Edward leaves Bella, but she does not fall apart, especially when she finds out that Jasper stayed behind. Their growing friendship helps Bella re-build her self-esteem. But with Alice waiting for Jasper's return, will Bella find a new love, or will she be abandoned again?

This is my first attempt at Fan Fiction and it's a slow building romance from Bella's point of view, kind of like Twilight itself. If Jasper and Bella are meant to be together, getting them there will be a process. And in this story Alice is still very much a factor so, as the synopsis points out, the end is uncertain.

The first couple of chapters are introducing Bella. Jasper will make his appearance in Chapter 3.

Of course, I do not own any of the characters -- they belong to Stephanie Meyer.


He was dying. My eyes burned with smoke and my lungs were overwhelmed with the heavy, acrid odor of incense as the wolves threw vampire chunks into the blazing fire. I could hear the howls and growling of the pack as their fury whipped them into a frenzy.

I was covered with blood. It dripped from me onto him as I desperately tried to hold his torn and broken body together, to somehow protect him from certain demise. But my loss of blood was nothing. My wounds were superficial. He was dying! Dying because he tried to protect me. And there was nothing I could do to stop it.

I kept screaming. Screaming at the top of my lungs despite the choking smoke, until the intelligible noise finally turned into words.

"Jacob," I screamed," You have to save him! Please! He cannot die because of me! I'm begging you, you're the only one who can do this! Jacob! Oh God - Jasper! No! You have to save him! He's dying!"

The smoke was so thick I could hardly see, but my peripheral vision somehow registered movement. A small, fast, fluid shadow descended into the clearing like a dark angel. My screams caught in my throat as my mind recognized the familiar figure. Alice!

Chapter 1: Abandoned toy

He was gone.

A part of me wanted to follow, to trace his path through the forest, catch up with him and force him to change his mind. But I knew this was impossible. I was a terrible tracker and I could never match his speed, even if I was able to follow without falling and injuring myself. Besides, what could I possibly say to change his mind? If he was telling the truth, if he really didn't want me, what good would it do to argue?

I sank to the ground. I didn't know what to do, where to go, what to think. He had said he loved me, over and over again, so many times. I thought he meant it. Yet today he was so cold, like he was a different person. Not the Edward I loved, but a stranger.

I sat there for a while, not moving. I was worthless and alone, left like last season's trendy toy that was now out of style. Sure, Edward could move on to other distractions. But what was I supposed to do now? For months Edward had been my whole world. We spent all our time together. I had no other interests, nothing to distract me. How could I go on? I felt numbness spread through me as I wallowed in self pity.

When I finally tried to move, I realized that I was numb, literally. My legs had fallen asleep from sitting so long in one position. Yet another reminder that I was a pathetically inferior human. Edward could have sat there in the same position for days without a slightest hint of discomfort.

I untangled my legs and cried out as blood circulated again and brought feeling and pain. Thousands of pins and needles sticking into my lower limbs, like the ones I could feel stabbing into my heart. There was a strange comfort in the pain – at least it proved I could still feel.

When the pain in my legs finally receded, I pulled myself up and made my way back to the house. Charlie hadn't come home yet. I found a note on the kitchen table, written in my messy handwriting.

Going for a walk with Edward, up the path. Back soon, B.

I was confused. I hadn't written the note. Edward must have done it, but why? Did he expect me to still be on the trail when Charlie came home? Did he expect me to collapse in some sort of catatonic state so that Charlie would have to find me? And if he did expect that, did he really go ahead and leave me, after warning me last spring about all the dangers hiding in the forest? I started to get angry. I crumpled up the note and threw it in the trash.

No, I would not give him the satisfaction of acting like the weakling he believed me to be. He had hurt me, yes, but the wound was not fatal. It would take time to heal; something I was used to. Clumsy as I was, I was always healing form one injury or another. If anything, this emotional blow should be easier. Not stitches or braces or casts necessary. Just time.

