Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse or any of the characters found within them. Thank you to Stephenie Meyer for creating such wonderful characters with whom I could play. No copyright infringement is intended by this story.

I parked my car in Bella's driveway and waited for her to drive her ancient truck home from school. I paced back and forth across her driveway and thought about the arguments I had had with my family over the last two nights. Usually Carlisle and Alice would at least take my side. Not this time. In fact, the only one of my siblings who agreed with my decision to leave Forks was Rosalie. I grimaced slightly at that thought. The only time Rosalie and I generally agreed about something was when it involved tinkering with an automobile. I was shaken out of my thoughts by the sound of Bella's truck. I could hear it long before I saw it turn onto her street. I quickly climbed back into my car. I did not want Bella to see the worry on my face. I had tried so hard all day to convince myself that I was doing the right thing. As soon as I saw her, I almost lost my resolve. How could I live without her? But I knew that leaving Forks and Bella was the only realistic way I could keep her safe. Whether it was best for me did not matter – only she truly mattered.

As she stepped out of her truck, I walked over to meet her still trying to work up the nerve to do what I knew was right. I took her book bag from her and placed it back in the truck. "Come for a walk with me," I said, trying to keep my voice light and my face calm. I took her hand, knowing it was probably my last chance. I briefly held it to my lips, savoring her Bella-ness one more time. Then, I pulled her towards the forest. After we took a couple steps onto the trail leading away from her house, I stopped. I did not want her to get lost later.

"Okay, let's talk," she said looking at me with questions in her eyes.

I took a deep breath, even though I really did not need to breathe. I told myself again this was the right thing to do no matter how much she argued with me. "Bella, we're leaving," I said. I was afraid to look into her eyes for fear that she could see through my façade.

She responded, "Why now? Another year . . ."

I cut her off before she could say any more. "Bella, it's time. How much longer could we stay in Forks, after all? Carlisle can barely pass for thirty, and he's claiming thirty-three now. We'd have to start over soon, regardless." I looked down at her now, hoping to keep my voice and eyes expressionless. I thought to myself, you just need to get through this quickly. It will be less painful that way. Although if I was really being truthful, I was not sure for whom it would be less painful – for Bella or for me.

She waited a couple moments and then whispered, "When you say we . . ." Her voice started to crack on the last word.

This was the moment I had not been able to stop thinking about for the last two days. The moment where I had to break her heart and mine. I tried to make my voice sound cool and detached. "I mean my family and myself," I said.

She was silent. I wondered what she was thinking so hard about. Then she started shaking her head back and forth. "Okay," she said, "I'll come with you."

"You can't, Bella. Where we're going . . . It's not the right place for you," I responded quickly.

"Where you are is the right place for me." She said.

"I'm no good for you, Bella." I knew that this at least was the truth.

"Don't be ridiculous," she said. "You're the very best part of my life."

I had to stop her before she said anything further and I was unable to continue. "My world is not for you," I said. This was true in so many ways. All I have done is almost get her killed over and over again since the day I met her. I cringed at the thought of Bella bleeding and surrounded by broken glass on her eighteenth birthday – a day that should have been a celebration. Instead, deplorable creature that I am, I could not even hold her hand and kiss her while Carlisle stitched up her arm.

Now she sounded exasperated. "What happened with Jasper – that was nothing, Edward! Nothing!"

I agreed with her. "You're right. It was exactly what was to be expected." I did not add that I should have expected no more from a family of soulless monsters. I was not even really angry at Jasper – it was inevitable and it was all my fault.

"You promised! In Phoenix, you promised that you would stay . . ." Her eyes bored into me.

I knew that I purposely had avoided making that exact promise. "As long as that was best for you," I corrected.

"No!" Bella shouted at me. "This is about my soul, isn't it? Carlisle told me about that, and I don't care, Edward. I don't care! You can have my soul. I don't want it without you – it's yours already!"

Silly Bella, of course this was about her soul and her safety. She was my everything. I could not keep endangering her life by allowing her to remain near me as a human, yet I could not condemn her to my existence. This was my only option to keep her safe. I took another deep breath and looked away from her. I knew that I had to remain strong and finish this in order to protect her, even though I could feel my world quickly falling apart around me. "Bella, I don't want you to come with me," I said slowly as if the words were being dragged out of me. I cringed inwardly at the incredible lie – as if I could ever want that. Still, I had to say it. I was so sure she would see right through my pathetic lie and steeled myself against the arguments I knew would come next.

"You . . . don't . . .want me?" She said in such a small voice.

"No." I answered automatically.

"Well, that changes things," she said.

I wished again that I could hear her thoughts. Was she really so calm? Could she really believe this horrendous lie – that I did not want her? How absurd. Hadn't she been listening to me all the times that I told her she was my everything? I wondered if I had underestimated her feelings for me. After all, she was only human. This was excruciating, but I knew I had to continue and make it final. That was the only way she would be able to truly live her life – the life she was supposed to have without unnatural beings – without me. "Of course, I'll always love you . . ." I hesitated again knowing that the next lie would haunt me for the rest of my existence. "In a way." I closed my eyes so she could not see the anguish I was not able to completely mask. I knew that I had to continue. "But what happened the other night made me realize that it's time for a change. Because I'm . . . tired of pretending to be something I'm not, Bella. I am not human." I had to look at her now, because I knew that it was probably my last chance to look at the face that I loved so well. I knew that I would remember every detail of her angel's face, but still, it would not be the same. "I've let this go on much too long, and I'm sorry for that."

"Don't," she whispered. "Don't do this."

I cleared my voice of all emotion. "You're not good for me, Bella."

