Author's Notes: Thanks so much to everyone who reviewed or put the story on alert, i'm really very grateful. Hope you enjoy the update and let me know if there's anything wrong with it, I'm always glad for a little constructive criticism.
It was not the way I had envisioned our reunion, it had Bella's body in my arms yes, but not this way. My spontaneous decision to let her back into my life had stunned her so that she had fainted. Her frail body felt warm in my arms and I allowed myself to trace the shape of her face, my fingers lingering on her lips. I carried her back up to her room and let her scent wash back over me. Venom pooled in my mouth, but I swallowed it and set Bella down on her bed. Scarcely leaving her for a second, I returned with a cool glass of water and found that she was already regaining consciousness. Her eyes fluttered open and I sat myself down in her rocking chair as she flung herself up into a sitting position.
"Edward," she murmured. "I'm dreaming right?"
I smiled softly at her, allowing myself to take her in. "Of course I must haunt your nightmares, but I assure you, you are very much awake."
A perplexed look claimed her face and I wandered slowly over to the bed. Gently, I sat myself down beside her, longing for her touch once more. Bella stared at me warily and shuffled away ever so slightly from me. I felt my heart plummet as I realised that I'd hurt her too much.
"Sorry, it's just that I can't let this get too far. It'll hurt too much when I wake up," she whispered. Almost as if it was an instinctive reaction, Bella wrapped her arms around her torso again.
"Bella you're not dreaming. I'm here. I'm sorry. I missed you."
"This can't be happening. You left," she whispered hopefully. I could see in her eyes that she wanted to believe me. Tears threatened to poor over and her breathing became haggard. Ignoring the distance she wished to put between us I pulled her into my arms. Her head buried itself my chest and I soothed her as she sobbed. "This is gonna cost me, " she choked.
I was perplexed, "What do you mean?"
She sniffed, "When you left, it hurt so much. The pain was so unbearable I chose to stifle it. If I let you in, let whatever this is to get too close to me, when you leave again I don't think I'll survive."
"Bella I'm not going anywhere. Never again. I can't. Never mind if I should, you're a part of me and I can't live without you," I said softly. She needed to know how much I needed her. I loved her so desperately that it would tear me apart if she decided that she no longer wanted me.
She still looked confused and opened her mouth several times to speak before staring dumbfounded at me.
"Bella, I can't hear your thoughts, I need you to speak," it wasn't just knowledge I thirsted for, the sound of her voice would always be like a lullaby to me, soothing and melodic.
"I don't know how you can be real. Why now? Why today? Why at all?"
"Bella, it got to be too much. I couldn't function without you, I was empty. You've blinded me and without you I can't see."
"How can I be really sure you're not a dream? You've been imprinted in my mind for so long, how can I know that my mind isn't being strangely realistic right now?"
"Bella, could a dream do this?" I pulled her face close to mine, and kissed her cheeks and forehead allowing her scent to consume me. I felt her shudder under my touch and I smiled down at her. She closed her eyes and a chuckle escaped her lips.
"Of course a dream could do that. But I doubt my imagination would've." Her brown eyes bored deep into mine and I felt for sure she could see the truth finally. "Edward, why? Why did you leave?"
Satisfied that she was convinced for now that she wasn't dreaming, I answered, "Because I thought it would be the best thing for you. I'm wrong for you Bella, my lifestyle is too dangerous; I'm a danger to your existence."
"I trust you," she said firmly.
"But I didn't trust myself. What happened on your birthday, my own brother, although he regrets it deeply and blames himself for this whole mess, let his instincts take over. What would happen if there had been more blood? Would I have been able to stop myself? Would the others? I couldn't let myself endanger you. I love you too much. So I sacrificed my claim on you. I just never expected it to be as easy as it was."
"Edward, you can't blame yourself and neither can Jasper for what happened. It could've happened to anyone. If it had been Charlie would you have left?"
I paused for a second and thought deeply before saying, "No."
We sat in silence for a while before she lay back down, her head coming to rest on my chest once more. I breathed deeply and allowed myself to get lost in her. Her scent, the warmth of her skin, her pulse. I allowed Bella to consume me. I felt her breathe as she went to speak again, "You said you never expected leaving to be as easy as it was. What did you mean?"
"Bella, do you remember what I'd told you just days before?" The memory of her lying on the couch as we watched Romeo and Juliet on the couch was crystal clear in my mind.
"Yes. I remember everything."
"Do you remember how I told you about the Volturi?"
