It was déjà vu all over again. Another hunt with my brothers. Another call from Alice. Another instant surge of anger and panic. Alice explained how Bella had gotten away. He'd kidnapped her. No, that wasn't right. I was the one who had kidnapped her. I'd bribed Alice to snatch her without warning and restrict her freedom of movement. He had rescued her. I had to give him credit. Bella must have told him that Alice could not see his kind, and he had cleverly exploited his knowledge to enable Bella to escape her. To escape me.
Jasper and Emmett were more than a few miles away. I couldn't hear them anymore. I dropped to the ground. They'd come back to find me, and in the meantime, I'd decide what to do, what to tell them.
The feelings of fear and tension were worse than before, because they were familiar and I knew they would only get worse as the seconds ticked by.
Why was this happening again? I'd taken steps to ensure that it wouldn't. But I'd put too much faith in Alice. I'd left a loophole, and he'd driven right through it, with Bella clinging onto his back. That was a difference. Last time she'd driven her truck. This time she'd jumped on the back of a motorcycle piloted by a reckless teenaged boy. Neither of them wore helmets. What was she going to do next time to be with him? Wait, next time? Could I endure this again and again?
Yes, there would be a next time. She had told me so. She'll find a way. They will. They'll be plotting, either together or separately, against me and my restrictions. She was already furious and resentful. "Angry grizzly bears are going to look tame next to what is waiting for you at home." That message had actually pleased me, because she was waiting for me at home. Sleeping in the bed I'd bought for her… for us. What more could I ask for in this world? But he'd sprung her from my trap. What if I went home and she wasn't waiting, because she didn't like the way I treated her?
I can't be this way with Bella.
"This won't happen again."
"Because you're not going to overreact next time."
It had happened again. It would happen again in the future. Much as I longed to evade the unwelcome conclusion, logic presented me with just one course of action. I hadn't been able to change her behavior. The only way to avoid the crushing anxiety was to change my reaction. To me it was natural and appropriate to experience deep concern about where she was and who she was with. But she called it an overreaction. What did she want me to do? Accept it. Trust her. Did I have it in me to do that?
I didn't think so, but I had to find a way. I could really use Jasper now. I thought about going after him, but I couldn't summon up the will to move. I've done a lot of very difficult things, I reminded myself. Resisting her blood, ignoring her, leaving her. Those choices had been impossible— until I'd made them happen. But all that was to keep her safe! Of course, I'd pay any price to protect her.
Something clicked in my mind. I had thought keeping her under my or Alice's supervision was keeping her safe. Keeping her away from the reservation was keeping her safe. But there was another way to look at it. There was no telling what she'd do to get to him. I was putting her in danger by driving her to extremes. And I was alienating her. If she felt that my protection was oppressive, she'd reject it— and me— entirely. The best way to keep her safe was to help her do what she wanted. What she was going to do anyway.
As I got to my feet, I felt uncharacteristically heavy and weary. Carrying on and enduring the uncertainty—intellectually I knew it was the right thing to do, but every impulse and desire was commanding me to sprint back to her side. Forcing myself to stay away was not going to be easy. For in a minute there are many days. O, by this count I shall be much in years ere I again behold my love! I pinched the bridge of my nose. I took a deep breath and noticed the scent of elk. There were at least twelve hours to get through. 720 minutes. 43,200 seconds. I might as well hunt.
Author's Note: Edward and I both know that "déjà vu all over again" is redundant. We're quoting Yogi Berra, who played for and managed the New York Yankees and the New York Mets and said lots of funny things along the way. The quote in the final paragraph is from Romeo and Juliet.
This final chapter is short, but I hope you found it plausible. I think Edward is smart and mature enough to arrive pretty swiftly at the unavoidable conclusion that there's only one way forward for him and the relationship: he has to accept the unacceptable.
Please let me know what you think! Reviews are as beautiful as Edward's sparkling skin.