"Baby, you know I'd give you anything in the world

The characters in this story belong to the great Stephenie Meyer, and no copyright infringement is intended. I own nothing.

The day I lost Edward

The morning started like most others. I was meticulous while fixing my hair for school, making sure the tortoise shell clip was positioned exactly in the middle of my head with a few perfectly-imperfect strands of blonde hair slipping out, framing my symmetric face. I scrutinized my makeup and outfit for the millionth time, even though I was sure both were exactly right from the front view. However, I turned to my side again, glancing down to admire how I looked from the back as well. Gorgeous, I thought. If I was going to endure high school for the eleventh time, then at the very least I would be the prettiest girl in my class.

"Rose, would you hurry up!" Edward shouted at me from below. I looked up and sneered at myself in the mirror, satisfied that even with anger contorting my features, I was still stunning beautiful. He was always so impatient, and I could never figure out why he even cared if we were late. Edward found high school even more tedious then the rest of us.

I allowed myself one last long look in the mirror. I smiled back at the reflection, giving myself another once-over, and then walked at a human pace downstairs. I would not give Edward the satisfaction of hurrying.

Alice and Jasper stood at the bottom of the stairs with Edward. Alice tapped her toe lightly on the floor, the only sign of impatience from her. Jasper looked bored as usual. Edward was of course looking up and scowling at me. His annoyed expression made me try even harder to make my movements as desirable as possible. I vowed to make Edward admire me if it took a hundred more years. My stilettos tapped quietly on each step as I watched Edward's expression for any sudden sign of appreciation.

As I slowly reached the bottom of the stairs, Edward jerked opened the front door, holding it as Alice and Jasper exited quickly outside. I continued my leisurely pace across the foyer to the door, keeping my eyes on Edward as I walked through the door he continued to hold. Just before I looked away, I saw him roll his eyes. Damn - he must have just read my mind. I really didn't care if he could see how I felt about him or not, though I did wish frequently that I could read his, to see if some small hidden piece of himself found me as appealing as all other men.

Emmett was already in Edward's Volvo with Alice and Jasper. I climbed in the back next to Emmett, while Edward slid into the driver's seat and slammed his door before quickly throwing the car in gear and racing down the long driveway. Strip the gears much? I thought angrily. Hopefully he'd be listening in again. I waited patiently until I saw Edward glaring back at me through the rearview mirror in reaction to the myriad of automotive insults I threw his way. Then I impulsively turned to Emmett and began kissing him passionately. I had surprised Emmett with my unusual forcefulness, but he didn't waste any time contemplating my actions. He quickly reciprocated, pulling me closer to him, his hands racing down my arm to grip my thigh.

"Could you save the necking for when I don't have to see and hear it," Edward complained loudly.

Alice giggled from the front seat, probably seeing a possible future of us continuing the entire way to school. If I couldn't have Edward's utter approval and admiration, then I would find other ways to keep his attention on me.

As Emmett's hands reached into my hair, I reluctantly pulled back from his embrace. As much as I wanted to sicken Edward with a close-quarter PDA, a larger part of me did not want my perfect hair style wrecked, even slightly. And Emmett was incapable of running his fingers anywhere near my hair without ruining the final product. Fortunately, Emmett knew me and my passion for perfect hair well enough to understand why I had pulled away, and was not offended in the least. He laughed as he turned away from me, reaching over the seat and punching Edward in the shoulder.

"Come on bro, we're just kidding around. I promise not to ravish her in front of you. Unless you want to watch". Emmett laughed even harder at his own joke.

Edward growled and shot both of us a disparaging look in the mirror as he screeched into the school parking lot. I flinched at the unwarranted misery he unleashed on his car, and vowed not to do any repair work without proper payment of favors. He was out of the car as quickly as he dared, and rushed off to class to escape the rest of us. Poor baby – you would think with his mind reading capabilities that he'd just give me what I wanted. Then I'd leave him alone, satisfied in the knowledge that there truly was no man that could resist me.

