Author's Note: Hi, everyone! This is a new vampire story that I'm starting. Probably not a good idea, seeing as how I'm not even halfway done with Gardenia and the workload I'm getting at school, but I really think this story has an interesting story line that I'd like to share with all of you. It might start out a bit slow in the beginning, but please be patient and the story will soon warm up to the conflict. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight.


Prologue

Bella's Point of View

Time passes. Memories live on with you. And with every second that ticks by, you realize that it's easy to take something precious for granted.

It was different for me. There was only one thing I ever wanted from the moment I saw those five glorious figures sitting all the way across the cafeteria. I didn't know them, and they didn't know me. But somehow, I already knew, deep inside my soul.

I wanted him.

He was to be my world. My life. My everything.

And he took away everything when he left. To promise me something so impossible... How could he possibly think that I could move on happily? Even if I did move on, it wouldn't be a very happy process. I suppose humans did have the capabilities to move on from a phase of their lives, like he'd said.

But did that mean I had to be happy?

I've lived the life I'm living now. I've been there. I've tried. I've failed. The answer is no.

I could never forget the start of those bitter memories. It was a domino effect...and he tipped over the very first domino when he decided that he couldn't stay away from me. Happy memories are what made up bitter memories...because happiness and negativity are always packaged together.

And that's how I felt. From the moment he left until the moment I will die.

Bitter.

Chapter 1

I gazed out at the front yard of Emily's cozy little house, relishing those days when I actually had a life. What I didn't quite understand was whether my life ended when he left...or when I first saw him in that cafeteria.

I shivered when I thought I saw a pair of red eyes peering out at me from the forest that faced me. It was getting dark, around seven o'clock, and the wind was blowing harder than it had been in the afternoon. It was starting to drizzle lightly.

I closed my eyes when I heard a series of howls fill the air from the deep forest. The pack would be here soon. They must be almost finished with their daily rounds through the forest, searching for more danger. I felt apologetic to all those huge Quileute boys that had one more person to take care of besides their tribe and loved ones. A clumsy outsider, the girl who had played with vampires.

I was startled when I felt a sudden warmth against my cold left cheek. I looked up and saw Emily smiling at me, two cups of warm tea in her hands. She had pressed one of the cups against my skin to catch my attention.

I smiled and reached up to take the cup from her. "Thanks, Emily."

She nodded and joined me on her porch, sitting in the second chair beside mine. "The boys should be home soon."

I didn't respond. I took a small sip of the tea and closed my eyes as I swallowed, welcoming the warmth that flowed through my cold body. I usually always had my personal space heater around me, but once a day, he was required to go run out with the other wolves of the pack. He should be back soon...

He was the reason I was able to cope more easily these days. I'd accepted his offer of companionship, agreeing to date him. He and I both knew that I was using him for my own survival, but he didn't care and I knew I still loved him. I loved him in my own way, and that love was growing. I knew this for sure.

"Is anything worrying you, Bella?" Emily asked suddenly, interrupting the comfortable silence that had filled between us.

I looked at her, wondering why she would ask such a thing. "No."

She frowned slightly as she stared into the dark, swaying trees. "I was just thinking...you seemed really preoccupied lately. Like...you're trying to solve a hundred math problems all at once."

I laughed once at her analogy. "I suppose I was a bit preoccupied," I admitted. "Just thinking this and that."

Emily studied me carefully. Her piercing eyes were alert as she watched my every movement. Her heavily scarred face represented her bravery and beauty, and despite her permanently ruined face, she was still loved because she had someone to love her. I envied this of her – Sam would never have to leave her. She would be loved wholeheartedly until the day she died.

No one had to pretend for me. I knew as well. Jacob and I may be dating, and we might love each other. But I shared everyone's concerns, including Jacob's: He had never imprinted on me. Imprinting was something that happened when you looked at someone for the first time after the transformation. And yet, nothing had happened between us.

Sam always insisted that imprinting was rare – most wolves never found their other half. But Jared had imprinted on Kim, and Paul had imprinted on Jacob's sister, Rachel. It did seem a lot more common within the pack...and his persistent speeches on the subject didn't reassure me. I knew that someday, there was a possibility that Jacob would have to leave me for his true half.

And I would be hurt again.

I hoped desperately that he would never imprint. It was a selfish thought, and I only wanted this for fear I would not be able to function anymore. But I didn't know how I could live on if Jacob, too, were to leave me.

"What's there to worry about?" Emily wondered. "The boys took care of Victoria when she returned, didn't she? She's never coming back for you again. You're safe, Bella."

I nodded. "I know."

She sighed. "You're so mysterious, Bella. You remind me so much of Leah. You hardly ever speak, you hide your true thoughts..." She tapped her cup, making bell-like sounds that echoed through the lonely atmosphere.

She was waiting, but I had nothing to give her. She seemed to realize this, and she changed the subject.

"How's Charlie doing?" she asked. She chuckled. "Soon, you and I will be true cousins. When is the wedding?"

My lips twitched at the thought of a frantic, panicking Charlie that was being dragged everywhere by an efficient Sue Clearwater to prepare for their remarriage. They had grown close after Harry Clearwater's death, and sympathy had grown into love. And I was about to gain two new siblings, two members of the wolf pack.

