Disclaimer: The Twilight Universe is copyrighted by Stephenie Meyer. Eli and Sarah are mine – as well as... well, you have to get to the end.



Chapter 24

Epilogue

"Goddamn it!" I yelled, my hands flying up to my hair as I looked up to see which of the critters was responsible this time. Edward laughed and walked over, his hands a blur of speed as he picked the bits of seeds and fruit out from between my curls.

"They only do that because they love you," he laughed, smoothing my hair while looking carefully for any missed seeds. I looked up into the jungle canopy again and let out a huge breath as I glared at the multi-colored birds jabbering above me.

"I suppose it could have been worse," I grumbled. As least it was a parrot this time, and not a monkey. I thought back to the time the capuchin monkeys decided a little raining shit was a good way to play with the vampires. Good thing for them that I didn't find monkey blood all that attractive. You'd think they'd have some sort of intuitive fear of us, and although they did avoid us the first year we were here, once they realized they weren't our preferred prey, they took to harassing us instead. Stupid monkeys.

"Maybe it's time to remind those birds we can climb through the trees as well as they can?"

Edward considered this as we resumed our stroll. "I like having them around. I'd hate to do anything to scare them." Yeah, he was right. Stupid husband.

Edward and I had been living in Brazil for over ten years now, on the Amazon River in the Ticuna Nation. Carlisle told us about these people. He and Esme owned a home on an island off the Brazilian coast, and for years employed these folks. In spite of the laws of the Volturi, and without their knowledge, the people of this nation knew vampires existed. They also knew Carlisle and Esme only consumed animal blood, and fully trusted them. We arrived with introductions, and although they were at first skeptical, they eventually warmed up to us when they grew confident we posed no danger. At this point, we were friends with almost all of them, and they welcomed the meat from our hunts. It was the perfect solution; the sacrifice to the appetites of two vampires was offset by the bounty given to the tribes. It was a win-win for us all.

Before making our way here, Edward and I spent two years back in the Montana cabin. The first year was spent in blissful isolation; the second year was peppered with trips to small towns as I tested my exposure to humans, and as Edward worked on his ability to block the thoughts of the townspeople. He was a good and patient teacher, and I was proud to say I had not yet tasted human blood. It was also good for Edward, and the exposure to humans, with me by his side - blocking when it grew to be too much - made us the perfect pair. Yes, I had learned that in the odd wiring of my brain I could also help block him from the cacophony around him. We hadn't yet finished exploring all the bizarre things I could do, and I wasn't in a hurry to unravel them all.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. There were things to wrap up in Forks before we left.

**

Edward and I were standing in the living room of the Cullen home, Esme by his side, Alice by mine. Although he and I rolled our eyes at each other whenever we were turned in a direction that allowed us to face each other, we had promised them this one opportunity to take our measurements. This would be it – get it right now, because there would be no fittings later. It's not as if we were inclined to gain or lose weight.

Against my better judgment, I told the Cullen family they'd be permitted to plan a real wedding for us. It would still be small, just them and us, but I granted them permission for some minor decorations and appropriate attire for the bride and groom.

Why did I agree to something this insane? Because the three Cullen women convinced me it was the right thing to do.

"It's really not necessary," I groaned. "Clean clothes and our friends, that's all we really need, right?"

Alice looked at me like I'd grown a second head. So I turned away from her only to find the same expressions worn by Rosalie and Esme. And here I was, thinking they'd be the reasonable ones out of the bunch.

Esme walked up to my side, started to throw her arm around my shoulders, then thought better of it after I gave her a look that reminded her she was neither my mother, nor my best buddy. "Bella," she said softly, "this wedding isn't just your wedding, it's Edward's as well." Well yeah, so?

"I don't really know what your thoughts have been about marriage, but maybe I should remind you he was born in 1901. His feelings about marriage may not be as modern as yours. Chances are good he's going to see this as the single most important day in his life. Are you sure you want to treat this as no more than a formality?"

She stepped away and stood closer to Rosalie. "Was his proposal to you romantic?" I nodded, thinking back to that lovely day, braced against the wind on the top of the mountain. I looked at the three women, and knew they were right. Life wasn't just about me, and this was not a good way to start a marriage that we expected would last for eternity. And just like I wouldn't like it if he did it to me, making unilateral decisions for both of us wasn't such a hot idea.

And so there we stood, dragged into the living room almost as soon as Edward stopped spinning me around, eyes bright and dancing, when I asked him if he wanted something worthy of memories, worthy of photographs.

