Family Tree Chapter 33 Epilogue
I've lived ten years here, in Alaska, with Edward. I've been blissfully happy; he loves me more with each passing day. I can't believe my sheer, dumb, luck. I still find him breathtakingly beautiful, even moreso now that my vision has improved to the point where I can spot a tiny insect on a blade of grass half a mile away in the shade. I've been accepted into the Cullen family as a member, and I finally feel as though I belong with them. I have an eternity to look forward to… here with Edward, and my family.
But even perfection has its limit. My existence is everything I've ever wanted; but for the gaping hole in my chest, the one that used to house my best friend.
How I miss Jacob.
It hurts, deep inside. Though I've lost many human memories, I can still picture my time with Jacob with perfect, startling, clarity. I rewind all those lazy afternoons in the garage, and the wild nights beneath the stars, and I hold onto these memories because they are some of the most valuable I'll ever have. I know that I could search through the sands of time and not find someone I can relate to the way that I can with him.
Edward places his hand on my neck.
"You're doing it again," he whispers.
I turn to look at him, making a conscious effort to smooth my brow.
"Being miserable without him."
My mouth drops open. I've not mentioned Jacob once in the past ten years. I didn't think it was fair. I chose Edward, and would do so again. It would be pointless to hurt him that way.
"I'm not," I lie.
He smirks and tilts my chin up with his thumb. He traces my jaw, and brushes his thumb across my bottom lip.
"I can't continue to be selfish, though I wish I had it in me."
"What do you mean?" I step forward and wrap my arms around him.
He pushes me away gently. "Bella… you have eternity now, as do I. Jacob's time is limited in a way that we are not."
I protest. "He will still live a very long life, much longer than a human's."
"But what is one lifetime or two, when juxtaposed by forever?"
"Edward, what are you saying? That I should go to him?"
"No. What I'm saying is that you should take some time for yourself; as much time as you need. I'll be here, when you come back."
I know exactly what his cryptic response means. "Edward, I can't leave you."
"I'm not telling you to leave. I'm giving you a chance to have what you want. If there is something in the world that you want or need, I will find a way to provide for you. Bella, you need this. Eternity is a long time to be unhappy, and to regret your actions."
"I need you," I state stubbornly.
His eyes blaze with intensity. "As I need you, and always will. But for now, and as a sign of how much you mean to me, and how much I love you, I'm willing to let you go. Think of it as a personal growth period."
"I'll think about it."
He nods, and moves away. He says nothing more about it for several days, but he watches me closely.
My mind whirls with all the implications, and the complications that would arise if I went. It would be horribly, unforgiveably selfish for me to take this chance to be with Jacob now, while knowing that I could still be with Edward when it was all over. Then, of course, there is still the factor of whether or not Jacob would still want me. It's been ten years. Perhaps he's moved on. But still, the point would be that I would hurt Edward by doing this. How could I hurt him when he has given me the perfect life at his side?
"You're driving me insane you know," I tell Edward petulantly, a few weeks later.
"Merely waiting for the inevitable."
I throw a shoe at his head. He allows it to hit his forehead but doesn't react.
"When are you leaving?" He asks quietly.
"That soon?" he jokes but his velvet voice cracks.
I cross my arms around my body in an action reminiscent of my days as a high school student, when I didn't know any other way of keeping myself together.
Edward crosses the room to me and holds me tightly. "I love you Bella Cullen. I will wait here for you, no matter how long it takes."
"I don't want to hurt you."
"And I don't want you to hurt yourself. Bella, I'm telling you I can handle it. Just promise me that you'll come back, when it's over. That's all I ask."
His eyes smolder, and his hands squeeze mine tightly. He looks like a fierce, avenging, angel.
I feel my resolve waver as his pale, golden features melt into dark bronze ones in my inner eye.
I kiss him with all of the love and passion I have for him. Though I feel that I will never be able to make it up to him, I tell him in a small voice; "I promise I will come back."
Three days later, I walk up the rocky trail that leads to the Black's house. I speak with Billy, who eyes me warily before informing me that Jacob moved out on his own, and built a house on their land a few miles away. After getting directions, I seek out his place, and it takes me ten minutes before I have the courage to knock on the front door.
"Took you long enough," he grumbles as he opens the door and gives me the once over.
"Well, you could have come out sooner," I quip nervously.
"You made me wait ten years. I've made you wait ten minutes." He reminds me with a smirk.
"So, are you coming in, or aren't you?"
I step around his body, and am relieved when I realize that his scent, while still horrible, is tolerable enough.
He places hands on my shoulders, and they are so warm, they almost burn.
"Welcome home," he whispers in my ear.