Les Femmes Noires One-Shot Contest

Title: The Final Stage

Your pen name: Twinnesse

Characters: Bella

Disclaimer: We do not own The Twilight Saga, Stephenie Meyers does. She owns all names, likenesses, locations, yada yada. Everything in between belongs to us.

AH/OOC Rated M for language and dark theme.

To see other entries in Les Femmes Noires Contest, please visit the C2 page:



I picked up the phone from the kitchen counter and dialed his cell phone for the 5th time in as many minutes. I shifted the phone between my shoulder and ear and continued to load the dishes from the sink to the dishwasher. I turned to look at the clock on the microwave again: 6:15

He should have been home an hour ago. Why isn't he picking up his phone?

After the fourth ring, that same stupid outgoing voice message that I'd ribbed him about forever and asked him to change started. "Hi, I'm unavailable or pretending to be unavailable, there will be a beep; you know what to do."

"Where are you? I expected you back over an hour ago. I'm sure you and Emmett just got sidetracked and your phone is dead, but if you get this, can you please call? Your parents haven't heard from you either and we've officially missed our reservations. So, yeah, call me. Love you." I ended the call and set the phone back on the counter.

As I closed the door to the dishwasher and set the cycle, I heard a loud clack clack clack from the brass door knocker on the front door.

I rolled my eyes as I jogged off to answer it because he always did that when his arms were too full to manage the keys. Why didn't he just make a second trip back to the car? He always tried to carry everything in one trip.

I flung the door open expecting to find him standing there with a coffee cup, briefcase, and a raincoat thrown over his arm; maybe even a bouquet of flowers. "You're late!"

Instead I found my father, Charlie, and two Washington State Troopers stood behind him. They had removed their hats, and held them in front of them.

"Dad? What are you doing here?" I said, eyeing the Troopers behind him. Something was wrong; very wrong.

"Bells? Baby." He stepped inside and wrapped his arms around me. "There's been an accident."


"Don't look now Bella, but he's looking at you." Alice teased, as she practically dragged me across the parking lot, hurrying to make first bell. I turned my head in the direction she was looking and saw him.

He was leaning against an old piece of shit silver Volvo next to a laughing boy whose arms flailed animatedly, and I thought for a minute that the boy must be telling a funny story. But he wasn't laughing, or even listening to the other boy; he was watching me.

Time slowed briefly as we continued to stare at each other. I knew Alice was still talking to me, but I could barely hear her. She was right next to me tugging on my arm, but she sounded muffled and far away. The only sounds I could clearly hear were the beating of my heart and the rush of air pushing through my lungs. I turned to look at her blankly and blinked, then turned my head back towards him. We were separated by half the span of the parking lot; students ran past, between us, seemingly in slow motion.

There was no way we could hear each other's voice, but in those 30 seconds when time seemed to have stopped, it was as if we'd had an entire conversation. I narrowed my eyes to focus on him and all I saw was a wrinkled plaid shirt, buttoned haphazardly, messy hair blowing gently in the autumn breeze, eyes flecked with gold, and a beautiful smile aimed directly at me.

"Bella! What the hell is wrong with you? We're going to be late!" Alice pulled on my arm again, harder this time, snapping me out of whatever it was that had just happened, and we jogged off towards the main building.

I turned once more when we reached the building at the top of the steps; he was still smiling at me. He waved. I waved back.



Someone whispered behind me. "I heard it was instant."

Another voice said quietly, "Poor thing, it hasn't hit her yet."

"Charlie said the other driver walked away without a scratch."

"They always do."

"Did you know it was their anniversary?" Another voice said.

I stared ahead at the closed casket; its top covered with white lilies. It wasn't right, it didn't look right. Why lilies? That's my favorite flower, not his. I didn't say lilies, did I? No, I wouldn't have. Did someone even ask me? I can't remember. Why can't I remember? Charlie must have picked them, or maybe Esme. I wouldn't have chosen lilies.

Charlie sat next to me, his left arm wrapped around my shoulder while his right hand rested on top of my hands. His thumb moved in circles caressing the back of my hand.

Stop. I thought, fighting the urge to pull my hands away. Don't do that- he does that.

I turned and looked at Esme; her head down as she sniffled quietly. Carlisle stood behind her, his shoulders slumped and his hands resting on her shoulders.

My eyes moved forward again and stared ahead at the closed casket covered in white lilies.

This isn't happening. I'm sleeping; I'm dreaming this. I'm going to wake up and he's going to call me and tell me he's sorry that his phone was turned off. This can't be happening. I'm going to die if this is real.


I ducked my head to avoid the graduation caps that were falling back to the ground. I was surrounded by hugging friends and acquaintances; most were smiling, some were crying.

The same phrases and cheers kept bouncing by me as I moved from one set of arms to another while constantly scanning for that familiar head of hair over the crowd.

"We're finally done!"

"Can you believe it!"

"I'll miss you so much!"

"We have to keep in touch; promise."

I nodded along and agreed with all the quickly forgotten promises as I continued to scan for the two people that I really wanted to see.

