All Characters belong to Stephenie Meyer
I was packing up the last of my belongings. I didn't have very much to pack, so it hadn't taken me long. School would be starting soon. I had decided to avoid the freshmen rush and start college in the summer. If I were being honest with myself it was really to get away. I needed a fresh start. It had been about a year since Edward left, and I needed to get on with life. I needed to move on somehow and live again. I decided the best way would be for me to get away. Of course I wasn't going that far, just Washington State. How could I? I needed to remember and know that it wasn't just a dream that Edward had existed. I would never love anyone as I had Edward, but that didn't mean I couldn't try to be alive again right?
"Are you almost done Bells?" Jacob asked as he bent down to kiss the top of my head.
Jacob and I were still just friends. I knew he wanted more, that he deserved more, but I just wasn't ready. He deserved better than me. He deserved someone who could love him with her whole heart without restraint. I was broken and didn't think I could ever be fixed. Still Jacob insisted on being annoyingly persistent, and though it was wrong I let him. I needed his too much to push him away. I often dreamt of what it would be like to be with Jacob and they were always happy dreams, but it wasn't fair to him. I couldn't do that to him. He was too amazing to not be loved entirely and wholly.
"Yeah Jake. I'll be down in a minute." I sighed. This was my last weekend at home. Jake and I had plans the entire time. Tonight we were going to Port Angeles for a movie, and tomorrow would be pizza night. We were going to stay up all night before I had to leave. I smiled at the thought. I wish Jacob could go with me.
As I was putting the last of my books into a box I noticed one of the floorboards seemed warped. It seemed odd since that part of my room wasn't even near the window so there was no chance water could have caused the damage. I walked over to the area near my closet where the warped floor was and stepped on it. It creaked. I bent down and noticed one edge was slightly raised, and there was something sticking out slightly. I bent down to pry the piece of flooring up and gasped.
I was not prepared for what I found. Tears sprang to my eyes as I stared at my discovery. There under the floorboards were my pictures of Edward, the CD he made for me, and the plane tickets Carlisle and Esme had given me for my birthday. I sat there for a long time staring at my things that had been hidden from me for so long. I could feel the hole in my chest ripping open, raw around the edges. My breathing was coming in short gasps as I continued to stare.
My mind was racing with questions as I heard Jacob come up the stairs. With hands shaking I quickly removed my belongings from their hiding place and replaced the floorboard.
"Bella what's taking so long?" He called from the doorway. I couldn't tell him the truth it would hurt him too much. I decided to lie. I felt bad for lying to Jacob but I needed time to digest what I just found.
"Uh…sorry Jake," I said quickly wiping my eyes with the back of one of my hands, "I was just getting a little sentimental that's all." I smiled. He seemed to believe me and smiled in return.
"You know what Jake I just remember there is something I need to do tonight. I'm sorry, but we are still on for pizza night ok?" I asked getting up from the floor and walking to my door.
"Ok Bells. Are you alright?" Maybe I hadn't been as convincing as I thought.
"Yeah I'm fine. I really am sorry but I have to go now." I was half way down the stairs clutching my lost belongings to my chest. I grabbed my keys and jacket and ran to my truck. I watched as Jacob observed me with a concerned look, but said nothing getting into his own car and driving away.
I placed my things on the seat beside me as I put my key in the ignition and drove away. I didn't know where I was going and decided to stop at the school parking lot to think. School was out and the lot should be vacant.
I shut my car off after parking in a corner of the school's lot. I took several deep breaths to calm myself trying to ease my pain. I slowly reached over closing my eyes to grab the pictures of Edward and I in my hand. I didn't know how smart it would be to look at them again, but I just had to. I gradually opened my eyes as I swallowed hard trying to control the emotions that were assaulting my mind.
Edward was more beautiful than I remembered. My dreams had not done him justice. I could feel the tears running down my face as the pain from the hole in my chest consumed me making it almost impossible to breath. I wrapped my arms around my chest trying to hold myself together as I rocked back and forth.
Why had Edward done this? Why had he hidden these things for me to find later? Was he trying to torture me, make it impossible for me to move on? When he first left I would have given anything to have had these memories, to be able to play his music…
No! I couldn't think this way. I needed to put him behind me and move on. I needed to feel more than just pain. He promised! He promised dammit! The more I thought about it the more outraged I became. How dare he! He had no right to invade my life this way. He left. If he really wanted things to be like he never existed then why the hell would he leave these painful reminders behind! What kind of game was he playing with me?
