Hello again. So this next chapter gets pretty intense. It might seem a little OOC at parts, but don't worry, things will all be explained.

Ps, past contextual errors have now been rectified. To those of you who noticed them, thank you for pointing them out. For those of you who didn't notice them, pretend that you never read this…errors? What errors?

Oh angst!


"Bella." I repeated her name, finding it was the only word I was able to say.

Her eyes betrayed what she would not say, what she looked like she could not say. She had killed a human. She was trembling all over. In her expression I could read the very obvious disgust with herself. I took a step in her direction but she backed away from me.

"Don't…don't touch me," she said, her voice edging on hysterics. I wanted to touch her though. I wanted to soothe her. I wanted her to know that even though had slipped it didn't mean that I didn't love her or that we would think any less of her. We had all slipped. No one was perfect. So instead of heeding her warning I took another slow step toward her. Her whole body went rigid as she drew her arms up around her chest.

"Please," she begged. This was not the girl that had left me hours ago. This was not the Bella that took Volterra by storm, the girl who had spent her time there "kicking ass and taking names" as Emmett would have put it. She was fragile and so close to falling apart. She only shook harder as I closed the space between us, wanting to comfort her.

I knew though that there was very little solace for this situation. There was nothing I could say to her that would make the revulsion she was feeling go away. The hate that would follow this was unstoppable. I wondered, when it came, would she hate herself or me for making her into the thing she was? Would she push me away as I had pushed Carlisle away? I hoped not. I wanted only to be near her for the rest of this world.

As she collapsed into me I let us fall to the ground. Her whole body was shaking. She was sobbing and screaming, trying to get rid of the pain that was gripping her. I wanted to make it go away. Oh Bella I would take it away if I could. If I it were possible I would trade it with you. I would hold that pain inside of me for the rest of forever if I only knew how.

She was convulsing on my arms. It felt almost akin to what she had done during the change, but now I knew that the agony she was in was not physical. She was hurting from the inside out, her high morals tearing her apart.

I don't want to kill people.

She had told me that even before she was changed. I had promised I would teach her not to kill them, to hunt an alternate food source that would give her what little piece of mind I could offer her. But now…she would feel the effects of this long after the taste of the human blood faded in her mouth. It was true, human blood was far more satisfying that animal blood—after all we were made to hunt humans, it only stands to reason that their blood would be sweeter and infinitely more tempting.

"What happened?" I asked when her body had stopped shuddering. She inhaled a deep, shaky breath and then pulled away from me, removing herself from my arms completely. She sat cross-legged on the ground and followed suit, watching her expression. For the moment it was a complete blank.

"I was hunting, you know out in the woods. And there were deer. I was following them. I felt that…click of my mind shutting off and letting the instincts take over and then…I knew it was a human. I could smell him so clearly. I couldn't stop. I was drinking from him, holding him down while he struggled uselessly and I knew what I was doing but I just…couldn't stop."

She refused to look at me while she made this confession. I continued to stare at her, watching the look on her face as she stared out over the ocean.

"Bella, you must believe me when I tell you that it wasn't your fault. It was an accident. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once the instincts kick in, it is impossible to control the pull of human blood, no matter how much you might want to."

"It isn't my fault? What are you talking about? I killed a man, Edward! I took away his life with every swallow of blood. And it was so good. He tasted hauntingly wonderful the sweetness was…incomparable. I was so lost, my control completely gone," she said. She went to continue but I stopped her.

"You slipped, Bella. We have all done it. I've done it. Your control is amazing in the first place. I couldn't believe you were able to restrain yourself around so many humans in Volterra and then on the airplane. Please, Bella, listen to me."

I reached out and touched her face, turning back so she would look at me. The brilliant color of her eyes was mildly shocking but I controlled the alarm as to not upset her further. I could see her wanting to shy away from my touch as I cupped her cheek gently with my palm. Why was it she wanted to pull away from me? Was she feeling the distaste for me already?

"I know that you feel miserable now. You hate yourself for what you have done. The creature you are claimed a victim and only now do you truly feel the depth of this cursed existence. I know that feeling. The despair and self-hate is tempting. But please don't let it take you. If you cannot keep yourself from spiraling into depression for yourself, please do it for me."

"How can you…I don't deserve what you seem so ready to give me," she stated, her eyes never leaving mine.

"And I deserve what you give me? What have I done in this past century to make myself worthy of you? I have killed. I have slipped and drunk the blood of humans to satisfy the need inside me. I have hurt others. I have taken your precious humanity and crushed it out forever. I destroyed you human life, giving you only this in return. Please, Bella, tell me what it is that has redeemed my soul in such a way to possibly be worthy of you. I can tell you with absolute honesty I can think of no such deed."