A familiar voice was screaming "Beee Ssswaannn!" But before I could turn around I was hit from behind and the wind was knocked out of me. I grabbed onto the back of a chair in order to stay upright as a pair of skinny arms and legs wrapped around my torso in a fierce hug before dropping back to the ground.

"God Alice, you're going to kill me here."

"Don't pout Bella we're officially fucking graduated! Oh my God! I'm so excited! We're going to have the best fucking summer! Did you hear Jasper yell Tinkerbell at me when it was my turn? God I could kill him sometimes! He knows I hate that name! He better forget it when we get to UDub. Oh my God! UDub! Did you talk to Charlie? What did he say? Please tell me he said no, he said no, didn't he? Did he?"

"Alice! God! Stop talking. Yes; I talked to Charlie but first I want to talk to –"

I felt a familiar pair of arms wrap around my waist, a kiss was placed on the side of my neck and a deep voice spoke in my ear. "Hi. You looked beautiful up there. Did you hear me?"

I giggled as I turned to face him. "Hear what?"

He rolled his eyes. "When I yelled in front of all these people that I loved you."

Alice wedged her hands between us and shoved us apart. "God, the whole fucking auditorium heard you; of course she heard you! Now tell us Bella, who are you living with next year?"

I glanced at her before turning back and holding his eyes as I shook my head no. "Two years; he said I have to live in the dorms for two years and, if we are still together after that then he'll consider it."

"I told you!" They both said in unison, him in disappointment, her in glee.

I shrugged. "It was worth a shot."

Alice turned and stuck her tongue out at him and then started doing a dance around us while she chanted "I get to live with Bella" over and over again.

I mouthed "I'm sorry" to him, but he shrugged and smiled.

Then he wrapped his arm around my shoulders and turned me towards the seats where I could see Charlie, Jake and Billy waiting for us. "Its okay. I actually think he has a point. We need to experience life. We'll be there together and see each other all the time as it is. Living together can wait. What's a year in the grand scheme of things?"

Alice danced by us again. "Two years! She's mine for two full years!"



"Just explain it to me! How could this possibly have happened?" I shouted. "You told me- you promised me. Third time offender. Open and shut case is what you said!"

Mike Newton, the assistant D.A. looked down at his folded hands as they covered what I knew was the file. For a brief moment I wondered if there were photographs in that file and held back the bile rising in my throat.

"I'm really sorry Bella. The evidence was compromised -"

"Compromised? What exactly does that mean? Compromised how? You're forgetting that my father is a cop. I know there's procedures and chain of custody; shit doesn't just get compromised."

Charlie reached across the distance between our two chairs and reached for my hand, "Bells, calm down."

I flinched and pulled my hand back. "Calm down? I've been calm for far too long." I seethed. I turned back to Newton and jutted out my chin, "Go on, and explain to me how we ended up with a mistrial."

His eyes met Charlie's for a minute and he took a deep breath before he turned to me and continued to try to explain how the defendant's family had spared no expense in his defense and had hired J. Jenks, one of the most high profile criminal defense attorneys on the west coast. Not long after, the case had started to unravel piece by piece.

He explained that the time stamp on the blood alcohol test results hadn't matched up with the medical records. There were questions about the breathalyzer that was administered on the scene when the officer suddenly couldn't remember if it was properly calibrated. Hell, I'd heard his testimony; he apparently couldn't remember anything from that night. I don't know how he could call himself an officer of the law.

Charlie had already explained that the officer had taken a transfer to another department in Florida. J. Jenks had been known to make other cases unravel, and there were rumors about money changing hands. I wondered what kind of a price tag a man could put on his entire professional credibility; hell, his soul for that matter.

I stared down at my hands folded in my lap and began to turn the band on my left ring finger.

I looked back at Mike and felt two tears trickle down my cheeks. My voice came out as a strangled whisper. "He's still going to jail, right?"

Mike's eyes met Charlie's and my answer passed between them before a word was spoken. "Bella, if we tried it again, we'd end up in the same place. I can't justify the cost of another trial. We're going to have to offer a plea."

"No no no no." I repeated over and over, shaking my head, barely holding on to whatever I had left holding me together. I stood up and slammed my hands on the desk, "That can't happen. It can't."

My outburst had caused Newton to jump back in his chair and within seconds Charlie had his arms wrapped around me, begging me to calm down.

" I'm not calming down! He took everything. Do you hear me? He took everything I had."

Mike stood and picked up the file; I barely heard his parting words. "I'll call you with the details when it's done. I'll do everything in my power to put him behind bars."


The front door closed with a slam and I shouted over my shoulder. "Is that it?"

His voice came back down the hall to me. "Last one thank God. I had no idea you had so much crap in that little room."

"I made lemonade. You want some?"

"Please, I'm parched. But could you bring it in here? I'm going to start assembling your desk."

I poured him a glass and carried it into the second bedroom that we were sharing as an office. I leaned against the doorway. "Here you go."

He had his back to me and was kneeling in front of a box of parts and pieces that would eventually become my desk while he scanned a sheet of assembly instructions he was holding in one hand and running the other through his hair.

"Okay, thanks. Just set it down somewhere."

I frowned and set the lemonade on top of the filing cabinet in the corner behind him. Then I walked up behind him and place my hand on top of his shoulders and started massaging them.

