And here we are, the final chapter. I don't have to many author's notes for this one, I just want to take the time to thank all of my readers, especially the ones who take the time and effort to review. You don't know how much it means to me to know that someone out there actually likes my work.
This chapter isn't one of the longest, but I feel it's one of my best. I hope you enjoy!
Edward helped me up the stairs to my room. Charlie was talking with Carlisle in the living room. He was giving my father specific directions for my care, even though Edward would be constantly around.
I guess that was one good thing that came of this ordeal. Charlie certainly had a lot more respect for the Cullens since they had supposedly paid my ransom and rescued me from my kidnapper. Edward was allowed to stay here and watch me while Charlie had to work, to make sure I didn't relapse, which had already happened twice. My muscles had been fatigued almost past the point of recovery.
My eyes had managed a full recovery, but my ribs still pained with every movement. This trek up the stairs was particularly painful.
"We're almost there Bella," Edward comforted and I grunted in return. I hated being so helpless. Finally we reached my room and Edward laid me on my bed. No sooner had he pulled a chair to my side when Carlisle called his name from the stairway. Edward looked at me apologetically.
"Go on," I said. "I'll be fine." Edward nodded doubtfully and gave me a swift kiss on my forehead before gliding from the room. Barely two seconds after he disappeared from my sight a large figure leaped through my open window.
"Jake!" I exclaimed in surprise.
"Shhh,' he warned. "I don't think your bloodsucking boyfriend would be too happy if he knew I was here." I sighed. Whatever advancements had been made between them while trying to rescue me had obviously dissipated; most likely from an unfriendly exchange of words.
"Jake," I said, attempting to prop myself up on some pillows. He was immediately by my side assisting me.
"Thank you," I smiled slightly. "And thank you for working with them in finding me. I owe you my life." I knew I didn't have to specify who 'they' were by the slight wrinkling of his nose. He sat down with surprising grace from his size and laid one bulky hand on my arm.
"Bella," he began, his voice uncertain. "I don't know if my words will make any impact on you at all, but I can't bear to see you with those Vampires. With Edward." I swallowed hard. I had been hoping this conversation would never have to come.
"Jake," I replied, as comforting as I could. "This is my decision." Jake's face flashed with anger and hurt.
"Do you love him?" he asked in a slight voice. I nodded, unsure of what my answer would provoke. He bit his lip and looked away, blinking rapidly. My heart felt like it was slowly breaking. I loved Jacob, perhaps not in the same way as Edward, but I still loved him.
"I thought," his voice broke slightly and he cleared it before trying again. "I thought, when he left you, that perhaps…" His voice trailed off as he searched for the words. "…Perhaps you loved me." Tears began to blur my vision and I tried to swallow them back. Why did I always have to get so emotional?
"Jake, I do love you…" I began before he cut me off.
"Then leave him!" His voice was exasperated. "Bella, he's the reason this happened to you, don't you see that?"
"I know Jacob," I was desperately trying to keep the frustration out of my voice. Why did so many people have to constantly tell me how bad Edward was for me? "I'm willing to accept the risks. You don't understand!" Jake threw up his hands in irritation.
"What is there not to understand? Edward is a vampire! It's in his nature to suck blood, to take life."
"He's different," I defended. "He would never hurt me."
"Not intentionally," Jake's voice was starting to rise and I was worried they would hear downstairs. "But it's his nature; it's just what he is! Sooner or later it's going to be too much for him. Bella, I won't leave you in his hands to die!"
A loud grunting brought our attention to the doorway. A furious Edward stood in the entrance to my room, his red eyes burning like hot fire.
"Get out," he commanded, his voice harsh and cold. Jake stood defensively before me. I desperately hoped they weren't about to fight. I don't think I could've taken it.
"You will leave her alone with me," Edward answered Jake's unspoken thoughts, stepping forward threateningly. A menacing growl built in Jacob's throat.
"Stop it!" I shouted and they both looked in my direction. It was ridiculous for them to battle over me like this. "Jake, just leave." His expression was so hurt I had to look away.
"Please," I whispered, willing the tears not to leave my eyes. They did anyways. Jake gently wiped one from my cheek with a large, leathery finger.
"Fine," his voice finally ripped my heart all the way apart. I shut my eyes, trying to avoid his hurt look and when I opened them again he was gone. Edward angrily stormed to my window and slammed it with such force the glass cracked.
"How could you let him in here?" Edward's voice was surprisingly angry.
"Edward…" I attempted to calm him. "Jake cares for me. He wouldn't hurt me."
"Bella, he's a werewolf," Edward exclaimed. "You can't expect him to control himself!" Was it just me, or was this the exact same conversation I just had with Jake? I was getting sick and tired of it.
"He's as much of a monster as you are!" I yelled in frustration and immediately bit my lip. Edward looked as if he had just been slapped.
"Edward, I just mean…" I tried before Edward interrupted.
"I know what you mean," he glanced around my room, avoiding looking at me. "For once, I know exactly what you mean." My tears flowed freely now. I cared so much for both of them, yet somehow I managed to hurt them both.
"Edward, I love you," I managed to choke out. "But I love Jake too. He was there for me when I was almost gone." Edward's look suddenly grew horrified as he realized what I was talking about. Somehow we had managed to avoid this subject since he had first come back.
"Bella…" his voice was gentler and I knew he wanted me to stop.
"No Edward! Will you listen to me?" he remained silent, nervously taking a seat beside me. "If it weren't for Jacob I would probably be dead. He brought me back, reminded me what life was like."
Edward opened his mouth to say something, but seemed to change his mind and closed it. I tried to swallow my irritation and sound slightly friendlier.
"I didn't know if you were ever going to come back. Eventually I tried to move on, and when I did Jake was there for me, whenever I needed him. He loved me and I needed someone who would be there for me. I couldn't bear to be alone. It…it hurt too much." Edward swallowed several times before trying to speak.
"I was only trying to give you what I thought was best for you. What I thought you deserved," his voice was slightly shaky. I don't think I'd ever heard such raw emotion from him.
"I don't want a normal life," I squeezed his arm. "You're what's best for me."
"I still don't want you to see him," Edward whispered, and I could tell his eyes were filled with nothing but concern.
"I can't comply with that," I replied. "Just as I can't comply with Jake not wanting me to see you. I can't just abandon him after all he's done for me." Edward sighed, probably trying to sort through all his emotions.
"You can't always protect me," I smiled at him. "I'm a big girl." Edward returned my smile, thought it didn't quite meet his eyes. I rubbed my thumb in soothing circles on his arm.
I knew there were still a lot of wounds to heal and that not everything was set quite right, but somehow I knew that someday it would be. Someday everything would be just as it should.
But until than at least I knew I had my angel, and he would never leave me.
I do have another idea for a fanfiction fermenting in my mind, so keep me on your author alerts. I will post it as soon as I have the first few chapters written. All I can tell you is it is very Edward-angst oriented! My favorite!
Again, thank you all for reading. I hope you enjoyed as much as I enjoyed writing it!