I spent the next four hours going through my monotonous High School routine. French, Calculus, Chemistry, English Literature. I had taken these courses so many times that I was almost able to recite the textbooks and lessons by heart. I did not find knowledge and the whole learning process to be nearly as fulfilling as Carlisle and Edward did, but I had learned enough to easily pass the classes and blend in as much as possible. It was essential that we all play the role of the perfect Cullen and Hale kids. As much as I disliked school, I disliked moving every few years even more. The best way for us to stay anywhere was for the five of us to go through high school, posing as teenagers. As boring as these first few years were, I knew it'd be worth it for the "college" years that would soon follow. That small window of time would give Emmett and I the freedom to wander at will and not be subjected to seven hours a day of tedious acting. And with a little luck and tugging on heart strings, I might be able to convince Esme and Carlisle to let Emmett and I get married again. Playing the part of a new bride and planning a wedding never got old for me – I had married Emmett six times now.

After English Lit, Emmett and I strolled into the cafeteria and walked to our usual table, far away from the annoying humans. Alice, Jasper and Edward were already there, food props in front of them. Edward appeared to have cooled down from our minor tift earlier. I smiled at him when he glanced in my direction, but he looked away instead of returning the gesture. How utterly rude, yet predictable. I'd have to try harder next time; attempt to find a different way to get to him. My thoughts quickly shifted back to myself as I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a student's glasses across the room from us. Hmm…maybe Emmett did mess up my hair a little. I sighed and rolled my eyes – that meant I'd have to make a trip into the horrid girls bathroom and fix it after lunch. Or maybe I could sneak off to Edward's car where I could more easily primp myself quickly when no human was watching. I wondered if it was worth asking Edward if I could borrow his keys…..

"Sorry," Jasper muttered.

I glanced over at him as he distracted me, wondering what he was possibly sorry for. Edward was staring at him, undoubtedly reading his mind. I was suddenly aware of some private conversation taking place between Edward, Jasper, and Alice. How typical – Emmett and I were always left out when the "special" vampires exercised their abilities. It was so commonplace to have Edward and Alice knowing my every thought and future that I was usually bored by these subtle exchanges between them. That or annoyed that I couldn't be part of the club.

"You weren't going to do anything," Alice murmured. "I could see that."

I tuned the rest of her words out and glanced at Emmett from under my long lashes. He was as disinterested as I was in Jasper's apparent problem. He raised one eyebrow at me, giving me a look I knew well. Shall we stick around for this or sneak off before our next class? It was a constant struggle to find new ways to entertain ourselves at times like these. I answered him back with my best smoldering look that I knew he'd understand. Come find me after next period – I'll be waiting by the library. A devilish smile appeared on his beautiful face.

"Jessica Stanley is giving the new Swan girl all the dirty laundry on the Cullen clan," Edward muttered to Emmett.

I had almost forgotten that I had also heard the buzz through the school that morning of some new girl joining the junior class. I had caught a brief glimpse of her between my morning classes, and was not surprised to find that she was utterly forgettable and plain in everyway. Long tangled hair, boring brown eyes, petite, yet unremarkable body. The only feature that I found even remotely interesting was her skin – almost translucent in color and a perfect complexion. Almost as beautiful as my own.

Edward continued to fill Emmett in on the thoughts of Jessica, and although Emmett didn't answer Edward's comments out loud, I knew he was sharing his thoughts. He had better be answering you silently for a reason OTHER then keeping something from me, I thought, hoping Edward would react. Instead, I watched silently as Edward's eyes unfocused. He was probably eavesdropping on the new girl's thoughts. Then his expression abruptly changed, and he turned to look across the cafeteria at her, staring for quite some time. Instead of following his gaze, I watched his facial expressions, trying desperately to read him as well as he could read me. He suddenly smiled – a look that lit up his face on the rare occasion that he allowed any sort of happy emotion to show around me. What could he possibly be smiling at? Whatever it was, I had a sneaking suspicion that it had nothing to do with me. I decided quickly to refocus his attention back to where it belonged.

"Shall we?" I asked, breaking his focus from the plain new student. His eyes darted back to mine, and I tried to rapidly clear my thoughts before he could read them. Although it was most likely pointless, I really didn't want him knowing that I was hoping he'd see how much prettier I was then her. I could picture our two faces in his mind – my glowing blonde curls framing a perfectly shaped white face with warm golden eyes next to her bland looks. Surely there was no comparison. I waited to see if he'd slip up and show even the slightest bit of preference for me.

