Chapter One


When he touched me, when he looked at me with those golden amber eyes and leaned in for a kiss he knew I'd never refuse him… it had made me feel sick.

His smell, once so sweet and clean, now reminded me of a rotted melon decaying in the sun. Even his voice had changed, and the lilt of his timbre made my spine tense and my shoulders lock up.

He was back. I was happy he was back.

At least, I was in the beginning. The relief of him safe, the drag of fear on my throat dulling as time passed, all dimmed in the cold light of Forks.

It wasn't that I didn't want him anymore, or even that I was still shell-shocked from the ordeal he had put me through.

I was angry.

Really angry. The kind of anger that burned up my chest and sparked in my fingertips. The kind that left my body with hot breaths and curled lips.

When he looked at me now, I felt rage.

He had left me. Left me in the woods, all alone. Young, vulnerable, and utterly human. Left me for months as heartbreak ruined me, pulling the air from my lungs and the will to live and breathe down the drain. I had been drowning, sinking to the ocean floor when he had made the decision to walk away.

My heart, as broken as it was, couldn't bare to let him die in Italy. I had followed Alice back into the bowels of the Volturi, put myself on the line once again in the name of loving a Cullen, and raced across the world to stop him from succumbing to his guilt.

I stood now, behind the chair that overlooked the three panes of glass I had stared out for those two months. I knew every flaw in the glass, every chip in the cream-colored paint, and knew just how the wood groaned underneath my thighs as I shifted my weight after hours of sitting. This spot meant something to me now. A relic, or an artifact of a time when I would have given anything, anything to see my vampire one more time.

I hadn't seen him since that morning. The night I had awoken in my bed after the long drive home and breathlessly listened to how each and every piece of his tale fit together.

He had claimed it was all a lie. His motives for leaving, him saying those things. It had all been to protect me, he said. A tale painfully crafted to wield against me, in hopes I would forget him and move on with my life, out of danger and finally free to live my short mortal life with another.

That's when the cool numbness that had only been disturbed by crippling fear rippled in my heart.

I reached out now, placing a hand on the worn polish of the dining room chair, that I had relocated to this little spot overlooking the driveway.

I would've died for Edward Cullen. Absolutely, no doubt in my mind. I would've killed myself a thousand times over if it meant his safety and his love. And Edward… he had lied. Somehow that was worse than everything else. Worse than the split, worse than thinking he had suddenly grown tired of me and wanted a fresh start out of Forks.

Because Edward Cullen knew. He knew I loved him. Knew that even now I still did. I ached to talk to him, ached to be held and kissed and cherished as he claimed to always have.

But my Edward wasn't real.

Maybe he never was. Maybe the strange, quiet teenage girl he had met those years ago had just wanted someone to love her. Someone who had mistaken love for obsession, infatuation. Who was willing to open up her heart so truly to the first boy who had ever really seemed to understand the old soul she had always carried with her.

My fingers curled over the curved edge of the backrest, my nails digging into the wood. My arms felt weak, and that weakness… really pissed me off.

How dare he. How dare Edward treat me like that. Discard me.

I had trusted him with my life, had believed every story he spun, and accepted and endured the unimaginable in the name of the love I thought we shared. The kind of love that you could steep in, like a warm bath. The kind that made you want to taste each other's skin and cling to hope when darkness consumed.

I turned, dragging the chair behind me, away from the window and toward the stairs. I felt the legs of the chair catch on each floorboard before scuffing over, but I didn't slow.

Edward had been confused when I asked him to leave. More than that, he had seemed terrified, shocked, and pleaded with me to understand. He had even gotten on his perfectly balanced knees to beg for my understanding, for my forgiveness.

But that spark had sizzled. And suddenly it was all I could do to keep from screaming at him, only hours earlier, when the sky was still a deep gray.

The dam had broken and I had finally lost it. I didn't care how bad he felt. I didn't care how much he claimed to love me, or the reasoning for what he had done. I had scrambled away from him, pushed away those cool hands, and asked that he leave immediately.

He had lied.

He had left me alone in this world, fully well knowing what dangers could come looking for me with him gone. Left me to pick up the broken pieces of my heart as he made a decision for the both of us.

But that's not what made me kick the backdoor open and ignore Charlie's concerned call as he rose from the couch and followed me outside, chair in hand. My mind was calm, but my ears were ringing as I neared the shed. I wasn't sure how much Charlie had witnessed or overheard this morning, no doubt believing Edward to have simply dropped me off and headed home.

I felt the buzz in my back pocket and knew without looking it was Alice, no doubt seeing something shift in my future. But I didn't care.

Edward Cullen hadn't just lied and abandoned me, leaving me utterly defenseless and broken.

He had hurt me. On purpose.

I didn't care if it was childish as I picked up the axe leaning against the shed. Didn't even hear Charlie as he jogged to catch up with me. With trembling arms, I raised the red blade over my head and swung down.

