What were the Cullens' reactions to Edward's decision to leave Bella? Esme POV.
I waited anxiously, every fiber of my being on high alert. Carlisle stood beside me, his fingers tracing soothing circles on my arm, trying to mask his own fear. Tonight I could not be soothed, because tonight, everything had gone terribly wrong.
It had started out so well. It was Bella's birthday, and Alice had been planning the party for weeks. It would be the perfect time for us to express our love for the girl who changed our family—and especially Edward—forever.
And then she sliced her finger. I watched, through the insidious bloodlust I fought, the rage and fear and anguish in Edward's eyes. I listened as he consoled Jasper, berating himself instead. I saw the marble mask he wore to hide from the world—and from Bella.
Everything had gone wrong, and I was terrified that it would only get worse. Intuition was all I had to go on now, because Jasper still hadn't come back and Alice was with him. I wasn't sure I wanted to know the future anyway. I just wanted my sons and their mates to come home, and we could be a family again.
Edward's scent wafted from the yard, and I hurried to the front door to meet him, Carlisle right behind me.
Edward stood framed in the doorway, and something about his stance stopped me from throwing my arms around him as I yearned to do. Emmett and Rosalie joined us, both eying him carefully.
He didn't look at us. His face was tightly controlled, expressionless, and I could see the taut muscles work in his jaw when he spoke.
"Get packed. We're leaving."
It didn't make sense at first. I frowned, stepping forward, hands reaching for him. "Edward—"
He looked up at me then, and it all came together for me, the last piece of this horrifying puzzle falling into place.
His eyes were blank. Broken. Empty. I knew those eyes, for at one point in my life, those eyes had been mine.
His gaze was locked on my face as horror and comprehension sculpted my features.
No, Edward. No, please…
"What?" Carlisle asked, not understanding.
"We're leaving," Edward said again, and then he lost some of the control he wielded over his voice. "Bella…is staying here."
Carlisle stared at him, his face frozen with shock. Rosalie turned away, hiding whatever reaction she had. Emmett roared in frustration. "What? You'd just leave her, you imbecile—"
"Emmett." Carlisle regained control.
My mind wasn't working anymore. I was lost in my memories: meeting Carlisle, then losing him. Having my baby, then losing him, too.
Edward, please, I begged silently. I know what it's like. Don't, I can't see you like that. Please, Edward, no…
"Edward, there are other ways—" Carlisle began, but Edward cut him off.
"It's the only way, Carlisle." His voice was lost and devoid of emphasis. "It's the only way to do right by her. To keep her safe. It's my choice, and I have made it. We have to go."
No, Edward. I love Bella as my daughter. Don't make me lose another child. And I'll lose you, too. You were so happy, Edward…
He turned away from me, pain etched into every line of his granite body.
"I'm sorry, Esme," he said, voice low and shattered, but unyielding as stone.