"You manage to love me still? Even after what I have done?" she asked quietly. Her voice betrayed incredulity.

"There is nothing you could ever do to change how I love you," I answered without hesitation.

"That is redemption enough."

My love for her swelled again. How she was able to take my inadequacies, my knowledge that I would never be good enough for her, and make it seem like such a silly, worthless worry was still a mystery to me. But when she looked at me—begging me to take her in my arms like she was now—I knew that as strongly as I felt for her, as immeasurable as my feelings for her were, her feelings for me matched them perfectly.

My love for her was what made this existence worthwhile. I had not thought of it as being my redemption as well. Was it possible that loving her this way—willing to die, to suffer unending pain only to see her face—could be atonement for what I was? I grappled with that thought as I pulled her to me again. This time she fell against me silently. Did this feeling, this selfless regard for another being, make up for every life I had taken? Did it even out the balance of the world? My soulless existence was now changed irreparably by this woman that I held to my body. I would never let her go again.

"Why did you run?" I asked, kissing the top of her head to calm and soothe her.

"How could I face any of you after this?" she asked in return. I hugged her tighter.

"Bella they will not hate you because of this mistake. They love you, all of them. It is not as if they don't understand the cravings you feel or how difficult it would have been to keep control," I told her. She did not seem to understand that they would sympathize with her. If any of us were placed in that situation it would be hard to say if things would end differently or if we would be lost to the same fate as she was. I had a feeling that if we were totally given to our instincts as Bella said she was there was nothing that would have stopped any one of us from killing that man.

She described the feeling like a click, like it was a clean shift from one phase to the next. In a way that is true. Your mind becomes almost a ghost of itself. Your consciousness is hardly present, if at all—only an observer to keep the memories when it comes back into the forefront. While hunting your ability to control your thirst is nonexistent. You give yourself to the physical part of your being and let that take you until your thirst is slaked. If you should happen across a human during this time it would be near impossible to resist. Even in practice I know I would have found it close to unfeasible and Bella was so young.

She managed to keep from massacring hundreds of people we had seen, showing oceans of dominance over her needs the way only a vampire in practice after many years would have. She seemed more or less unfazed by the current of scents that churned upon on so often—at the gala, in the town where we bought clothes, in the plane—it was no wonder she found her lack of control here unnerving. She had been doing so well. Now she felt that not only had she done something unforgivable, but she had disappointed the family as well.

"I had to go. I had to run away. I have to try and figure out what I am now," she continued softly. I moved away from her slightly, wanting to look at her.

"What do you mean?"

Her eyes grew cold. Her mouth had been a downward pout, now moved into a hard line. She removed herself from my arms completely, breaking the contact. I braced myself for what I knew was coming. She was angry now. Her body language and expression betrayed that even if her thoughts were stubbornly silent. She would be angry with me soon enough. I had done this to her. I had taken away her life. And now she had killed. She had tasted blood from a human and in part, it was all my fault. I deserved whatever she wished to say to me.

She stood again and returned to the position she had been in before I had gotten to her. She was watching the sea. I rose and stood beside her, keeping distance between us. I didn't want to provoke her. If she wanted to talk or do anything else I would let her but I didn't want to push.

"I thought this would comfort me," she said softly after a long while. The sun was beginning to fall, dropping over the horizon on the water. It looked as though it was just going to fall off the edge of the world from where we were standing. I turned to her and arched an eyebrow, urging her to continue.

"After we first got here, to England, everyone went out of their way to keep me busy. Alice took me shopping. Esme tried to get me involved in her home projects. Emmett forced me into a video game marathon. And everyone was walking on eggshells. They tried not to say your name, or bring up anything that reminded me of you. But the problem with that was everything reminded me of you. I had so few memories beyond you that trying to ignore you was like trying to ignore life itself.

"Well a few weeks into that everyone figured it would be okay to leave me alone for a while. But…there in that house, with your family, and your memories I felt so…trapped. And I was so scared. I kept wondering if they had just killed you. So I got out of the house and I just started running. I didn't even know where I was going. But eventually I got here. And even though I still missed you, even though my whole body was screaming for you, this somehow managed to ease the pain a little. I thought because I feel the same as before maybe this would help. It isn't helping though."

Her expression had faded. The anger had gone away, leaving something empty in its wake.

"The same as before?" I asked, trying to gently persuade her to answer my questions without making things worse. Her face turned to mine.

My heart broke. She looked more than sad. She looked more than in pain. She looked like she had just died, like everything inside of her was falling apart and she was going to implode.

"Like I might as well be dead," she said softly. With those words she grabbed my heart and pulled it right out of my chest. Even though it had not beat in so long I still felt incomparable sorrow and pain. My poor Bella, what had I done to her?

