This is a simple one shot that will not be extended in any way. I have not been able to write for quite some time so this is my way of easing back into it. Hope some of you out there enjoy it

Your scent swirls around me and, as always, I am conflicted. It's a reminder that I want to consume you; that your blood continues to taunt me with its richness and vitality but more than that I simply need you; the person you are…the person you have always been.

Nothing has changed…..yet everything has been altered.

I remain motionless in the shadows of the forest as you make your way over to your destination. You have no idea I am here. You don't have a clue that I have been following your moves for a couple of weeks now. There has been nothing to suggest that in the background of your day to day dealings that an adoring vampire has finally succumbed to his extreme need for the human girl who is so undeniably etched into the very essence of his soul.

It's amazing that I was able to last this long when the other half of me has been absent for what seems like an eternity.

You stumble a little over the rocky path and my hand automatically reaches out as if I can somehow touch you and help you regain your balance. I could do it in a millisecond if I so chose to but I know I gave up that right when I left you years ago, so I remain stoic and allow it to drop again. I watch with eagerness as you correct your footing and continue along your path. Its early morning and I have learnt that this is your daily routine. It both frightens me and makes my heart soar that even after all these years I am still very much a part of your thoughts.

It wasn't meant to be that way…..

I've been watching you. I've seen your interactions with friends; with family. I know that you have become a poised and confident woman when dealing with others. I'm aware that you have followed your dream of being a writer but will only take on an assignment if it allows you to remain in Forks for the majority of time. I've noted the warm smile you hand out to every person you meet before they leave your presence and the warmth seeps away to leave you listless. No one else notices but I know you in a way that no one else could ever hope to and it's evident to me that although you are most certainly alive, you definitely are not living life to the fullest. In fact my observations lead me to believe you are living a life of pretence; attempting to make others believe that everything is okay with you, that your smile is real, that you don't have nightmares every single night that revolve around your intense loss. The recent nights of listening to your heartache has only served to make my guilt intensify to a level where I feel physically sick.

Where is that happy life you were meant to experience?

Where is the husband and babies you were destined to cherish?

How had me leaving not given you the freedom and happiness I believed you deserved?

Your slim form finally halts in front of the stone that has been marked with my name. You reach forward and reverently graze your fingers across the lie that we both know is beneath your fingertips.

Edward Anthony Cullen

20 June 1987 – 14 September 2005

In Loving Memory

"Edward," My name is a soft sigh on your breath but still I hear it because of the ability of my kind. I wait with bated breath for the next words to leave your mouth. Although I have been trailing you and seen firsthand how you are living your life without me, it is here each morning where I see the true you. It is here that your innermost feelings are revealed to the incoming day as you use my fake headstone as some sort of therapy for the sins I have forced you to endure alone. You have no one to share them with. Your pain is no longer acceptable to the people who surround you as so much time has passed since my apparent 'death'. No one can ever know that you once loved a vampire whose insecurities and false beliefs sent him scuttling away without considering the magnitude of his betrayal.

I see how my mistaken belief that you could move on without me has impacted both our lives in ways that can never be measured.

"It's my birthday Edward. Another year gone by with no word from you. No word from any of you." You sit down cross legged and bring your knees to your chest so that you can wrap your arms around them and rest your cheek at an angle across them. "I hate my birthday. It was the beginning of the end for us. Jasper's mistake made you see my human frailty as a hindrance. It made you realise that I was not the one for you. That you could not possibly love me."

My fingers are now embedded into the palms of my hand and its rock fighting stone as the two meet in complete agitation. Never has a greater lie been said than the day I told you I did not love you and that you were no good for me. If I could cut my own tongue out for that blasphemy I surely would for such utterances. I've lived with that moment replaying over and over in my head and it's the worst kind of torture knowing that you believed it so easily.

But then again I have never returned to tell you otherwise so what else could you have possibly believed?

