All characters belong to Stephenie Meyer
A huge THANK YOU to saranicole!
I lay with my eyes closed, hands folded across my abdomen, on the bed I bought for Bella going over today's events in my head. So much had happened. Victoria was finally gone forever and would no longer pose a threat to Bella. My family was safe, and the newborns were all destroyed. There were many things to be thankful for, yet I was not happy.
Bella was, at this very moment, with Jacob Black. He should be awake by now. I wondered what she was telling him, what she was deciding. Wondering if, after all this, she would still be mine.
She had held my hand in an iron grip earlier as we had sat by his bedside waiting for him to awaken. He was going to be okay. He would heal… soon enough. The guilt, fear, and confusion that consumed her were all too clear on her face as she scarcely blinked—afraid of missing anything. I said little—just held her close and tried my best to comfort her. What could I say? The only thing that would bring her comfort was to see him awake and well again. I felt as though she were thousands of miles away from me. Her thoughts were centered on him, and her love for him… I trailed off, grimacing as I considered the magnitude of her feelings for Jacob.
Though I tried to understand, watching my angel stare lovingly at another man was agonizing. For each tear that streamed silently down her face, I felt a knife stabbing me through my dead heart slicing little pieces of me away. She loved him. No, she was in love with him. I recoiled from the thought and the misery it caused me. Occasionally she would reach out and gently caress his hand. The image of which would cause me to mentally cringe. I ached inside knowing that part of her wanted to be with him, that a part of her could not live without him.
Her caress was so gentle and intimate; it made me resentful of the dog, that she would touch him in such a way. With each touch I felt a pain rip through my body that I had only felt once before. My entire frame trembled under the weight of the hurt that flowed through me threatening to suffocate me. I felt completely empty, void inside. I could feel my angel slipping away, and the pure anguish of it nearly pulled me under. I felt as if I were drowning in a deep pool of despair with no hope of survival. Though I tried, repeatedly, to make it to the surface, I was being pulled down again and again. My lungs burned, my vision was blurred, and my muscles were weak from struggling so hard to get free.
For the first time in my entire existence, I felt drained. There was nothing left inside of me. I had no more fight left in me. It took everything I had to simply sit by and watch as my reason for existing slowly pulled away from me. I wished I had some sort of release, the ability to cry, or the opportunity to scream. But I had nothing. There was nothing. All meaning was slipping away.
She told me before that she loved me more than him. I tried to trust that—trust her—but it didn't stop the choking fear from rising within me. Fear that at this very moment, she was choosing life-choosing him. The way she had kissed him this morning only helped to fuel my anxieties. The image of her lips on his seemed permanently burned in the forefront of my mind. It would haunt me forever. I quickly opened my eyes hoping to dispel the images from my sight, but it was to no avail. She had kissed him passionately; in a way I would never be able to kiss her. She… I hesitated and winced not wanting to think the word… loved him, really loved him.
But how could I blame her? I couldn't even blame him, really. They never planned for any of this to happen. In my leaving, I had forced them together. It had happened so naturally, so gradually. As a flower first buds in the springtime so had their love, starting out as friendship and blossoming into a beautiful flower for all to see. I chuckled humorlessly as I remembered the plan Jacob had described for me in his head of how he was going to win Bella over. It was a good plan. It might have worked had I not returned. And his modified plan might still work.
I sighed. If she needed me, I would be here for her, for as long as she wanted. No matter what happened.
I took a deep breath and slowly let it out trying to clear my head. She brought back the light into my life when all I could see was darkness. She was the only one who could make me smile, despite myself. But most of all, she gave me her love and trust, even after I had so foolishly left her.
The strange thing is I don't remember when our relationship truly began, but I remember the feelings that coursed through me whenever she was around me. I have never realized the pains of love until now. Everything is so different when you experience it first hand. Not even my brothers and sisters know what it is like to love and lose. They have only known love. They are the lucky ones.
Though it pained me, I had had to let her go to him—perhaps forever. She needed the chance to make her choice. So, I let her leave, and my heart ached because I could feel the pain and the confusion she was going through. I felt the pain of letting the best thing in my life go. But I was willing to live with that pain if it meant her happiness. Nothing was more important to me than that. Not even my own selfish desires.
I wished that I could go back to the days when it was just Bella and I. I wished that things in life were simpler, and that it could be just the two of us again. I sighed sharply. I was uselessly torturing myself. Things were not different. Life was not simple. I had a feeling life for Bella and I would never be simple.
I shot up out of bed the instant I saw the vision Alice was having of Bella. She was on the side of the road, just outside La Push, slumped over on the seat of her truck crying frantically. She looked so vulnerable, so fragile. Without thinking, I was out of my house and halfway there. She needed…I hesitated, me she needed me. Fear gripped me as I hoped against all hope that I was still that someone she needed as I raced to her.
As I approached her truck, I could hear her weeping. My heart broke. I quickly opened the passenger door and immediately lifted her into my arms. She was tense at first, and I wondered if my attentions were unwanted. Maybe I wasn't the one she wanted holding her anymore. But she pulled herself closer to me and began to weep harder.