"Don't ever say anything like that ever again," I commanded her, my voice sounding slightly angrier than I had intended it to. How could she think that she would ever be better off not existing?

"Edward―"

Before another word could escape her mouth I took a risk and kissed her. At first I could feel her shock and I was sure I was in for a rebuke. But then unexpectedly she returned my kiss forcefully. Her fingers tangled in my hair as I brought my own hands up to hold her face and caress the soft skin of her cheeks, her neck, her shoulders. Her kiss became greedy, demanding more and more of me as each moment passed. I pulled away from her gently, intending to kiss her face but she growled, sounding almost angry and met my lips again.

I gave in to her kiss for a moment before pulling back suddenly. She looked into my eyes, her brow furrowed in confusion and frustration. She had attacked me with kisses before, but those were always playful and sensual. This was angry and demanding in a way I was uncomfortable with.

"Bella, what are you doing?" I asked her. She bit her lip and breathed out hard.

"You don't want me?" she asked in return. Before I could respond I noticed the anger come back into her expression.

"I never said that."

"But you pushed me away! So you've finally seen that I am truly not your sweet innocent Bella anymore and you don't want me, is that it?"

I was incredulous. What was she talking about?

"Bella, I honestly don't know where you are getting this from. I don't love you because of your innocence."

"No, you loved me because I was human."

"I already told you that no matter what happens I will always love you," I repeated, hoping to quell the fury building behind her eyes. I knew she would be angry, and I knew she would probably be angry with me. But I didn't want her to go and do something rash because she was angry.

Rash like what? My mind asked me.

Like run away again, this time for good.

She stood with me for a long moment, the anger in her eyes still not abating like I wanted it to. And then she took a step toward me. I relaxed slightly. The moment had passed. Even if she was angry, my words had found her. She understood.

And then her hands were on my chest, resting there gently. Her eyes avoided mine even as she tilted her face up toward mine. I was about to tell her I loved her again, to reassure her that nothing would change that.

But then she shoved me hard. And I was falling.

I hit the water with a splash and was suddenly surrounded by the cold of the water. I swam quickly to the surface. I looked up to the top of the cliff I had been standing on with Bella a moment before. I could not see her, which only meant that she wasn't peering over the edge for me. What had just happened?

The current of the water was bringing me closer and closer to the edge of the cliffs. I swam to them and with a few quick motions began climbing them with ease. As much as I didn't want to be angry with her I was a bit peeved. She had just pushed me off a cliff for God's sake. Obviously she wasn't trying to kill me because it would take so much more than that. But she obviously either didn't want me around or was fed up with me, possibly both.

When I got to the top of the cliff Bella was nowhere in sight. She had gone again. I went to pull out my cell phone and call home when I realized I had just been thrown into the ocean, obviously my phone was not going to work. I sighed in frustration. Why was she so difficult? I remembered back to something Marcus said when he was explaining why he chose to help me get Bella back.

She can be sweet and gentle one minute and angry and ready to tear someone's head off the next.

How right he was. I never would have believed she would do something like that. I thought she would yell at me, scream, get angry maybe even try and hit me. But throw me off a cliff? That never crossed my mind. It didn't even occur to me that she would think of something like that.

I didn't know what else to do so I just started running home. My clothes dried as I ran, the wind wicking away the moisture. My mind was reeling. Had she gone home? Had she just run to somewhere else? Did she want to come back or was she still to angry or upset or embarrassed? If she wasn't there should I go looking for her?

It took me until midnight to get home. Not because I couldn't have gotten there faster but because I kept getting turned around. I was so absorbed in my own thoughts that I hardly paid attention to where I was. Since I hadn't been to England in almost forty years I was not quite as familiar with it as I would have liked.

When I did return home Alice was waiting for me in the foyer.

"Oh thank God you're back. Did you find her?" she asked, her voice so full of hope. I nodded.

"Oh good! Where is she?"

"I don't know," I admitted.

Her mind raced with a hundred questions. I told her to just hold on and then explained the whole story to her and the rest of the family in the living room after I had gathered them all. It was either that or tell the story a multitude of times to each one of them. I heard the concerned thoughts they were all having—especially Esme—after telling them about Bella drinking human blood.

"So she won't come home because…" Emmett looked to me to explain. It wasn't as if he hadn't ever fed from a human being before. He just knew with complete certainty that we would not hate him for it. I didn't understand why Bella could not accept that same fact.

"She's ashamed," Rosalie answered for him. I never would have expected Rose to be the one to understand Bella the most, but at this moment she comprehended what she was feeling. Just her thoughts, the hate for herself, the shame, the sadness that she was this creature mirrored that things Bella told me and what I had seen in her perfectly. She knew what she was going through.