"I feel like I'm not even me anymore. I'm a twenty eight year old woman who is still pining away for the one who got away," You shake your head and give a derisive laugh. "Ten years Edward. Tomorrow it will be ten years since you left me and your family concealed your absence by telling the town that you had died in a car accident that never really happened. It made it so much easier for them to leave me too, pretending to be the grieving family who had to leave town to deal with their huge loss. What about my loss Edward? Did any of you think of my loss? Did any of you think about the fact that ten years later I would still be feeling that loss as acutely as I did the moment you walked away? What kind of person am I that I can't simply move on as readily as you did?"

Move on? Without you? That was never an option for me. I had existed through each day in a stupor of absolute grief but moving on? That never happened! Every single day was a fight between continuing to protect you from myself and what loving me could do to destroy you, and running back to your side to plead for your forgiveness so that I could relish the love and devotion only you could offer me.

I clearly underestimated that love and devotion if current appearances were any indication. You were meant to forget me and find a more suitable mate. You were meant to live the life you were born to; a life where you got to come home every day to a husband and a house full of laughing children, not to a man who could never give you children nor even hold you without having to fight his urge to end your life so he could taste the divine nectar of your blood. I had returned to Forks for this anniversary to prove to myself that the terrible pain of not having you by my side was worth it; that your life would be some amazing culmination of wonderful experiences and happiness that I could never have given you.

I was so incredibly wrong.

The sacrifices I had forced on both of us by me leaving had clearly been folly. Ten years wasted because of my inability to see how your love was as strong and unbreakable as mine. Jasper had tried to convince me of this all those years ago. He told me that running from you would leave a gaping hole in both our lives that would never be filled again but I had denied that a human could feel that level of dedication and love. I had arrogantly believed that I was doing you the favour by forcing my absence on you. I could punish myself for what I was, but in doing so I had inadvertently punished the one person who truly didn't deserve it.

You were my mate – how could I have denied that for even a second?

"I wonder what you would have thought of me as a twenty eight year old woman, Edward?" You've asked this question numerous times over the past couple of weeks and my answer, that remains unheard to you, is the same. I love every single part of you and although I've always thought you beautiful there is now something even more alluring about you. You are no longer the mature teenager who was on the cusp of being a woman; you have become so much more. Your beauty remains dazzling but it's what you've done with yourself even through your grief which is truly tantalising.

I'm proud.

I'm in awe.

I'm humbled.

I can't think of anything or anyone who is more beautiful than the woman standing before me, so completely unaware.

You continue your whispered musings and questioning that only I can hear. You wonder where I am and if I've found someone else more suitable. I suck in a harsh breath with that ridiculous train of thought. Compared to you all else becomes nothing. I've spent much of my time trying to eliminate the threat that was Victoria and once she was disposed of in a rather violent encounter on the border of Mexico I spent the rest of my time wallowing in grief and convincing myself that you were better off. No one had, or has, any chance of ever getting close enough to me to be more than an acquaintance. Besides my loyal family my interactions with humans and vampires has been close to nil. I've made myself an outcast and created a secular world where only very limited visits with my family occurred before their closeness forced me away again, knowing I would never again have that with you.

No there was never anyone but you. That fact will always remain unchanged.

Your other questions revolve around my family; in particular Alice whom you had established such a close friendship with. You clearly miss her and from what I could gather there was no one person who had come into your life after Alice's abrupt departure that you considered as true a friend. Angela remains in the peripheral of your life; inconsistent phone calls, sporadic visits to and from her new home in Seattle where she now resides with her high school sweetheart Ben but other than her, and one other who I do not wish to contemplate, you've kept people at an arm's distance. You're guarding your heart as vigilantly as I have been.