"Can I talk you into taking a break?"

He groaned. "Bella we've got a lot of unpacking ahead of us and none of it can get done until I assemble your desk, the bookcase, and the entertainment center."

I turned my hand and ran my thumbs up the back of his neck and into his hair. He rolled his head on his shoulders and moaned.

"You know we don't have to get this all done in one day."

He tipped his head up to look at me. "I know, but Charlie will be here tomorrow. I want him to see how great this is going to be. That you have an actual office, and I'm taking good care of you."

I leaned forward and gave him an upside down kiss and sighed. "Fine. I'll go unpack the bedroom
,at least I can make sure we have a bed to sleep in tonight. But you're quitting after you get the office done. I'm going to grill some burgers and we're going to have a nice dinner in our new home."

I patted his cheeks and turned to walk away when an arm reached around my waist and yanked me backwards.

I squealed and laughed when I found myself cradled across his lap.

He leaned over me, smiling and eyes sparkling. "Say it again."

I laughed and put a hand on his cheek. "Say what again?"

"What you just said. Where are we going to have dinner tonight?"

I beamed up at him. "In our new home."

He leaned forward and whispered. "Our home."

Then he kissed me.

"Our home." He said again with reverence.

And he kissed me again.

"Our home." We whispered it together and kept kissing until the rest of the unpacking was long forgotten.



I rolled over and pulled the quilt up over my shoulder and stared at his side of the bed. I reached out my hand and laid it across the empty space and willed myself to imagine him laying there looking back at me.

"I'd do anything…" I whispered to the empty space next to me, softly choking back a sob.

For a brief moment, I saw him there; all messy morning hair and sleepy gold flecked eyes smiling back at me.

I pulled his pillow to my face and inhaled deeply willing the scent to still be there, but it was gone.

I tried prayer, "God, I'm sorry. I questioned you; I know I did. I was greedy and impatient. I wanted more and should have been happy with what I had. I'm so sorry. Please just don't make this be real. I'll never ask for another thing. I promise."

"I promise…"

The rest of my words dissolved into sobs.


"You know what I think I could go for?"

I was lying on the sofa with my feet in his lap. I'd helped his mother with a lot of the cooking during the day and was receiving a well-earned foot rub. Christmas music played in the background, the tree was lit, a fire in the fireplace; we were happy, relaxed, and tired. I opened my eyes to see him smiling at me. "What's that?"

"One more piece of your pumpkin pie."

I laughed out loud. "You've got to be kidding me! Where do you put it all?"

We had just gotten home from Christmas with his family where we had appetizers in the afternoon during gift opening and then an enormous Christmas dinner including prime rib, two kinds of potatoes, green bean casserole,a salad, two stuffings, two breads and three kinds of pie. I was pretty sure he'd had seconds on everything.

He rubbed his belly. "I'm a growing boy. And you make the most amazing pumpkin pie I've ever had. Whatever you do to it with the whipping cream and the brown stuff you sprinkle on top. There should be laws."

I sat up and crawled forward to kiss him. "I'll go get you a piece."

"You're too good to me." He swatted my ass as I walked past him.

I yelped and laughed over my shoulder. "Yes I am, but you love me for it."

In the kitchen I sliced another piece of pie and topped it with the little bit of fresh whipping cream that was left from earlier, a sprinkle of nutmeg, and a cinnamon stick.

He glanced up to me as I slid past him onto the couch and handed him his pie. There was a happy twinkle in his eyes.

I watched him use a fork to cut away a piece of pie. He scooped it up and ate it, closing his eyes, and moaning in appreciation. It was his standard reaction to most foods that I cook. I thought to myself that if he moaned like that when we were both old and gray I would still love it.

His eyes opened and as he cut his next bite he spoke to his plate. "You know I realized while you were in there that there is one more gift that I haven't given you."

I squinted at him. "We agreed. Three things. And I know that the first three already exceeded the budget we set."

His head bobbed back and forth. "Well this is a little different. It's small so I don't think it really counts."

I watched him in confusion.

He nodded his head at the Christmas Tree. "Its hanging on the tree."

I smiled. "An ornament?"

He cut another bite of pie and said "Go look" before putting it in his mouth.

I stood and started looking over the tree, but I didn't see anything new or different. After a few minutes of hunting I propped my hands on my hips and sighed. "I can't find anything."

He set his pie on the coffee table and came forward. "Well, I know I hung it, but maybe it fell down. You keep looking and I'll look down here."

I almost argued about his logic since he was so much taller than me, but he dropped down onto his knees and started looking around the ground.

"What does it look like?"

"You'll know it when you see it."

We both kept looking for several moments and I was ready to give up when I saw it. My gasp alerted him to the discovery and he stopped looking and was watching me.

I carefully reached up and pulled the red ribbon off the tree. Dangling from the ribbon was a simple platinum band and a diamond solitaire that had to be nearly two carats.

I held the ribbon in one hand and the ring in the other and slowly turned to face him. My eyes were already starting to fill with tears, but when I blinked them back I saw that he was now on one knee, his face aglow in joy and hope.



