Chapter 23: Life

"Prague, Florence, Dublin, London, Amsterdam, or Paris..." I repeated over in my head. I couldn't decide. "Are you sure you don't have a preference?" I asked for the fourth time.

"First trip is lady's choice," Jasper replied, a smirk playing at his lips.

"But, but you have to be leaning in the direction of at least one," I stammered, my brow creasing.

He made a show of leaning over on one foot, and jostling my shoulder. "Only direction I'm leaning in is yours."

"Thanks, very helpful," I said, playfully shoving him and resuming my internal debate as I stared up at a list of possible flights.

Each had their appeal. Prague had beautiful architecture, Florence had art, Dublin had music, London had literary history, Amsterdam offered some pretty wild times, even for vampires, and Paris... Paris was Paris. Of course I was oversimpflying the possibilities, but when it came down to it, just the thought of Paris took my breath away.

I ran my eyes over the shapes and curves of the name 'Paris.' It just felt right.

I sighed and looked over at Jasper, who gave me a small smile. "You've decided," he stated.

I nodded. "Paris," I said softly.

"Perfect, just where I wanted to go!" he said enthusiastically.

"Yeah?" I grinned.

"Yeah," he said, slipping his hand in mine and walking us towards the Air France counter.

"Good evening, are we checking in?" asked the woman behind the counter. The plastic name tag pinned to her navy blue blazer read, 'Jessica L.'

"Actually we are purchasing tickets. We would like be on the 12:30am flight to Charles de Gaulle, first class if it's available," Jasper said in a pleasant voice.

I leaned against the counter and toyed with the strap of my messenger bag that hung over my shoulder.

"The one that leaves tonight?" the woman asked, looking concerned.

"Are there seats still available?" he asked.

"Well yes, it's just that that particular flight leaves in only two hours. A purchase so close to the departure will be notably more expensive. There is a flight tomorrow morning at ten, you would save several hundred dollars," she said with a friendly, helpful looking smile.

I opened my mouth to suggest to Jasper that perhaps we could wait until the morning, but he glanced at me and shook his head.

"No, we would prefer to travel in the evening. The 12:30 should be fine," he said, shaking his head. "But thank you," he added.

Jessica tapped away on the keyboard and then looked up, "I'll need your passports."

Jasper dug into the breast pocket of the grey jacket he was wearing and retrieved our passports Carlisle had overnighted to us and handed them to Jessica.

"Will you be traveling with anyone?" she asked, her eyes moving appreciatively over Jasper.

"Just the other person whose passport I just handed you," he said, sliding his hand over mine as it rested on the counter.

Her eyes flicked to our hands and narrowed slightly as she returned them to her computer screen. "Yes, Isabella."

I cringed slightly to the sound of my full name.

After a few moments she handed back our passports to us and looked expectantly down at our feet. "Luggage?" she asked.

"None," he said with a shrug.

"Seriously?" she asked, looking perplexed.

"Seriously. We're traveling light. Just her bag, and my backpack, and we'll be carrying those on with us," he said, turning slightly to show the backpack on his shoulders.

We had opted to leave our clothes at a Salvation Army, figuring we would buy new clothes wherever we ended up. Jasper had insisted we stop at a Best Buy on the way to the airport. He instructed me to wander around the music section while he did some shopping of his own. When we left, he had a new backpack slung over his shoulder, but besides that, I didn't know what else he had bought.

"Right," Jessica said, as she typed in the remaining information into the computer. "So, um, your carryon bags then, did you pack them yourself?"

I let my eyes wander over to Jasper's face and watched his eyes as he answered the remaining standard questions about whether we had kept them in our possession at all times, if we had been asked to carry any packages, or if we had anything flammable in our possession.

His eyes were gold now. They were warm, without a hint of the red that had tainted them for so long. He knew I was staring at him, but it was almost as if he were purposely not meeting my eyes, allowing me to appreciate him instead.

"Here you are," she said brightly.

I tore my eyes away from Jasper's and returned my attention to the woman behind the desk.

"Two tickets for La Première to Charles de Gaulle. The La Première lounge is located adjacent to your gate, which opens 11:45." A moment later our tickets were being printed. "Thank you for choosing to fly with Air France, and au revoir," she said with an edge of boredom as she passed the tickets over the counter into Jasper's outstretched hand.

We thanked her and began to make our way through the quiet airport. Two security checkpoints, several closed shops and kiosks, a half dozen motorized sidewalks (which we rode, just for fun,) one check-in counter and a half an hour later we arrived at the international terminal.