"What is there to be ashamed of? She made a mistake, that happens," Emmett said, still not understanding.

"She is disgusted with herself, for being what she is, for not being able to control herself. She doesn't believe she deserves our love or forgiveness."

"Is that why she pushed me off the damn cliff?" I asked, a sour note in my voice. Rose's mouth twitched slightly as she attempted to suppress a smile.

"Yes. She was pushing you away, quite literally."

I sighed. She was always so strong, and the one time she allowed her self to be weak she decided to push me away because she didn't believe she deserved me. Did I not cover that subject? I tried to show her I was no better than she was—far from it in fact. But she had not listened to me. She didn't understand, or she didn't want to.

After a short while everyone got up to leave. I stayed put, leaning against the wall, trying to figure myself out. I didn't even notice that Rose stayed behind.

"Edward?"

I looked up. Her thoughts were running all over the place and I blocked them out, focusing instead on her words.

"Just give her some time. She needs to figure this out on her own. She's a strong girl, she can get through this."

Without thinking I hung my head and uttered a sentence I never thought would escape my mouth, especially not to Rosalie of all people.

"What if she doesn't?"

I looked back to her and saw the far away look in her eyes.

"When I slipped I wanted to kill myself. I had no idea that something that could feel so good in the moment could make me so miserable. Every time someone said my name I flinched. I felt horrible, disgusting, evil. I never hated myself before then. I sometimes wished I could have changed things. I wished I wasn't a vampire, wished Emmett and I were just two young lovers instead of monsters. But I never hated myself like I did after that. Emmett would try and talk to me or touch me and I would just…shrink away. Or I would yell at him, tell him to go away, to leave me alone because I couldn't help but think that if I hated myself so much, how could he not? I was sure he would see how horrible I was and not want me anymore.

"No matter what you say to her right now, no matter how you try and convince her, she wont believe you when you tell her you love her. She took a life, Edward. The guilt is bad enough. But what is going to be worse is now she knows what the blood tastes like. She is going to want it. And that will make it so much harder for her to fight the self-loathing."

As often as Rosalie and I clashed on certain things, and even though I knew Bella was not exactly her favorite person in the world she was sympathizing.

"It took a while, but eventually I understood that even though what I did was sickening and unforgivable it didn't make Emmett hate me. In fact, it didn't make any of you hate me. I knew I was going to have to live with what I had done for the rest of eternity. I just realized that it was okay accept love while I repented. It took me months to come to terms with that, but I don't think Bella will take that long. She would miss you far too much to stay away."

I tried to smile. But I couldn't quite make it stick. Months. Rose had taken months to finally come back to being herself.

"Edward, she had to go months without you already. Now that she has you back I don't really think she is going to decide to do it again. Trust me, the Bella we all know and love will be back sooner than you think."

I wondered about the truth of that statement. Of course I prayed she was right, hoped beyond hope that Rosalie's insight was correct. She left me then, squeezing my arm in a comforting gesture as she walked out of the room.

I went to take a shower. Even though I was dry from all my running the sand and salt of the sea was still over me. It made my skin feel tight. I washed the grime off of myself, the water turned as hot as I could.

Bella had accused me of only loving her because she was human. Obviously that was completely ridiculous and I chalked it up to trying to push me away like Rosalie had said. Not that I didn't sometimes think of how wonderfully she had burned me. The scorching water could not even come close to how the heat of her skin had made me feel. But now I felt the same love, the same sensuous pull in my stomach when she touched me even without the heat.

Her being human had nothing to do with my reasons for loving her. Surely the fact that I had been able to fall in love with her as a human should be proof enough that I would love her no matter what?

I let the water run for a long time, until I eventually realized it had gone cold. I stepped out and got dressed, enjoying the feeling of clean clothes that were not covered in sea salt and chaffing my skin. Not that there was any real physical pain involved, but discomfort was not a pleasant sensation, especially when I was already in a sour mood.

As soon as I was out of the bathroom the house phone rang shrilly. I didn't even think we had a house phone. Who would call us? But after a moment of ringing I realized that no one else was going to pick up so I went into the hall and found one cordless phone.

"Hello?" I said into the phone. My irritability was obvious even in that one word.

"Come meet me."

Bella's voice came to me over the phone. I stilled, my whole body freezing up.

"Meet you where?" I asked.

"The coffee shop in London that Alice told you about."

""We don't drink coffee, Bella," I reminded her. She ignored me.

"Just meet me, Edward."

Then the phone went silent. She had hung up on me. I clicked off the phone and put it back on the cradle with a sigh. She did not sound happy. But I got my jacket and walked down the stairs. As I went to open the door I heard Rosalie.

