"Bella, I'm leaving Forks." His once warm, amber eyes now looked cold like the sun on a winter day.
I felt my jaw gape open. "Alright." I answered automatically. I struggled to come up with something to say to Charlie about why I'd be leaving so soon. "But… Why now? Why not in a year when I graduate?" I questioned slowly.
His cool honey eyes slid from my face to the trees around us. "Bella.. When I say I am leaving… I mean just that."
My breath caught in my throat at the meaning. I shook my head as I realized that he didn't want me to go with him. "Edward, what happened at my party… It was nothing. An accident. I just-"
"-It doesn't matter." He interrupted. His sweet velvet voice suddenly cold and distant. "That's not why I'm leaving." His jaw tightened, while my own flexed with the swallowing of my tears. "I'm leaving because I'm bored with this life here. I'm tired of High School and the façade that my family puts forward. I am not human, Bella." He fixed his golden eyes back on mine, and his features were decidedly not human at all.
"If this has something to do with my soul, then you can have it! It means nothing without you." I choked, my words gargled by the flood of tears threatening to break. My hands clenched into tight fists to prevent them from shaking.
He shook his head slowly. "It's not that either. It's just… You are not good for me."
My entire world stopped and tilted. I felt like I was drowning, the air being squeezed out of my lungs while my vision darkened. "I'm not…good for you." I repeated slowly, trying the words out for myself. They sounded foreign, yet it made perfect sense.
"You aren't." He continued, his musical voice lilted in an accusing tone. "My kind, we need our distractions. This will be the last time you see me."
I shook my head, my fingers tingling to grasp him to me and never let him go. "What about Alice? The rest of your family?" I asked, my voice small.
His eyes darkened considerably. "Well, Carlisle only just started at Forks General, so naturally he'll be staying. Along with the rest of my… family." He grimaced with the word. "If I could force them to come with me to make things easier for you, I would. My only regret is having let this go on for as long as it has. I fear I've made things difficult for you."
I sputtered on a breath. "Edward don't do this. I love you. We belong together." I wanted to voice my opinion better, but could not think of the words needed to explain myself.
"Bella… I'll always love you. In a way, I suppose." He shrugged casually in a way that I knew was not natural for him, yet graceful none-the-less. "We do not belong together, however."
Traitor tears leaked down my face while my body began shutting down and giving up. "There's nothing I can do." I whispered to myself.
"Well, there is one thing." He answered, his vampire hearing making it easy for him to have heard me. "You can take care of yourself. For Charlie's sake." He reached a tentative hand out towards me but then decided against it. "Don't do anything reckless. And in return I'll make you a promise. I will not make it difficult for you, this is the last time you will ever see me. I promise, it will be as if I never existed."
"Please." I whispered while wrapping my arms protectively around my torso, protecting myself from the final blow.
"Goodbye, Bella." He stepped closer and pressed one last icy kiss to my temple as my breathing became labored. I squeezed my eyes shut to stop the tears from falling, and when I opened them he was gone.
"Edward?" I cried, my tears making my vision blurry. "Edward!" I yelled. I ran forward in the direction I thought he may have gone. There was no evidence that he went in any direction at all, but still I walked forward. If I gave up now, it would be over. My stomach clenched painfully with the thought. It couldn't be over.
I walked for what felt like hours, though the only certainty I had of time was that it was now dark. I could barely see in front of my face at all, and yet the only thing I was afraid of was that there was nothing I could do. I tripped on something; possibly a branch. My hand sliced open on a little picker bush, and I cried out. My sobs were wracking my body, so I curled up to keep myself together. Surely I would die from a pain this intense. My body shook violently as I grasped my sides to hold them. My sobs eventually quieted and my body soon relaxed, a uneasy sense of numbness came over me.
I could not feel my pain, nor could I feel the sting from where I'd just ripped open my hand. I no longer noticed the dull ache in my calves from walking through the woods all day. I breathed deeply and realized that the action didn't help. I still felt nothing at all.
"Bella." A high soprano voice called to me. I knew it was Alice, but I could not bring myself to acknowledge her. I felt her tiny, hard arms lift me from the ground. I felt wind on my face for some time, before I realized that I had been set down on the Cullen's pristine white sofa. The realization that I was at his house, with his family, but never going to see him again ripped open a new hole in my chest. I heard a strangled noise, almost like screaming. It took me a whole minute to realize the noise was coming from me.
I forced myself to stop and looked around the room. Six sullen vampires stood around me, and they looked almost as miserable as I was.
I felt the couch dip slightly next to me, and my hands were pulled from their death grip I had on my hair. The cool hands held mine gently. I lifted my gaze to meet whoever's hands I held and was met with Carlisle's despondent gaze. "I'm so sorry, Bella."
My throat was raw and cracked twice before I could finally respond. "Thank you. For staying." I whispered as I gripped his hands tighter. I knew he would hardly notice.
His topaz eyes darkened. "You are our family as much as Edward is. None of us could leave you like that. It was our fault that you learned about us, and we opened our arms to you. We can not turn our backs on you now."
I sucked in a breath. "You stayed because you feel obligated?" I asked, my voice harsh.
