It was late. Almost dawn, but I couldn't bring myself to wait until the morning. He would persuade me to stay again, and I was much too vulnerable to risk that. Not that he had ever said anything to influence my decision. It was his smile, combined with the chocolate-brown gleam in his eyes... They never failed to melt my heart.
And the look in his eyes when he would realize what I had done… Well, I was relying on the fact that I wouldn't be here to see it. Still, it would have been so comforting to crawl next to my dormant husband and demand that he give me one reason to stay. Surely that would do it… I was so weak.
My mother had been right all along. My father, too, though he was never as outspoken about Charlie and I, let alone our premature marriage. But they had regained some trust in me when I had become a mother. And now I would betray that trust all over again.
I spared myself a glance in the mirror, only for the sake of the taxi driver and the poor people on the plane that would have to look at me.
I had been pretty. Last year, last month even. But now I had untimely crow's feet and my blue eyes had lost their twinkle. I had fallen out of love, or perhaps I had never even been in love to begin with. No- I couldn't let myself think that. I had loved Charlie. I had loved him with all my heart. There was no denying that.
"May-mah." The small voice sent shivers down my spine, and I jumped almost two feet into the air.
She had gotten out of her crib, again; my Bella was smart beyond her years. My eyes met hers in a moment of understanding. She was such an easy child, never hungry and never temperamental. I never understood where she came from. I was always frazzled and hare-brained. Charlie was slightly more laidback than I was, but not enough to create such a loving, mature baby.
"Bells," I whispered, my voice cracking as I said her name, "Sweetie, it's bed time." Though my 10-month-old daughter was much too young to understand my words, there was something in her eyes that told me she knew what was happening.
This was a complication that I had not given much thought. For me, it had been a given that Charlie would raise our daughter. He could provide her with a nice, consistent life here in Forks. Charlie was a good father; he was more than capable of taking care of Bella. It's not that I didn't want her with me, but I couldn't kid myself. I needed to get my life under control before I took on the responsibility of another life. Of course, I should have thought about this a couple of years ago when I was walking down the tacky aisle at the broken-down wedding chapel in Las Vegas.
But the look in her eyes. It was like staring into Charlie's all over again. They were captivating, alluring even. Sighing, I picked up my daughter and quickly hurried back into the nursery. I tucked her haphazardly into her mess of blankets, ignoring her confused looks, and quickly hurried back into our bedroom.
It had all worked out so perfectly. Charlie had gotten home from work (he was an intern to the Chief of Police) very late and, not wanting to disturb me, he had spent the night on the sofa. I sat down on the creaky bed, closing my eyes for a second. This is reckless, I thought to myself, You're running from your problems like you always have.
I told myself this repeatedly, begging sleep to come so that I could wake up and think rationally. It was the town, after all, that was driving me crazy. Forks. What a disgusting place. If only I had chosen to attend college somewhere warm, like back home in southern California. Then I would have never met Charlie, never dropped out my freshman year, and never had Bella. But having Bella was the one thing that I had done right these last couple of years. Isabella was the only thing that had anchored me to Forks for so long. Without her, I would probably be in Maui right now.
5 a.m. found me on the corner of Spartan Avenue in my old rain poncho and a torn pair of jeans. I had packed lightly, not wanting to strip Charlie of everything that he had depended on. I had taken a week's supply of Pop-tarts, half of my wardrobe, and a CD that Charlie had made me while we were still dating. I had taken a decrepit photo album of my few friends here in Forks. Oh, and I had taken Bella.