But instead, he seemed to forget I was there. His eyes unfocused again, lost in the thoughts of whoever's head he had moved into.

"So, is the new one afraid of us yet?" Emmett asked. Edward shrugged and stood up to leave. His interest in this new girl seemed to dissipate quickly. I smirked in approval as the others stood up to leave, all of us going our separate ways to our afternoon classes. But Emmett grabbed my arm, pulling me tightly up to his side and bit my ear playfully before I could escape.

"Since Jasper won't give me a rematch tonight, will you?" he asked quietly enough that only I heard him. Emmett was always looking for a competition, usually with his brothers. But when they wouldn't appease him with wrestling matches and feats of strength, he came to me looking for a playmate as I had no way of cheating like Alice. However, I honestly just really wasn't into the whole fighting thing – it ruined my hair and clothes more times then I could count, and I dealt with those misfortunes enough when Emmett and I were alone together.

"We'll see," I teased back as we walked into our next class. I had a better idea then some God-awful challenge. Near the end of our Foreign Relations class, I slipped Emmett a note fast enough that no one noticed. He winked at me after reading it quickly, an impromptu rendezvous planned for the next period when I knew both of us could easily skip out of our classes. If the faculty of the Forks High School knew about all of the times Alice & Jasper or Emmett and myself had been sneaking off together and taking advantage of unoccupied rooms on the school grounds, the scandal would have tore the town apart. Especially since we were all supposed to be innocent teenagers.

After our thirty-minute tryst in one of the dark, unoccupied study rooms within the school library, the next few hours passed without incident. I kept busy thinking of inventive ways to make Emmett happy without destroying my new outfit later that evening, or devising new tricks to annoy Edward on the way home. That always made me smile.

After my last class, Emmett met me outside and we walked smugly towards the car, meeting up with Alice and Jasper on the way. Edward was nowhere in sight as we all piled into the Volvo. Alice sat up front quietly at first, but then turned to face us in the backseat, staring intently at Jasper and no doubt sharing something wordlessly with him. Emmett ignored their exchange, elbowing Jasper roughly.

"So, rematch tonight or what? And this time no cheating – I'll make Rose drag Alice out to hunt so she can't help you," Emmett taunted, a huge grin on his face.

Jasper broke his gaze with Alice, turned towards Emmett and forced a grin. "You honestly think you can……."

Suddenly the driver's door opened, and Edward flew inside the car, slamming the door shut behind him. He started gasping for air, though we all knew he didn't need to breathe. The expression on his face was a mixture of alarm, fear, and a kind of hunger I'd never seen before. His eyes blazed through the rearview mirror back at us.

"Edward?" Alice asked quietly. Edward just shook his head quickly, refusing to look at her.

"What the hell happened to you?" Emmett shouted. Jasper's expression mirrored mine – one of utter confusion. I racked my head trying to think of anything Edward could have seen in my thoughts that would produce this extreme of a reaction – my plans to taunt him later that evening, maybe detune the Volvo when he was out hunting. None of these were ugly enough to ever anger him this much.

Before the four of us could continue to question his erratic behavior, Edward threw the car in reverse and drove even faster then normal out of the parking lot. He left two black tire marks on the pavement as he peeled out. I outwardly cringed for the second time that day as he continued to push the Volvo to its breaking point. Several of our classmates stared at us, mouths gaping open as we raced away from the school. Great, I thought. So much for not drawing unneeded attention to ourselves.

Alice continued to watch Edward carefully, unaware of the attention our hasty retreat was drawing. Jasper, Emmett and I in turn all watched Alice for any clue as to what had happened to Edward as he continued to gasp. Alice shrugged in response to our questioning eyes, then cocked her head to the side, her eyes unfocusing.

A few seconds later, she spoke.

"You're leaving?" she whispered.

"Am I?" Edward hissed in response.