"How is she doing?" I heard Charlie's voice from the next room

"I don't know, she won't talk, she won't eat. She's been staring out that window for hours." Alice whispered her reply. "I'm not sure how long she can stay like this."

"Why don't you go home and get some rest kiddo. You look beat." I heard Charlie tell Alice softly. "I'll stay with her and give her the news about the plea bargain."

Alice whispered again. "Is he going to jail?"

Charlie's answer was non-verbal, but Alice's whispered reply told me what I needed to know. "Then don't tell her right now. I don't think she can take it."

Alice walked up behind me and wrapped her arms around my waist. "I'll be back later, okay? Your dad's here now. He's going to stay with you for a while."

She gave me a soft squeeze and kissed my shoulder, but I didn't have the will to respond.

I heard Alice walk away, followed by Charlie, probably to see her out.

I stood with my arms wrapped around my waist staring out the window overlooking the large back yard. The yard was what made us buy this home; it was perfect. We'd planned it all: the family picnics, the easter egg hunts, the games of touch football with the children we'd have someday.

I took a deep breath and leaned my forehead against the cold hard glass of the window. The swing that hung from the large oak tree at the back of the property swayed in the wind. For a moment I thought I'd heard Emmett's voice calling me and I turned towards the door to listen, but all was quiet.


Charlie's eyes gleamed with grandfatherly pride. "He's a strong boy. You did good Bells."

"Thanks Dad."

The little bundle in his arms started to squirm and make little squeaky sounds that were not quite cries because his little lungs were too new. I tried to stifle a yawn and failed; Charlie took it as the second sign that it was time to go.

He gently settled the little bundle that is our son Emmett back into my arms. "Well I'll let you guys have some peace and quiet finally. You've been through a lot."

"Okay. We'll call you when we get home tomorrow Grandpa." I grinned at him, he pretended to cringe, but it was obvious that he really loved it.

My rumpled looking husband walked him out and I sat with my new baby. He made a few more squeaks and his face twisted up in discontentment.

"What's wrong baby? Are you hungry again?"

I pulled the shoulder of my gown down and turned him onto his side to face me. I gently pinched my breast and tickled his cheek with my nipple and just like the nurse showed me yesterday his little mouth opened wide. I was again amazed at how natural it all was.

Then I hissed as his little mouth started to suck with a ferocity that I never would have imagined from such a little thing. Okay, maybe it's not that natural.

I tipped my head back and started humming a little lullaby when I heard someone's breath hitch from the foot of my bed. I opened my eyes to see my husband, the love of my life, with tears in his eyes. He walked around next to us and leaned over to watch his son being fed. "I don't think I'll ever get used to that."

"Oh you will eventually, he's been doing this every two hours. I imagine after the fourth of fifth night in a row of waking up on that schedule it won't be quite as endearing."

He ignored my joke and leaned over to kiss my forehead as a tear ran down his cheek.

I smiled up at him. "Wanna climb in with us?"

He looked over me, our baby, and the small bed with trepidation. "I don't want to disturb you two..." He let his words trail off.

"It's okay, I need to change sides anyway. The nurse showed me how to do it on my side." I carefully detached Emmett and rolled us to the other side so that he could climb in behind us and spoon me while I nursed our baby. Once he was settled behind me, I tickled baby Emmett's lips with my other nipple, and he reflexively opened wide.

He watched over my shoulder in fascination. "That's amazing. You are amazing."

We lay together and snuggled for a few minutes while Emmett happily ate. Eventually he stopped sucking and fell into a sound sleep. I tickled his cheek one more time to encourage him to keep going, but he spit my nipple out instead and a small dribble of milk trailed down his cheek.

We both chuckled.

After months of wondering about one thing, but being too scared to ask the question, I finally felt prepared to handle his answer no matter what it was.

"So, babe, can I ask you something?"

"Mmhmm." He nuzzled my shoulder lazily and I wondered briefly if he'd been about to fall asleep. We'd both been awake for way too many hours now.

"Well, I know you wanted to be married for at least a couple of years before we started having kids and this didn't really go that way."

He sucked in a breath. "Bella, baby, have you been worried all these months that I was disappointed that you got pregnant so soon?"

"Not really worried. It's just, well, we literally came home from the honeymoon with a bun in the oven. That's not what we'd planned."

"No, it wasn't. It was a wonderful surprise. Some of the best things in life happen when you don't plan them. This is one of those times. Did you really not know how thrilled I was about this baby? God I'm so sorry I made you worry all this time."

I sniffed and swallowed the lump in my throat. I hadn't realized how much I'd needed to hear those words. "I knew you were happy. I wasn't really worried, I just wondered if you'd regret not getting a couple of years as newlyweds first. I needed to know that you wanted this as much as I did."

"More. I wanted it more than you'll ever know. And as far as newlywed time, well, we did live together for three years before we got married. So I think we got our time, just a bit out of order. Don't you?"

I smiled. "I do. I've got everything I've ever wanted now. I have it all."



"Ahhhgghh!" I threw the manuscript against the far wall of the dining room. I'd tried watching television, and movies, reading books and now, I'd even resorted to trying to work, but I couldn't shut it off.

Esme came running from the kitchen. "What? What's wrong?"

