words. I realized that as soon as they left my lips. "When I say they're all excited…I do mean all of them." I knew Rosalie wasn't on her favorites list, but she was still going to be there and Bella needed to know beforehand. It's better she didn't get any more surprises than she needed. Comprehension dawned on her face before she said in an anguished tone, "Everyone? I thought Emmett and Rosalie were in Africa." "Emmett wanted to be here," I explained, purposefully leaving Rosalie out. "But…Rosalie," she shrieked in defiance. And of course, she noticed. I wanted to ease the terror that seemed to always accompany her when Rosalie was around. "I know Bella, Don't worry, she'll be on her best behavior." I hope, I added internally. I could read her eyes as she was thinking. As each second passed they became wider and wider until they were practically popping out in terror. The stress this was causing her left an empty feeling my stomach so I changed the subject, trying to direct our conversation in another direction. "So, if you won't let me get you the Audi, isn't there anything that you'd like for your birthday?" I asked while watching as her face grew whiter and whiter until she grasped my words. Maybe conversation wasn't the best avenue for this trip to my house. Again, I was kicking myself for the idiotic question. "You know what I want," she answered quietly. My lips turned down at the corners. I caught a glance of her and I could not bring myself to argue. "Not tonight, Bella. Please." Her voice was low when she responded. "Well, maybe Alice will give me what I want," she amended darkly. Okay – she was going a little too far with this. Now I was white, white with rage. I knew Alice wanted to change her in which I had vehemently refused every time she brought it up. We had this argument before when Bella wasn't around. She would stay human, the end, no questions. This didn't stop Alice's thoughts from protruding into my mind, letting me know her secret longings for a sister…a sister named Bella. My stomach turned over in pain at the thought. My body vibrated while a deep growl exited my lips. It was purely out of reaction of the horrible image this thought produced in me. I immediately felt guilty. "This isn't going to be your last birthday, Bella," I promised. "That's not fair!" Bella's voice rose furiously.

My teeth were clenched so tight I was sure if I were to speak my words would be muffled. Metal might have melted beneath my inhuman glare. Honestly, I was surprised the windshield withstood it. As we drove down my drive way you could see little orange lights grow brighter and larger as we passed them. I took several deep breaths. Every particle I inhaled was laced with the delicious smell of Bella's fragrance. My anger flooded out of me at the sound of Bella's anguish. She moaned loudly in expressive pain. When I turned to her, she was disgusted with the party decorations. She really did hate celebrating her birthday. My scowl vanished, but the conversation wasn't forgotten. I just hoped she didn't bring up the subject in front of my family. Some of them might agree with Bella and she didn't need any more fuel to feed her fire. "This is a party, try to be a good sport," I reminded her. "Sure," she grumbled, not even looking in my direction. Her frown was not as frightening as my own. Bella's here! Many thoughts chimed in, bringing me back to tonight's events. I parked the truck in the driveway and opened the door, letting the fresh air fill my lungs again. It was healing to breathe the fresh oxygen, though her scent was something I couldn't ever deny. It meant she was still alive. Moving swiftly, I made my way to her door, swung it opened and reached out to grab her up. I stopped halfway. I wanted it to still be her decision. She didn't flinch or hesitate as she grabbed my hand eagerly. "I have a question," she said, looking into my eyes with slight amusement. Surprised at her change of attitude, I didn't respond. Instead, I waited silently for her rebuttal. She glanced down at her camera, playing with it in her hands. She turned her gaze to me, an ominous smile spreading across her face. "If I develop this film, will you show up in the picture?" I could hear everyone's laughter from inside the house at her question. My bellowing chuckle came at the same time. She hopped out of the truck keeping my hand as we ascended the stairs and walked over the threshold of my house. Who would have thought only moments ago she was begging me to take her life…. We continued into the living room that was now decorated from floor to ceiling in pink flowers. My whole family was waiting patiently for us there. When we came into view, everyone except Rosalie shouted, "Happy Birthday Bella!" I don't even know why I'm here. Rosalie sneered. Of course, always the optimistic. I watched Bella's eyes circle the room, taking in the lavish decorations and the cake. Her heart drummed madly at the sight of it all. I pulled her into an embrace, wrapping my arms lightly around her waist. Her warmth rushed me and I brought my nose to her hair, breathing in the complexity of her scent before I kissed her lightly on her head, taking in another deep gulp of her scent before pulling away.

Disgusting, Rosalie thought. Or delicious if you wanted a snack. I shot her a glare. Her upper lip went up to expose her teeth. Her thoughts were always a continuous nasty remark. I had learned to ignore her long ago. Bella and I walked further into the room. Esme brought her into a tight embrace kissing her on her forehead. She looks lovely today! Esme's thoughts were never rude or mean. She always had something kind to say about Bella, either in her thoughts or out loud. Carlisle put his arm around Bella and whispered in her ear, "Sorry about this, Bella. We couldn't rein in Alice." Of course we could all hear every word he spoke to her. It's her birthday; it is a day of celebration...of course they couldn't rein me in! Alice thought indignantly. Emmett was doing a quick survey in his head. Same height, same color blush, and no wrinkles, just as human as ever… "You haven't changed at all," he quaked with suppressed mirth, "I expected a perceptible difference, but here you are, red-faced just like always." Bella looked extremely embarrassed and her blush deepened. "Thanks a lot, Emmett." I better put the CD player in her car before she realizes we bought her one. Alice warned me what would happen if I didn't… Emmett thought before winking in my direction. "I have to step out for a second," he nodded toward Alice and turned back to Bella. "Don't do anything funny while I'm gone." Make sure she doesn't trip until I'm there to see it, Emmett directed his thoughts my direction. I fully intended for Bella to never trip in the first place. I just shook my head back and forth. "I'll try," Bella replied sarcastically. Okay, enough… time for presents! Alice left Jaspers side and skipped toward Bella, a large smile prominent on her face. She smells awfully good today, I better keep my distance, Jasper thought. I was grateful for him always making sure Bella was safe, even from himself. He directed a smile in her direction to ease any tension his space might cause her. "Time to open presents," Alice ordered. She grabbed Bella by the elbow, taking her from my arms. Instantly the cold returned reminding me of how my life was before her: dismal and gray. Bella had a slight smile on her face. Maybe she was having a good time after all? "Alice, I know I told you I didn't want anything…"

"But I didn't listen," Alice interrupted. She held out her gift with a smug smile. "Open it," she demanded. She grabbed Bella's camera and placed the silver box in its place. She'll like it if she actually opens it, I can't tell…she must still be deciding, Alice mused mentally. Excitement rolled off her. You didn't have to have Jasper's abilities to feel it. I watched as many expressions flitted across Bella's face. When her indecision faded she ripped the paper off. She'll love it! Alice realized when Bella began tearing the paper. I knew it! When Bella finally got a good look at what was underneath all the wrapping paper her expression became mystified. She turned the box around in her hands, shaking it slightly. She gave up on figuring out the picture on the box and opened it. She stared into the empty box, "Um…thanks," Bella said, puzzled by the now open but empty box. Ha-ha, what an idiot, she doesn't even know what it is. Rosalie thought smugly and wasn't able to stop herself from letting a smile peak through her constant sneer. Silly Bella, Alice thought. Doesn't she know anything about electronics? Does she even know what a TV is? Jasper thought and then a bellowing laugh came out of his lips. He couldn't hold back the suspense any longer. "It's a stereo for your truck," he explained after no one else bothered to let her in on what it was. "Emmett's installing it right now so that you don't return it." That was Jasper – to the point, no edging around the facts. Bella had a blank stare across her face until she finally understood, like a small light popping on above her head. "Thanks, Jasper, Rosalie," she smiled widely at both of them, to my complete surprise. She looked in the direction of the garage and said, "Thanks, Emmett!" She didn't even know it was a radio at first, hilarious! Emmett laughed loudly. Bella heard him and laughed too. I was pleased to see things going so well. Alice wasn't though, she thought about this all day and 'predicted' this would be the outcome before she ever saw it. Okay, okay, it is my turn. I've been waiting forever for this! Alice thought while bringing her the next gift. "Open mine and Edward's next." It was more of a demand than an offer. I was instantly nervous, my stomach twisting around. I didn't spend any money on her and I hoped my gift was adequate enough after I saw her graciously accept an expensive gift. Bella turned and glared at me. "You promised," she hissed. Or maybe all of her leniency was gone. I was about to respond when Emmett charged through the room, I hope I haven't missed anything. "Just in time!"

I had a sudden great urge to swing around and seize her by the throat. His bite would not kill me. My beast couldn't fight the love that was deeply rooted inside me and all I could think about was how to save Bella from him. I had dealt with the taste of Bella on my tongue before and I wanted it more than ever in this moment. She turned to me while opening it and rolled her eyes. but suddenly it was more than that. She didn't see him coming. I felt the twin thirsts. shrieking it in my head. Most of them were able to keep their calm by holding their breath. This is so much fun. Anything to stop him. Blood! – Jasper! And that was the beginning of the end. The fragrance emitting from Bella was not only doubled. as a tiny droplet of blood came out of the cut. breaking the glass dishes. Everything was suddenly in slow motion. "I didn't spend a dime. If it wasn't for my protecting her. like she was finally going to hear her prison sentence. I would be . Not Jasper. carefully." Bella whispered. He was running on instincts alone." I assured her. Jasper felt everyone's thirst and I heard their thirst. I must have her! He roared in his head as he charged after her. but I did. He began snapping at me and Emmett grasped him while holding his own breath. Bella turned to Alice and inhaled deeply. I broke her. I wanted to fight him – to kill him. But all I could think was. but it would be painful. Pandemonium hit. deciding what part of her would taste the best. "Give it to me. Her heart skipped a few beats. She brought her finger to her eye. Rosalie is going to have to let me visit more often! Emmett thought and began chuckling under his breath. trying to fight me to get to his prey. I heard more tearing of skin and a rush of blood surged from her arm. shoving her out of the way. I heard her skin being sliced open and the instant thirst deep in me awakened the sleeping monster. Jasper was thrashing around under me. Just like with the van I rushed over to her. Alice turned to me as her finger jerked across the tape. "Shoot. I could smell it. The monster growled. Jasper was struggling against me fiercely while growling. it was radiating off of everyone's thoughts and feelings effecting Jasper and I more than ever. The scent hit the rest of my family and Bella was suddenly the only human in a sea of thirsty vampires.I turned back to Bella and finally got my sentence out." she exhaled. She had her finger under the tape. I turned to Jasper whose thoughts had gone wild. And not me. As was always with Jasper. absolutely oblivious. I didn't need to see it to know this. brushing a strand of her hair from her magnificent face. He roared and rejoiced when the aroma of fresh human blood hit me. over and over. Jasper gasped quietly but his thoughts remained civil. hoping this would appease her. I reached out slowly. My fingers lightly touched her jaw and a zing of electricity ran through me. like it was a snake. She fell spectacularly through the air and landed onto the cake. Bella reached out for the package slowly.

Carlisle took charge. Everyone had exited now except Alice. I inhaled several gulps of air. I was dissolving in misery. "Emmett." he ordered. She grabbed a towel and brought it over to Carlisle. It was so easy for him. Carlisle. Instantly. Emmett nodded. At the sight of Bella lying on the floor like a wounded animal. I ignored her. facing away. The scent was stronger than I thought. I leaned over her. Pebble sized droplets of blood were now trickling down Bella's arm. Edward. My jaw was set. I needed the warmth of her blood in my mouth but I continued to struggle with Jasper." she said softly. I knew he would fix her. Each breath was tearing at my lungs so I quickly held my breath." I knew this was going to happen one day. The room had fallen silent. His thoughts were relatively calm. Alice was still in the room holding her breath. Carlisle knelt down slowly and examined her arm. I looked away. "I'm so sorry. . I can't take it anymore. A wave of terror hit while grief and worry drowned out the thirst when I realized how much I had actually injured her. Agony crashed into me as the thought I broke her kept reverberating through my head. Rosalie thought smugly while pushing against Jasper's chest. Once I realized it was safe I nodded and moved for him to get to her. "Here. Copious amounts of blood were still spilling from her arm. Her eyes were wide with terror. doing more then I could at the moment. My stomach gave a jolt of uneasiness." Carlisle demanded with a kind and fatherly look. How would I protect her from all of them? Carlisle would help. "Let me by. Carlisle and I. disgusted with myself. I hoped. in between thirst and horror. Dread and panic burst through me. "Come on Jasper. Looking around I saw everyone's thirsty expression. My brain was still in limbo. I heard a howl of fury out in the woods. Rose.feeding from her myself. My panic at the fact that I hurt Bella finally erupted through my stomach like poisonous gas. He barely noticed her blood. as I knew he could." Esme said while backing out of the door. get Jasper outside. I looked at my remaining family and I growled threateningly letting them know that there was to be no more harm to come to her. The monsters inside me were clawing and breaking my bones now. My mouth was dry and frozen. I refused to let her become my prey. I was trying to master myself while acting the hero. I felt bad for doubting him. Bella.

She warmed them and even under all the stress of the situation her heart still gave a little squeeze. I finally placed Bella in a chair softly." she sighed. I watched her eyes and she began to turn green." said Bella. Her eyes didn't leave mine. I bent down to bring her into my arms. she looks like she is going to be sick. "Bella. Get some fresh air. "Just go Edward." Bella whispered. not wanting to hurt her anymore than I already had. bringing me back to the present. My muscles were tight and my stomach had a hollow yearning for her blood. She was so feeble laying there bleeding. It was a lie though. This is going to take a lot of cleaning. "Too much glass in the wound. quickly holding her breath when she caught scent of Bella's blood in the air. I kept her in my arms. Bella continued to study my face. Bella was going to be sick. her voice still quavering." Alice said. but I had an instant flashback to last year's biology blood typing incident. She looked me over and read the lie in my facial expression. It was silly. Selfless should be her middle name." I told her even though I knew that I was horribly powerless in this moment. please. Carlisle thought. I could handle it – I would handle it." Carlisle replied to Alice while shaking his head. waiting for something horrible to happen. I kept my teeth clenched." Carlisle looked at me. Leave her? Never! Maybe she is worried about me? Of course she is always worried about someone else. Can you handle it? He was being absolutely serious. Carlisle continued to keep pressure on her arm as I brought her over to the table. Alice walked into the room. She will need a lot of stitches. I watched as Carlisle ripped part of the table cloth and wrapped it around Bella's arm stopping the flow of blood. "I'll go get your bag. "I'm fine. "Do you want me to drive you to the hospital." Carlisle said softly. "You don't need to be the hero. anyone else but herself. .This is bad. "How are you doing Bella?" Both of us looked at her. There was a horrible plummeting in my stomach. This was wrong. Oh my. The venom was flowing so freely in my mouth I was constantly swallowing it. I didn't know if things could get any worse. or would you like me to take care of it here?" "Here. "Let's take her to the kitchen table. Carlisle thought and added aloud. Carlisle can fix me up without your help." she insisted. Everything was so wrong. There were so many emotions going through me at this moment that I'm sure it looked like someone had just hit me across my face with something very heavy. She walked forward and placed Carlisle's black bag on the table. I never wanted to let her go. so much glass. "I can handle it.

The moonlight was gleaming off the water and reflecting on Jasper's face. "I'll stay. The guilt and shame he was feeling wasn't concealed. Chapter 3: Decisions Finding Jasper was not difficult. I can handle this. I need you to check on Jasper. The small release of anger wasn't enough and I began running." "Why are you so masochistic?" Bella grumbled. My body didn't budge. "Yes. gave a tight nod and strode from the room. I looked at all of them. The tree shook and trembled under my blow before falling and bringing down two more trees. I'll be right behind you. I'm sure he's upset with himself. I noticed that it was perfectly shaped like he had punched right through it. I refused to leave her. Alice's thoughts chimed in right along with them. I found the closest tree and kicked it in a great temper. Behind him was a rock taller than him that had a large hole in it. I had always been her guardian vampire." Alice added." Carlisle insisted. anyway. No…no. "Edward. though. go. It was not the release I was waiting for.Yes. Edward. please. So. and I'll doubt he will listen to anyone but you now. Soft dappled green light was coming through the trees as the moon peered through the clouds. very. at the edge of the water next to a spring. He saw me as a threat still. Jasper was trying to rage war in his mind on his guilt and rebellion. I looked at them while my eyes became narrower and narrower. very wrong. using my nose to help me track the one person who I would release my anger on now. Go." "You might as well do something useful. you may as well go find Jasper before he gets too far. They were practically kicking me out. Carlisle thought impatiently. Go outside and get some fresh air. I can't believe I did that! How could I do this to my family after everything they have done for me? What will Alice think…and Edward? I'm so weak! Jasper paced back and . When I exited the house the fresh air ripped through my lungs. His scent led me to where he was. for me. Edward. go find Jasper. No matter how much of the balmy night's air I breathed in I could still smell the seductive and sinister taste of Bella's blood. Bella was looking at me and nodded. I was Bella's hero. Alice begged. this was wrong. this has to be incredibly hard for you.

The worst thought of all flitted into the forefront of my mind. I didn't hesitate as we collided." Esme's voice came through two large trees. I put her in harm's way. I shoved him into the already broken bolder. Inches. Edward? Rosalie sneered. I staggered back several more steps as the day's events began flashing through my mind. My hand was wrapped around his neck. I fell to the ground as shock finally took over my body. He didn't struggle against my grasp. I turned to face Rosalie. I knew something like this was going to happen eventually. I am constantly putting her in danger. it followed her around. Jasper's thoughts became frantic. Emmett thought. my throat was vibrating in anger. "I didn't…" he began. . Please. Will next time be her last? And I knew deep down that there would be a next time. This could have happened on any day. She was prone to danger. It is overwhelming. I removed my hand from his neck and took several horrified steps backward as Emmett and Rosalie swiftly flew out of the forest. This is my fault! The thoughts came in a great magnitude and I could feel my stomach twisting in horror. Maybe I could go back just to have a small taste. "You conceited little…" I began. If I would have just listened to her earlier and let her skip the party then this wouldn't have happened. You don't want to do that.forth. It was instantly crushed into thousands of small pieces as a thunderous crash reverberated off the water and trees. Emmett saw Jasper up against the crushed bolder and in a split second he had his hand on my shoulder ready to stop me from doing something I would regret. Bella was only inches away from death. "What was that noise?" Emmett asked. enough! Don't tear our family apart. Edward. But the scent…the smell…it was beyond delicious. Jasper froze in thought and quickly turned to face me. I'm sorry. You know I like Bella. "Edward. what else did you expect. She is a human. You don't realize how hard it is for me when I have to feel everyone's thirst along with mine. I repeated in my head. I didn't want to hurt her. A dangerous growl formed in my stomach and soared out of my mouth.

Alice saw his next line of action and was at Jasper's side in a second. I have to get out of here. We can't put her in danger any more. "We have time to think about this. anguish. Please don't do this. The suffering I'm feeling is torture. "Edward. "Go. It was her only chance at surviving and living a long and happy life."Edward. please don't. But the images didn't stop." . If I stayed with her I would eventually kill her. She had seen my course of action as soon as I had thought about it. I love her too much. Not yet. I've seen it! I saw how happy we could all be together. helping me to my feet." If tears could have filled my eyes they would have. "We have to go. I looked up at her." Esme tried to calm my frenzied nerves. It doesn't have to be right this second. She finally appeared in the small clearing we were standing in. I love her so much. Jasper's face was screwed up in anguish. I brought my fingers to my temple pushing inward hoping to expel all thoughts. they were constant in my mind. Esme and Alice's arms were around me. by Alice's. "It's not okay! If this happens again…" I drifted off while I continued to try to repress all my thoughts. Each emotion was tearing through my un-beating heart. The weight in my stomach was ripping through me. She went straight to Jasper. I was being tormented by my thoughts and worse." he answered while looking in my direction. agony. "I'll catch up in a few minutes. Edward. you can't make us leave." she said to him." Through Alice's eyes I could see the pure anguish on my face. I brought her to danger time and time again. I put my face to the ground begging for the pain to dissipate. torture. queuing inline to rip me to pieces." Esme said softly. what do you mean? You want us to leave? I can't imagine you leaving Bella behind. Pain. Who was I kidding? I had to leave her. everything is okay. I know this must be hard for you but she is okay. Alice's thoughts were pure agony and pain like she was almost crying with exasperation. Are you sure this is the best idea?" Esme whispered. You can't do this. grief…All stacked up in big piles. I'm begging you! Alice pleaded over and over in her mind. "Are you okay?" "I'm fine. Edward. though. "I don't know about him.

"I wasn't sure what had to be done. Sick as he was. so many centuries earlier in London. The kind of face I would have wanted my son to have. she thought. That pain was nothing compared to what I was feeling now or what I would be feeling later once I left her. "I need to check on Bella. I've never been sorry that I saved Edward. He didn't realize how wrong he was. I accelerated through the forest. I felt bad about that later. though. Rosalie. . and carried him across the rooftops back to my home. at least. "We'll be back. he was still beautiful. I settled for recreating the wounds I'd received myself. No one noticed that he was still breathing." Emmett stepped in between us. I have taken this innocent creature and put her in constant danger. I stopped to rearrange my face. "I can't believe you! You are going to make us move because of that human girl?" "I've moved numerous times for you. It was more painful and lingering than necessary. What kind of a person am I? You're not a person. we are all moving and we'll meet you there."Go to Denali. I simply acted on a whim. I stole him out the back door. The morgue was empty – of the living. There weren't enough hands. and then I came back for him. you're a monster! I heard Carlisle continue his story. Go." I commanded." Carlisle paused. Once Jasper was gone Rosalie spoke up. There was something pure and good about his face. I wheeled his mother to the morgue first." she retorted in an angry tone. even their minds were quiet during the situation they had witnessed. Jasper was gone that instant." I said to Esme. When I reached the opening behind my house I was hollow." I shouted "Hey now. Emmett and Rosalie were completely silent. "I looked at Edward." Carlisle said. "After all those years of indecision. enough eyes. I could hear Carlisle talking with her. Each thought tore at me and I could feel the pieces slowly being ripped off of me and dropping to the dark forest floor. I couldn't let Bella see me like this. every part of my body had been ripped to shreds. I'm not pure or good. we can discuss this later when tempers aren't flying." I remembered the fire burning through my veins during the three days of my transformation. "I wasn't sorry. to keep track of half of what the patients needed.

Alice strode past me with such indignation in her that it almost broke my resolve. The fear of what the scent might do to me twisted my stomach into knots. still and unoccupied." I said while walking into the light of the room. I'll have Alice get you something. I felt like I was choking. If a vampire could produce tears I knew that they would be leaving tracks down her face. Bella's shirt was damp with blood. I couldn't take the guilt. Why would you do this to her? Alice's face was twisted in sadness. "C'mon. The . Don't you see. I know why you came out here. I hope he decides to keep her." Pathetic. I…I have to. she thought. also." I protested. Alice's hand was resting on Bella's lower back like she was making sure she wouldn't trip. Alice turned to face me. "Alice. "You'll need to change anyway. She was throwing rocks into the water violently. "I'll get you something less macabre to wear. "Carlisle sews faster than any other doctor I've had. Bella studied my expression for a moment and saw something there that I was hoping she wouldn't see. I froze at the door but Alice didn't hesitate and went quickly to her side." she pointed to the stairs." Carlisle and Esme both began chuckling." I pleaded." They ascended the stairs. "If I don't let her go now and something happens to her. I followed her into the house. "I suppose I should take you home now. "I'm fine. I'll get Bella another shirt. I quickly held my breath. Carlisle smiled at Bella." "I'll do that. Esme thinks of her as her daughter." Bella was assuring Esme. I stood in the door frame. Esme was thinking when we walked through the back doors. "I'm fine. You can't do this to us." she offered. I moved speedily to the edge of the water behind our house where I found her. "Carlisle can take me. Her face was twisted in pain and rigid with defiance. Don't you understand that this is going to hurt more than just you? We have all grown fond of her. You'd give Charlie a heart attack the way you look." I walked out of the kitchen to retrieve Alice. I love Bella so much.I was in the shadow of the door frame in the dining room.

"Alice. Now? What about Bella? "We are going to leave her behind. "How bad is it?" she wondered. "Yes?" Tiny tears were in Bella's eyes but they never left the protection of her eye lids." she responded to Bella. Edward do you see what this is already doing to her and you haven't even broke the news. "He's very unhappy with himself. I could see everything so clearly in her mind right now.footsteps of Bella sounded so hollow and blank. It's bad. You'll tell him that I'm not mad at him. "It's not his fault." Are you sure that you want to do this? Carlisle asked in disbelief. no…of course we can do whatever it is you need us too." Bella whispered. "We're moving. This won't be a problem will it?" I asked in a low voice. "How's Jasper?" Bella asked Alice with her misty protuberant eyes. and he hates feeling weak. Gone. Alice sighed. Alice has seen what will be and she knows she can't stop it. Alice thought heatedly. There was no more to be said between us on this subject matter. The weight of several minutes passed and I gazed up at the ceiling. not at all. Alice was headed toward the door to leave. "I have to. It's all so much more of a challenge for him. He's gone! We're all going to be…gone… Alice thought defeated. inclining my head as if to better hear their conversation. No. Carlisle's thoughts began pondering and planning. I can't risk her life anymore. I…I just don't understand. almost like she was already gone from my world. won't you?" . I am going to give her the human life she deserves. I love her too much. What is it son? Carlisle asked." Bella's voice was screwed up in guilt."I'm not sure yet." I replied simply. really bad. it's really. Alice turned to face her.

They both said goodnight to me and we walked out of the house. She grabbed her unopened gifts. Please don't take her from us. I ignored her thoughts because other thoughts were now protruding through my mind. I shook my head infinitesimally at her thought." Alice said in faux cheerfulness. She will open her gifts." Alice replied. Alice snapped at me. keeping pace with her. Esme pleaded weakly. a reminder of a happier time with Bella. "You can thank me later. I knew that Bella would always be selfless even when her own life was in danger. Bella had a sallow look on her face as she walked toward me. not after we have all fallen for her. I saw the big red ribbon on the dashboard. Jasper will think what he wants to think…she thought. turning so I wouldn't have to see their accusing stares. Edward. her camera and the half opened gift off the table and shoved them in Bella's good arm. We all love her so much. I waited for her at the front door.Not like it will matter. When I reached the driver's side and opened the door the bow had been torn off and thrown under her seat. I'm afraid this is not the right way to go about this. Not now. these gifts belong to her and you won't take them away. She climbed in slowly. I opened the passenger's side door for her and she didn't argue with me this time. I could hear them descending the stairs slowly. Maybe we could talk about it… Carlisle began thinking. even if I have to come there and make her do it myself. Light flooded out of the door as two shadows became prominent: Carlisle and Esme. "Take your things!" Alice burst out behind Bella. Does she want it to be over? . They watched as I walked slowly next to Bella. Alice growled with cold anger in every syllable. Son. "Goodnight. "Of course." I replied to them softly. The happier time that was only an hour ago. No Edward. when you've opened them. She's not leaving this house without her birthday gifts! Alice commanded while shooting glowering looks in my direction.

" She wants me to forgive her? Insane! This isn't her fault." . "What do you want me to say?" I asked vaguely." I roared in exasperation. It's mine…all mine. nothing would have happened. A crease was forming between Bella's eye brows. I am all wrong for her. "It's still my fault. waiting for me to break down so they could have their way with me. I reveled in it for a quick second before I turned the key. Her little fingers tightened into fists.Before I turned the key in the ignition the familiar sweet perfume emanating from her met my nostrils and I let her scent into my lungs. "Your fault? If you'd cut yourself at Mike Newton's house. "Say something. She was right. It will only make me more disgusted with myself. The engine clamored to life but the sound wasn't loud enough to drown out the silence between Bella and me in this moment of unease." she looked down at her clenched hands and slightly unclenched them. She could tell there was something wrong with me. you gave yourself a paper cut – that hardly deserves the death penalty. I accelerated quickly down my driveway in her truck. I watched her through the reflection too and her expressions continually changed so I could never tell what exactly her thoughts were." she begged when I was turning onto the freeway. I could see my reflection in the glass and there was nothing there but a ferocious inhuman glare prominent on my face." "Bella. "Forgive you? For what?" I asked crisply. 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. ignoring the internal speed limit that accompanied her truck. with Jessica there and Angela and your other normal friends. Her face became pleading. Several lists of the worst kinds of emotions were ready to drown me and they continued to queue up. Don't try to take any of this on yourself. Bella. "If I'd been more careful. 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 – and he wouldn't be fighting the urge to kill you the whole time he was there. "Tell me you forgive me. I still tried to probe her mind and hit a solid wall. It doesn't matter! You shouldn't care what her thoughts are! I yelled internally. I knew my face expressed something that Bella had never seen before.

like I needed to pull over and vomit. How I wanted to grab him up by the throat and snap his neck. Each horrible emotion was lining up one at a time to obliterate me. This couldn't be the end. I was suffocating in despair and sorrow while terror was rising inside me as each agonizing second passed until there would be no more seconds with her. She smelled so…delicious. I have to let her go! I injured her in an attempt to protect her. I inhaled her amazing scent and I let it burn me. knowing this would be the last time I would be graced with such an aroma. I exhaled and then brought another deep gulp of air into my lungs. I felt like I was being submerged in misery. please. don't you be ridiculous. There was a necessity to leave her to her future…a future I could never have. "Don't be melodramatic. "How the hell did Mike Newton end up in this conversation?" "Mike Newton ended up in this conversation because Mike Newton would be a hell of a lot healthier for you to be with. . It was intoxicating. "I'd rather die than be with anyone but you. I imagined her being with Mike Newton and all I could think about is how much I wanted to kill him. The gut wrenching terror of leaving her very nearly swallowed me whole. I didn't move from my position. The truck was groaning as I pressed the gas down as far as it would go." "Well then. This is exactly why you should leave her! She's your meal! My stomach twisted in pain while the rest of my insides plummeted sickeningly. She would go on with her life – she would have a life to go on with." I growled at her. I pulled into Bella's driveway then. The heavy reluctance I was feeling barred down on me. She glared at me." she protested. not now. I'm letting her go." I wouldn't let her die. The pain had overcome me and I was unable to move." she said in triumph. It was nothing I had ever encountered before. "Will you stay tonight?" she asked timidly. "I'd rather die than be with Mike Newton. I couldn't though. For the first time I can remember I felt sick. that was the problem…the reason I had to leave her. Flat orange glares of the street lights loomed into view. I felt horribly powerless. My hands were tightly clenched around her steering wheel in an attempt to not reach over and hold her hand and bring her to my arms one last time.She looked at me haughtily.

Maybe there is another way to convince her to not take them. If I was going to stay with her this last night then I would at least be the gentleman she was accustomed to. "I'll be in your room. Carlisle and Esme spent money on you." "I want them. "No." She smiled at me and my resolve nearly melted." she replied. I can't say no to her on her birthday. trying to persuade myself." she responded." she pressed. at least. "Let me carry them. "I'll live."I should go home. Why this? Why did she want the one thing I wanted more than anything on this earth ever? She's right next to you – you don't have to leave her right now. I'll see you upstairs. I was hoping she would give up on this conquest so I wouldn't be the weak one. She hopped out of the truck turning to grab her gifts. "Thanks. One more day – you will see her one more time. "You can't have it both ways – either you want people to ignore your birthday or you don't." she snapped while she fumbled around with her presents tucking them under her good arm. Of course she was stubborn and would do the opposite of what I suggested. I thought. I decided. I didn't want her to take them because I knew they would remind her of me when I was gone and I didn't want to cause her any more pain than I already had to. "For my birthday. "Okay." she ordered. For a fleeting second I thought we could get through this evening and back to normal. I was out of the truck and by her side within a second. I took the sweet aroma into my lungs." I was thoroughly discomposed. . One or the other. I've decided that I don't want you to ignore my birthday. I knew I was just making up excuses to stay. The pain hit worse after that thought. I could just extend the deadline." I stressed." I said while grasping her gifts. "You don't have to take those." I answered unemotionally. Of all the things she could ask for her birthday she continued to ask for things I wouldn't give her. I heard her exhale lightly and the smell circled the truck. you don't.

I smiled down at her glorious face realizing that she was the light. I would carve her in my memory forever. I went over and sat on her bed while turning one of her unopened gifts over and over in my palm. The blood was shimmering because the crystal pieces were reflecting onto her. I realized in this second of passion that I am empty of everything but her. I saw her presents on her bed." I brought my lips to hers in that one moment of happiness. It's nothing. I couldn't . I heard Bella's attempts to go to bed being thwarted by Charlie. I could feel my stomach twist a little tighter. "Goodnight." I repeated sourly under my breath. an angel. Chapter 4: Hollow I was waiting for Bella in her room while staring unseeingly out her window at the night's sky as the moon slid behind the clouds and the grounds below became suddenly dark. This must be the end and I couldn't let this kiss convince me to stay. I sighed. It was too bad that these gifts would mean nothing when I left. "It's nothing." Bella said. It was a desperate attempt – a foolish one. The pang of guilt that was constantly emitting from my body had twisted my stomach into so many knots I was afraid I would never be able to fix it. I turned away from the window realizing I wasn't going to leave tonight. and I was the dark. I remembered the scene vividly in my head as she flew across the glass plates cutting her arm. I was still severely shaken from the evenings events. She propped herself up on her toes to make the kiss last longer but I pulled away. I threw her into a bunch of glass plates trying to protect her from my brother sucking the life from her body. "What happened to your arm?" Charlie asked Bella tentatively. Dad.I couldn't resist her any longer. Searing pain rippled through my body once more. I had not been paying attention to most of their conversation because my mind was elsewhere. I heard her light footsteps in the bathroom as she brushed her teeth and washed up. I continued to stare out the window as I resisted the temptation to leave her room and never come back because surely this evening with her will cause me more pain when I finally leave. Electricity shot through my veins." Bella replied. a monster. "Happy birthday. The one I held in my palm was tickets for us to go see her mother in Florida. I knew this evening I was just pulling myself into a false sense of security. I answered internally. "I tripped. She was my whole world.

do you? It's sunny. "I can't believe it. I shouldn't take anything for granted tonight because this would be my last. turned to close the door lightly and then faced me.imagine her having these tickets and not being able to take me. "Hi. She pulled the lid off slowly and peered into the box. reveling in the beauty of it. "Can I open my presents now?" "Where did the enthusiasm come from?" I wondered. For a fleeting second I was going to take it from her and throw it out the window but I thought better of it. I knew that they would just be another reminder of the monster in her past. The door of Bella's room cracked open slowly as light from the hallway flooded her room. "Hi. I knew the pain had broken through my pretense already by the worried look on her face. you'll have to stay inside all day. I handed it to her to finish opening it. I would have to come back to steal them away. She walked in. There was only a white box left. "That's the idea. though. "Are you sure I can handle lifting the lid?" she asked bitterly. There had been enough bloodshed tonight." She didn't try to hide the excitement that was evident on her face. shoving the presents away. I wouldn't allow her to cut herself on something as delicate as paper again. It was the plane tickets. I inhaled her wonderful fragrance." I suggested." I said softly. "You made me curious. and climbed into my lap. My arms suddenly warmed as she brought her head to my chest." . I grabbed the shiny silver box out of her hands and pulled the wrapping paper off. "Allow me. reading. "We're going to Jacksonville?" she exclaimed. She looked confused as her eyes darted from one side of the ticket to the next. Comprehension dawned on her face." she said quietly. She walked slowly over to the bed." she whispered. Renée is going to flip! You don't mind. She reached out and grabbed the gift that was at the top of the pile.

"Does your arm hurt?" I asked anxiously. Her eyes grew wide when she recognized the song. of course it's too much." I explained. and removing me from her memory was going to be the best way. Even with the wretched pain I was feeling I chuckled despite myself at her eagerness. But I get to take you with me!" she trilled excitedly. It was too bad there would be no trip to Florida. Pain erupted through me at the thought of leaving her. reminding myself what I had done to her." she explained. I can't believe it. curiosity alight in her eyes. I handed her back the CD jewel case that held a single CD in it. . I thought you'd complain." "Well. I was unsure what her reaction was and I tried once again to penetrate her mind." I replied amicably. She would know immediately what it was once I played it for her. I would make sure she could move on." She listened tentatively for several more seconds. You couldn't have given me anything I would love more. I watched her reaction and knew that I would have to make sure I removed this CD from her player before I left. Edward. I didn't realize that you were capable of being reasonable. I had to remember why I was doing this. A few silent seconds elapsed before the music began playing. I was astounded by her response to the expensive gift. too." "I didn't think you would let me get a piano so I could play for you here. She picked up the present and I took it from her to unwrap it. "No. to no avail. it's not my arm. I should have gotten her the Audi coupe after all… "Now I wish I'd spent money on your present. She turned it over in her hand a few times. "How does your arm feel?" I asked. She must be in pain." I saw her eyes shift to my unopened gift. I frowned at the thought. I was immediately worried that my gift would be inadequate. She brought the back of her hand to her eyes and wiped the tears away before they spilled over. I thought. "You're right. She sniffed and looked at me like I was insane."I think I can handle it. Moisture began building up in her eyes. too. "If I had any idea that you could respond to a gift this appropriately. Bella listened to the music carefully. I would have made you open it in front of Carlisle and Esme. I hit the play button. I had put her lullaby on the first track. "It's beautiful. I took the CD from her and put it in her CD player next to her bed. "What is it?" she looked perplexed. I had recorded my compositions for her to listen to when I wasn't able to play for her.

My throat burned sweetly at the fragrance. I laid beside her and pulled her close to my chest. "He won't catch me. I felt a chill go through my body at the absence of Bella's warmth. "It's late. I moved the covers on her bed and laid her down gently while pulling them over her. Her breath flitted around my nostrils as I took in several generous gulps of her perfume. I rushed back to her room. Charlie was too engrossed in the baseball game that was playing downstairs to notice a silent vampire lurking in the bathroom. realizing that the words were empty because I would be stealing her gift back. "What are you thinking about?" she whispered. I pictured her body flying across the air and landing with a crashing thud on the ground as Jasper tried to attack. shutting the door silently behind me. I felt like my world was being turned upside down. I could no longer bring death and destruction to her door. actually. I was going to have to leave this wonderful creature and never return. How could I have ever let it come to this? I felt my stomach sink horribly." she lied." I promised. She brought her face to my shoulder and sighed. I pulled her off my lap and fluidly moved to her door to go to the bathroom. The weight of several minutes passed as Bella continued to lie against my chest breathing evenly. When I finally leave…how would I feel then? "Charlie. You are all wrong for her. I looked sideways at her. She needed sleep after everything she had been through today." she breathed. Once she placed the glass of water down I quickly pulled her up into my arms. I reminded myself." I replied simply. "Thanks again. I filled a glass with water and grabbed the Tylenol bottle out of the cabinet. She took the pills and water without complaining. leaving the cover in between us so she wouldn't get cold."Just fine." "I don't need anything." she protested. letting her warmth fill me. "I'll get you some Tylenol. "You're welcome. Her breath washed over me as it tickled my throat. I inhaled her wonderful scent." . "I was thinking about right and wrong." she whispered franticly. I thought she had gone to sleep until she inclined her head toward my face." I noted.

Her cheeks were flushed. Many thoughts ran through my mind at what I must do. She always had everything so backwards. I was sure this would be the last time we would be together so intimately. bringing me into her embrace fiercely. I realized I had gone too far and froze under her touch. roared in appreciation at our kiss. Normally I would have stopped her but I wanted it just as badly as she did. I was thinking. "You're greedy tonight." I suppressed a sigh. I brought my free arm around her and twisted my hand in her hair." I said breathlessly. Moments when our lips met were pure bliss. She fell back onto her pillow." I replied suspiciously. "I don't mind. if at all. bringing her face closer to mine. I pushed her away as gently as I could against all my desires. "Yes. I sighed heavily. since it's still my birthday. I was taking in large gasps of air as excitement ripped through my body. I took air into my lungs and let her delicious aroma burn my aching throat. trying to distract me. I stared at her incredulously. Our lips met and electricity rapidly flew through my veins." I stated. desire. I suddenly realized that this would be the last time that I will be able to kiss her like this. She grabbed at my hair. "That was out of line. A chuckle at the silly thought escaped my lips. Her lips were moving fluidly with mine as she began panting. I am – but please." I replied sarcastically." And it was – I had put her life in danger from myself…again. "Yes. pulling me ever closer to her body. I threw myself into the kiss more enthusiastically than normal. I didn't want to resist but I had too. The monster. I was eager to bring her as close to me as possible. Her lips parted and I inhaled her breath. I threw caution to the wind and I was suddenly urgent." she replied airily. don't do anything you don't want to. A small smile spread across her face. ."Remember how I decided that I wanted you to not ignore my birthday?" she asked. "Well. My desire was burning stronger than ever. Our bodies were crushed together while she sighed in ecstasy." she breathed. I heard her heart drumming madly as she reached greedily toward my face. that I'd like you to kiss me again. wild gasps escaping her lips as her chest moved up and down quickly with each breath. "Sorry. I placed my hand under her chin while bringing her face to mine. She didn't let go but continued to clutch at my body. "Heaven forbid that I should do anything I don't want to do.

Now that she was asleep the pain returned to me in full measure. I walked inside and Esme greeted me with a hug as I walked into the living room. I replied scathingly to myself. "Try to sleep." she agreed.But I minded. It was pain beyond anything I had ever felt before and my body was still in one piece. I was pleading internally with myself to just extend the deadline for another day. I frowned down at her." "No. "Fine. why don't you stop pushing your luck and go to sleep?" You have put her in enough danger for one day. I reached my house in a matter of minutes. realizing that if I were to fail her now I wouldn't be able to live with myself. When Bella finally woke up she sat up slowly." I said gruffly. She was heavy eyed and had tousled hair. . Memories of the day flooded into my mind. My body was ripped in half as my heart was left with her. I was burning from the inside out. my blood or my body?" I contemplated for a fraction of a second. though. "Now. I closed my eyes tightly wishing that sleep could engulf me and relieve me of the misery I was dissolving in. She pursed her lips. Her heart slowed and her breathing became even. "You're overestimating my self-control. putting her injured arm on my shoulder. I knew it was because my cool skin would help soothe the pain. I felt horrible at what I had to put my family through. The moment I broke her continued to replay over and over. Alice wasn't outside greeting me happily at the bottom of the stairs today. her eyes alight with passion. Bella. "Which is tempting you more. pulling herself closer to me like she was tempting me to kiss her again. This was it…the last night." I smiled in spite of myself. I resisted the urge. She curled even closer to me." she demanded. The thoughts alone made my every bone feel like they were on fire. "It's a tie. I swept through the forest at lethal speeds. She didn't mutter a sound. Pain continued to swell inside me at the prospect of losing her. "Are you asleep?" I asked quietly. I kissed her forehead quickly and ducked out of her window silently. it felt like I was slowly being ripped in two. I want you to kiss me again. I pulled her tight into my embrace and didn't let her go until the early morning hours when Charlie awoke and came to check on her.

Each step I took I could feel more of my body being ripped apart. Carlisle warned grimly. Jasper and Alice are in Alaska. scrambling to get her stuff together. I didn't care if I was in shreds. Oh…no. I shut her door loudly as she walked away. I cleaned up for school and went back downstairs. but. I heard her truck a mile down the road grunting with every bump it hit. Carlisle was waiting for me. I got into the Volvo to meet Bella at school. as long as she was whole…human. I've talked to the hospital. I just barely nodded before walking out of the house. It was easy to ignore them with all the darkness that was filling my mind since I left Bella this morning. "Yes. Edward. Everything is arranged. Rosalie and Emmett went with them until we heard news of what is going on. I asked them to not tell anyone about our departure until we have left. When we began walking to class she made no effort to communicate with me. She embraced me again. but he heard me.I've been so worried about you. I want you to know that I do not agree with it. it's true? We're leaving? "Yes. Are you going to stay until then? Carlisle asked in a business like tone. Is everything okay? Esme pulled herself from our grasp and her eyes darted to my face. I had arrived before her as usual and got out to lean against my car. When I pulled into the parking lot I didn't see Bella's truck. I could see through their thoughts the pain that was severely prominent on my face. So. The only important part was that she had my heart. Her lips turned down in anguish. I could hear Esme and Carlisle talking about me as I left. waiting for her. Carlisle walked into the room with a grave look on his face." she lied. I opened her door. It will probably take Jasper another day before he has all the paperwork necessary for our next location." I whispered. "How do you feel?" I asked her dully. She pulled into the parking lot and parked her car. "Perfect. Should I tell them? Carlisle asked. You are going to hurt yourself beyond any pain imaginable. I had a knot the size of a golf ball in my throat and was . Listen. I nodded in reproach. I will do what you feel is best about Bella. I turned away from their worried thoughts and walked slowly up the stairs." I replied sadly.

not wanting to discuss this." Several emotions flickered across her face." "Is he okay?" "He's gone for a while. long time. yet staring fixedly in my direction. How many times would I put her in danger before she is killed? I asked myself. too." "And Alice. "She's with Jasper. "Yes. either. He's gone for a long. I continued to sit with her during each class and walk with her in between them. I gave her too much information. . "Is your arm bothering you?" "Who cares about my stupid arm. I answered her despite myself. Everything I was doing was hurting this glorious creature.unable to speak to her." she stated. I reached out slowly to grab her hand but thought better of it. I felt a chill in my stomach at the absence of Bella's hand in mine. What was going through her head? Maybe her arm was bothering her. Her eyes were fixed on nothing. She was trying to convince him to go to Denali. She hunched forward in shame. She'll be gone for a while. Each second I was around her bit at my resolve. Though I could feel the constant ripping of my body. I thought. If I were to embrace her again…would I be able to leave her? School was dreadfully long." she replied snappily. She didn't say anything to me for the rest of the lunch period and all the way through our last classes. "What? Where?" I shrugged. I could see the pain in her eyes. I watched her put her head on to the table. She huffed out a little sigh. "Nowhere in particular. During lunch she finally broke the silence. her eyes meeting mine." I replied simply. I wouldn't put her in danger ever again. I looked up from my action. She finally snapped out of it. As I was walking her to her truck she peered over at me from a sideways glance. "Where's Alice?" she asked anxiously. I had a granola bar in my hand and I was slowly pulverizing it. I thought angrily to myself.