Edward had hurt me. It had taken all these months for that to settle. Had taken saving his life and almost lost mine to see it. It took listening to him try to justify himself on my bed, finally knowing that his changing heart hadn't taken him away from me, but his sober mind.

He had hurt me that day in the forest. He had hurt me every day in that silence I had endured. He had hurt me when he dodged my kisses in a feigned fight for self-control. He had hurt me when he had come home and admitted his lies.

And I was just fucking done being hurt.

The axe fell and collided with the chair. My breath heaved and I wiggled it free as I brought it down again, and again, panting with effort. Sweat beaded on my neck and I growled as each vicious swing tore off another chunk, splintering pieces into the wet grass.

Fuck Edward Cullen. Fuck his family that I had loved so fiercely, who had shut me out along with him. Fuck that house I had watched go up for sale and get torn down, fuck the shit he had left under the loose floorboards… God, fuck it all.

Hot, wet tears burned down my cheeks, and I knew I was making a scene but I couldn't care. Couldn't gain the will to look over my shoulder at Charlie and see yet another disappointed frown.

I hacked, and hacked, and hacked. I swung and smashed and kicked and pummeled that chair till the splinters had embedded themselves in the rich earth.

Edward had told me we had come home late, that he had taken me to bed and tucked me in, only for me to awaken a few hours later in the early hours of dawn.

That he had spoken to Charlie, you know what, no. Spoken to my Dad and taken the brunt of the blame for my swift departure, offering some excuse on my behalf.

And he didn't deserve that. My Dad, who was so genuinely excited for me to move in with him, had kept my room exactly as I had left it all those years, hoping I'd one day choose him, come home to him...

The rage flickered in me, and I paused, the axe still buried into the now churned mulch.

It was raining I realized, drizzling slightly, and my flushed sweaty cheeks huffed out clouds of mist in the cool air. I stilled, and stared at the ground, not really seeing.

His smell on my sheets had made me sick. His voice as he had cried had felt like sandpaper on my skin.

But I still loved him. Or at least the idea of what he once was.

And it wasn't enough anymore.

I let the axe fall into the dirt and closed my eyes for a moment. I could feel Dad behind me, waiting, but thankfully silent as I pulled myself together.

I missed my life. I missed cooking dinner for my Dad and watching taped baseball games. I missed Jake, and I hated the way I had left things between us. I missed reading and camping. I missed the sunlight and was so very sick of the night.

I wanted it back. I deserved it back.

Edward could be sorry. I had seen to it that he lived long enough to be sorry.

But there were good things in my life. And he wasn't and shouldn't be all I had.

I opened my eyes and scrubbed at them with my aching palms, turning away from the carnage.

"Dad, I-"

Before I could speak, I was encompassed in warm strong arms. I heard a gruff sniffle, and the fur of his mustache ticked my ear as he hugged me close.

"Bells… God, Bells." His voice was watery, but not in despair but knee-wobbling relief.

I let myself sink into his arms, and let my Dad simply hold me. I felt his fingers gently smooth my hair as he mumbled something into my shoulder, and I took deep breaths of his scent. Where Edward had always smelled sweet, Dad smelled of home. Of soft blankets, strong coffee, and dollar body wash I knew he bought in bulk.

He led me back inside, the axe forgotten and the shed wide open, and prepared me a cup of instant cocoa. The kind with little marshmallows floating on top, as he sat beside me on the couch and covered us both in a quilt my grandma had made for her new husband as a young woman.

We didn't speak, and he didn't protest when I reached into my pocket to pull out my phone.



I set the phone on the coffee table, watching with him as the screen lit up with another call, this time from Edward. I let the phone buzz for a moment in silence, his picture bright on the screen.

It was a picture I had snuck of him in biology class, back when much of him had been a mystery. The angle was low, and he was arched over the microscope as he peered at the slide illuminated under the lens. I had loved that picture and treasured it in his absence. It had made me feel, I don't know… I guess lucky. Lucky to have found him in such a small town, enamored with his mystery and churning golden eyes. And when he had left… it too had become a relic, like the chair. Another thing that tied me to a memory, a feeling that I once thought only he could give me.

I sighed and looked over at Dad, not glancing back as the screen faded to black and the missed call hit my voicemail.

It wasn't lost on me that even days ago, I would've cut off a limb for a chance to hear his voice even one more time.

And that was so, so damn sad.

"I need a new phone," I told him as the screen lit up briefly, notifying me of a fourth missed call.

For the first time in months, someone in the Swan house smiled.

A/N: So, I've taken down my other stories to focus on this one. They still exist, but are being completely rewritten, hopefully, to be published again someday.

Couple of notes about this fic. We are starting this story at the end of New Moon, but I will and have taken quite a bit of liberties with the canon of the story. I just wouldn't assume anything.

Review if you have the time. :)