Leaving! Edward was leaving?? But why? Again, I ran through all of my evil thoughts from the day, searching for any random thought that could have triggered this irrational response. But it couldn't have been me – Edward was used to my endless current of vain and incendious thoughts. Why would they affect him now? My guilt quickly turned to anger as I turned to look at Jasper. Was he the cause of this? I faintly remembered something being discussed at lunch referring to his inability to not lust for human blood throughout the school day. What had Edward seen in his mind? Had he broken his oath to Carlisle and our family? My anger grew – Jasper would not want to be anywhere near me if his actions caused the source of my tormenting pleasure to leave. The only thing worse then Edward leaving us was Emmett. The idea was simply unfathomable to me.

"Oh," Alice said softly. Her eyes were unfocused again, seeing some future for Edward that he was able to see too as he read her mind. "Oh," she said a second time. Edward's face grew even more distraught at this second utterance.

"Stop!" Edward groaned. He pounded the steering wheel with his hand, almost hard enough to snap it off. At the rate he was destroying the car, we'd be driving my M3 the rest of the week.

Alice flinched at his actions. "Sorry," she whispered, continuing to watch his face. "I'll miss you, no matter how short a time you're gone," she added.

I whipped around to look at Emmett. He did the same, giving me a look of apprehension and sorrow. I could see his feelings clearly in his amber eyes – his favorite brother was leaving him, and he had no idea why.

"Drop us here," Alice instructed Edward. "You should tell Carlisle yourself."

Edward nodded in response, slamming on the brakes at the end of our long driveway. Jasper was the first to open his door. He exited quickly but silently, glancing back at us to indicate that we should do the same. I opened my door and sprang outside, Emmett close behind me. Alice remained in the car.

I couldn't make the private conversation she was having with Edward, but I guessed she was consoling him. My mood went from anger to bitter envy as I watched Alice and Edward's intimate exchange from the outside of the car. I desperately wanted to know what was going on, but even more so I wished I could be his confidant in place of Alice.

Emmett grabbed my hand and pulled me behind the car and over to where Jasper waited. Alice bounced out of the car a second later, grasping Jasper's arm and leading him into the woods where they began running towards home. Emmett and I followed closely behind as Edward whipped the car around and headed back to Forks to seek out Carlisle at the hospital.

During the few seconds it took the four of us to race through the forest, my mind swam between thoughts of the repairs the Volvo would need after Edward's abusing day and the driver behind this unexpected drama that suddenly plagued my brother. I had pretty much ruled myself out of the equation, knowing Edward wouldn't give me the satisfaction of leaving on account of my behavior or devious thoughts. I knew it wasn't Emmett either – Edward loved Emmett's sunny and competitive disposition, and Emmett was incapable of causing the level of pain that was visible on Edward's face that afternoon. Not Alice either – Edward and Alice shared a special bond that I couldn't even begin to comprehend. Their relationship was nearly as close as us three couples, without the physical element of course. I went back to Jasper – could he have caused this? Even if he had, would Alice so willingly had let Edward go? No – it wasn't Jasper either.

Then something flashed through my mind as I replayed the events over lunch. The new girl – Edward and Emmett had been talking about her for the better part of the lunch hour. Edward had no doubt read her thoughts. Did she have something to do with this? But Edward was so disinterested in her when we left the cafeteria. Did he have a class with her later this afternoon? How could a mere mortal, a plain mortal affect him this way? I shook my head, refusing to believe such a boring creature could have anything to do with this.

The four of sprinted out of the woods and across the great lawn of our home and into the house, throwing open the door into the living room. Jasper, Emmett, and I all turned to face Alice, waiting for answers.. Esme must have heard us come in – she appeared at the top of the stairs, a look of confusion on her face as she regarded our expressions and the absence of Edward.

"Alice, what happened?" Esme asked quietly. She hurried to stand next to Jasper, now four of us facing Alice. She looked at us sadly, absorbing the emotional state that radiated off of all of us.

"Edward had to leave," she stated softly, glancing at the floor uncomfortably. "I can't see if he'll come back or not."

"Why?" Emmett demanded loudly. "What in the hell happened today to cause him to leave?"

