Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: It's hard to believe that this is the last chapter. When I posted the first chapter, I wondered if anyone would read it. Not only did you read it, you left me wonderful reviews and recommended the story on your blogs and Twitter. I am very thankful for all your support.
Thank you to:
- My DH, who still doesn't quite understand this whole Twilight/fan fiction thing but tells me how much he likes my writing anyway.
- erikasbuddy for being my lovely beta and fellow Twilight/Rob/Moonlight/fanfic addict. Her edits and feedback were invaluable. (And I'm still saving Josef for you.)
- cutie_sstb for encouraging me, helping me when I was new to the fandom and fan fiction, and being the first to pimp my story. I (heart) you hard. (http://supersecrettwilightblog[dot]blogspot[dot]com/)
- bettigefecht for her encouragement and the beautiful animated button she created. It is the perfect representation of my story. (http://bettimusictwilight[dot]blogspot[dot]com/)
- MrsVanquish for her encouragement and for the awesome interview she did, which will be posted 11/30/09. (http://letsridethevanquish[dot]blogspot[dot]com/)
- Everyone who recommended my story on their blogs. *hugs*
- Everyone who tweeted and RT about the story. *hugs*
- Everyone who left a review. *hugs*
- Everyone who read the story and simply enjoyed it. *hugs*
Want to know what's in store next for Edward, Bella, Mick, and Beth? Make sure to read MrsVanquish's Breathe Me post on 11/30/09:
Breathe Me page with updated playlist:
Breathe Me thread on the Twilighted Forum:
Chapter 23: One Never-ending Kiss
The three vampires and three humans sat in the seats at the airport terminal. After so much time together, Bella found it hard to believe the three couples were going their separate ways. Jackson and his wife were staying in Alabama and moving into their new home. Mick and Beth were returning to L.A. to plan their Autumn wedding. Bella and Edward were meeting the other Cullens in Anchorage and finally beginning their forever.
"Love, I'm going to get us checked in for our flight tonight," Edward said, kissing the crown of her head. "I'll be back as soon as I can."
Bella watched as her husband walked down the long hall. Every movement of his body sent tingling waves through her body, and she hoped she'd always feel the same way. When Edward turned at the end of the hall to smile at her, she winked at him.
A kiss on the head will be completely unacceptable when you return.
His laugh echoed loudly as he walked away.
Mick took Edward's seat next to her. "How are you feeling? Did you make sure to eat properly this morning?" he said, taking her hand.
To explain her continued absence after their two-week "honeymoon," Mick told Jackson that Bella had contracted the H1N1 flu. After two additional weeks, Bella was able to control her thirst enough to see Jackson and his wife, although their weekly dinners ended. Worried about her control on a long plane trip, Mick advised her to have a big retail blood meal the night before.
"I'm fine, really," she said, patting their joined hands. "You don't need to worry."
Beth laughed from the chair across the hall. "He doesn't know how not to worry. It's what he does."
Mick stuck his tongue out at Beth, looking very much like a three-year old. "I keep you out of trouble, don't I?" Walking over to Beth, he kissed her hard before sitting down again next to her. Bella watched as he took Beth's hand, playing with the engagement ring on her finger.
"I just don't understand why you have to move so far away," Jackson said, leaning forward so he could see Bella from his place three seats down.
"Bella explained that already, baby," Jackson's wife interjected. "Edward's family is there, and they want to be with them."
"Whatever. Alaska's too fucking cold." When everyone stared at him, Jackson threw his hands up. "What? It is."
The laughter of the group was interrupted when Edward stomped down the hall and stopped in front of Bella. "We have a problem. Someone's cancelled our plane tickets."
Bella jumped out of her seat. "What? Who would do that? We've got to call Carlisle and let him know."
While she rummaged in her bag for her cell phone, Bella felt Beth tap on her shoulder. "Josef cancelled them."
"Why?" Edward and Bella shouted in unison.
Beth raised her hand, and a set of keys dangled from her index finger. "He wanted you to have the Jag, and he cancelled the tickets since you'd need to drive it home. It's in section D next to the light pole."
"I still don't understand," Edward said, taking the keys from Beth. "He doesn't even really know us."
"That's Josef for you," Mick sneered. "The king of the grand gesture."
"He wanted me to give you this note, Bella." Beth held out an ivory linen envelope addressed to Bella in large, elaborate script.