The next week was a flurry of activity that, thankfully, didn't involve me – at my request. My only demand? I had veto power over the wedding dress, but it never became necessary. Esme was the one who found the illustration of an elegant, high society wedding dress from the era Edward was changed, along with a morning suit for him that was absolutely perfect. The dress was modest but sexy, regal without being too much. And there was no question in my mind, especially after poking around in his head, helping him regain human memories, that it was something he'd absolutely love.

Two professional-quality sewing machines were shipped into Forks – one for Esme and one for Alice. Custom fabric for Edward's suit, and ivory satin, lace and pearl buttons for my dress took a week to fly in from Europe. That was our one and only almost-crisis. The original ship dates would have delayed the wedding for three months. However, with a little help from some people Aro knew...

Oh yeah, Aro. He was still there, in Forks, with the Cullens. Eli had to return to Johns Hopkins before his grades started to slip, so when he left, Aro spent a couple of days holed up with Carlisle, and then took to hanging out with Edward and I.

The biggest surprise was the time he spent with Rosalie, going over decoration suggestions as they discussed preferences from various eras in Europe.

Aro was an enigma to us all. He accompanied us, at various times, on hunting trips. Never participating, but never criticizing. He seemed to be watching our practices and evaluating them. Would he ever take them on as his own? There was no saying, but I do know he left for a couple of days, Felix driving him, heading north into Canada. I didn't ask, he didn't offer, but I could make assumptions.

"Isabella, may I have a word with you?" I looked up from my spot on the secluded boulder, basking in the sun with no fear of being observed. I was so engrossed in my book I hadn't noticed Aro's approach, and Edward was a few miles away, searching for a snack. It was the first time I'd been alone with the old vampire.

I closed the book, set it aside, and took a deep breath. "I can't be seen here," I whispered, glancing at the rainbow of sparkles shimmering around me. "I hope you don't see this as an issue..."

"No, no, Isabella, nothing like that." He took an embroidered handkerchief out of his pocket, swept at a spot on the boulder and sat next to me, looking immensely out of place on the rock.

"I simply wanted a few minutes of your time to discuss a few items. Nothing bad, I assure you." I nodded, and tried to remain calm. He seemed to avoid looking directly at me, and so, in spite of his words, my tension was ramping up.

"Are you aware you know me better than anyone ever has?" he said quietly, still avoiding my eyes. "I find it strangely liberating, almost as if I've woken from a long sleep and see the world fresh again." He looked down, and picked at the rock with his old, yellowed fingernail. "I did not remember those human memories, and chose to forget some that came after. Three thousand years, and what have I to show for it? Power, wealth, accumulated knowledge." He shrugged. "At the risk of sounding like the repentant villain in a bad novel, I should have done more with my time."

I said nothing, just watched him carefully. He'd been calm these last few weeks, in good humor, almost eager to befriend us. But I knew who this was, and I wasn't about to let my guard down. The image of James' and Victoria's heads rolling around the lawn was still very fresh in my mind.

"I've been thinking of asking Sulpicia if she'd be willing to leave Volterra for a while, perhaps settle someplace where both of us can... re-evaluate. That's a good word for it, no? Some time away from Caius might not be a bad thing." He chuckled to himself. "Perhaps Marcus would like to join us. Some time outside the fortress..." Aro shrugged and turned to me.

I frowned, unsure what he wanted. I cleared my throat. "You're looking for an opinion from me? Permission? I have no idea what I could add, Aro. Do what seems to be right for you, although I'd imagine after all this time, a little change would do anyone good." He nodded, considering my words.

Eternity is a great word when you're thinking about the span of years spent with the love of your life. But the reality? Century after century... I wondered if he would mind talking about it.

"What's it like, Aro? What's it like to live forever?"

"I don't really think it is forever, Isabella." He held up his hand. "My skin isn't what it once was. Granted, there's no diminishing of strength or impermeability, but both my skin and eyes are showing signs of change after 3,000 years. The only ones I know that may be older are the Romanians, although that's not verified. Maybe we're eternal, maybe we're not. But that doesn't really answer your question, now does it." He shrugged. "I think our time is what you make of it. Some of my years have been better than others. The fascist years in Italy were particularly unpleasant, and I didn't think much of the Nazis, although between both regimes we had the advantage of almost unlimited feeding with no question, as long as we limited our indulgences to specific populations."

