A/N: Many thanks to my dearest beta, Reka! You're the best!

It's been 4 years since I started this story and a year since it's been updated so perhaps a recap is in order! J

Bella wanders into the meadow as she did in New Moon but with no wolves in this alternate universe (AU), nothing stands between her and Laurent. Unfortunately, he becomes distracted and instead of death, she finds immortality. Rushing into the sea to avoid killing any humans, Bella becomes perhaps the first vampire to be a connoisseur of fish blood.

Juliet's Path leads her to the Volturi to beg for an end to her misery but instead she finds a place in the guard and a new family. The Cullens are called to Volterra to answer for breaking the law of exposing vampires to a human to find a mysterious and powerful new Volturi, Isabella.

In the previous chapter to this one, Alec visits the Cullens to find out what he can about Isabella's sire, Laurent. Laurent is currently on his way to Italy for Bella, but no one knows his intentions yet. This new chapter takes place just after Alec leaves the Cullens.

Chapter 16: Figuring Out the Red Flecks


See if you can figure out exactly how you messed up.

The phrase was stuck on constant repeat in his head. He'd only wanted to protect Bella. Even if she didn't understand that, how could she have so easily believed that he didn't love her?

"What will it take to make her understand?" He mused aloud.

"That has always been your problem." Alice's thought cut through his own.

"Sometimes I wish you had Bella's gift," Edward snapped.

Alice smiled at her brother despite his gruff mood. "No. You don't," she sang.

"Well, go ahead and tell me what my problem has always been."

"Oh this is an easy one. Let me," Jasper drawled, his stark southern accent came with a calming wave that annoyed Edward more than his words.

"I do not need to be handled, Jasper."

Jasper lifted his shoulders casually and pulled back his power. "You coulda fooled me, brother."

"Your problem is that you want to explain yourself to her," Alice chimed in.

"And that's a problem becauseā€¦?" Edward asked, not bothering to try to hide his annoyance.

"Because it's selfish. She feels like a pet because you treated her like one," Jasper added, placing himself a little between Edward and Alice. "She's always been strong and capable of making her own choices."

"And I was just supposed to let her?" Edward asked incredulously.

Jasper was nearly knocked down by the intense wave of indignation coming off his sister as she quickly advanced on his incredibly stupid brother.

"Who do you think you are?" Rosalie screamed in Edward's face.

"Seriously, bro? You're supposed to be the smart one. How could you even think that?" Emmett added, stepping up in two long strides to rub Rosalie's shoulders in an attempt to get her to calm down.

Edward's defensive stance relaxed as he took in the expressions on his siblings' faces. "I am an idiot, huh?"

"Yep," the other four added in unison.

"I'm going for a walk," Edward said softly.

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Alice asked, her voice full of concern as her hand landed softly on his shoulder.

He shook her off gently. "I need away from you all. I need to think, figure this out."

Jasper took Alice's hand. "Come on, babe. Give him some space."

Edward was grateful for his brothers and sisters, but he was more grateful for the space. How could he figure this out with their swirling thoughts in his head of how stupid he'd been and more than a few thoughts they failed to adequately suppress of how they hated him for what he did to Bella.

Edward strolled the quiet streets of Volterra. The uneven stones beneath his feet captured his attention. All the same material. Yet all so individual. One caught his eye and he picked it up for a closer look. It had unusual red flecks. Without much thought, he dropped it in his pocket and kept walking.

See if you can figure out exactly how you messed up.

Jane's voice echoed through his head. Jasper said he'd treated her as a pet and thought that he was stupid. Rosalie was offended by the idea of him letting Bella do what she wanted to even though he knew Rosalie didn't want Bella to be a vampire either. Alice said he was selfish. Even Emmett had called him out.

He had only been acting in her best interest because she couldn't possibly understand the consequences of what she wanted.

Aro said he'd broken her. He'd actually accused Edward of killing Bella.

She had been human. Humans got over heartbreak. Why hadn't she moved on?

Well she'd certainly moved on now. Had that boy really needed to dwell on thoughts of Bella kissing him? And that sister of his. She was certainly different than Edward remembered her.

See if you can figure out exactly how you messed up.

Her voice haunted his mind but the look on her face when she'd threated him burned his heart like venom.

Why couldn't they see how much it had broken him to leave Bella that way? How could they think he was being selfish? Selfish would have been giving in to what Bella had wanted. Taking her light would have been selfish.

His mind obsessed over the look in Jane's eyes when she'd offered him her hand. There was a light there he knew hadn't been there before. And her brother. Edward had never paid too much attention to the boy before but now he saw a light there that he couldn't believe he could have missed before. These devilish twins with all their power had always seemed aloof at best and cruel at their worst. What had changed them if not Bella?

Could it be possible that she had not lost the light that made her so wonderful when that bastard took her heartbeat away? Could Edward have been wrong? Could he have crushed his own heart for no reason?

Edward found that he had managed an entire circuit of the city and was nearing his family's home again. He stopped short of the range of their thoughts and sat on a low wall. His fingers found the rough stone in his pocket again. He pulled it out and moved it from hand to hand watching the moonlight pick out the red flecks he'd noticed earlier.

He'd messed up by assuming he knew what was best for Bella based on what he wished for himself. He couldn't understand why anyone would choose this life. Why did she want to throw away her soul when all he wanted for her was the normal life he could never have? He'd messed up because what he wanted for her was not what she wanted.

He took away her choice.

He thought of Rosalie and the men that nearly killed her when she was human. He was no different. He saw that now. He felt sick with himself. He needed to apologize. The need overwhelmed him. He knew now how he had messed up.

He jammed the stone in his pocket and resolved to head for the castle right now. He'd find a way to get through the guards. He'd find a way to see her. To apologize. To make it right. Somehow.

Before he could take a step, Alice was in front of him. "No."

He couldn't believe he hadn't heard her coming. She was quick. No, he was distracted. "But I understand now!"

"No," she insisted. "You may have the right answer, but you have the wrong motive. You're trying to alleviate your guilt and that is selfish, Edward. Please wait. Please do this right. I need her back. She's my best friend. I love her. If you screw this up, she may never give us another chance. I will not turn a blind eye this time."

All of his siblings surrounded him now. He crouched, ready to fight. He had to go. He had to do this. They were wrong.

"You're wrong," Alice told him, and before he could respond Jasper hit him with a wave of lethargy so hard he staggered and slumped into Emmett's arms.

"When will he learn?" Rosalie asked, exasperated.

"Now or never," Carlisle spoke up from the doorway of the house. "Bring him inside, Emmett. It's past time for a father-son talk."