I said nothing. There really was nothing to say. I simply held her close and rubbed her back soothingly. Time seemed to stand still.
I am not sure how long I held her before she started to mumble Charlie's name. I pulled her away slightly to look into her eyes. They were swollen and bloodshot from all her crying. She managed, after many tries, to convey to me that she needed to go home—that she was not going to get better anytime soon.
I sighed and slid her off my lap as I moved into the drivers seat keeping one arm securely around her. I wanted to give her time to pull herself together, and took my time driving to her house. She struggled the entire way to gain some semblance of control over her emotions. She was miserable. I could see the sorrow radiating from her eyes.
When we got to her house, she turned to me and asked me to wait for her upstairs. I stared at her for a brief moment, and hugged her close to me before I disappeared to her room.
I waited patiently as I listened closely to the conversation that was going on downstairs. She had chosen me. And though I finally had want I had wanted, I still could not feel happy. Knowing Bella was hurting—hurting more than I had ever seen before—took all the joy out of my victory.
I listened as I heard her stumble up the stairs and begin to cry again. I watched as she fumbled through the door to her room and instantly reach for the bracelet Jacob and given her. She tried desperately to free her wrist of the reminder of her former friend. I went to her side and placed my hand gently over hers. She should keep the bracelet. It was part of who she was. He would always be part of her.
I pulled her into my arms as she started to sob freely. The pain that racked her little frame was debilitating. I led her to the bed and laid her down next to me as she soaked my shirt with her tears.
The night seemed endless. She made no effort to quiet her tears, or her hurt. I began to wonder if she had made the right choice. If she was in this much pain, maybe she should be with him. I wanted nothing more than to take her pain away, but I was helpless. I felt emotionally weak. Feelings of despair and hopelessness threatened to overtake me as I held Bella close. I was so strong, yet so weak. I couldn't control the outcome of this—and there was nothing I could do or say to take her agony away.
I began to wonder if she even wanted me with her. I wondered if I should go and let her grieve in privacy, but every time I moved no matter how slightly, she would cling tightly to me… With every move I made to leave, she pushed herself closer to me. I wondered if she was thinking of me as I held her close, or if she was wishing I were him. The weeping seemed constant and uncontrollable. I had never seen such pain before in another person.
At one point in the night she became hysterical. The panic and frenzied look in her eyes scared me. I grew tense with alarm as the minutes passed and her breathing became more labored. I reached up and soothingly stroked her hair trying to calm her. But after what seemed like an eternity, it passed and she began to weep again.
If there had been anything I could have done to just see her smile again, no matter the price, I would have paid it. I was infuriated with myself for causing my angel this misery. It was entirely my fault. Could I do nothing right by her? Was I doomed to hurt her over and over again?
I had left her bleeding and broken, and she had turned to Jacob to stitch her back up again. He was the one who had been there to pick up the pieces. He had healed her in my absence. That was the part that pained me the most: In my leaving I had forced them together, but in my return I had forced them apart, breaking Bella's heart both times. She would bear the scars of my actions for the rest of her life—deep gashes that would plague her forever. On one hand, I would be forever grateful and indebted to Jacob: He had saved her life, and by that act, saved mine. But on the other hand, I hated him--for existing—for what he was—for what he could give her—for the pain he had caused her.
I sighed. He had done his fair share of inflicting pain, but I had dealt out the lion's share. He was young and inexperienced. What was my excuse? I had acted just as immaturely, manipulating Bella just as he had to get what I wanted, hurting her deeply in the process.
As dawn neared, her crying quieted, and she fell into a restless sleep. She clung tightly to me even as she slept. She continued to sniffle in her sleep. I slowly bent down and pressed my lips lovingly to her forehead trying to calm her.
If only I could travel back in time…so many things I would do differently…I would change…I would do all the things I should have done. I would have loved her more. I would have stayed with her, trusted her, and respected her wishes. If I could go back I would fix all the terrible mistakes I had made--mistakes that had cost the both if us so much. There's the rub of it all. There was no way to go back. I would never have the chance to repair all the things I had done wrong. I would forever be haunted with the thoughts and images of her pain tonight. Regret and remorse was what I felt now.
I could feel my throat constrict, as I was overwhelmed with the desire to release the anxiety that was building inside of me. I could feel myself coming apart at the seams. All I wanted was to take her despair away—to see her carefree and happy again. It seemed like an eternity since I had seen her untroubled. Not since we first met. Her life had been in constant uproar since the first moment we were first together. She deserved better than the constant fear and sorrow she felt when she was with me. She deserved better than what I could offer her. She was miserable and I could not help but feel that I was the cause.
Morning was dawning. Light slowly began to filter in through her window as it slowly lit up her small room. I waited anxiously for her to wake and for the onslaught of tears to begin again.
As the room grew lighter I stared lovingly at my angel. Though my actions did not always show it, I loved her more intensely than ever. If she would still have me, after all I had done, I would stay with her forever.
She slowly opened her eyes and I braced myself as she stared back at me. I said nothing as I watched her carefully.
"Hey," she said. Her voice was hoarse from all her crying, and she cleared her throat.
I kept silent as I continued to watch her intently waiting for her to start again.
(On to page 609 of Eclipse)