Greetings again, my friends! I could sit here, typing my AN and recount the whole story for the delay with this chapter, but I'm not going to bore you with excuses. Instead, I will make this note simple; This chapter is one that I've handled with more care than ever before. This is also another chapter that was supposed to have a few other things happen, and as excited as I am to get to those events, I think leaving them until the next chapter is best. But do know that it is on its way, and that I can't wait to share it with you! Happy reading, and thank you for your messages of support! :)


The escape of sleep came and went. I tossed and turned, sweating coldly, hair sticking to my neck and face. When I did manage to doze off, I faced terrifying images that were clawing, screaming for me in the darkness. After the fifth round of battling my subconscious, I shrieked myself awake and sat up. Attempting to sleep was pointless and impossible.

I wiped away half-dried tears that had formed earlier, and looked up to the moon's melancholic disposition. I felt rather bad for the moon; it was bright and unveiled when hardly anyone would see and appreciate it. Not only that, but it represented secrecy and betrayal. We were one and the same, the moon and I.

But the moon had a purpose, while I didn't. William's sweet words couldn't even convince me otherwise. I was mentally ill; depressed, as they might say.

Perhaps my purpose all along has been to care for my child, if I were even stable enough to do so. But I couldn't properly support or believe in myself. How could I protect a baby?

I instinctively stroked the plump mound of flesh at my center as it was kicked lightly against, seemingly in response to my thoughts. "That's doesn't mean that I won't try!" I retorted sillily. "I'd do anything for you," I cooed. "No matter what happens…and I don't know what will."

I didn't even know who I was. I didn't know where I belonged…nowhere, it seemed.

Was there a purpose to everything? I certainly didn't know. Surely some events had reason, but I couldn't explain away all that had happened in my life. Maybe I was just too narrow at this point to fully grasp it.

Dawn began to appear and pulled me out of my philosophical bubble. It reminded me of how I should worry. But I wasn't afraid; I was matter-of-fact.

Keeping my child safe was the priority. Even if Charles were to reach me, I had faith that the child would be secure.

Charles would likely accuse me of adultery and assume that I was carrying William's baby. However, he was also likely to wait until I'd given birth to strike me again. His ego wouldn't let him ever publicly, (though falsely) say that I'd had an affair, as that would make him appear unsatisfactory, which is also why he wouldn't want the child injured while I was carrying it…He'd want to show off the result of his "manhood".

But the thing is, the thought of going back almost appealed to me. At least I had a sense of my place there. At least I didn't need a fortune teller in that domain; I always knew what the days would entail.

But I'd changed things forever, and there was no going back now.

My chance of survival was what I made it, and right now, it needed to be hasty.

The sun was bringing more clarity to the room, and I took that as my warning.

I dressed in a rush and didn't bother fussing over anything else. I still had time to bide, but to have been unprepared would've been unthinkable. Frankly, I didn't have a plan for the outcome of Charles arriving. But no matter what happened, I needed to be ready to run.

It was a shame that today had to be the way it was. Had it been different, it would've been a glorious day. It was a morning that would leave me with the birds singing louder than ever, had my head not been filled with chaotic thoughts. And the water in the pond would have been bluer than the sky, that is, if my eyes weren't clouded by tears and emotional fatigue. Through my eyes, I was seeing the same dull shade of grey, while the shapes of the world blended.

Stirrings around the house began to be more prominent and crept through the barrier my ears had crafted. What a pity, I was almost comfortable with sudden noises, and now I had to leave.

I stood in the doorway as Edie came out of her room. Though she was strong, her eyes were tired and worried, "Do the children know about my departure?"

She sighed as she closed her eyes, "No, I haven't had the heart to tell them."

"Do you think I should tell them instead?"

"That would probably be for the best."

"Edie?"

"Yes?"

"Try not to stress yourself so much; at this point, whatever happens, happens."

She looked at the floor, "I know, that's what stresses me. I just want you safe. You know who I am, and you know that I'm never afraid…ever. This has me completely reversed."

"I'm sorry you have to face this with me."

"I'm sorry you've had to face this at all, sweetie."

"I know," I whispered as I walked by her.

I slipped into Stephen's room as Faith was helping him tie his shoes for the day. They looked at me, Stephen with that innocent curiosity, and Faith with that all-too-knowing suspicion.

I couldn't tell them and make it official. I blinked back the tears that were forming again.

"Auntie Esme, what's wrong?" Stephen stepped forward and looked up to me.