I angrily started my truck and sped out of the parking lot. I would return these memories to their rightful owner. I tried desperately to cling to my anger, as I got closer to his house. I was desperately trying to block the pain that would inevitably come later that night.
I gritted my teeth as I drove down the rain-covered streets clutching the steering wheel tightly. Somehow I was able to find the turn off to his house, though it was over grown with branches and ferns. As I approached the house I was surprised to find it just as I remembered. It looked exactly the same. I could feel the hole in my chest burn and ache as I parked in front. I closed my eyes taking a few deep breaths.
"I can do this!" I whispered to myself in encouragement. I needed to cut all ties if I were ever to move on. I quickly reached over and grabbed the CD, pictures, and tickets clutching them tightly in my hand. I purposefully did not look at them, as I opened my door to get out. I slowly made my way up the steps to the front door. I reached out for the doorknob and noticed my hand was shaking. I tried desperately to focus on my anger again as I opened the door.
The house was exactly the same. Nothing had been moved or taken. It felt so empty and cold. I wanted to run to my truck and drive away, forget that I had ever come. I quickly shook my head trying to erase those thoughts from my mind. I needed to do this. I made my way to the staircase trying to remain numb to the memories that were assaulting my mind. Anger, being angry was the key, I kept telling myself. I eventually made it to the third floor and stood outside the one room I had spent the most time in, Edward's bedroom. I stared at the door for a few minutes unable to move. Finally I took a deep breath and slowly opened the door.
I gasped, my mind unable to register what my eyes were seeing. I felt tears sting my eyes as I placed one hand over my mouth. I felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me. There sitting on the couch starring at me wide-eyed was Edward. He looked exactly the same, beautiful as ever. His eyes were dark and it looked as thought he hadn't hunted in a while. His scent was intoxicating and I could feel the hole in my chest ache with each breath threatening to open wide again.
I couldn't speak. I just kept shaking my head back and forth as the tears fell noiselessly down my face. I felt my knees become weak and for a second I thought I might pass out. Was my mind playing tricks on me? Was he really sitting before me staring at me? Was Edward really here or was I dreaming? Had my hallucinations taken over?
I slowly removed my hand and let it fall to my side, and tried opening my mouth to say something but nothing came out. My breathing had increased, and I could feel that I was shaking. I kept moving my head slowly back and forth unable to believe what I was seeing. Edward just gawked at me. His eyes were sad and filled with concern. He didn't make a move to approach me.
We both stared at each other for a long time.
Finally I was able to find my voice though it was weak, "y-you left, why are you here?" I chocked out as I started to get past the shock. I was getting angry with him, and myself. I hated the way I was feeling. I wanted nothing more than to run to his side and fall into his embrace. Seeing Edward again made me feel whole. I hated him for making me feel this way, and I didn't know how I was going to survive once he left again.
He was frozen on the couch for a long time. "I just came to check up on you." He answered softly.
"No! It's not fair! You get to see me, but I can't see you. You left! You didn't want me anymore remember!" I spat out at him angrily with hurt filled eyes. I was sobbing now and was trying desperately to control my emotions. How was I ever going to survive again without him?
"Bella…I" He began but I cut him off.
"You promised Edward…y-you p-promised." I stammered between my tears. I watched as he hung his head and sighed deeply. I took several deep breaths to calm myself waiting for him to respond.
When Edward finally looked up at me his expression was pained, "I'm so sorry Bella, so sorry." His words rang with sincerity.
"For what Edward? For leaving me, for hurting me, for never loving me? What exactly are you sorry for?" I said icily. I had stopped crying and found myself glaring at him. I was being mean and I saw him flinch at my words, but I didn't care. I wanted him to hurt as much as I had, as much as I was going to once he left again.
"I'm sorry I hurt you. I'm sorry I have caused you so much pain." He whispered locking his eyes with mine.
"Why are you really here Edward?" I pleaded. I would be a fool to think it was because of me. He was probably just feeling guilty for making me cry, and that's why he looked so miserable.
I watched as he took a deep breath and said softly, "I wanted to make sure you were all right, happy, and safe leading a normal human life."
Tears began to once again roll down my cheeks as I answered, "Why would I be ok Edward? The one person I ever loved left me broken and alone. What about that would make me ok?" I said quietly.
