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Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer rocks! All recognizable people and places belong to her.


Chapter Twenty - Goodbyes

I regretted the way I ran out on Bella without so much as a word of where I was going. I hadn't mentioned it to anyone in my family and had purposely kept my thoughts in a mess to avoid Alice knowing exactly where I was.

Bella had said she needed some time to get over Jacob, and as excruciating and it was, time was what I planned on giving her. A few days at least. As long as my heart could muster.

She was heartbroken because her ring had fallen to the bottom of the Bering Sea. I couldn't return her lost love, but I could retrieve the emblem that once meant she would be his bride.

I returned to the place where we had exited the water and stripped down to my boxers. This time I wouldn't soak the seats. I dove into the sea, swimming against the current. Plunging my body deeper and deeper. When I finally reached the sandy bottom, I searched with my hands for the proverbial needle in the haystack. This was a rather large haystack and an equally small needle.

It was a good thing I didn't need oxygen, because the search was taking longer than I would have imagined. I'd thought this errand would be an easy one, but it was proving to be difficult. I wondered if having a flashlight would have made it easier.

I considered going back up and getting one when my hand brushed against something. I picked it up. I'd found it. I gripped it between my fingers, careful not to crush it.

As I exited the waters, my body continued to get wet. It had started to rain, soaking the dry clothes I'd left on the shore. "Dammit!" I groaned, shaking them out. I threw them into the trunk, grateful I'd grabbed a change of clothes before retreating out of the house this morning.

I got dressed and sat in my car, examining the cause of Bella's breakdown. The detail was amazing. I ran my finger gently over the wolf on the top. The dog really made this himself? I wondered how long it had taken him. It was a good thing Bella had placed it into a plastic bag otherwise it would have been ruined.

My phone buzzed from the seat beside me and I glanced down at the number. Bella. She must have realized I was gone. I waited, hoping to hear the tone signaling that she'd left a message.

Within seconds, I flipped open the phone and listened to the first of my seven messages.

"Edward, it's Alice. Call me."

"Hey, Bro. Bella's really freaking out! Call me," Jasper's voice relayed.

"Edward," my stomach flipped at the sound of Bella's voice. "Where are you?"

"She's gone… Edward you need to call home," Alice's tone was frantic. "I can't see where she went."

"Dude, make a decision so Alice can tell where the hell you are!" Emmett growled.

"Oh, Edward," Bella mumbled quietly before her voice was gone. She sounded so sad. I cursed myself for hurting her, yet again.

"Edward, it's me. I need you to call me. Alice said you might be in La Push. I'm headed there now. I love you. Edward, I love you so much. Please call me."

What? She's on her way to La Push?

I started the car and began driving like a madman to the home of the dogs. I loathed myself for putting Bella in harms way.

All I could think about was the danger Bella was headed for. The wolves wouldn't think twice about hurting her, especially if she ran into that bitter one they called Leah. Her thoughts told me how much she hated my sweet Bella. And the angry one, Paul… I couldn't bear to consider what he would do to her. I could only hope she met up with Jacob…

Ah, Jacob. What if she did see Jacob? It'd been months since he'd said goodbye and she still wasn't over him. She'd never be able to move on with me if he kept popping up in her life.

I slammed the gas pedal to the floor, pushing the engine to its limit. I considered calling her, but knew fate was already in motion.

The hours passed far too slowly, but I finally arrived on the La Push border. I concentrated on the thoughts around me, hoping to be able to hear her beautiful voice. Instead I heard Jacob's.

How can I convince her she's the only one for me?

I gulped. If he was going to try to convince Bella, I feared it wouldn't take much. I came to the edge of the trees to see her standing in Jacob's arms. I stifled a growl and bit back the green-eyed monster that wanted to rip his arms off and beat him with them.

Then I heard Bella's voice speak my name. "Um…Edward…"

What could be so horrible? He took her by the hand, "Spit it out, Bells."

"Oh, I've ruined everything…" Her shoulder shook with tearless sobs.

He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her to his chest. And again, I was overwhelmed with agonizing jealousy. This man was once her whole world.

"Edward has bent over backward, trying to make things easier for me, and I…" she sniffed. "I only hurt him."

"How could you possibly hurt him?" he chuckled.

She pulled away from his embrace and looked up into his eyes. "I just couldn't let you go. I loved you too much."

I gulped at her revelation and frantically searched his mind for what this meant to him. Loved, past tense. That's good. She has moved on.

Did she say 'loved'? I'd missed that.