I sniffed, "Nothing's wrong, honey. The baby just kicked me a little harder than usual."

He leaned towards my stomach, "Be nice to your mommy! She's working hard to make sure you're strong." He patted my tummy, "I think he heard me."

"I think he did too."

"Stephen," Faith chimed in. "Why don't you go help mom in the kitchen? I'm sure she'd like that."

"Okay!" He lit up and darted from the room.

Faith approached me slowly. "You're leaving," she said not as a question, but with certainty.

"Yes."

"I thought so, I can see it all over your face…I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you too."

"Will we see you again?"

"God willing."

She grimaced lightly and flung her arms around me. She shook and my sleeve gradually became damp, "I know I don't know you as well as my mother does, but I'll miss your help. It was nice having another woman to talk with."

"I know, honey, but it will work out," I sat down with her talked the morning away.

"I've been avoiding it, but I've got ask you…Why are you leaving?"

It was the one question I'd dreaded more than any of the other possibilities, "I don't know that it's appropriate for me to tell you."

"In what way?"

"You're just like your mother," I sighed. I could tell she wouldn't give in easily, "The gist of it is that I'm in danger if I stay…That's all I'm comfortable with telling you right now. In time, you'll know the story, but not just yet."

She avoided my eyes as hers were swimming with guesses, "I understand…for now, but I'm still disappointed you're going."

I leaned forward and hugged her, "Me too, dear, me too."

She hugged me back, and I held on, savoring this essence of kindness, forcing it to imprint upon me. But I ripped myself from her when the rumble of an automobile nearing pierced my ears, "Esme, what's wrong now?"

"I have to go, I, I have to leave!"

The car door shut and I could feel its beat thrumming through my heart. I tried to run but I almost fell and was barely caught in time by Faith, "Esme, you have to breathe. Look me in the eyes and focus. Inhale and exhale."

I heard pounding on the door and everything faded to black.

Suddenly I was twirling slowly as visions of my future whipped around me. My face, a child, the shadow of a man, all illuminated by a golden light.

I looked down to find myself standing upon grass. Another patch of green rustled lightly in the distance as I heard a low hiss. A monstrosity of a snake slithered towards me. I opened my mouth to scream, but no sound would escape. I desperately wanted to flee but no matter how hard I tried to push with my muscles, I couldn't move. I watched as it slid up my leg and wrapped itself around my belly. I could hear a voice above me, "Esme," as the snake lifted itself to the level of my eyes. It smiled dementedly and lurched for my tummy.

"Help me!" I thrashed about and felt a slight restraint.

"Esme, open your eyes!" I relaxed and gradually lifted my eyelids, "I was worried that I wouldn't see your eyes again," said a familiar masculine voice.

"I didn't think I'd open them…I'm so glad it's you, William."

"Me too, and I apologize for frightening you."

"It's all right; what matters is that you're here, and not- Charles. We have to get out of here!"

"I know, I know. Everyone loaded your things into my vehicle," he stroked my forehead. "I just needed to know that you were going to be fine before we left…I feel like I'm going to lose you."

I smiled and pulled his face closer, "You won't; I'm not going anywhere."

"Do you promise?"

"Oh, why not? If I don't follow through, what can you do to me?" He laughed and his breath tickled my cheeks, "Care to help me up?"

He lifted me, not allowing my feet to touch the ground. I was confused and he noticed, "You need to rest as much as possible, especially after this ordeal." I nodded weakly; I was drained.

At the foot of the stairs, we were met by the family, "Please set me down," I whispered. "I'd like to say my goodbyes."

I walked over to the children, "Someday, you'll fully understand what's happening. But for now, we'll just have to be in each other's hearts. I love you both." They looked down and nodded before hugging me.

I then looked upon the parents, "You both have been amazing, and I wish I could repay you."

"That's never necessary; we wish we could do more," Christopher said quietly.

"Thank you," I smiled. "And Edie, I feel like I'm losing a sister."

"Not losing me, just having to vacation away from me for a bit," she barely spoke above a whisper, the quietest she'd ever been. She hugged me, "Don't say goodbye; I won't let you make this final."

"I won't," I let go of her.

"You'll always have a room here…You too, William, should you ever desire one."

"We'll hold you to that," Will said as he shook their hands.

"We certainly hope you do."

We certainly hope you'll be able to…

Will helped me into my seat and started the vehicle. "I'll miss them so much," I confided.