Alice paused, glancing over at Jasper. I couldn't read her expression. At first it appeared apologetic and almost guilty, then somewhat fearful. Did Jasper have something to do with this after all? My jaw clinched in reflex to the anger that slowly seeped through my veins.

"He…." She began, and stopped. Now her eyes seemed to plead with Jasper. A low hiss escaped my lips before I could stop it. Emmett instantly had his arm around me, pulling me tight to his side both in comfort and to hold me back if my anger got away from me.

"Tell us Alice," Esme walked forward, holding out her arms and ignoring my reaction. "We all need to know so we can work through this together." She glanced back at Jasper, probably suspecting the same thing I did.

Alice seemed to suddenly understand our perception of the situation. That was enough to force the story from her lips at a dizzying speed. "No, it's not because of Jasper! He didn't do anything wrong today. Sure, he caught the scent of one of the humans and considered for a moment….but no, he didn't act on his hunger. It was Edward that almost…."she paused again, looking at each of us frantically, then continued.

"It was that new girl, Bella. Something about her scent appeals to Edward like nothing he's ever experienced before. He had to leave, or he would have followed her to her house and killed her…." Alice's voice trailed off as her eyes unfocused, searching the future again.

Jasper's jaw dropped as the meaning of Alice's story sunk in. "Edward almost killed someone today?" He stared at Alice for a moment.

Suddenly, I figured out his reaction. Jasper was the one we thought was about to loose control; succumb to his most primal of desires. He was the one Alice & Edward had been watching over all day to make sure he didn't do anything that would jeopardize us. Yet ironically it was stoic Edward who almost destroyed our family. Would his close call still force us to leave, to start the charade over again in a new town?

I felt Emmett's chuckle before it escaped his lips. "Poor guy. No reason to leave though."

I spun on my heels to face him, the anger starting to rise inside of me. I clinched my teeth to hold as much of it in as I could. "How could you possibly sympathize with him when he puts us all at risk of exposure!" I hissed.

Emmett looked like he had been hit with a ton of bricks. He flinched from my harsh tone, considering my words for a minute. It took him a second longer then the others to grasp the true danger of Edward's actions. His jaw slowly dropped as he stared at me, finally comprehending everything Alice had just told us.

"But he didn't kill her! He didn't touch her! We're safe!" Alice shouted behind my back in reaction to Emmett's expression of horror and outrage. She started to move towards us, hand outreached in some gesture of calming our mutual anger. Jasper was quickly at her side, ready to intervene if we so much as raised a finger against his mate. The four of us tensed, ready for a face-off if necessary.

"Stop!" Esme declared, more loudly then I had ever heard her speak. We all froze, then turned to face her.

"We must not fight one another! Edward has left to prevent the tragedy Alice foresaw. There is no reason for us to argue like this!" her tone had softened, but it was clear from the look in her eyes that she would not allow us to continue down the dangerous road of a rift between siblings.

She paused then, glancing down at the floor for a second. Her shoulders slumped slightly forward before she raised her head to look at all four of us again. "We will wait for Carlisle to return before we make any decisions or discuss this further. Alice, you are sure that there are no immediate consequences of Edward's actions?"

Alice quickly nodded. "I see him running – he will be leaving the hospital shortly," she paused, tilting her head to the side. "Denali maybe? Somewhere cold and desolate." Again, her eyes unfocused, searching for more information. "I can't see any human interpreting our actions in a consequential way. We're safe for now." She spoke definitively.

Esme sighed deeply, relief washing over her. She outreached her arms towards all of us, beckoning us to embrace her and flush away the anger. I saw Jasper out of the corner of my eye shift slightly, then an overwhelming calm slowly overtook me. Alice and Jasper moved first, joining her embrace. Emmett moved next, his grip around my waist still tight as he pulled me with him towards Esme, Alice and Jasper. I succumbed to Jasper's calm and joined my family as we all rested our heads together.

We stood like that for quite some time. Finally, Alice raised her head and spoke.

"Carlisle will be home shortly. They weren't busy at the hospital – he was released early at his request. He told them he had a minor family emergency." Apparently, Edward was still scanning our thoughts and had seen something in one of our minds that persuaded him to convince Carlisle to abandon his double shift and return home.