His eyes widened when he saw the horror on my face. "Relax, Isabella. It wasn't the first nor will it be the last time humans have seen fit to consume themselves. The Dark Ages were aptly named, and during that era they were all victims." He let out a breath and leaned back, looking at the sun.

"But that's not why I'm here, Isabella. I came by to talk about pleasant things, not the dark chapters of human history." He swung around from where he was sitting on the rock to face me. "As I said earlier, you know me better than anyone has, ever. And you've also done something no one else has in years. You've offered me a new perspective on my existence, and interest in perhaps making some changes. You asked about long life and yes, it can be tedious.

"Your wedding to that young man is next week. Speaking of which," he smiled, "he's quite extraordinary – I wholly approve. When I first learned of his ability, I was insanely jealous. Just think, Isabella, to be able to read from afar, no touch necessary! But as I've learned, everything has its downside, and... I don't think I'd have fared as well as he did, unable to turn it off. I fully understand why he isolated himself, and I commend you, and your own abilities, for doing what you can to work with him, and if nothing else, care for him – protect him even when he's unwilling to protect himself.

"I'm sounding sentimental, pardon me," he laughed. I tried not to frown, wishing he'd get to whatever he came out here to say, instead of rambling. "I know your mother and father live close by, but I also assume you understand they can not attend your wedding." I nodded. "You're not intending anything risky, am I correct, Isabella?" I nodded enthusiastically.

"Good," he said, peering at me. "I've indulged quite a bit, but that would go too far. This isn't just part of my controlling nature, it's to protect all of us. Do you understand?" I did. I was not about to deny how my excursion to Port Angeles could have ended quite differently.

"At any rate, there was a reason I searched you out." Finally. "I'd like to offer a wedding gift to you and your betrothed."

"Aro, it isn't necessary, but thank..."

"Hear me out, please." I shut up and listened, remembering who it was I was sitting with.

"Every couple should have the opportunity to start their marriage as unencumbered as possible. I know how much Edward has sacrificed over the years, and so, I would like to gift you both with peace of mind. As my wedding gift to you, I will ensure Eli's safety from others of our kind. Word gets around in our exclusive little world. I would feel rather put out if he found himself challenged in the future."

I was stunned, mouth hanging open, staring at him. "You're serious?" I asked.

"Isabella, I want your marriage to start off right. You've done so much for me, I was hoping I could do this one thing for you – for both of you. And it would be an honor to play a small part in helping this young man, someone I hope will become a good friend."

"Aro, I don't know what to say, except... well, thank you. From both of us."

He stood up, brushing off his pants and smoothing his shirt. "Think nothing of it, Isabella." He grinned and winked. "Just don't let word get around, I have a reputation to uphold."

The night before our wedding was the first time I'd actually had words with both Alice and Rosalie. Serious words. Extremely loud words. In spite of how untraditional my relationship with Edward was, the two of them insisted we spend the night before our wedding... apart. The boys were going to drag Edward out hunting, and the girls were going to do my nails, or some ridiculous shit. Thinking about the combined ages of the vampires in that room, I had difficulty with the concept of 'boys and girls' when it referred to us – even though I was the youngest. And I was, most assuredly, not into girlie things. And I was not going to be separated from Edward because they thought it best.

Edward and I stood our ground, and although he tried to remain a gentleman, I was not going to be bossed around by those two women.

Esme and Carlisle came running when they heard the shouting. I don't know where Aro was, but he kept out of the mess. I guess after 3,000 years he'd learned to be judicious in his involvement, and this certainly didn't require his expertise. The man knew how to choose his battles.

They stood in the doorway, listening so they could determine why I was about to throw one or both of these women through a wall, and then Carlisle stepped into the middle of the fray.

"Hold on," he said calmly. "Whose wedding is this?"

"Cut the crap, Carlisle," Rosalie huffed. "It won't kill either of them to spend a night apart." She took a deep breath, and rolled her eyes. "They're already having the smallest wedding on earth, the least she can do is one thing that's traditional. But noooo, we want to do something nice for her and she repays it by being the bitch she..."

"You'll stop that right now, Rosalie," Edward warned, his voice low but menacing. I wrapped my arm around his and glared at her.

Esme's eyes got wide, and as she turned to face Rosalie, Carlisle grabbed her hand. "Stop this now," he ordered, his gold eyes blazing. His eyes darted from Rosalie to Alice, who was doing the best imitation of a pouting 4-year-old I'd ever seen. "Both of you!"

He drew a deep breath and ran his hand over his face. "You should be humiliated by your behavior, it's untenable. This is their wedding, not yours."