We paused in front of the only remaining shop open on the concourse. The open storefront boasted a collection of overpriced snacks and drinks. Beyond that were a row of refrigerators offering more overpriced food, several shelves of basic travel needs, and a several racks of magazines and books.

Jasper looked at it with interest and turned to me. "I'm going to run in here," he said, wagging his head in the direction of the store.

"Alright," I said, raising an eyebrow.

His tone seemed to imply that he wanted to go alone.

"Maybe..." he said hesitantly.

"Maybe?" I asked.

"Maybe you ought to call your Mom again," he said gently.

I sighed and dropped my head to my chest. I left my phone off for the most part, except when I was trying to call someone. That meant my phone had been on exactly five times since Jasper and I had left San Antonio. Once to call Carlisle and Charlie from the motel, once to call Carlisle and ask him to send our passports, and three times to call Renee. I hadn't been able to get in touch with her. Each time her phone had been off, probably dead, given how often she lost her charger. I always left a voice mail letting her know I was fine, just traveling, but asked her to not worry, and that I would call her soon. Secretly, well, maybe not so secretly, Jasper could read my emotions after all, I was always relieved whenever I called Renee and immediately heard her babbled voice mail greeting. I didn't want to listen what I already knew had filled up my inbox. When I turned on my phone to call Carlisle about our passports, it nearly exploded from all the beeps and vibrations it made to alert me to the thirty two new urgent voice mails waiting for me. She was going to want some answers, answers I wasn't even sure I had. But Jasper had a point, even if had said it out loud: I couldn't leave the country without talking to my mother first.

"I know," I said, sounding already beaten down.

"You can do this," Jasper said, reaching up and squeezing my arms. "She's your mother."

"And she'll probably flip out," I said sullenly.

"Probably," he said with a nod. "But from what I know of your mother, she'll get over the initial anger rather quickly."

"You're right," I said unenthusiastically.

"If you need me, I'm just inside," he said, releasing my arms.

"Thanks," I said, giving a half smile.

I watched him walk into the store before I turned and faced the wall of TV screens that hung just over my shoulder. This was not going to be fun. She was going to be livid. Not only had I ignored all of her voice mails, but she went so far as to learn how to text message, and had sent dozens of them, all of which I'd also ignored. Plus I'd spoken with Charlie. It was dumb luck that I got in touch with him in the first place, what with calling him when he was still in bed at home. No, Renee would resent the fact that I had spoken with him. She would have called him by now, probably as many times as she had called me. I wondered what he told her. She might have even called the Cullen household. I hoped that Carlisle hadn't told her about the passports.

I pulled my phone out of my bag and turned it on. A merry song played away as it powered on, then almost immediately it buzzed and beeped loudly, alerting to my filled inboxes. I winced and pressed the phone to the side of my leg as it finished its now muffled beeping.

"What the hell am I going to say..." I murmured to myself.

I absentmindedly stared up at the list of departures. I was supposed to be contemplating a likely uncomfortable conversation with my mother, but I found myself more than anything distracted by the sounds around me. It was the first time in months Jasper and I had been in public, amongst a large group of people. But I didn't hear anyone being whisked away to be eaten, or any cries for help. The quiet, travel-worn murmur was pretty standard for eleven o'clock at night in an airport.

"Why does the food court close? The food court should never close, there are always people here!" a man grumbled.

"I don't know dear," his wife replied without looking up from her romance novel.

"Hey! Check out the hottie under the arrival/departure screen. I hope she's on our flight," a college age guy said to his buddy.

"Trying to join the mile high club?" his friend asked.

"I would definitely want get my membership card with her," the first replied, and fist bumped his friend.

"Honey please just try to sleep, please. I'm not sure I can take another flight with you screaming the entire time," a mother begged the toddler sitting at her feet.

He screeched happily in reply as his mother winced.

"I swear to Christ, if the airline loses my luggage again, I am never flying again. I mean it this time," a harried looking older woman growled into her cell phone as she glowered from her seat at the crew as they loaded luggage into the cargo hold.

"Oh wow. Christina, look at this guy," a girl whispered.

"Where?" her friend, presumably Christina, asked loudly as she looked around with interest.

"Shut the eff up, he'll hear you," the first said sharply, slapping Christina's arm.

"Ouch, what the hell Kate?" she said, rubbing her arm.