All of us slowly released the embrace, drifting apart from one another. Esme watched us mournfully as she moved to the base of the stairs to sit and wait for Carlisle's return. I knew how she felt about Edward – he was her favorite. I assumed her sadness was more for his departure then for the angst brewing around the rest of us.

Jasper and Alice moved as one into the dining room. Jasper reached out to gently turn Alice's chin to face him. He stared at her, probing for more answers that she may have hid from the rest of us. I looked away, always a little uncomfortable and even a little jealous of their ability to communicate wordlessly. I reached back for Emmett, making sure he was still close to me.

The calm that was forced upon me moments earlier left the room with Jasper and Alice. My anger quickly resurfaced. First, it was anger that Edward had abandoned us. Though I would never admit it, I already missed him dearly and craved our tenacious relationship almost more then anything. But under that anger was something else – a simmering pot of feelings I'd rarely felt. Every time I thought of her affecting him in such a strong manner, whether purposely or not, I wanted to hunt her down myself and drain the succulent blood from her body so my brother would no longer suffer. How could a mere mortal affect him this way?

Emmett must have felt the sudden tension in my body. He had been close to me this entire time, but now he protectively put his arms around me, steering me out the front door and into the waning light outside. He didn't release me once we were outside of the house – he continued to pull me with him towards the converted garage. I did not resist – I knew to do so would have been futile against his unyielding power. He usually didn't use his full strength on me unless absolutely necessary, but this was one of those times when he couldn't trust me to control my temper.

I gritted my teeth in rebellion as Emmett marched me into the garage. He didn't bother to turn on the lights – we could both see well enough to avoid walking into the multitude of sports cars that occupied the space. He pushed me further back, behind my M3, yet away from Edward's Vanquish. I suspected there was a reason for this.

Finally against the side of the garage, Emmett stopped and spun me around to face him. I opened my mouth to release the first round of expletives that crossed my mind, but I suddenly found myself in one of his bear hugs, his massive arms squeezing me so tightly up against him that I couldn't speak if I tried.

"Don't Rose," he pleaded with me as he bent his head down towards mine. I could feel the anguish rolling off of him in waves. "Don't be angry. Please." His lips were against my ear as he begged me mercilessly.

My anger suddenly dissipated like Jasper had followed us, but I knew he was still in the house with Alice. I tried to focus, tried to pinpoint my anger back at her. When that didn't work, I scrounged up images of Edward as his ugliest into my head, trying to refocus my frustration back onto him. It started to work, until I felt Emmett's massive hand move from my waist up to my chin.

"Don't be angry at him. Please? For me," he said softly as he rested his forehead against mine. I could barely make out his sorrowful eyes in the darkness, but I could feel them searching mine. His sweet breath covered my face completely, distracting me. Who was I angry at again? As my attention waned, he must have felt the slight relaxation in my posture. He quickly took advantage of it.

"It'll be alright," he promised, pulling me even closer and brushing his lips against my cheek. "We'll all get through this. Just let it go," his last word was almost lost as he kissed my face, each kiss more passionate then the last.

My body betrayed me. My hands moved on their own accord, reaching up to stroke his soft cheeks, then twisting into his hair as they pulled him closer. I involuntarily took a small step forward as his hand guided my leg up and eventually around his. Through these actions I desperately wanted to push him back and demand that my anger was justified. But fighting him now was pointless – I could not resist his touch or his words when he pleaded with me this way, no matter how hard I tried. He knew exactly how to distract me from willful temper when he wanted to, and he was using all of his charms at that moment.

I suddenly found myself up against the garage wall, Emmett feverishly kissing my neck, crushing his body into mine. His hands raced up and down the sides of my body, causing me to shiver excitedly. My mind went pleasantly numb at his touch, leaving me completely oblivious to the emotional turmoil for a moment earlier. What had just happened? How did we end up in the garage like this? Edward's pained face flashed for the briefest moment in my mind, but was gone the second his searching lips found mine.

The rest was all a blur until I heard Carlisle calling for us from the house. We paused for a second, considering staying in the darkness of the garage, just the two of us. I didn't want to go back in the house – I wanted to stay in this perfect moment with my sweet Em. But then the events of the afternoon came racing back to me. Edward gone. Our safety at risk. Edward's meeting with Carlisle. I had to know if and when he was coming back.

