PROLOGUE

EPOV:

Bella was the sweetest young woman I have ever met, so loving that she had elevated the art of forgiveness to new heights. Therefore, I was surprised two months after Italy, which she now refers to as 'AI' because she says only artificial intelligence would have caused me to make such a drastic decision which had placed us all in such peril, when I detected some disturbing changes in our relationship.

Lately, I'd gotten a niggling feeling that Bella had begun to slip away from me. She no longer pushed the physical boundaries of our relationship, she spent more time with her human acquaintances (and canine companions from La Push) and she insisted on spending most of our time together under the watchful eye of her father. I didn't understand the implications of her actions until my family returned from our latest hunt, when at last her motives became quite clear: Bella has been systematically removing me from her life.

During my family's weekend hunt, Jacob and Billy Black had dinner at the Swan residence while watching a big game, so Alice couldn't see what was happening at Bella's house. Bella had broken her window and got it replaced with a security window with money she had saved from her job at Newton's Outfitters. She also removed the key from the eave by the door, no doubt telling her father to set a better safety example for the good people of Forks. I no longer had access to Bella without her permission.

When I arrived at her house, she was getting into her truck. I guess she wasn't riding with me today. She was dressed in a deep blue silk blouse, a steel grey pin-striped pencil skirt with black, sheer hose so delicate they could probably slide though a ring and black Manolo Blahnik heels. What was most shocking about this particular outfit was that it was not purchased by Alice. Surely I would have seen something like this in one of Alice's visions. Bella has now become adept at evading two members of my family: myself and Alice, freaks among freaks. Yet she is still human.

Gracefully, she ascended the truck's step and slid confidently into the driver's seat pulling out a cellphone and sending what appeared to be a text. When had Bella gotten a cellphone? And then she smiled, the most beatific, wistful smile, and for the first time since I knew her, her smile wasn't directed toward me.


"Edward, can we go to your house after school today," she asked. I was so surprised that she asked that it took me a couple moments to respond. "Of course, love, everyone wants to see you."


To Carlisle and Family:

I've come to the realization that Edward will never change me, and since there really isn't any point to eternal existence without him, I am freeing you from your promise to change me after graduation, Carlisle. He wants me to have all of what he believes are the normal human experiences that I would have had, had he never existed. His desire for this is so strong that he would force me to live a farcical half-life, so that he can live through me vicariously.

First, he wants me to go to college. I could have gone multiple times after I was changed, but that wasn't enough for him. Next, he would have wanted me to pursue a career that probably would have tied me to one place, while the rest of you would be forced to leave me behind again before your lack of aging was discovered. Then, he would most likely encourage me to get married and have children by some human man. You all know me so well. How could I ever submit myself to the life he has mapped out for me?

I've decided to not worry about the Volturi verdict that I be changed. Edward isn't worrying about it, so why should I? After all, Demetri cannot find me - just everyone else that I love and hold dear, like my parents, you all, other friends and all of the people on the La Push reservation. I've decided to just let the chips fall where they may. I feel truly numb for the first time in my life, like the hole in my chest has been replaced with morphine and as long as I can hold on to this feeling, I will at least be able to perform the activities of daily life.

I'm moving back to Phoenix. I'm 18 years old, Renee still has the house and I've transferred back to my old high school. I'll be invisible there. Edward has always said that I don't see myself very clearly, but the truth is that no one ever saw me until Edward looked at me for the first time.

After the incident in Phoenix, when I decided to become one of you, I looked into ways to preserve my own blood. I remembered Edward telling me that I smelled strange when the hospital transfused me with blood from foreign donors. My research led me to the procedure of autologous blood donation, where a patient donates blood to themselves for future medical procedures. In Biology, before the blood typing incident, I learned that the average human body contains 10 to 12 pints of blood. Over time, I have banked a total of 12 pints of blood, 10 of which are contained in the special medical-grade cooler below the radio that you guys bought me for my ill-fated birthday party. All of it is for Edward. He told me that my blood was designed specifically to meet his needs, which no other blood had ever called to him so much in all his days as a vampire. This is my last thing I have to offer him before I close the book on our journey together. It is given with the best of intentions and with the deepest love and affection.