"I just want my brain to shut off. I keep thinking about that day over and over and over again. I should have known something was wrong. I should have picked up Emmett myself so he wouldn't have to leave work early. I'm just so angry about it and I can't stop thinking about it! I just want to punch something. Hard!"

I leaned over and rested my head on my folded arms on the table.

Esme walked back to the dining room table carrying two cups of tea. She set them both down and then took the chair next to me. She placed one soft hand on my arm and used the other to push the strands of hair falling down in my face back and behind my ear. "Neither can I sweetie." She sighed. "I think about it all the time."

With my head still resting on my arms I turned so that I could see her. "Aren't you angry?"

Esme softly smiled, "Of course I am. I threw things too, at first. I usually chose things that crash, and break, and make a mess. It's far more satisfying. But then you have to clean it up; and it's more expensive. I think my worst was a crystal platter that I threw at Carlisle."

"I'm so damn angry all the time. And when I'm not angry, I'm sad…" I picked my head up and rubbed at my eyes with the palms of my hands "But I'm sick of this cycle and I can't seem to get out of it. I try to go about my day and be normal, but then everything feels so empty and I just want to curl up into a ball and die. But I know how disappointed in me he'd be for just giving up. And then I start to think about why it happened, and him, and then I just feel rage."

"Bella, I would never tell you how to grieve." Esme said, and then I noticed a single tear start to fall down her cheek. "But perhaps what you need to do is take some of that rage, and find some forgiveness."

"Forgiveness?" I practically snorted "You want me to forgive him? I hate him."

Esme reached her arm around me and squeezed my shoulder "And I do as well- sometimes. And it's okay to feel that way- he took something from us. But I've survived this knowing it was an accident; he didn't mean to. I have to believe that."

"I'm not sure I can do that Esme."

"Bella, if you don't let go of some of that rage, you will be stuck in this cycle, and it will eat you alive."


"Damnit." I tossed the little stick in the trash and went back to putting my makeup on as a tall handsome figure appeared in the doorway behind me.

"Negative?" He offers me a gentle smile.

I sighed. "Yes. Again. I just don't understand it. With Emmett we weren't even trying. Now we've been trying for nine months and nothing. I'm telling you; one year of this and I'm calling the fertility specialist."

He walked up behind me and gently squeezed my shoulders. "Leave it to fate my love. It's God's plan, he'll know when we're ready."

I rolled my eyes and muttered. "Yeah, yeah, fate, shmate; plan shman. I'm ready now damnit."

He chuckled as he left the bathroom. "Always so impatient. Emmett's finishing his Cheerios and then we need to go."

"Make sure he comes to say goodbye." I called after him.

But it wasn't ten seconds later when a small pair of pudgy arms were wrapped around my legs. "I'm right here mommy you don't have to yell."

I laughed and squatted down so we were eye to eye. "So you are. You remember what today is, right?"

He nodded. "Yep. Your avviner, anversin, anservary… How do you say it again?"

"Its our ann-i-ver-sary." I spoke the word slowly for him.

"Anvinursary, right."

"Are you excited to stay at Nana and Puppa's tonight?"

His eyes were wide. "Uh huh. Nana's gonna make her yummy pascetti and Puppa said we're gonna watch Bobba Builder. Then he's gonna take me to sit in a real Bobidder."

I laughed at his three year old words for spaghetti and bulldozer.

"Okay, well Daddy's going to pick you up from school and take you to Nana and Puppa's, okay? So I won't see you until tomorrow morning my little man."

"Will you be okay, mama? I can call you and check in if you need me too." His eyes were serious.

I swallowed the laugh; he was repeating the same thing I'd said three weeks prior when I had to leave on an overnight business trip. I smiled bravely just like he did. "I think I'll be okay, but if I need to talk to you I'll call you."

He nodded. "Okay, deal." He started to run out of the bathroom.

I reached out and snagged him around the waist and ran to the bed with him giggling the whole way. "You tried to leave without a kiss and hug…you know what happens when you do that. Tickle torture!"

I tossed him gently on the bed and kneeled over him tickling his sides, his belly, and his collarbone while he squealed and wiggled in delight.

"Ahem. Sorry to interrupt." I glanced at my husband in the doorway who was grinning in amusement. "We really have to go, or I'm going to be late."

I pulled Emmett off the bed and helped him on the floor. I held his hand as we traversed the stairs together. I'd watched him fall down those stairs over a year ago and still can't watch him go up and down them without holding his hand.

Emmett's backpack was by the front door. It was stuffed with the clothes I'd packed and he'd added books, toys, and a tyrannosaurus rex whose head was poking out the top. "Do you have everything?"

He nodded and I walked behind him to the car. I helped get him buckled into his booster seat and kissed him on the nose.

"See you in the morning boo."

"Love you Mommy."

I turned to look over the front seat to see the sparkling eyes that were watching me in the rearview mirror. I scratched his scalp lightly through his thick hair. "You'll be home by 5:15 right? Reservations are at 6:00."

He winked at me. "Be there with bells on."

"Love you."

"Love you too."


I was standing next to my car in front of his house. I didn't want to be here. Hell, I wanted to be anywhere but here. But a part of me needed to do this to be able to move on with my life.