"Yes," she whispered.
"Do you remember how I said I would go to them if something ever happened to you? I would seek to end my life in a world without you? I can't live without you. If you're absent I cease to function, if you're dead or hurt I cease to exist. You complete me."
"That still doesn't answer my question. What does that have to do with you leaving?"
"Bella," her name rolled easily off my tongue and hung in the air before I spoke again, "I'd told you only days earlier that I did not intend to live without you, that you were my life and the reason for my existence. I love you so much so that I thought you would never doubt my conviction. Then to lie to you days later and say that I no longer loved you. I thought it would take hours for you to even start to believe that I might be telling the truth. But you stared at me, and believed me seconds after the lie had tumbled from my mouth. I wanted to tell you right then and there that I was lying and that I never wanted to leave you, but in my mind your safety presented itself as the greater need."
My explanation left her a little breathless and she mumbled, "I was never good enough for you anyway. It never made sense for you to love me, I was the outrageously lucky winner in a raffle that had a limited time stamp on it. You're the most amazing person I've ever met, and I'm just Bella."
Anger flashed through me. How could she not see how wonderful she was? It seemed that every male in town was lusting after Bella, and I couldn't blame them. Then I saw how broken she was. Her body was thinner, her hair limp and far too long for my liking. She was still beautiful though, the smile of hers threatened to break through and send the lust filled monster in me over the edge. Simply, I said, "You don't see yourself clearly at all do you? Bella the flush that lives in your cheeks, the completely unique shape and colour of your eyes, your scent, everything that you overlook is so much more than average. You are the most beautiful thing in my world."
She scoffed, " Right, that I believe. I hold a candle next to the flame that is Rosalie? Sure Edward."
Her sarcasm cut deep and I wanted nothing than to put on the highest of pedestals for all the world to see. I wanted her to know how amazingly wonderful she really was. I grew frustrated, "Bella, why will you believe the lie? Why can't you see that I'm telling you the truth?" I was pleading now. "Have I hurt you too much? If I have I understand, I'll leave - "
"NO!" she cried, clutching her fingers to the collar of my shirt. "I'm not afraid of you. I'm afraid of myself. I'm afraid to let you back in not because I care less for you, but because I care so much that if I let you back into my heart then when you leave I'll never recover. I'm afraid that if this isn't real, that if my mind really has lost itself than I'm not going to be able to pick up the pieces." She paused briefly collecting her silent thoughts, "For now though, this seems real though; I just can feel my heart, or the place where my heart used to be threatening to rip a hole back in my chest and I just can't let it. I need to be sure."
"Sure of what?"
"That I'm well and truly awake. That you're not some amazing figment of my imagination, that's going to disappear when the clock strikes midnight."
"Bella, I thought we were past this."
"We are. But I know that if you were to leave again in some way or another that it would destroy me."
I cursed inwardly at myself. I had destroyed her in ways I never knew. I thought I'd been protecting her and here she was living like a shell of a person. She too couldn't function without her other half, but she no longer believed I loved her.
"I love you," I said simply. "I love you more than anyone has ever loved anyone, but if I've hurt you too much, if you've moved on, it's okay. Your happiness means more to me than my own."
"Edward, I can't be happy without you."
Elation washed through me, and I knew I was so close to seeing her true feelings.
"Is that all? Is your happiness the only thing dependent on my presence?"
She smiled and the familiar blush coloured her cheeks, "Edward, I can't live without you either."
"Is that all?" I prompted once more desperate for answers . I was close, so close to knowing her feelings. I needed to hear her say it. Our faces were so close by now, noses grazing each other, I could feel her breath on my face and her hair tickling my cheeks.
"I will never stop loving you," she whispered.
My heart soared and I smiled so hard I thought surely my cheeks would tear. I took her cheek in my hand and caressed it with my fingers, she was so delicate, and she still loved me. She still loved the monster that had left her to rot and lied to her time after time. I was essentially the luckiest man alive. Pausing, to see if she would again allow me access, I lowered my face to hers and kissed her.
It was easily the best kiss of my life, the touch of her lips still sent the feeling of excitement through my veins. Her touch was exhilarating but this caused me new levels of pleasure I couldn't comprehend. Her face fit in my hands, her mouth on mine, she was the most wonderful thing in the world, and I didn't think anything could've ruined the moment.
Except for the thing that did. I jerked my lips away from hers and saw her sigh in content, she looked blissful and the only thing that could've torn my eyes away from her was the arrival of a new danger.