Bella ripped open the envelope, reading the note as Edward peered over her shoulder.
Congratulations on your marriage and on joining our elite community. I'm sure you made a beautiful bride and make an exquisite vampire. Please accept the car as a wedding gift. I am always a plane ride away if you should ever need me.
P.S. Tell Sparklepuss I said hello.
As she folded the note and shoved it in her pocket, Bella heard both Edward and Mick growl.
"Mick and Beth," Jackson's wife said, breaking the tension. "It's time to board the plane."
Bella and Beth hugged tightly, and Bella could feel the tears falling down Beth's cheeks against her own. "Thank you so much for letting us borrow Mick for so long. And thank you for being here for us. We're both so grateful."
Beth pulled away slightly, her arms still around Bella's shoulders. "Hey, don't talk like we'll never see each other again. You and Edward will be at the wedding in the Fall, don't forget."
Beth moved to hug Edward while Mick took Bella into a warm embrace. "Bells," he whispered, "I hope you know how much I love you." Cradling her, he tenderly kissed her forehead. "I am so proud to be your sire."
"I love you, too. I hope I continue to make you proud," she said, her voice choked with emotion. Kissing him on the cheek, she reluctantly let him go.
Edward extended his hand to Mick, who, looking offended, ignored it and yanked Edward into a vigorous bear hug. "You didn't think I was going to let you off that easy, did you?"
Finally relenting, Edward smiled and returned the hug. "Okay, you brute! You win!"
Beth and Mick gave one more round of hugs before walking to the security checkpoint. Feeling Edward's fingers thread through hers, Bella leaned against his shoulder. The day she met Mick, she never imagined how important he would become to her. He helped bring her and Edward back together. He supported her through the dark days after they lost Charlie. He gave her eternity. Mick was now part of her, and she ached as she watched him go.
Just before they walked out of sight, Mick and Beth stopped. Turning around, Mick bellowed, "Edward, you better take care of my girl!" He smiled once last time, and they disappeared.
The four remaining friends stood in silence until Jackson finally spoke. "I guess we need to move stuff from our car to your new ride."
Edward and Bella walked to the parking deck and found the Jaguar. Waiting for Jackson and his wife to pull their car around, Edward popped the trunk. Inside they found a cooler with an attached note from Mick.
B - Since you're driving cross-country, you'll need this. I even got some of your favorite type. - M
"Well," Bella laughed, "the silly vampire does think of everything, doesn't he?"
Jackson parked his car behind them, and, as he and Edward transferred luggage between the cars, Jackson's wife tugged Bella's arm. Her hand on Bella's elbow, she escorted Bella between the cars and turned her back to the men.
"Bella," she whispered, "I just wanted you to know how much Jackson and I will miss you. You and Charlie became family to us, and we'll miss you and Edward terribly."
"We'll miss you both, too, Catie." Bella hugged her tightly.
Pulling away, Jackson's wife continued to whisper. "And, just so you know," she said, grinning broadly as a pair of sharp fangs extended inside her mouth, "you'll always have friends here in Alabama."
Bella stood frozen in stunned silence as Jackson's wife retracted her fangs and walked away. Hugging Edward and saying her goodbyes, she climbed into Jackson's car as if nothing had happened.
Still in shock, Bella didn't hear Jackson speaking to her until he shook her shoulder. "Bella, sweetie, are you okay? You look like you've just seen a ghost."
Shaking her head, she looked at Jackson. "No, no I'm fine." She threw her arms around him and squeezed tightly. "It's just that I'm going to miss you so much."
"Me, too, Bella. You're like a little sister to me." Jackson rocked her back and forth as they continued to embrace. "Don't get into too much trouble up there, okay?"
"I won't, I promise. Be safe yourself," she said, looking warily at his wife's silhouette through the car window.
Saying their goodbyes, Jackson and Bella parted, and she and Edward watched as they drove away. Edward held the passenger door open as Bella entered the car, shutting it quietly behind her. Her leg bounced nervously as she waited for Edward to sit in the driver's seat.
As soon as they pulled out of the parking spot, Bella turned to Edward. "How could you not tell me Catie's a vampire?"
"It wasn't my secret to tell."
"Oh my God, Edward!" She threw her hands up in dismay. "Does Jackson know?"
"Yes, he does."
She thought for a moment and gazed at Edward with wide eyes. "She knows about me. Did she tell him about me?"
