Note: Goddess divine Stephenie Meyer owns everything. I just borrow the characters. If I owned them, I'd never let Edward come out and play.
Chapter 3: Last Goodbyes
My eyelids fluttered open and immediately I felt the Edward's steel arms tighten around me. His luscious scent flooded my nose and I let it consume me. That was definitely one of the things I hoped would persist through the change: the effect his scent had on me.
I rolled over, shifting in his arms, so that I could look at his face. Even after so many mornings waking up with him by me, and lately next to me, each morning still felt like I was seeing him for the first time. Each time I opened my eyes from my deep slumber, he was more perfect than the previous time if possible.
"Morning, love," he breathed. His eyes, much too dark, locked with mine. To stare into his eyes for too long was like sinking into a deep abyss, one from which I never wanted to emerge.
If he only understood that I was waiting for the day that I would never have to blink again so that my sight of him would never be obscured again.
And then it hit me.
Today was that day. Today was the day of my change. The day that I'd been both dreaming about and dreading for almost two years.
I started breathing faster, shallower breathes and I'm sure my pulse was starting to race. I knew Edward would sense the difference. He'd said before that he could tell when my blood was racing with different emotions. Lust was sweeter, richer and muskier. Fear was more metallic and saltier. I'd never realized anyone could smell emotions before I'd met him, but I'd never actually realized vampires had existed before him either.
"Bella?" his lips quivered with my name. I was right: he knew how I felt without me having to say a word.
"Hold on. I'm just catching my breath," I lied. My voice was barely above a whisper, but I'm sure he heard me.
"Bella," he sighed. He pulled me in closer so my face was pressed up against his chest. I inhaled him deeply, wishing to banish the nerves for good.
Normally his smell would cause my heart to race and my thoughts to become cloudy, but here it did the exact opposite. It settled me and forced me to confront today's plans head on.
Because today was the biggest day of my life. Coincidentally, it was the also last day of my life.
Breathe, Bella. You can do this. What is three days of pain when you have an eternity with Edward? I thought.
Eternity. That was certainly something I was looking forward to. An eternity never needing to sleep, never being parted from his side, and being his equal in every way. The thought was tantalizing, seducing.
I steadied myself and finally lifted my head from Edward's cold chest. His face was awash with concern. And something else. Grief. Definitely grief. Pain laced the edges as well, and pain was definitely an emotion I didn't like seeing on his face.
"So how was your night?" I tried to sound as calm and collected as I could.
"Agonizing." There was an edge to his voice that made me wince.
"Why was it agonizing?"
"You cried out in pain. And for me not to leave you," he whispered. Oh, god, I thought. My dreams came rushing back to me and I understood why he looked so distraught.
I'd been dreaming about today alright. There was no hiding that. Even without the mind-reading he could tell that.
"Oh," it came out of me flat and without emotion. "I just … let me explain."
His eyes searched my face. He nodded slightly, urging me to continue.
I paused a moment, searching for the right words to explain everything I'd dreamed. I wanted to make him understand that even though my dream had been about probably the most painful thing to occur in my life or afterlife, it wasn't a bad dream.
"I cried out in pain because … well, Edward. It did hurt. A lot. But that wasn't the worst part," I paused again, biting my lip.
"What was the worst part, love?"
"You blamed yourself," I looked right in his eyes and I saw them falter, if for a second. "You wanted to go, to punish yourself for what you'd done to me. But I didn't want you to go. Through all the pain, I was begging you to stay with me and hold me.
"Without you there, I wasn't able to endure the pain. It was too much. But when your arms were around me it was bearable. Yes, it hurt, but it didn't hurt as much. So you stayed even though you hated yourself for what you were doing to me. And then the pain went away. You made it go away."
I finished and the silence hung in the room like a lead weight. I could tell he was digesting everything I'd said. Hell, I was digesting everything I'd said. But it was all the truth. His strong, icy arms had wrapped around me, cooling the flames that engulfed my body and restraining my thrashing limbs.
"Bella, love?" he finally spoke.
"Are you sure this is what you want?" the pain had returned to Edward's voice. It hurt me too, but it hurt because after everything we'd been through, he still doubted my resolve. He still questioned my determination to be with him forever.
"How could you even ask that?" I asked indignantly.
"I can't help but notice how your voice sounds when you speak and the fear I smell racing through you," his face went down and his eyes refused to look at me.
I wasn't having this. I took one finger and put it under his chin, lifting his gaze to meet mine.
"I don't want you thinking for a second this isn't what I want. This is exactly what I want. I've wanted it from the moment I knew it was possible. Even when you faltered, I didn't. I've never stopped loving you, wanting you, wanting this. And I know you want this as well. You wouldn't have stayed if you didn't," I put force behind every word. I needed him to understand how strongly this meant to me, even if my pulse still raced at the idea. After all, as Edward had said previously, fear is a healthy emotion.
His eyes grew wide with each word I spoke. When I was done, a wide smile spread across his face and I couldn't help but mirror him.