"Sorry," she said breathlessly. "Him—the guy over by the magazines, the tall one with the blond hair? He's wearing the grey jacket and cowboy boots? He's gorgeous!" she said in a hushed voice.

That caught my attention. I turned around and watched through the archway of the store.

"Oh. I guess he's alright," she said, sounding not particularly impressed.

"'Alright?' Do you have eyes?" Kate replied, peeking over a rack of snack foods at Jasper, who was pretending not to notice as he stared at the wall of books and magazines.

Christina shrugged in reply. "I mean he's good looking, but I like my men to have darker hair."

"You're so damn picky," Kate said with a roll of her eyes.

Jasper made his way over to the counter with an armful of things. He shot me a grin and wagged his eyebrows at me.

I grinned back and shook my head and returned my attention to what I was supposed to be doing.

Renee, I had to call Renee.

I ran the potential conversation through my head. "Hi Mom, I know I haven't called in a few months, and you're probably wondering about my sudden change in demeanor, but I'm going to Europe with my brother-in-law, with whom I made out with all night two nights ago until the sun came up, which was of course before he and I took on a herd of deer and drank their blood. Did I mention we're vampires?" That seemed to be a bit too much information. With her, less was more, especially since she wasn't like Charlie, she'd ask questions.

I sighed deeply and felt my cell phone weighing down my pocket as if it were made of granite. "Fine," I said aloud to myself. The sound of my voice made me jump. I pulled out my phone and dialed my mother's number.

The phone rang three times. I nearly hung up, but she picked up after the fourth ring.

"Bella?" she said tentatively.

"Mom," I said, resigning myself to the inevitable.

"Isabella Marie Swan!" she shouted, "Cullen!" she added quickly. "Do you know how long it's been since I've heard from you?"

"A while?" I suggested hopelessly.

"A while?! Bella, it's been almost three months! How could you do this to me?!"

I frowned and sighed deeply. "Mom, I left you those voice messages--"

"Voice mail does not qualify as contacting me. Any time I tried to call you back your phone was always off," she said angrily.

"Well I'm--"

"Did you even bother listening to the thirty or so voice mails I left before your inbox filled up?" she demanded.

"I mean I started to, but--"

"You had the courtesy to call your father," she added, cutting me off, "To actually speak to him!"

"I know, but--"

"And you had the courtesy of talking to Carlisle."

"Well, I only called Charlie the one time, and then twice for Carlisle, but that's only because--"

"That's hardly responsible either. Jesus Bella! You dropped off the face of the earth!"

"Mom, I--"

"I'm not done yet. Where in the hell are you?"

"Well for now I'm in New York—"

"New York?!" she said loudly. Something fell in the background to the floor in the background, but I didn't hear anything break.

I held the phone away from my ear and grimaced.

"And how did you end up there?"

"Car?" I said weakly.

"You drove from Forks to New York, and it took you almost three months," she said incredulously.

"Well actually we flew from Forks to San Antonio, then we drove from there, but we stopped a few times on the way and did this big hiking trip," I said quickly.

There was a pause before she finally spoke. "We?"

I took a deep breath. The question was bound to come up. "Jasper and I have been taking some time on our own," I said carefully.

"I see," Renee said suspiciously.

"I just... Mom, he couldn't keep living like he was, and neither could I. This trip has been really," I looked up at the ceiling, steadying my breathing, "Really good for us. Therapeutic even," I added.

"Us," she said, as if she saw through everything, including time and space. I could feel her penetrating stare through the phone.

"Yeah," I said, shrugging.

"You said 'for now,'" she noted, continuing on with the questioning.

"What?" I asked, confused.

"You said you're in New York 'for now.' Are you coming home?"

"No Mom, I'm not. We're um, we're going to keep going. You know I didn't get to see much when I traveled with uh, with Alice, that one time, so, Jasper and I thought it might be fun to go to Europe," I said, stumbling slightly with my words. It was true enough. The whirlwind trip to Italy was the first and only time I had been to Europe. There were so many places there I wanted to see. In fact we had been planning a trip to Europe before everything happened.

My mind flickered back briefly to the Cullen house that night, and I shook away the thought.

I felt a hand touch the small of my back. I jumped and spun around to see Jasper, who backed away slightly, holding up his hands, palms facing out. He mouthed "Sorry," to me and gave me an encouraging smile.

"Are you going to be gone long?"

"I don't think we've thought that far ahead," I said honestly.