Today marks one year since this man took everything from me.


Someone whispered behind me. "I heard it was instant."

Another voice said quietly, "Poor thing, it hasn't hit her yet."

"Charlie said the other driver walked away without a scratch."

"They always do."

"Did you know it was their anniversary?" Another voice said.


I'd followed the curving private streets towards the back of the development where the houses grew ridiculously larger until I found his at the end of a cul-de-sac. It was tucked into a corner, surrounded with woods and only two other houses on the circle. He'd managed to find his own corner of privacy in this whole overdeveloped community.

He'd left me in my own private hell.

The house had severe lines and perfect symmetry, but was too large for the small front yard. It was all house; no room to move, to play. But that was probably okay, because it was just a house, not a home; a place where one looks but doesn't touch.

The little yard here was perfectly manicured, the shrubs all a perfect green and pruned to perfection. Though the house was new, the trees were mature; that's the difference a little money could make. I knew without a doubt that this man had never touched a mower or hedge trimmers.


I stood on the sidewalk and watched him move the Japanese Maple tree that I'd picked out from one spot to another.

"Here?" He asked holding the tree up, and stepping back for me to get a better view.

"No. It may be small now, but it's going to grow." I laughed, "It'll grow into the house there."

- -

I turned to look at the driveway; there was a shiny new blue sportscar in his driveway. For some reason I'd been expecting the silver one, but I knew that one had been totaled in the accident.

I suddenly wished I had a bat with me. Of course, it couldn't be his. What need did he have for a sportscar when he'd never have a driver's license again?

I was fighting the urge to get back in my car and drive far away. But I needed to remember why I was here.

- -

Esme reached her arm around me and squeezed my shoulder "And I do as well- sometimes. And it's okay to feel that way- he took something from us. But I've survived this knowing it was an accident; he didn't mean to. I have to believe that."

"I'm not sure I can do that Esme."

"Bella, If you don't let go of some of that rage, you will be stuck in this cycle, and it will eat you alive."


I pulled the article out of my pocket. I'd memorized it all long ago; before it had grown so worn it was nearly shredded.

My eyes immediately fell on the familiar line every single time. "Forks High History teacher and his three year old son were on their way home that evening…"

I sniffled and wiped at my face. I wasn't here to remember; I was here to move on. I swallowed several times, folded the article and shoved it into my pocket.

As soon as my foot touched the grass of his front yard I felt something penetrate me. Something gripped me from the inside and started to strangle me. With every step across his yard it squeezed tighter. Like a snake coiling through my insides and squeezing the life out of me; pushing away my soul.


I flung the door open expecting to find him standing there with a coffee cup, briefcase, and a raincoat thrown over his arm; maybe even a bouquet of flowers for me. "You're late!"

Instead I found my father, Charlie, and two Washington State Troopers stood behind him. They had removed their hats, and held them in front of them.

"Dad? What are you doing here?" I said, eyeing the Troopers behind him. Something was wrong; very wrong.

"Bells? Baby." He stepped inside and wrapped his arms around me. "There's been an accident."


Though my legs dragged like lead, I pushed on and started up the steps to the front door. I stood on his porch and took a few ragged breaths before I forced my hand out to ring the bell.

A series of chimes could be heard from inside followed my some heavy steps. And then he was there.

I was standing on his porch and staring into the eyes of the man who'd taken everything from me. Several long seconds passed and I still hadn't spoken. I waited for recognition to sink into features. But it never did.


I wrestled out of Charlie's arms and started backing away from him. He followed me cautiously. I closed my eyes and started shaking my head no, hands in front of me, trying to physically block the words from penetrating. Trying to stop my world from collapsing around me.

"No." I choked out.

"I'm sorry baby. They were on their way to the Cullens."

And that's when I finally opened my eyes and looked at him. Time froze. I couldn't hear anything but my own ragged breathing and slow thump thump of my heart. "They? Both of them?"

Charlie nodded slowly. I couldn't hear his voice, but I watched his mouth form the words. "Yes. Jasper and Emmett. They're gone Bells. I'm so sorry."


He stood before me, blood shot eyes, a cigarette hanging from his mouth and a few days stubble lining his chin. He looked haggard. Some deep part of me found pleasure in his unkempt appearance. He was not a man living in peace.

His brows arched up in question. "Yes?" He growled out, making the cigarette bounce on his lips, and yanking me harshly from my thoughts.

"Um. I'm Isabella Cullen. Do you remember me?"

His brows pulled together in an ugly expression while he thought, but still there was nothing.

I continued. "The accident. A year ago."

"Oh." His head tipped back in recognition and he pulled on his cigarette before removing it from his lips and exhaling out the side of his mouth. He looked over my head towards the street. "You're the wife."

"I'm the widow. And the mother." I corrected.

"What are you doing here?"

I looked down at the brick porch below my feet. "I wanted to talk to you."


"I've been trying to get past it, for a year now. I don't think I'll be able to until I tell you -" My words stopped. I didn't know if I'd be able to force them out.

"Tell me what? That you hate me? Okay, get on with it. I don't have all day."

I was surprised by his assumption and looked up at him.

His lips were pulled tight and his eyebrows were arched. His head jerked. He was telling me to hurry.