"What?" I asked, curious to root out the source of his mood shift.
"I love it when you put me in my place," he said.
Jeeze, he's such a dope sometimes. Here I am, trying to be serious and he has to try and dazzle me, I thought.
I rolled my eyes in response before craning my lips slightly to plant a kiss on the end of his perfect nose.
"I love it when you let me," I replied.
We laid there for awhile longer, wrapped in each other's arms. We didn't need to say anything because everything had already been said. We just simply enjoyed each other's presence. Edward put his head to my chest after awhile, listening to the heartbeat he loved so much. It was steady until he started to run his fingers along different parts of my body, teasing me. Then it became erratic, changing when he'd lift his fingers off or place them back on my skin.
"Just enjoying how your body reacts to me," he said when his fingers grazed my upper thigh. They moved north and I willed them to continue with all my being.
I couldn't control my breath already and Edward was just touching me. It was like this every time though. By the time we got to the actual act, I usually lost all control of my body, my senses, my thoughts and pretty much everything else about me.
But as quickly as he'd put them so close to where I wanted them to go, he withdrew his fingers with a low chuckle.
Frustrated, I crossed my arms over my chest and stuck out my bottom lip.
This just caused Edward to laugh more.
"You're cute when you pout. I'm going to have to remember to tease you more often," he chuckled.
"Edward! That's not fair!" I whined.
"Hasn't anyone told you life's not fair?" he quoted me from a long time ago.
"Gah, if I hadn't just married you I would probably be swatting at you right now."
Within a second of the words escaping me, Edward was kissing me. Instinctually, I threaded my fingers through his hair trying to pull him closer. My body squirmed under him in delight. Slowly, he ran his icy tongue along my lower lip, tasting me. I couldn't help the moan that escaped my lips into his.
My hips ground into his, desperately trying to search out what my body was longing for. But this was apparently too much. Edward broke away, withdrawing to my feet.
I, like usual, was left panting in his wake and barely able to form a coherent thought. Slowly, my lungs resumed their normal function (as normal as they ever were around Edward).
Edward just sat there, curled at my feet, with my favorite crooked smile on his face.
"Don't you have something to do today? Why don't you just get on with it so we can continue?" I said, still slightly out of breath.
For a brief second, pain flashed across his face, but it disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.
"Well, as much as I would love to get back to touching you in that way, I have to go out for a few hours," he said.
Panic flooded my stomach. Go out?
My thoughts must have showed on my face because without hesitating, Edward answered my fear.
"Carlisle thinks it best that I hunt rather aggressively before I … change you so the temptation to drink deeply is minimized as much as possible," he stated hesitantly. I knew it was tough for him to talk about the specifics, so I didn't press him.
"Okay," was my meek reply.
"I want you to enjoy yourself while I'm gone. I'll be back before you even have time to miss me," his eyes shone with love and I'm sure if he could cry he would be at this moment.
I nodded, unable to come up with a response. I didn't want him to leave, but I knew this was for the best. For both him and me.
With that, he was gone. I was left sitting in our bed, still clothed in his shirt from yesterday. I let the tears well up in my eyes for a brief moment before pushing them away with the back of my hand.
Finally, I got out of bed and forced myself to take a shower. I savored each moment, each droplet of water, that slid down my skin. I wasn't sure how it would feel once my skin was as hard and smooth as Edward's. When the water finally began to run cold, I got out and found some clothes to wear.
I ventured outside our bedroom and smelled the wonderful aromas of breakfast filling the air.
Finding my way into the kitchen, I found Esme flipping pancakes on the stove and carefully watching over a skillet with scrambled eggs.
"Hi, dear. I just thought you'd want some breakfast," she turned and smiled at me when she heard me walk in.
"Of course! It smells delicious!" I exclaimed.
When the food was done, Esme sat everything in front of me at the large table that was really more for show in this house than anything. I'd really been the only one to get any use of it in the last two years and after today, even I wouldn't be using it.
The food was wonderful, of course. Esme sat watching me eat, even though I was self-conscious with her there. I made sure I chewed with my mouth closed and didn't speak with food in it since I knew human food was fairly disgusting to vampires.
"Bella, dear?" Esme quietly asked.
"Mmmm?" I mumbed, my mouth full of pancake.
"I think you should call Charlie today before Edward comes back. To let him know you got back from your honeymoon okay and that you won't be calling him for awhile," she said lightly.
Immediately, the pit of my stomach fell out and all hunger disappeared. Charlie. I'd said my goodbyes to him after the wedding, but I had purposefully left it open ended so as to not confuse him.
"Bella?" Esme sounded concerned.
"It's alright. I should call him. It's just going to hurt, that's all," I sighed.
"I know, honey. Do you want me to be with you when you do it?" she asked.
"Can you please? I don't know if I'll make it through with him if nobody else is there with me," my lip quivered at the thought. There was no doubt in my mind I'd break down sobbing if I was alone telling Charlie I wouldn't be able to talk to him for awhile.