"Mmm," my mother murmured. I could almost see her forehead furrowed in a frown.

I waited, knowing she needed to process.

"So where are you going first?" she asked finally, sounded guarded.

"Paris," I said, letting out the breath I had been holding and smiled.

"Paris?" her voice went up an octave, sounding excited.

"Yep," I said, as Jasper returned my smile.

"Oh my—I, well you know I always wanted to go to Paris," she said eagerly. She seemed to have forgotten that she was supposed to be playing the role of the angry mother.

"I know Mom, I'm so excited!" I said, grinning as Renee began to list off all the places I ought to take the time to see, mentioning a few I hadn't even thought of yet.

"But honey," she said finally, taking a deep breath, "You can't just disappear on me like that. I was so worried about you," she said softly, sounding a little choked up.

"Oh Mom, I'm so sorry," I said, dropping my chin to my chest out of guilt.

"I understand that you're all grown up now—you're not my baby anymore, and I know you had to make a change—and I'm so glad you did, you had to get out that, that funk," she said with a tone that left me suddenly wanting to be sitting at her feet, letting her brush my hair, or maybe even just hugging her. "But Bella, baby, I'm going to lose my mind if you go off into the world and don't call me," she said with a chuckle. "And the same goes for Charlie, and Carlisle and Esme."

"I know, I'm sorry, I've been..." I said, trailing off.

"You've been living again, and I couldn't be happier," Renee said earnestly. "You went through all this time as if you'd died with Edward and Alice. I can't imagine what it must have felt like to lose them, but there comes a time when you've got to rejoin the rest of the world. Life is waiting for you baby."

My eyes stung and throat tightened. I nodded and choked out a, 'Yeah.'

I concentrated on the pattern of the tiled floor while Renee gave a few more instructions about long flights—I was to make sure I stood up and stretched every few hours, go to the bathroom often even though it's an airplane bathroom because I could get an kidney infection if I didn't. I should also bring food with me because the plane food is disgusting, even in First Class; until finally she said, "You have to take a million pictures and send me a million postcards!"

"I will Mom," I said, smiling, hoping that she could hear it through the phone. And even though all her advice no longer applied to me, I thanked her all the same.

"Say hello to Jasper for me. I love you," she said. "Oh, and be careful!"

"You know I try," I chuckled. (I could hear Jasper snickering.) "I love you too. Bye Mom."

I snapped the phone shut and stared at it for a moment.

"She's going to be fine. So will everyone else," Jasper said.

I looked up and sighed. "I know."

He watched me for a moment, and then gave me a sympathetic smile.

I sighed and turned off my phone. "Get everything you need?"

"I think so," he said, grinning and pulling his backpack higher up on his shoulder. "The gate opens in fifteen minutes. Would you like to grab a seat?" he suggested, pointing towards a row of empty seats. The seats looked out over a circuit of darkened runways, lined with red and blue lights that dotted the night.

"Sure," I said, following him. I slid into the worn imitation leather seat next to him.

There was a moment of comfortable silence as we watched a small jet take off.

"Are you disappointed we didn't go to Niagara Falls?" I asked, breaking the silence.

"Niagara Falls or Paris?" he murmured, motioning his hands back and forth as he weighed the two destinations. "Niagara Falls or Paris? Hmm, I don't know, I might have to really think about this one," he said seriously, his left hand sinking below the right.

"Really," I said, shoving his arm.

"Really, Bella, it was a destination, and now we have a new one. A better one I'd wager, but I'll have to wait and see how you enjoy the trip."

"Don't pull that selflessness crap with me, this is your trip too," I said, raising an eyebrow.

"Selflessness crap?" he said with a chuckle.

"Well, what you want to do is just as important as what I want to do," I said slowly.

"I see," Jasper said, putting his arm around me. "So it's kind of like a partnership."

"It's kind of like a friendship," I corrected him. "Partnership makes it like we're going to open up a chain of convenience stores or something."

"Speaking of which," Jasper said, reaching down and pulling his backpack into his lap. "I'm surprised you haven't even tried to ask me about what's in here," he said, patting his bag.

"I guess assumed you would tell me when you're ready," I said with a shrug.

"So you're not the least bit interested. I see," he said, feigning a hurt expression.

I smirked at him, and he knew what a lie the statement was.

"Fine," he said, breaking into a grin. He pulled his arm from around me and unzipped the bag. "I thought you might get bored on the plane, so I packed us a survival kit."