I told you Edward. She couldn't keep herself away even for a day.

"Yes well she doesn't seem all that enthused about this little meeting," I replied dryly. Inside though I could feel my nerves tightening. Rose was trying to help. She was trying to encourage me.

"It doesn't matter, Edward. She wants to see you, which is a big step. So go enjoy your little tryst and come back soon okay? I have some things online I have been dying to show her for when we go shopping in Paris next month but she's been occupied the past few days," she said, smiling. Where was all this coming from? Since when was Rosalie encouraging or sweet? But I nodded to her and stepped out the door.

I opted to take a car to the coffee shop. I didn't know where it was by experience, only through Alice's mind. But that was enough. I would have simply run there but it was pouring outside—good old England. So before I could leave I had to go back in and ask Rose to borrow her car. She tossed me the keys to a new Jaguar XKR coupe.

Welcome home, Edward. I took the liberty of adding some…modifications. I didn't think you would mind.

I smiled this time, aware that to anyone else a welcome home present would be a paying for a nice dinner out or something equivalent. I got a car—a very nice car at that.

"Rosalie, you think of everything," I told her. She smirked as I went out to the garage. Rose definitely did add some nice little perks to this car—I was up to almost two hundred miles an hour with barely any effort. I raced to the coffee shop, not wasting any time.

The city—while far from dead—was not nearly as full as the last time I had been there. Granted, the last time I had gone to London it was not five o'clock in the morning. I parked my new car about a block away and walked the rest of the way to the place Bella had asked me to meet her. When I got there I stopped outside the big window out front. She was sitting inside, pretending to nurse a cup of coffee as attendants shuffled around the back uselessly. One of them was watching her—a young man whose name was Adam as far as I could read on his nametag.

She looks so sad. I wonder if she wants to talk to someone.

I watched with curiosity. What would she do when this boy came and talked to her?

He walked over to her and said hi. He introduced himself. He asked if she wanted some company. At first she looked apprehensive but then she sighed.

"I'm actually waiting for someone, but you can take a seat until they get here if you like," she offered, nonchalant. She boy's heart skipped as she looked directly at him.

Whoa those are some crazy contacts she has in! But oh man she is so…beautiful. No, that doesn't even begin to cover it. She is…unbelievable.

He was so unworthy of her, but he was also right. She was completely unbelievable. There was not a woman on earth that could ever compare. So what was I doing out here, standing under this awning and watching her get chatted up by some little boy?

"Are you okay? I mean you look a little…put off," he murmured as he sat. She stared down into her drink that was steadily cooling down.

"It has been a very long night," she confessed. Her asked her to tell him about it but she shook her head. She didn't want to talk. Why wouldn't he just go?

"I would ask if you wanted to go get coffee some time, but I think that would be a little cheesy seeing as I work in a coffee shop. But we could go out and get some dinner or something if you wanted, obviously at a different time because its really early in the morning and restaurants won't even be open at this time. Besides the fact that you probably aren't hungry right now because you know its like five in the morning and I am working and all…"

The poor boy was rambling. For a moment I wondered where his collected confidence had gone and then I saw she was staring him right in the eyes. She was dazzling him. On purpose. It was comical. I chuckled softly outside, trying to be quiet. Then I realized that the kid was just going to be making further fool of himself if I didn't go inside so I took a deep breath and pushed through the door.

He stopped talking right as I stepped inside.

Please don't tell me that is who she is waiting for.

"Hello, Edward," Bella said without ever turning around. Her voice was like the sweetest music I had ever heard, something I could never replicate on my piano, no matter how hard I tried. The boy realized that his presence was no longer necessary and scurried off behind the counter, thinking if only I hadn't shown up he would have gotten her number. He was wrong of course, but I had better things to do than correct him.

"Hello, Bella," I said gently as I rounded the table. I took a seat in the chair the boy had occupied a moment before and looked at her. Her eyes were fixed on the coffee she was not drinking.

"Dazzling that poor boy wasn't very nice," I told her, a lilt of amusement in my voice. I saw her smile even though she wasn't looking at me. Smiles were a good sign. But I didn't want to push her. I remembered what Rosalie had said. She needed time.

"I'm sorry I threw you off a cliff," she muttered. I would have laughed if I did not hear the painful inflection of her voice.

"While I will say it was certainly not the most pleasant experience of my existence, I am fine."

Now she did look up at me, her scarlet irises locking onto mine. For a very long time it seemed she stared at me. Never once did I move, not wanting to break the connection. She bit her lip and sighed eventually.

"Do you forgive me?" she asked.

"For throwing me off a cliff?"

"Among other things."