"Bella I never meant to hurt you, please you have to believe me. I was just trying to protect you. I…I…" He stammered as he dropped his head into his hands.
"You what Edward?"
He looked up at me with a wounded expression, "I'm a good liar Bella I have to be."
"I know." I whispered as I wiped the tears from my face with the back of my hand. For months I had believed that he loved me or least cared for me, but after that day in the woods I knew it was just a lie. I was simply a distraction for him to make his life a little less dull. I wasn't interesting enough for him, and so he had moved on.
"No you don't know." He said as he quickly came to my side grabbing my shoulders with his hands. He stared at me with pleading eyes as he continued, "Please just listen to me. I had to leave you…to let go…to protect you from what I am. You deserved better than me, better than the life you were doomed to lead with me. I had to make you let me go." He said so quietly I wasn't sure if I heard him correctly. What did he mean he had to make me let him go?
I stared up at him confused waiting for him to explain. "I thought if maybe you thought I didn't love you anymore you would move on and find someone else…lead the life you were born to lead."
I shook my head back and forth and furrowed my brow bewildered by his words. "What are saying? I don't understand?"
"Bella…I never stopped loving you. I could never nor will ever stop loving you. I lied to protect you and I'm so sorry I hurt you. I love you Bella."
My head was spinning, but I couldn't allow myself to believe his words. He didn't love me. He never loved me. I was leaving for college in a few days to start over. How could he do this to me?
"No," I said shaking my head back and forth, "No you can't do this to me."
"Bella." He said reaching up to touch my face.
"I'm leaving for college soon to start fresh; to try to live again. You don't know how hard it's been. What I was like…" I dropped my head remembering my zombie state as I felt his hands lift my face brushing the tears from my face. I wanted nothing more than to believe his words, but how could I? Even if they were true it didn't mean he was back.
"You don't believe me do you?" He questioned. I could hear the pain in his voice, but he was right. I didn't believe him…I just couldn't allow myself to.
"Edward," I began softly, "I can't afford to believe you. I can't let myself go down that road again. To let myself hope and have you leave again…I don't think I would survive a second time."
"I will never forgive myself for leaving you, for causing you so much pain. I doubted your love for me. I'm so sorry for that. I thought you would move on and be happy. I can see how wrong I was. Bella you mean everything to me. I don't want to live without you ever again. I need you in my life. I have been so lost and empty without you. I love you. Can you ever forgive me? Can you still love me or am I too late?" He whispered urgently.
I stared at him speechless unable to comprehend all he had just told me. He never stopped loving me. He wanted to be with me. The concepts were hard to accept after everything that had happened. Could I still love him? I never stopped loving him. I wished I had, I wished I didn't then it wouldn't hurt so much.
"I wish I could tell you that I hate you. I wish I could tell you to leave and never come back." I said softly. "But I can't. I will always love you Edward no matter what."
He smiled at me and swiftly leaned down crushing his lips to mine before I knew what was happening. He kissed me long and deep. His lips moved urgently against mine and I greedily kissed him back. I raised my arms up and wrapped them around his neck molding my body to his. Feelings that had been locked away for so long burst from me as we kissed. I never wanted it to end. In that one kiss we had become one. We kissed until I became faint. Reluctantly Edward pulled away holding my face firmly in his grasp inches from his own.
"I love you Isabella Swan. I will never leave you again." He said in earnest as we both tried to control our breathing.
"Do you promise? Are you really here to stay?" I asked directly.
"I promise." He said firmly staring intensely into my eyes, "I will never leave again without you by my side."
We spent the rest of that day and night talking; mending our broken relationship. I was still scared and couldn't allow myself to trust him completely yet. The pain he had caused was still fresh and it would take a while before I could trust him as I did before. But for now he was back, and I was restored. The hole inside my chest was completely healed, and I felt whole again for the first time in what seemed like forever. It was like I could finally breath.
Occasionally during the night as Edward held me close I would think of Jake and how this would hurt him. I felt guilty for the pain I would cause him. I loved him very much and didn't want to hurt him. I wasn't in love with him though, and after seeing Edward again I knew I never could be. Edward truly was the only person I would ever love. How would I explain everything to him? He would never understand, that I was sure of. I was going to deeply hurt the one person who had been there for me through everything, and I felt sick at the thought. Would he ever forgive me?
My life was far from perfect, and I dreaded facing Jake, but with Edward at my side I knew I could face anything.