"But it's tradition," Rosalie mumbled, turning away from Carlisle's anger.

"Tradition, Rosalie? That's rather odd coming from the woman who has had... how many wedding ceremonies at this point? You seem happy enough to break with tradition when it's convenient for you." He looked back at Alice, who had managed to pull her lip in and look like an adult. "If they prefer to spend tonight together, no one in this house has the right to insist they do otherwise."

He turned and looked at the two of us, shook his head, and headed toward the door, giving Edward a friendly slap on the back as he walked by him. My hand still on Edward's arm, he rested his hand on top of mine and led me out of the room. I'd like to say I had the grace to walk quietly by my fiancé's side, but in reality, I sorta stomped.

In fact, I continued to stomp pretty much all the way back to our cottage, muttering oaths beneath my breath. The best part of that was, I was certain those two, back in the house, could hear me.

"Calm down, Isabella," Edward whispered as we reached the door.

"But," I sputtered, "I mean... Edward, on top of all that, she called me a..."

"It was the heat of anger, and not worth a feud on the day before our wedding. Agreed?" He turned to me and smiled, grazing his knuckles across my cheek.

"But..."

"We're home, we're together, and tomorrow we become husband and wife." His smiled broadened as he gazed at me. "We have what we want, let's not ruin the evening."

I nodded and, reaching up on my toes, gave him a soft kiss, and walked through the door. I was still furious, but he was right. This was the night before our wedding, and after fighting for our right to remain together, I wasn't going to destroy our evening over them.

"Come on," I said, heading to the sofa. "Let's make better memories." He laughed and sat next to me, picking up my hand and absently playing with my fingers. I grabbed his arm, and lifted it around shoulders, snuggling down next to him.

"It was twenty years ago, Isabella," he said softly, continuing to play with my hand, running his long fingers up and down and between mine, tickling but tender.

"What was twenty years ago?"

"The day I saw a little girl with a silent mind, riding her bike for the first time," he smiled. This was the first time he'd talked about it, so I stayed quiet, hoping he'd continue.

"You were beautiful and precocious. And I never expected to ever do more than watch you grow, turn into a young woman, find someone to marry and..."

"But you wanted more..."

"Of course I did, but I didn't expect it to happen, not really. I reacted the way I did that day in the meadow because you were so young... and maybe I did hold onto the hope there might be more for me someday..." His words trailed off, his eyes far away.

"Edward, what was it like?"

"Hmm?"

"What was it like all those years alone, with no one but yourself?"

He shrugged. "It was okay."

"Full disclosure?" I smiled at him because he knew I wasn't going to accept a bullshit answer.

"You're right, Isabella. Honestly? It was lonely, very lonely, but I had no choice. It was loneliness or madness." He let out a breath. "It never got so bad that I thought I couldn't go on, and I did what I could to entertain myself, but I spent decades living outside of society. In some ways, it was more difficult to return and discover the changes."

I leaned over and kissed his neck. "The changes were pretty dramatic, I imagine."

"Unbelievable, more than I would have believed possible."

"For the better?" I asked.

"Not all of it. I must admit I like the fast and quiet cars, and I do like being able to see films in the privacy of our own home. But the rest?" He shrugged, grimacing a bit.

"But what about things like computers? Getting news at the speed of light, anything you might want to know?"

Edward laughed and pulled me closer. "You underestimate the power of a good neighborhood gossip. There are a variety of reasons we led such modest lives, and that was certainly one of them. I'd put Muriel up against the fastest internet connection.

"As for the rest, there's a loss of privacy in today's society that even exceeds nosy neighbors. The more I see, the more I hear about, the more I'm a little grateful I was separated from that part of the march of technology. And, to be quite frank," he leaned over and ran his nose through my hair, "I'm finding I like what we currently have, you and I. I'm neither lonely, nor needing to blend into the masses of this modern age." He kissed the top of my head. "I thank you for your newborn status, Isabella. I get to keep you all to myself, and have good excuse to maintain a certain amount of isolation. I know that sounds selfish but..."

"No, Edward, it's honest." I reached up and ran my fingers over his lips. He grabbed my hand and kissed the tip of each finger, letting his lips trail down my palm, to my wrist, kissing me softly and gently tasting my skin. We sat like that for a long time, soft kisses and softer words of love, quiet caresses and tenderness, letting the lust build slowly, feeling it tingle, the charge building between us but always the reminder that we had each other for eternity.

"Isabella," he growled, "I think it's time we head to the bedroom, close the curtains, and think about how we'll celebrate our prenuptial evening."