I felt my face contort into a frown. What was it she thought she needed my forgiveness for?

"For that, for running in the first place, for not waiting for you, for what I did…please, Edward, please tell me you forgive me," she begged. I was not used to this. She did not resort to begging.

"Bella, I forgive you for tossing me over a cliff. You don't need my forgiveness for any of the other things."

She continued to stare at me.

"Everyone is worried about you," I told her. She snorted, as though she did not believe me.

"You have not told them then," she said, as though she knew it to be true. Shook my head.

"I told them earlier. They understand. They know it's hard. We all know. They don't hate you."

"I hate me," she confessed.

"Bella, this is a burden I wish you were never forced to carry. But…some things cannot be changed."

I remembered what she had said earlier.

I have to and figure out what I am now.

At the time I had no idea what she meant. But now it made more sense. Her identity had been shattered. She had tried so hard to convince herself she was not a monster and had destroyed that as soon as she took her first swallow of human blood. She could not pretend not to be a vampire except when it suited her anymore. She had taken a life, it was the ultimate proof she was no longer human.

"I can't come home," she stated. I raised an eyebrow and she continued.

"Not now at least. I just…I know you care about me, all of you, but its not…that doesn't change what I've done."

I nodded. I needed to let her have her space. Rosalie's words echoed in my mind.

I couldn't help but think that if I hatred myself so much, how could he not?

I would never hate her. I would never do anything but love her, even if she left me.

"Whatever you need, Bella."

"I need…I need you to understand that even though I must go—I must—it doesn't mean that I want to. I don't. I want to stay with you. I want things to be the way they were before this happened. All those hours I spent with you, just sitting and listening to you breathe I was so happy. I don't know if that kind of happiness is even real anymore, Edward. But as you said, some things cannot be changed."

Ignoring the warnings Rose had given me I reached out and touched her face, forcing her to look at me again.

"Yes, some things cannot be changed. How I feel about you is one of those things. I know that you can't stay with us now. You need time. It will be hard but I will not argue. Take as much time as you need. But know that no matter how long it takes—a day, a year, a century—I will always be waiting for you. Always."

Her body stiffened. Her mouth opened, her perfect lips parting for an instant before closing again. I withdrew my hand, fearing I had gone too far.

"So if you aren't coming home, where will you go?" I asked. She could take time if she wanted to, but I wanted to know where she would be. She shrugged. I nodded anyway.

I wanted to hold her once more before I left. I wanted to feel her lips on mine. I wanted her not to go. But she had to. She needed this time alone. I knew it even before Rosalie told me. It was only because she had given me insight into her own experiences that matched the despair of my own and seemed to mirror Bella's so well that I had resigned myself to this. It would be torture me to be without her. It would kill me to live each day and night not even knowing where she was.

But I would do it for her.

I rose from my chair and Bella did the same. She threw away the paper cup she had been pretending to drink coffee from and then we walked out the door, the annoying bell jingling as we passed through. Unconsciously I walked toward my car as if we would both be riding in it. I stopped in front of it when I got to it. Bella laughed.

"Whose car is that?" she asked suspiciously.

"Mine. It was a welcome home present. You didn't know they bought it for me?"

She shook her head.

"They must have bought it while we were Italy," she said, shrugging. I nodded, noticing for the first time how awkward this was. Was she waiting for me to leave? Was she standing here, feeling obligated to say a long goodbye?

"Is there somewhere you want me to drop you off?" I asked, desperate for just a few more minutes with her. I stared at her, wanting to memorize every detail of her face. I knew that it wouldn't matter—when I saw her again I would still be shocked at how magnificent she was. But I wanted to be able to remember as best I could.

"I think I'll walk. I don't really know where I am going, after all," she replied softly.

"Please take care of yourself, Bella."

Now who was begging?

She smiled. Then she walked over to me, the epitome of grace, and kissed me on the cheek very softly. Her hand came to my face where her lips had been the moment before.

"Always," she told me, repeating my words. I nodded mutely and then she turned and left.

Again.


It was raining again. The sky had darkened considerably since the afternoon and I was not surprised that it opened up. As the rain began to fall I heard the roll of distant thunder. A flash of lightening broke the sky with its jagged path, leaving a scar-like after burn in its wake. I watched this through the window in my room.

As opposed to my spiraling depression in Volterra I did not refuse to leave my room here. I was in good company. I loved my family and they knew how hard it was for me to have her gone and not even know where she was. I tried my hardest to involve myself in the day-to-day life of my siblings and parents. In the day and in most of the night it worked. I did not forget about her of course, it was just easier not to focus on her when I had something else to concentrate on.