The thought of time made me look at the clock. Holy crow, it was late! Charlie would be home soon and I had nothing ready for dinner. There wasn't enough time for anything remotely resembling home cooking, so I grabbed some spaghetti and a jar of sauce. I knew I had a bag of frozen meatballs in the freezer for just such occasions. I quickly put water in the pasta pot to boil and dumped the meatballs and pasta sauce into another pot to warm. It wouldn't be my finest culinary effort, but Charlie probably wouldn't even notice. He wasn't particularly picky.

The phone rang. I didn't feel like talking with anyone, but answered anyway, just in case it was Charlie.

"Hey Bella," the voice was that of Jessica Stanley.

I cringed. There could only be one reason for Jessica to call – her gossip of a mother had already heard about the Cullens leaving Forks. Bad news travels fast, I thought. Then I realized that Edward never even game me the cover story. What would I tell Jessica when she asked why they left? Oh, you know, Jess, Edward felt I wasn't good enough for him anymore and he couldn't stand to live in the same town as me so his whole family had to move, lest he give in to his initial reaction to me and kill me for my blood. I bet that would go over well.

Fortunately, I didn't have to be that creative.

"My mom just came home and told me that Dr. Cullen took a position in a hospital in L.A. and that the whole family was moving there immediately. How awful! Did you speak with Edward?"

Moving to sunny California, I thought. I had to admit the irony was just a little too delicious. Edward really wanted to go to great lengths to make sure he made a clean get-away. I knew the one place the Cullens would not move to was a city where they would be forced to stay indoors all the time. Was he afraid I would try to stalk him and came up with this ridiculous lie as a signal to me? I clenched my fist in anger. I was not a physically aggressive person, but right now I wouldn't mind punching something, or someone!

"Bella?" Jessica's voice interrupted my thoughts. I panicked. What was it that she asked me? That's right, she wanted to know if Edward and I talked.

"Yes, we spoke. It's true."

"Oh," she said, and I knew she didn't call for confirmation of the rumor. She wanted the dirt on me and Edward. "So what are you guys going to do? Will you visit each other on the weekends?"

"Um," my brain was working overtime. Edward was gone and he made me feel so small, but there was no reason for any one else to know that. What could I say that wouldn't make me sound like a discarded plaything? After a moment, I formulated a story that I prayed would work. "Flying is pretty expensive, and senior year means a lot of school work, plus I have to work many weekends. We'll see what happens, but for now we decided that it might be a good idea to see other people."

"I see," Jessica said incredulously. "And you're OK with that? I mean, you know what they say about California girls. Are you sure you want to give Edward your permission to . . . experiment?"

I could hear in her voice that she didn't really believe me. The fact that she was right made me all the more determined to be convincing.

"Whatever," I said, sounding bored. "I mean, make no mistake, I love Edward, but he was definitely more useful as a boyfriend when he was here, you know what I mean?"

"Really? I thought you two were really gaga over each other."

"Yeah, well, I guess we were, but I'm only eighteen and I don't want to spend my last year of high school exchanging e-mails, phone calls and an occasional visit with a long-distance boyfriend, and I'm sure Edward feels the same way." Yes, he had made that abundantly clear. "So, you know, we'll keep in touch, but we'll explore our other options too."

I crossed my fingers as I offered the last lie. I knew all too well there would be no future contact between me and Edward. How had he put it? It will be as thought I never existed. He might as well have substituted "you" for the "I".

"Wow, Bella, you're taking this really well," Jessica said. Her voice was still filled with disbelief, but also a bit of disappointment. I could tell she was hoping I'd be a heartbroken mess. I thought about the note crumpled in the trash. Join the club, Jess, join the club.

"You think? I'm just trying to make the most of a bad situation. Maybe dating is like horseback riding – if you fall off the best thing to do is get right back on?

"Sure," now Jessica was uncertain. I could almost hear her thoughts, reviewing the roster of available senior boys at Forks high school, including her ex, Mike Newton. "But no sense in rushing into anything."

I knew this conversation had not gone anything like she thought it would when she first picked up the phone, and I was glad, though I also felt guilty that I was taking out my anger at Edward by being mean to Jess. I really had no intention of dating anyone, especially Mike Newton, so why make her as miserable as I felt?