I had decided unconsciously. It was unnerving how easily this human girl could make me collapse. I would come over to see her one last evening before I left. She got in turning to me. I pulled open the door to her truck. then. I felt like someone had placed a pillow over my face as each breath became more ragged and less fulfilling. apparently. "Oh. I shut her door and staggered away. Bella and I in the meadow…her warm touch…our first kiss… A scream shattered my concentration as another thought went flying through my mind. I knew if I did I would break down and stay. "So you'll come over when I'm home. I arrived home devoid of all thoughts and noise. I winced frequently as our many conversations flitted through my mind. I curled into a ball on the ground as I tried to imagine what I was going to say to Bella. I lay there. ." she replied intensely. I didn't even make it to the stairs before I fell to my knees. that it would be unwise for me to bring my lips to hers again. The pain coursed through me so rapidly I thought that I was going to shatter and break. She was jerking around and screaming about the fire. I tried to concentrate on the happiest moment I could think of. She caught me off guard." I said. though." She explained to me. I kissed her forehead like I did this morning. "If you want me to. I told myself. I had to trade with Mrs. I couldn't stay the night. Why later? Why not right now? "Later?" I questioned. I could feel the splitting of my body more forcibly than before. right?" she looked sulky. "I always want you. Each step seemed to cause me pain. Not if I wanted to have enough courage to leave her. panting." I said quietly. Newton to get yesterday off. and I could suddenly feel the emptiness in my chest." I said apathetically."You'll come over later tonight?" she asked wistfully. making sure it was still her decision. "All right. "I have to work. One more day. The silence was eerie as I walked through the house. Bella lying on the ground like a wounded animal as she writhed in pain from James' bite.

afraid to even look upon her beauty. Her sweet voice drifted into the room. . "Hi. When she walked into the room she brought her warm scent with her." she responded. "Do you mind?" I asked while gesturing to let me in. I didn't answer. "Bella's not home yet. not paying attention to what was playing. Usually I would have heard Bella from several blocks away. it would block my progress of finally leaving her to her humanity. I stood up and sprinted to my car." "Okay. I knocked on the door gently. Bella. White hot knives cut down my throat." I replied blankly. of course not. "We just had cold pizza." she said softly." "No. I pulled into the driveway. She'll go on with her life – she will have a life to go on with.The threat of not seeing Bella this evening brought me back to reality. I reminded myself. looking for a clock. I pulled myself off the ground. "Hey. I stared unblinkingly at the TV screen. "Oh…no." I interrupted him. Come in. I sat still. I was so screwed up in pain that when I heard the front door open it startled me. "In here. I heard Charlie grumble as he wrenched himself out of his chair and answered the door. Charlie was watching baseball. I saw her from the corner of my eye. The pain was so much that if I were to open my mouth I was afraid a cry would escape. I think it's still on the table. "Oh. thanks. The moments passed agonizingly slow. It was too early." he stuttered. I can't stay here anymore." he started." Charlie called. "Hello Chief Swan. I made myself comfortable on the armchair. If I kept up this course of action." he finished. He probably wouldn't mind if I just 'watched' TV with him until his daughter arrived home. Edward. "Dad? Edward?" she shouted out. blinking at me in surprise. trying to not let the pain overcome me again. I drove well above the speed limit all the way to the Swan's residence." Charlie responded. "There's pizza on the table if you are interested.

"You need to smile." she said teasing." I quickly brought my eyes back to the TV before I decided to jump up and bring her into my arms. Charlie sighed heavily. I could feel the hollowing of my insides at her anxiety. though. "Oh. She went upstairs to her room and I could hear the clicking of the buttons." I murmured. Did she think my peculiar actions meant that we were leaving? My stomach twisted sickeningly as I thought about how my words were going to hurt her worse than ever. "And because." Charlie mumbled under his breath. You can't do that. I watched as she leaned around the corner and snapped a picture." "Hey. "Damn Renée. come on. Bella pushed herself off the ground and put her face close to Charlie's. "What are you doing. Her voice was quivering lightly. like someone was scrapping a potato peeler against my chest. Keeping her in my peripheral vision. "You know Mom will be calling soon to ask if I'm using my presents. Edward. since you bought the camera." she smiled but her eyes were not amused. I would dissolve into nothing and be putty in her capable hands.She did not move from the doorway as her heart began to race in panic at my stature. fiddling with her camera. I suddenly felt a profound reluctance to my plan. I heard her soft footsteps as she walked slowly down the stairs and went into the kitchen. I finally got the courage to look up at her. I have to get to work before she can get her feelings hurt. her trusting arms. "Why are you taking pictures of me. She came into the living room then." Charlie groaned. take one of me and my dad together. "I'll be right behind you. . As if my body wasn't already ripped to shreds. meaning it for future reference too. She knew I would catch it. wondering what she was doing. Was she taking pictures of her room? Why? A thought hit me like a ton of bricks. lowering herself to the ground in front of Charlie." she continued. I could tell she was nervous. I wasn't sure what Bella was doing as I heard her playing with her camera. Bella?" Charlie complained. "Because you're so handsome. I looked up at her. you're obligated to be one of my subjects. I didn't get up so she threw it in my direction. I put on a blindingly fake smile." Bella held out the camera. If I were to embrace her warmth. Bella. Her face was utterly heart breaking.

Bella came to my side and I could feel her warmth. When I couldn't take it anymore I stood up in a blindingly fast motion. I strode out to my car. and even then I was trying hard not to bring her into my iron clad grasp and let her warm my arms. Rain was pouring down in copious amounts. I placed my hand lightly on her shoulder. Each step was like dragging a dead weight. Charlie didn't notice. "Smile. leaving Bella following behind me. "See ya. I let go of her shoulder and wiggled out of her grasp. . "Enough pictures for tonight. I didn't even turn around because I knew if I looked into her deep communicative eyes I would crumble under her will." I got into my car and drove away listening to the rain drops pelt my windshield. Every part of my being was begging me to turn around and comfort her. She stood there stunned for a moment before going and sitting next to Charlie on the sofa. as each anguishing sensation terrorized my insides. exhaling the most delicious of scents. moving back to the armchair. I had to find something to bide my time until I would see Bella again at school tomorrow. She ignored my poor attempt of a formal posture and wrapped her arms around my waist. "Let me take one of you kids." Charlie called back. All of the agonizing emotions that had been piling up on me lately seemed to be crashing down leaving large angry welts. This is what I wanted to avoid. I continued to sit in the chair. My stomach continued to twist into a horrible knot. motionless. The closer she got to me the harder it was for me to keep my resolve in check. The rush of heat spread up to my face and down to my toes." I announced. Bella. "Not tonight. The camera flashed." Charlie suggested trying to pull the focus off of him. "Will you stay?" Bella asked hopelessly. I didn't want him to take a picture of us because this was just another thing I would have to take from Bella before I left.Her smile was fleeting at best as I pressed the button and the camera flashed. Instead of heading home I began driving north at deadly speeds with my lights turned off. I looked in my review mirror and saw her standing in the rain with her mouth halfway opened in horror. "I'd better get home." Bella was still securely wrapped around me." Charlie demanded and shoved the camera deep into the cushions and sitting on it. I pressed the accelerator to its limits." Charlie commanded. "You don't have to use the whole roll now. She sighed heavily.

Good! I have an excuse to get a picture of Mike and me. The pain in my heart was aching beyond belief. "Sure. Bella broke the silence again. She was already curled up in the bed. I looked out of her window and through the clouds which was a misty opalescent blue. sleeping. I slammed the brakes to the car and did a one-eighty. It was still utterly silent. I actually had to whisper the answer in her ear. I brought my arms around her and brought my lips to her hair. "Hey. I parked some distance from her window so Charlie wouldn't see me. trying to etch it into every line of my memory. I pushed all thoughts and voices out of my mind as I . "My mom wants me to get some pictures of my friends for a scrapbook. okay?" Bella handed her the camera. During lunch I continued to keep my distance and silence. The hollowing out of my body was suddenly filling again as I raced closer to her house. I had to leave before she realized I was here. My whole body filled with her warmth as she slept restlessly all night. She was wrapped snuggly in her covers. Simultaneously turning the steering wheel sharply. but this time she didn't address me. I continued to stay silent. I would allow myself this one thing. Berty asked her a question about Romeo and Juliet. Every nerve ending was feeling horribly shredded. I knew that it was my fault. I scaled the wall and snuck in through Bella's window. I met Bella at school and we continued our silent charade. literally having to pry my own arms from around her. I couldn't take it anymore. take some pictures of everybody. Even in sleep she was attempting to influence me against leaving. I gave one last look of longing back at her before I jumped out of the window and raced back to my house. I prepared myself mentally as best I could for the day. "Could you do me a favor?" Bella asked while reaching into her backpack.I had been driving for fifty miles when the sickening sensation ripped through me again as I realized in less than forty-eight hours Bella would no longer be in my life. Bella must have been feeling the same way because she was completely oblivious when Mr. It was the best way – the only way. Jess?" "What's up. Jessica thought. I wrenched myself away from her." I turned my attention on Bella. So. Bella?" What's his deal? Jessica thought. All of her friends were passing her camera around and being noisy. I breathed in a generous gulp of her fragrance. then accelerated back towards the direction from which I had come.

she thought sadly. and she drove off without me. When I arrived Alice greeted me on the bottom stair outside the house. "Thanks." Can I please… "No!" "Oh." I warned her. How can you expect me to just run away and never look back? After everything I've seen. Fine. be fair. I miss her terribly.." I pleaded. I'm here to warn you." Please. since you haven't bothered to keep your cell phone on you. I mean – she is going to get lost trying to follow you. Please!" she begged. I think you need to go back to Jasper." I muttered. preparing for the onslaught. Bella…she's going to be…devastated. Alice?" I snapped. Alice. . "Alice. She was my focal point.I have to just turn my back on her. It continued just like yesterday. A clean break. please I just want to give her a hug and let her know that I will always love her. "Warn me about what?" I answered scathingly. no…please – for me. Edward! Please let me say goodbye to her. I drove back to my house. "No. without her I was empty. I think it is best if we all just leave her alone. "What are you doing here. "No. I walked her to her truck. The day droned on. My heart is broken. I can handle it. If you don't do something to prevent that from happening she is going to get hypothermia out in the woods. but you better make sure she is taken care of or I will come back! She threatened. Fine. Alice. You get to say goodbye…I. please. Alice's face was screwed up in sadness as a crease formed between her eyes like she was crying. Would you like it if I stayed here with you tonight? Her 'voice' turned concerned. I was surprised. "I would not be good company. We'll.completely concentrated on the only person that mattered in my world. You…you don't understand..

they were just another reminder of what I was leaving behind. I decided I would keep them here for her." she replied shakily. beautiful and glorious as ever. parking in Charlie's spot so she would understand I didn't plan to stay." I tried my best to put a smile on my face to reassure her. "Of course not. I grabbed the white box containing the plane tickets off of her desk. I had extended the deadline for several days and now I was causing Bella unnecessary pain by sticking around. I sat on the bottom step and sighed heavily. I saw the leaves and branches bristle at where she disappeared. She looked shocked and her mouth opened a little before she responded." she agreed grimly. "I was just going to drop a letter for Renée in the mailbox on the way. I took into account what Alice had told me and decided there were steps I could take to prevent anything from happening to her. I couldn't take these things with me." "Now?" I persisted. I did not plan to take her letter to the post office because I knew what the contents were. When the day had ended I decided that it was time. I knew what it contained. "Sure. I sighed." I followed the direction of her eyes until I saw a very fat envelope on the seat. I pulled into the driveway. We continued to walk and sit next to each other in a long and painful silence. the pictures that she had been taking. "I'll do it. "Okay. But where to hide them…I lifted a floor board up and placed everything underneath it. There she was. I had to end things. I pulled the CD out of the CD player. I noticed she had pictures of me and her in her scrap book. The school day dragged on like the previous days. "And I'll still beat you there. I speed down the side roads until I reached her house. preparing to race her back to her house. I opened her front door with the key that was hidden under the eave and swiftly made my way to her bedroom. I pulled one out and unfolded the picture. The next morning came quickly as I finished packing a bag to take with me when I left. I marched over to my car and hoped in. I felt wrong and dirty stealing her gifts. I tried to close my mind up and let the coming night of torment envelop me. I'll meet you there. I replaced the wood neatly.Alice was gone in the next second. "Do you mind if I come over today?" I asked when we reached her truck at the end of the school day." I tried to explain my actions. I had finalized my plan for breaking things off with Bella. . I snatched it up without thinking about it.

I made sure that we were only a few feet from the edge of the woods once we entered." She took in a generous amount of air. She looked sick. after all? Carlisle can barely pass for thirty. When she pulled into the driveway and began stepping out of her truck I exited my vehicle. I didn't wait for her to answer." I said distinctively. it's time." she blinked. I ran from her room and down to the kitchen. I would let Charlie know where she was. She didn't answer. We could still see her house." she whispered. We inched slowly on the sodden ground. I put my hand behind her lower back and pushed her along with me. I scoped up the nearest pen I could find. She looked…relieved? "Why now? Another year –" "Bella. Her expression changed to confusion. I tried to make my voice sound as cold as ice. "When you say we-. and he's claiming thirty-three now. I wrote on the pad of paper next to the phone. She looked at me faintly while shaking her head back and forth in disbelief. I stopped and turned to stare at her. She looked wildly around like she was waiting for someone to hop out and say 'just kidding. I took in a large breath. She finally found her voice.' She opened and closed her mouth several times. using Bella's handwriting. trying to form words. Her face drained of all color as her eyes became wary. we're leaving. I swayed on the spot thinking about what I was about to do and I leaned on the nearest tree for support." I suggested quietly. I'll come with you. "Come for a walk with me. another reminder of what kind of creature I am. Bella was coming around the corner and I sprinted from the house and back into my car. let's talk." she stated matter-of-factly.I could hear Bella's truck making its way down the road. . "Okay. letting her scent burn my throat." I explained. "Bella. Pain rippled through my veins while my accompanying emotions followed in queue. I tried to keep all of my anguish inside so she couldn't see my suffering. We'd have to start over soon regardless. My world suddenly turned upside down. "I mean my family and myself. She handed it over and I reached around her placing it back into the truck. I walked over to her and reached my hand out to take her bag. "Okay. How much longer could we stay in Forks.

Was this just a terrible mistake? "What happened with Jasper – that was nothing. "Bella. you promised that you would stay-" "As long as that was best for you. Edward! Nothing!" she shouted. "Where you are is the right place for me. "You promised! In Phoenix." Her voice cracked on the last part." she squeaked. pain etched into every line on her face. I don't want you to come with me. "My world is not for you." I said softly. "You're right. isn't it?" she shouted furiously." she cried. Each second ticked by and every one of those seconds contained an eternity of pain. I already felt like my attempt at dissuading her was not working." I agreed. The sound tore slightly at my resolve but I had to hide that my body was quaking with sadness." My heart was screaming in protest to my words. "It was exactly what was to be expected. This could take hours – how could she ever believe that she wasn't the best thing in my existence? "I'm no good for you Bella."You can't. . I looked down. I felt the light that she produced in me vanish as suddenly as a light bulb. She had it all backwards. Her heart began pulsing at a quickened rate. Each word I spoke made me feel like I was going to suffer in the lowest level of Hades for speaking this heresy. A dead weight had plummeted through my heart and landed in my stomach. and I don't care. New lacerations were forming on my already mutilated body. I don't care! You can have my soul. Where we're going…It's not the right place for you. I was grief stricken at my own words. An icy surge of torture was coursing through my already frozen veins. I don't want it without you – it's yours already!" I sucked in air at her words. "You're the very best part of my life. "No! This is about my soul. trying to rearrange my face." my voice rose slightly to emphasize the truth. Where she was is the right place for me. Edward." I said grimly. "Carlisle told me about that." I interrupted her. "Don't be ridiculous." I spoke the words slowly. refusing to let her see my face which was screwed up in torment. Bella.

Agony rippled and swirled dizzily through my already aching body. She stared into my eyes – her eyes blank. I had already made my decision. "Don't do this. My stomach dropped sickeningly at the thought of her anguish. "I would like to ask one favor. I believed it was impossible to feel worse… until she uttered those words. I exploded in pain! Large amounts of poison were leaking through my veins as realization hit. I am not human. It was the only sensible course of action. But I never had to lie so absolutely. A heavy reluctance washed over me." she vowed. "You're not good for me. . I saw her pain and I had to fix my expression before she could read the pain in my eyes. if that's not too much. In the anguish of this farce I was perpetrating. If there is one thing I learned acting human is that if you are a confident liar than the questioner will be less sure of the truth. But what happened the other night made me realize that it's time for a change. I watched as each syllable I spoke sent a searing pain through her eyes. and I'm sorry for that. I could see the pain I was causing her. She believes me! Of all the insane things for her to believe…she believed this one lie. I was trying to frantically communicate without words that she was my life." "Don't. I looked away before I spoke my next words. I could feel a rise of pain begin to boil the venom in my veins. "No." I lied. It was torture like I had never endured before. It was too late. "Of course. I knew that looking away was always the first mistake only an incompetent liar would make. My heart felt sick at the blasphemy." Her face showed the most tragic expression I had ever witnessed. though. that changes things." I said. Her mouth opened soundlessly several times. "I've let this go on much too long. "Anything." she pleaded weakly. Bella. Why wasn't she fighting back? Was I that convincing? I nodded once. She looked so frail in this moment of sadness." She said calmly." I lied. "Well." her voice was barely a whisper. I'll always love you…in a way." I turned my gaze towards her. Bella."You…don't…want me?" she whimpered. Because I'm…tired of pretending to be something I'm not. "If that's what you want.

How could she believe anything I was saying to her in this moment? Didn't she understand that she was my world and I was nothing…absolutely nothing without her? "Goodbye. I won't put you through anything like this again. The tears wouldn't come though I begged them too. We won't bother you again. I would have staggered sideways if it wasn't for the tree I was leaning on. I smiled gently. You're human – your memory is no more than a sieve. "Wait!" she choked out." I ordered. "Alice isn't coming back. "I won't forget. but I convinced her that a clean break would be better for you. "Do you understand what I'm saying?" She nodded." I said in the softest voice I could muster. I suppose. But my kind…we're very easily distracted." she whispered. It will be as if I'd never existed. "That's everything. "She wanted to say goodbye. I stayed behind to tell you goodbye. I shook my head slowly while watching her face." She nodded again." "Alice is gone?" she asked in disbelief. Bella. The heartache I was feeling was so intense – so all consuming that for a moment I didn't know where I was. "I will. "And I'll make you a promise in return. I won't come back. I promise that this will be the last time you'll see me. Take care of yourself – for him." I smiled but it was merely a desperate attempt at trying to hide my anguish and grief. You can go on with your life without anymore interference from me." I understood her silence as she continued to gape at me." she mouthed soundlessly like a goldfish out of water." At my words I saw her knees start to shake. of course." Surprise crossed her face at my words. "Well."Don't do anything reckless or stupid. "I'm thinking of Charlie." "And your memories?" she sounded strangled. They're all gone. . Time heals all wounds for your kind. "Don't worry." I hesitated. "No. He needs you. I stepped back from Bella.

I felt my heart being ripped from my body as a dark shadow filled the hollow place. I took in my last breath of her luscious aroma. The motion of her arms made her fragrance soar through the air. In that moment I wanted it to end – I wanted to die. not to hold back the beast. I looked out at the water wondering how I had gotten to this point. If I were to stop now I would go back to her. I knew where it was. I reached my car and drove as fast as it would go. though. Silence pressed upon my ears as I slid away into the blackness of my mind. trying to find my heart. The water was very warm. Wave after wave crashed over me until I was now several inches into the sand. I was already burning. The grief was beyond tears. Chapter 5: Oblivion The waves of the ocean crashed over me and I could feel myself slowly sinking into the sand. . I didn't care. I sank down on my knees and quivered in misery as each moment of what I had just done whipped at me." I breathed.Her arms came out to clutch me to her. I fell over becoming still and unoccupied as I brought my hand to my chest. As I was flying through the forest I knew I wouldn't stop while my heart was begging me to return. when I was running the pain had obscured my vision and I barely made it through the several miles of woods without crashing out. The waves continued to crash over me. I felt like the pain was slowly burning me. I wanted too. The heartache I was feeling reached such a pitch I thought I was going to break down and pull her into my arms. I didn't know where I was when I reached water's edge. I let the despair swallow me whole…I let it take me under. My hand was still placed firmly on my chest. The sun was beginning to come up over the horizon causing the sky to turn a brilliant pink with orange strips of clouds stretching across the sky. This would normally be something beautiful but it was nothing…dull compared to Bella. leaving lacerations. When I pulled away her eyes were closed but snapped open and looked wildly around as I sprinted through the forest faster than I had ever ran before. I screamed in anger so loud that the water vibrated. I literally had no idea where I was. I leaned down and pressed my lips to her forehead very lightly. a soft blush creeping into her porcelain cheeks. I closed my eyes and there she was. Instead I grabbed her wrists and brought them to her sides quickly. but to try and fill the hollow area that seemed to consume me. When I finally reached a point where I couldn't drive anymore I staggered out of my car and departed at high speeds. it was in Forks. I would sink down until I was in hell. I wanted to embrace her back and comfort her and beg for forgiveness. But I knew I couldn't move on into whatever next life could possibly exist for my kind without her. each agonizing breath of the salty air ripped at my lungs because it was absent of the scent I craved the most. beautiful. "Take care of yourself.

This was the end. there was no release. I needed some release and again. There would be nothing else – nothing. I knew it. I took another agonizing breath. This should work. his thoughts incoherent with panic. As soon as I was away from the man I ran until I found an area where I wouldn't be exposed. Bella's face floated in front of my face as I was running and I stopped. Oh my god. No more smiles. and this is why I was burning. I soon found the edge of a large jungle and ran for a few miles inward. Normally my first response would be to prevent exposure but I didn't move. . though. Towards my whole life. except my body is too strong to die so easily . Putting my face in my hands I begged and pleaded that the tears would come.I opened my eyes to see another wave come crashing over me. As hard as I was trying to just let my body wither and die it did not. I shook myself like a wet dog and walked away. I was barely clinging to reason even though I continued to try and convince myself that I was doing this for her . it continued to live. catching a fish. unable and unwilling to. A male thought. I sat up in such a blindingly fast motion that the man stumbled several feet back until he landed butt first in the sand. Nothing. Is this what it felt like to die? Because that is how I feel – like I'm dying. Suddenly a stick was poking me like I was road kill or a strange science experiment. I ignored him – I was too busy dying to care what else was going on around me. His eyes were wide with terror. I heard the man's sloppy footsteps in the sand as he sunk with every step he took. it's a dead body. What is all over the body making it sparkle? Maybe it's a disease.for Bella. no more joy – no more teasing or joking. the reason that I exist is for her. A seagull flew over head and splashed into the water. He was right. the man thought. Holy crap… the thoughts continued. The sun finally rose into the sky at a very sharp angle sending rainbows reflecting off the gleaming water. flames ripping up and down my body scorching me and turning my body into ash Another wave. hoping no human would find me here. It didn't put out the fire that was slowing cooking me. I sank even lower into the sand as another wave crashed over instead I'm stuck with the feeling of death without the ecstasy of the end. His jaw dropped at my appearance and he continued to sit there in the wet sand with pure shock across his face. He was walking around in circles like he was trying to find something. emitting rainbows onto his skin. sliding to the floor. I was dead…on the inside. I felt like I would never be able to move from this spot in fear that if I were to get up the only direction I would go is towards her.

Looking around I tried to discern where I was at. finally waking from my stupor. I didn't even know what continent I was on. if she truly believed I didn't love her anymore maybe she will move on. All I knew is that I had just awoken with a vengeance and I was ready to do more damage. Surely Alice sees a black oblivion because I couldn't imagine going on without her. I followed my scent out of the jungle and back to the water's edge. It was absent of the aroma of the sweetest blood I had ever tasted. after James. I was not interested in feeding anymore. The canopy above me didn't let much light through but I was sure that the night had returned. I was so sick with pain that my stomach had filled with nothing but remorse and I became revolted by the scent as it walked by. . the moon was gleaming off of it sending reflections onto my face. I closed my eyes and let her face fill my mind. I wonder what my future looks like now. Would this pain ever subside? I inhaled the many scents of the earth and once again it was pure agony. Maybe it will help her heal. I couldn't believe I had permitted myself to do such a stupid idiotic thing! I should have left months ago. and it was searching for its prey. I ignored its presence. It was a Panther. I clenched my teeth at the onslaught of pain. I reached out like she was really there – like I could really touch her. I looked out on the water. There were tears in her eyes and I went to wipe them away but my hand found nothing but dirt and leaves. like it was nothing more interesting than the wind. It was a large rock. A burning pain ripped up my veins and tore through my body. dully. Brutal violence was burning and begging to break free from my body. I tried to convince myself once again. Closing my eyes again I brought her to the forefront of my mind…back to her glorious face. I had found my release after all. I brought her to the edge of death on more than one occasion. I stood with force and grabbed the first thing I could find. I could suddenly feel a great rage boil up in me. The many insects on the floor of the jungle kept their distance from me. The problem with seeing her behind my eye lids is that I also saw the pain and anguish I had put her through. I didn't know how long I lay there. Anger! Rage! I was absolutely furious that I had ever hurt Bella. I looked around trying to figure out where I was at. Lifting it.If you love her than avoiding her is the best thing you can do for her. the one person on earth that I love more than anything and I broke her. A noise nearby caught my attention and I blinked lazily. So full of nothing but venom and death. I sunk lower onto the bracken infested floor and put my face to the ground. I threw it with such force that it went flying at a ferocious velocity . I grab a handful up and threw it forcefully across the jungle. I'm pitiful. it just went right through them. I saw her face as I told her I loved her no more – worse – her reaction to it didn't knock down any trees. I remained unmoving and dead on the floor.

years. empty…nothing." her voice was barely a whisper. I didn't know. Don't be selfish! Slowly a dark shadow possessed me and I looked at my face in the mirror – what I was now. I opened the driver's side door and sat down. There were hardly any pieces left. The pain was so real in this moment that I felt like I was being filled with boiling water. Bella. Greif was swelling up inside me at each breath and I could feel my body being ripped. the closest thing I would ever have to tears. My eyes were blank and I could sense a deeper emotion coming into play.I knew that I was on the east coast because of where the sun rose this morning. My body was in a continuous motion of exploding in pain. weeks. I put my head back on the head rest and closed my eyes. I felt a burning desire to just go back. I felt utterly sick. my body was torn and the only way to fix it is if I were to go back there. It was still lingering in the car. The ache in my chest was so intense – so all consuming I suddenly didn't know where I was. "You're not good for me.into darkness…I was nowhere. more than it already was. "Don't do this. letting the warmth of the south make her fragrance almost real. I refused to leave the car. until I died – the wish for this was growing deeper by the second. her warm aroma. Heartbreak. Apparently I ran to South America after parking my car in Mexico. The pain started to reach at such a pitch that each second felt like it contained an eternity of burning in the deepest pits of hell. is there no hope then?" she said softly. The agony tore at my insides and it was hitting me with such a force that my breath was becoming shallower. As I put my hand on the key a delicious smell tingled under my nose. "Don't. knowing that if I were to open the door or turn the car on that her scent would be swept away with the wind. I took in several large gulps of air. I hung my head and my eyes stung with venom. A wave of pain hit me again as my stomach knotted into several tiny knots. . She smiled warmly. No! I commanded myself. Wincing frequently at the memories. Breathing was a necessity right now – her scent still lingered here and I had to take advantage of it while it was still here." she pleaded weakly. Falling limp in my seat. I realized it was Bella's scent. My anger and rage flooded from my body as I leaned back taking in deep breath after deep breath. I followed it back to my car. I made sure all of the windows were securely shut and kept the car off. "I mean. Her face swam into view and I took in another breath. I closed my eyes slowly bringing her face back to me. catching my scent on the air. nonexistent. preparing to turn the key over in the ignition. Maybe I could just check on her. sick to my core I pictured our last conversation in my head over and over. My mind shifted into blackness like an eclipse . I opened my eyes again and the rage returned when I realized she wasn't standing in front of me." I lied. Would she forgive me? I would beg for forgiveness for days.

Emmett raised his eyebrows at me. I continued to inhale as deeply as possible every second that I could. I was suffering. It had been a week and the scent was barely present anymore. let's get him out of here. My face was so screwed up in pain it was unrecognizable. It was late at night. it felt like my legs wouldn't support the new weight that I was carrying around. the moon was high in the sky and yet the darkness was nothing compared to the blackness of my mind. Please. of course I won't…" There was no more hope. Memories flooded my mind. Think about Esme. ." Carlisle spoke slowly."No. Well. agony.. Alice pleaded silently Emmett opened the door again and I could literally see the particles of air with her scent leaving the car. the concern on his face darkened by another shadow. will you drive his car?" Carlisle called out. I was swimming in emotions. I know he's around here somewhere! "Hey! He's over here. I sensed the car door being opened. He's lost his mind. "Emmett. "Is he alright?" Esme asked. Edward. Get in the Mercedes. It was too late. "Alice has been searching for you. as if he spoke to a child. Carlisle was standing over me. Days passed by while I was in my oblivion. dazed. anguish and grief were my only friends. I stared back at him. concerned." Emmett coaxed. Alice? What is she doing here? Thank the heavens.. This doesn't look good.. "Edward?" The relief in Carlisle's voice was apparent. We've been worried. She has been devastated for more than a week now. Edward. her scent was now free on the wind. My mind was in such a tormented stage I didn't know if I were ever going to pull out of the blackness. I didn't feel the same relief. burning alive and pain. come with us. "No!" I cried and grabbed the door and slammed it shut like I was a five year old having a temper tantrum.. but you must. "Come on. I know why you don't want to leave your car. I still didn't move. no! Of course there's hope! I mean." Alice shouted to someone. When you didn't meet up with us in Alaska.

"Let's go. "I don't know – I've never seen a vampire catatonic before. I let it devour me. Alice was in the backseat with me and she brought my head into her lap. When he shut the door I leaned up against the window letting the blackness take me whole. Esme turned around in her seat while Carlisle peered through the review mirror at me. brushing dirt off of my face while murmuring that everything would be alright. "Oh Carlisle. Everything wouldn't be alright though. I could hear their conversation but it was like I was dead. Esme and Carlisle got into the Mercedes and began pulling out of the parking lot we were in." I whispered. My hands were constantly clenching and unclenching as each wave of pain rippled through me." Alice commanded. Maybe we should bring him back to Bella. I blinked in response and through the tinted window I saw her face and she understood. "What a sick masochistic lion. everything was very. I was swimming in a pool of misery. slightly raising his eyebrows at my sudden speech "It's nothing Edward. Emmett dragged me from my car and helped me into the Mercedes. "Was that Bella? What did you see? Show me!" I demanded. "Let's take him back to Alaska with us and decide from there." he decided. She was actually trying very. He has to snap out of this. I heard a car door shut and an engine purr to life and then my car speed away. "What are we going to do with him?" Alice asked Carlisle. we have to do something. very wrong. very hard to hide something from me and so I sat up quickly." she sighed. please."And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…. for me. . "What was that?" I asked crisply. I realized Alice was trying to hide something from me in her mind. like I could witness it all but not participate. Alice. Quit." Alice murmured. I miss you." Esme whispered. Oh Edward." Emmett bellowed. "What a stupid lamb. please snap out of it. though. "That isn't our decision." I murmured." his eyebrow furrowed.

Stop right there. "If that's what you want. What have I done? Will she ever forgive me. She had never broken a promise to me and I wasn't going to break this one. "Take me back. "Of course.." I cut her off. Had I needed to breathe. We drove for several hours until we reached the outside of Washington. Carlisle pulled the car over." she replied glumly.. feeling more out of control as each second passed. but the second was long enough for me to see." I begged though the visual pictures continued in her head... "Is she okay? Please." I shouted. I couldn't – Charlie will take care of her.." "Alive?" I questioned. take me back now!" I yelled. "Drive." he explained." I demanded. "When was that?" I cried. "I'm not going to take you back there. "No!" I moaned." Alice commanded Carlisle. Edward. I promised her that she would never see me again." Alice placed her hand gently on my forearm and answered softly. He turned to look at me.. I broke her. "After you left her in the woods. "Edward. she's…alive. I gasped in horror.At the sound of her name she slipped for only a fraction of a second. I was sure I would feel dizzy. "Well…yes…she is not physically damaged but she hasn't left her room in a week and. "Stop.Tell me she's okay! Tell me that I didn't break her. If you wish to get out of the car the run the rest of the way I won't object but with everything that has happened I won't so easily bring you back there when you are in this kind of a state. ." Carlisle looked at me in the review mirror with a look of pure worry.I put my head into my hands and cried dry tears.. wishing that I could make myself get out of the car. "Drive. I looked out the window longingly. I looked at Alice but she already knew my decision.

It was our meadow and Bella was on her knees. It went up in a wisp of smoke. knowing that in the next fleeting second her mind will have changed again. she was still feeling pain at the situation. make sure she's all right. I searched and searched to see if I was there with her. We could send her a letter…or a card saying we're sorry and that we all still love her. My desire to go see her was burning stronger than ever. "What was that?" I asked. I continued to stare fixedly at her small face as her golden eyes went in and out of focus. how they always felt when Bella was absent from them. Each mile we drove away from Forks the more I felt like I was burning from the inside like I was going to combust. but I was flinching and wincing frequently at the visions in her mind. "All the visions encompass you. "I'm not sure…she hasn't been making any decisions. though you're not there. but I wasn't.I looked behind me while watching the orange street lights become smaller and less distinct as we passed the many cities in Washington. It spiraled in and out of focus while it became foggy and then clearer and back to foggy. I had grown so accustomed to her warm body that my temperature seemed wrong somehow." she replied slowly. Alice continued to try and soothe me. Maybe I'll just go back and check on her. She continued. Chapter 6: Hunger The drive to Alaska was painful. This time I gave her a withering look. I watched as another swirling image flitted across her mind. I threw her a disgruntled look but she ignored me. regardless. My arms felt cold. like her brain is on repeat and the only thing she can think about is you. She was trying very hard not to lash out at me as each vision hit her like a ton of bricks. My body seared with pain as the hollow aching in my chest felt like it had become deeper and ultimately emptier. tears flowing down her delicate cheeks. I closed my eyes and there she was. Alice continued to contemplate ideas of going back. I was concentrating on trying to see the image. . smiling her mysterious smile at me. I could feel the ripping of my body. surprised there were any pieces left to shred. I stared at her as her face showed a fraction of the emotions I was feeling. wishing that I could return to her." I sighed and looked out the window. The only reason I didn't stop her from showing me these awful images was because I was seeing Bella.

sadness was etched into every beautiful line of her face. Can't we just go back? Please.Another revelation swept into Alice's mind. None of my business. She was missing Bella nearly as much as I was. Charlie across from her. They were eating in silence. In the next moment I was witnessing the expressions on my face. Charlie was staring at her with a frown prominent on his face as she ate . though. I won't return!" I just can't take it anymore." I barely whispered. The vision swirled around and dissipated. We could go back… she thought fleetingly. I refuse to put her in danger. arms around each other. you could hear the tiny roar of frustration in my voice. yet I couldn't stop watching them." . "I can't…I won't. flitted across her mind.her eyes blank. A little whimper escaped Alice's lips. The images I see…she's hurting. "No. Alice pleaded silently. I saw Carlisle glance in the rear view mirror and look away quickly. Her face looked paler than usual. I still see it. hoping I would see something…hopeful. My breathing was harsh and ragged. Bella was sitting at the kitchen table in her house." I replied. I saw Carlisle's eyes return to the rear view mirror as he thought. She turned to see my rapt expression as the vision of her and Bella. Esme turned in her seat so she was facing me now." But you will…don't you see that? Another misty cloud protruded into her mind's eye as I saw Bella crying. She sighed heavily as she contemplated going to see Bella without her knowledge. he thought. but it was a joyful sob. "I don't believe it. "I don't believe it. I just wish the pain would cease in all of us. My voice still came out muffled from my gritted teeth. I was in her room. Edward. like she wasn't inside her body anymore. unlike the rest was clear as glass. "We will not go back and ruin her life. Esme sobbed quietly. "But it is your business. none of my business. louder than before." I practically shouted. I didn't want to get angry at Esme so I concentrated every last particle of my mind on staying calm. this is everyone's business. This vision. All of her visions burned me. again. You don't know how much this pains me. seeing myself through Alice's eyes. My eyes were black. a happy one. blank and pitiless. Please respect that.

" I pleaded weakly." I begged. We can't linger on this anymore. but I'm right. Stop looking for her future. "They found her and she was fine. I was still the monster. Don't look for her future. You will return to her." All of her memories started swirling around trying to get at me. There was a slight gleam of triumph in her eyes but it faded into a great sorrow. "Stop. Memories flooded into her mind of our happy summer together. you mean everyone but you. . My eyes stung so I blinked. I'm right. looking mildly surprised. Instead of showing me the pain. please. drink. It was dark and she had been there for hours muttering 'he's gone' over and over as it rained on her. Fine…I'll respect your wishes. respect my wishes. "Stop. I just know it." she snapped back. she hissed the word. though the agony still filled my stomach at the painful images." Carlisle said softly." I retorted." Carlisle said softly. Alice thought silently. her father trying to hold her up. No tears. We just can't. She gloated. "Alice. Bella was lying on the cold. I gave her a disgruntled look and she stopped. please." I pleaded. "Well." I said slowly. "Alice."We do. I don't!" Alice's fury came out of nowhere. I witnessed her mother coming over and Bella lashing out. I realized where her anger came from when she showed me the first vision she had of Bella right after she left Forks with Jasper. emphasizing my words. that's enough. they were not solidly there in the future. Another cloudy mist revolved around until I saw Bella lying in her bed refusing to eat. When you say we. "Don't you see what you have done?" she growled. yet. yet sternly. she changed tack. but I ignored her. "We can't go back. Her vision shifted until there was nothing but smoky and shadowy images around Bella. Was I one of them? "Please. running amuck in her room. Son. wet ground of the forest. She was screaming at both of them until large tears finally escaped her eyes and she collapsed on the floor. "I wasn't done. or speak to anyone. throwing things out of suit cases as her mother tried to pack her things.

Nothing. I smell it too. I had been here many times before but had no interest in staying here for long. she thought. I can't stand to see him in so much pain. my face suddenly tense and alarmed. I don't understand." the sound barely escaped my lips. It was the emotions that made me forget about the pain for brief half seconds at a time." Jasper came out of the house to greet us." I muttered. "Look. she thought sheepishly and then turned away from me." she was delighted. Her eyes went blank as she tried to find Victoria's future." Alice announced to everyone. Anger and rage started flowing through my veins as I took in another breath. burning lungs. It's only hours old. I clung to the anger. where my heart used to be. With my first breath of the fresh air outside I caught a whiff of something I had smelt before. perplexed. I dragged my feet reluctantly out of the car. she thought sulkily. The agony… the grief. trying to not alert the others. Misty clouds of purplish smoke swirled around and showed shadowy figures. The merest flicker of a smile appeared on her face. his perfect match. silently communicating. and odd shapes but nothing discernable. We arrived in Alaska. she thought. I ignored her and looked at Alice. his mate. Edward. I thought Bella was his cure. She had a quizzical look on her face."Thanks. At her thoughts the hollow ache in my chest threatened to overpower me. filled with a poisonous gas as my body soaked up the love I'd never have again. "Welcome. "I'll go with him. Alice and I both glanced at each other briefly. Something sinister. Want to check it out? I nodded my head infinitesimally. I closed my eyes once more to see her glorious face. The house in front of us was a large three story building with dark red brick and white shutters. Love spilled from his every pore and I blanched at the thoughts." "We can all go. The sky was cloudy and the grounds looked misty like it had just rained. I'm so glad you are back. it was beyond tears. . Tanya came out of the house to greet us. We were worried about you. The hollow place. She turned around to look at the road again. my nostrils flared to bring the scent deep into my aching. I was hoping he'd come back. frustrated. Alice thought. Esme hadn't mumbled a single word in thought or aloud. "Edward needs to hunt. realizing I heard her.

my focal point. holding out a hand. "I'll be back shortly. I was robbed temporarily of breath as the many memories whipped at me and continued to hollow out my insides like someone was filling me with acid. The wind and rain lashed at me as I heard the howling of rushed voices.a few minutes that felt like whole life times. None of them had sensed it because the wind shifted. Alice whimpered. don't leave us again. Come on. I tried to see something else. a look of worry in her expression. I felt like I was making very little progress but at long last I got a whiff of another vampire – Laurent. The sky was opaque with rain and I was rapidly moving through the mud. but they were just previous memories of the one person who held me and bound me to this earth. At sight of no release. There was a deluge of thoughts that protruded into my mind. It was always about her. The cold I felt in her absence felt intensified as the memories continued to lash at me. I pushed myself at full throttle towards the whispered discussion that was too far away to comprehend. Curtains of rain began to pour down on me.before Alice was standing over me. making it too sodden to hold any lingering scent of my new prey…Victoria. anything else – but she was all I saw. no matter the price I would have to pay. my knees buckled and I collapsed to the forest floor. she encouraged. I can go by myself. but there were no vampires that I could see. . The pain of that evening lashed at me and I sped up hastily. I let the rage and anger fill me as memories flooded my mind of the fateful night that James almost killed the most gracious creature on earth. Suddenly there was silence. "No. Edward. She was my world and everything about me centered on her instead of myself. They were just lurking out of sight. "I thought I'd find you here. wishing that the pale pearly gray sky would just cave in on me and end my pitiful existence." I replied firmly." she said lightly. Before anyone could say another word I was running west towards the Denali National Park – I was on a mission. I tried to push myself even faster towards the now echoing silence. What is she doing now? Is she okay? My curiosity ached like a thirst. everything I did was to protect her and keep her safe. The sky continued to dump large buckets of water on me as I lay there. I laid on my back on the forest floor for only a few minutes . The rain continued to soak the ground. Slowly my flesh burned away as misery took me under." I promised her. My stomach felt sick and I didn't think I could reach out for her helping hand. That's okay.I didn't want the others to know that we had caught her scent. entire eternities .

"I can't do it. and I don't care." I whispered. The last time I even tasted venom in my mouth was when… I shuddered. pulling me to my feet. "I'm not interested. making the forest look ominous. I don't care! You can have my soul. and she will stay human and live a human life. She flinched at my words. strewn across the forest floor. isn't it?" Bella shouted furiously." It's been weeks. It can still be a long and happy relationship. The rain had stopped. "Nothing. Edward. "Carlisle told me about that. They haven't seen him since then. Why? . "No! This is about my soul. Two weeks. Ouch." A feeling of dread swept through me. I can't pretend I'm okay. she noted." I eyed Alice. Something that you can't understand. I feel…sick. We stared at each other for several minutes. You just don't understand. It was such a brutal ending to what should have been a long and happy relationship full of love. Alice." I hissed." She loves you and wants to be with you. she coaxed. Alice. "and I won't let you do it either. "I know. ripped to shreds… hollow. I'm not hungry. Edward.I still lay there. changing the subject. "I feel torn." I began to explain. The sky was beginning to darken. I guess he decided to leave when he found out we were coming up here to visit. I'm really worried about you. What is it? She wondered. but instead…" I trailed off. A memory of a vision flashed across her mind. "How long has it been since Laurent has lived up here?" I asked. You're thirsty. our minds silent. I don't want it without you – it's yours already!" "I can't do this anymore. I can't take her soul. I was barely able to move my arm up in the air but I only raised it a few inches before she grabbed my hand. I shook my head." I growled. "No. "I love her.

Alice looked at him in horror. Oh."I caught his scent in the forest but it started to rain and I lost it. When we arrived back at the house Jasper greeted us at the front door. "I have to leave. Please don't go. You would think I would see it if Laurent were there. going back to the place in the forest where I last caught scent of Victoria. Jasper sank to his knees as my dread flooded him. "Edward. I slid slowly down the trunk of the tree and landed in a . making it difficult to breathe. I'll call you. Once again. Jasper was now on the ground. I pressed my back against a tree for support. He's feeling my pain and yours at the same time. leaving angry lacerations at my already torn and shredded body. I nodded. All I get is a bunch of flashes. At my ferocious velocity I was back in the forest and at my previous location in a matter of minutes. the love emitting from his mind burned me." I explained. Alice grabbed my hand and led me through the forest. Let's get back. "I have too." I croaked. I was so full of grief that I didn't notice Carlisle right behind me and I almost ran over top of him. He grabbed me by my shoulders." I replied quickly. trying to help him to his feet and then turned to me. I felt a horrible compression in my stomach as it twisted and turned and possibly tore in half. I tried to look for Victoria's future but I still couldn't find it. That's strange. where are you going?" he asked anxiously. His face was screwed up in pain. I needed a release and tracking her would help with that. I have to leave. "I don't know." Agony was apparent in my voice. her face a tragic expression. I watched them embrace and realized that Bella would never bring that comfort to me again. "I'm sorry. look at Jasper. Oh." I told her as I backed away. I turned and ran. I couldn't catch any scent when I wasn't able to breathe properly. his body rigid and immobile. I must go. my mind elsewhere now. steadying me. The aching hollow in my chest was compressing my lungs. barely going at a humans pace. Look at him Alice. What can I do? Alice asked me in panic. She pleaded. wow…stop Edward. turning around and running. my chest heaving with rage and frustration. Alice.

and I embraced it – hoping it would bring me closer to death. "No more than usual.puddle of muddy water. extinguishing all other thoughts. "I'm fine. I felt a warm hand on my shoulder. Then I heard a thud as the person lopped it onto the ground. I didn't care at this point. I closed my eyes to see her. I hope he isn't dead. The increasing desperation to have her in my arms was consuming me. She took two hasty steps backwards when she saw me at my full height. though I was curious. I tried to concentrate on the happiest moment to help ease the tension – the meadow. I felt paralyzed by the pain. Oh god. I tried to convince myself." I said in the softest voice I could muster. I was rigid as a wax work. why won't you work. to see the only thing that mattered. Realizing where I was and why I was here it nearly felt like I had lost her all over again and the pain left angry welts in my hollow insides. silent and unmoving. At her joyous smile that I saw behind my eye lids I slipped away…into the blackness… there was nothing. I could feel the hollow place grow wider as the battle inside me ensued." I lied. "Oh! You're okay. trapped in limbo – like my mind was traveling in between embracing the pain and returning to Forks. Her face turned back to me and she gasped. bringing me from the blackness. At my thoughts I immediately felt the self hatred and revulsion brewing inside my already emotional mind. I looked up into the light to see a short woman with long hair looking around in panic. Anguish swelled in my like a venomous bubble that was growing." she replied playfully. "Goodbye. I pressed my hand to my chest trying to soothe the ache but nothing helped. nowhere near the . I thought you were dead…" I swear he didn't have a pulse. there were no other words to describe the feeling. I heard the sound of buttons being pressed on a phone. I could just go there to check on her…she doesn't even have to know I was there. Her scent lingered in the air and it was unpleasant. "I don't scare you?" I tried to sound playful. I stood up and towered over her. "Wait!" she choked out. I was dying. The murky mix of feelings had me tottering on the line of sane and insane. Damn cell phone. Bella.

"How many nights?" "Just one. It's me. This was the second time a human has found me when I was engulfed in the blackness that seemed to consume me more and more these days. "Yes. do you have any rooms available?" I asked serenely. "Uh…" she stuttered. "Okay." After the girl struggled getting my paper work together and handing me my room key I finally entered a simple looking hotel room. Well. He sure is handsome." "You really shouldn't do that to people. "Well. . "Can I help you?" the blonde girl behind the desk asked without looking up. I looked out over a small town just south of Denali." her eyebrows were raised in disbelief. "Yes. "Just a standard room will be fine. He looks sick.magnitude or appeal of Bella's blood. She looked up from the computer and gaped at me. Once I was out of sight of her I began yelling at myself. that's good. When there were no cars in sight I leapt across the road and entered into the lobby of the hotel. I wonder how he got so dirty… I cut off her internal babble." "Do what?" "Dazzle them like that – she's probably hyperventilating in the kitchen right now. I saw the many cars passing by quickly on the highway and a small hotel on the other side of it. thanks. causing my face to distort with pain." Bella interrupted my thoughts in a disapproving tone. Her thoughts began to stutter as she turned to walk the other direction. "It's hardly fair." The memory lashed at me. I sat down on the bed. I walked no more than at a humans pace through the forest until I reached the end of the wooded area. looking around at the boring wall paper. There was a light tapping on the door. which room would you like?" Damn he is so hot. The monster inside me barely meowed like a kitten at the scent of her pulsing blood. Alice continued to tap on the door with her fingernail." I muttered and walked away from her.

