Hello my pretties, it's the final chapter! You guys are so sharp and a plate of cookies goes out to those who spotted my mistake of describing Nessie's eyes as blue when they are in fact brown. My bad. You will notice in this chapter that Emmett doesn't know anything. I only realised his super vamp hearing powers would have heard Edward and
Leah chatting after a review pointed it out. Oops! So I've tried to fudge it in the story. In my imagination, Emmett has a Nintendo Wii installed in his bedroom - which Rosalie absolutely hates - that he was completely engrossed in at the time so he missed everything when they were talking. Yeah, it's lame but the best I can do. Please don't rake me over the coals for it!
but nevermind that, what about Edward and Leah? Prepare to say your goodbyes. It's been a long journey for me and the characters and it all ends here.
No more chapters or sequels for the foreseeable future (altho' never say never). I've already started another fic and regretted it because I can't even write the next chapter.
So in the words of Michael Jackson, "This is it". Hope you like it.
My body was in 'fear' mode. My muscles tensed like coiled springs ready to dash out the nearest exit. My spine shivered which I found to be a curious sensation because I wasn't about to phase. It was a shiver of revulsion at the creepy child with the tiny moist hand reaching out to me. I bit down on my lower lip to contain my scream of horror. My feet felt like they were glued to the floor.
"I didn't know we were expecting visitors, Edward." Rosalie said pointedly, folding her arms and staring at him.
Edward's eyes switched from Rosalie to me.
Help me! For the love of god she's going to touch me. I don't want her memories of coming out the womb and facehugging Bella, I screamed in my head and scowled at him. The half-breed was reaching for my leg.
Edward's face was devoid of emotion to the point of looking bored. All traces of panic had been quickly erased from his features. In one swoop, he scooped Nessie up into his arms and held her against his chest where she beat her fists angrily.
"Me…touch….Jacob…fwen," she gurgled, annoyed that her plans had been thwarted. Bella stepped past me and joined Edward's side.
"Jacob's friend, Leah, has to go now. She'll meet you another time, okay?" he explained in a soothing tone. I wouldn't bet on it, Nessie, I thought to myself.
"Why did you come here?" Rosalie's interrogation was not over.
"Rose, don't be rude to our guest," Edward chastised her. "I don't want Nessie learning bad manners like that."
Rosalie's face went sour. She did not like getting a smackdown on my behalf. In your face, bitch, I thought smugly. The corner of Edward's mouth turned up slightly into an almost-crooked smile. She was about to speak when a large object hurtled down the stairs like tumbling rocks.
"Hey babe, you've kept me waiting," Emmett threw his arms around Rosalie and kissed her passionately. It was like a scene from a movie, with the tempestuous heroine being overpowered by the dashing hero with an almighty kiss. Rosalie was clearly not expecting this kind of greeting but she didn't resist as she melted in his arms. We all stood in the hallway averting our gazes and squirming with embarrassment. Edward clamped his hand over Nessie's curious eyes.
Does Emmett know about us? Did he hear us? I thought in a panic.
Edward shook his head in a small movement while catching my eye.
No? That's good. Does he usually smooch like this with Rosalie?
Edward sighed with a weary expression.
I couldn't imagine having to deal with this everyday. The slurping noises alone were making me nauseous. Edward coughed meaningfully which Emmett took as his cue to whisk Rosalie upstairs. She still managed to glance backwards to throw one last poisonous look at me then turned back to Emmett as they sped away.
I finally found my voice and broke the awkward silence. "Well, I should leave now," I said stepping onto the porch. "Keep an eye on Seth for me," I said to Edward.
"Wait – what do you mean?" asked Bella. "What's going on?"
"Oh, I'm going on a trip. I came here to ask Edward to watch over Seth for me while I was gone," I looked over at Edward who was stood with that blank expression I know so well. "He said he would."
I could see her crimson eyes burning with curiosity. She looked up at him quizzically. Edward stayed quiet. I held the door open and took one last look at them all.
I walked down the steps and out of Edward's life.