"I won't rush," I assured her. "I think a little break from relationships would be good for me. Look, Jess, my dad will be home any minute and I have to finish dinner, so. . ." I let my voice train off.

"Oh, right, I'll let you go," thankfully she took the hint. "I'll see you at school tomorrow."

We hung up the phone and I knew that as soon as the receiver hit the cradle at Jessica's house it would be picked up again, either by her or her mother. By tomorrow morning there wouldn't be a soul in town who didn't know about me an Edward. I just hoped my story was plausible enough to hold.

I had dinner ready by the time Charlie walked through the door.

"Hey, Bella," he said cautiously as we sat down to eat," I hear the Cullens were moving to California. Edward going with them?"

I looked up, startled. Even thought I was 18 and everyone assumed Edward was the same age, the possibility of Edward staying behind when his family left would not have even occurred to me. I hoped Charlie was the only one who made that mental leap.

"Of course, Dad. He's still in high school." For the umpteenth time! I briefly wondered where the Cullens were really moving to, and whether they would be starting high school all over again wherever they wound up. For some reason the misery that this experience caused them, especially Edward and Rosalie, gave me a small comfort. Who knew I was this vindictive?

"I see. So I suppose I should get a better long distance plan?"

I knew I would have to lie to Charlie as well, but I didn't realize it would be this hard. Still, he would know better than anyone that there would be no calls to or from California, and I couldn't very well tell him the truth.

"I don't think so, Dad. The long-distance relationship thing, probably not such a good idea. Edward and I decided to see other people. We, um, broke up."

It was Charlie's turn to look surprised.

"And you're OK with that?" he was at once concerned, suspicious, hopeful and relieved.

"Yeah. I think I am."

"Uh-huh," he didn't sound convinced. "Am I going to have to drive you to LA to convince him to move back to Forks?"

I winced at the reminder of the cover story we gave Charlie for the events of last spring break. I supposed it was hard to believe that Edward and I could be inseparable one week, and completely ready to move on the next. And no wonder, since it was a complete lie, at least on my part. But I had a role to play here, and dwelling would not be helpful. I tried to smile.

"Well, it's not like his whole family will move back for us, so I don't think there would be any point to that trip."

Suddenly Charlie looked glum.

"Are you going to stay in Forks?" he asked, and I realized that he was worried that without Edward I would decided to re-join Renee and Phil. I thought it was odd that this thought hadn't even occurred to me. Of course I could avoid all the gossip simply by leaving myself. I too had another place to go. But looking at Charlie's tortured face, I knew this was not an option. Charlie needed me here, and I would not let Edward chase me away from my home. I didn't want to start senior year at a new school, be forced to make new friends, find a new job. Staying in Forks would be hard, but it would also be easier than moving.

"Yeah, Dad, I'm staying in Forks. I want to finish high school with my friends."

I could see he was buying it. I guess I was a pretty good spin doctor -- maybe I had a career in public relations.

"I'm glad, Bells. I love having you here."

I choked up a little. The word "love" was not one Charlie used often. I hung my head, embarrassed.

"I love you too, Dad." I said.

We finished the meal in silence. After dinner I washed the dishes while Charlie dried and put them away. We didn't need to speak to bond.

When we were done Charlie went to the living room to watch a baseball game. I let him know I was going to do homework and headed upstairs. I had an idea that my surprises from Edward weren't over yet, and I opened the door to my room with dread.

Sure enough, he had been here too. I could see that the birthday presents form his family were gone. He had also removed the photos of himself from my scrapbook and took his CD out of my CD player. This was a final blow, but it was also kind of a relief. I acknowledged that I probably would have gotten rid of all those things anyway. He just saved me the trouble.

I knew I wouldn't be able to study, and there was nothing due the next day, so I decided to get ready for bed. As I lay in my dark room, the events of the day re-played in my head like footage of a disaster on an otherwise slow news day. Alone, all traces of my false bravado disappeared and the tears started flowing until, eventually, I cried myself to sleep.

I hope you like the stronger Bella. I absolutely love feedback, so please leave a review!