"Jake is taking me out for dinner tonight," the statement is whispered but it might as well have been shouted with the impact it has on me and my body jolts with hard suppressed jealousy and ire. He is the other you regard as your real friend and that does not sit well with me, being privy to his thoughts and feelings. I know Jacob Black is your one piece of sunshine in what you consider a bleak existence. I know that your smiles for him are that little bit more genuine and that you think of him as your lifesaver. I also know through his thoughts that he loves you passionately and wishes with every fibre of his being that you had never loved Edward Cullen because that unfaltering love was stopping the two of you from being happy together as more than friends.

Your mind remains silent to me but I don't need that particular talent to know that your love for him is purely platonic and if you ever succumbed to his advances it would be out of loneliness and not out of feelings for a soul mate.

That's simply not good enough…..

I didn't sacrifice our love for you to settle for less than the best in terms of a relationship. If I had returned and saw you genuinely happy with the love of your life then I could have left again to let you live that happiness in peace.

That option was no longer available to either of us.

Without your knowledge I make a plea of assistance to my sister and almost instantaneously she is beside me and the rest of my family are behind me in a show of strength. They are silent so you do not hear them but for a brief moment I watch you as you shudder in recognition that something has changed in the cool morning air and you give a quick sweep of the cemetery to see if you are still alone before deciding that your instinctual reaction was nothing to be concerned about.

"You're still wavering Edward. I see two outcomes. You must surely realise that only one of those is acceptable?" Alice is trying to be considerate of the dilemma I find myself in now but she can't guard her thoughts from me and I'm more than aware that she is annoyed. If my family had been able to convince me otherwise Alice wouldn't have lost ten years of friendship with someone who meant so much to her too. I would never have left you and I wouldn't have made them promise to stay away from you so that you could get on with your life vampire free. Alice sees this as my second chance and therefore my family's opportunity too. To them you belong in our fold.

"Bella marrying Jacob being the unacceptable outcome," I respond despondently. I had seen Alice's vision and watching you walk down the aisle towards Jacob with resigned bleakness in your eyes is certainly not something I want to endure for the rest of eternity.

Alice nods. "He will ask her tonight." Her hand comes to my chin to swivel my attention away from you and I am now looking into the deep recesses of her honey coloured eyes that are reflecting so much out to me. Love, hope, determination, certainty. "Unless you do something now she will be his wife. Don't let that happen Edward. You have hurt her enough without adding a loveless marriage to the list. Fight for what you both need. Finally do the right thing."

My eyes flick back to you and your body movements tell me that you are getting ready to say your final goodbye for the day and I know my time is now limited. Will you still come back tomorrow if his ring is on your finger? Will his proposal be the final nail in the coffin so to speak and you make the decision never to return to this place which only holds stone and dirt and definitely no sign of the man you once loved?

I panic. A decision needs to be made and I'm frightened that I will make yet another huge mistake on your behalf that you can never recover from if it's not what you would ultimately choose. As if you can hear me a new train of thought is spoken out loud.

"I don't belong in this world Edward. I've never belonged in this world. I belonged with you and it didn't matter what that entailed. Why couldn't you see that? Why didn't you love me enough to give me that?" A light sob from you breaks my heart all over again. I feel your pain as if it is my own.

Am I willing to let you live with that pain for the rest of your life?

"Am I right in doing this?" it's a question directed at my family and they answer in their own ways.

Esme's the first to respond and her answer is everything I would expect from her. "She is our daughter as much as you are our son. She will be welcomed."

"Hell yeah. It's ten years overdue if you ask me. Could have saved us a whole lot of grief if you'd just relented back then. She's going to make an awesome sis." Emmett's enthusiasm almost makes me smile. Almost.

Rosalie attempts to be disinterested as she gives me her take on the situation. "I guess she's proven she kind of sucks at this whole being human thing. Might as well put her, and us, out of our misery. You have been a pain in the ass to live with."