I twisted around and scooted up into his lap, brushing my lips against his. "Are you going to paint my fingernails?" I asked, smiling against him. He slid his tongue against my lips, slowly and languidly. "I have in mind painting something else."

*

The next morning dawned clear and rain-free, an event to celebrate unto itself. We gathered in the Cullen's living room, and was surprised to see Aro had set aside his usual black clothes, and was wearing a morning suit that contrasted with, yet didn't compete with, Edward's. Apparently, he'd decided to celebrate the event in period clothes as well, an honor to the year Edward was turned.

He was probably the best dressed wedding guest anyone had ever seen. It's a good thing I didn't care for garnering all the attention, because even with our very small group, on that day that defined the start of my marriage to Edward, as he stood there breathtakingly handsome in his suit, as I stood by his side in yards of magnificent satin and lace and pearls, Aro stood with the family, looking like the king he most assuredly was. I would always be grateful for being talked into the formality of this wedding, and Aro's presence made me feel as if I were in a Disney cartoon, a princess marrying her prince, taking her first step towards her happily ever after.

Yeah, well, maybe the most cynical of us still has that little girl inside. On my wedding day, I gave myself permission to embrace her.

**

The years in Brazil have been a joy for both of us. Although we were often around the villages, Edward found he was able to relax more with these people than he'd ever been able to before. As he tried to explain to me, there was a difference in their thought processes that offered him some relief. Brutally intelligent, their minds tended to focus more on either day to day needs, or their place in the universe, not on acquisitions, or sexual conquests, or crime. He found their thoughts to be light and pleasant, and when they got a bit heavier than usual, he had trouble giving them the privacy he knew they deserved, finding their ponderings to be fascinating as well.

Our bond grew closer as the years went by. It seemed sappy to say it, or even think it, but there was no question about the meaning of soul mates as our lives wove around each other. Although still two clearly defined people, we wrapped around each other, complementing each other, creating a new whole from our parts, that whole smooth and complete, lacking nothing.

I knew it sounded cheesy, but it was true. The word "love" took on a whole new meaning. At this point, I don't think I could exist without him. And I didn't dwell on how frightening a thought that was.

We were strolling back towards the village when we both heard it, and turned together to watch the woman holding the crying baby, running towards the large metal building set off to the side of the village.

The sign on the building was painted by the young children, and we watched the door fly open and Eli running out upon hearing the cry of the baby. The woman relinquished her hold to him without hesitation, and they both rushed inside to tend to the child. Edward and I both smiled. We were needed, and more importantly, we were wanted here. And we could all just be ourselves. No pretending, no ruses. We were vampires, Eli was a hybrid, they were humans. We worked together, we helped each other, we coexisted easily.

Eli had finished medical school, the tuition paid by both Carlisle and, surprisingly enough, Aro. Graduating at the top of his class, he took a residency at Tufts University in Boston. It was a shock to his peers and his supervising physicians that, at the end of his residency, he didn't go into private practice, or vie for a permanent position at Tufts. Instead he gave them a vague story about working in the Amazon valley, took advantage of his father's wealth to arrange huge shipments of medical supplies, and immediately joined us down here. We had the hospital built by the time he arrived, and the supplies stored. Everything was ready for him to start his practice. Eli trained some of the villagers to assist him as nurses, and a few travelled to Rio, with more financing from Edward, for formal medical training.

By the time we were done, Eli had a fully functioning clinic in the middle of the jungle, and every human for miles around had access to state-of-the-art medical treatment. I had never, ever, seen Eli so happy.

"You say this festival takes place every five years?" Eli asked, his fork returning to his plate for another scoop of rice and beans. All these years, and he still insisted upon being a full vegetarian. I did understand his reasoning, though. If he allowed himself to feel bloodlust, he feared it would affect his ability to work with his patients. We'd had long talks about some of his struggles in medical school and during his residency.

"One took place just before we arrived, so we missed it. We watched one five years ago," Edward answered, "keeping our distance though. There was concern some of the folks visiting from the more remote villages wouldn't be as... understanding as those who knew us better." Edward was watching him eat, as he always did. It had been so long for him, and he found it hard to get past his curiosity, his attempts to remember eating solid food. To remember the need to chew.

"But not this year, huh," Eli mumbled around a full mouth. "They actually invited us to attend? Why do you think?"

Edward shrugged. "I don't know, but if they're willing to ask, I'm willing to accept." He turned towards me and raised his eyebrows in question, and I just laughed.