"First thing's first," he said, pulling out a pair of boxes. "In an effort to help you keep the promise I knew you were going to make to your mother, I got you one of these," he said, pulling out a clear plastic box with a silver rectangular card in it. "Just pop it into your phone and you can call your mother any time, night or day, regardless of the country."

"And vice versa?" I asked weakly.

"And vice versa," he said with a smirk. "And if that's not exciting enough for you, I bought both of us a Nintendo DS Lite, and a couple of games I thought we could play together," he said, passing me the light cardboard box with a picture of a game console on the front.

"This is great! I guess this was what you were getting at Best Buy?" I asked, staring down at the games as he passed them over to me.

"Yep," he said, smiling with pride. "Of course we'll have to turn them off at some point because God knows a little piece of electronic equipment like that can force a technologically superior, 450 ton plane out of the sky. With that in mind, and also just in case you hated the games, I got this for you," he said, pulling out a fresh copy of the collected works of Jane Austen.

I took the book into my hands greedily, running my eyes over the cover and reading the titles. "I have missed reading so much," I said softly, running my hands over the cover. I looked up and met Jasper's gaze. "Thank you, it's all perfect."

He let out a sigh of relief and smiled sheepishly. "I'm glad you like everything. I got these as a backup plan," he said, pulling out a stack of magazines.

"Oh cool," I said, looking over the glossy cover of National Geographic featuring a small girl clutching several blossoms in her hands. I glanced at the month on the cover and my jaw dropped slightly. "Wow," I breathed. "We've been gone for a while."

"You didn't get that from your mother's reaction?" he asked, raising his eyebrows.

"Well yeah, I did. I guess it's just hard to believe," I said, giving a wistful, half smile. "It feels like we just jumped off that rooftop in San Antonio last night."

Jasper sighed and slid the magazines back into the bag and turned to me. "Yeah, I know. What happened?" he asked, sliding his hand over my knee and taking my hand.

I stared down at our hands, memorizing the feel of his longer, thicker fingers intertwined with my own smaller, delicate ones. What had happened? "Well we escaped certain peril in San Antonio, rode a horse, saw Mark Twain's home, we were involved in a high speed chase, we felt the last of winter, the first of spring, saw a bit of your past, found out a few trails and made a few of our own in upstate New York, experienced bloodlust on multiple occasions, discovered things about ourselves we didn't know, spent a night under the stars..." I said trailing off. "And had a few good laughs and cries in between," I chuckled once, looked up, and met his thoughtful gaze. "Life happened," I concluded.

"Life," he repeated. "Huh," he chuckled, "What do you know," he said with a shrug.

"I know. Us. Who'd have thought?" I said, shaking my head.

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen, Flight 3664, Air France with service from New York, JFK to Paris, Charles de Gaulle will begin loading in five minutes. Will all La Première passengers holding a blue boarding pass please come forward at this time," a woman's voice said over the intercom, echoing through the terminal.

"That's us," he said, pulling his hand from mine and rearranging everything back into his backpack.

We stood up together and walked towards the growing line in front of us. After a few minutes, a woman in a smart looking navy blazer and ascot strode forward and began to collect boarding passes from those at the head of the line.

With only a few people left in front of us, I suddenly felt myself go cold and nervous. My stomach clenched and my feet felt as if they were made of lead.

"What? What is it?" Jasper asked in a concerned voice, his brow creasing as he took in my emotions.

"I... Are you sure you can handle this?" I asked in earnest.

He gave me an appraising look and reached down and took my hand, which was balled up into a fist. "Bella, I can handle this. We both can," he said, as he gently straightened out my fingers and massaging the top of my hand. "This is just one more adventure."

"What if you're wrong? What if something happens?" I asked, squeezing my eyes shut, images of all the things that could possibly go wrong flashing through my head.

I felt a warm hand pressed to my cheek and I opened my eyes and met Jasper's affectionate gaze as he stared into my eyes.

"Whatever happens, Bella, we'll get through it," he said, cupping my cheek, "Together."

Our eyes locked, and suddenly everything fell away. The anxiety, nervousness, even the fears disappeared, replaced with the warmth and love I saw in Jasper's eyes. The walls came down, and it seemed almost as if his thoughts and feelings were no more secret than my own. I could see and feel everything in that moment. It was more intimate than any kiss I had ever experienced in my life, and that realization should have startled me. Instead it simply pulled me in deeper as I felt myself become more and more connected to Jasper.