"I don't hate you...well at least I'm trying not to. I...I came to tell you that I forgive you. I'm trying to anyway."

His eyes widened in surprise. And then he did something I'd never expected; He laughed.

He barked out a harsh ugly laugh. "You forgive me? That's rich. That's really fucking rich. Isabeth Cullen forgives me. Well okey dokey Isabeth, thanks for that. Now I'll sleep snug as a bug in a rug because you forgive me."

My jaw clenched but I was so shocked by his response that the only thought I had was to correct my name. "Its Isabella. Isabella Cullen."

"Oh! Excuse me Isabella. But do you have any fucking idea who I am? Do you?"

"Yes. I know exactly who you are. You are the man who -"

"Okay, well if you know who I am then you should know that I don't need your forgiveness. Look around you lady. I don't need a fucking thing from you."

- -

The defendant's family had spared no expense in his defense and had hired J. Jenks, one of the most high profile criminal defense attorneys on the west coast. Not long after, the case had started to unravel piece by piece.

He explained that the time stamp on the blood alcohol test results hadn't matched up with the medical records. There were questions about the breathalyzer that was administered on the scene; the officer suddenly couldn't remember if it was properly calibrated. Hell, I'd heard his testimony; he apparently couldn't remember anything from that night. I don't know how he could call himself an officer of the law.

J. Jenks had been known to make other cases unravel at the seams and there were rumors about money changing hands.

- -

I was stunned. Speechless. There were no words to describe the vile inhuman soulless human being standing before me.

"I think we're done here." He tossed his cigarette butt at my feet and then flung the door shut in my face.

I gasped hard; ragged breath tearing down my throat. But I was still strangling. Something was squeezing my lungs, not allowing the air into them.

I stumbled backwards down the steps, falling onto the hard brick walkway and scraping my hand. I scrambled up again and ran across the yard to my car.

Blinded by my own furious tears, my body slammed into the side of my car. I gripped the top of the door as the fury and grief threatened to rip me apart from the inside.


I rolled over in our bed and reached out for Jasper, but instead found an empty space.

I sat up in a panic "Emmett!" I thought. I threw back the covers and jumped from bed.

As I neared Emmett's nursery, I heard Jasper's voice softly singing the ABC's. I stayed hidden behind the door frame and laughed to myself remembering how Jasper insisted that it was the only song he could remember the words to.


Minutes passed as my overwhelming grief began to transform. The snake inside me coiled tighter until my insides were squeezed into hard stone.

The tears dried on my face and I turned back to face his house.

I didn't even realize that I'd started moving forwards until I was standing in the grass between the car and the sidewalk when his front door opened again.

He never looked up to see me as he closed his front door and locked it.


Jasper leaned down close where Emmett sat in his high chair covered head to toe in chocolate birthday cake.

"Okay little man, let's smile big for Mommy." He said, smiling widely as he turned to look at me.

Just as I pressed the shutter button on the camera, Emmett screeched "DADA!" and wiped a handful of cake across Jasper's face.


Again, my legs had moved me through his yard without my permission. I was now standing on the edge of his yard, lining his front walk. When he stepped off the bottom step he looked up in surprise when he realized I was standing there.

"You're still here?" He glanced towards the driveway and I realized he still had keys in his hand.

My eyes widened in understanding. "That's...that's your car? But you don't have a license. You can't drive."

He laughed again. "It's not mine. It belongs to my father. And you're standing on private property. I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

Nothing. It all meant nothing to him. He'd taken everything from me and he got nothing for it. He went on with his life, in his cushy home and kept driving his fancy sportscar.

Before I even realized what I was doing I was on him. I was swinging and kicking and clawing.

He shoved me roughly to the ground. "Get off me you bitch. That's assault. You came to my home and assaulted me. I suggest you leave now."

That's when it hit me. I was lying in the grass in his front yard where he'd shoved me when the smell hit me like a sledgehammer.

It was the harsh stench of alcohol. Lots of it.

I looked up at the man before me. Bloodshot eyes, haggard expression. He was drunk. And he was about to get in his car and drive away from here.

- -

"I'm sorry." I wiped a tear from my cheek "I hate fighting with you."

"I'm sorry too baby." He said as he wrapped his arm around my shoulders and pulled me close to him. "I shouldn't have snapped at you."

"It's okay."

"No it's not. From now on we talk things out. Okay?" He planted a kiss on the top of my head, and I knew everything was going to be all right.

- -

I was only feet behind him when he opened the door. A clinking sound drew my eyes to the ground as a half empty bottle of vodka fell out.

He huffed a laugh and kicked it behind him. It spun across the pavement and then rolled across the grass until it stopped with a thunk against my shin.

He was again oblivious of my proximity as I picked up the bottle.

In three swift strides I was behind him and brought the bottle down as fast and hard as I could. There was a swish of liquid in glass followed by a sickening clank as glass met hard flesh followed by the tinkling of glass falling to pavement.

He grunted and his body sagged forward. His head and upper arms fell into his car and his legs crumbled to the pavement below him.

Panting heavily in blind rage I spun and looked in all directions. There didn't seem to be anyone home at the other two houses on the circle.