Selfish. my brain was busy working and scheming without my consent. I growled. It's going to happen. . The pain did come. Back to the forest. stopping to decide which direction to go. Instead. emptying the contents." she said smugly about me keeping in touch with her. You'll keep in touch with me. It only worked for a fraction of a second before the cold returned. My mind was wondering and trying to convince me to do the things I promised I would never do. I remembered hearing the rush of whispers and the sound of movement before I was able to reach them. I thought. She handed my bag to me and placed the cell phone on the table next to the door. her golden depths full of concern. well…I'll leave you alone. deciding that laying here wasn't a good idea. She had my bag in one hand and a cell phone in the other. I grabbed my room key and cell phone then headed toward the door. Edward. You won't have to deal with this pain anymore. While lying on the bed I waited for the onslaught of pain to engulf me. I knew she heard it before she sped off towards Denali. I took a long shower. Okay. I sat up swiftly." I agreed. I was rigid as a board as I closed my eyes. "Yes. It seemed we were stretched across two universes. Just go back to her. I'm counting down the days until I see her again. I heard her thoughts as she walked away. I sighed and decided not to worry about it right now. I'm not sure of your future – but I know that you won't get far without this. she stated. I was covered in dirt and I needed to rinse it off so I wouldn't attract unwanted stares. I contemplated the coming days. but I had no leads and her scent had been washed from the forest. I opened my bag. Maybe…just maybe they will meet there again. You're leaving. I opened it and rushed into the parking lot. I didn't have a clue as what to do next. shutting it quietly. She walked out the door. turning the water on hot. letting the mysterious smile of Bella's warm me a little. trying to relieve the cold ache I felt since I left Bella. I decided. Tracking Victoria was promising. I twitched at the thought of bringing the danger back into her life. I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and Alice answered before it even rang. "I told you.I got up and opened it. I nodded. but for some reason my mind didn't fade into the blackness I was hoping for.

I was literally writhing with excitement at the prospect of secretly protecting Bella. He didn't have time to move before my hand was wrapped around his neck. Ghostly shadows formed through the leaves on the trees. Another growl came ripping up my throat. Venom filled my mouth at the rage that began pulsing through my body. "Oregon. His eyes were wide with terror. The night sky was looming over the canopy of branches. He didn't bother to fight back because he could tell that I had nothing to live for and I would kill him. I was frustrated I couldn't hear her mind through the phone. hum… Laurent is planning on meeting Victoria – tonight." she said gravely. I told myself. The air was moving swiftly around me as I flew over the bracken infested ground. growling. "What are you doing?" he sounded thunderstruck. I began searching his thoughts. There was a nasty silence as I continued to run full force towards the area I last heard them in. Without pausing to think I flew into the air. I held him up several inches off the ground and several more feral growls exited my lips. Maybe he is planning on meeting Victoria again. Clouds moved across the sky as blackness closed overhead. When I rounded a tree Laurent was standing alone in a tiny clearing. will you look for Laurent's future. just a random thought process – like he was hiding something from me." There was silence on the other end. "Yes. I swiftly made it through several miles of wooded area before I caught scent of Victoria." and I hung up. So this was it."Alice. "Thanks. The silence of the night was bridled by whispers. Instead of thinking myself a monster I told myself it was for Bella. The thought of revenge and justice that I would bestow her was oddly satisfying which made me crave it more. Alice. I broke into a run pushing myself towards the forest at top speeds. "Where is she?" I demanded. and there was nothing. I whipped around a set of trees when the whispers stopped – I scanned the darkness." . "Portland. not even bothering to ask her where – I knew where. His thoughts were an incoherent babble. probing his mind in as far of a depth as I could go." he choked. "Where is she going?" There was cold anger in every syllable. Before he could speak I was running towards him. arching gracefully like a predator about to attack my prey. I was protecting her.

" Laurent said thickly." "Who was it?" I growled. . Each second that passed brought Victoria closer to Portland. like there was something stuck in his throat." he answered anxiously. "He was killed two days ago. There was a rumble of thunder over head as lightning flashed across the night sky. "I don't know – she was looking for someone.A red haze clouded my vision at the thought of her close proximity to Bella. So I have no idea who his contacts were. Chapter 7: Goodbyes "What is she doing there?" I said through my teeth.his eyes were still wide with terror. I don't know who he sent her to. "She was going to meet some guy from San Antonio. "It was just a friend from a long time ago. All I did was give her the contact. Rain began to pour down from the sky as I released Laurent from my grip. Her life would not end in murder…I was on the war path. I sprinted through the forest toward Denali. "Who is your contact?" I shouted. she's upset. He turned and disappeared through the forest. making the words come out muffled." he answered vaguely. "It doesn't matter. "That was all she told me. closer to Bella. he was no longer my problem. swooping over the many dead plants that littered the forest floor." he choked. He was going to help fix her problem. "Is she looking for a healing potion?" I asked sarcastically even though I wished there was something that could heal this pain." he lurched away from my anger. As I turned to go south towards Portland I suddenly realized I had left my car in Denali and whipped around to go north. I decided to go get it first. getting drenched from the onslaught of rain. He landed lightly on his feet . I let him go. "Who was she looking for?" "Someone to help her…you guys killed James. driving would be faster than running." A growl ripped up my throat because I could tell from his thoughts he was telling the truth.

The walls were a light yellow color with white bordering and the windows were seven feet tall. can't we just…move on? Rosalie thought bitterly. Jasper was trying to convince himself that he could survive being in my presence. everyone heard you. Rosalie was busy looking at her reflection in the glass while Esme and Carlisle continued to give me tentative looks. you can handle this. "Alice. Sitting around the largest of the tables was my family absent of Tanya and her sisters. Esme's thoughts were drenched in relief." she whispered in an expressionless voice. I marched towards the house. The sickness I felt in my stomach. was Jasper. The one person in the room who seemed to be struggling the most. I stood outside the red brick house. My family deserved a decent goodbye." I whispered through clenched teeth. As soon as I entered the room he immediately felt the dread. trying to hide her pain.Her name made the hollow area in my chest ache. It's too late to run. hearing the many thoughts emitting from the large building. Alice's face was suddenly screwed up in pain – like she ate something extremely sour. Come inside. I followed her down a small hallway which ended in a large room. as the desire to run away began consuming me. I looked around at each of them. I'm sorry. The pain. When is he going to get over this annoying obsession of his? For goodness sake. She was always so worried about me when she should have been worried about herself. I don't like that plan. since it is now accompanied by the sorrow. They should understand that I won't be coming back. This time she didn't need to worry about her safety because I would secretly be protecting her – I would be her guardian angel once again. You can do this. grief and sadness I was being tormented with." At my words and my determination. Alice came around the corner to greet me. Emmett had a grin on his face. Good. If she knew what I was doing now… her disapproving look flashed through my mind. "It has to be this way. though. sending the moonlight reflecting off the wooden floors and glass tables. soaking wet. "Everyone's waiting. I opened the backdoor and stepped through the house. I would drive away and never look back. please. When I exit this house. . he's finally home. His brows creased and he grabbed at his heart like it was about to explode.

"She deserves death and I will so graciously give it to her." I was starting to shout but Carlisle cut me off. She deserves death – a fate that I should have blessed her with after Bella –" acid filled my veins "–after she was almost killed. When are you going to let this stupid little obsession go?" She glared at me. "and then you bring her out with us and initiate a fight with a psychotic vampire." Esme cried. Rosalie turned to him and her expression was disapproving. Jasper. I turned to Carlisle and Esme. Bridezilla." Rosalie said scathingly while turning to glare resentfully towards me. "I'm going." his voice was strained."I'm sorry. "You have already put is in danger of being exposed by saving a human. I'll be fine. ." I began by taking in a generous amount of air. like my insides are being scraped out with a shovel. "Stupid little obsession?" I replied roughly." I whispered. "I ran into Laurent." she glared in my direction – idiot – and then turned back to Emmett. "I know where she is headed. "Edward. "Let's talk about obsessions." my teeth clenched. The agony…I feel like I'm being ripped in two. Jaspers thoughts continued as he mirrored my grief." "I don't want you running off with Edward." he began but I interjected. "I've decided to track her down." Emmett stated quickly like he was calling dibs. "I've never felt such pain before. It burned my lungs because it was still completely absent of Bella." I heard several gasps from around the room as Emmett's smile grew wider and Rosalie finally looked up in interest." I snapped." she sneered. "He was meeting with Victoria." "Are you sure this is the best idea?" Carlisle looked at Esme's grave look and then back to me." "Come on babe. "You can't keep doing this to our family." "I'm going with you. I love you. their faces still soaked in concern and worry. "What a stupid idea.don't leave again. She always wins…Emmett shrugged his shoulders. I'll be leaving tonight to capture and burn her. "Please.

I want to see her. Alice ran over to him to soothe him. Bella was driving down our driveway in Forks. everyone but Jasper." Esme replied in hollow tones. About not looking for her future…which I can still see sometimes. No. "Has the pain changed any?" "No. I shouldn't be around you when I'm like this. "We all want you here." he groaned. human existence. I can't stay here and act like I'm okay. She arrived at . I have to go. placed her arm around my shoulder and began rubbing my back and whispering 'everything will be all right' to me. "Listen." I said darkly." I whipped around to give her an angry expression but all my face showed was the grief being poured into my chest. but you are not going to be able to make this better. I love you all. "You said you would respect my wishes."I have to. You don't have to leave us when you need us the most. try to make it better. she was still standing behind me." I pointed in his direction. Everyone was staring at her now. I want to go visit her. He was leaning his head against the table and grabbing at the glass – trying not to break it. try to help me." We love you. even when I'm not looking. I miss her." I growled. You're really leaving and not coming back." I implored. Her face looked sallow and her expression showed pure sadness. An idea flew through my mind as I saw her embrace Jasper. I looked at Jasper. we will take care of you. though the picture was blurry. I turned around to see her face and as I did her lower lip jutted out and her face turned acerbic. She deserves a normal. After our many goodbyes and a hand gesture from Rosalie. happy. Edward. At the look in Alice's face everyone realized my mind was set. I saw the back of my head through Alice's eyes. Alice followed me out to my car. Carlisle thought while coming over to give me a hug. "I have to go. I understand. she demanded. She gave me a withering look but walked over to me. "Esme. "We need to leave her alone. look at Jasper. At her words she let her previous vision float in her mind as clouds of mist swirled around.

"Alice. No. please.the lights reflected off my windshield. don't be a selfish fool. make sure no harm would come to her. "Please. "Bye." Fine – But when you crumble. I drove past city after city." I begged weakly. But if I couldn't see her. Bella would only be roughly two hundred and fifty miles away…it would only be a short trip to just go and check on her. A small sob escaped her lips. She didn't speak as I speed off towards my vengeance. I drove with my lights off for most of the night as I flew past cars that blew their horns at me when they finally saw the back end of my car." I looked up at her still expression." I croaked. gripping the steering wheel. stepped out and was looking around." I opened the door to the Volvo and slumped into the seat. I shut the door while turning the key in the ignition. Tears were flowing rapidly down her already tear stained face as she took in the darkened house and the overgrown lawn. She paused in thought as she searched for my future which was vague and unclear…all except that the one premonition of me standing in Bella's room which was still clear as glass. My desire to see her again was growing as every second passed. "I won't. She was absent from my life – there would forever be a hole present in my chest. I heard her fleeting thought. I'm going back with you. I only stopped for gas and at the US border. I could feel the small little explosions of pain rapidly going off throughout my whole body. I never see her doing anything except search for you. I need to go back…to at least check on her. I had to deal with it. "Promise me that you won't go back. I'd promised her. She isn't making any decisions – everything surrounds you or our family. It's still the same. And you will go back. this was second best. I would protect her. I promise…I promise I won't until you do.our house. Miss you already. The only reason my body wasn't being consumed with the blackness I craved was because I convinced myself that I was protecting Bella. I couldn't inflict myself on her anymore. . I thought. watching the yellowish lights of the towns grow larger and smaller as each one passed . A funny feeling arose in the hollow area in my chest at the small distance I would be inflicted with when I was there. I rolled the window down.

Deal with it. I ordered. recognizing a song that Bella and I had listened to. Quit. I coaxed myself.. I turned the radio on and quickly switched it off. desire . revel. Restraint. The temptation was too much. A roar of apparent displeasure came from my chest as the monster. piece by piece.was clawing up my chest. My desire ached like a thirst.. I ignored the water that was drenching the car because there was a battle going on inside me. The sign sent a strange feeling through me .who hadn't made itself known for weeks now . making it shake back and forth.. wither and turn to ash. I refused to be so self satisfying that I would bring her to danger. The duplicity of it all brought me out of my longing state and brought the focus back to Victoria. And then I will find some place to curl up.. I tried to cling to them to no avail. Dwelling on satisfying memories were the best I would ever get.My mind was bogged down with so many emotions I didn't realize I was inside the Washington state line until I suddenly saw a sign indicating I was near the North Cascades National Park. As I looked out into the rainy evening a blank silence greeted my pain. I tried to rid myself of the images but they kept coming. thinking about turning the car west.I felt like I was slowly being put back together –just the fact I was in the same state as her made me feel whole. I was lost and I could never go home. Each second memories lashed out and left angry welts on my body…I was a short distance away…I could be warm and comfortable in her arms. but as soon as I left I would never come back. The thought of going back to her was so – healing – that it took every fiber of my being to not flee the car and go to her house. I prodded the brake with my foot a few times. I was now only a few minutes outside of Portland. Guilt swept over me…I was guilty of great treachery if I were to go back now. and two-hundred and fifty miles from Forks. I tried to convince myself to let this ache of longing go. I glided down the road and let this new sensation consume me. I wanted to burn her flesh away after I slowly pulled her apart. You can do this. I had to remind myself forcibly that my destiny was located in Portland and not Forks. Reason. The wind and rain lashed at the car. ravenous.. yet not slowly enough. Iron bands . Slowly. Victoria will die. over and over. Voices whispered in my ear – Bella's voice. I decided I would only suffer. There was a chill emanating from me as I determined I was in a state of open warfare. I passed the border into Oregon. Make Bella safe. It began raining and the light pelts of water on the windshield became larger until there was just a curtain of rain in front of me. You must kill Victoria. until I no longer realized where I was going or what I was doing. in this feeling for the short time I was in Washington. something I could probably never endure again. My foot lifted off the accelerator and I let the car drift slowly to thirty.

" I pointed in the direction. but she was dull and uninteresting in my eyes compared to Bella. Entering Portland sent a feeling of excitement through my venomous veins. Her thoughts became incoherent with panic at my sudden movement and my grim expression." I said automatically.. Could you tell me where –" holy crap. roughly eighteen. I was taken aback because. Maybe he could help me. I pulled a deer up to my mouth and drank until it was silent and unmoving. I took in several large gulps of air while listening for my prey. I detached myself from the dead animal as the vacant feeling made itself known to me. so the area should be fairly empty of any human blood. It was dry and unsatisfying. Deer was the only thing in the forest this evening. I looked out the misty window and I could feel the chill in the air. "It's on the other side of the interstate. Her heart was hammering wildly as she backed away without taking her eyes from me. "I'm sorry.Grant Park…" she finally finished while her heart began to race ahead. Thinking about hunting. I thought that maybe Bella had found me. The sky around me suddenly turned a dark blue as the sun struggled to rise behind the clouds beyond the horizon. for a fraction of a second. ". I sifted through maps of the US in my mind until I found what she was looking for. "Excuse me. She was someone who would be considered beautiful.began tightening around my chest. disgusted me. I had to figure out where Victoria would have gone. There was no blood decent enough to take away the emptiness in my chest. I knew that it would be a good idea for me to hunt before I found Victoria. I lurched from the trees and back to the parking lot. with long brown hair and dark deep eyes staring at me. . Soon the sky would be a pale pearly grey. Ugh! Hate and revulsion filled me as I began running towards my prey. but this girl wasn't her. A small part of my thoughts focused on the fact that it was the middle of the night. Each mile I drove I could feel my reluctance at my brisk pace as I pressed the accelerator down harder in an attempt to reach Victoria. even though the dry ache in my throat burned more than ever. I pulled over into the parking area of Forest Park. I was empty. I surveyed the area one more time before dashing through the forest. I turned to look at a short girl. Bad idea. absent of warmth.. I perched myself on the edge of my car as I contemplated what she would possibly be doing in this large town. My stomach was still full of grief and dread – there was no room for blood. I leapt to my feet causing her to stumble back several feet. The thought of my hunt for Victoria was like a stimulant. I exited my vehicle and looked out among the trees.

I jumped out of the car and took in another breath. "Oh my! I'm sorry. love…Bella." said the girl. I tried to follow her thoughts. planning her next meal. to figure out where she had gone. She was talking with someone – another vampire. Another gulp of air. the nomad. driving quickly down street after street. At the sight of her the pain of knowing I could never have marriage. This gives me the opportunity to move up…get a raise. I whipped around as I caught her scent on the wind. I rounded a corner and nearly knocked over a girl with long dark hair in a wedding gown. Chapter 8: Aberdeen The hotel was lavish and exquisite for Victoria. and was pleasantly surprised to find out that she was currently in the hotel. but where? I searched through conference rooms and lavish dining halls for weddings and other occasions. .A thought swam lazily to the forefront of my mind – I could just drive around with my window down trying to catch Victoria's scent while looking through everyone's thoughts. Fear stirred in my chest at the notion. I jumped from mind to mind trying to find some hint as to what happened here. I saw a body being taken out of the store as I moved closer. I dashed towards her scent which brought me to a clothing store. It had worked before…worked when I needed to find Bella in Port Angeles. Outside the store were police and an ambulance. I followed it until I reached a hotel. Several hours passed when I suddenly took in a very familiar scent – Victoria. "It's my fault. None of the thoughts carried the information I was looking for – was it Victoria? I felt horror rising in me at the thought of the proximity of Victoria to Bella – how easily it could have been her working at the sporting goods store. I better call her mother. I slammed my brakes on while pulling into a parking area." I said over my shoulder as I continued to move briskly towards Victoria's thoughts. I listened for her thoughts. I lunged into the Volvo and peeled out of the parking lot. sent waves of nuclear blasts through my already empty and vacant body. I didn't like her anyways. I entered the lobby and her fragrance was strong in the air. One dreary thought after another went through my mind as I took in several gulps of air trying to find even a hint of Victoria's scent.

I focused in on Victoria's mind. "Twenty if not more. The air turned on and the vent behind me sent my aroma out towards Victoria. I concentrated on the man's thoughts but he was strictly thinking about how he wanted to go back home – he was afraid a vampire named Leon was going to take over his coven. I searched in the corners of each turn in the stairs – no cameras. To my left was an elevator and to my right was stairs. It would only be twenty stories up – the elevator would take too long. the thought that maybe we weren't complete opposites. Her nostrils flared when she caught my scent and she dashed out the exit door. I sprinted at an inhuman pace up the flights of stairs. As each second passed neither Victoria nor the man gave away what they were ultimately planning. I grabbed the handle to the stair's door and listened for any sign of a human. I couldn't follow her. I reminisced on how we had that small thing in common. "You know Debussy?" "Not well.I rounded another corner." The memory left another scorch mark on my frayed and tethered body. . He bolted right behind Victoria while several people in the bar gasped in shock." "It's one of my favorites. leaving the bar stool spinning. and some people were panicking. My mother plays a lot of classical music around the house – I only know my favorites. I moved in closer to them. Then I heard it…music. The music flooded into my ears. too. Someone greeted me but I deflected their inquiries as I stepped closer to the red hair. trying to find something to lead me to where she was." the man answered her. No wonder she needed the clothes. I slowed my pace and opened the door slowly. I reached the twentieth floor and I yanked the door open harshly. There were too many witnesses. The man sitting at the table turned to look at me and he sensed the danger that he was in. Alarms began blaring at the opened exit only door. At the reflection of the glorious creature I left behind to protect I raced down the corridor. "How many do you think I would need?" I heard her ask someone. making it to the top in a matter of seconds. I raced towards the sign of the bar. Suddenly I was facing a sign that told me there was a piano bar on the top floor of the hotel. I thought back to the department store tragedy. listening for the song. The sounds of the keys rippled through my body at the harmony of Clair de Lune. Victoria was sitting on a stool in the upscale piano bar. thinking that maybe something horrible went down they couldn't see. "Clair de Lune?" Bella asked.

I laid my head back against the head rest hoping that the blackness would overcome me again – that the pain would be too much that I would become unconscious – but the blackness never came and the pain continued to set my body aflame even though I was soaked in water. her hair tousled and a beautiful grin on her spectacular face. leaving from the door I entered and flew towards the stairs. the fragrance that was so absolutely absent from my life…her selflessness. bringing the memory of her waking up one morning to the forefront of my mind. and gently closed the door. every second I weighed my options . Just check up on her. not wanting to break it. The next thought was more painful than all the rest – What if she was happy? What if she had moved on? The vexation that I was feeling was true torment. I sighed heavily as each turn. weaving in and out of traffic with only one thought in mind – Bella. I raced through cars. having to slow my pace because of the humans in the hallway. Their trail went cold. the hollowness dissipate. The thought of returning to her brought warmth to my cold body and made me feel whole again. reluctantly dragging my feet as each second passed felt like I was going to die. I was robbed temporarily of breath the closer I came to entering the small town of Forks. I might be able to make it back to her before she obliterates me from her memory. each click up the speedometer and every inch I moved forward made the sorrow. I kicked the nearest fire hydrant and water went flying into the air. sending curses to the nearest god for letting me live in this hell. I moved as quickly as I could – only at a human pace – to the outside where I would try and find Victoria and the man she was talking with.going back seemed to be the only one I thought of. A howl of fury escaped my lips as I looked up into the water that was raining down on me. I was panicky and close to laughter all at the same time as the thought of being in . I let go. There was a war raging inside my body. I reached the first floor and opened the door. Closing my eyes I let Bella enter my vision. pure of relief. As I drove up the highway towards Bella I felt relief that was so exquisite it was nearly pain. Was I trying to convince myself that I was being a martyr by leaving – that I was giving her the chance to have a happy life? If I left now. I walked back to my car. She greeted me in my memory and I felt like I was there – like leaving was just a bad dream. sat in the driver's seat with a squishy noise escaping my wet clothes.I turned around. When I arrived outside of my car I grabbed the door handle so roughly that I nearly broke it off. descending them quickly while trying to figure out where that exit door led. significantly. it was vastly. I tried to convince myself. where several people honked at me. Her soft skin. The image was so healing. I caught their scent and ran down the sidewalk and into the street. I failed once again to kill Victoria. Slowly my body was being rejuvenated by the very image of her presence. Her eyes were heavy with sleep still. they must have taken a car. I put the car in drive and pressed the gas down to go north. soaking me. Without reason or my mind telling my body to do so.

she is almost tangible. Please – let's go now. But I was there – outside her window looking in. some to her disappointment. but was ignoring all their attempts to get my attention. She didn't speak. tears escaping her eyes. she only showed me the vision that I desperately needed to see. Please. Every night she cries. Edward. Each second this vision became clearer and I wanted it to be true. There was suddenly an increasing desperation to be there – holding her. Bella was in her room. The tight obstruction in my chest was dissolving. "What are you doing here?" I mumbled. You are going back to Forks and I'm going with you. I pulled off the exit and into the nearest gas station. She embraced me fiercely and scolded me for leaving. we need to go back. She continued to beg as her insight changed over and over with the many different outcomes. WA. I pressed the gas down to the floor. Bella would forgive me. What was I thinking?" Edward! Let's go. Alice jumped out of the car and darted over to me. You have no idea how it feels to realize how close I am to her. I want to. Her beautiful eyes would sparkle with tears as each second I begged for her forgiveness even though she would continue to swear she forgave me. The vision was partially cloudy and little wisps of smoke like shadows would briefly disrupt my vision. pull over right now! Alice demanded. Warmth began to spread through me. I gently knocked on the window and she jumped several feet off the bed before turning to look outside. "Alice. I stared back at Alice. I heard someone's very familiar thoughts as I continued to drive. Alice demanded. and some to mine. . She was confident. Her smile was wide and her eyes glowed with the happiness that I could still feel slowly returning to me. Her eyes grew wide and she dashed to the window. She needs us! Look at her. Out of nowhere headlights of a Mercedes were racing up behind me – the horn honking. Was this it? I thought. I wanted her in my arms and I wanted to tell her everything would be all right – that I would never leave her again. I love her so much – and so do you! We should go back. A non-existent tear almost escaped my venomous eyes as she continued with her vision.her warm arms began to heal the hollow area in my chest. flinging it open and grabbing me into her arms. The vision suddenly became cloudy and non-existent as my face came into view. Was I going to go back to her and bring the danger that I fought so hard to keep away from her with me? Quit. but I can't. I looked at the interstate signs as I passed them and noticed an exit to Aberdeen.

she thought while helping me back into the car. Her . "Thanks. I couldn't bare to look at her visions any longer. The wildly enthusiastic way she brought her arms around my neck – the way I was embracing her back. My memories of Bella began swirling around in my mind trying to get at me. The chill returned to my stomach and filled the rest of my chest. "I can't" I mouthed. Alice said with a plea in her voice. "What is it?" She handed me my bag that I left in Alaska. The pain was beginning to overpower me again."Show me the first vision again. why let ourselves suffer any longer? I stared at her. realizing my throat was obstructed with grief. Edward. I want to go back and so do you. Jasper is signing up for Philosophy classes at Cornell and Carlisle got a Job working at a hospital and he is going to apply to teach at Cornell. I have something for you. as each of them brought on a false sense of security. where the hollowing had already begun again. I staggered sideways and felt a pair of hands seize me. How is everyone doing now?" I asked. I grabbed it when I saw that you left it there. It's going to be all right. Alice informed me as we walked up the stairs to our room. I felt an almighty retch as I pulled myself out of Alice's grip – out of Bella's grasp." I demanded. Let's go. Everyone is in New York now. We need a hotel. The pain returned in full measure. Each second this vision was playing in her mind I was unconsciously moving towards my car. My desire to see her was burning stronger than ever. She shut my door and went back to the Mercedes. I followed her to a hotel where we purchased a room. ready to get in and drive to her. giving her a withering look. letting her warmth fill my body and make me whole. I've seen it – it's going to happen – if it's not today then maybe tomorrow. I felt like my heart was ripped from my body all over again. she coaxed. Her relief at the sight of me. I saw it over again – Bella hurriedly racing towards the window to let me in.

I could hear Alice walking towards me and I opened my eyes to see her gracefully sink to the floor next to my face. "About not hitting the trees. Edward. but as every minute passed it burned more than ever. It was fates cruelest gift to send her my way and expect me to keep her human and out of danger." . You have Jasper." She pictured it – Jasper being burned and screaming her name. I let more memories flood into my mind. I hope. "You don't feel the pain – the agony – that is my constant companion. closing my eyes and letting her face possess me. "I was thinking. She winced several times and her face screwed up in pain. I'm so sorry for you. Each second I continued to weigh my options for seeing her again. We reached the door to our room when Alice pulled out the key. I could easily drive there and take my life back. I've heard that love is a universal emotion. My love for her is eternal and ageless. Was I just aimlessly wandering around. "That's just a figment of your imagination. She will forgive you. Imagine losing him. Stop doing this to yourself – stop doing this to me! "Doing this to you?" I growled. finding speech difficult due to the rage I was feeling. I was too busy being consumed by this dark shadow that continually possessed me. for this is no life at all. The pain was so real and all consuming I couldn't imagine it getting any worse. Mine is real. Walking over to the couch I threw my bag to the ground and laid down. I felt her hands on my face." I closed my eyes again. the face of the only person I ever truly loved – Bella. slid it across the scanner and the light turned green to admit us. Bella interrupted me. while I was running…" I hesitated. because that is how I feel.thoughts continued to inform me of everything that was going on with my family but I was uninterested in the boring drabble of their lives. Bell was my life and it was in Forks. look at yourself. Edward. She pushed it open slowly to show the master suite that would be lavish and beautiful but all I needed was a place to curl up and die. using Victoria as an excuse? This couldn't be my life. but if a human were to feel this affliction – this misery that comes from losing love – they would explode with the pain. You need Bella as much as she needs you. I tried once more to convince myself.

The way her breath came quicker and the way she held on to me like she needed me like I needed her." I had suddenly remembered my mission. This was another reason I had to leave her behind. "No. When the sun goes down let's go see Bella. Edward. Her face showed a great smugness." "Show-off. Go back to Jasper. See for yourself. You can't make me go. She must die. you still haven't decided and I'm going to be there when you go back to her. desire. I continued to dive into this memory." I laughed. but Victoria was still in Portland and would be for several more days. but I had to pull away. "I was thinking there was something I wanted to try. absent. not wanting to upset my only ally. Can you believe it? It's actually sunny outside." she said breathlessly." I remembered the internal struggle to not break the precious girl that I held in my palms. It would only take me grabbing her the wrong way or becoming too involved in my passion and kill her. it's not something I have to think about. "I can't. passion and ecstasy that rippled through my body was no longer there. I could remember the pain I felt when I had to detach myself from her. . but glad she dropped it because I was instantly hungry for her. Come back to me. She's not going anywhere for a few days. Alice showed me the future which looked bleak and cloudy." No. The many feelings that surged through my body in those moments – the feelings that I would never feel again – the love. Looks like we're stuck here for the day."Silly Bella. I hadn't realized the blackness devoured me again." I replied. The overwhelming feeling to consume her – to drink – I was eager and she was too. I smiled. "We're not going. Alice bent down to me. so when I opened my eyes I was surprised to see Alice standing over me wearing different clothes and the sun shining through the window. I need to find Victoria." she grumbled again. I sat up. I growled. which was one of my favorites." I whispered. Alice pleaded. "That's an understatement. "Oops. "Haven't we put her life in enough danger? I was foolish once and almost got her killed – then Jasper…" I trailed off. 'Running is second nature to me.

"Alice. The silence spiraled horribly as Alice's startling flashes of insight included Victoria's next move. Another memory. She sighed heavily. Possibly Victoria.the aroma. "I won't." "Try." Alice continued to look in the future as she pondered my question.. show me the future. A darkness flowed over her and suddenly Alice could see me running through a…train? I looked closer at any details and I was definitely on a train. when she was taking a shower – I was waiting impatiently in her bed room as her scent which was extravagant and delicious. I began to ignore her internal rambling because my mind's focus was strictly on the girl that constantly was floating in front of my vision. The Train . 9. Things are changing too much and too fast. she pleaded. I could hear that she wanted to burst out with unpleasant retorts but she was silent and we both remained silent as if we had been struck dumb. yet. thoroughly discomposed. The evening after our trip to the meadow. Another rippling pain seared through my veins at this thought. The image sent more grief spiraling down my spine." I barely whispered. You'll go back eventually and I'll be there when it happens. I love her too much to be so selfish. but there was no future for her." Her eyes went blank as she looked for Bella's future and mine." I decided.. "I can't see that future because you haven't decided if you are going back there. "I'm not sure…looks like you are chasing someone on a train. She spoke out loud this time. You know this. all she could see is Bella living in a mummy like state. Alice turned to me quickly and pouted. incredulous. If I were to return what would happen?" I asked. opening compartment after compartment looking for something. "What is going on?" I stared at her intently. swept under the door causing the monster to rear its head in approval and Alice had to come and warn me of the deed I was about to do.We would continue to protect her. A purplish shadow was hovering around Bella. though it was a true and real note of sadness that was present on her face. Let us go back to Forks and end this madness. please. "I'm not going back.

" my teeth locked hard enough to break steel. I watched as the city darkened. She has to die. Bella…Bella! Her name was constant in my mind. Maybe just me? Jasper was my family. The thought of that March evening had my memory swimming with all the things I'd like to do to Victoria. Once again I had lost the thread of my thoughts just by the mere mention of her name…the tantalizing thought of bringing myself back to her. My absence must make his life easier. The sun began to lower. The last time I saw him he was suffering with me." Okay. a dear brother. Bella. as the night attempted to bring new darkness to my ever growing body. appendage at a time…bowling with her head… possibly burning one part of her at a time. You're leaving. I was burning again. It made it hard to be angry at him when he was feeling my pain right along with me. . trying to think of what to say. I turned around to face her. The night sky now shone bright with stars as resentment swelled in the darkness that had consumed me. "Tell him I'm not angry at him. her face burned into my irises for all eternity. Alice's eyes were looking down. I worry about you. In all my fury. Alice stayed with me. very long. Jazz and I could go with you… She contemplated that and then amended. Pulling her apart. that's all. Tell him…" I paused. very painful days inside this dreadful hotel room. making her watch as I do it. Go back to Jasper. as her face showed the sadness that was accompanying her thoughts. my anger…it never fully masked the ultimate of all pains. Alice approached me from behind. "I have to do this alone. I exhaled heavily – not quite a sigh as the bitter thoughts accompanied me.It had been two days. "I must. two. waiting for my decision to… "firm up." I was staring out the window which was facing west. shadows forming in the evening light." Please don't go. but I couldn't help but still feel bitter and angered at his actions those few weeks ago. Alice's face continued to show many emotions. I continued to stare out as the sky began turning a brilliant pink. The window burned scarlet for a few moments in the fading sunlight until it was no longer peaking over the horizon. "Yes. I didn't want to uproot my family so abruptly.

to bring on her early death. and the light click of the knob before I turned around to sit on the couch. I continued to undergo pain…stress. Ignoring Alice's thoughts had been my main concentration since she came down to Aberdeen. My mouth filled with the ash of my suffering. so when she flung her door open. "Didn't you see it?" she shouted at me. before she consumed my every thought. She turned to walk away. As I continued to stare out in the night sky. Diving into her mind was not a place I wanted to be. I was utterly perplexed. still present in my mind. blissful or depressing. and yanked me off the couch. a pair of shattered glasses. but I did it regardless. I would endure this pain. There was a nasty lurch in my stomach as I felt it filling with a distressing sensation – sorrow…grief. "See what?" I gasped. She had to. Each thought. she told me once. Her face. and a bloody shoe print.She knew my plan. asking me what my decision to go back would mean for her." she cried out. while it spiraled around but the people who were panicking were obvious. a mental pang of heartache erupted through me like a volcano exploding. I felt like my body was sustaining injury after injury as I continued to lose the fighting battle within myself and with Victoria. The vision shook a little. blood was smeared on the windows as her vision whirled around until all I could see was broken furniture. my unobstructed view of the stars continued to elude me. I heard the bedroom door open. "What does it mean?" I could see my wide eyes mirrored in hers. All I saw was a pair of deep chocolate brown eyes staring back at me. not that you see them here much. Her life…their life would be better if I just never came back. I looked over my shoulder at the night sky once more. dashed towards me. this new crippling disability as long as she was safe. alive. I was inwardly cursing my own stupidity at ever putting her life in danger in the first place. "Concentrate!" . seemed to be permanently branded into my eyes as I focused on her questioning depths. her nose inches from mine. I grabbed her upper arms. They were screaming. remembering Bella's thoughts of the night – how she loved the stars. "I don't know. I should leave her alone to her future…stop risking her life. She could not afford for me to return. I should have stayed away from her when I had the chance.

Don't forget this. I must have been absent that day. Alice was slowly brushing through Bella's hair. letting the changing visions absorb into her thoughts as the tiny pucker between her eyebrows deepened. out hunting. but this person needed to be saved. She brought a memory to the forefront of her mind. My look – her look – was instantly alert as her penetrating gaze commanded me to leave. to rip into shreds. shoving my amenities and other supplies into the bag to take with me. destroying any thoughts I had for the hunt…the chase. Alice was pouting again as her thoughts turned sour. looking it over for mistakes. I can't see what train number it is. There was an FBI badge with my picture on it lying on her palm. Forks. It was flawless. "Yes. There was a gaping hole in her vision – her very imperfect vision of the future. "Alice?" Bella looked at her with apprehension. My heart began to break. You'll need this to figure it out before she gets away.She closed her eyes. Bella. like she could read my mind. I had a feeling you might need something like this. Alice opened her eyes. I grabbed my bag. The images shivered and disappeared as a million tiny decisions rearranged the future again. so I had Jasper make you one. Why would she show me this? . An echo erupted around me in the vision." "You'll never leave me. She knew telling me this. right?" her eyes swam a little with tears at the thought. The shadow continued to show no face. Alice held her hand out. There were several more flashes of light vibrating in her vision before it danced and swirled away into a deep darkness which rippled and quivered. would send me farther away from where she wanted to go the most. I could see myself mixed in with strange shadows that were hazy and imprecise. showing me these visions. Alice finished my thought. shooting me a pleading look before closing her eyes again. or… It's the train again. like I was in some sort of cargo hold. Someone needed to be saved on this train. grunting in pain. "What am I suppose to use this for?" I snatched it out of her hand.

I reached out for Alice's hand. hoping to leave before she changed my mind. Alice pulled away to look at my eyes. merciless voice interrupted my agony as I saw the eyes that were black with thirst. not Bella's future. An explosion of agony possessed me. To forget the pain I was unduly bringing to her by my absence. You'll always be my favorite sister. I knew she understood me. If you chose to be without him. I would roll up in a ball of agony and melt away into the pits of hell when this was over with. I would never see her again. "Don't come looking for me. crushing her to my chest to give her one last hug. Jumping each set of stairs. A tearless sob escaped her lips."Of course not. I thought angrily. even though it would be very painful for him to do so. cold. seeing what my response was going to be. What makes you think we ever will?" Alice tapped her gently on the nose. I closed my eyes. My life would be over once I finished Victoria. The demoralizing. A high. "He feels he is putting you in danger constantly. Please…tell them that I love them all. At this memory." I let go of her hand and rushed out of the hotel room. Her memory began to creep into the depths of my mind. This can't be the end. Quiet eruptions of pain were leaking out of Alice as I raced to the stairwell. "One day we'll go back…" Alice amended her thoughts. Why would he want that?" Bella frowned back at Alice." "I would never. For all the pain that I put her through. infecting it like each memory she showed me was a disease. "I know he loves me…but he wanted me to go to Florida…to leave him." I turned and jumped into my car. complex mission came back to me." Bella practically shouted. rubbing them eagerly to wash this from my mind. Bella. Not my future. like a flash of startling insight. This is for Bella. to see Alice peering out of the window. framed with bright red hair enter into another one of Alice's visions. . "It is. Let Carlisle know I am especially grateful for everything he's done for me." I barely whispered. I felt sickened at the pain. he would obey your wishes. I bolted from the door to exit out into the parking lot. "I'm sorry. I looked up. threw my bag in the passenger seat while jerking it in reverse and squealing tires out of the parking lot.

each act having formidable imparts. I pressed the accelerator down harder. deplorable. dirty and reprehensible. I began to concentrate on my single assignment: kill Victoria. every bruise. Revenge. Each second my mind rebelled against my former nature the freer I felt. each moment I was absorbing the gloom. She was…shameful. the list of possibilities was growing. refusing to intercept light anymore. and utterly wrong. The lights of other cars continued to flash in my eyes as I passed them on the interstate. was richly sweet and pouring generously throughout my veins. revolting. The disgusting. a shadow began to posses me. unable to bring the car to a faster speed. Just the act of inflicting excruciating pain as punishment… revenge. bring extreme anguish of her body brought a sudden. every broken bone…even the flames that had burned in her veins as James' venom began to race towards her heart. The longing to bring Victoria's head to the railroad tracks and watch the train cut it in half…to cut her arms off and slap her with them just brought an overwhelming sense of vulgar happiness to me. Slowly. I would twist her. each horror or unthinkable thought was being brought up. To tolerate…no…to allow Victoria to live would be like a sin. The things I tried so hard to hide were coming to the surface. the city lights of Portland grew larger and brighter. I'd become a dark figure. My eyes lighted up once more when I passed another car. a murderer. . I wanted to make her feel what Bella felt. All the things I could do to her. but on that fateful day with the van. each second it became less diluted. If only there were methods to inflict such pain. even. Images swam into the forefront of my mind. I once found these characteristics in myself. loathsome thoughts were like a rebellion in my mind.I'll miss you… I heard her faded thought. I turned from killer to protector. force her into some unnatural position or form…distort and pervert her. He would turn away in revulsion and abhorrence. their headlights reflecting in my mirrors. a devastating affect with each malicious act. for sheer cruelty crept into my mind. little pieces slowly being pulled off and left for dead. It was a sick joy. This trip took a comparatively short amount of time. Victoria was a different story. Slowly. Just to torture her. to consume me. Without her…without Bella. my other foot still hovering over the break. Each second I was getting closer to Victoria but farther away from Bella. yet it was the first feeling that had rushed over me that didn't include pain and suffering on my part. My foot pressed down harder on the gas. yet fleeting joy over me. she would feel pain. Victoria was nothing but a killer. If Carlisle were to see me now… I could almost hear and see the disgust and repugnance that would be apparent in his thoughts and on his face. the thought of returning still tearing at my insides. hell. justifiable death. a shady cloud of despair.

I must trust myself. she knew I was on her trail. to capture her scent. With each gulp of air I begged for Victoria's scent to be present. hoping beyond hope that I would just taste her on the moisture.this was who I was. I whipped her around to see her face. Driving through the cool city I looked down at my clock as the minutes ticked by. One down. pitiless. I drove closer to the station's schedule. but it was not. Pulling up to the next station I saw some people queued up to buy tickets. each time it seemed to be going at a slower pace. cheerless. there were only a few places where she could board a train. that this life I needed to save was not threatened in the first place. I watched the minute's change. I thought warily while whipping the car around to go to the next platform. but I didn't. Human. If I were too late – would this be like the ballet studio all over again? Would fresh blood be spilled. Exposure. Realization hit me. I let go and wrapped my fingers around another. No trains were being boarded today. one lady jumping back several paces at my speed. hungry eyes in the rear view mirror. I looked at my dark. Maybe she was disguised. Yes. that the horrid train sequence would never have to happen. I was closing in on Victoria. It was reaching four in the morning. My life would forever be non-existent. Time continued to move with little or less than usual speed. and sent unguided prayers. wasted on the floor while she gets away? Anger flooded me at the thought. Exiting the interstate I began my travels to the first. knowing this would not bring me any peace. I was bringing an unreasonable desire to my mind as in this particular instance I wished. Was it taking a comparatively long time for completion…for each change. It was absent of light. I thought with grim satiric humor. I leapt out racing towards the crowd. Parking the car. Cries erupted around me until a man came up behind me and began hitting me with his briefcase. like it was taunting me. I refused to let this get the best of me. the rails were closed due to construction. My eyes darted in between all the startled humans. I stared at my face. sullen… evil. The evening air was refreshing as I opened my windows to take in the scent of each particle of wind. You're iniquitous…wicked. was it gradually slowing? Every second I wished to rip my hair out. Trust. Their eyes were wide. and most unlikely place she would board a train. . A growl escaped my lips as I turned around in a crouch. Human. dismal. Today she will die. Grabbing the lady in front of me.

continue. but it was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. sir. bag in hand. I was angry at myself and my stupidity which had me breathing heavily. a few mumbled apologies leaving my lips before I darted around the corner. "I'm sorry. "What can I help you with?" he asked happily. you have to wait just like everyone else. his thoughts bored with the tedious every day task of selling tickets." I turned around quickly." I didn't have time for all of these courtesies. trying to refresh…to rejuvenate my tired mind. with my face the focal point." the attendant said dully. eagerly. Jackass. My car spun into the nearest parking spot available as I ran up to the ticket counter. "FBI. practically hopping into my car to race to the next station…the last. respect now replaced thoughts of anger. The scent…I followed it. an evil grin spreading across my face. All I had were my bitter thoughts for company. including the man who spoke up. As I drove up to the last train station at seven. His eyes actually grew wide. all waiting for my response. My teeth were clenched together.I backed away. to figure out how to bring my plans into action. I drove in circles. so I turned around while the person in front of me finished their transaction. like his day just got more interesting. "Hey jackass. flipping my FBI badge out immediately. I moved up to the ticket counter. Many thought's bombarded my mind all at once. I saw my face mirrored dozens of times as they all focused on me. What's this guy's deal? Does he think he's special? One thought said aloud. Now everyone's attention was on me. . A few people took an automatic step backwards at my expression. "Train leaves at eight-thirty. I pushed myself up to the front of the line." I showed them my badge. a strong wave of vampire scent hit my nose. Many of them sensed danger. eager.

I focused on my mission. I was making plans in my mind. Each passenger was looking unnerved at my immediate ransacking of their space. Alice's vision suddenly became a reality as I grabbed and ripped open door after door searching for Victoria. This one was full of small compartments." I called out. train number 8697 was where she was." he looked at his computer screen. Please don't panic. Running towards it. unconscious. She began pushing her way through the panicking crowd as she tossed a table out of the . A leap of pleasure engulfed me as I knew I would soon be on a train with the one I hunted. I opened the door while several stunned passengers stared at me warily. He was thinking about Victoria. to find a way around me…to run. Victoria's thoughts became irritated. Everyone's thoughts were incoherent with panic. I'd have to thank Jasper…I remembered I would never see them again and instead of letting the pain overcome me now. the rush of Victoria's flavor hit my tongue. My eyes flew over the tops of the humans until I saw it…red hair… just a few feet away. How did he find me. I darted towards the trains. Redding California. "She's dangerous.I explained Victoria's features quickly. Seeing the information on the screen through his thoughts. I was too angry to really care about the threat of exposure. Please…" "She's going to…um. There were dining tables on each side of the train. Several people stood up and began screaming. I need to know where she is going. so I continued onto the next car. she growled angrily in her head. She must have caught my scent too because she jumped up quickly. "Yes. I could see the image in his head. shoving a man across his chest to get past him. running for the door. Opening the door. very. Now. I quickly whipped out my FBI badge. her only mission was to evade me. I raced towards the next car. despite my words. I finally latched onto the back of the train. making him fly up against the window where he slumped sideways." "Beautiful?" the man prodded for more information. It was moving down the rail. As each second passed. throwing my bag over the railing while pulling myself up and into the caboose. sluggishly starting its way south. There was no sign of her anywhere. Her train was leaving…I looked at the clock. "Everything's all right.