"Boarding passes?" a woman chirped.

We both jumped and looked up as the woman held out her hand expectantly.

Jasper passed them to her, not taking his eyes off of me.

A few short breaths escaped my lips as I tried to recover from the start the woman had given us.

"Thank you," the woman said, handing back two slips of paper. "Enjoy your flight."

Without a second look behind us, we made our way down the jet way. A blast of cool, spring air rustled our hair as we neared the plane.

I slowed and then came to a stop.

Jasper turned and furrowed his brow at me.

I grinned and shook my head. "We're going to Paris," I said incredulously, my eyes widening.

He chuckled and pulled me into his arms. Taking my face in his hands and sliding his thumbs over my cheekbones, he gently touched his lips to mine. I tilted my head and felt his tongue brush against mine. I sighed happily and deepened the kiss, leaning into him, entirely content to let this feeling last as long as possible. I felt his mouth form a smile and he pulled away.

"Come on Bella," Jasper said with a wag of his head towards the plane. "Let's go."

"Let's go," I repeated with a content smile.

Summary of long ass author's note: THANK YOU!

Now commencing with long ass author's note:

Dearest Readers,

I am so very pleased to have presented you with the final chapter of Afterlife. That's right, what you've just read is the last chapter of this story. While this feels abrupt (I know it does for me!) I felt the story would be best presented if I broke it into two parts. Afterlife's sequel, Vie will have a sneak peek out this week, and hopefully the first chapter will be posted next week.

I am so grateful that you all have come along with me on this ride, especially my diehard ExB readers who trusted me enough to read it, even when your inner fangirl protested profusely! I have received numerous reviews, comments, and notes; every word has been inspiring and so very much loved and appreciated! I'd also like to mention how much I've appreciated your patience with me as I've become acclimated to my new job—thank you to everyone who sent me well wishes on this wonderful new change in my life.

I wanted to share my story with you in regards to Afterlife. Afterlife is deeply personal for me on many levels. On my twenty first birthday (four years ago,) a very dear friend of mine, and a former boyfriend was killed in the line of duty in Iraq. My life stopped for four months. When I say life stopped, I mean I did not exist. I did not speak to anyone, I did not see anyone, I ate little, and slept less. I existed in a very literal sense. I did not live. I spent most of my waking hours grieving, convinced that I had not been good enough to him in life. The guilt was crippling. During this time I became increasingly close with my guy friends, dependent on their strength to fuel my own. It took a very long time, but eventually I reached the point where I was ready to face the life and the world again for all the good and bad things they hold. I learned through the experience that life is not a given, that everything can change in a matter of seconds. I gained a new appreciation for life itself through the death of another.

When I sat down and began writing this story, I realized how much of myself I was putting into it. I held back on revealing this information until the conclusion of Afterlife, as I wanted people to take in the story on their own terms, not mine, hence the lack of author's notes. Not all of it is me, but there are definitely pieces there, and by writing this story, I feel in some small way I am continuing through the grieving process, even though it's been years.

Losing him has taught me many lessons, among them as I've mentioned is to not take our time on this Earth for granted. But it's also taught me that those you love are never really gone, and in time the pain gets easier to live with. I hope these lessons may be of some benefit to someone out there, though honestly I have to say that one has to live through it in order to truly understand the real meaning of the words.

I would like to thank my lovely betas who have been there along the way, especially as I've hemmed and hawed over particularly difficult passages. NiceIceEdward, Twi-ction, KTBass, Bublichka, and ReadTheBookNow. I'd also like to thank my long suffering, hardcore ExB friends who helped me in the wee hours of the morning, especially Jennday11182, and dearest (and highly scandalized) Wuthers. Torsstupidmouth also needs a shout out, as she suffers possibly more than anyone else in her desire to know what happens in the story.

Most especially I'd like to thank you, the reader. For all the comments, reviews, recs, and nominations, I owe each of you a huge hug and box of chocolate (Cadbury, of course!) You've been incredibly supportive, cheering Jasper and Bella on as they learned to live again. You've been put through the ringer. So many times I've had to hold out the box of tissues to a reader. I commend you for soldiering on! I hope you'll continue on with Jasper and Bella as they enter the next chapter of their lives. I promise it only gets better!

Be on the lookout for an outtake from Emmett's POV, along with Vie.

There is no higher compliment for a writer than knowing what they've written has touched you, thank you for the numerous compliments!