"Bella, honey…" he kissed her forehead. "You know, it's not possible for us to be together."

I let the air out of my lungs in relief.

"Jake, that's not why I'm here." She stepped away from him, ringing her hands. "I've come to realize something in the last 48 hours." She paused, looking up into his eyes. Their exchange was becoming excruciating. "I love Edward…" I could have sworn my dead heart jumped. "and even though, you'll always have a piece of my heart, You are my past. Edward is my future."

"As is Kam for me." I hope Kam's all right. She always worried that Bella would come back, trying to claim my heart again, and coming face to face with that fear had to be very difficult for her.

"I like her, Jake."

"I'm glad. She's a lot like you." She's so stubborn, his thoughts almost groaned.

"Really?"

"Yeah, I think that's why she was so easy to love," he chuckled. "So tell me again why you're here."

"Edward overheard me crying over you and… well… he left," the sobs began again. "He left me -- again."

Oh, no. She thinks I left her again? I suddenly felt very guilty of not explaining where I was going and why. I would do anything to make her happy. I'd heard through her thoughts that she wanted time to mourn Jacob and seeing her crying over the loss of his ring was more than I could take. I figured I would kill two birds with one stone. I'd give her time and get her ring back.

"I'm sure he didn't leave…"

"He did. He left. And… Alice saw that he might have come here. So I came to find him. Have you seen him?"

"N-…" he began, before noticing me as I stepped out into the clearing. "Yeah, I have seen him."

I nodded at him.

"Oh, Jake. Wh-…"

"Bella," I whispered, walking out to meet her. She whirled around, a smile spreading across her face. She ran toward me, and leapt into my arms. I held her to my chest and breathed in her scent. Peace. I was finally at peace.

She pulled back, staring into my eyes. "Edward, how could you leave me?" her voice broke.

I wanted to reach out to her, take her into my arms and comfort all her fears away. But instead, I began my explanation, "I didn't leave…"

"Leech," Jake muttered from behind Bella.

"Hi, Mutt." We exchanged niceties.

"Edward, it's not what you…" her voice was panicked. And although, I had been jealous in the beginning, her words had comforted all my fears away.

"You don't need to explain," I chuckled. "I heard everything. You love me." It felt so good to say the words. She loves me.

"Yes."

"Jacob is your past."

"Um hum."

"And I am…"

"My future," she finished my sentence. She tilted her head up and pressed her lips to mine. I gave into my passion for her, and reached my hands up into her hair, pulling her eagerly to me.

She wrapped her arms around my neck. There was so much passion in her kiss, it took my breath away. Her tongue darted out, begging for entrance. I opened my mouth, tasting her.

The mutt's disgusted thoughts disappeared as I focused on the only thing that mattered to me in this world. Bella's perfect lips. Her hands running up and down my back, eagerly pulling me closer to her. Her intoxicating scent.

A loud cough caused Bella to jump. She released her grip on me and took my hand. She looked up into my eyes and I could see the embarrassment there. Oh, how I miss her blush.

A smile spread across his face, reaching his eyes. "I'm happy for you, Bells. Goodbye."

I wrapped my arms around Bella's waist and watched over her shoulder as Jacob disappeared into the trees.

"Are you okay?" I whispered in her ear.

"Um hum," she muttered, while turning to face me. She glared at me and slapped at my chest. "Don't you ever do that to me again, Edward Cullen! I love you. I can't bear for you to leave me again."

I pressed my lips to her forehead. "I promise. I won't ever leave without telling you where I'm going."

"I guess that'll do," she giggled. "Why the hell would you come to La Push?"

"I came to get you."

"So where were you, if you weren't here? Alice couldn't tell."

"Well…" I reached into my pocket, taking the ring into my fist. "You were devastated when you lost this." I held it out to her and she gasped. "Haven't you figured out I would do anything to make you happy."

"You went to get…" she sniffed, "my ring. Oh, Edward." She wrapped her arms around me as her sobs started again. I love you, her thoughts spoke the words she could no longer voice. Thank you.

"Would you like me to put it on your finger?" It would break my heart to see Jacob's ring on her finger again, but all that mattered was her happiness.

"No," she whispered. "I'm just grateful to have the memory." She took it from my hand and dropped it into her pocket.

The next ring that adorned her left, ring finger would be one that sparkled as brightly as her skin in the sunlight.

"Thank you, Edward."

"You're welcome, love."

"Let's go home."


Author's Note: This story is winding down. I'm glad you've enjoyed it!