Blood was gushing out of her quickly as the scent caught my nose and the dry ache began burning viciously down into my lungs. was her only thought as she flung herself out of the train. I ducked and it shattered over my head. I raced after her. The blood. their thoughts almost deafening me. knocking them against the wall. Placing my bag next to her. violent and shocking as a jolt of electricity for only a partial second before I concentrated on the dark haired girl that was bleeding to death. I reached down and grabbed her warm and inviting wrist to stop the bleeding. I let the fury pound through my body. the screaming of witnesses exploded around us. I raced through the car as the trees and grass flew by the windows leaving a blurry streak in my peripheral vision. I shook it out of my hair as I ran towards her. . glass shot everywhere. The glass had cut an artery and it was leaving her body rapidly. Each second she was grabbing whatever she could find to block my way. Must jump. It was like I was rescuing her all over again. Victoria's eyes went wild. I looked around at all the havoc and upheaval that surrounded me before I barked out orders. A brick slid down my throat and into my stomach at the sight. Broken glasses were laying across the floor. where I saw her toss a human who was in her way. She tore her way through more people and into another car. Screams erupted around us as Victoria grabbed the glass door of the next car and threw it at me. Their cuts were shallow. Alice's vision was slowly coming to light. She looked up at me and in her face I saw Bella. This was the girl I was supposed to save. The fiery thirst that normally accompanied me when human blood was involved began to ease and subside until I didn't hunger for it at all. I ran towards her. Blood leaked out and was smeared across one window. Victoria was salivating and her thoughts mirrored mine – to run away from it. As Victoria was running into the next car she slammed a girl into a window where it busted and cut the girl's arm. Before the scent hit me I ran after her. who was roughly eighteen. He landed behind her with a crunching thud.way. but I continued to climb over the debris. It flew up and the force was so severe it slammed into several humans. More people began screaming. As people focused on the horror in front of me. one target in mind. and shattering one window. vividly aware of her fragile and breakable body. crying and shouting around me. I lowered myself to the girl.

not my daughter. her thoughts panicking. "I need someone to hand me a phone. I felt like I was going to imploded with the thoughts that were overtaking my mind. I looked back down at the girl who was turning a pale color before she lost consciousness. "Listen. Victoria's scent was long gone and I had found myself wondering around this desert. please. The Vault The sand was in every crevice of my clothes." Several people whipped out their cells."Someone tell the conductor what has happened. my mind being dragged through the sand dunes and the hollow area in my chest was now full of nothing but little grains of dirt. Reaching for the closest one I dialed 911. My biggest concern – problem – was my new companion that I picked up in this hell hole. Someone probably loves her like I love Bella. Can you do that?" The woman's eyes grew wide. I spoke quickly to the dispatcher on the other end. reaching a peak. each second this girl was going to die. sending a sickening feeling into my stomach. She nodded her head before putting pressure where I pointed. A quick glance down tied Alice's vision up with a nice little bow as my bloody shoe print was right behind me. I need her." A woman rushed off. Please God. I looked out at the moving trees and ground before I jumped out. each second I was losing track of Victoria. 10. The pain began to build. My mind was racing. . I looked at the broken window where Victoria fled. As if my psyche knew what I craved the most. don't let her die. This…imagination of mine has grown wildly out of control as it now sent vivid premonitions through my mind. I forged on. Would there be someone to save Bella if I weren't there? Each thought burned at me. Several screams erupted from inside the train which soon became distant until the train was gone from my sight. Still. my body and my bag. each train car full of excitement and fear. Rushing through the crowd. I love you. Not her. I looked to the lady who was hovering over her. I need you to put pressure on this wound. my bag in hand. this haze – mirage . I gasped at the clean air outside like it was a healing extract. Don't die. my heart missing.was now playing out in front of my eyes. It was her mother. "You can do this!" I ordered.

Her figure shimmered insubstantially in the air before the image exploded and once again all I saw was the vast ocean of fine debris of rocks. Thirst. trying to stay away from her. filling the space between us almost like it was begging me to move forward. The more my body longed for the fluid that circulates deliciously throughout the body the more illusions consumed me. but my mind refused to think of it. totally destroying any restraint I still had left in me. in front of me. My thirst has now become just a minor annoyance.There were slight disturbances in the air like a heat wave. blisteringly boring weeks. Still. her outrageous flavor floating in the air. Putting my shoes back on I got to my feet. uninteresting at best. I knew this well. as I hadn't eaten in weeks now. I was trying to master myself. I took off my shoes and turned them upside down. was something I easily placed in the back of my mind. Her blood swirled deliciously under her translucent skin and without effort. I stared at her as her skin was glimmering palely in the setting sky. sending rainbows reflecting off my skin. this new problem craving prompt attention but I continued to fail extravagantly at fixing it. I tried to put the fire out. a tiny flame that hardly burned anymore because there was another burning inside me. One moment I was in blissful denial at my state of mind. Each day passed slowly. to whatever various degrees that it changes. The spectacular view now seemed dull. to fix the distance to nothing. Two weeks…it had now been two miserable. cutting off my supply of oxygen seemed to only make it more compressed. considering I had nothing but my mental images or concepts of what is not actually present and this growing sensation of dryness in my mouth and throat. forward. she tripped and I put my arms out to catch her. though I never sleep. like a hearth or a furnace. determined to move on. she was there. any direction but north but that is where my body tried to constantly pull me. My hand was rubbing my chest. Once again. Trying to empty my mind seemed to have the opposite effect. This… need. Sand toppled out of them like a dirty waterfall. Thirst began to over take me. I sat up. The hollow area in my chest was charred beyond recognition yet the fire burned more feverously than ever. mercilessly. My pitiful attempt at tracking had failed miserably. sunny. My desire for her was overwhelming until my arms reached out to bring her to into my embrace. the next I was lying in the loose grains that had turned my skin a brownish-yellow color. She was reaching out her hand to take mine. I was slowly becoming famished. as the sun shone brightly over the sky. the thought of water…a liquid…blood. Had I gone back? This must be some sort of dream. Once again. I drew in several heavy breaths. My body was physically craving blood. A clumsy Bella was walking by my side. or . bringing my head to my hands and begging that the earth would open up and swallow me whole. trying to soothe the pain but it just continued to burn with obsessive longing.

because now she was holding me tighter. my lips were a perfect vacuum on her delicate skin. My legs felt like they became lead the closer I moved away from Bella. . and spending their hard earned pay checks. unbelievably. Each second of torment and misery proved that this hell was made just for me. I could almost swear it was Bella that I was drinking.thinking. I realized it wasn't Bella I was holding it was a mountain lion. but it was not. her luscious blood filling me. I caught scent of a red haired monster. She deserved better. The sun slowly crept down the evening sky as the ground burned red until the earth had over taken the light and soon the stars dotted the sky. she'll die an early death. It was like some divine being brought me to this place. enjoying their vacations. Still. I brought my teeth to her neck and all my careful restraint that I had exercised for the past seventy years was gone. her voice continued to echo through my mind. the abode of evil…punishment of the wicked. Hopelessness threatened to engulf me. The moon now was bright in the sky. If I go back now. merited a relationship that wasn't full of death and destruction. the sounds of tickets being printed. leaving doubts. The velvety darkness before me seemed to ripple. The city continued to sparkle with multi-colored lights as I moved closer. to go north towards Forks not south toward Victoria. I refused to let this happen. Sin city. Perfect. Again. That's it. The sounds of the machines whirled through my mind. Dread doused my previous jubilation. It was true. Just a sick fantasy. the fiery thirst dissipated. That is what I was. how long would it have been until I put my mouth upon her neck to draw the vital principle – life – from her body? Every part of me ached with the prospect. the dinging of coins being dropped in the slots. the evening air quivering as my uncertainty consumed me. the ice clunking from people drinking. it sums up my existence fully. I finally decided that I had had enough. A monster. the light full of loss and despair. I felt like I would burst with the pain of just the mere thought. I had violated some form of moral principle by bringing my limitless existence upon an innocent and lovely creature. Once the blood had warmed my body. Nevada. pain pierced me. Had my thirst gotten that bad? The hollow yearning. Secretly. Las Vegas. the desperate craving had taken over and I embraced it wildly. shining brightly over the sandy abyss. I was trying to convince myself to move forward. I was brought back into the conscious world. adequately. Following the scent I was brought to a casino. I thought angrily. If I had stayed. Racing towards the nearest town my eyes were met with flashing lights of the infamous city. unnecessary. This place should actually be called hell. Each second I drew her blood – her life – into my mouth. begging me to find this savage beast.

I was sure of it. It has to be tonight!" Victoria barked at him. She must be thinking about me. She had to be here somewhere. Peeking over the crowd of transgressors I continued to search through minds trying to find some trace of Victoria. trying to read the minds around her. seriously the sexiest woman I have ever seen. right? Yes. Hell yes! One hundred bucks off of one dollar! Three hundred dollars later… My wife is going to kill me." a man told his buddies. We have to be stealthy if we want to break into the vault. Still. "No. I followed it. It was like she planned for us to run into each other in a place with heavy surveillance so there was no chance I would kill her. Even a glint in someone's memory would suffice. With this money I could finally get rid of my new tracker.Laughter filled the large building as I walked through the several rows of slot machines. Her scent was lingering here. My mind was being filled with the babble of the room. Does she honestly believe a little bit of money would hide her? My senses are beyond even a vampire. a murderer." a woman said in a very familiar tone. In his mind he was picturing Victoria. Many of them repetitive. this was most definitely sin city through and through. She was here and she was planning a…heist? But why Vegas? Of all places to decide to rob for money why the most observed place in history? I listened harder. have money. "If we just go through the floor…" a man spoke. "Tomorrow than?" the man asked her. like she was here only minutes ago. the scent of a killer. lost in desperate speculation. Finally shake him. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. . I too. Victoria. you didn't see her. The smell burnt in my nostrils. tonight. Looking around in the corners of the building I could see the many video cameras. "Hey man. Soon the sea of slot machines turned into craps tables and suddenly I was moving closer to the poker tables. though my tracking skills lack. Victoria thought. She was hot. Thoughts broke through me like hissing fires. "Are you crazy? That will cause too much attention.

let her try and rob a famous casino full of cameras. The cameras. the lust for slaughter was boiling inside me. the lights illuminating Bella's glorious face. her lips parted slightly right before I brought my lips to hers. That night. and don't be late!" Victoria jumped down from the poker table. Still – the question lingers – why Vegas? Exiting the casino I walked along the main strip I was still trying to get to the core of things. I swear she sent a thought my way. She would expose us all. The Bellagio at midnight?" "Yes. making the windows sparkle. Prom. Well. This was something you watched while you held your significant other yet I had to watch it by myself. I don't want the money. People walked by with their drinks in hand while workers handed out flyers for escorts. The pain returned in full measure as I realized I was in Las Vegas pursuing a vampire instead of going back and putting my heart where it belongs…in between my arms. or more honestly. I guess this will be more entertaining than my normal evenings. let's get our supplies ready. The money in the vaults was just like the city. I noticed that it was only an hour until midnight. brutality radiating out of me. it had come from those who were gamblers. I would catch her before she breaks into the vault or prevent the humans from seeing the incident in the first place. hookers. The blinking lights seemed to bring back memories of another time. "Fine. Looking towards a clock. The electricity flowing through the lights that flooded the building. The water rippled and quivered as the water danced in the air. was magical. It was so easy to mentally bring back the image of the dress clinging perfectly to her delicate body.She is insane. some full of . the brute security that these buildings are based upon would only bring proof to the table of doubt and uncertainty. I actually just want to prevent it from being stolen. but to tell the humans about it would only cause their deaths. I continued to walk towards the famous fountain as music bellowed through the loud speakers on the grounds and the water bounded up in beautiful and spectacular formations. Instead of following her. could probably supply a third country with power for a year. Oh this will be fun…won't it? I couldn't let her get away with this. but instead I was floundering around the edges of things. stifling blindly through clues. It was hard to let her go in the place full of humans. The image of me spinning her onto the floor sent a jolt through my heart. preparing to do one of the stupidest stunts ever. Watching her leave. What could I possibly do in one hour to stop this from happening? Cut the camera feeds? Knock the surveillance crew out? Possibly turn the electricity off to the whole street? This is going to be a lot more complicated than just robbing a bank. Still. though she hated the ritual.

At his thoughts I realized I had already gained attention that I didn't want. I had attracted enough attention at playing Black Jack so well. The security guard finally decided that they had it all wrong and left. definitely not a good idea.outrageous debts. The torrent of information flooding my mind brought me back to books that I had read before. I watched as employees passed by for almost ten minutes. Walking through the doors of the casino. a man walked towards the door and I could hear his thoughts as he pressed down the numbers on the key pad. I wasted almost forty minutes. Every round I was able to read the minds around me. This kid looks like he's only eighteen. Instead of wasting my time with the card game. honestly he looks bored. There had been few attempts to get to the riches that lie beneath the city. I greeted the security guards before joining a Black Jack table." I attempted a smile back. I almost decided to go and break the door open myself. I decided losing was my best bet." the dealer said happily. There was a light beeping sound that let me know I was admitted and I moved quietly and smoothly in through the doors. but realized that this would probably make alarms go off. People became overly frustrated with my luck. you lost. stealing his keys right from under his nose and made my way towards the door that I had put all my attention on. I knew that the cameras were all facing me . see what their cards were and easily decide if I could or couldn't win the hand. At this. I jammed the key into the lock and pressed the code into the key pad. Today's security would make this task harder than ever. After only twenty minutes I heard the mind of some of the security around me. hoping to kick me out for winning so many rounds. but failed miserably. Finally. what I would consider stolen money. I only had seven minutes left before the whole charade goes down. Nope. but those who tried were documented well. Not once did I guess incorrectly. I realized in my attempt to be unnoticed. filling the steel guarded safe's full of. "I'm sorry. Remembering these numbers. Afraid I was going to be too late. I moved swiftly to a slot machine which was close to doors that I needed a key and pass code to enter in to. but when you have a vampire involved it would be only too easy. Are they sure this is the table they wanted me to check? It doesn't seem like he's counting cards. I slowly snuck over to another guard. Many people left the table as more new comers joined in.they could see me – and I was sure they were all being watched carefully. . "Can't win them all.

During all my agony I wasn't paying attention to her plan which consisted of me being caught. "Hurry. Hatred boiled up inside me as I gave her a cold hard look. I saw my safe harbor – a window . you might not be able to break back out. I guess I accidently leaked that someone would be…breaking into the casino at midnight. Then. I'm such an idiot.Suddenly. This must be a security feature I never thought about. It was true. I've taken care of it. a positively dangerous look crept across her face. My mind was racing as the guards came closer. making my way back towards the door. "Thought you'd follow me here. If you try to break in. Still. I began moving at a speed that would be extremely quick for a human. Instead of going backwards. Fear fluttered in my chest as panic began flaring within me. A dreadful blast of realization hit me. "Oops. It was locked so I tried using my key." Victoria smiled viciously. this way! Someone's gotten past security!" "Two of them? Are you sure?" "Have you contacted the police yet? No? Get on it!" There were scurrying. evading me in the most ingenious of ways. . and here she was. I tried not to succumb to the rage as my stomach gave an unpleasant lurch. the whole plan began to make sense. All of them were nervous as they were on lock down and were unsure of exactly what was going on outside their door. the door wouldn't open. The cameras were all pointed at me in this moment as I began backing away from Victoria. This was her plan all along. but not impossible. echoing footsteps in the distance. to trap me here where I can't use my super strength to get free. during all these events her talent seemed to be evasion." she giggled in a very girly high pitched tone. I despised myself for the infatuation I had with capturing and killing her. Instantly. Each moment I could hear the thoughts behind the doors in this hallway. not her actually trying to steal money. There it was – the big gaping hole in the plan. I turned. Instantly I felt a twinge of regret. She is a lot more clever than I ever gave her credit for. It had now only been two minutes since I passed through the double doors. not a care in the world. She smiled like a child who was just promised a large bag of treats.though it was thick with metal going through it. Don't worry. I knew I could find a way to make it break in a "human way. Thoughts overwhelmed me as my mind worked frantically for a solution. I was inwardly cursing my own stupidity as Victoria dashed down the hallway. I heard a loud shrill cackle from a corner." I could almost sense freedom.

After leaving the lighted streets of the strip I began kicking anything I could find. idiot…stupid jackass. Buildings. a bullet blasted through the window behind me. their minds eager for the action. of course. It was like slow motion. even a rat. but no matter what the threat of exposure had instantly grown substantially. And what a mess it was. Turning towards the window I finally saw my way to escape. Cameras. the exertion of force upon the surface was inadvertently making the frame around the bars on the window weaker. My composure was slipping as my body tensed and moved without my permission. It was clever. Moron. witnesses… But where did she go? Instead of leaving the city – which I should have done promptly after everything that happened – I decided I needed to fix my mess. the bars on the window collapsed under my strength before it divided into parts violently like there was an explosion. The bullet wouldn't hurt me. As each bullet whistled by me. What was my deal? Seriously. I thought angrily as my mind whipped around for plausible ideas. made more and more feasible by this guard's idiocy. When I was done walking down the street. could I cause any more trouble? I can't believe how easily she played me. as a clamorous noise radiated back through the window. the devastation was astronomical. I jumped and fled. Pulling out his gun his mind showed no hesitation before his finger pressed down on the trigger. Shame and guilt assaulted me. how Victoria was able to lure me into such a trap. but that was not the point. trash cans. What were you thinking? What would Carlisle think…Esme…Rosalie. A security guard rounded the corner and caught me trying to find something to 'break' the window. 11. I'm an idiot. Fire Recoiling in-the-nick-of-time. Kicking the window with my foot. The pieces flew out into the night before gravity took hold of the metal and it descended several feet before it collided with the pavement in an alley way. Fragments of the shattered glass flew everywhere as the guard continued to shoot. This must be some cruel joke the universe was playing on me. it looked like a tornado had blasted through the neighborhood. I had to admit. It was Rosalie's constant insults that continually played around in my mind. My mind teetered on what to do. rounding the corner in brisk dynamic movements. Anxiety bubbled like acid in my stomach. missing me by centimeters. The security guard shot again and again.There were heavy foot falls behind me. . cars. One look over my shoulder showed seven more guards.

Deep down. But I wasn't…I was just putting her life in more danger." he was telling his buddies. I thought they'd make a bigger deal out of this. Surely someone couldn't get away that easily. the pain…the agony didn't fade. barren…like the desert I walked out of.Instead of cop cars. empty. Sneaking back in wasn't an option. unlocked my mind with ease. The security guard who fired was telling his buddies tall tales of the events that took place only an hour before. but I was able to beat him off. They sure did keep security tight in that place. Each day. Her determined. realizing his mistake at playing up his role as hero. "I swear. My body was completely spent of emotion. "He came after me and we wrestled for several minutes before I was able to get my gun and shoot. this fruitless and ineffective attempt would never be able to stop her memory from lashing out at me. that's what happened!" His voice was mingled with fury and alarm. once. minute. Like there was no incident that happened in the first place. the searing burn that turned my hard flesh to charcoal. My mental suffering grew . I could understand his logic because I. "He was huge and strong." "Sure ya did!" Another guard said in a patronizing tone. Like an idiot I walked down the alley I had fled to from the window and looked up. The emptiness was reducing me to useless fragments while I crumbled insensibly to the dirty alley floor. to see light flooding out of the gaping hole left in the building from gun shots and the window being broken. and through the security guards mind I could see them walking away from the scene. No matter how hard I tried. I leaned against the wall of the building. hour. trying to push back the memories of Bella that were starting to assault me again. This place reminded me of the time I saved her in Port Angeles. fire trucks and ambulances surrounding the casino. Then I heard footsteps. thought I was playing the part of a hero. Then I remembered how she guessed my secrets. second that passes. there was nothing. No matter how many places I chase Victoria. The unpleasant sensation that continued to occur in varying degrees of severity in my deprived mind reminded me that memories were all I had left now. there was no distraction from the pain. and in the process help him escape? Boss man isn't going to be happy about this…" The guards mind began to panic. at least not through the doors. yet scared expression as the men began to surround her… I gritted my teeth at the memory. "Then why did you fire all your shots and miss him completely. I would never see her face again.

even this disgusting place with its worthless filth looked better than how I felt. As I stood I knocked something with my elbow sending a loud echoing sound of metal meeting concrete through the small alley. Looking around there were dumpsters that smelt of rotten meat and soured milk.exponentially as I continued to endure this new kind of hell. I automatically began walking north. concentrating on my simple assignment as I turned to face south and began picking each foot up with a great pain. Victoria wasn't going to come out of this window. face up towards the sky. foul substance. It was still early for Vegas and the streets were crowded with rowdy college students and drunk adults stumbling from one casino bar to the next at two in the morning. try to get as far away from the temptation of Bella as I could. but I knew as soon as I reached the end of this quiet place that I would have to slow to a human pace. running as fast as I could. I turned around. Sighing. The wooded area around the lake will help protect me from the eventual sun. like piranhas in . striking me like lightning. and the one guard standing next to it would be too big of a risk. There. As the time passed slowly. I will inevitably decide what my next move is. The ground was covered in a thick layer of some vile. the less graceful I seem to become. It was instinctive. I finally arrived outside of sin city and began running towards Lake Mohave. The thought of her warmth sent butterflies fluttering wildly in my stomach. Looking behind me I could see the guards from the casino trying to break through the masses. Forcing myself to leave her to her future. The throngs of people were beginning to give me a headache as all their thoughts began to attack me like a violent storm. Each second this desire to be near her was becoming a need. looking through the canopy of branches and wallowing in misery while letting my own guilt eat at me. Yes. even for her tricks. When their minds were preoccupied with the large number of pedestrians I snuck into another casino. It was time to move on. Forget about Victoria and just travel south. What was that? The guard swiveled to find the culprit before he began shouting loudly. My body craved her…longed for the sweet red tint of blood that rushes up her cheeks and the luscious smell of her hair as she cuddles up to me when she sleeps. Grime covered every inch of the contents of this alley where rats scoured through trash. each second trying to move myself north all at the same time. I shot down the alley. The more I burn. Two days passed as I lay. a necessity. It was only a second from the broken window to the opening of the busy street. rushing through as quickly as a human would to another exit which led to a different street. It was time to leave this place. and then it suddenly filled my empty chest with acid as I realized that she was forever going to sleep and speak her thoughts without me there to watch her and protect her. I stood. As I thought it. This dirty alley looked a million times better than I felt.

"It's not only your company I crave. But I don't know if I can. "I should have left long ago. Slowly my body seemed to cease functioning as the flame was exhausted due to the lack of things to burn. Never forget I am more dangerous to you than I am to anyone else. I warned her. but shouldn't keep her. it was beyond that. the charred remains of what use to be a source of light and happiness. Another memory. Just another reminder of what I am. looking at our hands again." she whimpered. instead of going back to her when I couldn't take the pain. I'd walk through fire…which is what it felt like I was doing. I was nervous that I might have hurt her feelings. I choose to sink again into my mind. another memory flashed through my mind. I was falling to pieces as my mind thought of how much I wished I was back in Forks. Never forgetthat. I begged for the wind to blow me away – blow me north to Forks – where I belong. though my skin still shot gold in the rising sun. Her body was bruised and mangled by another vampire . "I don't want you to leave. Closing my eyes. Without permission. either. Instead of trying to put myself back together. but she still wanted to be close and I let her.the wild eating their prey with vicious hunger. Maybe." I realized I had become harsh. It is entirely my fault. when I realized the absurdity of it all – how I wanted her. if it were to save Bella. But this new fire wasn't like her glorious warmth." I sighed. yet all I could think about was going back. Our wonderful day in the meadow. I'd go to Volterra. Another bout of fire ripped through me like electricity – painfully damaging and blistering each frozen cell in my body. It had only been a couple of months. her smile radiant and dazzling. I couldn't survive in the afterlife without her." She pulled me out of my thoughts. I let her swim in front of my irises. I was burned completely and utterly to the point of ashes. how I tried to show her the monster I am and how she accepted me without a second thought. I sighed as the thoughts continued to lash out at me. I let memories of her overwhelm me as I continued to gaze absently at the starry night sky. "I should leave now. reminding me that I was completely absent of Bella. and again. It was a clear picture. I was holding her tightly in my arms as we spun effortlessly around the dance floor. to the point of pure torture. an impossible feat I might add. I was now beginning to think aloud. her hand placed resolutely in mine like fire and ice. Breaking out into dry sobs the light of the strengthening sun began to expand above the horizon. No…no. The absence of my heart began to burn and throb in my chest. Would I eventually crumble? I'd take this pain for as long as I could. making the sky coppery in color.

" I paused. As if I was being executed by electrocution the phone shocked me into awareness." Before I could reply I could hear Alice in the background. And when I thought the fire was to the point of no return. "Even if I did come back. go back to Forks." my voice was rough from clenching my teeth tight enough it could cut steel. and it will never be without you. We are not angry that you left. Not now. "Oh Edward! Please come home. I secretly hoped it was Bella. It was hard to hear her like this. "He's too scared to go back because he lied to her. I wouldn't be whole. but the words cracked at the end. Didn't I make it clear to Alice that I wasn't coming back." her voice sounded defeated." I confessed. one that I haven't thought of? Esme waited through the silence as I contemplated what to say back…how to respond. my body combusted and began being destroyed with fire as each second I was consumed with remorse and disgrace. all we want is for our family to be whole again. to listen to what I've done to them all. My question was pointless because it was Esme. The disappointment only added fuel to the fire." I mumbled. "Esme. even Carlisle. "We all miss you and want you to come back." I tried to not let my anguish break through my voice. I heard a small humpf and I knew she heard me. "Nosey psychic. "He told her that he didn't love her anymore.ring. "I miss her. When the words escaped my lips I could hear her soft cry on the other end. "If you miss her." Alice answered smugly. Everyone was there. Before I looked at the number on the screen. Claim her! Let her know how you feel. You don't deserve to see me this way. . I exploded in agony. We all miss you greatly and I know how you love the east this time of year…" I cut her off. "What do you mean?" Carlisle questioned. Ring…ring….because of me and then Jasper trampled after her because I brought her into a house full of vampires. If it was…would I answer? I looked. that this would be the end? Did she see a different future." she said bitterly. I could hear a few quick intakes of breath in the background. "I'm not coming back.

I was about to press delete when he continued after his . "I love you all. Bella. "I was hoping it would help her heal. my family and myself. The phone rang again and I let it go to voicemail. "You must spank her!" I growled. Of course Emmett would be the one to find something funny about my anguish. "Idiot. Or. already accepting failure at her attempts to get me to fix my broken heart. "Emmett!" Esme scolded. Esme finally turned the conversation back to me. After a few minutes.. Please?" Esme pleaded weakly. "The sexual favors he'll have to do to win her back.quoting Monty Python." I repeated like a broken record. hoping it would make it easier for her to move on…" my explanation was pitiful. I listened to the voicemail reluctantly. My body began to ache with sadness and at the same time felt abnormally vacant. "Regardless. "I can't. "Well. "What?"Emmett sounded baffled. there wasn't anything I would do different because to think of my life without ever meeting Bella just seemed dull and meaningless. Could I dig myself into a deeper hole? What else was I going to do? Looking back. I was hurting everyone. I failed to fulfill the expectations that my family placed in me. curiosity got the best of me. There was a long pause as I heard Emmett chuckle. you need to go back to tell her the truth." There was another low sob on the other end of the line before I clicked the red end button on the phone." I whispered into the phone." There was a thud. Pulling my phone out of my pocket I saw one missed call from Emmett and one voicemail. come home at least.Everyone gasped. As the minutes passed by. "Edward…how could you?" Hearing the disappointment in her only made everything worse. I felt overcome with grief. How could you do this to her? She loves you more than anything.. refusing to even look to see who the caller might be. and then there was another muted sob on the other end." you could hear the desperate disappointment in her tone. more like my hopes of it being Bella got the best of me. "I can't." Alice chided.

"I mean even Jasper misses you. some busy helping customers and the other's skirting around me. especially Rose…" This time I heard a crash. it sounded like. just know that we love you and just want to be there for you. Even Rosalie…" Then there was another smack of skin against skin." Alice spoke this time. Anyway." Was he going to get to the point? I heard a loud slap of skin against skin. a thud." I heard Jasper holler from far away. "Listen. were all facing the clean cars which made them all glisten dully in the defused light. We can get through this together. "Edward. Whatever you do. I heard another thud in the background. and that you love Bella. "Cheater. one that wouldn't remind me of Bella. It was a few minutes after seven. Rosalie? Why did she care? "Oh…Right. The darkness around me began to deepen as the minutes ticked by.loud guffaws subsided. When I reached the nearest dealership the huge spot lights which had several hundred flying insects swirling around them like schizophrenic hornets. It's inevitable. please come back. None of the cars on the lot caught my interest. The sales people were walking around the lot." There was another slap. Fine…I miss you bro. Edward. Good. get to the point. "Emmett. The sun was finally hidden behind the sandy abyss as I looked at the time. Please come home soon…or go to Forks. I wanted something fast and free of memories. . dealerships would still be open." "I'm staying out of this." Rosalie commanded. You should concede now. It was time to purchase a new vehicle." Emmett muffled as a low chuckle came from the background before the voicemail cut off. those hunting trips used to be fun until they became 'talk about Bella' trips. Trust me." there was a steely note in her voice. "Well. This brooding as far away from all things that matter to you is getting a little ridiculous. That was the weirdest voicemail I believe I have ever heard. When you are far away and alone we worry about you. "Remember what I showed you. If the situation was different I'd probably be laughing at the bizarre message. "Ow. I know that you are hurt. so does everyone else. and an angry unintelligible mutter and then a loud guffaw as Emmett wrestled for the phone.

"Okay." the salesman added before I could continue my list. I know it's him playing this stupid prank on me. "I'll take it." This guy is off his rocker. He laughed. "This isn't a joke. "Um. It's a beauty…" I interjected. let's go inside and check your credit. I can't believe I get stuck with the homeless man while everyone else is actually selling cars instead of just talking about them. The salesman jumped in front of me before I could walk into the building. if you won't help me maybe your manager will." he mumbled angrily." he mumbled." I handed him my credit card. "Yes. Was I that dirty? I sent him a rueful smile and he stepped backwards." I was becoming irritated." I said through gritted teeth.I need to keep my eye out on this homeless dude…make sure he doesn't try to steal any cars. "Okay – Where's the camera's? Ha-ha. Walking towards him I saw through the glass of the building the most magnificent car on the lot. 638 horsepower with 604 torque…" "And it costs $110. "Is there anything I can help you with?" This is going to be useless. A Corvette ZR1. Please. I'm not falling for it.000. Supercharged V8 with a six speed manual transmission. pointing to the silver Corvette behind the glass. "You misunderstand me. Please set up the paperwork immediately. or I'll make you more your arm. "Move your arm." I replied. "Fine. I began to walk forward but the salesman put his arm out in front of me to stop me from walking inside. "I want that one. yes. very funny!" I'm going to kill Bob. "This joke isn't funny anymore. his bald head glimmering palely in the night sky. I have the money and I want to purchase that car…now. The metallic color shined and winked at me as I came closer. "Yeah right." I replied arrogantly. ." I snapped. I was suppressing a growl that was threatening to rip up my throat. Like he has over hundred grand lying around. Weird kid." This is getting a little annoying. "Is this a joke?" He hesitated. "Yes. my eyes not leaving the glass. I'm not going to get a single sell out of him.

Make me move my arm. I'm bigger than this brute…I could easily take him down. Before I could grab his arm and remove it from his body the manager yelled from between two cars. "What the hell are you doing Kevin? Let the man inside." Why do I always hire idiots as employees? "But sir, look at him. He's just a homeless man looking to steal something," Kevin said, disgusted. "Excuse me," this time I couldn't stop the growl that thundered out of my throat. Kevin, the salesman, backed away. What the… "Let him in, Kevin!" The manager shouted angrily. His mind is like dead air full of fluff. Kevin removed his arm from in front of me and I opened the door. The manger swiftly followed me after mumbling, "You're fired," to Kevin. "I'm so sorry, sir. What can I help you with today," he said politely. "Yes, I want that," I pointed to the Corvette, "car." I handed him my credit card. "The money is all there. Let's get this paper work together." The manager's mouth opened in surprise but took my card and began with the paper work. Thirty minutes later I drove my new car off the showroom floor, honking and waving at Kevin, the ex-salesman, as I drove by. Son of a… Kevin cursed in shock as he drew heavy breaths at his idiocy. The convertible Corvette was considerably faster than the Volvo. Putting the top down I let the cold evening's air rush through my hair as I drove at top speeds down highway ninety-three. My state of awareness was bleak and dull, even though I was in my element. Alternative desires were whipping through my mind – Bella, kill Victoria, Bella, run away and shrivel into a little ball of sadness, Bella – I couldn't decide what to do, but I had a lurking suspicion that my little encounter with Victoria in Vegas wouldn't be my last. Gotchya! One-hundred and thirty! Best speed in days. A dreadful blast of realization hit. Select curse words started flying out of my mouth. Because of the constant prattling in my head, I wasn't paying attention to cops. Blue lights flickered behind me, twirling round and round like a disco ball, sending lights reflecting off all of my mirrors. Instead of slowing, I speed up. In his mind he was concentrating on trying to read my license plate. I jammed the gear shift lower, trying to gain ground between us. Because my car was new, the license plate was written out which was making it particularly hard for the officer to read.

Using this against him, I slammed my foot down on the gas pushing the car to one-fifty. Internally I was cursing myself for my stupidity. My constant state of being in a stupor keeps costing me. Everything I do seems to just be another, bigger, mistake. Could things get any worse? Haven't had a good chase in a while. Yes…yes, things could get worse. Another cop was speeding towards me, racing right at me, head on. Refusing to move, the cop swerved, did a one-eighty and began chasing after me, too. For some odd reason, I had a superb indifference to my predicament. I slammed the car into fifth gear as the needle throttled up towards red, streaking by the desert like a bullet. Dust filled the air as they pelted along in my wake. The last time I was in this position was to race towards Bella, to save her life. This time I was running away. 12. The Army Coven I could imagine her hands gripping the seat in total terror, her eyes darting from the dash board to the road and back again as my speed topped out at one-sixty. Bella. It was so hard to lock her name up when everything I did made me think of her. It was a bad idea to do anything that would remind me of that precious soul, but I had no choice right now. The image in my head was of her eyes wide with horror as I was being chased by the police. There was no hope for those behind me. I was too fast and luckily, I was smart enough to remove my temporary tags and register this car in a fake name before speeding off the lot. It was easy to lose the police in this car, and soon they were so far behind their lights were nothing but an annoying flash in my rear view mirror. This car chase only made me think about how it relates so completely with my life; a mundane beginning, a dramatic middle and an anti-climatic end. Now my life was as uninteresting to me as if I were stuck forever looking at the wall of a white room. No, the wall would probably be more interesting with its paint patterns and microscopic imperfections. I would possibly be able to form shapes and pictures that would also only remind me of the one I left behind. Trains, Las Vegas casino's and car chases may seem riveting to some, but to me they were just minor annoyances getting in my way of killing the one who placed my love in the hospital. Stupid red-haired vampire. I gripped the steering wheel and turned it sharply onto an unnamed road. Speed use to be exhilarating, now it was just as monotonous as my existence. Without my consent my foot inched toward the break and in a matter of seconds I came to a complete stop. The plans in my head flopped around from one idea to the next. There

were so many promising things I could do, but the top two were to find Victoria and kill her or go to Volterra City and just end my internal suffering. Did I chase Victoria far enough south that she would never dream to go back north? Is it time to just end my existence? Or should I just finally give in and go back to the place that continually called my name, Forks? No, no, no, I chanted in my head. I couldn't go back, she deserved a life and a future and I couldn't provide her with those things. It was me who was continually taking things away from her. It was a bad idea. Forks wasn't an option. I nixed the option before the thought of her warm body against mine made me change my mind. Closing my eyes, I saw the color of scarlet creeping up the porcelain cheeks of a blushing and fully embarrassed Bella. 'Why are you embarrassed?' I wanted to ask. When I finally opened my eyes the clear sky full of stars was lighting the inside of the car as the breezy air whipped around me. It was difficult to realize she wasn't actually there; it was more difficult to imagine myself going there and bringing the danger back. Forks…no, definitely not an option. But Victoria was only putting me in further danger of exposing us of what we are. The look in Carlisle's face as the Volturi came to claim my family, made me want to just get on a plane to Italy now. If I were exposed, my family would be executed; guilty by association. Was this the only option? Thinking about losing the only distraction I had from the torment made me cringe in anticipation for the oncoming slaughter of my mental being. Was it worth my family? The answer was obvious. My decision was made. My console began vibrating, sending small pulses of tiny palpitations through the plastic. Was it Bella this time? Was she seeking me out? All hope was lost when I finally seized my phone and saw Alice's name on the screen. If I didn't answer it now she would probably keep calling me. Might as well get this over with… "Yes, Alice?" I answered tersely. "Edward, please don't go," Alice pleaded through the phone. "It would be suicide. That must be the reason you are going but please, please don't do this. What do you think it would do to Esme…Carlisle?" Alice's voice became weak with sadness. "What would I do without you?" "I can't go on like this. You don't understand. You couldn't ever understand." "Maybe not, but maybe I could help you," her words were rushed. "How?" I asked through my teeth. "I know where Victoria is headed." Alice hesitated for a few seconds. "I'll tell you, but you must promise me you are not going to the Volturi."

I closed my eyes in frustration. "Okay. I'll bite. Where is she?" "Promise," she insisted. "I…can't." "Edward Cullen!" she shouted. "You listen to me, and you listen to me right now! I know Bella wouldn't want you to 'off' yourself." Alice reminded me of her useful, yet very annoying gift of foresight. "Rubbish," I heard her mutter. The reminder of mine and Bella's conversation the afternoon before her disastrous birthday party only made me angrier… because she was right, and I didn't need another reminder. "I know what your plans are," she continued, "as soon as you make them. We'll stop you," she warned me. "Victoria is headed towards Arizona. Her plans are not definitive yet, but she is going that direction," she paused for a minute to think. I was gritting my teeth shut like a steel bear trap. "I'll give you more details if you promise not to go there." "Alice, you know if I lie…" I began "Exactly," she interjected, "…here, let me give you some incentive." I could imagine her pursing her lips "What would happen to Bella if she found out you were dead?" It was a weird reaction, considering I didn't receive any relief from doing it, but I blinked in surprise at her question. It was one I had never thought of before, nor one I would have ever wanted to think about. What would Bella do if I no longer existed? Would she care? The empty space where my heart used to be began aching. "The outcome wouldn't be good." Alice pulled me from my reverie. "I already saw it once you made your plans," her voice was twisted between pain and belligerence. This was one of those times I was glad I couldn't read minds through the phone. What was the picture in her head? Many unspeakable images washed through my mind like a disease, infecting and destroying everything in its path. "She wouldn't hurt herself," I told her, my voice more confident than I felt. "You don't know that. What I do know is that she wouldn't go on existing without you, either…" Alice continued to talk but I was suddenly shoved into my own memories of our conversation during Romeo and Juliet. "…you don't irritate the Volturi, not unless you want to die – or whatever it is we do." I explained. I watched her face show many emotions ranging from anger to horror. She grabbed my face and her palms started warming my cheeks. She looked me directly in the eyes. "You must never, never, never think of anything like that again! No matter what might ever happen to me, you are not allowed to hurt yourself!" she almost cried.

The sound of her teeth snapping together echoed through the phone in perfect clarity. Even though talking about the love of my existence pained me." "It should be. waiting for my response." she mumbled." she explained like this was obvious. We've done enough damage. For a brief fraction of a second I thought she was talking about Bella. thoughts and plans from my mind. I had to banish these ideas. It very nearly compared to the way I felt during the night in Phoenix. "You make that sound so easy. if the situation were reversed?" I asked. I wasn't ready for Alice to stop talking about her. I heard a small sob on the other end of the phone and my resolve broke that instant. "She's going to southern Arizona." I admitted. "Would you want me to go off myself?" Thinking of Bella no longer living sent the worst pain plummeting through my stomach and almost shattering my heart. "but what would I do without you?" I would wither and die…more like I'd beg for death to take the pain away. I sighed. "That's not the same thing. "I guess I see your point…a little. …"What if something did happen to you?" she cringed. but the better part of me changed and twisted my words on the way out of my mouth. though. It was a bad idea to even ask her what she saw in her future. "Whatever you were doing before I came along and complicated your existence." . "Alice?" I whispered. I knew it was wrong. "I'm not really that interesting" A lump rose in my throat at the memory. "And don't go looking for her future either." was all I could spit out." she sighed. To think of her that close… no. ready to argue with her. "Bella promised. "Is that so?" Swallowing loudly. The question was forming in my head." she argued. "…and what about Esme and Carlisle? Edward? Hello? And what about me?" Alice was quiet for a few seconds.…"What would you do.

Plus the phobia was too engrained in my system that my actions would ultimately cause Bella to do something radical. The range of emotions in our conversation was odd for Alice. Normally she was overly enthusiastic about everything. "Okay. The only emotions in her phone call were anger." There was a long silence. Immediately I began reading the small paragraph that was typed in the small black print at the bottom of the first page. "Shots were fired and every bullet missed the male. Good luck Edward. and soon I'd be nothing but a reminder of what was. When I finally found a motel it was straight out of the 1960's movie Psycho. When Bella dies." Was all she said to my interruption. It was hard to think of all the things I was putting my family through. The room was old and everything had a fine layer of dust on it. It was obvious this wasn't where Victoria would have stayed for long. I'd give them that. Had it really been that long since I left…her? Was I mixing my days and weeks up and they were really months? My stomach tightened painfully. It was easy to tell how she'd figure out my demise. but they would all eventually move on. A glimmer of interest flickered through me as I wondered just how long this room has been unoccupied. It was only when I saw where the news paper was from that my interest was piqued. Nevada. "I love you. It was obvious no one had stayed in this room in a long period of time. right on the boarder of New Mexico. but after a minute the lights dimmed and I was left sitting in my car. staring out at the night sky again. The phone never made a noise." she continued with her previous subject. "Willcox Dry Lake. the paper read the date of November twentieth. even . "All I see is a flash of a sign. He escaped out a window which was broken during the shooting. The female ran for it before security got there. Willcox Dry Lake was in the far south eastern corner of Arizona. there was nothing there. There was a news paper on the desk. To my dismay. too." Then there was no one on the receiver. Las Vegas. escaped and eluded security at one of the top casino's in Vegas is still in question.What she didn't know was that the last sentence had multiple meanings. roughly twenty. This place was obviously well seasoned and weathered. This place would be strictly for nightly predators of my kind. Alice would surely go back to Forks when I was no longer holding her from that place. I didn't know what I wanted to do anymore but all I knew was the idea of doing nothing while Victoria was at liberty to do anything was almost more than I could stand." the spokesperson for the casino told us. at least. the area was absent of clouds and shade. sadness. The wallpaper was pealing from the floor. When security went to review their footage. and disappointment. though neither was found. like a stain you can't wash from a shirt. The mystery of how a man and a woman. "The thieves must have been well trained. There was an article that was circled. All information had been erased. that will be my time.

please call the Las Vegas Police Department. I waited for the anger to surge through me. just absent of the alleviation that a human would have. I imaged her anger showing through her pursed lips as she told me to quit brooding over the events in Phoenix. leaving trails in the dust as I moved towards the bed. The short solace had been exhausted and it was only getting worse. and then tricked me again by making me think that she was actually trying to expose me. Each moment the excruciating suffering delighted in its torment. or comfortable. beckoning me forward. Waiting for the sun to set. but in those few seconds I could almost feel her warmth as it crept into her cheeks. knowing that in this action there would be a relief. It was in those vines that I began to picture her face peaking through the large flowers. a very yellowish glow like someone had lit a human sized candle outside my window. a ruby red glow replacing the gold. If you have any knowledge of the identities or whereabouts of these two. the inclination of my previous purpose had me standing. even though I knew it was just a trick of my subconscious. It was only after her tear stained face. though the emotion wasn't powerful enough to overpower the strong emotion of anguish. eyes open.the backup hard drives. She tricked me. My fingers ran lightly over the set of drawers. or how her sarcasm only brought out her true opinion and personality. The paper crumpled without effort in my hands. Slowly. I was glued to the spot. like my reason and sanity left me. A fly was buzzing around wildly in the sunny window. There was a honeyed light peaking through the curtains. Being away from her was starting to leech all the happiness out of me. I sat on the bed. There was something filling my hollow insides. Each quick second that this luxury was here I took it in and let it help cool the burning pains from the fire that seemed to have consumed me. I stared forward with fathomless eyes. I felt like the ground was falling away." The police are not releasing any details on how their search is going for the mysterious duo. And then. rotating as the air conditioner whipped the dust moots around in wild swirls. My eyes closed. The golden ball was now sinking beneath the horizon. wobbly knees and red set lips entered my mind that the true torture actually began. staring straight at the bland curtains with their flowers and random vines of vegetation. or watch as her eyes rolled when we were joking around. Each minute my intellectual power was trying to distinguish what I really wanted in this moment. the dust heavy in the air. It wasn't healing. Gradually the light became weaker as my intellect was trying to work through my mental processes that seemed to be stuck in limbo. I seized the curtains and yanked them out of my way. The opulence only last for a few seconds. It was comforting to see her face behind close lids after the several days of trickery. . A purpose came swarming through me as a recollection of previous intentions reminded me that I needed to move. My horrified trance was weakening. I tried to empty my mind but it was giving me what I wanted. The stream of golden sunlight shot sideways.

roughly twenty miles from where I was now. was displayed with vibrant pictures and the promise of exciting trails and other interesting outdoor activities. but there were still several miles of forest to search for her trail. a shadow cast across the parking lot and onto the building. The inevitable fight played out over and over in my head as I ran towards the forest. I had to admit. It was weak. I stared through the darkness. staring wildly through the dense branches. My eyes showed it in perfect clarity. …seriously something wrong with that guy… The door swung my direction before the latch clicked. The sky was now a purple tinged grey. As soon as the aw factor dissipated. His face was shadowed. Coronado National Forest. The man took in a huge gulp of air at my appearance.A man walked into the light. I was gazing around for a glint of fire red hair. …first the news paper and now this… The thought was uninteresting at best. I packed my bag in a rush. it was nice having Alice on my side. When I first arrived I had taken a shower. Her uncannily accurate visions of the future came in handy sometimes. the golden depths of my eyes and the hardness of my skin. Yanking it open a sudden gust of blood rushed into the room. It wasn't the same as the vast vegetation of the Olympic Peninsula. The small glittering of my skin was not enough for a human to notice. His hand shook and I noticed the arthritis in his fingers and the cut that was bandaged on his pointer finger. The area was still completely absent of Victoria's scent. the glowing red of the setting sun making my eyes glow ominously in his vision. Each fury creature . The thought of her head being detached from her body only brought on a sick joy. Alice must be tired of talking with the internally tormented to be sending me messages via a human. My eyes roamed over the brochure he handed to me. The forest was close. The moisture free air held the scent of rich pine and evergreen which grew stronger the faster I ran. Victoria must have fled to the shadows of the trees. the look of a vampire. The pines grew to immense heights with their woody trunks and the constantly developing branches. It was only too easy to rush through the several miles of forest as I searched for the scent I craved to diminish. He handed me a travel brochure before stumbling backwards. The edge of the trees grew out of the night. but I knew from reading the minds of those around me that the human eye was weak and unable to see it at this angle of the sun. so this time the sound of shock was of supposed beauty. ready for this chase to be over with. but it was easy to see him in the halo of light. the man's eyes focused more on the color of my skin. It never failed to dazzle humans. It was easier now than ever to put the dry ache of my throat on the back burner. The manager knocked lightly on the door.

except two who's eyes had faded to the deep maroon color of an older being. Who's that? Maybe this is one of Leon's army. but it wasn't Victoria. Look at his clothes. My body reacted instinctively as I crouched. yet all of them centered on me and my surprising appearance. almost minutes old. The tumult of thoughts was almost overwhelming. There was the sound of soft footsteps racing towards me in all directions before I was suddenly surrounded by a group of vampires. trees whipped around in my wake. I wasn't fighting for my life.scampered in fear like I was a lion. "Spy!" the leader shouted. All of the vampires were absent of shoes. Then. This wasn't something that I expected or something Alice saw. The fragrance was practically brand new. Explain yourself. I was fighting for Bella's. A blur of colors and shapes streaked by me like a bullet as my eyes scanned frantically to see who the vampires were. I'm not sure that he's a spy after all." . He smells like a vampire…but he doesn't look like a vampire. We'll just have to ask our spy… …but he's…clean. Another vampire tailed closely behind him like a pompous guard dog. his hair flowed to his shoulders. Each thought was on a different wavelength. "You have been caught. The obvious leader of this coven…army…swept silently forward. The scent of a vampire. it hit me. He looks…rich. preparing to fight. He was tall with vast shoulders. …his eyes… I've never seen him before. The stances were wild. A spy. their eyes a brilliant red. their hair tangled with the forest debris. The wild low growing brambles stirred in the makeshift wind. I was trying to listen in to each one.