She did not say anything. She just stared at me. Her eyes were vacant, almost as if she was not there. Finally, she said, "If . . . that's what you want."

Of course that was not what I wanted. I wanted her, but I knew I could not have her. I could not answer her without betraying myself, so I just nodded. She did not say anything more. I thought again – why doesn't she argue with me? Tell me not to go? Why doesn't she fight for us? Didn't she love me at all? How could she believe this terrible lie so easily? My dead heart felt like it was breaking, yet my head told me this was all for the best. I clenched my fists so I would not reach out and pull her to me. "I would like to ask one favor, though, if that's not too much," I said. I could not keep the anguish from my eyes any longer.

"Anything," she breathed.

With that one word she almost brought me to my knees, begging her not to let me leave. Instead, I begged her to be safe. "Don't do anything reckless or stupid. Do you understand what I'm saying?" All I could think was that if anything happened to her, I would not be able to continue existing. I would have to follow through on the plans I made last spring when I was afraid I would not be able to save her from James.

She nodded, but did not speak.

I paused, wondering if I had gone too far. I did not want to give her something to hold on to that would prevent her from moving on. I tried to make my voice calm so I could lie to her once again. "I'm thinking of Charlie of course. He needs you. Take care of yourself – for him."

She nodded and whispered, "I will." Her voice sounded so small and distant.

I knew it was time to leave before I faltered. I told her, "I'll make you a promise in return. I promise that this will be the last time you'll see me. I won't come back. I won't put you through anything like this again. You can go on with your life without any more interference from me. It will be as if I'd never existed." I hoped rather than believed that I would be able to keep myself from coming back and checking on her. "Don't worry. You're human – your memory is no more than a sieve. Time heals all wounds for your kind." I continued.

"And your memories?" She asked.

I hesitated. My perfect memory would not allow me to forget a second of the time that I had spent with her. I knew it would be my only comfort after today. Instead of telling her that, I lied to her again. "Well, I won't forget. But my kind . . . we're very easily distracted." I tried to smile, but the lie shook me to my core. As if I could ever be distracted from thinking about her. I started to back away from her. "That's everything, I suppose. We won't bother you again."

"Alice isn't coming back," she said. It sounded more like a statement than a question.

Alice. I thought about how upset Alice was with me right now. As soon as I made the decision to leave, she began shouting at me. Of all of my siblings, I had never argued with Alice like that before. We always supported each other. But she said she could not support this decision. It was wrong. She could not understand why I would not change Bella so we could begin living the life she saw in her visions. The life Alice believed we were supposed to have. She told me I was a masochistic fool and I was going to be miserable. I could see in her mind the misery that I was about to bring upon myself. But, I knew that I would willingly endure anything if it gave Bella the chance at a real human life. I knew that I had to do this. For Bella, I would willingly distance myself from my family. I realized I was so lost in my thoughts that I had not answered Bella yet. I shook my head. "No. They're all gone. I stayed behind to tell you goodbye."

"Alice is gone?" she asked. She looked like she was going to fall down. I very nearly rushed forward and pulled her into my arms to comfort her. It took all of my strength to keep me rooted to my spot.

"She wanted to say goodbye, but I convinced her that a clean break would be better for you," I said. I thought to myself that 'convinced' was quite an overstatement. Threatened was probably a better description. I could not think of anything else to say that would not hurt either one of us more than I already had, so I just said "Goodbye, Bella." I almost choked as I said her name.

"Wait!" she exclaimed and she reached her hands toward me.

I had to touch her one more time. I did not think one small touch would be too cruel. I reached out to grab her outstretched hands, but thought better of it and quickly brought them down to her side. I kissed her forehead and whispered, "Take care of yourself." Then I ran. If I were capable of producing tears they would have streamed down my face. I did not allow myself to look back at her.

I rushed into the house, determined to take away all reminders of my existence, just as I had promised. I saw Bella's photo album on her bed. As I opened it, I saw the picture that Bella took of me during the afternoon before her birthday party. I smiled a little as I thought of her silliness in asking whether I would actually appear on film. I removed it from the metal corners and noticed there was another picture of me, folded over. I unfolded it and saw Bella's smile. I knew it was selfish, but in that moment I knew that I had to have it. I wanted to have something of hers to keep me company. I put the picture in my pocket and then got to work finishing what I had promised her I would do – removing all traces of my existence.

I gathered up her birthday gifts from her nightstand – the airline vouchers from Carlisle and Esme and the CD of Bella's lullaby. I faltered. I could not bring myself to take them away from her. I looked around frantically for a place to hide them in her bedroom. I did not want to hurt her more, but selfishly I wanted her to have something of me if she ever wanted it. I pushed on the floorboards near her bed. A couple of the boards seemed somewhat loose. I pried them up and stashed the tickets, the CD and the picture of me there. I knew that part of me desperately hoped that she would find them and think of me. I laid back on her bed for just a moment to breathe in her delicious aroma one more time. I just wanted to stay there forever, but I knew that I had to leave. It would undo everything I vowed to her if she found me lurking in her bedroom. Just in case she did not return to the house before dinner, I decided to leave a note for Charlie – in Bella's handwriting, of course.

Going for a walk with Edward, up the path.

Back soon.

-B

I glanced once more at Bella's house, the place I had known more happiness than I ever thought was possible, and then I left, locking the door behind me. I looked down at the picture I stole from Bella's photo album and whispered "Goodbye my Bella, my one true love."

I sped away as fast as my car would accelerate. I wanted to leave Forks before my resolve wavered any further. It reminded me of the first day I met Bella. I turned my CD player off. The music only increased my pain. My world had gone completely black.