Slowly Emmett pulled away, again searching my eyes in the darkness for my emotional state. It would be so much easier if we could read one another's thoughts like Edward, I thought wistfully. I kept my eyes on Emmett, silently willing everything in my mind to pass to him. He continued to stare at me, now motionless as a statue. Was it working? Was he able to hear my thoughts?

"You want to stay here, don't you?" he finally broke the silence, but with the wrong words. I sighed loudly in frustration. This clue he interpreted correctly. "Or not," he said, starting to smile. There was just no bringing Emmett down into any sort of melancholy state whatsoever. At least he knew me well enough to understand the second attempt of non-verbal communication. It would have to do.

I pushed away from the wall, grabbing his hand as I started through the maze of cars, back out to the house. He followed me willingly. I was entirely focused on the task at hand now, my mind clear and ready for whatever Carlisle had to say.

We hurried inside where everyone waited for us in the brightly lit living room. Carlisle's expression was mixed – sadness seeped from his eyes, yet he also looked cautiously hopeful. Esme was clinging to his side, still looking apprehensive and obviously worried about her favorite son's disappearance. Alice and Jasper sat on the couch silently holding hands.

Jasper watched me carefully from the corner of his eye, looking for any sign of the hostility from earlier, but I was well in control of my emotions now. However he must not have trusted me – a wave of calm passed over us again.

Carlisle waited for Jasper's talents to take affect, then took a breath, preparing to speak. We all leaned forward in anticipation.

"Edward stopped at the hospital to speak with me before he….left." Carlisle hung on the last word, his face falling as he said it. Esme squeezed his arm, encouraging him to continue.

"Apparently there's a new girl at school who's….scent….is something Edward has never experienced before. He has left us to keep from making a mistake that would force us all to leave this area." Carlisle paused again, appearing to collect his thoughts and put them into the right words. After a few seconds, he continued. "Edward has done what's best for him at this moment. But his departure was meant to protect all of us as well, and we must be respectful of that decision."

Emmett jumped in. "What's the big deal? What's so tempting about this girl that forced him to leave? So he slips up and kills one of them…."

"That wouldn't be right," interjected Carlisle. "The girl is innocent and does not deserve to die. Besides, Edward's resolve to never take another life is strong. He wouldn't be able to live with himself if he killed, especially an innocent like her." Carlisle studied Emmett's face for a moment, then continued. "You've been through this temptation before Emmett. Try and empathize with your brother and feel his pain," Carlisle encouraged.

I knew instantly what he referred to. For most of his vampire life, Emmett had been able to resist the lure of human blood. But he had his slipups. Twice, there had been humans whose blood was too irresistible, and he had given into his cravings shamelessly. I really didn't see why that was so bad – two people out of millions that had crossed our paths over the years? After all, it was our nature to kill them. If Edward's suffering could be appeased by killing the girl, then he should do that rather then suffer needlessly.

"But how long will he be gone?" Esme murmured quietly. She looked to Alice for an answer.

"I don't know – the future has too many possibilities now. All I can see is that he's headed to Denali."

"Will he stay there?" Emmett asked.

Alice sighed. Jasper pulled her closer to him. "I can't see."

Carlisle looked at each of us before speaking again. "Whatever his decision, we must let him decide what to do from here on his own. Give him some time."

Esme's face fell at the thought of her son gone – indefinitely. Carlisle turned to her, putting his arm around her and leading her upstairs. Although the conversation was over, the problem at hand had not been solved, at least to my satisfaction. I had a gut feeling that I wasn't the only one that felt that way.

Alice stared at the wall, sorting through the multitude of Edward's possible futures, again oblivious to the rest of us, including Jasper. I glanced at Jasper, catching his eye. His expression was hard – unreadable. He rose from the couch, walking towards Emmett and me.