"Of course, dear. Anything," Esme said, patting my hand to comfort me.
I finished the rest of my food, rather grudgingly, and helped Esme clean up the kitchen. She moved faster though and I felt like I wasn't much of a help.
I positioned myself on the chair next to the phone and Esme pulled up a seat next to me. She took one of my hands in her own, and I picked up the phone. Dialing the familiar numbers, I waited for Charlie to pick up.
"Hello?" his voice was steady as ever. Immediately I felt the tears well up and Esme squeezed my hand.
"Bells!" he exclaimed. "I'm sure glad to hear from you. Are you back from your trip?"
"Yeah, Dad. We got in last night really late. I didn't want to call you," I said.
"So how was it? I mean, you don't have to go in to detail or anything," he stammered and I could almost picture his face turning several shades darker.
"Um, Chicago was great, Dad. You would have loved it. Edward showed me all the sports stuff. I didn't realize so many people love baseball there," I blushed myself, safely evading the topic that neither of us wanted to talk about.
He laughed and I mentally tucked away the sound, unsure of when I'd hear it next.
"They sure do, Bells. They sure do."
"So, Dad …" I trailed off.
"Well, we're gonna be busy packing the house and moving in the next few weeks, so if I don't call you for awhile I don't want you to worry," I said biting my lip. Charlie thought that the family was moving to Alaska immediately after Edward and I got back from our honeymoon in preparation for college.
"Sure, Bells. Don't worry about it. That's a big job, so I understand," he said.
I wasn't sure what to say next. There was so much I could say, so much I wanted to say. A lump welled up in my throat and I swallowed hard to get it down.
Esme moved a hand to my back, rubbing my shoulders. It soothed me a bit.
"I love you," I said.
"I love you too, Bells. Take care of yourself, okay? I don't want you picking up anything too heavy seeing as you're prone to hurting yourself," he chuckled.
"I will, Dad. Edward won't let me pick up anything heavier than a dinner plate," I sighed.
"He's a good man, Bella. He really is. I know he'll keep you safe," he admitted. I was slightly stunned by this. Charlie had outwardly accepted our marriage, though Edward had said he still had lingering doubts in his head. Edward didn't like to tell me these things though, so I'm sure it was probably worse than he let on.
"I know he will too. I love him so much," I quivered again. If Charlie only knew how much Edward really did love me, any doubt in his mind would be erased.
"I know you do, Bells. Well, I have to go. Billy's having a preseason football party tonight, so I'm heading over to help him out," he said.
Was this really it? I wanted it this conversation to last, but I didn't want to make it seem like something was up.
"Okay, Dad. I'll talk to you later, okay?" my eyes were swimming in tears. I just wanted to get off the phone before they flooded over and Charlie knew something was up.
"Take your time, Bells. Moving's a big deal. Have fun! Bye, Bells," he said cheerfully.
He hung up the phone and I barely had replaced it on the wall before the tears exploded out of my eyes.
Esme pulled me in for a tight hug and just let me cry as much as I wanted. Sobs racked my body and I'm sure that I was a blubbering mess.
Oh, god. This was hard. Harder than I thought it would be. Charlie had been so much to me in the last two years. He was more like my father than I'd ever imagined he could be and above all else I knew I would miss him the most.
"Ssssshhhh, it's okay, dear. Everything will be okay," Esme cooed into my hair. She rubbed circles in my back, trying to slow the pace of my sobs.
Finally, they subsided after I felt I could cry no more.
"Ch-Ch-Charlie," I dry sobbed.
"He'll be okay. He's tougher than you think, Bella," she whispered.
I sniffled awhile, still trying to recover.
"How much longer will he be gone?" I asked Esme, knowing that she would immediately know who I was referring to.
"Not long, maybe an hour. I think you should go up and rest before he gets back, dear."
I nodded mutely and made my way back up to our room. My shirt was now thoroughly soaked from my tears and I changed into a loose fitting t-shirt, preferring the comfort.
I sat on the bed and pulled my knees up to my chest. I let my head fall down on my knees and slowly slid into a haze, waiting for Edward to get back.
Finally after what seemed like an eternity, a soft knock came at the door. Without bothering to wait for an answer, the door opened and Edward cautiously walked in.
He sat down on the edge of the bed and I lifted my head to look at him.
His eyes were the lightest golden I'd ever seen. They'd never been more beautiful.
"I missed you terribly, love," his voice was low, full of the emotion I knew he had for me.
"I missed you too. More than words can describe," I replied, trying to echo his voice.
"Bella, the family is downstairs. They'll leave if you want, but they want to be here when it's over. Carlisle is ready if you are. So am I, finally," he said after a moment of silence.
I nodded, unable again to form words.
So here it was. The moment when nothing else mattered but Edward and me. The moment that I'd been expecting for two years.
Unable to contain it, I sighed and braced myself for what was to come.
A/N: Once again, please read and review. Writing from Bella's perspective is much harder I think. As much as I think I know her, I still can't wrap my head around her sometimes.