Stopping to yield to traffic, Edward patted her knee. "It's not her secret to tell."
Bella sighed. Just when she thought she understood everything, something new was always thrown in her path. She might not be physically clumsy, but she definitely still felt karmically challenged.
"Jackson asked me to let you know they found Phelps body," Edward said warily.
Bella gasped. "Where? How?"
"Let's just say what was left of him was found in a vat of acid in a meth lab." Edward grimaced. "They've attributed it to, as Jackson put it, bad karma and disgruntled partners."
"Huh, how 'bout that." Bella relaxed in her seat, letting her head fall back on the headrest. Keeping her thoughts to herself, she smiled.
Maybe I'm not as karmically fucked up as I thought.
Even though Bella's new vampire body was much faster than her human one, Edward still liked to run with her on his back. Three days into their road trip, they stopped in Forks to visit Angela and Ben, and Edward planned this excursion to bring them full circle. Stopping, he slid her down his back until her feet were on the ground.
It was winter, and their meadow was not in full bloom as it had been their first time there. Still, it was beautiful, not only for its natural wonder but also for the memories it held. Lying on the cold ground, he pulled Bella down next to him. She rested her head on his chest, and he wrapped his arm around her shoulder.
"Do you remember the first time we came here?" he asked, brushing the fingertips of his free hand along her jaw.
She sighed. "Of course I do. It was the first time you allowed yourself to be open with me."
"Yes, and, if I'd just remembered how right we felt that day, we could have avoided so much wasted time."
Bella turned over and propped herself up on her elbows. Looking up at her, Edward saw the trust and forgiveness he so desperately needed. "Baby," she whispered, "none of that matters now. Starting today, we have forever to be together." She gently brushed her lips along his jaw until they hovered over his mouth. "Just forget everything and kiss me."
Fisting her hair in his hands, he brought her mouth to his, slowly moving his lips with hers until he felt the tip of her tongue press against him. As their mouths opened to each other, he tilted her head, gaining deeper and deeper access to her sweet taste. Kissing, nibbling, and moaning, they lay in each others arms until the sky began to darken.
"Edward," Bella said, pulling away and sitting up, "it's time to go."
He sat up next to her, snaking his arm around her waist. "Just a few more minutes, please."
She nodded then leaned her head on his shoulder. "Thank you for taking me to visit Angela and Ben. And thank you for flying them out for the funeral and then the wedding."
"No thanks needed."
"Thank you, too, for what you did for Annie. I know you were the one who set up the treatment fund for her."
"It was nothing," he said, kissing her on the temple.
"Maybe to you, but it means everything to Annie and her mother. She'll be able to get the best treatment without worrying about how much it costs. You did that for her."
"You're welcome. I need to tell you something, too," Edward whispered. When he felt Bella's head nod, he continued. "The movers found a box in your attic. It appeared to be full of...mementos of ours. I had them ship it to Anchorage with the other things we kept. I hope that's okay."
"I was going to get rid of that stuff when we moved, but Dad kept it." Her voice broke as it always did when her memories of Charlie made her sad. "The things you took from me when you left, what did you do with them?"
Edward grimaced, and he wondered if he'd ever think of that time without his chest aching painfully. "I hid them under your floorboards. Alice retrieved them for us during the move to Anchorage, and everything is waiting for us there."
Falling silent, they sat holding each other where it all began. When Edward left her in the deep woods of Forks, he told himself he was doing so to protect her. She was small and fragile and needed him to shield her from the world. But the Bella in his arms, the woman he found in Alabama, the woman he never stopped loving and who he'd married, was amazingly strong, fiercely loyal, and incredibly resilient. He finally realized she'd always been those things and he'd only been too blind to see it. He promised himself he would never fail to see her clearly again. He would never again betray her love.
Tenderly kissing her lips once more, Edward stood and offered her his hand. "Mrs. Cullen, it's time to go home."
Bella gazed at him with more love than he thought possible. Everything is waiting for us there.
She clasped his hand tightly, and he pulled her to her feet. "Can I carry you back to the car?" he asked hopefully.
"I want to run." Moving towards the woods, Bella tugged his hand. "Will you run with me, Mr. Cullen?"
Edward smiled and nodded. "Lead the way, love."
Side by side, they ran through the dark woods, never faltering, never stumbling, never letting each other go.