"She loves you completely Edward. When she's here talking to your grave she is at peace in a way I haven't seen anywhere else since you called to get us here. She won't stop even if she gives in to Jacob. She deserves some real happiness. I regret my actions took that away from her. You know my answer." Although I had forgiven Jasper his lapse in judgement all those years ago he still felt responsible for my final decision to leave you and what it did to the both of us.

Alice simply smiles at me. I don't need her confirmation. I've had it for years now.

"Son we are with you on this. We are ready." Carlisle's calm and grounding voice breaks through my thoughts and panic. "It is the kindest thing to do. We will support her I promise."

"The pain …" My voice trails off as I contemplate the reality of what my choice would involve for you. How can I put you through the agony I know from experience is so debilitating. You are meant to protect the one you love with every fibre of your being; not knowingly put them through a baptism of fire.

"Is inevitable Edward but I promise we will do as much as possible to make her comfortable. It's a few days of pain versus a lifetime of pain for her and even longer length of time for you to endure the loss. It will be worth it son."

You scramble to your knees now and I realise my time of procrastination is now nearing its end. Let you leave to continue your human existence or make the choice to keep you by my side for eternity?

The selfish side of me wins out. I've gone without you for far too long. It appears to me that you feel the same way and I need to know that you are genuinely happy in whatever life you are living.

My choice is made and within a short few seconds I am no longer watching you from the shadows. I am by your side and your scent is overpoweringly perfect. You haven't even made it completely to your feet yet when I take you in my arms and elatedly whisper your name into your ear. For a few confused moments you tense up in fear and then suddenly collapse into my chest in disbelieving relief when my lips ghosts against the silkiness of your neck.

"Edward …please,"

Before I can second guess my decision I react to your heartfelt plea and sink my teeth into that soft spot below your ear. The moment of piercing brings about a litany of emotions so strong I feel that I'm completely overwhelmed and will never be able to stop this motion of consuming you. Your blood is like the finest wine and slips down my throat in enticing rivulets of ecstasy but along with it I come to the realisation that your mind that has always been so silent to me is abruptly open to me and every thought and emotion you've ever had hits me like a sledgehammer.

I see our relationship in slow motion from the first meeting in Biology class to the agonising re-enactment of me leaving. I see your attempts to get on with life without me nor my family and the torment that had resulted from my abandonment. I feel the all-consuming love you have for me even in my absence and above all I am privy to your sudden relief and elation that I have returned to save you from this life of loss and loneliness. You want to be with me. You want to stand by me throughout whatever the future brings for us. You have no misgivings even as I drain your blood from your body. You love me unconditionally and trust me implicitly to stop…..

I needed to stop. Your trust should not go unrewarded but oh the bliss of taking a part of you into myself was like a drug and surely a little more would not do any more harm than I'd already inflicted on you.

"Edward that's enough." Carlisle urged. "You can do this son, it is Bella. You need to find a way to stop."

It is you… my Bella. I slowly, slowly remove my teeth from your fair skin and struggle to move away and focus on your lifeless body. I am in a drunken haze and I can't find it in me to put together the words I need to determine if I have gone too far. Are you still with me or have I lost you altogether in my attempt to keep you forever? I feel the rough hands of my brothers who had obviously attempted to get me to stop without any success. I had been so entrenched in the euphoria of absorbing your life force and your emotions that they'd had no real chance without harming you further. Now their arms were simply restricting me if I was tempted to return to finish off the normal cycle of a vampire.

They need not worry. I was not a normal vampire and my love for you was now streaming through the blood lust that had overtaken me moments before.

"I didn't… I haven't… she's not…."

With a slight twitch your fingers move and your closed eyes struggle open to focus on me and I realise that I have managed to halt before irreparable damage in the form of death occurred to take you from me permanently. The smallest of smiles edges your mouth open and I quickly rearrange myself so I can show you I am listening as you breath out your last words as a human.

"Thank you…."

And then your mouth constricts into a silent scream and I know that you are on the agonising road to being one of us….

… being my true mate for the rest of our immortal existence.