"Don't feed on humans?" this time the leader's eyebrows shot so far up his forehead they were touching his hairline as his head shook in disbelief. My eyes flitted around.I turned around in a circle once. …he can't seriously believe him. Thoughts of disbelief flooded from the minds around me. He probably feeds on all the humans in Tucson." I explained. someone complained." I spoke in the smoothest voice possible while turning towards the coven leader now. grabbing both of my arms. Two newborn vampires couldn't hold in their rage and ran out towards me. I saw my face. Looking through his eyes I was able to locate the source. If a fight were to ensue. Ninety percent of the time they were all thinking about feeding. vindictive pleasure in their thoughts. The feral snarl that ripped up the leader's throat had the others cowering in fear. trying to find the vampire who fit these thoughts. "And I am no spy. The others were rapt with attention. The vampire behind the leader finally spoke. "I am no spy. "I was chasing another vampire. and my very eyes in thirteen different viewpoints. A twisted smile turned up on the vampires face behind him. I come from the north. "What are you doing in these parts?" his eyebrows rose. I don't even feed on humans. "Impossible." the leader spoke in deep authority. near Canada. counting the number of vampires I was surrounded by. Their hands dropped my arms and I was free. My posture immediately straightened in a nonthreatening way. It was best not to alert them to the easy prey of the north…or to Bella." he cried out in maddening superiority. . The horrible truth sunk like a stone. Staring this newborn vampire straight in his scarlet eyes I spoke to the leader who was now calm. There were thirteen. I've never heard of such blasphemy. speaking dejectedly. Casey. A fierce snarl ripped up my throat in warning." I decided not to mention Washington. She tried to kill my mate. Their grips only tightened. "Back away John. It was obvious from the immaturity and how emotions drove the vampires encircling me that eleven of them were less than a year old. regardless of mind reading. They all looked at me as if the idea were ludicrous. my stance. There was a motionless silence as they waited on baited breath for my answer. I would lose. Now I'm thirsty.

He must be an old vampire or wishing for death. Gabriel's face was mask like. when I turned to stare at the culprit I was surprised to see someone smaller than me." I said to the leader who was now sending me curious looks. "I have not feasted on humans in nearly seventy years. A voice spoke from behind us. odd one?" There was a lurking suspicion in his mind." he explained. perhaps?" Gabriel suggested. He was completely unaware of my ability to read the minds around me. why are your eyes golden in color? It is such an odd trait to have. so it had to be corporeal. The deep seeded truth was that the leader was tired of dealing with the newborns and was looking for something more interesting to bid his time with. "You don't seriously believe this imposter. like I was dreaming. The leader was contemplating who I really was in his mind. The whole situation felt strangely unreal. In my twohundred years I have never seen anything outside of black and red. They all continued to leer at me." his hand waved out towards the surrounding vampires. like I was hypnotized. My family and I only drink from animals. The blood red eyes of the thirteen vampires surrounding me continued to gleam fanatically. making the moon glow red. The interest sharpened palpably. Excited muttering broke out across the small crowd. "I'm Gabriel.His eyes aren't red. some shifted their postures unnecessarily while others stared in intensity. The undeniable fascination grew exponentially as each second ticked by in anticipation. He seems unusually calm for the situation he is in. This is my army. 13. Misty clouds moved in the sky. trying not to show emotions. low rumbling growls escaping the lips of some. "Edward Cullen. A terrified excitement rose in my chest. sending a bloody light over the shadowy ground. do you?" The booming voice was deep in nature. None of the vampires in his army had special abilities to hinder me useless. "Edward. Test The evening progressed slowly as the vampires holding me captive contemplated on a test that would prove my words about feeding on animals true. "What is your name. "Yeah!" Several of them murmured in agreement. But I couldn't dream. "A test." My face was glazed over. .

." Gabriel let out a mirthless laugh. Is that so? I won't understand?" he smirked unpleasantly at his words." He swooped like a bird of prey on my reply. "Don't you think any one of us could do it if we felt our lives were threatened?" He paced back and forth in the depths of the forest. which tumbled down her back like a string of molten copper."We could make him eat an animal in front of us?" a girl. roughly fifteen when changed." Gabriel cut him off. "Oh. of all vampires. They continued to glower venomously at each other and at me. The masses began muttering and fidgeting as the seconds passed. "Tell me. "if one of us drinks animal blood it will make our eyes turn gold and then –" "Shut up. at least that is what he was wishing for in his mind. though it was completely painless. He continued to stare at the smiling blonde boy whose face sunk until he looked like he was someone tending to a person on their sick bed. won't understand?" A windstorm of laughter broke out over the small horde around me. They quieted at once. why do you feed upon animals? Does the taste of humans disgust you?" His beady eyes narrowed." I suffused pointedly. "There are many reasons. "Don't any of you have a conscious?" I shouted back. Larry. at Gabriel. Gabriel turned to me. mumbled. The army did not move for several spiraling seconds as they stood defiant of the wilderness around them. "Explanations that someone like you would never understand." Distaste curled his lips. "Let's hear this response of yours that is just so complicated that I. They all stared at me like I just told them I wanted to go to ballet class. "Maybe if…" Casey. The fiery wind lashed at my exposed face. No…it has to be something with a challenge…something he can't fool us with. "That's the most disgusting idea yet. "Idiot girl. Yes… Wild ideas continued to jump rampant through all their minds as a brooding mist crept through the forest around the craggy recesses. began but he gave her a 'stop talking now' sort of look and she cowered away in fear of his gaze. "That's enough!" he shouted towards the throng. "Maybe…" began a blonde boy. One vampires face was completely paled with anger as he tried to burn holes through me with his stares. One girl tossed her hair in impatience. the vampire who had attacked me earlier.

a girl of roughly sixteen in his arms. It was only five minutes before the calm was broke with the wind of two vampires and their consciousness'. The silence spread out from the group in cold ripples as the darkness continued to press upon us. "Still." he rubbed his chin. Several thoughts thundered through him at once." the blonde boy shrugged. Several members of his army turned towards the forest with a sense of jittery expectation. The first to be seen was Gabriel. "Not in seventy years. "What do you think he's doing?" A small voice asked from behind me. "Who knows? He's a crazy old brute. She would have been beautiful." What kind of test would prove him to be a liar … Animal blood? Why? … It just doesn't make any sense. "Never? Really?" "Never what?" I asked evasively. After fifteen minutes the silence broke and murmurs broke out between the vampires. and all things since her have lost their splendor. his face full of elation at his grand scheme as he crashed through the trees. A hungry look gripped his features. The images were repugnant…revolting. Her head lulled from side to side. My stomach convulsed. The pompous vampire grunted noncommittally. contemplating. spilling over his arm. His second in command came thundering in his wake. ." I repeated from earlier. It didn't matter. The worst idea of all had entered into the depths of Gabriel's mind as he watched his army stare at him in anticipation."Of course we do…but I wouldn't go as far as not feeding upon humans. not giving him any hints that I could literally see the wheels turning in his mind. I don't believe you. her hair like liquid silver. I've never heard of such blasphemy. "You never drink from humans?" His smirk widened. He grabbed the vampire who was older and drug him into the forest far enough away that I couldn't hear him. violent and shocking like I was being electrocuted. I felt sickened and angry. The faction relapsed into a prickly silence as their eyes darted around the forest for some sign on Gabriel's plan. I tried to probe his mind but all I did was reach a wall of roiling thoughts. but she wasn't Bella. Her features were angled and perfectly lined her face. No humans…not one single bite? A grimly amused smile played on his lips. I already knew his plan. Fury pounded through my body. I raised an eyebrow. I was losing time to this ridiculous charade and Victoria was probably several states away by now.

it was the girl…it was Bella. "This has gotten just a little ridiculous. She isn't here to be your feast. scooting across the ground towards me and away from the glowing red eyes that were scorching holes into her body. "Have you gone mental?" I cried out. don't you think?" "If you don't feed upon humans then this should be easy!" he exclaimed. "This is part of the test. hold your breath. This isn't a good idea. Don't any of you dare to breathe until I say so." he said with finality boarding on indifference. Back down. "Now." The girl backed away. Eight of the ten vampires had gritted jaws. One small girl sounded like an angry cat. We can't afford to lose another one. A few growls escaped the throats of the vicious vampires around him." Gabriel stepped between the human and the masses. He jerked around to face me. Her eyes flew open to find a group of thirsty vampires hovering over her. slowly stepping towards her fragile form. Their eyes gleamed maliciously crimson as they listened to the heart beat tattoo against her chest. The rhythm of her heart rapidly sped up as sobs came in great rasps from her parted lips. "Back away. palms forward. All these neophytes are going to go crazy. "If you don't back away. Everyone was alert of the situation in front of them. exchanging the most fleeting of looks. the atmosphere grew in intensity. Rage propelled me to my feet as I snatched her up and yanked her behind me. "Step back. Bloodlust emanated from them in great sickening waves. probably not being as gentle as I should be. "This is all part of his test. there will not be any more humans to feast upon! This girl is for him." He gestured to the older vampire. He stepped around me and seized a handful of her hair and dragged her back to the center of . Ian rolled her dismally across the ground. "Ian." A few of the vampires stepped closer. She turned to stare at me. Leon's army is growing rapidly. a frown on his face. Her eyes swam with tears as she placed her hands up." he whipped around." he yelled into the night. He shook his head to an infinitesimal degree at the thought. a gesture of surrender. There was an explosion of sound as the vampires swarmed around the tiny human girl. Suddenly she wasn't just some human in danger. "Do you want Leon to win your territory?" Several of them moved their eyes away from the girl and back to Gabriel. pointing his finger at my forehead. threatening to overtake the old one. their fists clenched so tight their knuckles looked like they could easily break the pale skin that was glowing ominously in the moonlight. exchanging dark significant looks. Everyone's eyes swiveled back and forth between me and the girl lying between us. "You brought this human among all these newborn vampires! What were you thinking?" The thing was I knew exactly what he was thinking. put her in the middle."Have you lost your mind?" I yelled at Gabriel.

I could see the doubt in Gabriel's eyes as he looked between the two of us. his face showing all the shock and condemnation of his 'full proof' test. The scent hit my nose and was brought deep into my lungs. So easy. I just might believe him. bending down on one knee to be on her same eye level. I couldn't save her. Several of the vampires moved forward. I collapsed on the ground. He pulled in a rasping breath and held his lungs at bay. "You're truly are a monster. She was so full of fear she was shaking as the blood continued to pulse through her sliced skin. It was completely absent of the freesia and strawberries that I craved so much. . She could easily do this to Bella. His teeth met with an audible snap as his lungs took in the air before him. The young girl's heart began to flutter like a dying bird before it slowed and became silent. their muted conversations buzzing like a fly in your ear. "Let me go. She was already bitten. I brought my face to her neck and took in a long drawl of the aroma emitting from her. A scream tore from her lips." I stated malevolently." I could slowly feel the need to kill Victoria burning in my veins like liquid fire. So simple. His finger came down and sliced the girl from behind her ear down to her shoulder. Her life was just snuffed away. Your humans are safe from my teeth. It was all wrong though. Things he once thought permanent and unquestionable were thrown into doubt. He was resigned from the unsolvable mystery that was me. There was a strained silence for several seconds. "You're free to go. It was too late. He drank her dry and threw her body to the wayside like she was a rag doll. "Right…" he turned around to the army behind him. I stepped closer to the girl. Ian had to tell several of the newborns to leave the small clearing. Of course.the semi circle. but there was no one around to hear her. Blood rushed out of her wound and spilled over her shirt and wasted on the forest floor. Gabriel met my eyes when I lifted my head up. If he can restrain himself. Watching something like this was revolting and my stomach clenched with a new sickness. He pointed his finger up in the air while looking at me with a sense of disbelief. The throng jostled around him. anger filling my body at the disgrace of the whole sight. There was a hum in the air with the shock of the recent scene. Slowly. His eyes closed slowly before he reached out and pulled her to his lips. Words failed Gabriel as he stepped back from the dead girl. Several of the newborns began muttering horrible curses. You had your test. The pink flesh was ebbing away from her face. like a candle before the wind. The sweetness of her blood was not tempting in the least. shooting covetous looks at their leader. This man in front of me won't ever leave his life in the south with his armies…but Victoria…she could always decide to go back." The muttering became more and more offensive this time.

The forest ended and then there was nothing but the baked cracked desert ahead of me. Bella filled every tiny particle of my brain." Gabriel ordered. Just because he didn't feed on the human doesn't mean he doesn't drink their blood." He was looking crestfallen. Suddenly it felt like I was sinking through the floor. "Let him go. Most of them of Bella. astonishment racing across their faces. like a pained gargoyle. the other vampire that attacked me earlier. My legs stretched wider in stride as I pushed myself to get back." he pointed behind me. for once in your existence.John. The motel finally loomed into view. stepped forward. with ease. my chest swelling with a furious hate. He's harmless. It felt incredibly good to hide from the world outside. The sickening thoughts wound their way through my mind like vines trying to reach the sun. "Now. I met my own gaze in the mirror. Then the memory of Bella's belief of my final words to her finally crashed down upon me. I crumpled onto the bed which exhaled a puff of dust. Instantly I was filling with quiet despair. "John. I turned and ran through the forest. Gabriel whipped around. I don't know how long I lay there. "Go. will you just shut the hell up?" John's face hardened like an ancient sentinel. Seizing the handle of the door I yanked it open to be greeted by my bag and the dusty bed. The nights becoming longer and the days shortened. Grief threatened to overwhelm me. My movements were so fast and fluid that I felt like a ghost. It was surprising that the Volturi hadn't already come to take me away with all the idiotic things I had been doing. The weight of the vast number of memories exploded in my head. The other vampires stared forward. Don't ever come back. Night animals peered through their dens as I raced through the brambles. Down…down to hell. The trees grew tall like solemn pillars of a great city. It was finally the break of dawn. I stood up." He didn't need to tell me twice. I tore into the room. insubstantial in nature. Bella constantly beaming down upon me. though my arms were cold with her absence. The light from the rising sun peeked through the trees as I pushed myself harder. when everything waits for the warm touch of the sun. I had to make it back to my motel room quick. My eyes stayed closed. . some of my journey to this hell hole. John backed away with deliberate slowness. Another outbreak of muttering rippled through the crowd. lightning flashing in his eyes. "You've got to be joking! You can't let him go. I adverted my gaze by closing my eyes. though the sun seemed to rise and fall quicker than usual. My face seemed to be in a permanent grimace.

I pulled myself from the fragments of dust to rummage through my bag. I had forgotten that the only reason I found the small bottle cap was because of the insistent buzzing of my phone. "Everyone of us said we were thankful to have you in our lives.Through the haze of pain I heard a light buzzing noise in my bag that was lying on the dresser. In my hand I held a round piece of plastic. The emptiness inside me seemed to grow in size. Hunt and kill Victoria. We exchanged thanks like we always do. I automatically flipped my phone open to answer. With the surprise jolt of the name on the caller ID. like he was contemplating what he wanted to say.the lemonade bottle top that I kept from our first lunch together. "I'm sorry. Through the curtains I could see the bright moon setting the desert ablaze. the lights like glittering spider webs of life. The buzzing of my phone finally stopped and I sank back to the bed." his deep voice was clam. "Edward. perching on the edge." "Oh. why would I know it was a holiday? "Yes. "I should know better." he paused to take a deep breath. This was the third time I heard this noise today. You're her brother and you've left her and refuse to let her see her best friend." He heaved a great sigh." I said stupidly. I hope things are going well for you." he hesitated. "It's Thanksgiving today." "What's wrong?" I couldn't think of any other reason why he would be calling me. My phone vibrated in my pocket." Jasper said when I didn't reply." I hated it when he tried to make me feel guilty. the scent of lemons lightly fragranced the small piece. Though my chest felt like it was burning away with acid. The plastic top was on my palm and I brought it close to my eyes to exam it." I gritted my teeth. "Nothing is wrong. "Alice…she really misses you. She isn't the same. Signing out of the hotel room. It was hard to be around our family today with emotions running so high. "I don't have time for a guilt trip." . Our whole family misses you. "That's not what I'm trying to do. It was time to leave. Shifting everything in my bag I came across something that made me come to an immediate halt. this small token brought me back to my mission. My eyes stared in shock at the caller on the other end. I had no idea what day it was. We all went hunting together today. The next city was looming into view. "Hello?" I asked questioningly." "Jasper. It was my first token from our doomed relationship . Grumbling. I jumped into the corvette and headed toward New Mexico.

we would all like you to come home." I continued to race towards New Mexico. I'm afraid I'm not following you. Dawning comprehension jabbed fiercely in my head." he defended her. She must have forgotten about my eyes. She sent me towards the army. It only makes sense that she would continue that way…" Another light bulb turned on bright in my head. I'm on my way to New Mexico now." "I already told Alice that I wasn't coming back." Then suddenly I remembered the whole incident with the large coven in the forest. really. "Then I went out into the forest and they were calling me a spy for Leon. "A girl died. she had the guy at the motel give me a paper from Las Vegas and a brochure for Coronado National Forest. "It was her!" I growled. "Stop it. "Christmas is going to be here shortly. Just listen to me. Not Alice! I'm such an idiot!" "Victoria? Are you still chasing her?" Jasper asked. "They led me into a trap." I said angrily. Alice led me there." I said sarcastically."You could have fooled me. "Edward?" Jasper asked when I stopped talking for a moment. Realization was hitting me like a million tiny bullets. I don't have time for your anger. I've been chasing her from Alaska to Arizona." he pleaded." I could hear him take in a deep breath. "Yes. that I would be seen as an enemy." . realizing how stupid I was. She just told you about the town she last saw her in. "How did you get away from them?" "It's a long story. "And tell Alice thanks for the clues. "The paper from Las Vegas – she was bragging! She was showing me how easily she played me! How could I be so stupid?" I shouted. "Leon…Victoria was talking to someone who was thinking about Leon taking over his army!" "What are you talking about?" Jasper asked." My foot pressed the gas down harder as I thought about the incident with the young girl. She thought they would kill me. So that's where I went…" I trailed off. I scream a loud obscenity. "Edward. "No. I'm fine." I snapped. and Esme and Carlisle…well. Edward. interested in the hunt now. I came across a southern army of ten vampires. "Alice never sent you to a forest. It was her all along. because of me going to that forest near Tuscan. "It was Victoria who sent those things to me. I ignored him.

even for myself. Start chasing after what you love instead of what you hate!" When he finished he was practically yelling at me. ". When Bella dies –" I winced at the word. Jasper." and we both hung up the phone. I have to go now. Edward." his temper was clearly rising. "Maybe I will eventually return to her. It is something that we all wish to achieve." "No. "No. I hope to see you soon. 14. for what I've become. but I swear to you it will never happen again." his voice was full of sorrow. After I do that I'm going away. You are fated to be with her. "Maybe your right. That's all." "You too. You don't understand the bond that is between you too. "Alice wanted me to pass along a bit of information if you refused to come home. The love you share with each other is something I have never felt before." Jasper shouted. "It's not just you. but far away. But not now. She's human. I hate myself for what I am. I would bet anything. It's me. You didn't forget what she did? How she helped James find her?" "No." I paused to pull in a staggering breath. she'll forget about me. "She won't just get over this.I'll beg for death from the Volturi. pleading for me to see 'sense'. that she has not forgotten about you. The only reason I wasn't taking the vital principle from her was because I was busy protecting her from you. It's fated this way. "Wait." I growled. Stop running away from the source of relief."I'm sorry Jasper. I know I made a terrible mistake that night. but I must kill Victoria." "Cibola National Forest." "Did she? Well…let's hear it. "All I want to do is protect her from Victoria and from myself. This emptiness I feel…I deserve it. You weren't the only one who wanted to bite her that night. You're wrong. It is intense. I don't know where." "Neither will I." I conceded. Forgive me for not being the brother you deserve. brother." I explained. Happy Thanksgiving. Victoria is waiting for me to find and kill her. Thanks for your phone call. not right now when I have my enemy so close. Messages (part I) . too. and I really do mean anything.

" tisked Victoria. how hard I ran I continued to be tortured by watching in great trepidation. Amused. She was offering up a prayer to her god.Crashing through the undergrowth of the forest I could hear odd little whimpers of terror in the distance. Her next move flashed in her mind. Through the snarl of thoughts radiating from the two of them it was then I saw the girl gaping stupidly at Victoria. That only made the game more fun for Victoria. . ripping the flesh at the girl's throat and delighting in the blood flowing from the prominent vein there. her expression showed nothing but detached pleasure. terrified voice. my legs pushing faster and faster but no matter how hard I pushed myself and plunged after her I knew deep down I wasn't going to make it in time. The girl pleaded weakly until her voice could not be found and only slight noises of protest continued. A faint crease formed between the girls eyebrows. The girl was roughly thirteen. The nasty eager excited look on her face disgusted me and made me sick to my core. No matter how hard I pressed myself. "If this is about the lipstick I stole…I swear I'll pay you back. A roar of approval met the girl's words. tried to wiggle free from Victoria's hold. not wanting to comprehend her words. Light. My legs lengthened in stride as I raced towards the erratic thoughts of a young girl who was being played with by Victoria. I could see this all in Victoria's mind. I was almost there. "I've been feeding so much. "Didn't mean to what?" answered a tiny girly voice. Her face was full of fat tears as her makeup ran down her roundish face. Suddenly Victoria moved faster than a snake. licking it sickeningly. I'll give you the money now!" the girl's voice sounded anything but certain. "I didn't mean to! I'm so sorry!" screamed a high pitched. but I won't let that take the pleasure out of the taste. It was hard to tell ages of humans sometimes. The frail human girl tried to fight." Victoria sniffed up her neck. if that. I was keyed up to such a pitch of tension I felt I would vibrate if someone tapped me with a finger. "My oh my! Aren't you just a naughty girl? Too bad you won't be around to turn your life around.

"He just seems super creepy. I recounted my problem again in my head: Victoria. Only if I could even rest in the first place. I reminded myself of the several mysterious deaths in the numerous small towns along I-25. she added in her mind. her newest victim and my continuously widening hole in my chest. . Yet. It was only when several people came trampling through the woods. I didn't even know her name. They all had the signs of a predator of some kind." one woman said in a scandalized voice. didn't bother to pick it out of her mind. flashlights in hand. The trail of bodies started two weeks ago. I do. Leading me from town to town in the great state of New Mexico. I buried her in the dirt." There were several long minutes of quivering silence. that I found the source. A woman propelled herself out of the seat and went bursting through the first of the trees like a hurricane. in the background of the chaos the sadness was rippling through me. or a place to rest my head. or a vacation. The moon was bathing the land in a silvery glow as I slumped against a tree. Jumping from tree to tree. I took in the massive amounts of people who had converged on the forest floor looking for this girl. It was so easy to rid myself of the bloody evidence of the girl's body. No end to the feeling. It had always been a suspicion in my mind." the second woman said firmly. "I bet it was her father. Each night was getting worse. A large black SUV came skidding to a halt at the edge of the forest as the passenger door came flying open. Like someone constantly poking you – nagging you to death. the pile of dirt in front of me showing the last sign of the young girl's life. When I reached the end of the tree line I stayed there. There was no escape. and although I was left to clean up the mess. Trying to distract my mind. although Victoria was getting away. Something I couldn't do with my pain. screaming and yelling out the name Stacy. Not exactly what I'd call heaven. He was with me tonight. like some flying squirrel. It was only until today. hoping to see how other people cope with a loss as significant as mine. And I don't know if that pains me even more. like I'd never make it through the next second. In her wake she had slammed the door and the grounds became a sea of darkness again. after a couple weeks of chasing after Victoria. did I realize what her name was. but it wasn't until this incident that it was confirmed.Although I was too late. Dreams were one thing I could never have. "No. the light of the vehicle flooding the area for a second.

So. and soon. and I've been absolutely selfish. "Edward. I pulled over to listen. Call me back. The moon made their long dark shadows ripple over the ground like cloaks. Once the phone quit ringing I decided it was time to finally listen to the voicemails. obviously vampire caused deaths were just clues along the way. that it was now full. "Okay. regret he was with his mistress tonight instead of making sure his daughter was safe. it was better that they get used to my absence." said a sweet voice. With a rush of understanding. "If you don't call her back. Hoping I can find her. It made me feel like I was in action. I was enjoying the empty road's. Regret for being unfaithful. As soon as Bella's gone. "Will you please come home for Christmas?" She was asking a little much. I know that Esme must be a complete wreck. Merry Christmas to me. I had already hung my head in shame. I let it go to voicemail every time. So many times. But. The next voicemail began. "It's been three days! You are really hurting Esme's feelings. Driving towards the northern part of New Mexico. leading me like a puppy chasing after its tail. Finally relax." Alice continued in an incandescent rage. Again. Victoria was goading me. my family dragging a tree inside to decorate with their significant others while I am alone. My phone rang. they were no better at loss than I was." The only thing I could imagine was my family and I hanging mistletoes and me having no one to kiss. "It's Esme. I will follow. Despite the time I watched the couple." Before the message continued. the driver. a growl." there was a nasty silence. her husband. I realized that the deaths. murder her so viciously that I am able to move on. the horrific. the roar of frustrations and the never ending molten hot wave of dread and a deep sickness was just like mine and completely uncontrollable. "I know we usually don't do much. and the phone went silent. The only home I see is in Forks. came running after her trying to keep up. But. His mind was full of regret. The panic expanding inside of them. I just gaped at the phone for several seconds in complete surprise. in fact. the frenzied gleam in their eyes. . I continue to take the bait. you will regret pissing me off!" There was a loud crash. the darkness of the night and the feel of the car beneath my feet. kill her. Speed made me feel like I was running away. I might add.Behind her. My life would soon be coming to an end. regret for not being a better dad and husband. but this year I'd like to make it an event. I thought sarcastically.

"Hey Bro!" Emmett this time." he chuckled lightly. please call me back. No right to even think about her future because I am not a part of it." the phone was silent again. Anyways. Carlisle and Jasper. There was another fifteen messages all like these. Forever. right. "I should have never interfered. "Honey. The next message started." Traitor. it's snowing like crazy outside and though Jasper is fun to play with. I will never be okay! I strive to be okay!" I stared at the phone for a second." she grumbled on. realizing there was no one on the other line. it would be expected – her mortal life would become forfeit. I thought bitterly. "Anyways. I knew deep down that if I went back. "Ten days. I know what you said to me. almost positive. though I had no right to think about her at all. "Oh. "Remember that one time when you and me did that one move…what did we end up calling it?" he chuckled again for a few seconds. come home. I reminded myself. The cartwheel of death. "Edward Cullen!" shrieked Alice like a tea kettle. "So. I am so selfish to even think about it. I will not go along with it anyone." she said. I'd like to know you're okay. surely by now you would have gone back to her. I mean. "The past is past. I guess Jasper thought I was enjoying my misery. one way and then another." "Okay?" I yelled at the phone in rage. I was so sure of it." she took in a breath like she was warning me about how much she is going to yell at me. "but. Then we can talk about us all moving back to Forks. I know what you told me! But. Edward. Please. remember? . "Okay? I am not okay. Alice tells me that you are fine but it would be nice to hear it from you. "And Carlisle's face. That was hilarious. His message almost made me crack a smile. The only people who didn't call was Rosalie. Man. I thought angrily." It was Esme again." Got that right. exasperated." Another chuckle."Edward. Almost. Though. "It's been ten days. For a second I thought I felt the hole fill some at the thought of her being mine forever. what I'm trying to get across is that we want you here for Christmas. The cartwheel of death. I sure do miss your ingenious strategy." her voice went up an octave. So. She wasn't supposed to be honing in on me with her skills. if I decided to be around Bella again. My thoughts spun wildly. "Now it is time to come home for Christmas. You left her to her future. Doesn't that sound pleasant? I mean – " the voicemail cut off.

Not when things were just so torn apart. "I warned you. The sky was slowly turning light as I continued the frustrating situation. The caller ID revealed it was Alice. naturally. mental radar in all. My head snapped sideways. But the old couple in front of me were completely oblivious to me. For a second I could swear a fire started up within me I was so frustrated.Doing my best. "Please. Continuing my game of let's box Edward in today. My heart missing. those were the words I used. heck. The sun continued to rise. A short. I came to a complete stop only an inch from the very annoying psychic. Until…until two cars boxed me in. I cleared my mental decks. Yes. "What?" she looked pleased about something but when I tried to listen in to her thoughts all I heard was la-la-la-la-la. The flow of traffic was easily penetrable. Like a robot. I tried to persuade those people in front of me to put the gas down. There were no cops in sight. to their speed. when finally – finally the car moved to the right lane to let me pass. my eyes blazed like the center of the sun and my foot slammed on the brakes. "What are you doing here. again. They refused to speed up or slow down so I could move around them. I'd know. I swerved this way and that. In a matter of milliseconds I was outside the car and leaning against the hood. Without hesitation I turned the key that was protruding from the ignition and the Corvette fired right up. Suddenly. but the cars around me did not budge. angry expression on face and shining like a disco ball in the seventies. More like it purred to life. I pressed the ignore button. "Right on time. Alice?" I asked through gritted teeth. In no hurry at all. I honked. Alice. If you didn't call back I told you that it would piss me off. I pressed the accelerator down so hard that it was only a matter of minutes until I put several miles distance between me and the old couple. Normally I could easily handle a situation like this with calm ease and grace. what better way to get back at . to the time of day. Growling with absolute anger I looked at the caller ID. She smiled at me with great pleasure. The soft humming of the vehicle was relaxing. very short brunette was standing on the side of the road. Well. But not now." she looked down at her watch. my insides charred and my body as ragged as a flag on a battle field. I revved the engine. I raced towards the interstate. I pressed the ignore button. can you move your –" my phone rang. something caught my eye. Again. destined to do the same thing over and over. phone in hand. "Come on your piece of –" my phone rang.

I almost spilled the beans kind of smile. "Well. This should be fun. But her words didn't anger me. They stung and pierced and burned. Again. whom. The house was huge." I finally spit out as in adequate as it was. She must think I completely hate her. If you no longer want to be a part of this family then you can tell them. This isn't my responsibility. Her other hand ran gracefully across the polished hood until her fingers gripped the door handle. I just shook my head at the irony. "The whole don't shoot the messenger thing is a load of crap!" Her words hurt like the six shades of hell. My family. that this would be the end of the road. "I told you that I wasn't coming back. her lips twitching up into an oops. Neither did her stream of random thoughts." she frowned deeply. "Again. None of it. you know. Now. that there would be no more me in the family. "I…" my mouth snapped close. I have chosen to live with for eternity. "now you ask me to say these things to my family! I'm your sister and I'm there for you. I for being an ass than –" she cut herself off. Christmas is only two short days away. but I will not do your dirty work. she was shielding her thoughts by her insane mental games. "Fine. My sincerity went unchallenged." The words just tumbled out of my mouth." this time she was no longer calm and collective. "You already took my best friend away from me. What she had been trying to hide from me ." Her furious expression twitched a little like she was going to smile." her voice was absolutely frigid. the wave crashing down." she was speaking with the air of saying something very simple to someone very obtuse. "I'm sorry. "I shouldn't have to do this for you. Alice. "Keys?" "Where are we going?" I asked suspiciously. unable to wield a response that would fit. "Your continual attempts to dissuade me from seeing Bella again aren't always going to work. Her face didn't falter." I dropped the keys into her hand." The drive was very short. or to send her a letter or anything. by the way. You refused to let me say goodbye. Her perfect façade faltering slightly. I asked you to tell them. just in case you are completely oblivious. in a matter of minutes we were turning down a drive that swept with a graceful curve." Alice held out her hand. will not be the ones who will look at me with a sadden disappointment because their son has up and left them and I was the one who told them the news. You promised me. "I've never driven a Vette before. And you can tell Emmett that you no longer want to be his brother. What are you doing here?" I could feel the fury growing within me like a black wave. The old couple drove by where I had stopped. "You can watch as Esme sobs and you can watch as Carlisle's face no longer shines with pride and joy. expectant.

" she kissed my cheek lightly. "We need to wait until the sun goes down before we can go Christmas shopping. A cloud must have come over the bright golden glow because it was suddenly darker behind my lids. In his thoughts I could feel the tug of pity that was weighing him down. "Edward?" said a musical voice I loved deeply. I had lost track of the conversation as I sat on the couch. "I love you. 14.was now made obvious. the hope that she didn't listen to me and that she was taking me to Bella. . all of them I recognized. "I can be careful." Alice argued. Her hand lightly trailed my face. if my heart was still in place it would have sank so low it would have come out the bottom of my shoes when I noticed that the one vehicle I wished was here more than all the others was not. All that was left to piece together the clues were the thoughts from within. I opened my eyes to see her deep depths looking over my face. but for some reason there was no joy within me. enjoying our meadow. I'm never going to get all of my shopping done at this rate. my eyes closed as I was basking in the sun." said just a whisper of her voice. To the right of her was Carlisle whose eyes were following me with a sad passivity." argued a low male voice. My eyes roamed over the cars in the drive. Alice. Still. "And I. Messages (part II) The quilted blanket was laid out across the grass as the flowers tumbled around in the light breeze around us. the gaping hole throbbing more than before because it was only Jasper and Alice sitting at the table not far from me. She sighed and laid her head against my chest. My eyes closed again. Alice helped me make a simple meal to bring out today for Bella. tucked gently under my arm. Her words from earlier brought some sort of hope." I tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear. "You're like marble. you. "It's too sunny. Though my cooking skills were not that great. She had eaten the food and was now lying with me." I opened my eyes to find my heart missing. My family came to me. "Mmmm?" I replied.

an awful brother and it was killing me that I was going to have to bring them more pain. "Emmett. Her arms reached out expectantly. She was beautiful. always." she sighed. The time of the season to forgive. But. Yes. "Oh! Yeah. I must. I didn't have to cause my mother anymore stress or pain." Someone snorted and my eyes roamed for the culprit. she was only thinking of the last several months of watching Emmett. And Esme was so gentle. Of course. Causing someone like Esme pain was truly inexcusable. "Please don't ever do that again. and loved me unconditionally. No matter how inexcusable it is. and she refused to let go for almost a minute. Emmett ran in behind her. I realized everyone was looking at me expectantly and that I had to say something to pick up the gathering silence. What was worse about her thoughts were that she wasn't shouting insults. I didn't have to disappoint my father. It was Christmas after all. it's great to see you too but could you…um. Alice was absolutely right." His arms dropped.The couch depressed next to me and it was Esme sitting beside me. it would hurt my adopted mother very much. Everyone started chuckling at the situation. I felt a new burn through my body—the burn of shame. "We are going to have so much fun!" He tightened his arms around me. They weren't pleasant. let go?" Comprehension dawned in his mind. Rosalie was in the doorway. . We hugged. His strength was so much that my arms never got around him. We are here for you. for myself. so tender and soft. "I know I haven't been pleasant. to love…I didn't deserve their love nor their forgiveness. I had been a horrible son. completely ignoring the serious situation in the room and bounded up on the couch and brought me into a bear hug. "Oh Edward." Her face was lovely and her hair wrapped around her face making her look like a painting done in pastels." I struggled. "Um. her smile as bright as a thousand watt light bulb. that I was sorry for everything I have done to hurt them. Really. I had to tell my family that I was leaving. I could see the thoughts crowding behind her eyes. The years of controlling my face came to my rescue because I was the only one not amused by the situation. I was trapped. Carlisle and Esme struggle with my absence.

"You are more than the man I thought you were. and not as my mate." "Edward. You did make good choices.Living in my shell of guilt was tiring. I always thought great things about you. "You didn't have to leave. It was time to break their hearts. hungrily. I wanted her. all their attentions focused on my new betrayal. the night I decided to leave her flashed into my head. I shuddered and Esme squeezed my hand. "And all I wanted to do was at least try to keep her alive. "…because if I could just abstain from her." I started slowly. Carlisle across from me in a lazy boy. Her teeth were clenched together as she realized the depth of her cut. I was collecting my thoughts and everyone was wisely not saying anything. still gathering my thoughts. I told myself." I looked at Carlisle." Carlisle shook his head sadly. then I would have to leave her so that I would not – could not– execute my original plans to kill her. The blood was dripping down her arm in the most delicious way. a mask of evil. maybe lessen the blow somehow. the fact that bad stuff was coming into the conversation like blinking letters above my head. Explain so they would understand. The monster within me glared back from the mirror of her eyes. She was oblivious to the monster within. The one that is now being taken away. It was time to have a family meeting. Everyone settled around the open room. but as my meal." he sighed." I continued. As I struggled with the situation presented in front of me the monster waited anxiously. Esme sitting next to me. Rosalie only raised an eyebrow in an irritating and superior way. it was too late. back straight but leaning toward me slightly and Rosalie and Emmett to my left in the love seat. and it just cracked. Alice and Jasper perched on bar stools at the kitchen bar. I just wanted to be what you. make a good choice. When her glance raised to mine her eyes were even wider than usual as she took in my ferocious. "always thought I was. The monster was writhing and gnashing his teeth in frustration. I absorbed the scene in front of me." The memories of her birthday thundered through me. . which was obviously impossible for me. Like a marquee was scrolling the words above my head I could hear it in their thoughts. Esme grabbed my hand tentatively. Still. She didn't die. Hold your breath. "I left. but I was too busy protecting her from another monster. inhuman glare. you didn't kill her. for me to kill her. "You know. Not this monster I have turned into." Again. The smell of her blood saturated every particle of air in the room as my throat burst into flames.

He would feel her emotions starting to heighten. "You're right. She seems to have a way to evade people." I answered Alice. "Please." …but you don't. "I have no self control. drink from her. "You shouldn't have left based on my lack of control…" he was silent for several long seconds as he collected his thoughts." I explained. I still love her." Tell me about it. She was angry again." …I just really wanted her blood. Her thoughts so cold I thought the temperature lowered several degrees in the room and any second I expected icicles to form on the walls. Laurent warned us of her cleverness. I loved her. I was nearly at the end of my emotional endurance." I pushed that night from my mind.. A trade. "This isn't your fault. Jasper felt her flutter of alarm and narrowed his eyes at us.. "I've left because even if I think about her blood. . "It really was a terrible idea for you to chase after Victoria. Even when she was in danger you're future never shifted towards her death. Her life for my happiness. too. just as icily. and I'm sorry for that." …mister inner conflict… Alice sighed softly. I would have…" "Can we please talk out loud?" Emmett said. continue. ."Regardless. "That's because you were busy watching Jasper's future in minute detail. I want to take it from her. "I made my choice. my resolve wavering for a second." Rosalie hit him in the chest. Jasper grabbed Alice's hand. I thought. You control it. She saw it then. I never imagined what you would consider right was leaving.but I always thought you'd do the right thing. "I saw it unfold before me. exasperated. Edward. I miss her nearly as much as I miss you when you're gone." Carlisle prompted. Apparently he told Irina some things about her. Another choice spun my future in a more nebulous direction. "Emmett. I was in a blood thirsty craze. You wouldn't! I knew what she saw." Jasper jumped in. "Edward struggles to not kill Bella by drinking her blood but Alice is obviously arguing that fact but he is saying that she doesn't know because she was busy looking towards Jaspers future… Caught up now?" Emmett nodded.

"There was nothing I wanted to do or see. "Sorry. before you loved Bella. it was me asking them to leave her. If Alice hadn't found me I probably would have swam to the bottom of the ocean and perished. "It felt good to be back with my family." Jasper mused." "No." he explained. You see. it was horrible. Before she was a part of our family. I guess." Carlisle looked disapproving. She noticed I was staring at her and frowned. a little worried that he was jumping into deeper water than he should. what I'm trying to say is that it is easier for me to not witness the torture I bring upon you. when I left. I just couldn't keep hurting you all. I'm sorry. it was before we all loved Bella. I told you that we'll come with you. witnessing it first hand through Jasper. I should listen to him now. "But it was you who told me there was no shame in leaving." "That's no reason to run. "Edward. And then. but his thoughts were just relieved that they were able to find me before I did something as catastrophic as that. Another reminder of how this hurt them all. I knew I could trust his advice." I flinched at his words." . It's amazing you convinced them to let you go. Maybe I was choosing all the wrong decisions. "It was before you knew Bella." he pulled at his collar some. In protecting Bella before." I reminded him. if that is what you needed and that all you had to do was ask. Carlisle always chose the right way. All I remembered thinking was 'where would I go?' because I couldn't honestly think of one place on this entire planet that held any interest for me except Forks. A warning. I know how these covens work. I didn't know where I was going. You'll have to tell me that story in detail sometime. Esme. I figured Alice had filled you all in. Made you an example for the other vampires. it wasn't just a small decision of my leaving. I was so hurt. when did you come across her?" Carlisle asked curiously. Heck. Please don't say sorry. no matter how conflicted I felt inside. it's got nothing to do with choosing between my family and Victoria. but at the same time I feel worse for making you guys feel pain. But why would he choose to hunt Victoria instead of spending time with his family? Esme thought silently. "You take it out of context. "And of course." he shook his head. I ran all the way to the south and didn't realize where I was for days."You easily followed her into that trap in the forest. "And honestly. "I still don't understand where Victoria comes into the picture?" "Yes." I sighed heavily. "Oh." Esme patted my hand after a minute of silence." Carlisle said. That army would have killed you. too.

Alice shook her head. If you remember, I can't see her future clearly. It's like a strobe light, it constantly changes so much. "In Alaska Alice and I came across her scent," I began. Emmett interjected. "What? And you didn't come and get me?" "No. Sorry. I know how you love a fight," I smiled gently at Emmett's frown. "Anyways, I tracked her scent but was unable to find her. I also came across Laurent's scent that was fresh." "But Laurent left before we arrived," Rosalie disagreed. "I know," I sighed. "But that evening I finally tracked down Laurent. He had been communicating with Victoria for some time, apparently. His eyes were red. He had been cheating all along. He didn't care for our life style. He was just a coward. He led me to Portland." "Portland?" Jasper queried. "So she was far away. Why go after her?" "You don't understand. She was going to be so close to Bella. Possibly running through Washington. It would only be too easy for her to make a stop in Forks. Finish what James started. I couldn't let that happen." "What the hell, Edward!" Emmett shot off the couch like a rocket. "Why the hell didn't you tell me? I would have gone with you!" "And where does Rosalie fit into that picture?" I asked, eyebrows raised. He looked over his shoulder and down at Rosalie who gave him a smug expression. I would have asked him to stay…Edward's right. "Oh, right." Emmett returned to his seat. "So how did you end up here?" Carlisle asked. I plunged immediately into the story. After an hour, I had explained to them all everything that had happened. From the trip to Portland, to the train incident, and my journey to Las Vegas, down to Arizona and now here. "Well," Carlisle began after I was finished. "This is easy enough to understand, though, really; after living as long as you have with the same things going on every day and night, any change like this becomes a point of absorption." I looked at my family before me. For the love they held for me, knowing that they would do anything for me and it was hard to tell them that I had to let them go now. That this

would be the end. Maybe, maybe a lie would suffice. It would keep them happy, relatively happy until I was no longer here. They would become accustomed to my presence missing, and would be able to kill the murderous vampire who helped put my Bella in the hospital. I really should stop thinking about her as my Bella. Because she isn't mine anymore. No matter how much it hurts, no matter how much I want to go back and be with her I can't. "I'm going to finish what I started," I informed them all. "And then I'll come back. I just need to do this. It will help me," I was begging for their approval. "…because you will feel like you are still protecting her," Alice finished my sentence. Finally speaking aloud for everyone. "But Christmas…" Esme started. "I'll stay. But then I'm leaving." Her hand was still on mine and she squeezed it again. Her face showed a fierce approval at my words. This cheered her quite a bit, and I knew instantly that with my lie; that I would see them again would work, at least for some time. Of course, Alice will eventually see it. But like she said before, she isn't going to tell them. That will be my job. But until then, this will do. Alice hopped off the bar stool. "Well," she announced. "It's finally dark out. Us ladies," she pointed at Rosalie and Esme and herself just in case we didn't know, "are going to go shopping." …and Edward? I blinked to let her know I was listening. We will go back. This whole cat and mouse game your playing…it's not going to help or work. I'll play along for a little bit, but we are all going back to Forks, I know. I can see it. I see it every day. She was thoroughly discomposed, and of course, annoyed. She strode past me, a little haughty. After the short goodbyes I could hear the car rocketing down the driveway. Alice must be driving. I was left hanging with the men of the house. Jasper's mind was strictly on the different animals that had the potential to make a more entertaining prey. Emmett's mind wasn't far off and it was only a matter of minutes until they were talking excitedly about the opportunities. "Well," Emmett gave me a hopeful look. "Are you coming with us? I mean seriously, your eyes look like dirty oil. When was the last time you have eaten?" I shrugged. "I'm not thirsty. Go ahead."

