A/N: This is the last moment from Bella, encompassing the end of The Hardest Part and an hour or so past it. Thank you very much for all your kind words, the adds to your favorites lists, and the encouragement. I do have up my sleeve a story for Jacob -- because let's face it, the guy even in this AU could use a happy ending -- but it isn't written yet. One thing I promise though: He will not be imprinting on Bella's daughter!
Thank you again for your support in this non-canon pairing and thanks for reading!
Moment 10: Embry, I might have another nightmare...
"Will you... Will you call me? And can I talk to everyone? Sometime? I have missed you all." My arms were wrapped lightly around Edward, there in the damp and misting yard as the rain sifted down to us. His appearance after Mike Newton's graduation party had been the very last thing I expected, but I felt much lighter and more free having cleared things between us and re-opened communications.
He closed his eyes. "Yes, Bella. We've all missed you, too."
Jasper's voice wafted softly through the heavy air. "Good night, Bella. I hope to hear from you soon."
"Good night, Jasper. Please hug Alice for me." He shot me half a smile and took off at a run.
Edward sighed a little. Then I think he actually sniffed my hair before murmuring, "Thank you, Bella. For everything. I – I love you."
His declaration hurt me, because he told me that vampires find their mates just once, once they were changed. There would be only one love for him if that were true. And that would be me. "I love you, too. And thank you. Thank you for coming and... And everything." I tried to show him by a look that I understood that, but that I loved Embry and would not leave him. And then, I rolled up on my toes to brush the barest of kisses on Edward's cold jaw. "Good night, Edward."
I did not let myself look back as I retrieved Embry's graduation present in its pretty woven bag. I could feel his eyes on me, though, as I slipped through the front door. I imagined he tracked my heartbeat, too, when I climbed the stairs. I was extremely careful – stubbing a toe or falling would and could cause him to dash in and try to rectify the situation and I really, really had to keep him out of the house and away from Charlie.
Besides, Embry had told me once that vampires had a weird, sick-sweet odor that he and his pack brothers recognized immediately. He had smelled it when Victoria attacked. He had smelled it tonight when he sensed Edward and Jasper's presence. I did not want to give him any cause for alarm through Edward's scent in my house. Embry knew I loved him. I knew he trusted me.
But why make things more difficult between natural enemies?
I had the feeling that Edward was still out there as I reached my bedroom. My window had always been open to him, and for months after he left, I didn't lock it, hoping every night that he would come over the sill as he used to do. I wanted to look out at him, wave to him, bid him another goodnight...
But I didn't. A part of me might always love him. Jasper probably picked up on that, that evening. But that wasn't the part I wanted, now. I was human now and I had an investment in remaining that way. Not only for Embry's sanity – not anymore, though that was how this whole thing seemed to have been started. I wanted to stay human, warm, alive...for me. So many beautiful things came through change. I wanted them.
I turned my back on the window and moved to the bathroom to change even after I had turned on my bedside light. Then, when I had showered and brushed my teeth and changed into a pair of satiny sleep shorts and a matching tank top, I went back to my bedroom, picked up my phone and hit number one on my speed dial.
"Isabella." My name sighed from his lips to my ear and I melted against my bedroom pillows. Then, his tone changed. "Did your guests leave?"
"Yep. I told you it'd be okay, Em." I fluffed out my still-wet hair picked up the scroll I had dropped on my bed. "I am so loving my present. It's just wonderful."
"I know it isn't much, Bella –"
"Hush. I love it. It's perfect. You know me."
There was a pause and I could hear the smile in his voice when he spoke again. "I do know you. I – I love you, you know."
My heart stuttered in my chest and I pressed my hand against it. "I know. So... You know, it can be kind of a traumatic experience to have two vampires show up unexpectedly in your front yard..." I said with an experimental flirtatious curl to my voice.
He chuckled. "I noticed how traumatized you were, yeah. Bawling all over the bike, begging me to stay and protect you..."
Even though his tone was light, I sensed he was a little put out by my earlier wish to be alone with Edward and Jasper. I bit my lip and frowned a little. "Well, that was then, but now, see, I'm all alone here, and you never know how scary my dreams might be tonight..." I said, trying again.
"Give me an hour and I'll be there, sweetheart."
I waited in my dark window until I saw a hint of gray fur moving along the treeline. I waved and darted from my window, out the door and down the stairs. I caught my elbow, my "funny bone," on the newel of the banister, but ignored the shooting pain in my wish to reach the porch before Embry did.
I only barely made it.
Still in just my sleep shorts and tank, I leapt unerringly into his embrace and let his skin take care of any evening chill that lingered.
He laughed at my throat. "What's all this?" he breathed.
"I had to tell you something very important." Sliding down his body, I held his hands in mine and focused on his beautiful eyes.
His smile lingered on his lips. "And the phone just wasn't enough for you?"
"Nope. I love you, Embry Call. I didn't want to tell you for the first time over the phone. I wanted it to be in person and we got interrupted earlier and –"
His face – I'll never forget the expression on his face. He seemed to incandesce right in front of me. "Isabella..." In another moment, he pulled me tightly against him, murmuring my name on disbelieving breaths that alternated with kisses to the top of my head. I sighed, utterly content.
No more wrenching pain in my chest. No more nightmares, not really. No more fears of being left behind. No more waiting for someone who might never come...
I was deeply loved. I was happy. I was human.
At last, I was whole.