Even if there was, with the amount of alcohol oozing from his pores, one would believe that I was just trying to help him get inside.

I grabbed one foot in each hand and pulled. He was heavy, but I found a strength in me and was able to drag him out of the car.

I stumbled twice as I dragged him across the grass.


"What is it?" I gasped and panted through tears of exhaustion and joy.

He looked over my knees to where the doctor was vigorously wiping off the baby.

He beamed back at me and whispered. "Its a boy."

The he looked again and continued. "Ten fingers; ten toes. He's perfect."


I hooked an arm under each of his shoulders and tugged him one step at a time up onto his front porch.

His feet were still on the steps when I dropped him with a thud against the door and went in search of his keys. I found them in the grass where they'd finally fallen from his grasp.

I ran back to the door and after some trial and error was able to find the key that granted entry.

I hooked my arms under his again and dragged him over the threshold.

Thankfully once inside, I found shiny hardwood floors. He slid across them easily as I pulled him through the foyer.

I didn't have a plan exactly, or maybe I did, but I knew I couldn't do it in the foyer.

At the end of the foyer was the living room thankfully.

That was where I found what I was searching for. Another few minutes of pushing, pulling and shoving, and I had his fully unconcious form up on the sofa like he'd passed out in a drunken stupor.


Jasper moved over me as we worked to quietly finish our morning lovemaking; the sound of Emmett singing his very own version of Itsy Bitsy Spider as he lay in his crib broadcast through the baby monitor sitting on my nightstand.

Jasper stopped abruptly and lowered his forehead to rest at the side of my neck and began to chuckle.

I laughed, "It's not always going to be like this you know."

"Only for the next 17 years or so."


I was panting and sweating with exersion as I ran back and closed the front door, careful not to touch the knob.

When I walked back to the living room I finally surveyed the area. The coffee table was littered in empty beer bottles. Half empty bottles of vodka, tequila and scotch were also scattered about.

He looked like he could be sleeping, except for the blood dripping down from the nasty gash on the top of his head.

I shrugged out of my lightweight button down that I was wearing over my tank top and used it to grab the closest bottle of alcohol.

Tequila- Tequila on a cut like that would likely burn.

I used my shirt to unscrew the cap and poured it over him.

He didn't move.

I opened another and dumped it again.

Another bottle; Everclear. I knew from college what this stuff had the potential to do. I poured it over his entire torso. I emptied the entire bottle, soaking him and the sofa.

I stood back and observed the still unconcious man, soaked in his own vices.

I pulled the newspaper article from my pocket again. "I know exactly who the fuck you are."


..Son of affluent business tycoon, Edward Masen Sr. to plead guilty to vehicular manslaughter. The incident, which occurred on August 13th of last year resulted in the death of Forks High School History teacher Jasper H. Cullen, and his three year old son, Emmett M. Cullen…

The incident was the third alcohol related offence involving a vehicle for Edward Masen Jr. …


Lying on the coffee table amongst the beer bottles, ashtrays, and packs of cigarettes I found a zippo lighter.

With my eyes fixed on his unmoving form I bent and picked up the zippo from the table and flicked it open with my thumb.


"What do you think of this one Bella? It's pretty isn't it?" Esme said as she stood in front of the Cherry casket.

The man whispered politely "It has a matching one in a smaller size."

That had caught my attention and I turned quickly. "We don't need another one."

Esme looked at me with a questioning look.

"Jasper and I read to Emmett in bed every night. They always fell asleep together." I whispered "I want them to be together."

Esme nodded to the man who still stood off to the side. She wrapped her arms around me but all I could think about was how much I wanted to crawl in there with them.


I lit the newspaper.

"Goodbye Jasper"

I watched the flames burn away his name.

"Goodbye Emmett."

I tossed the burning paper onto his alcohol soaked chest.

Immediately the flames engulfed the man and the sofa.

I stayed only long enough to ensure it would get the job done then I turned and walked to the front door.

I shoved the zippo in my jacket pocket to be disposed of on my way home.

I used my shirt to open the door, and just before I closed it behind me I heard him begin to scream

As I walked down the few steps I heard a distant crash.

I walked slowly to my car and climbed in.

From my car I could see the flickering light of flames through the windows of the home.

I waited until the light was bright enough that I was sure the room was engulfed. Then I started my car and pulled away from the home.

I had reached my final stage of grieving... Justice.


Thanks to AzureEyed1 for red-penning on such short notice. Mwah! If you didn't figure it out already, the Kübler-Ross grief cycle ended up playing a huge role as we started working out the story. What started as a completely different idea, and was only supposed to be a 1k drabble, took on a life of it's own. Yeah, apparently that's how we roll.. Additional side note from TwirlGrrl: Once I started thinking about the flashbacks, all I could think of was HumanShield's oneshot Just One More Thing You Want To End, which is pure genius. Go read it now- you won't be sorry. So yeah, Fats, I bow to thee- I kiss your ass- and apparently, am inspired by you (I'll wait in UU for your snarky comeback.)

We hope y'all enjoy it. We had a blast busting this out in the final hours before deadline. Whew.


TG & S32

P.S. Tell us what you think. Pretty please?