I should have known that Edward would get his way. I had returned home to find a brown manila envelope sitting innocently on my bed. It felt light in my hands, the weighty implication of the contents yet to dawn on me. I walked over to the open window which was letting in the breeze and smiled a secret smile. The ghost of his presence lingered in my room like an unexpected but welcome guest. I locked my door for privacy and slit open the envelope.
The contents spilled onto the bed. I unfolded the thin card pocket and pulled out an airline ticket. It was a round-the-world travel ticket which looked extremely expensive. There was also a blank cheque that had been signed by a name I didn't recognise. I picked up a small note with an elegant neat script that I knew belonged to Edward. I read it to myself:
Don't throw this opportunity away. If you do I'll keep sending you plane tickets until you accept, and you know I have both the time and resources to keep my promise.
Well, it was brief and to the point and also vaguely sinister. So typically Edward, I thought to myself.
I took a moment to ponder the irony. I was always on the run and here I was being funded to run as far away as possible from someone who probably had a vested interest in seeing me gone. That was one rather cynical way to look at it, I suppose. Or maybe he really cared for me and wanted me to follow my dreams.
I didn't know what was real and what was false anymore but I knew I couldn't stay here. I had already mentally prepared my speech to mom about how I would be leaving. I had savings so it wasn't entirely implausible that I could afford to go abroad. Perhaps I would keep the details of the ticket quiet.
I stood up and squared my shoulders. I would need to face mom with all the courage I could conjure up. It was now or never. Mom was downstairs preparing lunch. I opened the door and headed down the stairs.
"You can't go,"
"I have to."
"What will we do without you?"
"You'll be fine, you always are."
"No I won't."
"Seth, don't be stubborn,"
"Why not? Works for you doesn't it?"
I groaned. "I'm going. It's final. I already have the ticket,"
Seth hadn't taken the news so well and had resorted to sulking in my presence to get me to change my mind. I was almost happy he was cross with me. It tickled a remote part in my brain that I had now established as my conscience.
He would be a hell of a lot angrier if he knew the truth of my affair with Edward. Whenever Seth came home, I was always nervously waiting for him to storm into my room to demand the truth. So far, Sam had managed to retain the secret with what I imagined to be a Herculean effort. I was quietly grateful for that.
I had to convince myself I wasn't abandoning him. He had mom and Charlie, the pack, the Cullens and his school friends to make up for my lack of presence. It wasn't like I wasn't coming back.
"The house will feel empty without you," he whined from his side of the sofa.
For some reason I thought of dad and felt a wave of sadness. "I'm not leaving you forever. I'm coming back," I said firmly. "And just think of all those exciting fishing trips you'll be on when I'm away. You won't even notice I'm gone. You and Charlie could get matching fishing caps to wear."
He smiled despite himself. "No way! I'm not wearing matching anything."
I laughed. "See? You don't really want your sarcastic mean old sister here do you?"
"Yes, I do." He mumbled feebly.
I didn't reply. The silence was filled by the sounds of the TV which I stared at aimlessly with a lump in my throat.
I'm currently sunning myself on a beach in Goa, India as I compose this letter. The sun is warm and yellow and it burns the whole sky a warm ochre colour. It's strange to think that the same sun we enjoy the world over can seem so different from one place to the next. It's like it has a different personality each time you meet it in another foreign sky. I'm digressing now. I talk about the weather a lot ever since I visited Britain. Those guys are obsessed with it and I guess it's rubbed off on me.
I'm chattering away on the assumption you have this letter and that it hasn't fallen into enemy hands. I made Seth swear on his life that he would hand deliver this letter to you. If he didn't, I said I wouldn't come home for another six months and I wouldn't bring him any souvenirs.
I know I can trust him. He didn't even ask me why, he just agreed to do it. I told him I had the best brother in the world and I swear I could hear him beaming with pride down the telephone line!
I hope that you are well. I would ask how the family are but…I'd rather not. I want to fill you in on the details of my departure seeing as you weren't there to witness it. I impressed myself by making things up with Jacob before I left.
Your dear son-in-law and I had fallen out quite badly a while ago and we hadn't spoken since. I didn't want to leave things as they were and plucked up the courage to see him. It was a prickly encounter but we worked through it.