"I can see why," he looked away from me. "And I wish it didn't have to be this way."

I closed my eyes. I knew he wanted things to be different; they all did. As we drove, I imagined how close he'd come to being too late. I could almost hear Charles' Ford. I could almost smell the gasoline that it had problems containing.

My eyes popped open and Williams eyes met mine, "The back, Esme, reach for the hats in the back!"

"Hats?"

"Just do it!" I twisted and grabbed two gardening hats, handing him his, "Put yours on and keep your head turned until I tell you to move."

I could tell he was almost passing us by the way my stomach rolled as if I were going to be sick. Breathe, I told myself.

"Esme, we're fine. He's gone."


William had been right; Charles was moving farther away…and closer to a home on a hill.

But there were two people, ready and willing to defend.

The automobile came to a stop, and the door was slammed. Charles was red and hysterical.

He yelled, hoping to scare the residents; he was beyond his hometown charade at this point. "Where the hell is my wife? And who gave you the goddamn right to take her away from me?" he bellowed.

Edie stepped forward, her husband unsuccessfully attempting to keep her back, "We've done no such thing to you, sir." She wanted to address him as something much more fitting, but held her tongue.

Chris gently tugged her back to the door's frame, "I'm afraid we've not wronged you. I think it best if you leave."

"Oh, I see," Charles began to slur. "You let your little lady do your talking for you? You're not the man I expected."

Charles tried to ascend the steps and noticed Christopher reaching behind the door as he spoke, "The difference between you and I is that I'm not living in the past nor present; my family and I are stepping towards the future…In my marriage, my wife and I are equals." He pulled his hand into view, along with a rifle that he pretended to polish as he continued, "And when people come here, speaking to my family in such a manner, well, I get a little upset. That's something I'm sure you know all about…The anger, I mean. But the second difference between us is that I don't need to keep you around as a punching bag to make myself feel better. I have no need for you to live, and frankly, no qualms about homicide, justifiable homicide, that is."

Edie smirked at Charles as she watched his pupils dilate, and she imagined how quickly his heart must be beating, "I believe you know the way out."

Edie and Christopher watched as Charles slowly backed away towards his car and pulled out, "Are you ever even going to load that awful thing?" she whispered.

Chris laughed, "I've never needed to."


Oh, my, I had fun writing Chris this chapter ;) I don't have much else to say, except I hope that this makes up somewhat for the gap in writing. I'd also like to thank you all for reading again! I'm getting more views than I'd ever hoped! I'm incredibly flattered, and couldn't do this without you.

Note: If I don't respond to your review, please don't take it personally! I read and cherish them all...It's just difficult to think of something to say if you only post 3 words in your review. :)

Reviews:

wizkiz: Thank you! hehe I want him too...Don't worry, it'll be soon! :D I loved the last scene in NM as well! Very nice...And I don't personally care for CxB (because I'm hardcore CxE lol) but my gosh, I thought they were going to kiss for a second when he was stitching her...Talk about intimate! I definitely see the appeal though...You're not alone ;)

EliseShaw: I appreciate your comment like always, and I'm so thankful to have had your approval on the last chapter. You really gave me more confidence when it came to writing the time period. Thank you.

AnnelieAhuisCullen: I don't know, .Cullen is pretty cool lol ;D And thank you again! It's so funny to think that we know her history, but it feels like we're hearing it for the first time in each story hehe I hope you're having (or had) a nice trip! Can't wait to hear from you again!

EdwardLovesMe: You're welcome, and I hope that you've been having a lovely time around the site! There are wonderful people here :) lol Be crazy and proud! The crazies are the best! Thanks, and I hope you like the update!

TwilightLover-CarlisleandEsme: Thank you kindly! I always feel upset myself when I write sad material, but I'm glad to know that it's resonating with you. Eagerly awaiting your thoughts!

pbwitbeck: Thank you! I was so excited when I saw your comment on William! He's a character that's really close to my heart, and I'm so grateful that you like him! I hope this was William-y enough ;)

xFender'sGirlx: Thank you for the compliment! And yes, they are the sweetest 3

TeamCarlisle21: Yay! I'm glad I've kept you guessing, and I hope that this was no exception! I'm so appreciative that you're liking it so far, and I really hope you like where it'll be going :)

Twilightfanatic247: Hooray! I'm happy to see you're checking it out! I'm so thankful to have you on two sites :D I hope you get this update, because I love your reviews!