But sometimes there were hours where I was either not welcome to join in the activities my family members were participating in, or I did not feel so inclined as to join them. Alice inviting me on a shopping trip for a whole day marathon of shopping was one such activity.

So instead of being out with them while they shopped until Alice dropped—which would not happen for years to come I was sure—I sat at home alone. They had tried to convince me to go, but every now and then I simply wished to be by myself.

My family's reaction did not surprise me when I told them Bella was staying away for a while. They were sad and worried but supportive.

Rosalie surprised me. She went out of her way to occupy me and make sure I was okay. I was not used to her being so selfless, at least not on my account. For Emmett it was a completely different story, she would do anything for him. But recently she was doing all she could for me. I think we both knew it was because she realized now what her distance and self hatred had done to Emmett while she so upset with herself and pushing him away. She saw the ache in me that she had missed in him because she was so distraught herself. She was trying her best, and I was thankful for her efforts.

But even she knew that at times I needed to be alone. So she left me by myself like the rest of them. I waited for them to return just as I waited for her, sitting by this window night after night, day after day, watching the world and just waiting. I tried not to be pathetic. I did my best to stay involved and keep myself from sinking into the nothing that took me in Volterra. For the most part I was succeeding.

A loud clap of thunder erupted in the sky directly above the house, shaking it down to the foundation. I had been so wrapped in my musings that I was actually startled when the sudden loud noise shattered the lulling rhythm of the rain. But as the rumble continued on I felt a smile spread on my face. There was something comforting about as storm such as this one—the roar of the thunder on the wind, the flash of the lightening, the feeling of pure power that charged the air.

So without thinking I went outside. I stood on the balcony, feeling the wind whipping at me. But I didn't want to be near the storm, I wanted to be in it. So I jumped from my balcony, landing neatly on my feet in the backyard. I was instantly drenched. But I ignored the feeling of my clothes plastering themselves to my body and just enjoyed feeling the thunder as it vibrated through me. I thought briefly about being struck by lightening but realized it wouldn't matter. It wasn't as though it would hurt. It might even be interesting. Not that I planned on going out of my way to be struck by lightening, I was just curious.

The wind picked up again, pushing against me as I stood, unmovable. And then I heard someone call my name. I looked around, searching for Alice or Rose back from the shopping trip. I couldn't find anyone. I frowned. Was I going insane now? Was I hearing voices?

But no, there it was again, right as the thunder boomed overhead with a deafening crash. My name, carried on the wind. I searched again, frantic to find the source of this voice. I looked around, watching for some movement, some idea as to who was calling to me. And then my eyes caught a movement up in the third story. There was someone on my balcony.

Bella.

Within the next few seconds I raced across the yard and leapt up onto the veranda. I was sopping wet, my hair slicked to my forehead, dripping water in my eyes but I could see her still. She looked beautiful. I brushed my wet hair from my eyes, trying to rid them of the obstructions that blocked her from view. She was smiling, suppressing laughter.

"What were you doing?" she managed to ask, her voice wobbling with a giggle.

"I just…" I had no words. Between being so shocked seeing her and being humiliated that she caught me standing out in the rain for no reason I could not quite communicate what I intended. She laughed at me then, unable to control herself. And when she finally quieted her laughter, she looked at me.

"I don't know why I expected you to look different."

"I'm still just Edward," I reminded her. She shook her head.

"You could never be just Edward," she replied.

"Are you here to stay?" I asked her. I mentally kicked myself. I should have waited to ask until later, when we were not standing outside while a storm raged around us, when I was not dripping wet, when it had been longer than two minutes seeing her. Her eyes were beautifully golden, sparkling with unknown excitement.

"I would say you are going to catch your death being in those wet clothes, but I don't think you have to worry about that. However I still think you should dry clothes on," she said, completely ignoring what I had asked her. Without an argument I obliged her, walking inside. She followed me and closed the door to the balcony behind her as I peeled off my wet shirt, tying to ignore the squelching sound as it detached itself from my skin.

I dropped my shirt on the floor and it landed with a thud. I was sure Esme would scold me later about putting wet things on the floor, but for the moment I did not care. I had turned to Bella because she was standing in the direct path of my dresser where the rest of my clothing was. I took a step in that direction with every intention of just getting some clothes. But I couldn't move. She was looking at me—really looking at me, taking in every inch of me, as I stood motionless before her.

Finally after lingering for an incredibly long time on the rest of me she finally met my eyes. Her staring didn't embarrass her. The look in her eyes was not manifestly lust; it was…like becoming familiar with something again.

She closed the space between us, placing her hand on my shoulder. She might not have been human but my skin burned when she touched me. I continued to look into her eyes, waiting for her to do something, say something to tell me what she wanted me to do next. But she said nothing. She did nothing. She simply stood there with her hand on my shoulder, watching at the drops of water from my hair dripped on her hand and wrist.