If I remember correctly I was sat down on the worn out old sofa while Jacob sat across from me with guarded eyes.
It was my shining moment to be the bigger person. "I've come here to say…" I took a deep, cleansing breath. "As you've probably heard, I'm going away for a while and I just wanted to stop by and clear the air between us before I left."
I looked up at him expectantly, Jacob was so amiable I was hoping he would show me that warm smile of his and tell me to forget all about it. However, he remained stony faced; he was not about to let me off the hook so easily. I must have hurt him real bad.
"Okay, I'm sorry, Jake. I was a monumental bitch to you and I regret it. I really do."
His stiffened posture loosened a little. "It wasn't just you. I said some dumb stuff too,"
"You were a complete jerkface to me," I added.
"Thank you for your choice words, Leah." he said sarcastically. "I was a jerk and I'm sorry too." He sank into his seat. "We really know how to push each other's buttons, huh?" he said with a half smile.
"Yes, we do," I said, smiling back at him. "I'm glad I'm not travelling with you."
"Oh, really?" he exclaimed. "Why is that?"
"We'd never make it back alive." I said, breaking into laughter.
He nodded in agreement. "That's true."
Oh, Edward, it felt so good to have my friend back. I know he'll be there when I come back. I think I'm quite spoilt by the amount of people who care for me. I find it amusing that I used to think I was so lonely; I thought I was facing the world alone, and yet when I do exactly that, travelling on my own, I find that my bonds to everyone back home are stronger than ever. I even find myself missing Charlie sometimes.
Not that I don't enjoy meeting new people. I've met some of the kindest people on my travels and yet I couldn't even tell you their name. Like the guy who bought me a soda when I didn't have enough change at Dubai airport. Or the lady who offered me a seat on a packed Tokyo train.
You should see my passport. I have so many stamps on it, each one a little inked badge of honour. I've walked the desert in Nairobi, admired the Pyramids, rode a camel (those creatures are so bad tempered I got flashbacks of Rosalie), tasted real Italian ice cream, seen the panoramic view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower, shopped in Oxford Street, London, ate noodles sold by street vendors in Seoul, taken photos of Tokyo's neon nights, posed in front of the Taj Mahal, been on safari in South Africa (the lions looked appetising, you would have enjoyed it), swam in clear blue waters in Jamaica…
You've probably crossed the globe an infinite number of times so this is old news to you so I won't bore you with any more details. So here I am, sitting under a palm tree writing this letter. Are you reading this letter and asking yourself 'does she miss me?' That's the million dollar question, right?
At least, I hope that's the question you're asking if you haven't thrown this letter away already. Seth told me on the phone that the weekend meet ups between the Cullens and the tribe have descended into a kind of Fight Club and last time the boys were bare-knuckle fighting. He said you broke a few jaws to win the title. I knew all that testosterone floating around was bound to have some kind of effect. Boys will be boys I suppose.
In my head, I can't help wondering if the fighting is some kind of replacement for me. You get all the cheap thrills without having to cheat on your wife in the process. I think of you at the oddest times. I'll be drifting off to sleep when your face appears with that concentrated look I treasured so much and suddenly I don't feel like sleeping anymore…
Do you remember our first time? I did. I was sat on a plane when I burst out laughing. I had to convince the old lady next to me that it was an article from the airplane magazine that I was flicking through that had cracked me up but she wasn't buying it and shifted slightly away from me. I've learnt to bite my lip to stop my mouth from curling upwards whenever I think of you.
Having all this time to myself I wonder if I ever loved you or if you ever loved me. In the shade of this palm tree, I feel like I can see things clearly now. I don't feel sad that things ended between us. We still share the same sun, the same memories, we're just in different places in our lives now. We don't belong to each other. We never did.
So burn this letter and let the ashes be scattered by the wind. It will turn to dust just as our relationship did. Because in the end, our affair was doomed and that is what made it so beautiful.
Love Leah x
A bundle of kisses to everyone who enjoyed my fic and took time out to review it. You guys rock my world. Good and bad, I've enjoyed them all.
It wasn't a happily ever after ending that some of you wanted but sometimes you just have to cherish the good moments where you can.