"Carlisle?" Jasper invited. "No thanks," he shook his head. "I think I'll stay here with Edward." We both watched as Jasper and Emmett wrestled the whole way out the door. Carlisle had a slight smile on his face until he turned back to me and it faded. No offense, but you look terrible. "I know." I know you say you aren't thirsty, but we could still go enjoy a run through the woods, right? "Yeah. About that," I stared at him, worried about my proposition. "Victoria has been very…flamboyant." I don't understand? "And," I continued without pause, "she hasn't been destroying evidence very well, if you get my drift." Oh. "Yeah," I nodded as he finally comprehended my words. I grabbed my backpack and showed him the newspapers I have collected around the many small towns in New Mexico. All of them off the interstate. "I know how you feel about not killing, even someone like Victoria…but she has to be stopped. She's become gluttonous. And, I think it's my fault." You're fault? Again, son, I don't understand. Carlisle contemplated what I was trying to say. Oh, you mean she is doing this to get your attention? I nodded. Okay. Where should we start? Carlisle was warring with his instincts. He was humoring me. He didn't honestly think we'd run into her. "Alice told Jasper about a national forest not far from here last time I talked to him on the phone. I think she saw me there. We should start there." 15. Christmas

It was almost like the old days; when taking a run with Carlisle meant he could give me some sort of inspirational talk about life and meaning. Something of the sort, at least. The undercurrent between us was the only thing making this run different from any other. There haven't been many missions where we searched out another vampire to kill, but since Bella came into our lives, this would be the second time. Carlisle didn't enjoy this run, he didn't enjoy this hunt. But, he knew I was right. Victoria was killing viciously and recklessly. Something we couldn't tolerate. Are you sure this is where she is going? Carlisle thought as we rounded a boulder the size of a small boat. "Yes. Her scent drifted close only moments before." I said, my feet barely touching the ground as I raced forward. "I can't believe I let it get this bad. You know, I feel like I'm having to clean up my own mess more than anything." Carlisle slowed some. Did you leave a string of murder victims along these small towns? "No." I didn't think so. That isn't something you would do. You're a good man. You just need to believe it. "Okay. But these murders, I am pretty sure, are my fault. It's like she's leaving bread crumbs to her evil lair," I said, absolutely serious. Carlisle didn't even make a coherent thought; he stopped and bent over with laughter. I didn't think it was very funny, myself. A thought drifted into my head. This place was completely devoid of humans, so it was obvious when I came near a working brain. I put my fingers to my lips to indicate silence. "It's Victoria," I mouthed. He nodded. How far? I held up two fingers. Miles? I nodded. I knew if we moved closer, she would hear and the last thing I wanted was to spook her. Carlisle watched me intently, waiting for some sort of signal. I tapped my temple knowingly. He nodded. Listening in for clues? I closed my eyes. Carlisle kept his mind as silent as he could. "I don't have time for this right now!" Victoria was screaming at someone. She was on the phone.

"Maybe you should keep your minion under control!" A male voice shouted back. I couldn't tell who she was talking to. Her thoughts were clouding the person on the other line and she wasn't thinking of him. She was busy planning something, but that was hazy too. "It's only been six months! You're nowhere near humans, so what is the big deal?" Victoria asked angrily. "He won't stop talking about you. It's getting rather annoying. I'm not a babysitter, Victoria. You need to get your act together, quit playing games…and come back!" The male voice said bitterly. "Put him on the phone!" she demanded. "Victoria…are you sure that's a good idea?" "Are you arguing with me? Put Riley on the phone!" "Okay – okay!" Carlisle was staring at me when I opened my eyes. He raised his eyebrows. "Do you know someone named Riley?" I whispered. No, I sure don't. What's going on? Carlisle queried. I put up a finger to indicate just one second. Riley finally answered the phone. Which was good. Victoria was getting impatient and I thought she might drop the call. I was too curious, now. "Riley, love. Please don't give him a hard time. He's looking out for your best interest," Victoria said soothingly. "Of course," he said dutifully. "As long as I know when you are coming back?" "It won't be long, dear one. My travels are not quite over, but they are coming to a close." "I wish to see you soon," Riley answered. "You will. Goodbye." Victoria's consciousness then went out of range. "Crap," I muttered. Edward? Carlisle thought.

stood. looked eager to talk to me. were black. The only reason he did was because of Esme. Alice. because they were all back and sitting in the living room."She's run off. she could be miles away. she'd finish quicker. I'll figure it out and I'll stop you." I replied. rather she lets you in on that or not. Rosalie gave me a dirty glare. I nodded and we both exited the big house from the rear. "I didn't want to hurt everyone. but it's time for an intervention. I may be immortal. I won't allow it. Until then. I had a feeling Rosalie picked this house out." I sighed. Did you see nothing in her vision that would help us find her location? "Absolutely nothing. . We missed our chance. I know that this issue will come up with my family. My eyes. trying to ignore this subject. I was hoping that the house was empty. Entering into this fortress was different from my recent travels. but the stores must have closed on the women. The house that my family purchased in New Mexico was ridiculous. Let me know when you're over Bella. I know you two have your differences. Alice picked up a stick and began pulverizing it between her fingers. She was hurting so bad. and left. deciding if I didn't interrupt her. but you need to cut her some slack. Just like she has always cut you some. Alice thought as we walked at a human pace. By the time we find her scent. You're hurting your family. You're not just hurting yourself. When I entered. His eyes were the color of molten honey. I'll see the future. I don't want to hear it. Rosalie misses you. No discussion. It's an even trade. The end. Esme gave me a giant hug. I stayed silent. Hunting? He offered. Just a bunch of trees. Maybe the stores didn't close after all. though. Carlisle didn't want to come down here. and left shortly after. One look at Carlisle's eyes let me know that he wasn't actually hungry." I said irritably. on the other hand. Esme and Carlisle greeted. You've done some really nasty things to all of us. far from starving. Maybe she wanted to spend time with me instead of with Dolce and Gabana. You know I can forgive you. Walk with me? Alice thought. I decided I wouldn't summon the conversation." I blurted out. were Rosalie's thoughts as she stomped upstairs. but I don't plan on living an immortal life anymore. There were more rooms then we would know what to do with. "It's just…I know I'm not going to be around forever. "Not interested. The run back was silent between us." I know what you're going to say.

Literally. She can still be alive. But you will! And you know the best part? Bella won't be mad." But she'll be miserable! Alice groaned. or she would become one of us. "Alice. "If that's the case. This is my life. She hadn't thought about me tricking my way around her gift of foresight. Caring. begging for forgiveness." A human life she'd rather trade to be with you forever? Alice reminded me. but soon…you'll come back north. "North. enlighten me. it's better that I don't go back. that there were two outcomes. That's not true anymore. You could hear the longing in my words. "That's not fair game. maybe. without a doubt in your mind."Alice." she said aloud. "No. Maybe she didn't realize how thoroughly I thought this through. without me. You know that." I sighed." I said grimly. You're probably going to go south for a while. Edward. loving…forgiving. This is the best gift I could give her. "I won't. I swear. I would either kill her." I said. Which means she has the opportunity to have a third future. Not to Bella. . You'll go south until you break and you'll crawl back." I see you doing a lot of silly things. Alice was getting frustrated. I'm sure you've seen my desolate future. I could. But not to Forks. remember? It's killing me to not have Bella in it." My tone was hollow. The contradiction there. "Okay. "She doesn't see things clearly." Explain that to me. "Do you remember our conversation after I saved Bella from Tyler's van?" She nodded." she whispered. She'll forgive you because that is the kind of person she is." She stopped in her tracks. "I know how your visions work. she won't be angry. a human life." I said stubbornly. "Yes it is. exasperated. Sometimes you are so blind. "You told Jasper. This is the better future. "Then you told everyone that me leaving Bella alone was a lost cause." She nodded again. She'll take you back without a second thought. That's not it at all. If I wanted to keep something secret from you.

happier then I had seen her in days. finally on the same page with me. I knew he was making Jasper and Emmett take me hunting. and it was eating me alive." I whispered to Emmett. But there is only one future I see now. My eyes had really bothered him on our journey in the woods. that was the whole reason I went after her in the first place. doesn't mean it doesn't snake its way into my head whenever it damn well pleases." She nodded again. a way of coping. She thought glumly. I settled for sitting next to the roasting fire. It was not nearly as satisfying. Too bad I wasn't feeling the same. if she dies…I die. You understand…right? She can hold a grudge. and the only release was my anger toward Victoria. Remember that. We had only walked a short distance from the house. where we started. And still. "Hunting. "But I'm still going to need time alone. Truce? "Truce. He was also very worried about my obsession with Victoria. Please don't tear us apart before we get to enjoy what is to come. I just couldn't live with myself if it was my fault for her untimely demise. Plus. There were no tears. "After you." I whispered. I felt defeated. She danced in. "Okay. It was like I was letting her evade me. Before I had this outrageous anger. outraged."Have you been looking into her future? You promised!" I said. No! I swear. Carlisle was right though. "All right. My whole body craved for the warmth of Bella's heat. just because I'm not looking for her future. feeling defeated." I said. I still have Victoria to deal with. I just remember what I saw before. Maybe that was the whole reason I continued to miss her. . and each second I thought about her made me want to get up and kill her. torn. and she knows where Bella lives. You should know that better than anyone. It's a happy one. "Sure. opening the door. though he just thought it was a phase. The chase was so appealing…such a break from my agony that I needed it in my life right now. and within seconds we were at the back door. Victoria was evil. Through Carlisle's thoughts." Alice deflated some. You'll go back to Bella. miserable and even tired." I agreed. all I had was grief. Fifteen minutes!" Emmett called out.

I can feel a little numbness around the edges. "I'm all torn up inside. eyeing me curiously. though. . but then my overwhelming pain blasted through it. I learned all of this through the thoughts floating around the house. It was Christmas. honestly." Emmett's exuberant bounced flattened. Jasper sighed next to me. Just a few minutes after midnight. I'd say it was like I was sleeping. I sighed. It made me miss Bella even more.Emmett was thinking along the same lines. It was obvious. I couldn't do it. trying to focus on calming me. but it's all still there. The calming effect tingled slightly. I'm surprised to see you in such good form. he offered it to me. except he was thinking about fighting the biggest carnivore he can find. "I'm not interested. even days when I am in that state. Jasper pointed out. "You guys go ahead. Some emotions even the supernatural can't fix. It was rare that Emmett felt stress. He had kept his thoughts silent. clapped a hand on my shoulder and pushed me out the door. regardless of his empathy ability. Emmett came bounding down the stairs then. I tried to imagine what you were going through. "When there is nothing going on. but I still feel the grief." He nodded." Jasper was gripping the edge of the couch. You're hurting. No matter how hard you try. The last time I was around him I brought him to his knees. The heat was at my back now. the pain over takes me. but he was soaking up my emotions like a girl soaks up the sun in a tanning bed. When he first got wind of a prowling cat." But I'm trying…he trailed off in thought. Jasper did a double take. Sometimes I lose hours. He was so delighted to be spending time with me. For Esme's sake. It brought me to my knees. When Alice was gone with you. and I wondered if it was because of all the fights he seems to pick with bears…lions…panthers. I declined and Carlisle was disappointed. Carlisle caught up with us only a few minutes into our sprint through the trees. So much for special gifts. Jasper was sitting on the couch next to the fire. I realized. Every last ounce of it. Our family tradition usually included a big hunt. I try to show somewhat of a façade. "I know you're trying. but Rosalie wouldn't agree to it this year and Esme told Emmett it would be a good idea if just us men went." I told them. Emmett was springing up and down like tiger on crack. He continued to think. He was having a difficult time. and even Alice's. "What are you waiting for? Let's go!" Jasper and I both rose to our feet. I nodded. It was horrible. I'll wait here. And that was a shame.

I ignored her thought. This won't be the end. it was like a farewell gesture. because the only thing I'm thirsty for is Bella. He thought it was impossible to be like that. Esme put her arm around me and told me that being here with me was enough. my family exchanged gifts. kept me somewhat satisfied. Rosalie still continued to scowl at me. but everyone else agreed with her. Not mine and I had no right to be jealous. too. It will end badly. How her Christmas was being spent. I wondered what Bella was doing at this very moment. That evening was spent with my family. It wasn't really…but if she was happy. Some kind of closure. It worked to some degree. I understood drinking from animals kept me from harming her. And not even her blood. that should be okay with me. too. She wasn't my Bella anymore. To me. I caught it. not even seven lions would quench my thirst. then. It made me feel real bad about what I said. Edward. though. or Mike's or even Tyler's now. . Carlisle thought. I'd give them what they needed. "Blood has lost all its flavor. Jasper tried to send thirsty thoughts my way. You can't starve yourself like this. It's just a struggle. Alice flicked a glass ornament my way. If she found comfort in someone. and placed it on the table. Even a bleeding human seems to have no effect on me.Emmett was really looking forward to this. I slumped down at the nearest log. My eyes were still faintly black. It was best if she thought this way." "You're probably right. There was a sharp pang in my stomach as I thought about Mike or Jacob having their hands all over my Bella. None at all. "No flavor?" "I've tasted Bella's blood." Jasper raised on eyebrow. But now. Just her voice. it was better than anything I could have ever imagined. her face…her presence…. Everyone forgave me for my absence of presents because I wasn't aware they were going to be in town. Back at the house. enough that I was finally able to eat a deer. giving my Bella Christmas gifts and enjoying time with her. or angry. no matter what you think." I barely mouthed." Carlisle placed a supported hand on my shoulder. She was Eric's. I had no right to think about her. "It's time to hunt. "Why is that?" Emmett finally asked. It was the most…well. but it satisfied Emmett and Carlisle. I'd have to be happy.

Only if I knew which parent she were with. Every last part of me was unsure of my future. I panicked at her thoughts. Alice followed behind silently. She's still the same. Always about you. It was just not right for me to think about this. When I shut the door she leaned against it. I could get a better picture of her right now. There wasn't. I'm so sorry. Was there something that she didn't want to tell me? No.It was hard for me not to ask Alice if she was in Florida or Washington. always worried about me." Maybe this isn't such a good idea. This chapter was not very long." I whispered so low I didn't think she'd hear. It just hurt more and more. Don't expect speedy updates. It read: Billy called. "Show me. Charlie was stirring something on the stove. I could hear Alice on the other side of the door. Hey. Author's note: I will be busy the next several months. You learn some things about Edward you might not have known before. "No. "That's enough. Alice crumbled under the Christmas spirit. She got up slowly and then danced her way back down the stairs. Whoever it was. The next thing I knew I was walking to my room in this big mansion. I thought. disbelieving." I answered dryly. her hand rubbing the door as if soothing me. It's always you. Like I said. it was scowling. Here I was. I will try my best. but it was very important…at least I thought so. I didn't realize what she was drawing until she finished the lips of a face. Are you sure? She thought." I told Alice. But I want to see. She drew two vampire fangs on it and then scratched it out with her pencil so hard it broke the led. running away from Bella…again. Undecided. I wish I could make things better. She was drawing something on a sheet of paper. Bella was sitting at the table in the kitchen. One of those notes that lies by the phone. I sighed heavily. did you get fangs while I was gone? "Funny. She was giggling at what she saw. It's always about you. but I have more on my plate now then I have had in a long time. . In Alice's vision. It was in those moments that I lost all my hope for happiness. She continued to doodle. When's next football game? Beside that Bella drew a large circle. That was unusual. Alice focused more on Bella. unsure of my course. She did.

the taste reminding me of my unquenchable thirst. No matter where I was. my self-control at a loss.There will be no preview for next chapter. The Cullen's leave. My throat burned stronger than ever. My nose took in the pulse emitting a fragrance through the air. and every throb of the vein at its neck. but Edward talks to a friend of Carlisle's in Texas that happens to have had an encounter with Victoria. He bent to encase his gun and retrieve his prize. Its heart began to slow for several seconds before it stopped completely as I stood frozen only two-hundred feet away. It should be a very interesting chapter. Have a great labor day weekend. blood was on my mind. The blood dripped steadily from its shoulder. ready to pounce. Almost one-hundred yards away. but it will include the month of January. leapt freely over the undergrowth of the ever intruding spinney plant life. I crouched again. I made my move. as graceful as liquid moving over stone. Even one more formidable than himself. The muscles of the beast rippled with each movement as it lowered itself to the forest floor. So was I. It turned and growled a noise of pain before another shot whistled through the trees and hit the lion again. The lion crouched to spring. flying through the forest like a hornet preparing to sting. One month had turned me into a vicious creature. as my eyes registered every beat of the lion's heart. Venom cultivated in my mouth. So did I. The hunters pounding pulse was appetizing on the air. Hey – did everyone see the new New Moon trailer? I feel dirty for thinking of poor Taylor as a hot sexy man…when he is so jailbait it ain't even funny. He was excited. The lion would be my victim this afternoon. those in USA. It was in . My eyes followed the mountain lion with overwhelming thirst. His scent drifted my way. every breath in its lung. 16. as I'm sure he was thinking before he pulled the trigger. much more appealing then the lion. Prey My prey stalked through the forest. To my shock. a bullet raced through the woods and hit the lion in the shoulder. a new prey forming in my mind. He didn't realize a more dangerous predator was lurking in the shadows of the forest. The lion's eyes followed it with calculating accuracy. My eyes shifted for the culprit. His skill with a gun was impressive. My thirst returned along with my insatiable enmity. The hunter becomes the hunted. the lion prepared to pounce. A deer. luring me to where the lion padded from foot to foot. It was time. He was far. the leaves crunching loudly beneath its paws. its shoulders pronounced. far enough that I was unable to hear his thoughts.

she easily evaded me. The army coven would have killed any other besides one with my eyes. Jasper's empathy would have only strengthened my need. one that I thought I'd never see again. He knew I wasn't going to return. Rosalie would sneer my direction. I hoped that Victoria was clueless as to my wellbeing – if you could call me well. It was the face of an angel. before she knew my game plan. even his strength couldn't stop me from the crime I was about to commit. I suspected she knew I wasn't gone to this world. her open warfare obvious. Victoria and I. I told him. and the only thing I had left was my memory of her sweetness. the war. There was nothing else left inside me. That's when I stopped mid hunt. one against my humanity. No more battles. but he was polite in not stating this fact for Esme's sake. though? I knew the answer to that question. I had an advantage this time. She thought I was dead. He was hoping this man could help. I sank to my knees and began to cry the dry sobs of a hunter without kill. Inside my pocket burned a business card of one vampire Carlisle told me to contact. Carlisle begged me to return with them. a hunt that I so desperately required. of a creature without heart. Were reinforcements really necessary at this point in the game. This was just feeding my addiction. it was not worth the leader losing any of his army. . Reinforcements were necessary to win this war. Each stride felt freeing. She'd fooled me. Bella had left her mark. accusing me of my transgression. Before Victoria knew who was chasing her. or so I hoped. my prey long forgotten. There was only one I would save my humanity for. All I could think about was ripping her limb from limb. There was ever only one and that's when I saw her. and I'd found her time and time again. I'd refused to look at it. only to cause me to want to rip the man's throat out in satiable pleasure. He asked me what I'd do afterward. After the hunt. She was staring at me. Not even Esme's embracing hug could stop this impending murder. even from hundreds of miles away. I didn't know. And that's what I wanted to win. my thirst consuming me. of a vampire with no soul…of a man without love. She wisped away like smoke. He knew my hunt so far had left me with no reward. to read the name. And Emmett. I was no threat to them. I was an empty shell. A crime against my family. The movement left a blur of green in my vision.that second that I recoiled and vaulted towards the unsuspecting human. It was with trembling fingers that I reached up to rub my hand along her warm cheek. Carlisle's words couldn't have stopped me. One month ago my family wouldn't have believed I would get this dire. Alice would see the horror of the atrocity I was about to execute. When the victory was mine. Human blood was only seconds away from easing the ache in my throat. We were baiting each other. Victoria needed to die. what would I do then? Would I feel as victorious as I should? It was a game we were playing.

but its attempts at subterfuge were in vein. The weakness in me was building and I gave in. The vein at its throat was throbbing with panic. peeking at the information on the paper. Compared to the hunter I stalked moments before. I thought I would begin with his name. correct?" There was a hesitation on the other end. even more so now that my family was absent from the estate. One long. "We should meet. "Yes?" answered the man on the other end. The phone only rang once. The name stated was Robert Duncan. I'd never met anyone who didn't respect him. the taste unsatisfying. I dialed the number to one. I coiled to spring and hurdled over the deer. "This is him. the tone of vampire. this deer was like drinking muddy water." "What kind of problem?" Robert questioned. My phone was lying on the coffee table." . but I am no tracker and have failed miserably. The liquid was warm." I was right.The deer that was fortunate before – evading its hunter – was not so lucky now. "A vampire has been…reckless. She has killed many and I know she is doing it to lure me. beckoning me. Nothing else." I added reluctantly. and that made it adequately satisfying. "Carlisle Cullen gave me your number. If he has sent you. simple ring. I know Carlisle very well. encasing its neck in my iron clad grasp. Time and place and I'll be there. Bella would approve though. His number was listed on the card. and for the first few moments inside the house I wished them back here. Robert Duncan. no business. no address. after all. "I have a problem and I think you are the one who can help me with it. Or this is what Carlisle has led me to believe. gritty and insipid. They were my family. I felt like I was hunting. Again. Flipping between my fingers was the small piece of paper with the name and number of a man that could help me." I said. I need to put an end to this. Deep inside me I could feel the urge to finish my mission." "Of course. The house in New Mexico was ridiculous in size. as I have always trusted Carlisle. one that left respect and admiration to downright curiosity. Their scents still lingered here. "This is Robert Duncan. What Carlisle didn't tell me was how he could help me. what I set out to do. His voice was smooth. As it grazed near me. Seizing the phone. I can trust you.

If she saw me now." I shouted. It dictated my life. I was out of line today. My fist slammed down on the steering wheel and it bent. It was then that I listened to their thoughts. That was no life at all. Texas was not far from me now. even. Without a word she grabbed it and slid it across the card reader. She didn't belong in the vampire society. "That's wrong. It was the whole reason I had to leave Bella. But I was being stubborn. My breath slowed some as I calmed myself. Though there were thoughts surrounding the area. I was losing part of myself. There were steps behind me. I couldn't. the part that Bella fell in love with. The closer one was holding a gun to my gut. Inside. topping my cars internal speed. Ignoring what was inside someone's head was just a regular thing. to save her from myself. It's a constant. she would turn me away. but she did belong with me. But she was right. I was barely paying attention. she didn't belong in our world. In the reflection of the glass I could see that the one farther back was leaning to the side to see what I was paying with. it never had been. The human hunter was inches from death. The blaring lights above did not improve my vision. and immediately fell in love with her. I pushed my card toward the old lady on the other side and explained my problem. Even as I drove toward Texas. blood was still on my mind. his green . two humans. from my family and from others of my kind. Carlisle was right. I cared for her. One was going for their gun while the other pointed at the credit card that the old lady just placed before me. The interstate at night was bare of most cars. Her brown eyes would stare down at what I have become and be disgusted. The faint guzzling of the tank below as it sanctions out the gas is easily heard above. I could feel the heat radiate off the closer one. I turned around swiftly and startled the men behind me. Of course animal blood is not as satisfying. though semi trucks were abundant. The months continued to pass and I continued to amplify my unrestraint. Sometimes I hated how Rosalie saw Bella. I pulled off the road to attend to this simple and mundane task. my mind was buzzing. I should have never of let my hunger get to this point.The lights were like little glowing balls of energy flashing across my windshield. A soft noise caught my attention as I noticed I was in need of gas. for I see as easily in the night. My headlights were off as I sped between the large vehicles. This was also the reason I chased Victoria – for the blood she had spilled. Though it was silent in the vehicle. One was five feet away and the other was two. That was the whole reason I was here. but with all my overwhelming feelings it was easy to forget my old life – the life before Bella. She was a human. it gave me life and I took life. But no matter how much I wanted to push her away. The card reader at the pump continued to flash an error sign on the small green screen. I appalled myself.

I had been careful that I did not show the extent of what I was. I reentered the building to grab my card. "I think you should leave. The taller one. uncloaked gaze. I stayed unruffled. I left without another word. I grabbed the boys arm holding the pistol. He flinched when he met my unwavering. they were seeing a young man who looks weak. In their mind. She was lucky I was there. "Not a chance. only to end outside of San Antonio. to resonate with the extensiveness of my exceptionally long life. The old lady was thanking me in Spanish over and over as I walked in. certainly they should be even more so. If I was calm. and they really wanted my car. The other was tall and his skin was black as night. So quick. His finger began to put pressure on the trigger. He released it at my sudden and tight grip. They didn't expect the sudden movement from me and flinched. They really wanted my card. but in my velvety voice that I produced so perfectly. which only made their thoughts turn darker. "You're wallet. His mind is not prepared to shot. They were abruptly aware that they were standing next to a monster. My ride to Texas continued.eyes anxious. standing farther away pulled out another gun. This does not affect him like my victims of the past. The one closer turned brave again and straightened." I ordered. Her heart beats were strong. This didn't surprise me. ruthless glare. 16. to deepen. they heard a demon from hell. He has never shot a person before and he doesn't want to. I revealed my full. but his thoughts did. which I have used in the past right before I killed. They both continued to stare at me in disbelief at what they witnessed. my voice as cold as the ice caps of the south. he also smelt the same. I permitted my voice to change. the worst one of all. this was just the way of the streets. that no one even saw me do it." said the guy without a gun. But I am not just any monster. I am a vampire. The old lady seized it and hastily put it behind the counter. as he believed he was ready to pounce. and she believed I will be the man to rescue her." They began to stammer out incoherent responses. but they did not leave. I snatched the gun from his hand and put it on the counter behind me. "Don't come back. It would only take me less than a second to steal this away from him." The effect on them was distinct as they both quivered noticeably. His voice didn't waver. I grew impatient and in one blindingly fast motion they were both disarmed and out the door. Prey II . His slicked back dark hair and baggy clothes reeked of low income living conditions.

" I began." Robert nodded. his teeth mashing together." Arrow said. "Tell me about this vampire. Not the vampire. but he was not speaking in those terms. Arrow didn't say a word as he waited for orders from Robert who was clearly the superior around here." I said. the thoughts were from another of my kind. It was late and most residents were asleep in their homes. "Yes." he offered. his face gaping at me. "Have you heard this name before?" Robert queried. if you will join us. Nope. "You can…" read minds? Robert asked." "No need. "Robert. "Yes. sauntered forward. So I did. "Sit. "You. "It's her he thinks of. ." I said calmly. Carlisle never told me he found such a find. They've been attacking randomly and when you're vampires are alone." "Her name is Victoria." Robert insisted. "We will help you find and kill this Victoria. "Edward." I greeted. The vampire. We snaked between several tall buildings until we reached a door in an alleyway. and within that trust came his…minions.I stalked the shadows of two buildings. "What does she look like?" I pressed. There were a few other vampires there." Both of their heads snapped in my direction. the slight freckles on her nose and her deep crimson eyes. who I learned was nicknamed Arrow for his speed." ordered Robert. I nodded and stepped inside. I was still prowling the streets. As surely as I know you were born in 1802 and that you are currently wondering what your enemies in Dallas are planning next. though. A pale face formed out of the shadows. There was a hiss from one of the corners. "I'll follow." he gestured with his hand. Come. "Inside. We both peered around our shoulders to see the vampire in question." Robert insisted. Normally I am not one to admit to my gift so immediately but Carlisle had told me that I could trust Robert entirely. "Let's hear it." he replied. but they didn't even look up when I entered. In his mind I saw the flaming red hair. "Well. "Shall we go to somewhere more comfortable?" I was comfortable in the darkness of this alley. The vampire's thoughts a snarl of red rage.

Arrow. Soon." I paused to make it look like I was speculating. and it was only a matter of seconds before I was turning the key in the ignition again." Robert said as he bade me goodbye. All I could think about was getting out of there." Disgusting."I cannot say so at this point. And he wants him to join us for more feeding territory and he doesn't even feed on humans? Robert is kidding himself." Robert said solemnly. but I didn't want to be around them. I pushed all their thoughts away. "I've heard rumors of her moving toward the east. My car was not far from where I was at. "Do you keep his same diet? Or is that just chance?" "I feed on animals." His eyes shot nervously toward the door. thought one vampire. "She seems to have the power of evasion." Robert demanded." "Thank you. Be careful. stay here if you wish. …not a threat then… another vampire quickly glanced my direction and then back to what he was doing before. But. She enjoys the bloodshed. "Please. And for a fleeting second I was." "Now. Last I heard…she was in Dallas. "I'll consider it. "She has been making friends with many of the army covens in the area." I accepted even though I'd rather not." Robert nodded. I'd never be alone because every time I closed my eyes I see Bella and her deep eyes communicating with me. The many headlights glared at me accusingly." "I see that your eyes are gold like your creator. "She has a gift." "Then I think it's time we meet her. None of the vampires here wanted to hurt me. "But I must hunt first. "Then I will see you back here at sunrise. and even when you get close she seems to find a way around. Tell Edward what you know about this Victoria. until we have found this Victoria. I shall be back here before sunrise. but I kept driving. And burn her. . I wanted to be alone. She is tricky." I jumped in." Robert acknowledged. I've been chasing her from Alaska to New Mexico. I was out of town and desert like land surrounded me. and then ratting out their strategies to others.

That was when I decided I couldn't do this anymore. trying my best to flee the opulent blood.I pulled the car off the road and turn it off. but I was hoping dearly this would help. It was time for all my grief to end. Even if she rejected me. They didn't sense the predator from within. the dust swarming around me as I pushed myself faster. . A large pile of rocks was nearby and I began throwing the boulders. either. This would be the end of it all – all the sadness. That was when I decided that after Victoria. Would she forgive me now? After everything I did? After everything I said? Would this be the end of it all? Still. The emptiness was consuming. There was no life. Except that I hurt her this time. no happiness…no joy without her. I slammed it to the ground and consumed its blood. as easily as I would ignore a fly. I'd stay in Forks just to see her every day. There was nothing to it. I had once tasted those tears and deep down I prayed that Bella had not been weeping over me. I wanted to make it stop. The ground beneath me was like caressing feathers. It never worked. They went down like pin balls. I needed to run. though. the weight no longer baring me down because it was only a matter of time until I saw her again. my life could resume where it had once been. like I used to when I was running away from Bella. but it was painful all the same. All I had to do was return to my love…my life…my meaning. This was doing me no good. growling. Anything. All my pain was growing. the despair. There was no effort behind the movement. It was there. Little pieces of me lost to my ever growing despondency. Just that tiny sliver of time alleviated my need. I would make it stop. After Victoria. Bella would be in my life. I didn't sense that predator. I needed Bella. Several of them fled. waiting to be released. Make it all stop. All of it. For the first time in months. I'd never felt more broken in my entire life. The tumbling rocks did nothing for me. I ignored the dogs. and all I could do was slide down to my knees and cry. the pain…all my suffering will be wiped away as if it never existed. I felt relief for a fraction of a second. My anger flared and I threw one of them at the others coming in my direction. what was any different about it now? There was no difference. A few wild dogs must have heard the noise because they were coming closer to me. and another. deep inside. This was no different. Another pounced. running towards Seattle. It was not the same – not the same as a human who can release their deepest depression through their salt-watered tears. This was how it used to be. I felt light on my feet. A dog attacked and the predator emerged. It was quiet. my feet pressed on. their blood gone from their bodies. the ones who didn't were dead. I could make it stop. I was hurting beyond anything and all I wanted to do was make it go away. That was when I decided that I would go back.

This was what I had been fighting for since I left Forks. Now. "If you wish to kill her. or stop her before she boarded. Kill Victoria. how long of a drive it was for me to make it across the state. but the depth of it was still the same. my existence could recommence. The city lights of Dallas loomed into view and I nearly rejoiced at the sight. "A truce lies in the balance between us and the coven in Dallas. Sparkle. Crystal clear." Robert greeted me as I pushed the door open. Or day dream. I slammed the gear shift down to accelerate my speed. my lungs breathing in the city air. He was wary at first. "I have news. the darkness less shady. and I'd be able to follow. I could see every shape in the dark that I could in the light. "Their sending her on a plane. The car moved faster than my feet could take me. The alleyway was nothing more than a dark blur in my vision. you'd better leave now. My car zoomed in and out of traffic." "When?" I questioned.Victoria was going to suffer. The power that was screaming for me to get there. "Where?" Robert raised an eyebrow. Dallas airport. that Bella would be safe. I'd face whatever comes our way. I wanted Victoria dead. before I rip her head off. This was it. Colors were brightening. I warned their leader of Victoria and after researching he came to the same conclusion. get Bella back. glitter. and I'd be there to see that she stayed that way. "Edward. how beautiful her death really is. though. Each time I shifted the gears power surged through me." He smiled brightly at the thought and was pleased that good had come out of my visit. I wanted it more than my body thirsted for blood. shine…I didn't care. I didn't bother with my headlights. Her death was like a metaphor. but knew he owed Carlisle more favors than he could count." There were no more words between us. better even." He didn't need to say it. something I hadn't noticed before. There was life in that air. Vampires escorted her to the airport to ship her away. I read it straight out of his mind like I had just picked up a news paper. My brakes slowed me down only a street away from Robert Duncan's place of living. It was as if someone had put a bluish tint over my vision. How her death meant my life. Victoria was going to be on a plane. the air rustled around the building as I sped toward my car. it equaled love and hate and revenge all in one. To where? I am not sure. so I pressed the car to its limits. The sun was beginning to peak over the horizon and I cursed the clear sky that would soon be filled with the blazing sun. I had to make it. I'd tell her that. to kill her. Each second I hated how large this state was. Before. This capture would mean I'd return to Forks. In my head I . reaching speeds that I'd only dream of running. excitement rolling through me. to end it all.

Surely they'd ship her far away. The minutes ticked by at a slower rate than normal because each second Victoria was alive. but there was only one vampire I was looking for and her scent was burning in my nose. Looks like Venezuela will need a vampire put down." one of the vampires spoke to the other thinking about Victoria's departure from Texas." he continued fluently. They also noticed the presence of one of their kind though they only nodded in my direction. Then there it was…the airport. They wanted me to find her. entering. The airport was full of people. "I hear that the vampires in Venezuela are much crueler than we are. not threatening in the least. 17. One could only hope she would be far. My window was down and I easily picked up the scent of vampire fresh on the air. the thundering threat implicit in the underlying words. but after searching the conscious minds of the other vampires around the airport she apparently had friends in high places in Texas. and not want to return if I didn't make it in time. It would have sent a shiver down any human's spine. . He was across the several growing lines of people but I could hear him clearly as if he were standing next to me. Robert must have tipped them off that I would be arriving because from their thoughts I knew they were expecting me. The other vampire merely agreed by laughing menacingly. The ceilings were high and voices echoed around the acoustic walls. This was it. Too Late The brusque air was electrified with my determination as the sliding glass doors slipped apart for me to enter. "I hope you find and kill her. and I'm up for the job. They were protecting the exit so Victoria wouldn't leave. Bags were piled onto carts. Then he turned to face me. She won't last long. "Good riddance. I picked a line and began moving forward slowly toward the ticket counter. She was going to die. going through metal detectors and carousels rotated in a circle to bring passengers their luggage.was unlocking my memories of the maps of the US. But what caught my attention immediately – more than the masses – were the two vampires that were communicating near the lines to the metal detectors. They were helping me out by speaking of where she was headed. now that she will be friendless. that was another second I was going to be tracking her and that was another second I was without Bella. I thought it was odd that they were letting her live at all. of where the major airports were. Lines spread out around the building. simply. people were exiting. Positively excruciating. My prey. his red eyes searching my face. Maybe Madagascar. His voice was full of rage." he said directly to me before he turned away. spacious and beautiful in the ever growing light. like Australia or Africa.

"Driver's license or passport – ticket? How many bags? More than one will cost you extra. "I have only a carry on. I smiled. please. That was my objective now. "I don't have a ticket." I said in my smoothest. go back to my heart. Giving Bella this extra time without me would keep her safe that much longer. The line shortened some and soon a worker was beckoning me forward. "Tomorrow. but when it came to a vampire's looks they all seemed to get the deer in headlights look at first. but not wide enough to frighten her. I slid my card over the counter. Alice was right. I was a selfish creature. "Thanks." It had been a while since I had to lower my voice. exciting – what I planned on doing. Even though it was best that I stay away too – I was also a threat – it was only a matter of time before I broke down. The idea was riveting. "Would you like to purchase a ticket?" she persisted and then looked up." . but I'd like to purchase one." From her mind I could tell there was a plane boarding now. typed and tapped her fingers on the desk impatiently. Human reactions were always different. "Passport?" she petitioned. She stared back at me as if in a trance and nodded slowly.Eliminate the threat. When's your next plane leave for Venezuela?" She still didn't look up from her computer as she clicked." I lifted my bag to show her. calculating – human. For a moment she didn't think or say a word. I leaned over the counter to take advantage of her befuddled state. My mother was visiting and she is very sick and needs assistance back to the states. Money is not an issue. She didn't look up from her computer for several seconds as she demanded information from me. and finally I didn't care. most convincing voice. "Please." she said sadly. "Whatever it costs. but she was not allowed to sell tickets or let passengers go if it was less than an hour before departure." my tone rippled with steady grace. showing my sharp teeth." I added and stared into her eyes as if I were going to hypnotize her. It's an emergency. "All we have is first class. "Maybe you could look again. She nodded and then began to peck at the keys rapidly as she prepared my ticket. And more than ever I wanted Victoria's throat in my hand where all I would have to do is give a slight jerk and rip her head off. make it smooth.

So far. I was in the clear. handsome and mysterious somehow? A receipt began to print out along with my ticket. besides the obvious one: I did love her. Each second felt like ten years – ten lifetimes without Bella. it will also be a warning to anyone who thinks it's a good idea to lay a finger on Bella. The line crept forward. ready to get this over with." And then I ran at an almost inhuman speed towards the ever growing line of people to go through the metal detectors. with nothing to do and the only thoughts on my Bella. I reached for my bag and bent to put my shoes back on. I did want her. I practically threw my bag and shoes on the belt that goes through the scan and waited until the guard on the other side nodded for me to step through. "run. They seemed longer than normal. I waited impatiently. unmoving floor beneath me before the next mobile floor. It was like this moment was weighted with a deep meaning. The line inched toward the detectors.Who is this guy? She grabbed the card. But the only one I cared about was the one that would lead me to Forks. I pressed on. the escalator came to an end and there was fifty feet of solid." … probably won't make it. She slid the card down the side of the computer. Everything has a price. Many people openly gaped at me and even pointed. Some of the bystanders gawked at my uncanny speed. "Of course. I watched as each gate I passed was not the one I needed. so good. forever. A security agent checked my tickets and passport then wrote his initials on it and passed it back to me. The memories weren't pleasant. and no sounds went off. Shortly. "Sign the top one. Telling Bella that distractions would keep her off my mind was one of the biggest and foolish lies I'd ever told. and this was Victoria's. There were some disgruntled curses and words of protest as I pummeled through the pedestrians. She had gone this way. Once in line. Maybe I could kill her in the airport and then purchase a ticket to Washington." I grabbed a pen from the container full of them and began to sign. Death. She hadn't stopped at any of these other gates. I did. her mind in a stunned hurry. Rich. She slid them in my direction. the bottom is your ticket. As the line crawled along I remembered the panic. I stepped closer until it was my turn. This was why I was here: payback." she whispered. This could lead me several directions. Seconds elapsed. but there was no way of blocking them. Victoria's scent was still strong in my nose. "My mom will be thankful. The electronic walkways were helpful as I darted over the threshold and began moving swiftly down the flat escalator. The last time I was in an airport was to fly down to Phoenix. . "My advice to you. the race toward the Ballet Studio. It was the ultimate price. the despair. trying to keep my speed at a human pace. his mind on repeat. I nodded. The clock was ticking down." she interrupted. I hated impassive time like this.

But one thing it . holding the handle to the door. which one would lead me to Bella? Which path was stronger? . but still faltered at the door. sir. keeping it slightly ajar. but it was already obvious before I walked two inches. "If you don't board now. There was no turning back now. The lady made an impatient noise. Stay or go? Air or ground? "Sir? Is this your plane?" the woman asked. they were closing the doors. I caught an additional scent going in a completely different direction." I turned to see her staring at me with pure perplexity. Victoria's scent was present. I raced down the tunnel like hall until I reached the door to the plane. As I stood there." she said vaguely. Thank you. It was quiet an enigma. Have you seen her?" The lady looked at me impatiently." Her thoughts held no clue as to whether she was on the plane or not. If she was on that plane and I let her go. Was she on the plane? Would I have the whole ride with her and be unable to touch her? As I rounded on the stewardess. The pilot and several stewardess' met me at the door.The one on the plane or the one heading another direction? It was a tie. It was too late to turn back. The air was already circulating through the cabin and was stale and unpleasant." I held it out to her in my steady grip. holding my ticket in the air. "You can go on board and check and come back out if she isn't there. they smelt the same. and she was at this gate not long ago. the plane will leave without you. and quickly two large uniformed workers closed the heavy metal door behind me. anywhere by now. The seconds ticked on. "My ticket.When I reached the gate. I didn't know if I should board the plane or follow it. making a decision She sent it through the machine and pointed down the hall. The next plane to Venezuela doesn't leave until tomorrow. Mine was only a few feet from the very front. The rows of blue seats spread out before me. "I apologize. then she would have a day's start ahead of me." Two choices. and my mind raced towards the answer that just wasn't coming to me quick enough. no getting off the plane. She has long red curly hair and dark eyes." I said evenly. "My sister was supposed to board this plane and I haven't been able to get a hold of her." I said lightly. "Possibly. she'd be long gone. "Please hurry if it is. as if the weight of this decision wasn't weighing heavily upon me. my nose catching the trail of an alternative route she might have taken. How would I find her? But if she left the airport unbeknownst to the vampires on the outside. but still Victoria's. "Hurry!" "I will.

It was only Jasper's thirsty desire that kept me from devouring Bella right then and there when that tiny droplet of blood sent us all into hunting mode. anyway. I felt trapped. I closed my eyes. laced with the primitive. My instincts fought against what I wanted. Humanity's brutal way of playing with the world. 18. That was the most difficult to imagine of all my plans. but now I was beginning to think otherwise. Internally. Bella had brought up her choice to become like me again. My eyes roamed toward the front where a stewardess was putting drinks on a cart. Her scent was completely absent. But there were children on the plane. than to picture her before me – her heartbeats strong and fast. But what I remembered most from that night was Jasper's snapping jaws. which is what makes a vampire more threatening: a predator's impulse in a human mind. There was no better time than now. many who were unbuckling their seatbelts now. Placing my head against the head rest. the predator deep inside me awakening. Or nothing realistic. It was her birthday. her scent tantalizingly sweet. I could rip the door off and jump to the earth. I remembered driving toward my house in Bella's truck. I am a vampire and we are all murderers. to have her. Failure No one could ever tell me they knew what it was like. There was no greater joy than the hunt in this moment. The emergency exit was only a few rows back. but foolish all the same. I turned to look at the closed door behind me. who I am. The easiest one. houses. to taste her. . More plans began to form in my mind. her scent wrapping around my body as we got closer. one I vehemently refused. the earth grow smaller as you rose above it. And that that murderer might kill the one person you'd die for. killers…but one thing we aren't are animals. Hadn't I already proven myself to be a horrible tracker? But in this moment all I could think about was not fighting anymore – not fighting what I am. heedless hunt of the untamed animal. to hunt her. I was cursing the fool I am for thinking that I could capture her. knowing that there was a murderer there. And every second I fought that desire. And you couldn't do anything about it. A vampire. when I needed Bella so desperately. watching the trees. Every instinct I had begged me to take her. It would be wrong of me to condemn them to death on a hunch that Victoria was going to find Bella again. That didn't stop the thoughts from flooding my mind. The hunt that would bring me salvation in Bella's arms – if she were to accept me back.was lacking more than the rich scent of the outdoors was Victoria. There was no one between me and the pilot's door that could stop me from taking control of this plane. It was too late. My heart was screaming for Bella back.

or if we never moved there. Just another reminder of the monster I am. If she never came to Forks. landing in the warm gulfs water to swim my way back to Texas. starting over again. . Land appeared shortly after and I knew any second now I'd be back on solid ground. The two women departed. though. one I wished would have never happened. but even at this distance I couldn't make out great detail of the ocean floor below. guidance – anything that would help me. the plane was flying over light blue water. and now I was stuck with the consequences: on a plane to a country I despise while the killer gets away. Even more. When the plane landed and passengers grabbed their bags I stayed put for a minute. I stay away. All I could think about was their heartbeats and the pulses in their wrists and throats. Two women behind me were arguing over politics in Venezuela. unlike a wild animal. like a black hole. Before I kept my distance from humans. There were no voicemails. One I couldn't tolerate right now. The plane began to descend to the land below us. The thought was a painful one. I was left with the facts: Victoria was not on this plane. I'd loved her before I even realized. I remembered losing myself in the smell of the hunt. A relief. observing the masses around me. I remembered that I did not want to kill. One I wish I had never thought. I lost all that had once made me Edward Cullen. I seized my phone and turned it on. My mind focused on this last image.The perfect clarity of the memory made it worse. I sat in my seat on that plane. I told myself. Soon. refused to tempt myself with their blood. The idea was fathomless and ridiculous. I was disappointed immediately. I knew I'd be too late. There was a small hope in me that Victoria would pass me by any second. I could feel my teeth locking together. One of horror and grief. It was her silent mind and her knowing eyes that sucked me in. The taste would be wrong. boiling with pure life and energy. That was why I left – why I still run away. I was always too late. I was a fool to think that my life could go back to what it was before Bella. But I would not feed. large smiles spread across their faces at a joke I didn't pay attention to. but as the last passenger exited the plane. I imagined it hot in my mouth. Jealousy consumed me in that instant. Sometimes I wondered what my existence would be like if I would have never met Bella. Something I wasn't. Still. I plan to go back. I thought about jumping from the plane. Again. But I do have control. Still. the gulf looking like a painting from this height. I didn't want to. hoping for missed calls. biting into my lip. aware their troubles were far away and despite everything they knew they were still guiltless. I want to go back. I never allowed myself to grow close to a human before Bella. My senses were sharp. and yet I barely controlled myself. I cast away all concepts of sin and murder then. All I could think about was tasting her life in my mouth – letting it flow into me.

many vendors and tourist still flooding the area to buy little tokens to take back to their loved ones of their journey's here. yet I sat there and took it. again. Her moves had proven rather erratic and usually she was in a place Alice couldn't recognize. It was dark outside on the streets. I left the airport. No towns. it was the vampires. smaller trees and I climbed it. It had all grown too much to handle.Bag in hand. one thing I'd asked her not to do. It seemed to rain every day. The first patch of trees I found I got lost in. or to speak to any humans. especially mid afternoon here. again. yet. It was intense as I stood there. Alice had been infuriated when I first called her. I no longer cared for hotel rooms. She'd been looking at my future again. so difficult to manage for a moment that it was pushing my reason away from me and my thoughts were no longer coherent. to see if she could find Victoria. I wanted to. Rest was unnecessary. even though it was wrong for me to get angry at her when that was the reason I was calling. immersing myself in the green. only a human habit I picked up. It was there that I got lost in my thoughts. trying to blink away the burning sensation from the tears I knew would never come. resting against the back of the trunk. The sun was behind afternoon clouds. love. But I caught no trace of their scent where I was at. Shadows loomed in the shade and the animal noises were loud in my ears. A dangerous thing to do. I'd let Victoria rule my life for so many months. But the humans were not who I feared in these parts. even told myself after Victoria I would find her again. What was my future? Where did Victoria fit into it all? And that was why I was going to call again. . demanded myself to return. a poor country with a powerful and cruel leader. no sign of them whatsoever. I shook my head but the pain refused the dull. But there was still something deeply seeded inside me that kept me from moving toward the precious girl in Forks. I pushed myself forward. Briefly. refusing to go back now. I failed. I had let her keep me from the one thing in this world that could still bring me joy. it was more peaceable than the rowdy streets of Venezuela. A tall tree with high branches stood out in the midst of all the younger. I probably could have dropped the phone on the bottom of the ocean and still heard her yelling at me. nothing to help us pinpoint a location. happiness. one I couldn't take back by being so selfish. a country large enough for anyone to get lost in. today. I shut my eyes for a moment. I'd call Alice. She'd packed. The sun could have set and never rise the next day and I wouldn't have noticed. Still. I thought about purchasing something for Bella. unpacked and repacked probably a hundred times between every decision I made to return to that small cloudy town that I missed. I hated how I ended up this way. I'd been traveling for a couple of weeks and still had no luck finding Victoria. or signs. like in a forest or near a body of water. February melted into March as I wondered south of Venezuela and found myself in Brazil. I'd made a promise to her. far away where I didn't want to be. I banished that idea quickly. It could be a distraction – one could hope.

eh?" I replied monotonously." she said darkly." she added. "I'm not unpacking this time." There was a long pause." she said reluctantly. but I'm pretty sure you're looking in the wrong places." My voice was flat." was all she said. Still. it was so thick." "Oh. and there aren't any places in the US besides Alaska that has that much snowfall at this moment. I'm sure. I didn't answer. like she knew this would be the end of the conversation and she was hoping for more. "No. "I checked online. I dialed the number in record time. There was a long drawn out silence. That was never a distraction. "Brazil. Hopeless. "What now?" she asked. Alice gave in first. in the woods. Things had grown perceptibly worse in the past few weeks." I said lifelessly. "My future's not so bright anymore. again." "Great." she answered. "Anyway…" she continued. All I had left was my bitterness. my mind has been other places. "No." "Sometimes it's just nice to hear it from you. I gather?" I replied unemotionally. Alice answered the phone before the first ring could finish its chime. "It's snowing." "Oh. the screen blaring its bright light at me. "Only a matter of time." "So the equator is not the place to be looking. Neither of us spoke." was my competent response. "She's in a remote area. "There are several feet on the ground." she said softly. Losing Victoria's trail had caused me to grow into a deeper depression.My phone was lying in my palm. You could almost taste it. "But it will change. I didn't suspect you would." she muttered. "Where are you at now?" "Don't you know? You look for my future several times a day. is what I had become." I answered dully. but now it was like there was no hope of one. I don't know where in Brazil. "No. "I don't know where Victoria is." "I got that the other twelve phone calls. . like it was accusing me of doing something wrong.

