Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story takes place in an alternate universe and begins almost fifteen years after chapter three of New Moon. When Charlie called Renée to come to Forks, Bella went back to Jacksonville with Renée.

Thanks to Bronzehairedgirl for her help and patience with this story. Also, thanks to sullencullen AKA muckymuckerson for making me finally want to finish this story.


by silly bella

There was no one to hold me together this time, yet I had to keep going. For Mari Alice. She deserved a mother who could function. There was Charlie to think about, too. And school. School would start in a couple of weeks. And I needed to go fix breakfast.

But I didn't want to get out of bed.

Mari Alice slipped into the room carrying a tray of food. I hadn't heard her in the kitchen. I hadn't smelled the eggs and bacon. Maybe I was losing my mind.

She placed the tray in front of me and sat at the foot of the bed. "Why did they go, Mom?"

I took a bite of the eggs and chewed carefully. It was still hard to swallow. "They just had to go, sweetheart. And it really was for the best." I couldn't expect her to understand. I hadn't been able when it was me in danger.

"I can't believe he left you again. What did he say this time? How could he hurt you like that?" Her words spewed out in a rush of anger.

"It's not his fault, baby." It's mine. All mine. I have only myself to blame.

She glowered in my direction. "He's gone, isn't he? How is that not his fault?"

I didn't want to tell her, but I had to. "It's not his fault." I shook my head. "It really isn't." I glanced away, unable to look into her eyes as I whispered, "I told him to go. I told them all to go."

"You what?"

Enraged, she waited for me to answer.

What could I say? I knew from my own experience that it wouldn't be enough for me to tell her that I was protecting her. I sighed and launched into a weak explanation. "They couldn't stay here forever, sweetie. You know that. Someone was bound to recognize one of them eventually."

"We could have gone with them," she challenged.

"How could we have done that? What about Charlie?"

She rolled her eyes. "Mom, Charlie could have come, too. What would it matter if he'd recognized them? Half the time he thinks I'm you and you're in high school. Do you really think that even if he did recognize them and catch on to the fact that they hadn't aged that he could persuade someone to believe him? He has Alzheimer's, Mom. No one would think twice about it."

"We couldn't do that to Charlie – we couldn't take him away from Forks. Away from everybody he knows."

"Everybody he knows? Mom, most of the people he 'knows' are dead. You know as well as I do that Billy Black was his last good friend, and Billy died almost three years ago. We are everybody he knows. When he knows us." She closed her eyes and clenched her jaw. "I just can't believe you told them to go."

She stood abruptly and shook her head as she thrust her hand up, palm out, making it clear she didn't want to hear any more. She slammed the bedroom door behind her.