Epilogue

A few things about your life as a vampire.

Some things you know now. Some things you don't. Yet.

But you will.

One

In ten years, no one in your sad, small town will even remember the Swans or the three years of tragedy that brought them to a slow, excruciating end. Your house will be sold, torn down, rebuilt, moved into by a family of six with a dog and a cat and not a care in the world. Your mother will become gossip fodder, whispered about in knitting circles and PTA meetings. Your father will become a cautionary tale, his photo forever staring down the police department as a reminder of just how low a public servant can sink before anyone bothers to notice. You will haunt your high school hallways, the stories worse every year, until Peggy Whitehead launches her car through the front windows of the diner and kills six patrons, stealing all of your thunder. Alice will become a real-life horror story, passed on by mothers who need to scare their children into minding their curfews. By older siblings wanting to install nightmares into the bedtime routines of the younger ones. By worn-down cops warning rookies that death and destruction visit even the quietest corners of the world, often when you are least expecting it.

Mike Newton will die of a heart attack six months after you leave, his coke habit finally catching him unaware. Matthew Blanchard will live to see 103, pickling himself from the inside out with liquor and that loyal kind of love only dogs can give you. Your father's beloved police force will come under scrutiny for ignoring a drug ring based out of the high school. Your classmates will go on to have babies, car accidents, mortgages, and cancer. Your hometown will succumb to the fallout of the timber market— the logging mills will pull out, handing out last paychecks and false concern for the people whose lives they have destroyed, the forests they have flattened, the equipment they have abandoned.

The remnants of your life will fade away just as surely as a distant memory. The world will slip by slowly, so slowly it's hard for you to even notice, only reminded by the people you once knew, the places you once knew, succumbing to the ravages of time.

Two

It will take you a year to tell Edward you love him. It's not that you spend the entire time unsure of it—you're actually more certain of that singular small fact than you have ever been about anything else in your entire existence. It takes a year because thoughts are fickle, and your heart is a stone, and you're still trying to decide if you want him to love you or just fuck you silly.

Maybe both.

But you know it's real. Real no matter what you say or how you say it. No matter the when or the where or the why. No matter the awkward jumble of words you use, everything coming out stilted and painful because just about everyone you've ever loved in your life has left in some horrible, sudden way, and you're frankly kind of freaked out about the entire thing. You'll be sure you've just fucked everything up because you sound like you're asking yourself a question, rather than stating a fact. Because your declaration will sound more like a plea, rather than a reveal. Because your fear still overrides nearly any other emotion you have, and this is scary as shit, all told. Because there's a great possibility that he might totally eviscerate your heart.

And he does just that. Breaks your heart once and for all.

Your solid, stoic vampire crumbles right before your eyes, blood running down his cheeks instead of tears.

Three

Your teeth will hurt when you look at him. Your fangs, actually. Just like that ache you used to get when you ate something too sweet, too fast. A rush of blood to your head and a throb in your mouth that will remind you faintly of your heartbeat. When he smiles at you from across a room, through the sun, under the stars, you'll feel the faint phantom pain of your heart sputtering a death twitch under your ribs.

Four

You know what's awesome?

Sex.

Know what's even more awesome?

Vampire sex.

Five

There's a part of Edward that isn't apparent to the naked eye. But once you've gotten him naked, bare, down to just skin and bones and more skin, it becomes pretty obvious that the guy isn't just a daydream. Sex isn't just sex. It's his broken bits rubbing rough and raw and hard and soft and fast and slow against all of your broken bits, and the friction is the stuff volcanos are made of. The heat is the stuff of legends. You have holes, and he has everything you'll ever need to not feel so empty. He's got walls, but you are about as subtle as a rusted shovel, and in four months, he's going to crack a smile while he's hovering over you, pushing into you.

It will be the first time you know for certain that smile is real.

Six

You will make out in a jungle somewhere in Vietnam, a freezing cold-burning hot vampire boy pressing you into the leaves, his mouth everywhere, his hands everywhere else. You will make love on a beach in South America, fifty miles from civilization, something soft and slow that makes you ache in a long overdue way for your humanity and his. You will fuck each other in a hotel room in Paris, the air a snowfall of feathers from the demise of the pillows he pressed you into, taking each other hard and rough and just mean enough to remind you that both of you are not exactly human. You will marry him on the top of a mountain, waist deep in snow, burning behind your ribs when you declare your love to the sky and the sun and the birds flying far below you. You will sleep through the sunlight, wrapped up in one another, hidden away, and then spend your nights in dive bars, in alleyways, on rooftops, fingers never far off, minds always twined around the other, the faceless crowds and the sleeping cities simple backdrops in this play production you've come to call your life.

With him.

Seven

You will not go into this vampire thing with expectations. Mostly because you don't know what to expect. Instead, you will learn to become easy. To become open. To become moveable and moldable and flexible in ways you could have never been in your past life. Your human self was bitter, hurting, vulnerable—she was built to expect the worst and lived her life in a state of constant torment. She was angry, her blood boiled down thick with rage and loneliness. She was walls, only walls, but her house was hollow.

You will learn to love the sunrise, even as it chases you indoors. You will learn to love the heat, the cold, the wind, and the rain, even though you can't feel any of it anywhere but deep inside your silent heart. You will learn to love the feel of what you now call sleep, even though it's not sleep at all and more like a conscious stilling of your thoughts. You will learn to love blood, love it in a way you didn't think was possible, but every time you drink, you imagine yourself wading out of an endless wasteland desert, your thirst quenched by cool, clean water. You will learn to love books, the simple act of reading for enjoyment, reading without research. You will learn to love nighttime—the dark, the chill, the quiet. You will learn to love a boy who never changes, yet somehow is never quite the same.

You will learn to love yourself again—probably the most important lesson of all.

Eight

You will spend fifty years in Paris. You will spend another fifty in India. Fifty in Brazil. Fifty in Melbourne. Fifty on an island in the South Pacific with no name. Your life will become a revolving cycle of half-century increments, your pretty face and your bright eyes and your ever-smooth skin going unnoticed just long enough for you to really put down your feet down, then you'll have to uproot again.

You're going to experience the world, one place at a time, one life at a time. You're going to experience a life, or what seems like a decent summation of it, one drink, one dance, one fuck, one fight, one midnight moonlit walk on the beach, one warm water float, one daydream, one nightmare, one kiss at a time.

You're going to do it with him.


AN:

Hadley - darling - I love you. Thank you for your hours of editing, research, and therapy.

Readers - I like you lots. Thank you for reading along.

XO

HBM