Leah was as difficult as ever. She had no objections to Charlie and Sue's remarriage, thankfully. She wouldn't admit it, but I knew that she was glad her mother was happy. She acted distant from me and hardly spent time at Emily's, since Sam was around. I didn't mind her attitude toward me. She and I seemed to have come to a mutual agreement to give each other space, since we both needed it.

Seth was a different story. He was bright and cheerful. He reminded me of a younger Jacob, and he made me feel relieved and relaxed. If Jacob wasn't around, I had a backup space heater. He was a total one-eighty from his sister, adoring his new stepfather-to-be and always making sure that I wasn't bored.

"Next Saturday," I answered, shifting slightly in my seat. "I think the wedding invitations have been sent out today, actually."

She smiled. "I think it's wonderful. Both Charlie and Sue have been lonely for a long time now. It's great that they've found each other."

I nodded, agreeing wholeheartedly. Just because my life had taken a drastic turn didn't mean Charlie had to follow my footsteps. He worried about me, but he had his own path to take. I was glad it was Sue that was remarrying my father. She was a great cook and responsible with everything. She would be perfect for Charlie.

The only thing that had worried me about the union was the tribe secret. Would Charlie be left out of the loop? I needn't have worried, because Billy Black and Sue told him everything there was to know about werewolves...and the cold ones. Which meant my father found out about the Cullens being vampires. I got hell from him when he found out that I'd known the entire time I was dating him.

But Charlie wasn't one to linger. He accepted the whole thing rather gracefully when he saw real proof of Jacob and Leah phasing in front of him. He swore to keep everything a secret, since I'd also told him about the one rule for vampires.

Emily hesitated. "Have you seen Leah lately?"

She was always hesitant when she brought up the subject of her cousin. She always felt apologetic to the girl, even though the imprinting wasn't Sam or Emily's fault.

I shook my head. "We kind of..." I searched for the right words. "...give each other space."

She looked disappointed. "I don't know if she even knows when the wedding is."

"I'm sure Seth will tell her."

She laughed, shaking her head. "If he even remembers himself. Speak of the devil, here he comes now."

We both watched as a sandy-colored wolf trotted out of the woods. He paused, and then, his tongue rolled out, like he was grinning. His tail wagged like a friendly dog. His gestures made us laugh before he disappeared again.

A few minutes later, he reappeared wearing his clothes, laughing with the rest of the pack. Jacob waved and I smiled back, welcoming all of them home.

"Hey, Emily," Embry said as he leaped onto the porch lightly. "Bella." He winked before disappearing inside. We heard him head for the kitchen, then call out, "Hey! Muffins and a seven-layer dip! Thanks, Em!"

"Don't you dare eat it all!" Quil threatened. "Hi, Emily, Bella." He, too, disappeared inside.

Everyone else filed inside, and Sam lingered to kiss Emily. I looked away because it reminded me of the way I'd acted with him. Jacob smiled as he approached me.

"Sorry we're late," he said. "They were being kids. As usual," he added, raising his voice.

"Shut up!" Paul called back, his voice muffled by the food.

"Come on, girls, it's cold outside," Sam said. He and Emily disappeared inside, and I rose slowly to follow Jacob.

The food was half gone already. Jacob whacked the last chocolate muffin out of Seth's greedy hands and took a big bite of it. I declined Emily's offer of a muffin and sat on a stool, watching them all munch happily.

Within ten minutes, they'd scoured the plates clean. I smiled when they all burped at the same time.

"Thanks, Emily," Embry said, sounding satisfied. "Your cooking is the best, as usual."

"I don't know how you do that every day," I said, amused. "I don't think any of you will be able to survive without Emily."

Emily smiled fondly at the boys as she started the dishes. "It's really nothing."

"So, Bella," Sam said. "When's the wedding?"

"You bet we're all going to be there!" Jared said, grinning.

I smiled gratefully. "Next Saturday." I paused, not missing the fact that Leah was not present. "Be sure to tell Leah, Seth."

"You bet!"

I rose from my seat. "I should leave now. Bye, everyone."

"I'll take you home," Jacob said, rising, but I shook my head.

"I'll go alone," I said, shooting him an apologetic look. He understood my need to be alone, and he nodded.

"See you later, Bella!" the boys chorused as I waved and left the house.

I drove my truck slowly back to Forks, wondering how imprinting worked. If the process was possible with vampires, would he not have left?

If only you could see me now, I thought, smiling bitterly. I'm doing as you asked. I'm keeping myself safe, and I'm trying to move on. But do you see what you've done to me? I live in fear of heartbreak again, and it's almost unbearable.

Almost.


AN: Hope you enjoyed the very first chapter! It might be a bit confusing, since this is picking off from somewhere in New Moon. If you have any questions, feel free to PM me, or review, even. I'll be happy to answer any questions to clarify anything, but don't ask me to spoil the rest of the story for you. Heh.

Also, you might not be very familiar with the idea of Charlie knowing everything supernatural that's going on. He needed to be aware of it in this story for a reason. It'll all become clearer later. Thanks for understanding.

Now! Reviews! I know the first chapter isn't much, but I want to know what you're thinking! Leave me nice, long, sweet reviews!