I didn't figure she would. It felt nice against my frigid skin. The jungle was not far. . I'd been terrible to her." I reminded her. It was in the depths of the jungle that I let my senses take over. was a problem for my sight. my tone finally finding some life force left. "I made a promise. would only make me feel guilty. I'd have to go deep into the trees. She made a promise. The undergrowth was immense. If it wasn't for Bella… I shuddered at the thought. This quest was meaningless. There were so many animals to choose from. see how she was doing. Just to peek at her. and regardless of my speed." I knew what she was going to offer. In the other direction I could hear the crunching of hoofs and realized I'd have to settle for deer. For once. I understood why it was so hard for me to let her go." "Okay. but–" I snapped the phone shut. my sense of smell. It was time to hunt again. to my whole family. There was a jaguar not far from where I was. and feeding from a jaguar. "But–" "Don't. "I know. Carlisle had always taught us prudence.I didn't say anything. it was never far from anywhere in this wild country. She did not call back. I waited for a second. It was wrong that I had gotten so thirsty that I almost attacked and killed a hunter. undercover. "Don't tempt me. Apparently not. I felt lost. I would have to use my other senses. Edward. "Please –" "No. I couldn't let my thirst get out of control like I did last time. lurking in the tops of the trees and hiding in the shadows of the night. Closing my eyes seemed to intensify my hearing. I wouldn't answer and she knew I wouldn't so why bother calling? I found myself against the back of a brick wall. but I didn't see why my family was having the same reactions. but–" "Alice!" I shouted. The crowds in the street were beginning to disperse." I cut her off. She said she'd go to Forks. it was all just so…pointless. But this cat was probably the most appetizing creature in the whole forest. I thought Christmas would be good enough to last several more months. rely on them more. an endangered species. to check on Bella for me. Alice knew she was walking on eggshells. but I'd let it pass. There were predators everywhere. make sure there were no humans for me to catch scent of. Nothing mattered anymore. without meaning or purpose. The warmth of the day still heated the tiny grains of sand and rock.

I wouldn't shine. The small amount of light that cascades through is minimal. snow never falls. coping. I was a predator. I hoped she was all right. My mind focused on the hot. Always there. It was a good thing – cloud cover. Date whomever she wanted. right into his unexpecting arms. I wouldn't sparkle. To my surprise. I listened for their heart beats and was surprised that there was only one. She was only reacting as one should. I walked through the streets of this large. Still. though. Permanent. Though I was far from it. She was free to do whatever she wished. using my ears and my nose to guide the way. What hurry was I in? None. looking out over the city. but exotic for my taste buds all the same. I was. a glass of water in a desert. I didn't hesitate as I snapped its neck easily with a quick jerk of my hand. A human walked passed me. It wasn't right for me to even have a say in these things. and all I could think to do was walk. but one could wish. the undergrowth is nominal due to the sun not reaching the grounds through the tops of the trees. it wasn't a deer. I hated it so much that I wished I could do something – anything. unchanging. 19. Every time I passed a human I could count their heart beats. and watch the throb at their neck. I could see storm clouds rolling in. But. But I could go back. emotionally sick and exhausted. The rain didn't bother me. The sun would be filtered by the soft fluffiness of those dark clouds. She ran to the predator. moving on. Probably just walk. as if I were a danger. I gladly accepted the distraction. now that she had become a part of my world. see where their pulse was strongest. but a blackbuck. Loved her. probably strayed from the herd. I'd be normal for a moment in time. I hated that about myself. Or run. really – about it. I was dirty. But not my Bella. I'd been stuck in the jungle too long. I couldn't. Standing in the shade of a tree. easing the burning in my throat for only a few moments. but warm. The trees grow tall and green. It was with the thought of its pulse pumping its life into me that I sprang forth. Her blood was unbearable. I didn't want it to suffer. she moved several steps to the side when I passed. . Hopefully she found someone beyond Mike Newton. right? There was a sudden ache in my chest. Its constant freeze in time – no spring. fall or winter. smelly city. push her to the back of my mind like I have many things. I embraced her. Which brings me to my focus – Isabella Swan. The leaves never turn red. Similar. ready to dump more water onto the already moist ground. The smart thing to do – in my situation – would be to forget about her. thick blood that would soon be filling me. Why did it hurt so roughly for me to think of her caring – loving – someone else? I left her. a burning. Numb There is just something about the equator. My optical nerve was forever burned with her image. I bit down and the blood rushed into my mouth. But that is exactly why I had to leave.The venom trickled down my throat as I crouched to spring.

maybe I could prevent myself from returning. I had nowhere else to go. Because my heart was in Forks the whole time. Each breath was more staggering than the rest. yet let it soak through me. My pants vibrated with each ring. Put her in danger. no contact with the outside world…just go under the water and never come back up. for centuries. really. being protected by the brown-eyed angel who was my constant companion. I remembered this place. My feet pressed on. Just like then. It was worse. I didn't move. I hadn't even given her a whole year away from me and I was ready to bring myself back into the mix. . Her assured attitude made it more difficult to control my longing. plead for forgiveness – atone for my sins – day and night. Her flawless beauty was always there. Change it. But there was something different this time – about being here. Soon. but I could hear their quick movement through the air. toward where? I had no idea. The waves successively crashed onto land as the ocean glittered with the sun's rays. The dark storm clouds opened up. The vibrating finally stopped and I looked out over the ocean waves again. only overwhelming grief. Now I had nothing. I'd given up on finding Victoria. I'd considered it. That should shut my phone up for good. I stared without seeing. I had lost Bella only moments before. the ocean and waves were growing larger and crashing wildly around me but I just let it happen. Overly. Could I go on another day? Just one more day. didn't I? My phone began vibrating in my pocket. the aroma strong in my car. cared about me. Our phone conversations had gone from incessant pleading to her counting down the days. Maybe the waves would grab me and pull me under. the first place I destined to without Bella. I found myself at the coast. I'd admit my guilt. floating in my vision. If I could make it through just one more hour. It was probably Alice again. Before. Instantly. Her scent was still fresh in my nose. It never was. Yes. I'd made one mistake too many and my heart just wasn't into it. It had been a few days since I was able to charge my battery and I was sure that it had died by now. and then it was as if someone turned a shower on. than another. Of course this place held no answers. every second a feeling of pure emotional paralysis. I sat in the sand as another wave splashed over my feet. Still a reminder that she existed. She'd grown very confident. really. I owed her that much. There was one drop. The rain hadn't made it to the surface. This was the same spot I ran to when I had no other options. so I came here.Fix it. That surprised me. loved me. forward. I chided myself for thinking those thoughts – the ones that seem to be more frequent. No more scent. let it consume me.

numb. "Rosalie." She was silent then. just to make sure I wasn't seeing things. more at Rosalie's tone-of-voice than her words. "No. the vibrating started up again.A large wave came crashing over me and I welcomed it. but I answered it instead." "To Forks. "What do you want. "Oh. I moved my thumb over the screen to wipe the water away. It wasn't long before the vibrations started up again. She would make it into a game. I reached for my phone. or was there something really wrong? I thought about letting it go to voicemail again. "I would if you wouldn't interrupt me. "I'm waiting." I tried to say it with assurance. When the phone quit. I made a promise. "I don't think that will be a problem…" Horror rose in me. I closed my eyes and let the water submerge me in its warm wetness. Instead. She deserves peace without our interference." I bit crossly. Rosalie's name flashed across the screen and I wiped the water away again. She sniffed angrily into the phone. I thought about hanging up on her. I mean. but I knew she would only call back again. No battery life and now soaked with rain and ocean water. "Where the hell are you?" That wasn't exactly the best way to start out our conversation." "I'm not going back there. but my voice was weak." Did that mean she left? . she'd learn after the first call that I wouldn't answer my phone on the second try. "You should come back. Frustrated. "Get to the point. I wasn't that lucky. Surely my phone would be dead by now." she said with absolute certainty. um…" she trailed off weakly." I said with impatience. It wouldn't be Alice. Rosalie? Was she calling to bug me. I didn't have time for her games. Rosalie?" "Well. I wanted to beg it to soak through my skin and dilute my sadness. I looked up to the sky. One I didn't want to play." I answered crisply.

"Have you heard anything from Alice?" "Is something wrong with her?" What did Forks have to do with Alice? There was a weird feeling shooting through me. There was something she wasn't telling me." she began." She sounded almost satisfied. really. More than any of us understood. She told me she wouldn't go back until I did. Nothing. Well…" she sounded a little breathless. I have some news…" she trailed off feebly. She drowned. Wasn't one enough for a lifetime? "No. no laughing. I'd never heard Rosalie struggle so hard to tell me something."Well. but Bella jumped off a cliff. she's a mess. "Spit it out. I thought about hanging up. She thinks she can help him. For Charlie. It's…well. There was no way I would be able to manage losing another person I loved. nervous. but I knew there was something that she wasn't telling me. She was quiet for a whole minute. yet her tone remained completely serious. And to sound feeble? Not likely." I said in a strangled voice. things have changed. "Jasper?" "Is fine. "Well?" I pressed. I decided I would just wait. growing demanding. or just because Alice defied my wishes. Rosalie wouldn't call just to talk shop. as if it brought back as many memories as it did for me. she's in Forks. Committed suicide. absolutely annoyed. no joking. and I knew it was important somehow." Again. I winched under her name. "Yes." She sounded supremely unconcerned about Charlie. "Why does she need to help Charlie?" I snapped. Why would Alice be in Forks? She promised me. "Forks?" I said with no emotion. "Don't be hasty. A feeling of dread swept through me. Loved? Past tense? My breathing hitched." she said with a humorless laugh. letting another wave crash over my feet which were buried several inches into the wet sand. "Emotionally. Or anyone. If Bella wasn't there anymore why would she go there? The possibilities tumbled through my head. This whole conversation wasn't making any sense. really. almost like she didn't know how to feel about what she was going to say. there was that humorless chuckle. He was human. "She loved you more than you realized." her voice cracked on the word Forks. Edward. after all. . "Bella.

My knees went out on me. where is he then?" I pressed. each breath. "May I please speak to Charlie?" If she was alive. each excruciating emotion threatened to overwhelm me. where she would live – come ." the voice said in resonating agitated tones. with overwhelming sobs. I found it difficult to think – to imagine – that she was really gone." answered a deep voice I found very familiar." I hung up. The sound of ringing echoed in my ear. Was she lying? It seemed like a cruel trick if she were. she left me. The screen went blank and I stared at the ever growing waves around me. numb. but I had to know. so real I didn't know if I could move without exploding.My heart began sinking horribly. "Swan residence. She left the world. The numbers seemed fuzzy on my screen. forget that I ever called. I'd hang up. Even my hearing was off. I thought I would surely die with the anguish. Each second. the rain dripping down my face. Swallowing back my dry tears I said in a voice to imitate my fathers. I stared forward. Wouldn't I know? Wouldn't I have felt it? Was it just all a cruel joke the universe was playing on me? Her borrowed time was gone now and it was all my fault." My tone stayed smooth. "He's at the funeral. I shook with grief. Not whole. Each passing second felt weirdly sluggish. but I was wrong. "Well. twisting. My mind raced around. For a second. as blank stretches of numbness blanketed my missing time. The hollow area was full now. Immediately I dialed a number I never thought I'd call again. I didn't know how long I stared forward. looking desperately for some loop hole. "Edward?" I thought I said goodbye. the storm settling over the city behind me. My mind didn't have time to try and figure out whose. "This is Dr. Did the world just tilt in the wrong direction or was I leaning that way? I could feel a knife stabbing deep into me. I thought I knew what pain was before. I tried to say the words. I didn't have time to worry. like I couldn't focus through the grief. but full of pain so strong. So incredibly wrong. air that Bella would never breathe in again. to understand it. so rough. Carlisle Cullen. Intolerable. but instead I hit the end button. "He's not here. making me feel like there were real tears for once. calculating. My sobs redoubled. I thought I'd choke on the air.

or hear her sweet voice. the craving. I felt sick. Alice would see it. The world continued to go on. Begging to be Ash The woods had grown like a jungle during the summer months. and there wasn't anything that anyone could do to stop me. But it was warm. something that doesn't happen many months out of the year in Forks. A very human feeling. hardly noticing where I was going. without warning. . moving dream-like. twirling it between two fingers. She had a flower in her hand. I found myself upright. Her hair glistened in the light. But not my world. Bella was sitting on a large boulder. I wanted to die. more painful. I'd make it to Italy first. I told her I didn't want her. beyond words. I wouldn't let her. the yellow petals spinning wildly back and forth. Gone. Alice was wrong all along. I wished for one last golden day with her. My muscles coiled with the urgency. my feet moving me. A sharp pain rose in my throat at the sight and suddenly all the warmth from the water was gone. no more calls. because the object of its focus was…dead." she pouted and yanked another petal free. I'd never see her again. No more phones. Thinking I didn't love her with my mind. Never. Hadn't I lost enough to see the damage that I created? Suddenly. We were taking advantage of it. I imagined her body being placed in a casket. And in that instant.back. She would know. the sun peering through the clouds and through the canopy of the trees and lighting her translucent skin. She was an angel. What felt worse were the last words I spoke to her. She was magnificent. And I knew. I failed her. gone." she picked a petal off as her eyes followed me. I'd never see her flush her brilliant pink. "He loves me. The smile grew on her face as I stalked the shadows around her. It all felt oddly disembodying. I missed her more in that second than I ever had. The awful pressing feeling in my chest grew tighter. Never again would Bella speak to me…I wanted death so savagely that the need for it rang in my ears. It had completely stopped spinning on its axis and would never revolve again. 20. clouded my insight and was a flavor on my tongue. the necessity of it. no more conversations. I was moving more urgently now. body and heart. I dropped my phone in the first trash can I found. I was going to die. the red tint shining like a halo. She would try and stop me. I kept repeating it. and here I was feeling it. and she died believing that. like someone would tell me different. I'd never go back to Forks. if for one second I let my emotions get the best of me. She looked up through her eyelashes which were casting long shadows across her rosy cheeks. beautiful. "He loves me not. Ever. The end of the line was here. it swept over me – the dreadful truth – more completely and undeniably: Bella was dead. that I would slide away into the blackness of my mind. I felt an abnormally detached feeling as I rose to my feet. Just one.

I had her in my grasp." she then repeated in English. very soon. The past was over. Dying because you couldn't live without the other. "We will be landing in ten minutes. It was my fault. over and over. I was here. flawless. Then. I could feel the plane lowering in the sky." I heard a stewardess announce in Italian over the intercom. she kissed me full on the mouth. Though honestly. I left her and it cost her her life. It was torture. Well. I would join her. I was more than the monster. Entirely and completely. Surely this much pain would be accompanied by death? I tried desperately to see through the haze of pain that was taking me over. There would never be anyone better. The ache in my chest pulsed like an open wound. Each second I relived our final moments together. I'd forever be without the answers that I desperately required and wanted. plummeting through me – leaving me forever. her cheek leaning in to my face at her shoulder."He loves you. though she leaned back into me in trust. Intermingling and reminding me of all of my mistakes. There were no words for what I was now. to remember to be gentle. I thought dryly. Perfect. even. There was nothing romantic about what I was about to do: giving myself over to the Volturi. I needed death so savagely it burned in my bones. Italy. and each second I imagined a different scenario where she lives. In my memory she was just as I remembered. falling. I felt broken as a piece of me descended through me. This was a moment of shame – of need. She tossed the flower to the ground and turned around to face me full on. What if she had never cut her finger? What if Jasper held his breath in time? What if I had just turned Bella – or had Carlisle do it? Or what if I never left in the first place? That was all I had left now: what if's. I pulled a few strings at the airport for a more comfortable flight. My skull hit the head rest. her arms wrapping around me and with her heart pounding against my chest. Memories swan in my head. Was that her last thought? He loves me not? Was that why she jumped? Of course it was. "Ci sarà lo sbarco in venti minuti. What she was now…I couldn't imagine. in theory. I lifted the shade over my window to see . This is reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet. I gulped in the air like it was a magic potion. Because that was all I did – make mistake after mistake. Romantic. "He loves me. Only moments away from the end. I realized. And I wasted her. It was so hard to do this. All I had was the future and there wouldn't be much of that left once I arrive in Volterra. This had been the worst flight of my life." she murmured back. begging them to kill me. in my arms and she accepted me wholly for what I was. nothing could have made this flight comfy. But soon." I whispered and came up from behind her and kissed her neck. The wheels planted firmly on the ground. a small jolt knocked me to my senses. There were only two other passengers on the plane.

the coffin would be lowered into the dirt. She'd see it all and I felt sorry about that. pain. The buildings were old and made of brown stone. Outside the city." The driver only nodded into the rearview mirror as he took in my black eyes. It was night here. It was so surreal. Slowly. trying to fight back against the images in my head. His mind screamed dangerous and he was right. But they were so clear. "Trenta Euro. My family would no longer have to deal with the brooding old man. But soon. my pale face. Grief. The scent was strong on the wind. My next plan was not so thoroughly thought out. and the lights of the airport were bright in the blackness. Alice would be standing over the opening. they would drop roses into the open grave. tearing at my insides. the tears unable to flow from her face. As the plane moved toward the airport I closed my eyes. Bella was gone and I would soon follow. I dropped more than that in the passenger seat and sprang from the backseat. I'd be walking to my death. The dark wooden casket would be laced with flowers. One more permanent. The pain would soon end. I would no longer be inflicting myself onto this world. for that was what I was no matter my appearance. her normal blank face. though there was obviously no city planning when each lane was added. Exiting the plane. Soon. moving through customs. Sifting through the thoughts of those around me I could easily count twenty-three vampires in a mile radius. As each loved one walked by. I added in full measure. Many lights were flickering like candles down the lanes. leaving the large building. She'd look up in horror. Who would have known that happiness was in ashes? My ashes? Each motion now was zombie-like. eager to be meeting the Volturi. burning. illuminating the path for the few pedestrians still out this evening. my straight jaw. lights were flooding into the night like huge spotlights. and getting into a cab. Vendors were beginning to close shop and lights were being turned off in the small windows all down the lane where the cab stopped. Silvery moonlight was bathing the sun bleached stones. Maybe she already saw the ending – the result I'm hoping for. They were everywhere. For anyone. . The cobble streets and sidewalks were running from east to west and north to south. My eyes snapped open as if they were shades pulled too tight. but I figured walking right in would get their attention. and surely they would catch my scent soon. overflowing on both sides. Things will never be the same. I thought silently to Alice. Please forgive me. All of it and the only thing left would be the thick oily purple smoke billowing in the Mediterranean air." the man barked over his shoulder.the twilight grounds. The mound of earth would be covered in faux grass while family and friends gathered around the burial site. She'd see my plan. My orders were clear to the cab driver: "Take me to Volterra.

That was what I wanted the most. She spun in a quick circle. now. "Now. just as Bella did. The sweet voice sang through the moist air. Their guard was large in number and I would have to find a way past them. In the end what good did I actually do? Absolutely none. and with confirmation from the minds around me. she did. my footsteps silent to the human ear. My brain wondered from mind to mind. for both of us. "There you are. the nothingness of death. tomorrow would be the perfect day to ask for death and the perfect day to give them a reason to kill me if they refused tonight. Though I'd never suspect her to be the one to commit suicide. Edward. ." Never again would I hear her sweet voice. But now it was all over. If only they knew…. our meadow. That was why I lived and suffered all these months – so she would live her life too. "I found you. "Edward! Come out come out where ever you are!" She giggled. That would be okay with me. She was so cute. We laughed and played all summer long and in one moment of absolute terror – of fear – I let her go. that she would hurt so badly that this was a possibility if I killed myself. joyful face. The clouds were thick in the sky. The blackness. her face only showing the aggression of a tiny kitten. She jumped but then laughed like a little kid.…the delicious selection of blood we will be able to choose from tomorrow… …Demetri better be on his best behavior tomorrow… …maybe one day there will be a Saint Felix Day… The calendar flipped through my head quickly. Now I could end my suffering. "Meow. or let them kill me. Tomorrow is Saint Marcus Day: when the city was finally rid of all vampires. Alice warned me. gentle. A memory crashed down on me as my mind wondered uselessly to the past. leading me to where the leaders were." I breathed in her ear. I had to remind myself. Careful. I smiled in the darkness of the woods. That's not fair. "You did." I whispered in the shadows." she giggled again. Bella jumped and turned in my direction. not making a sound and pulled her up into my embrace. her whimsical giggle or her smiling. The memory was just another small moment in time of the joy we shared together. familiar. She crouched and circled the small meadow. Come here so I can attack you!" she made her hands into claws and clawed at the air. I landed softly behind her. She tried to look fierce. I jumped into the nearest tree and let the branch hang over her head.

"I should just tear you apart now. Demetri thought wistfully. It was one he didn't recognize and the two glanced at each other knowingly. I turned my gaze toward Demetri and said in a severely resonating voice. He was excited. her crimson eyes and her half smile which was full of menace. The thoughts of the one I was staring at was thinking of the events of the next day. to this juncture in my life? What went so wrong? I was an idiot because I couldn't handle her forgiveness that Alice so thoroughly . Demetri smiled at him. taking in my scent. His eyes were deeply red. He has a death wish. Her face peered through the darkness – though I could see her clearly in the shadows – to show her blonde hair. Disrespectful little… and he began to move forward to take his imagination and make it a reality. It seemed only right that those who thought themselves as royal would live lavishly. The doors were a thick dark wood. "Let me have some fun. I didn't fight. They looked ancient and easy penetrable. and they could tell. nodded and gripped me tighter. "And you think that you can just waltz in here and disturb our master?" he asked in faux scorn.My steps were quick and silent against the stone as I moved toward a towering stone building. hearing my steady lung movement. They both took a hold of my arms and I didn't fight. Their thoughts didn't stop me from opening the double doors and striding in. This is not going to be nearly as fun compared to when they fight back. gentleman. The other vampire was listening through the door. now." I was absolutely serious. like a castle. "You are not allowed beyond this point. guarding. Through the eyes of one of the guards. but I knew better as the light hum of thoughts were only inches behind. too. How did I get here? I wondered stupidly. but I just let happen. "Now. There was no physical pain in this. "I need to see Aro. Demetri thought merrily. I knew it was coming before it happened. though the sound was not that of a child but of a fierce vampire. This one has no fight. the vampire named Felix thought with a cocky smile. thrilled about the large number of humans that will be herded in to take a 'tour' of the castle. Felix chuckled and I turned swiftly to take in his long cloak and dusty pallor." she giggled. taking both of my arms behind my back as Felix stepped away to exam me. Her cheeks widened in a self satisfying smile." I shrugged and Felix growled at my casualness. I want to watch him squirm. He had no idea. the size of Emmett. Still." a poisonously sweet voice of a child spoke from the shadows. I noticed a large vampire." the vampire named Demetri informed me in a deeply authoritative voice.

Suddenly. vampire? "Jane. the painful splinters rushing through my body again. "take me to Aro and then you can have your fun with me. and the feeling was more unpleasant than I would have thought. I answered. "You are very good looking." I begged. They would make it quick. Felix scowled in anger for losing his fun and Demetri gave me a fierce glare. How could I ever imagine that I merited something as mild as death? It would be nothing to what I was already feeling. I watched as the three vampires converged on me. They weren't just going to kill me. not stay and be tortured physically and mentally. They were black." I felt nothing but absolute disgust as her eyes trailed to my backside. What game is he playing? Jane thought as she lowered herself to the ground where I was at. Pain. . I was lost and I could never go home. her finger came out and traced my cheek and I wanted to bite her fingers off. "Because I can read your mind!" I shouted. Immediately I was on the ground." I breathed.predicted. He suddenly pictured Jane's last victim and I might have stared at her in horror for a fraction of a second because her lips twitched as if she knew my thoughts. She frowned. Jane sauntered forward. I wanted the Volturi to do it. after I asked them to. regaining composure. down my legs as I crumpled to the floor. There was a lull in the pain and I looked up at the vampires before me as Jane smiled pensively. I didn't want to stay on this planet any longer. Home was…dead." I choked in protest. no gold left. All I wanted was it to end so I could be with Bella. "That's too bad that we are going to kill you. Felix looked over his shoulder. As my eyes reflected in the gluttonously red eyes of the vampires before me I could hardly remember the look of my own eyes. I didn't want these three to kill me. Jane always has to ruin our fun. getting to my feet. Physical pain is not one I had dealt with in the past. or as much as you can on the ground being tortured. Demetri. though his face showed none of his thoughts. I was hot then cold and I felt as if I was being stretched and played with like I was a guitar string. Felix and Demetri exchanged a questioning glance. so excruciating I thought my head would explode ripped through my muscles. Deep inside I knew that I deserved every last pain that they would inflict on me. What's my name. they were going to torture me. How does he know our names? they both thought. This could have ended so differently – I could have prevented this! But now I was far beyond gone." she said thoughtfully. "Felix.

"Bring him upstairs. I knew what he wanted. anyway. All of this for a vampire who claims to read minds. The other two Volturi were in there. Two guards on the inside heard our approach and opened the doors to admit us. He doesn't even have to be touching your skin. He could not only hear your thoughts with touch. "Yes master."That's enough. but every thought you have ever had. Oh. I didn't want him to see all of my intimate moments with Bella. He wanted to read me. We reached a set of stairs and began ascending them quickly. my talent would be of great interest to this group. Marcus!" greeted Aro. We passed it and continued to the third and then to the final and fourth floor. along with the other guard members. I just don't see the significance. who insisted that he go downstairs to greet the stranger who said he could read minds. It was true. Demetri yanked me from the floor while Felix led the way. If they found someone with her talent they may never let go. Did you hear that? I nodded with no expression. Caius and Marcus. The stone was cleaned meticulously and shined through the clear coating. Though. Carlisle had told me about how powerful his gift was. Medieval torches were hung from the walls and lit to illuminate our path to the second floor of the castle. Aro smiled to himself. but I am hoping it is so he can join us. As we approached a set of wide wooden doors I could hear the thoughts of other vampires on the other side. During the day light would come from the rectangle windows at the ceiling to light the floor below." he chuckled and I reached out and he snatched my hand up eagerly. I looked over my shoulder to see his serene expression. That had slipped my mind when I was planning my trip here. "Look who I brought?" he gestured toward me before turning my direction. Jane's smile slide from her face. "Ah! Caius. ." ordered a voice from a vampire so old you could hear the power radiating from every syllable. He was just…there." they said together and immediately I looked over to where Aro stood." Aro pointed to Demetri and Felix. "I won't bite. All the while Demetri and Felix were intrigued now that I showed them I had a gift and were even a little impressed. "Why have you come here?" Then he shook his head to quiet me before I spoke and then held his hand out for me to take. Marcus barely looked up in interest while Caius burned holes through my skull with his angry glare. Marcus was not irritated. If he is telling the truth. Aro was possessive and from and what I could tell he had a vampire with great talents at breaking bonds and encouraging bonds. how I miss Eleazar. He was easy to recognize from Carlisle's mind. I hesitated. The room was massive and the ceiling towered above us. Desperately I hoped that Alice wasn't close to Italy. He thought in amazement. also: Chelsea. but not happy either. Caius was highly irritated by Aro. Aro already has that power. All the light was from the fire. It will only be a moment before I find out why he is here. I am not in my right mind. I can already imagine how useful his gift would be. I could hear Demetri's thoughts from behind me.

He would never find out because she would never have a thought again. he mused. the human. Marcus finally showed some interest as his eyes snapped up to meet mine and for the first time I probed his mind and looked through his eyes. He engulfed the images of James and of me leaving Bella. my denial of human blood and then my betrayal against Carlisle as I left and hunted those who I thought should be killed. I wonder if I could read her thoughts. "absorbing. "What is this all about?" "Dear brother. hunting for information like drilling a screw into it or like a thorny vine weaving its way to sunlight. "And you invite him into our castle so he can learn pertinent information about us?" "Calm. Why would he want death so brutally that he would come here for our help? He saw me staring at him and he began thinking about irrelevant topics. Caius grinned. to me chasing Victoria and finally to Bella's death and my journey here." he chuckled. What a special ability you have! I am most intrigued by Alice.. just like Alice. Edward wants us to end his life. My life came rushing across Aro's eyes and I watched along with him like it was a movie: my change by Carlisle. My mind was weighted with memories of a vast number of years. not sure how to react to him." "Why?" he asked in disbelief. like he was clawing into my head. He absorbed the scenes before him as I came crawling back to Carlisle for forgiveness in which he accepted. He saw when I met Bella. "I don't know if I could allow that. I bowed my head as he mentally probed my mind." Not even a Cullen could say not to that kind flavor. He surveyed me as each of the Cullen's came into my life. Aro. Didyme. "I was hoping you could help me. Edward here has the ability to read minds without touching. To see and hear not only your thoughts. he sighed internally. Caius blanched and actually tried to guard his thoughts. Caius came forward and placed a hand on Aro's shoulder." "Yes. "He fell in love with a human whose blood sings to him and she is now dead. and each of their precious gifts. "That was…" he took in an unnecessary breath. Caius. He learned fast.. each of them .Suddenly I was thrust into the weirdest sensation ever. He dropped my hand and gasped." Now that I've seen what he can do. His gift has been flawless besides the girl he comes here to die for. Many of the images were vertigo inducing. but all the thoughts you've heard around you. Aro concentrated mainly on the past two years. I grimaced. It was an oddly strange sensation because he could see auras around people. guess we'll never know… I flinched at his thoughts. and my strong desire to drink her blood. True seers are rare." I nodded slowly." Aro frowned.

"Take him to the museum." Aro said delightedly and clapped his hands together before gesturing for us to leave.different colors. An hour passed as I read the history of Volterra." I told him in an assured matter. The Volturi owned this building for more revenue." he said as he pointed toward Felix and Demetri. "You really have a truly amazing talent. understanding how he must be feeling. "It will be. that prevented any vampire to feed in the city. I wondered if he ever begged for death to take him. all joking gone. I remembered briefly something that Carlisle told me about Marcus." That should be far enough he can't hear our thoughts. "Edward. He was hoping she would have a gift like his. The history was not as violent was one might think with vampires firmly in control of the city. "Impossible!" "Do not think of me as a fool. I would have gotten down on my hands and knees and begged if I thought it would do me any good. Marcus has never been the same since. Maybe this knowledge will give them a reason to kill me. They had already overcome the fact that Aro could read all of their thoughts with a single touch. but to add a stranger to the mix who could read their thoughts from a distance scared them both enough that they were praying that the outcome would be my death. and horrible about it is that he can see other's relationships by the color of their aura as it interacts with those around. Jasper had always been thoroughly worried about them finding out about a human knowing of our existence. instead she only provided happiness to those around her. "Edward is sincere in his request and his reasons. All eyes turned to our exchange with curiosity. my dear boy. I just hoped they left my family . from what Carlisle told me. There were rules. Aro killed her to prevent Marcus from leaving Volterra with her when they fell in love. Long splendid halls broke off in two directions. Didyme. I was siding with them. It was black. Once inside the museum down the street I wondered aimlessly with Demetri and Felix at my back the whole time. It was not open at this hour and the place was deserted and rang with silence. but I had a feeling that black wasn't good. Through his sight I could see the color of my aura. "Aro killed Marcus' mate. I had also heard stories from many covens of the Volturi guards enforcing those rules. please give us a few moments to talk. But what is even more ironic. I wondered what the colors meant. the infinite sadness echoed in my voice. I didn't expect anything else. like I was about to. really." I whispered." "Please. his voice resonating its full authority. "La tua cantante?" questioned Caius. which was actually Aro's sister." I stared at Marcus in pity then." Aro chided. In the guard's minds they were contemplating the fact of having me join them forever with my talent.

her cheeks slightly flushed before she laid her cards down on the table for them to see. Jasper's smiled turned to a frown and he put his cards down. Alice!" Bella chided her with a smile. The guard caught my gaze and thoughts began crowding behind his eyes. One human. They were careful at clouding what they wanted to hide from me. I hoped that they would finish me off before my family showed up in an attempt to rescue me. If they had decided to kill me. The sun was struggling to make it into the sky and the grounds were still dark. let's see those cards. Aro learned quickly.alone. "I mean it!" All eyes were on the beautiful brown-eyed girl at the end of the table. Some of the torches had been extinguished due to the morning sun slowly peeking into the windows. "All right. I tried to read the answer but the guardsmen had no idea what the outcome would be. The Volturi had made a decision. The whole building looked different in the daylight. was sitting at the end table. I panicked about that. Her imagine. Jasper had a huge grin on his face and threw a chip in the middle of the table. "You win!" . It was ironic that everyone would be celebrating a vampire free city. as smoothly as if he were dancing. Poor Alice. For a moment. Time meant nothing to me anymore. though. Bella. Swan!" Bella smirked. I let myself get sucked away into a memory as we made our way up the stairs. The antique wooden table in the dining room was not the object of focus of the many vampires that were surrounding it. they should kill me. and that if they wanted to get revenge. to inform Felix and Demetri it was time to bring me back. "It's a boat!" she exclaimed. her chair leaning back slightly as her eyes peeked over the top of the cards in her hand. More real. readying themselves for Saint Marcus day. Mostly. The cloaks of the men around me billowed in the morning air as they made almost soundless footsteps toward the four-story building that held the Volturi. What was their decision? If death awaited me behind the double doors I wanted to be thinking about my Bella. "No cheating. I could not hear it in their thoughts. My steps were quick as we moved down the street. I had to make sure the Aro understood that my family had nothing to do with it. Their long dark shadows from the street lamps rippled over the ground. Some vendors were back for the day. She'd see it all. It was inevitable. though they were lurking in every corner. She was all I wanted in my head when things ended. All of their intrigue and love spilled from the thoughts of the vampires. As time ticked on another guard member came into the museum. More time elapsed than I previously realized.

I scowled at the ground. The memory was eating me from the inside. We'd make sure you had a proper meal and we'd work on striving to extend your gifts beyond what they are now. let me think about that. besides Carlisle. "We have a proposition for you. Jane stared at me with a murderous gaze. where Bella was still alive and well. listen to me. I should have never of left… "Edward!" Aro exclaimed cheerfully as the doors opened. Years of controlling my face came to my rescue as I stood there quit still as the impact of these words hit me. There just weren't enough memories to last me. Not many of our kind want to commit suicide. an expression of great distaste on his face. You're talents would be very useful. They were dark colors and represented something great in their minds. Or you could continue your diet. None." I replied with much sarcasm. Frustration and bitter disappointment welled up inside me as I drew in a deep shuddering breath and sighed heavily. I have never had someone ask me what you have requested. It was either an emphatic verbal exit or slapping Jane across the face for effect. but my answer is no. Aro. Either way. "But. His face slackened like air was being let out of his head before he gained his composure." I said in a mock thoughtful voice. We would like you to join our guard. I desperately wished to be back in my head. Rage boiled to the surface. my face would be soaked with them. please accept a place here with us." he gestured to the vampires with their long cloaks on. hoping my words would make him change his mind. Master –" Aro put a hand up to stop her. We could offer you things beyond your life. Caius made a disgusted sound and Aro silenced him by raising a hand in the air." "Well. now. the whole idea is repugnant. I was hoping we could change your mind by offering you a place with us. he thought with revulsion." Immediately I picked the thoughts out of Marcus' head. What everyone in the room didn't know was that I had won. If tears would have come. He tried and failed numerous times before accepting who he was. How anyone would want to live in this castle and be your slave and call you their master is beyond me. Surely animal blood is diminishing your gift. The decision was no. Each of them was proud and several of them shot me covetous glances. A reckless daring seized me. "Let's hear it. to have someone as special as Bella. She accepted gratefully and smiled her special smile my direction. "Sorry. "Honestly. As a matter-of-fact I think the whole idea of being your . I choose the first.I reached under the table to grab Bella's hand that was in her lap. really…well. "Hum. I have to admit. All I came here for was death and he offers me life as a… Before you speak.

Felix. Edward. They were upset that I was asked to join or staring at me in disbelief that I refused – even worse – that I was antagonistic toward the Volturi. "That's enough. don't you see? He wants us to kill him. "Not yet. "It amazes me that you are able to keep all these guardsmen here. Jane continued to glare at me venomously. you have Chelsea for that!" I snapped." It was a promise. holding them at my lower back. "He's playing us. "We should kill him now for being disrespectful. He was literally incandescent with rage. about to burn me under her torturous gaze.private radio is ghastly. "But I know what you are thinking. She loved her master dearly. Jane was about to break into a storm of protests but Aro cut her off. Edward. Edward. He knew my beliefs. the only reason you care for the Volturi is because someone formed the bond for you. A whole new vista of thoughts opened up at my words. Demetri came up behind me and grabbed my arms. He didn't believe I would do anything that would merit them killing me." roared Aro. his voice might have rivaled a freezer. my dear. I thought while looking him full in the face. All facades and pretenses disappeared. I knew this was a bad idea. To kill him would be wasteful. I steamrollered on. Marcus took no interest in anything that was going on. Oh wait. That didn't matter. "to know that the only reason you are here. Each thought that I plucked from their minds only held contempt for me. The wives of the Volturi stayed silently behind the guard. but I see through it." she said with a sense of jittery anticipation. squeezed my windpipe enough that I couldn't speak anymore and my next retort was quickly lost." See sense. waiting for orders." I laughed humorlessly." I spit each word. "If he goes through with his plans you will have your fun. He didn't flinch under my words though as he continuously sat on his 'throne' like an ancient sentinel." Aro grabbed her shoulder. I implore you to see reason – please – join us and forget this nonsense. There was a hum in the air of the recent shock at my words. Clever. hair disheveled and face contorted with rage. though his thoughts were doubtful. It's practically against your will and you don't even know it. I could have picked it straight out of her convoluted mind. Kill me now. to all the vampires who could easily tear me apart but refused because of stupid orders. Caius thought cynically and slightly angry. Jane was on her way to finish the job without waiting for commands. Felix ran over to me and slammed me to the ground by my throat. He still might see reason. There was a murmur of general agreement. "How does it feel. I got to my feet as my eyes roamed around the room." I added defiantly through gritted teeth as Felix held me there. . I thought it might be that way." his lips turned down. His mind was on other things as he sat so still you'd think he was carved from ice. She moved toward me. The proudest ones showed the expression of loathing on their face. I know what you have planned. unable to hide their disgust.

really. it shouldn't be so complicated! I hurtled down the stairs and shot through the front door like a rocket." Aro commanded once I was outside. More than any of us understood. and in all honesty. coping. I had nothing left. Only one life should be lost today and that should be mine. absolutely livid. innocents. Did she feel pain when she jumped off the cliff? Did it burn her lungs when she choked to death on the water? God! I was such a horrible monster." I turned on my heel and marched out of the room. No one could possibly understand the resentment I felt against myself for letting Bella's life come to a brutal ending. All I wanted was death. It was time to meet my end. "Of course. "Felix? Demetri? Keep an eye on him while he's in the city. Ideas soared in my head and I gave the Volturi nothing but a blank stare. I desperately hoped my family had stayed away. Today would be perfect with the massive crowds. They would fight against me and against the Volturi. "She loved you more than you realized. That would get everyone's attention. To me. Why didn't I listen? Why did I have to be so stubborn? Rosalie's words haunted me. instead I only felt my deep sadness. moving on. Then. The shadow was long over the dusty stones of the city." How could I have been so stupid? Alice had showed me her pain through her visions when I first left Forks. Everything was. I knew that I would have to do something outlandish where they would have to kill me immediately to prevent the onlookers from seeing what the Volturi desperately wanted to keep secret. I was at the end of my emotional endurance. Really – what kind of life was it. Save Me My back was to the west side of a tall building housing a meat market with small apartments overhead. anyway? 21. he didn't know how badly I wished for death. Many of them were draped with red and sporting costumes of the vampire persuasion. It was time to make plans. I expected it. The streets began filling with pedestrians. it was all meaningless. A truck drove down a small alley way to drop off supplies for the events of Saint Marcus day. Idiot! Idiot! Idiot! I chanted to myself. If Aro thought I would be against doing something against my families beliefs. there was a . I contemplated throwing it over the building. "May I go now?" I raised an eyebrow. she would have lasted longer in my care. I was constantly telling myself that she couldn't afford for me to come back.In that moment. Normally this would have made me laugh. but I thought after all those months she would be fine.

Each thought was utterly meaningless. the man purred in his head. How to get her to follow me… he contemplated. The phrase two birds with one stone came to mind. I made my way across the square where people were converging. trying to find someone to kill. bringing a lion to fight with in the square or bringing a deer to the square and ravaging it… The thoughts were endless. She'd look pretty good naked on my bed. anticipating my next move. I'd do the same now. though I continued to search for the one person who would meet their fate along with me.sudden rush of thoughts. She was completely oblivious to the danger that this man possessed. The Volturi were strictly against all hunting in their city and they don't give warnings for those who break that rule. They were waiting. One last meal… one last selfish act. The thoughts of Felix and Demetri weren't far from my stalking moves. She had been setting up her small market space for the tourists that were rapidly filling the city. I was going to hunt. The last thing I wanted was to see the rough stone passageway and those stupid flaming torches that lead to the Volturi. A dark shadowy passageway could be seen from where I was leaning. As the images swam in his head I couldn't take it anymore. I just hoped that she forgave me before ending her life. I hunted men who were evil. a selfish creature. hadn't I? The what if's spun around in my head again. Because that is what I am. They were all meaningless in this world. They burn them. It was his lucky day. knowing no matter what I did at this moment in time. The world would be much better without predators like me and him. As I stalked the shadows I was picking up on his hideous thoughts. Stefan. I knew what I had to do. Racing through the crowds at vampire speed. He was going to die. they were the perfect audience along with all of my other emotions. In those years that I was away from Carlisle. but it was worse now. I'd never be able to repair her death. He wanted to do some brutal things to this woman. My mind went out toward the man standing there smoking a clove cigarette after I had been searching for an hour. I'd proven that. He was staring out toward a woman who was tall and beautiful. Even though I didn't deserve it. He dropped his clove cigarette to the ground and stomped on it to put out the fire before walking calmly toward the woman. I'd make all of them go away with just one bite. That's what I wanted. punching my fist through the wall. She was always so forgiving. It made me sick. My mind jumped from thought to thought. The thought burned like a fiery liquid through my veins. All of those things could have some strange explanation and I knew that Aro would do everything to keep me as his radio so he could tune into whichever mind he wished from a distance. Good. I finally picked his name from his convoluted mind. . I speculated briefly as I moved toward the man if Bella had hated me in her last moments before she jumped. Keeping to the shadows.

" Why I thought of this while I was holding the man against the rough stone wall I didn't know but it hit me hard and I loosened my grip." And then my smile vanished with the momentary humor. myself." I felt ashamed. . positive that she would deny it. His head snapped up to see my face. I turned around and went down a shadowy passage way.Stefan walked into the sunlight to speak to the woman. the one he was previously lurking in. I knew any moment now that I'd be several feet deep if I didn't move from my perch. "Stefan?" I called out from the shadows. What would Bella think about me now? "I trust you. When I stopped I turned around so quickly that the man recoiled. The snowflakes had become large and were increasing in rate. Still. I stood only feet away." "That would be bad?" The mental picture was too much—Bella. He was clever in his words and soon she was eating out of the palm of his hand. "I apologize for scaring you. His jaw twitched and his thoughts became angry. what you're thinking?" His eyes narrowed. Go away. so vulnerable in the empty darkness." she said. "It was just the very thought of you being there…while we hunted. ready to make my move." I tried not to smile. memories came crashing down on me. "Well. mostly I was wondering about your reaction. He excused himself from the woman for a moment and marched to where I was at in the shadows. "No. out of control… I tried to banish it from my head. and failed." I reiterated his thoughts. "Extremely. "And you still want to know why you can't see me hunt?" I asked. I was being gentle. Another memory flashed in my head. Instantly. "I wouldn't do that if I were you…you know. "I'm not going away. he thought angrily. "Did I frighten you?" I asked. He was too slow and soon I had his neck in my grasp and his head hit the wall hard.

Again. I knew I couldn't let him go. She only hesitated for a second. After explaining about who he was. My eyes closed and I saw her chestnut brown hair. in my memories while I waited for the grand plan. Finally giving into what I was.Alaska. Felix was highly disappointed that I didn't take the man's life. I yanked the man from the shadows and brought him to the nearest human guard. One that wouldn't scare Bella. slinking from shadow to shadow. but because she was anxious of what my reaction would be. She returned my smile immediately. stepped closer to me. I wasn't that person anymore. didn't I? Alice would see it all. He really wanted to kill me. from the things I pulled from his mind. I was a monster and nothing would ever change that. I owed my family that much. with deliberate slowness. I'd contemplated for days about leaving this place and never returning. Hidden from view. I promised myself. A tall clock tower could be seen several blocks away as a chime rang out into the square. and I could instantly tell it wasn't because she had an aversion to me. and then. the Volturi guard never far from my back. The man stared back at me with eyes that had dilated in terror. I moved in that moment. I left that night for four years. but I also knew that I couldn't leave this world like this. . I would decide the time of my oblivion. As I stepped into the sunlight my skin instantly absorbed the rays and emitted them back out in a band of colors. mysterious eyes and the perfect red of her lips. her deep. I felt sorry. I let myself get lost in my thoughts. a smile slowly spread across my face. noting that it was eleven. the one that would get the most reaction. but it smelled so rich and I craved it daily. Felix and Demetri were still following me. And that was when my most brilliant plan came to me. Ever since Carlisle turned Esme we had been living in this place. All I could hope for at this moment would be a quick death. I'd never tasted human blood before. Or. but there were no humans. the wildlife was plentiful. It would be my last good deed. Not me. I stalked the streets like a cat. Just like Bella. What would this revelation do to her resolve? Her mouth slightly parted and I could smell her sweet breath on the light breeze. as I'd like to call it. He had some kind of super control. they immediately arrested him due to previous unsolved crimes. I could see my reflection in her deep chocolate eyes and in that moment I became a statue of uneasiness. Sure. but not from my mind. She was who I wanted to be thinking about in my final moments on this earth. The clock tower cast a long shadow across the grounds that were slowly becoming smaller as the sun inched its way across the light blue and cloudless sky. He'd get his chance. Not with more shame. hell. Carlisle was just holding me back from the inevitable.