Rosalie, you were right, this was never the life for me, so I'm glad that you voted no. I'm sure that the others thought you were being selfish when you cast your vote, but I never did. After Edward said no, there was no point in any of you saying yes. You are so strong and capable. I never thought you were only a pretty face. You were made for this life, and one day you'll see it. Carlisle never changed anyone that could survive the first life. I'll never know what brought you to Death's door, but I'm sure your guardian angel brought you to the Cullen's.

Emmett, I am really going to miss you. You're a vampire, but you have more life in you than any human I have ever known. You may act like a toddler sometimes, but you have a better grasp on what is truly important in life: To not take yourself too seriously and to truly appreciate this second life that you've been given. No one has ever deserved life more than you. I am proud to have been able to call you brother.

Jasper, I never blamed you for what happened on my birthday. You feel so much that you feel the feelings of everyone around you, especially their thirst, so I don't want you to ever think that you are weak ever again. In many ways, you are the strongest person I know.

Alice, my sister, my friend, when you left, I thought I would surely die. I wanted to die, but there were so many people tethering me to this life. You could see my future, how empty it would be without all of you, but you all were helpless against Edward's demand to let me go. I don't blame you. Edward is just the proverbial immovable object. I'll always remember never to bet against you. Thank you for your gift to me. Only you could have rendered me this final service. I'll always love you and honor your sacrifice.

Esme, my mother for all intents and purposes, you were able to give me a glimpse into family life and you let me be your child. Before I came to Forks, I can't recall ever feeling like a child, I was always the nurturer. Even my decision to come to Forks was to benefit someone else. You have so much love and warmth in you; I could have basked in its glow forever.

Carlisle, you are a paragon among men. I look at you and know what sacrifice truly is. You are a great example for mankind. If I can only have a portion of your goodness, I will be a blessing to many.

Edward, I'm finally able to give you what you have always wanted. I'm letting you go. I never should have tried to hold on to you in the first place. Everything about me holds you back and reminds you of what you are and can never be. And it's exhausting trying to keep up with you in this fragile, mortal shell of mine. The very thing that makes me special to you (your inability to hear my thoughts) ruined us. Because you cannot read my mind, you have never trusted my heart. I'll tell you a secret; I had already said my goodbyes to the Sun, long before we met, when I decided to leave Phoenix to come live with my dad. You would not have been taking me away from anything that I loved more than you. Any twilight with you would have been as the brightest star for me. I'm sure that I'll always love you. You're the smartest person I know and you have all the time in the world to learn more. Learn to be happy, Edward.

Goodbye and Love to You All,
Bella


"What have you done, Alice," I asked woodenly.

"I've been keeping her secrets, Edward. I've kept from you all that she never wanted you to know. She only asked me to promise that I would keep her secrets until she was gone. Her flight left SeaTac an hour ago," Alice replied softly. "She asked Jacob to take her so that you couldn't see her future in my head until after her departure."

"Why, Alice? How could you keep this from me?" I exclaimed.

"It was the last and only thing she asked of me, and she asked this favor of me as a sister, so I couldn't say no." Alice continued, "She made this decision on the way to Italy, but I thought that she changed her mind. After the night of the vote, something broke inside her, Edward. I think she gave up on your relationship. She not only feels unworthy of you, she feels that you don't love her."

Esme interjected, "She is your mate, Edward. Did you honestly think that you could keep her in this Purgatory forever? You own her body and soul, but you refuse to stake your claim on her. What did you expect?" She began to sob, almost collapsing in Carlisle's arms.

Carlisle, finally able to speak, said, "Son, your relationship with Bella has defied every law, mortal and Vampire. On the night of the party, she told me that she considered herself to be your mate, but she said that you did not consider her as your mate. She told me there was no one else for her, and that there would never be anyone who could take your place. At 18 years of age, she had already irreversibly linked her soul to yours. She knew from the first time you met that your lives had become intertwined. What she is doing now frightens me more than any past events."

"Why are you so afraid, Carlisle?" Rosalie inquired.

"Bella has given up. She has been utterly vanquished. She is returning to Phoenix, where she has no friends or family, no Vampires or Werewolves, no protection whatsoever. She has left Edward with a more than her body's supply of blood, Rosalie. Her letter said it all. She doesn't care about the Volturi. She said nothing of Victoria. I think she's going back for closure. She's going to let Victoria succeed where James failed. Mate for mate."