"Don't ask me, I'm not the mind reader. I'm just along for the ride," I laughed.

Edward's brow wrinkled in concentration. "I really don't know why it's different this year, but I keep picking up thoughts that seem almost amused. Unfortunately," he sighed, "they're getting quite good at blocking me. I'm not certain if this is a blessing, or a curse."

I sat back and watched the two of them chatting, father and son. Their relationship was primarily a friendship rather than one as mentor and student, which was fine. They were both comfortable with it. I adored them both, Eli and I developing a relationship that could only be described as siblings. I no longer worried about resentment, and Edward no longer needed to reassure me, or himself. The past was kept firmly where it belonged.

The weeks before the festival were full of activity, and Edward and I did what we could to help. The two of us virtually glutted ourselves in order to help supply additional meat for the tables, while Eli helped in the fields when he could – freeing the others from their regular work so the village could be made ready. Additional fire pits were dug, and temporary shelters were constructed. A few days before the formal start of the event, strangers started wandering in, carrying possessions and children, and by the time they all arrived, the population of the village had expanded by over 200.

It was late in the afternoon of the first day. Smoke swirled around the village as food was cooked. Musicians kept us all entertained as everyone laughed, children ran and played, and food was handed out as folks wandered around visiting. Edward, Eli, and I stayed on the periphery, watching and enjoying until one of our friends came to us, gesturing us to join them. A crowd had gathered on the edge of the village, and as we approached, they all turned around and faced us. I looked at Edward, but he shrugged. Their blocking had gotten quite good.

The cluster of grinning faces parted slowly, stepping away to reveal an isolated woman squatting at her own fire pit. The first thing I noticed was the color of her hair, blonde with streaks of warm brown and platinum highlights, soft and silky and cascading over her shoulders and down to her waist. Her skin was almost as pale as mine, but with a slight olive tint that seemed odd with her light hair. She was humming to herself, made even more obvious by the slowing of the music, the halting of the drums, the voices around us falling to whispers until there was nothing but silence punctuated with the ever-present sounds of the forest canopy. The only sound in the silence was her sweet humming.

Edward and I were staring at her, Eli frozen at our sides, when the young woman seemed to have noticed everything got quiet, and felt our eyes on her. As if we were watching it all in slow motion, she lifted her head and turned towards us, and I gasped. I was looking into a face with delicate Nordic features. Her small and narrow nose, her mouth framed by full lips, her prominent cheekbones, tinged with pink, below exotic eyes – large and with a subtle slant. But what made me gasp was the color of her eyes. They looked like marbles, shimmering like cut glass and deep – and the most striking shade of blue I'd ever seen.

She reached for a cloth to clean her hands, and stood, pulling herself up to her full height - almost as tall as Eli.

Eli... I felt the air move to my right and looking over I saw him walking, slowly, hesitantly and almost without thought. They were looking at each other, both expressionless, as he kept walking. He started raising his hand, reaching for her, and I swear, I don't think he had a clue he was doing it.

"Sonja?" Edward asked, and I turned to him, puzzled at the startled look on his face. "Where is your father?"

She turned from Eli to Edward, and then looked down at the ground, but her eyes kept darting to the man approaching her, unable to keep herself from peeking at Eli.

"I've never met him," she replied in oddly accented Portuguese. "The people of my village were kind enough to care for me, feed me after my mother..." Her brow furrowed, and she looked back up, boldly, at Edward. "How did you..."

"He can hear your thoughts," I said quietly. "My name is Bella," I grabbed Edward's hand, "and this is my husband, Edward." I nodded towards Eli. "And this is Elijah, Edward's son."

Eli nodded, unwilling to tear his gaze from this strange young woman. The woman, Sonja, looked at me with a soft smile, and returned her eyes to Eli. I heard a snicker behind me, from one of the women I didn't know, from a village up the river.

And that's when I started to get suspicious.

"Edward, is she a hybr..."

He was nodding his head before I finished my question. With a smile, he tugged my hand, leading me away from them, and through the gathered crowd.

"I believe I need a bit of privacy from their thoughts," he chuckled and squeezed my hand. "Let's go grab some for ourselves."

~Fin~



A/N I would like to thank everyone for reading, reviewing, your kind words, your suggestions – for everything.

My betas, Booksgalore/Bookishqua and Alicedances, I thank you for your unending patience.

You have all been a pleasure, and now it's time to give Edward and Bella some privacy, and Eli a chance to think about something other than medicine...