" I was grief-stricken instantaneously. Sorry for leaving her. It was all meaningless… An echoing chime boomed through the air and many people recoiled from the sound. I was ready to meet my fate. "I was wishing that I could believe that you were real. All I did was make them worse. The square had flooded with people. her bottom lip being slowly chewed on. I remembered how powerless it made me feel. So limited. If I could meet Bella in death. Bella's eyes bore into mine. Once before. And I was wishing that I wasn't afraid. the light had kept me from following Bella to save her. It was her nervous sign. looking at our hands again. I willed my mind to hear her thoughts in that moment… even a single sound would quench my ever dying thirst for her knowing mind. As the minutes ticked on by. vampire teeth and their flags all rejoicing the peace in the city. I was the one who was sorry. Her sweet face never left my view as the clock began its descent to my fate." she whispered." I whispered aloud. for thinking that I was making things better. ." "I'm… sorry… Edward. another minute passed." she whimpered. we'd have our eternity together after all. red robes. "I don't want you to leave. Not this time." I pleaded. And welcomed. I hoped and prayed that Carlisle was right about heaven. How do I make her understand how sorry I am? "Would you understand what I meant if I said I was only human?" If only… This was the best way to go." I spoke the words that were undeniable."Tell me what you're thinking. "I don't want you to be afraid. "I can't live without you. to show the world how beautiful a true killer can be. The clocks hands readjusted again. I wasn't nervous. my memory as my companion. "This is the only way. Her voice accelerated then. some covering their ears. The sound was crystal clear in my mind. The thoughts around me all came together as one big Italian splash.

The Volturi will just have to take me out. He'd turn to see once I enter the light. Another booming chime bounced through the square and I noticed a little girl pointing my direction. listening to the heavenly voice calling my name. tranquil. . the booming chime echoing through the square. I had accepted my fate and here Bella was to greet me. even though she tugged at his pants over and over. I thought devotedly. shook me deep in my core.I will touch the sun or die trying. My eyes traced the contrasting line between light and shadow and I remembered a time when that simple fact kept me from finding Bella in the small city of Port Angeles. and now I would greet it with an untamed. My subconscious giving me what I needed in my final moments. this one I would not feel ashamed of. My shirt wavered in the breeze filled air until it dropped lifelessly to the ground. wild pleasure. Her father didn't pay attention. opening my palms face up in prayer – to whichever god would be listening – before I let it all go. "Edward. I mused. I wouldn't be powerless anymore. a semblance of my impending doom. and her long brown hair. I held it between two fingers as my arm went limply at my side. Maybe things weren't so meaningless after all. Sparkle. as would the rest of the crowed before me. I thought. the angelic sound had returned. shine – they'd see it all. Everything was meaningless. louder this time. I unbuttoned my shirt and yanked it free of my body. Of all of my plans. Bella. my sweet. In two seconds I would cross the line from life to death. Alice was the only one I felt sorry for now. porcelain cheeks. It was familiar. A hallucination. Through the thoughts and the steady hum of the crowed there was a whimsical voice – beautiful. Each second the clocked chimed above my head I knew I was getting closer to the angel. and now they wouldn't have to worry about the belligerent old man they had to keep company. Again. I stepped closer to the golden glow of the sun. There was nothing left in me. The booming chime from above vibrated in the souls of my feet. The end had come. Slowly. She'd be a witness to my death no matter where she was at. they had each other. Death was what I came here for. It was meaningless. letting the light shine only inches from my feet. no!" I heard in the distance. It would immediately knock that smug look off of Aro's face. My face was serene. They would survive this. I couldn't even manage a smile. I'd show them all the skin of a true killer. picturing her heart shaped face. "Edward!" I closed my eyes. Forgive me. calmly. Was she calling me from the heavens? I'm coming. after all. My thoughts ventured to my family. The clock tolled again. I was always the odd man out. I took a step. frantic – screaming my name.

real. She was tangible. Her very real. It was so strange—I could still hear the clock descending to my fate. It was heaven. she was in my arms…here to save me. "Carlisle was right. the scene had not changed. I didn't feel a thing—they're very good. still shocked at the celestial being in my arms. it spelled out the same thing: Bella. Was this some sort of reward for all of my suffering? "I can't believe how quick it was. "You've got to get back into the shadows. And then. I pressed my nose into her hair. You have to move!" There were no shadows. strawberry scented hair." Bella choked. This was not my imagination. . I took another step toward the light. her hair. reveling in the scent. Heaven.It wouldn't stop me this time. Her breath was quick. The echoing chime rang in my ears. I closed my eyes just in case it was all an illusion. It was in that second that I knew I was finally in heaven. She was still there—her warmth seeping into my skin. She was trying to save me. her voice. I'd gladly take that step into the light just to end it all. How I achieved that. "Amazing. It was undeniable." I whispered into her hair. "No! Edward. No matter the inflection." I mused. hysterical voice. my lips automatically kissing her hair. Deliberately." He really was… A giddy excitement radiated through my body. When I opened my eyes. Yet here she was. and her chest was heaving gasping breaths. her smell. She was real. Everything was the same. but the sound had a different meaning this time. Her soft skin against mine…the warmth of her touch. I'd never know. seductive scent of her blood. She was here. Though I could barely tear myself away from the angel. My lips twitched up slightly at the thought as I began to take my final step into the sun. 22. her pounding pulse against my skin. I was in heaven. look at me!" I heard in that same musical. in my arms. Heaven. I opened my eyes with cautiousness. I was mystified. after all. I'd lived for so long and now I'd have my peace just as Bella. This whole time I thought we'd never be together again. protect me instead of herself. Her last selfless act to my selfish one. I had to check…I had to look to see if what I was feeling were true. My hands grasped her warm body immediately as I took in the sweet. My eyes found what my body could feel. Reunion TEASER "Edward. This was real. not with the light I felt radiating out of me.

I'll take it. all my problems—gone. the train. "You smell just exactly the same as always. Portland." I took in another breath. And neither are you! Please Edward."Death. Not dead…. Reunion II "He's stepping closer to the light. Vegas. In death. that hath sucked the honey of thy breath. This was living. "So maybe this is hell. The crowed was gone. Bam. hath had no power yet upon thy beauty. My eyes shot down to her deep depths. The sun. The feelings were so foreign. "What was that?" I asked her to repeat. her most beautiful. Volterra…. Was this the loop hole I was looking for? Death? Was this the answer? Everything disappeared except us. and so wonderful. South America. They can't be far away!" She twitched in my arms." "I'm not dead. Her scent. All thoughts were gone. real life set in." The statement was more true for Bella than it would ever be for Juliet. The final chime bellowed out of the clock before it became silent. the ocean. Bam. we have to move. There was no more pain or fire or heartache. Texas. elated. Bam. The moment was over too fast. the vibration still shuddering beneath my feet. One by one everything came hurtling back to reality. I felt buoyant. the army coven. the end. New Mexico. Boom! The last seven months: the birthday party. A rush of thoughts bombarded my mind. Aro will be pleased. . They're coming…." I could hear in the distance. delicious scent swirled through the windy air and spiraled down my windpipe. This wasn't heaven. Alaska. I don't care. the clock tower. Bella's death. The one thing that wasn't gone was her. Aberdeen. In the haze of everything. she was more divine and unearthly than ever before. Everything came crashing back to earth. though I heard the words with perfect clarity: They can't be far away. 22.

"I don't think I'll be requiring your services today. Felix and Demetri stepped from the deepest of shadows to show their faces."It's time. her eyes frantic with panic. neither were their footsteps. Her heart beat profoundly in her chest as I placed myself in front of her. And though I wanted to just grab her and run. I'd caused enough damage. She was the same. I pulled her from the light she deserved to live in and placed her against a wall. their long cloaks whispering across the stone ground. Her scent swirled around me. Now we were in danger. And even in those moments of terror for my love. In the distance I knew that an older woman's thoughts were worried about my defensive position. I would appreciate it very much. Something deep inside me awoke and the monster emerged." "Like the girl?" a calculating voice queried. Felix noted dryly. "Greetings. lined with shadows. it was the same. Reminding myself to be gentle. she would have seen this coming. Is he hunting? I looked down at Bella. "We have to be sure. Of course." Demetri's scent was not far off. This is all your fault … "We're not dead. her pulse throbbed profusely and her thoughts were still a mystery. Bella's warm skin against mine … it all made sense now. however. Aro said only if he broke the rules. The guards would have to go through me before they ever lay a finger on Bella. The light had become my prison again. This won't be the end. I was wrong. if you would send my thanks to your masters. my arms spreading out to protect her – her vampire shield." "He also said we must prevent there from being any witnesses. gentlemen. I was so hoping he would just leave this place for good – quit his brooding." ." I said calmly. I tensed for action and the two in the alley only took in the scene with curiosity. She's alive … In the darkness of the alley were Felix and Demetri. angrier than ever. I stalled. I had been mistaken. Everything seemed to snap into place in that single second. She'd come here to save me! Alice. The Volturi were already here. She knew we were in danger—she was warning me. Just another mess we have to clean up. not yet! But we have to get out of here before the Volturi–" I didn't let her finish her sentence. hoping human interaction would protect Bella. The thoughts. It has been too long since we have had a good fight. I knew I couldn't.

I could take them both down. Demetri smirked. even if we have to force you. "Let us seek better cover. We will have our way. She would know to run with Bella – to keep her safe. he licked his lips." Demetri said. Edward. "Shall we take this conversation to a more appropriate venue?" … I'm sure Aro wouldn't mind me taking care of you – our little nuisance. . I addressed Bella. I'm sure we'll find something to do with her. Edward. his voice smooth. Automatically. In Demetri's mind. right now." came a soft whisper from behind me. "I know your instructions. If you insist. And now they don't have to. right? He grinned maliciously. Demetri eyed the delicate girl behind my back with interest. "I don't think so. Bella? She's alive … We are no fools." I said sardonically. I could also tell that they were not as good at protecting their thoughts from me. In that second. "No." I replied in a low and deadly voice. "Felix merely meant to point out the proximity of the sun. "Bella. "I don't believe that will be necessary. Their thoughts were not so easily hidden from me. The human is not dead after all … interesting. I hated how easily they became accustomed to speaking to me through their minds. but more so as a pawn for the Volturi's plans than for substance—though that wasn't completely out of the question. He also had plans for her. Felix! As wind whipped through the small alley. Edward. I haven't broken any rules. I hope you aren't planning on hunting here … Felix had a ghost of a smirk on his face.Tsk tsk. You should know better." Yet. Felix. their cloaks billowed like capes. bring the girl." Felix said menacingly. But I'm sure you'll be able to explain the girl."… Aro will be pleased to see you again. he was picturing his reward – Bella." The tone of my voice resonated the many years of my life. why don't you go back to the square and enjoy the festival?" I knew Alice had to be out there somewhere. Already. I'd fight—right here. "I'll be right behind you. my body tensed for action. So impatient. and my strength. Felix added in his head. They were not completely unexposed to the sun. I refused to let either of them live out their plans. Without turning around. He was hoping things would not have an unfortunate end. "No. I knew I had made a mistake.

communicating silently." Demetri cautioned. seeing Felix's weight change to a threatening stance. Or maybe I'll just watch Felix have his fun."Shh. "Then I'm afraid that I'll be unable to accept Aro's invitation. Aro will have our heads. "I'm sure he'll survive the letdown. Demetri. I refused to move." … and the girl will be excellent leverage." I allowed. "Aro would simply like to speak with you again. All I wanted was to give her reassurances. this should be easy. She probably already knew how much danger we were in. A red haze ran across my vision and for a few short seconds I thought I would pounce. she was always able to see right through my pretenses. Don't think I won't kill the girl." I said smoothly. grabbing at my back with her warm fingers. "Not here." Demetri emphasized. If we fight. "Certainly. Again. The light she deserved to live in—the light I was once again taking away. Demetri turned back to me. yet the same as they came closer to Bella and I. I wasn't so lucky. I could have kissed her. They moved closer and attention was now on the spectacle we were creating. Aro will be intrigued at this turn of events. I'd like a challenge for once." Demetri sighed." I countered. trying to push us down the alley way. Of course. Back off some. but let it go. Her heart had not slowed. though I could hear the plan in their minds. Edward." "I'm afraid that's not possible. Have it your way. We do have rules to obey. the light prevented me from keeping Bella safe. a flicker of longing on his face. Join us Edward or watch her die. "Aro will be disappointed. perfectly protecting their skin from the sun. It was Alice. but I had to remember the angel behind me. Light hit their cloaks. letting her know I wasn't going to let anything happen to her. Two against one. "That's just fine. . I heard a single thought. As the danger approached." Felix sneered. They moved apart. it was a command. and I was unable. Felix stared at me. '"But the girl goes free. if you have decided not to force our hand after all." It wasn't a plea." I tried to make the sound soothing. My head snapped toward the shadows of the alley. Felix narrowed his eyes. Felix and Demetri looked at each other for a second. It's not wise to aggravate them. "Felix.

Don't think I won't be capable of finding you if you get away. his lips moving quickly. once intent on the scene shifted away when she noticed Demetri's gaze. and only one put Bella in the center of that crowd – in the light. If this is the psychic Aro had told us about … his smooth expression faltered. straightening from the crouch he was moving into. shooting a look over Demetri's shoulder. "We're not alone. his face twisting into an unpleasant one." I concurred." In my head. "Please. shall we?" Alice advised. I wanted to scream for them to come down this alley. Six guards in red were now all anxiously watching the scene unfold before them. silently bursting with unpleasant retorts. If you would have just gone back to Forks … She didn't need to remind me. the conversation was clear – something is going on over there. The future is still not clear. "And we'll leave quietly now. Not far off was a small family. The future flickered uselessly in her mind as the many outcomes seemed to all end disastrously. "There are ladies present. Like she didn't already know. "Let's behave ourselves. but he kept his face unreadable. We are not being inconspicuous." Alice admonished. dressed for the occasion of Saint Marcus day. Maybe we should get help.Felix and Demetri saw my movement and at the same time they heard the light footsteps approaching. She sifted through them." She practically skipped to my side. We both watched as Demetri tore his eyes off of Alice and moved over his shoulder. let's be reasonable. Edward. and now Bella would have to pay the price unless I found a way out of this situation. . I already knew leaving was the biggest mistake of my life. For a moment they thought it was help. Edward. Who…? Demetri froze in midstride toward me." "Let's. She's on Edwards's side … Felix's thoughts were a hum of anger. and then they realized they had no idea who it was. Demetri grumbled in his head. I see Bella got to you in time. We aren't out of danger yet. and then his eyes seized mine. We all watched as the husband walked toward one of the guards in red and point in our direction. Aro will not be pleased. Though the older woman was whispering in her husband's ear. but knew it was another immortal. Felix frowned deeply. Stupid intruding humans! Demetri shook his head back and forth before pleading. Her gaze. I picture snatching Bella up and running for it. with no one the wiser.

as did Demetri and Felix. If we don't go with her. Try me. Jane appeared before us and she looked between the five of us. the guards watched us and seemed to breathe a sigh of relief at the change in our stances. I don't have the patience. wondering if I could jump with Bella on my back." I sighed in defeat. … Aro will have my head for this. I knew we were at a loss. "Jane. Felix grinned triumphantly at her voice in the distance. None of it will work. over and over. though keeping her stance impassive." I wanted to cuss. I wasn't expecting this. Edward. "At least let us discuss this more privately. I only stared into Jane's deep." she ordered as she saw the look of determination on my face. Edward. angry. "No. I bit back a scream of frustration." I growled. or maybe I could get past the vampires before things turned for the worse. When they stepped back into the shadows. Well. folding her arms. She's going to take us to the Volturi. We'll have to be convincing. "Can't you boys do anything right?" an agile voice spoke from afar. This could have been painless. but no matter how many different ideas came across my head. Demetri hated being thwarted.The guards can't help us now … Alice grumbled mentally. There are just too many ways the future could go. she smirked. Though she continued to search for the outcome. but there is still hope. there were too many decisions that hadn't been made. today. so did the future. Her mind was frantically moving from one scene to the next. I looked up at the building. crimson eyes." Let's not cause a scene. "Aro was right— Edward is a handful. Demetri thought towards me. but I hated it more. We have company. . things will end catastrophically. only one would safely remove Bella from this scene. Ideas ran through my head. I didn't look his direction. My eyes flickered toward Alice who had a frown on her face. but in victory. Demetri will track you and Felix will have a snack. What have we here? "Enough. It will be up to them at what to do with us. Alice stopped me in my tracks. Bella gripped the back of my bare skin and I relaxed in defeat. Don't test me. and so did Alice. If you would have just come with us peacefully … All the muscles in my body tensed. As I changed my mind. Alice looked over at Jane.

though the possibility of hell was still not out of the question. Felix smirked and then indicated we should go ahead of him. I could tell she was frightened and as I finally got a good look at her—I could see the first signs of damage I had caused. Bella shook in my grip. I noticed how thin she had become. It's okay. You better not cause trouble. Alice thought as she turned to follow Jane. the panic obvious in the lines of her porcelainskinned face. You had to know she was alive. If you try to run. I wasn't going anywhere. because she was here. and though she was trying to explain away her guilt. and Bella wanted to come here … She still loves you. She felt guilty. if she would allow my presence in her life at all. It sounded innocent—but it was far from it. As I did this I noticed that she wasn't exactly the same. You have to forgive me. Demetri looked behind me at Bella. with me. Again. beautiful girl I thought was dead. but my eyes didn't see anything. Her cheek bones stood out more than they should. I didn't care. Alice prattled on. Though many voices echoed in my head. possibly desperate. The alley grew narrower as we continued down the lane. and I was sure my skin didn't help the matter. It didn't matter if she did or not. It was my mistake in the first place. I'll kill her first. It couldn't be a dream because I didn't sleep. Immediately. Edward." Jane commanded in her child-like tone. I'll keep an eye on Bella. and floated into the shadowy alleyway. Her cloak whipped around as she turned on her heel. I needed her in order to retain any form of my . Leave Bella back here with me. I made a mental note to make sure that she ate more food. I was being selfish because I wouldn't let go. The same. 23. She was smaller than before. Sweet torture. I reached around and brought my arm around her waist. Again. But she wasn't. She's not very patient. Edward. I am a monster. it would have killed Bella if you didn't survive. It was obvious she was my life."Follow me. Paradox I wouldn't have done it if it weren't for the fact that you wouldn't have listened to me. Don't worry. Bella's eyes darted toward my face. it was still there. and my mind didn't listen to anything except for the frantic heartbeat of the frail girl in my arms. Alice's was the most frantic. and refuse to return to the desolate land of Bellaless Edward. Alice stared at me sideways. I'd felt the torture of her absence for months now.

" Alice said aloud. I wasn't interested in her remorse because I wasn't upset. The image was perfect in her mind. Nosey vampire. With all the emotions running through my body.humanity. Alice. and then her mind began its frantic tale. How did it get to this point? "What happened?" I wondered. Well. My arm tightened automatically around Bella's waist. no horrible ache. I had too many thoughts myself. I'd make sure that the Volturi knew that my family had nothing to do with Bella. at least for the time being. Demetri thought from behind me. pulling me from my musings. that was the only explanation I could come up with for her disappearing like that. No empty hole. Below was water. the darkness all consuming … and then she was gone from view. though her voice was soft and conversational. "It was my mistake. That's what I'd like to know. sweet. being in the hands of the Volturi. We had become very good at pretenses. even though Aro had read my thoughts. I was elated. Alice continued. "Well. those lips. and I relished it because I could feel my heart again. I had to go back. The depravity of even speculating on becoming her vampire stalker again doesn't seem to faze me like it once had. Imaging my life without them … I knew now wasn't the most appropriate time to think these thoughts but I just couldn't stop. and our fate. "It was my job to set it right. She was okay. I just had to. I knew I would be too late. Bella's lips—oh. I'd make them believe … somehow. and her fate. that was why I had tried to hurry the process along. at first. Then suddenly she disappeared from my vision completely—I thought she had died. I couldn't let it go." That was an understatement. I saw her jump off a cliff in one of my visions. did I miss those soft. not even a hint of fog—clear as air. I waited and waited for her to resurface. It was best if we kept everything we could from the Volturi. I just hope we make it out of here alive. You always said Forks was off limits until Bella was gone. she was. The damsel in distress rescued her hero—that was what I wanted to know about. breathy words though. My heart clenched uncomfortably. But for some reason. being angry with Alice was low on the totem pole. but she didn't. "It's a long story. I never thought I could be . I love you too much for you to kill yourself. I knew she would see my plan. High-def had nothing on Alice's memories of her vision. how I missed you so—parted like she was going to ask me something and I shook my head in hopes that she would stay quiet. or so I thought." I had to. I knew it. You know I always had a soft spot for that human. He was probably freaking out about the repercussions of Bella's knowledge. like the light turning off. interrupting her flow of thoughts that I hadn't been paying any attention to. Poof. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to see you here. I wondered if Jasper knew that Bella was here with Alice." I said. I wanted to help Charlie. but then the waves crashed over her and she got sucked under. Boy." she reminded me. and I knew she was at some beach in Washington. Her guilt was heavy on her mind.

Jane hadn't slowed as she took a step gracefully into the sewer hole. but I left her in the hands of werewolves. the same ones that you and the others used to talk about. Pick up the pace or I'll have myself a snack. The werewolves killed Laurent. I felt sick.surprised. Not only did I hurt Bella emotionally. I had to swallow the growl that threatened to erupt from my chest. the ones from La Push. I was a tyrant for trying to make choices for Bella. Drop her down here. That was Jane. Edward. but I composed myself as quickly as possible. but even though by throat was engulfed in flames. adding more to the story. you idiot." I was sure my eyes had turned to slits as I took in all the information and turned toward Bella who had turned a lovely shade of pink. Alice thought from below. She was alive. She didn't stop her lithe strides as she took one last final step in the alley way and then vanished beneath the ground. I was sure for a moment my face went slack. We'd come to a grate in the ground. which it did so often … whether I was in her life or not. did you? She managed to ask that mental question with a snarky tone—she already knew the answer. at least then I could have protected her when danger came her way. Each second I felt like a bigger ass. I basked in it. I know you thought it was the right thing to do —to leave her—but it wasn't. Was there a worse word for monster? Because I am pretty sure that was me. And my vision was wrong … "In summary. My head barely moved back and forth. life giving scent of all time —the scent that meant she was alive and here with me. but worse than that. "Hm. it was still the most amazing." was the only thing I could manage to say without exploding right then. one that we would have to jump down into to access the castle. Alice told me. One would think that I enjoyed my break from that particular form of torture. infused together to form the most delicious scent. Your human is slowing me down. Alice's face twitched for a second before her eyes shot up to meet mine. There was a bad feeling creeping its way up my veins at the mention of Victoria. and Victoria. I told you it wouldn't work. I'll catch her. into the same hole Jane had entered. mixed with the blood that swirled under her skin. I'll go first. The water. Bella's all about the extreme sports these days. but suddenly Bella was there. . Edward. inside the house. but she wasn't trying to kill herself. she's been hanging out with werewolves for Pete's sake. or taken aback like I was. But Victoria has been stalking the boarders of Forks—looking for Bella. I should have trusted her choice and stayed with her. Alice continued. I was a fool and an idiot. You didn't catch Victoria. He eyes darted to Bella. Help Bella down. Alice informed me. she did jump offa cliff.

yet firmly." Alice called. "Alice will catch you. I heard the air whip round her body for a split second then heard the sound of impact as Alice caught Bella in her arms." Bella wrapped both of her soft. putting all my trust in Alice." Bella looked down at the black hole and then turn to give me an incredulous look. begging her to trust me. Bella. "I'm right here. It was pure torture—of course she didn't trust me to keep her safe. Demetri thought as air rushed out of the hole and wafted through Bella's brown locks." I whispered to her. warm arms around me as she tripped and stumbled across the uneven stone surface. Great. I didn't deserve her. selfless creature that had traveled half way around the world to save a horrid monster. but I wouldn't risk frustrating Jane and her cronies—they were thirsty and I wouldn't allow our actions to invite an early "snack time."It's all right. I knew she'd keep her safe. As the heavy grate slid back over the drain hole. Felix snapped. because I had been doing the exact opposite for months now. "Drop her. I'll toss her down there myself." Alice called back. I guided her forward at a pace that was a bit of a struggle for her. but I also would never let her go again. Bella lowered and sat with her legs dangling below. "Ready?" I asked Alice. Her thoughts told me that she was gauging the speed of Bella's fall so that her arms could absorb some of the impact. Yum. I took her wrists—trying to be as gentle as possible—and lowered her into the blackness. around her again and pulled her close to my body. Yum. Always so selfish—that was me. I dropped down just as Alice was setting Bella on her feet. If you don't hurry it up. "Alice?" Bella's voice was low and it shook. I implored with my gaze. "non-vegetarian" vampires. Bella. the light . I couldn't stop hurting this beautiful. I almost laughed at how much I had missed her little quirks. I reluctantly let go of Bella. I did the best I could Edward. reassuring. she loved her almost as much as I did. I put my arm gently. He had a gory mental picture of a mangled Bella collapsed on the ground as he sprang to bite her neck before the blood ran cold. There was the faint smell of old and dried blood that came rushing out of the hole. It had nothing on the fragrance that was emitting from the sweet human in the midst of the very. but I'm sure she'll have some bruises to show for this.

I pulled Bella closer to me. reveling in the fact that she was with me—alive and well … for the time being. throwing her arms around me. Felix. I could deny her nothing. and I refused to relinquish our contact. though. Some snippets I still heard. I'd almost call her meals on wheels. She was filling her mind with thoughts of her impending meal being delivered shortly. she smelled more wonderful than that. Pick up the pace. tracing my thumb across her warm. I pulled her even closer to me. As we continued down the path that took us deeper underground. Over my burning pile of ashes. I kissed her forehead. Heidi was coming soon with their meal. Did she want to die of frostbite? Of course. As we continued on through the tunnel. Edward. but I blocked it out. I lowered my head until my nose was surrounded by strands of her hair and inhaled her amazing floral scent. I immediately released her in hopes that my ice-cold body away from her would help her body temperature rise. No doubt. I'd once compared Bella's scent to a wine connoisseur breathing in the bouquet. "N-n-no. Jane. Felix. I would not release her hand. so I wrapped my arm back around her. Even Alice couldn't tell me what the future held. there was no comparison that could adequately describe how divine. silently. If she walked faster. we'd fight them to the death to save Bella. we can always have her as an appetizer. rubbing my hand up and down her arm. It didn't change my vision. but honestly. how delectable—snap out of it. I was suddenly pulled out of my eavesdropping by Bella's body convulsing. supple lips." she chattered. I had to reel myself back in to the present. hoping to create some heat from the friction. reminding her. she couldn't tell me anything. that I was there and would do all that I could to protect her. "Never" is what I wanted to scream at her. If you don't hurry. I'd been without her for months now. Until a decision was made. I tried to keep Bella calm by gently caressing her face. His mind continued. though she was playing every possible scenario though her head— God bless her. Bella surprised me. I took this opportunity to listen to the thoughts of Jane. I . Imagines in his mind began to show me all the dirty things he wanted to do to Bella—every single one of them ended with her dead. but I knew it would be even harder for Bella to walk over the uneven stones on the ground. I knew that Alice would back me up. always the well behaved pupil. ready to protect her if Felix gave into his desires. her intention was to make me believe that Bella would be included in that meal. but Felix didn't want to wait. let out a sigh. like how he was wondering how severely he would be punished if he gave in to his desire for a snack. and Demetri. Selfish as I was. I lifted my hand to hold Bella's beautiful face. Felix's impatience grew. though.from the street was extinguished. Although her scent had my throat burning like a fire in Hades. his impatience growing to a nearly intolerable level. Was it from fear or from the cold? I got my answer as I heard her teeth chattering. reminding myself that she was alive and that I'd been given a second chance at a life with her. breaking up the silence that had consumed the tunnel we were in. had been well trained in controlling her thoughts already.

But I only cared about one person's survival—Bella's. Demetri continued to narrow his eyes at me. There was a problem though. warm hallway. She must have found comfort in the familiarity of this room. Bella would not be subjected to the life of a monster. and the future changed to Bella escaping. I had no . on the floor. I sent her the fiercest. that would be an added bonus. I tensed. at every angle I scanned the room and new thoughts. new plans formed. Alice wanted to find it. offering as much protection as she could after seeing what Jane had planned for Bella. I pulled Bella along as Alice walked along the other side of her. but I knew it for what it was—a waiting room for sentencing. Aro—biting Bella's neck. What he saw in my thoughts intrigued him. I knew that.shoot him the dirtiest look yet. I slid through the grate. I could feel Bella's body temperature rise as we walked through the bright. I would find a way to change that possibility. I stared down the hallway where Jane waited. knowing that we were getting close to our own sentencing. one hand holding the doors open for us. writhing in pain. Jane waited by the elevator. most primitive evil glare I could muster up. running through every possible decision to attempt to find a resolution that would end with all of us returning to forks. the situation made me feel colder. pulling Bella quickly behind me. Bella relaxed immediately. followed by the snap of a lock. It felt hopeless. Impossibly. a barbarian with no self control. which appeared to be a harmless office. and human. I tensed as Alice was assaulted me with a vision that nearly sent me to my knees. Bella flinched and I scowled. I knew it would rip our family to shreds to lose Alice or myself. which made Alice's vision flicker. hoping she'd be given the command to use her gift on Bella. really bad. Not to feast from her delectable fluids. My ideas were interrupting and blinding her only form of self-protection—of the future—but if I thought of something. Idiot! Suddenly. but I couldn't allow myself to consider that. As we made our way into the next room. Her expression was apathetic. As we finally reached the end of the tunnel. and it was my fault that the Volturi know now. but to make her immortal. If Alice and I escaped. I was completely focused on ensuring that Bella got out alive. though her thoughts were vivid—Bella. He wanted her for his private collection. a stupid freakin' paradox. Alice was searching too. to our family. just as he promised. The thought was bleak. really. My teeth clamped together. hearing in Felix's thoughts that he was going to snap the door shut behind Bella—hoping to give her a scare. We stepped into a much brighter stone room as the grille slammed shut with a clang. He could see every tiny flinch of my muscle as I tensed for the first plan that Alice could see working. as I knew that she knew too much. It was a catch-22. I would not allow it. It was bad. His words sending me back to a time when James had called her a "snack" in the clearing. She had a look on her face like she wasn't sure what to say or do.

I have vampire scent on me … Aro's scent … no vampire in their right mind would cross Aro. So desperate. The longer Aro allows Gianna to remain human. "Gianna.idea if Bella would be immune to Jane's gift as she was immune to mine. Jane mentally snickered. staring at the three vampires. Jane nodded. as she stood. I'll take Bella first. Does she have a death wish? She looks half dead already. No reason to scare her anymore. . she demanded that I would not hurt myself … no matter what. Don't worry. if I do my job well today. I knew immediately when Bella spotted Gianna. we are dead. trying to find a way to protect her if Jane tried to attack her. Don't worry Edward. we'll all die. but I've never seen anyone arrive with a human clutched to their side. Maybe I'll start wandering the streets at night to find a vampire willing to change me—no. I suspected that Bella felt a bit safer. Jane. indicating their thirst. taking in all of the very normal décor." She continued toward a set of double doors in the back of the room. Alice and I started our mind-reader-vision-dance again. She told me—didn't ask. Your little friend won't fare well if I get my way. I guess there isn't much I can do. no matter how much it hurt me. As Felix passed the desk. Once inside the elevator. and we followed. as we sat in her father's house watching Romeo and Juliet. Bella was dead. Edward is back … with a human? I don't know what his business is here. That is all we have left—hope." she greeted. My mind wandered back to escape plans which were bleak now. Jane. Or maybe that was hope she was grasping on to. I scowled. allowing their hoods to fall back. Gianna smiled politely in welcome. I kept quiet. though her mind gave away her bewilderment. Or is she here to be changed? Uh. Bella was curled into me. I'll let you watch. he winked at Gianna. Felix. if she tried to hurt Bella. What would be the point of this reunion if we all died because of your stupidity? I hated when she was right. Aro will reward me with two snacks. I hoped that she didn't notice that their eyes were turning black. I wanted to say. whether immortal or not. There was no reason for her to be even more terrified than she already was. Oh. sweetheart. Every time. As we stepped out of the elevator into the posh reception area. Edward no! If you attack. "We all are. Perhaps. seeing instantly what I had planned to do. Bella gaped slightly. Edward. I want to have a clear palate when I taste her divine juices. I kept my eyes on Jane. and Demetri relaxed. of course. if they change her and keep me human. because she stopped breathing and stood almost as still as a vampire. but my mind was racing. My conscious scolded myself for not listening to Bella's words so many months ago. There was no surprise in her face as she glanced at us. that one … to be my meal. Alice mentally screamed at me. I'm going to … well. the more delectable she becomes. knowing that she was not the only human in the large castle. listening to every thought that passed through her mind." Instead. and she giggled. ready to attack. probably stunned by fear. "Good afternoon.

and I was on the ground. Alec waited for us." "Alec. Alec. was the screwed-upI'm-about-to-die-look that Bella was currently wearing and my heart literally felt like it had been ripped in a new way. looking at me. her look. Jane laughed. strawberries and hot. Oh. recovering from Jane's "gift. "Bella. If I weren't a vampire. Felix had a smirk playing on his lips. my. and embraced his twin sister. her hot blood. as her vision changed abruptly. Jane placed a small hand on Alec's forearm and whispered. shell of the girl I loved." Alec greeted." he called out. though. I stiffened at the images in his mind." Perhaps you have decided to join us." I said dryly. arms outstretched." she responded. "Dibs. floral. and you prove it. Oh no. My arm tightened again and I glared at him with a thousand daggars. you wish to feed upon this girl? Do share … "Marginally. Who might this be? Her scent is so tasty. Alice actually had to place a hand on my back to stop my impending collision with Jane. My. He smiled brightly as he stepped forward. It took everything in me not to show the anger that was boiling and spilling over inside me. and his eyes shot toward Bella to study her more closely. so hard to resist when their hearts pound so quickly. I'd say it would cause one vertigo. Hum. "Nice work. Edward. Alice's vision shifted suddenly and I saw some of the future—the horrible future. "Jane. My muscles relaxed immediately under Alice's touch and her vision shifted yet again. picking up on every last detail of her smell.On the other side of the wooden doors. "And this is the cause of all the trouble?" he scoffed. There was no "look" on Bella's face in this future—just a lifeless." She'll be more than a half once I add in my fun and games. who might this human be? "Welcome back. Unbelievable. They kissed each other's cheeks on both sides. ." Alec chuckled. Then he looked at us. pulsing blood. "You seem in a better mood. her neck at an odd angle. the sound perfect and flawless and evil." Worst of all. "They send you out for one and you come back with two… and a half." Alec noted. My lips twitched up into a menacing smile. like they were about to break it. back to random pictures. Alice was being held down. I didn't like his eyes raping her like they were.

" You know how he doesn't like to wait . The image of Bella in his grasp . shouting through her mind. . the blood draining from her body . . "Patience. This turn of events should leave us with a warm meal. telling me to come after him. "Let's not keep him waiting. . I almost didn't stop. It's so dull when they restrain themselves. but it was what I needed to keep my head on straight. The image in her mind was not . "Aro will be so pleased to see you again. the image nearly sent me over the edge. Good boy. Her thoughts were not as calm. If he thought for a second that he could pull my thoughts away from Bella long enough for me to make a mistake that would leave her dead then he was the dumbest fool I'd ever met." she reminded me. Perhaps an appetizer until Heidi returns? Jane stared at him like she knew what he was thinking. sending me visions and images. . I took a deep breath to try and gain some of my composure and turned toward to Alec. I suppressed a growl. so she showed me what the future possibly held if I continued to stalk toward Felix. . Think about Bella! She knew words weren't enough. mocking me in his head." Alec's voice held an undercurrent of sarcasm. Envy Alice touched my arm. That was probably the only thing that would have stopped me from completely ripping his throat out. I tensed. . 24. My body reacted.Alice was screaming at me. Oh. . you do want to play after all? Come on. I almost pounced on top of that little bastard as soon as he spoke. Alice thought in relief when her vision cleared. Felix thought with a mental eye-roll. ready so shift Bella into Alice's arms. then. I gave a curt nod because it was the only thing I could muster that would keep Bella safe. I'm sure we can break him from his control. He coaxed me with his finger. . We have to get through this together. pleasant. I don't even think polite conversation would have been an option so I was glad that it was . Eat the girl and kill the vampires! was obviously Jane's vote. I pivoted and a growl rumbled through my chest and then he licked his lips in Bella's direction.

Edward. . But it bothered me some that she seemed to be looking everywhere but me. hoping she would understand that I wasn't trying to mess with her visions. but my mind was too busy worrying about our current situation than the ancient art of the building. badly. It was the best I could do to say "I don't know. arched doors made of gold. Oh no. The architecture was absolutely stunning. but her mental voice was scalding me. . And I didn't want to think about that.sort of an unspoken rule to try and ignore each other as much as possible. Stop! I looked down at my tiny sister and gave her one of my curt little nods too. I was thinking about how it was good that Bella was taking in the scene before us because she might need to know it if we choose to escape. no. Her sadistic thoughts still crept into my mind. They marched fluidly—yet slowly enough for Bella to keep up—down a large. Bella's warm body was still tucked under my arm. I just wanted to keep the beautiful girl in my arms safe. I deserved it. She was right. . It was good to know she was on her toes. God. . Of course. I barely moved my shoulders to show that I had no idea why this was where we were to meet. . So much for looking neutral. Edward. Jane looked over her shoulder at me. Alice's face didn't flinch or change. and that meant knowing every route and possible plan of escape if things went . They had turned toward another door on the left. Alec and Jane stopped before we arrived to them and I nearly ran into Jane. How she was managing with everything amazed me. . This is where they eat their meals? . it didn't work that way for me. open corridor. it is really hard to see what our outcome will be when you keep thinking of escape routes. infecting it with her poison. Her eyes darted from one side of the hall to the next. My thoughts grew fierce as I looked for all escape routes. At the very end of the hall there were large. Why would they bring us here? Alice's eyes landed on Bella before she eyed me. and how a very human Bella would mix into all of it. no Edward. possible scenarios. an evil smile playing on her lips. I deserved that. Alec and Jane turned from us and held hands. We aren't going to the throne room . like she was memorizing it for a test. Not going to the throne room? I frowned and looked toward Alice whose eyes had grown large." .

run and never look back. and it took everything in me not to put my finger under her chin and push it up. It was cave-like. part of her unconscious mind spilled and radiated love—she was just so happy that we were all together again. even the drain in the middle. mainly because he had aroused such a response from Bella with his movements. you've returned!" Yippety-do-da-day. I was about to pull Bella behind me until Aro turned and greeted Jane like a long-lost friend. the sun catching their skin and reflecting the same diamond sparkle I had grown to hate until Bella had called it "beautiful. because many of them were controlling their . She was very thirsty. Well. I first had to keep her alive so I could have the opportunity to beg and plead to touch her again. Her mouth was literally hanging agape. Her body tensed as we stepped over the threshold. Every time you do that I see Bella . I almost smiled because even those snippety words were full of love. her rich scent swirling around me again. Get your act together! she snapped at me again. . I pulled Bella through the doors reluctantly. almost in anger. but it wasn't like I had options. though I knew I wanted to touch the soft." I didn't like his soundless words at all. dead." Only one human? This is our dinner? One of them thought. like her instincts were telling her this was no good—that she should run. Edward. I didn't have the right. Alice was graceful in movement as her eyes darted in my direction as if she wanted to slap me. "Jane.Alec slid away some paneling where a door was hidden behind it. it was good to know she still had some instincts. You can just call this "The Death Chamber. I was sure in any other situation that would be exactly what she would do. The thought was too much. Alice barked mentally. Almost. I paid closer attention to the vampires who were all staring in our direction. Several of them heard our approach and turned toward us. My eyes immediately shot to all of the exits. But deep in her frightened heart. nor did I deserve to ever touch her again. creamy skin more than anything. Aro practically floated toward us. He enjoyed the attention and was soaking it up. though his eyes were on me and his thoughts directed toward my mind. Please. Stop it. yet huge. He opened the door and held it for Jane. Of course. dear one. The small hall expanded into a circular room with windows above that cascaded liquid golden light below. . There was a gathering of vampires on the far side of the room. so instead. Aro must have informed them of my talents. But before I could delve too deeply into my thoughts. My mind went somewhere with Bella for a bit before reality came crashing back down on me. even under the dire circumstances. The same designs that I had seen outside were displayed there.

"You see. and then vanished into the hallway. Master." I knew what he meant . "Yes. The others moved with him. Alice thought angrily. every last detail—still. I really hoped we weren't screwed—that our bonds were unbreakable. "And Alice and Bella. his grin widening." Suck up. . oh. . I'm sure they wouldn't want to miss this. The situation was starting to look down. Jane. praying . wishing. Aro seemed to be enjoying Bella's scrutiny more than he should. He was no fool. He shot me a nasty smirk as he passed." Felix nodded. Master. . Oh. Aro. just as you wished. I wished that I could have heard her thoughts then. as if they were a flowing shadow that would forever follow their subject. more than ever. I am. . Edward. Your worth. "Yes." Jane broke out into a grin. feeling. How do you fight something that is not physically there? You don't. her commentary was going to be epic.thoughts rather well which would usually be soothing. He approached Jane first and took her head in his hands and gave her a chaste kiss and glided a step back. and Bella would make for an interesting immortal." He returned her smile. I hated the way his thoughts slithered through my mind like a slippery snake. Aro did not move alone. ." "Felix." Then. I am very pleased that you have decided to visit Volterra. He pivoted to stare at our "guard. Edward? What did I tell you? Aren't you glad that I didn't give you what you wanted yesterday?" I know I am. and possibly Bella's gifts . What was she thinking. "You are such a comfort to me. . He was better at that than anyone I had ever met. He would need help to break our bonds. I hope you changed your mind? His eyes roamed over Alice and Bella. . there was nothing. . "This is a happy surprise! Wonderful!" I would doubt that Alice or Bella would agree. Of course. Maybe they have all come to join us. be a dear and tell my brothers about our company." I conceded through tight lips as I moved Bella closer to my body. Alice's gift would be a real prize . She fit there perfectly—she belonged. but today it rather annoyed me to no end. "Ah. Aro's eyes snapped to mine like he heard my thoughts and his mind went blank. back-up. he turned toward us. a complete mystery. plus the foresight Alice possesses. too!" he exulted as he clapped his palms together as if he hadn't seen them when they first stepped foot into the room. "I brought him back alive. "Yes. to keep us his puppets. .

Bella had actually relaxed some into my arms. "We haven't been introduced properly at all. Wonderful!" I thought Aro was going to literally jump with joy. Alice's eyes snapped to mine for a second." "You're too modest. "And also exponentially more powerful. "As you can see today. we're going to chat like old girlfriends? Alice pushed a few of her visions away that consisted of several violent means. Aro's eyes flashed to mine briefly before he mentally shook himself. I cause problems as often as I cure them. I didn't deny her this. only I am limited in a way that he is not. in a peculiar way. and I tend to get ahead of myself."I love a happy ending. I could possess his powers. "Way to go. rule over him. He didn't—I was no fool and neither was Alice who snorted mentally. How did this happen? Alice?" His cool eyes found Alice without hesitation. Her posture. her relaxed shoulders." She dove into her magical box of happy and pulled out a winning smile. I'm far from infallible. Aro mused longingly. He knew I was honing onto his thoughts like a missile ready to destroy on impact." Aro continued delightedly." Aro apologized. What does he mean he observed my talents. able to read her mind with such distance between them. until your eyes roamed down to her tiny clenched fists that held enough power to punch a hole through the side of the building. sneaky" I wanted to say to Alice as sarcastically as I could. but apparently there was some mistake. We weren't convinced in the least. . Alice barely quirked an eyebrow at me. I've seen some of your more amazing exploits. Your brother introduced us yesterday. Well. both gave her the appearance of calm. have we? It's just that I feel like I know you already. I share some of your brother's talent. "But I want the whole story. Several mistakes." Aro sighed like he actually cared if we had that happy ending. even though I didn't deserve it. "Your brother seemed to think you infallible." I replied impassively with a "I don't care" shrug that would have fooled the best." Aro prodded. What does he think. I can play this game. "They are so rare. Alice glowered at me. and I must admit I've never observed anything like your talent. Alice and her mental snorts of disapproval backed me up." If he stayed. . "Oh. Edward? I hated it when she asked questions silently when she knew I couldn't speak freely. . "I'm sorry. You see. What a talent . Explain.

I heard Marcus think dryly. scrutinized . in our heads? Is it true? I gave a slight tilt of my head. . fierce. ideas. . their long black robes rippling through the air like crashing waves upon a rocky shore. we all gazed over our shoulders. I was just happy that he seemed to be ignoring the very large elephant in the room. and envied. Of the three Volturi. Not more of Aro's theatrics. Though Bella was a little slow to join us. not even trying to disguise his thoughts anymore. . Those ideas were easily picked out of the cascading images. and executioners." Aro sighed. . It was judgment time and they were our judge. Honestly. but they wouldn't know what emotional bonding was if it came up and took a chunk out of their asses. . "That would be so convenient. And her name was Bella—the human. and thoughts that seemed to sprinkle upon me out of nowhere. She hadn't predicted that. and here to decide our fate. Indeed. Or perhaps I was still blocking her from seeing anything of relevance? Everything? So we hold no secrets—for you have heard us all . I hid a smug smile easily because her failing visions were starting to worry me. ." Aro sighed again. "But to be able to hear from a distance . . and waved his hand dramatically in our direction. You know I can only hear what's passing through your head in the moment. Marcus was the one who posed the least threat. And that was exactly what they were—crashing waves. she also caught sight of the two men being led in. It was obvious he was tied mystical to the pair more than emotionally. As if it had been choreographed. That wasn't how Caius and Aro saw it though. "Aro needs physical contact to hear your thoughts." Alice's eyes widened as both her eyebrows flew up. strong. even though I knew our exchange was being watched. powerful.I sighed. but he hears much more than I do. Aro hears every thought your mind has ever had. jury.

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