So I breathed out a sigh, picked up her hand in mine and kissed her palm. The taste of her skin was incomparable. I longed touch my lips to every inch of her skin, to remember what it was to love her so fully, to have her all to myself. Her hand moved to touch my face, her fingers brushing against my cheek. I ached. Every cell in my body that had wanted to be near her, every moment I spent wishing she were with me during teh past two months came flooding back to me. I wanted to be holding her, right then.

So regardless of how she might react I grabbed her wrist and pulled her to me, fully aware I was half naked and all wet. At first she seemed very shocked at my sudden need to be so close to her. But then she relaxed in my arms, wrapping the arm I wasn't holding around my back, holding me as close to her as I was holding her to me.

"I am staying, by the way," she murmured against my skin, her lips touching the skin of my shoulder. I nodded and kissed the top of her head before pulling away and leaning down for a real kiss. The longing I had felt for so long was finally released in that kiss. I had no idea that it could be such a cathartic experience.

When I pulled away I looked back down at her. She smiled up at me and then blinked and grimaced.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"You're dripping on me," she confessed. My hair was still sodden and little beads of water were sliding off and onto her face as she stood so close to me.

"Pardon me for a moment," I said, reluctantly removing myself from this long awaited embrace. I went into the bathroom and got a towel, quickly drying my hair so I wouldn't drip on her anymore. When I came back out of the bathroom she was sitting on the bed, staring into her lap. She was thinking, I could tell simply by the expression on her face, even if I couldn't hear her.

"What are you thinking?" I asked her as I went and sat beside her.

"How much I have missed you. How foolish this all seems now. I mean I know what I did was…terrible. I know I will carry the weight of that mistake for the rest of eternity. But I made myself suffer so much because I was so convinced that you would hate me. Even as you told me you loved me, as you tried so hard to make me see that my...slip…didn't negate how hard I tried to control myself, I just couldn't listen. I thought I was nothing. I thought I was the worst kind of monster there was. And I know, in a way that's true.

"You told me once that you were a monster, you just tried to control yourself. I thought that controlling myself meant I wasn't, meant I was different than Aro and all of them in Volterra. But it didn't. But we are different. Because we don't want to be monsters. We don't want to kill. That's why it's okay. Not that taking a life is ever okay, I just…I understand that I am not a vile creature because I made a mistake. I don't take lives all the time or on purpose. It was an accident."

I kissed the top of her head, confirming with my kiss that every word she said was true.

"I was afraid that when I came back you wouldn't want me anymore," she confessed after a while.

"I told you I would wait," I responded. She nodded.

"I know. But still…" she trailed off. I turned her face back to mine and kissed her again, banishing every thought she might have had about my not wanting her. That was ridiculousness.

"Isabella Marie, I have told you before but I will tell you again, never will I want anyone but you. I love you," I told her, my tone almost scolding. How could she still think I didn't want her after the number of times I had told her, showed her that there was nothing on this planet more important to me than her?

"Always?" she asked quietly. I nodded. She smiled and sighed, leaning against my bare shoulder once again. Her heavenly scent overwhelmed me as the stirring of her hair released some of the fragrance. I breathed in deeply, taking in her intoxicating scent as deeply as I could.

"Bella?"

"Mmm?"

"Promise this is how forever will be?" I requested, repeating her words back to her. She straightened and then looked at me. Her eyes burned and smoldered, leaving me unable to speak. She took my hands in hers and then kissed my forehead sweetly. She moved so her cheek was against mine, her soft skin brushing mine.

Soon my family would be home. They would be happy to have her back and happy I would finally be whole again. I would have everything I ever wanted or needed, even when I didn't know it was Bella that I needed. But now I knew. Now there would never be another for me no matter how long I lived. The feeling of owing the universe for this happiness was gone now. I had gone through enough—we had both gone through enough—to warrant some pure happiness without the fear of danger or disaster at our every turn. I was ready to just enjoy myself with her, take my time loving her and being near her, never taking for granted any single moment I had with her. If she would let me.

So I could not help the chill of delight that ran through me as her lips touched my ear and she whispered softly, "I promise."

Fin


Yes my dear readers, this is indeed the end. I know, I know, I wanted it to go on infinately as well. But it needed to end, and this was the perfect place, in my opinion. Happy ending, yay!

Thank you to everyone that stuck with me through this story. Your comments have been wonderfully supportive.

Unfortunately I dont think this particular story will have a sequel because well, I dont really know what else I could do here without everything being really different. So sorry guys, but be on the look out, who knows what other ideas will come into my head...

Thank you again, from the depths of my little heart.

Chedea