"Let's hunt," he said softly, beckoning the two of us with his eyes to follow him outside. I glanced over at Emmett, whose expression mirrored mine. Was Jasper thinking the same thing that I was? I already knew Emmett would follow my lead on this impossible situation. We followed Jasper silently, knowing Alice, Carlisle and Esme would still be able to hear us until we were far away from the house. Jasper had something up his sleeve – maybe a way to bring Edward back and end this dilemma? I was prepared to do anything to bring him home.

The three of us ran silently away from the house, following Jasper across the river to the East and towards the state park. We continued until we were miles away from the house, well out of earshot. Jasper slowed in a moonlit clearing, then stopped. We followed suit. He turned to face us.

"I don't want Edward to leave us permanently." Jasper's face was solemn. "It will break Esme's heart and Alice will be devastated."

"You heard Carlisle – he expects us to give Edward the space he needs to decide on his own," Emmett replied. I could tell he didn't like the idea from the tone of his voice, and neither did I. Life without Edward would quickly become unbearable for all of us. Even though Carlisle was the head of our family, Edward was the sun that we all revolved around. Not to mention, we all relied heavily on his mind-reading abilities to keep us safe from discovery.

"What are you thinking?" I asked Jasper.

"Maybe Edward can't live with killing her. But what if I did it? Would that be so bad?" Jasper proposed.

Emmett chuckled. "Hell, I'd do it too. What's the big deal? Especially if it brings him home."

"But can we do it without exposing ourselves?" I questioned. I was completely for the idea of ending the unimportant girl's life to save Edward from leaving us permanently. But I also did not want to move again. I loved our home, our stable and safe lives, and being able to stay left us endless options to live the luxurious lifestyle I craved so much. I refused to be nomadic again, wandering from place to place, parting from all of my material things…..

"I'm not sure," Jasper answered. "We'll need to wait for Edward to return so he can search out the minds of the classmates that witnessed his behavior today."

"Can't Alice help us out with that?" Emmett asked.

"No, the future is much too uncertain at this point. We need Edward."

"But what if he doesn't return?" I tried to hide the dejection in my voice at the thought.

"Right now Alice sees several possible futures for Edward. Half of them involve him coming home. Maybe Kate & Tanya will seek him out once he arrives and help build our case for his return," Jasper replied.

"Or they may persuade him to stay," I countered. I could feel the anger start to rise in me again at the thought of Tanya getting to see Edward every day while the rest of us waited anxiously for his return.

"I'm sure Carlisle has already called them, advising them to let him make his own decision," predicted Jasper. I guessed Alice must have already seen this future and shared it with Jasper. "I doubt they'd beg him to stay if they knew it'd hurt Carlisle."

"So we're stuck waiting until he decides to come back? And if he doesn't – do we still take the girl out?" I could see Emmett's thoroughly enjoyed this idea. It was like a game to him.

"I'm not sure yet. Let's wait first and see if he returns. But if he does, I am prepared to kill her myself if necessary. I can be discreet. I'll think of a way to do it judiciously," Jasper's voice was full of resolve.

A sudden thought crossed my mind. "Does Alice know that you're planning this?"

"I don't think so – she was too busy searching Edward's future to notice mine. Just like earlier today – she was too busy watching mine to see Edward's potential mistake," he admitted.

"We can't keep it from her for long," I said quietly. I knew she'd try and stop Jasper if she saw his plan. But then I had a thought – if she resorted to restraining Jasper in some way, then I would be the one to finish the girl. But I must keep the thought out of my head to keep it from Alice……and hopefully Edward too, if he ever returned.

Emmett nodded in agreement with our plan, but his mind was beginning to drift. He sniffed the air once, and nodded again to signal something else. "I don't know about you guys, but I can smell a huge heard of Elk nearby." He smiled gloriously at the thought of the hunt, and before we could reply, he disappeared into the woods.

Jasper looked towards the direction Emmett had taken, then looked back at me. A silent plan of action passed between us, and I knew he understood my plan when he nodded his head once. Maybe I did have some secret talent comparable to Edward's after all.

With that, the two of us quickly followed Emmett to hunt. We'd need our strength to endure Carlisle's tough orders to leave Edward alone until he chose to return. The days and nights ahead were going to be brutal, but it was a small price to pay to get him back. Someday Edward would appreciate me – maybe sooner then he realized.