"Bella!" Alice interjected. "Of course we feel obligated! More than that though, is that we love you." She crouched in front of me, and I felt Carlisle release my hands. "You are my sister. I know that Edward is my brother too, but he knew what he was doing. If he didn't realize that there would be ups and downs then he doesn't deserve you." I noticed that when she said 'downs' Jasper winced.
My eyes watered. "I love you all too." I croaked. Alice hugged me tight, her sweet smell eased my mind some-what. "I will be here for you, no matter what." Her eyes drifted slightly, and a smile broke across her face. "We will all be here for you." She corrected, her cat-like gaze flicking across everyone in the room.
I nodded gratefully. "I have to call Charlie. He's probably freaking out."
Alice shook her head. "He doesn't know Edward left yet. I told him that you and I were going to have a sleep over because the boys were camping." My heart ached when she said his name. "It gives us some time to think of something to say."
Carlisle glanced at Esme, and for the first time that night I realized her gaze was equally as cold as Edwards was towards me. I grimaced and looked away. I was tearing this family apart yet I was too selfish to leave them alone.
"Actually," Carlisle started, his smooth voice like honey. "I think telling him that he went looking for his birth parents is the best thing to say. It would be the only logical excuse for me to have allowed my 17 year old son go off on his own." I swallowed hard.
"I'll tell him that, then."
Alice smoothed my dirty hair from my face. "I am going to run you a bath. It'll make you feel better." She smiled encouragingly.
I let out a humorless laugh. "I fucking doubt it."
Her eyes lit with surprise at my expression, but she let it go. "You forget, I already know it'll make you feel better." There was a quick breeze past me, and she was gone.
"Jasper." I whispered. I knew he would hear me from his seat across the room.
"Yes, Bella." His southern drawl broke my name up slowly.
"I know you feel like you're to blame, but you aren't." His jaw tightened, but he said nothing. "If anything it's my fault. I should be more careful because I know how much effort you put into being in the same room as me."
He sighed. "It's not your fault. I truly am sorry for trying to… kill you." His eyebrow rose in a silent question to himself as to whether or not that was appropriate.
A nervous bubble of laughter peeled out of me, and I shook my head. "Don't worry about it."
The corner of his mouth quirked up in a half-smile, and he nodded politely. "Bella!" Alice called from the top of the stairs. "Your bath is ready!" I got up on shaky legs and walked past Rosalie and Emmett.
"Hey." Emmett's voice rumbled. I turned toward him and raised an eyebrow at him. "I'm sorry for what he did. No real man…" He squeezed Rosalie tighter to himself. "No honest, caring man would do that to a wonderful woman. He didn't deserve you."
My gut ached at his words, but I felt myself nodding. "It's true." Rosalie's smooth voice concluded, surprising me further.
I swallowed my tears for the millionth time. "Thank you." I turned and made my way upstairs to the Cullen's luxurious bathroom that was, for the most part, untouched. The huge 2 person Jacuzzi tub was filled with bubbles and the aroma of jasmine and chamomile floated through the air. There were dozens of vanilla candles lit around the tub and I could see the steam rising from the bubbles. I suddenly ached to be inside of it.
"I told you!" Alice chirped from the doorway. "You will feel better afterwards. Come to my room when you're done. No rush! Relax. If you need anything, call me." Before I could thank her she was out the door.
I undressed and slowly lowered myself into the perfectly heated tub. I winced when my open cuts submerged in the water, but soon forgot about them. The dull ache in my chest opened again as I thought about the days events. My Edward. My soul mate. I wanted eternity with him and he was gone. A few tears leaked from my eyes and I wiped at them slowly. I wasn't good enough for him. I was stupid. Fragile. Human.
I scrubbed at my face furiously, angered by the burn of the washcloth. My delicate skin. My fucking ass.
I scrubbed at my scalp with the same ferocity, then my arms, my chest. I sobbed loudly when I realized it would make no difference. I couldn't scrub the humanity from my skin. I cried brokenly for everything I had been denied. I cried for being not good enough.
Mostly I cried because I am selfish and I knew if I could, I would hold onto him forever even if I knew he didn't want me. Eventually my sobs died down, and I noticed I had scrubbed quite hard, my skin a painful dark pink. Alice was right though, I did feel marginally better. I climbed out of the tub and blew out the candles. I dressed in the pale green flannel pajama pants and white tank top she left me. There was a white bathrobe too, but I was warm and my skin was raw, so I decided to bring it with me.
I cracked open the bathroom door somewhat embarrassed that everyone heard my crying in the tub. I crept across the hall and knocked on Alice's door, only to have it pulled open the second my knuckles came in contact with the wood.
"Come in, please." She smiled. I noticed she was wearing pajamas too, and it made me crack a small smile. "There's some cream on the dresser, it'll help sooth your skin after your… bath." She finished suggestively. I flushed with embarrassment and mumbled my thanks as I smoothed on the floral scented lotion. She was right, it instantly felt better.
I turned to find her perched in the center of her bed, her delicate hand tapping the space next to her. I pulled myself ungracefully onto her massive bed, and laid down next to her tiny frame. She leaned back on her arms, her legs folded beneath her. It was a moment before she spoke.
"He lied to you." She spoke quietly. "He only left to protect you. He really loves you, Bella. He loves you enough to give you up."
My gut heaved at her words. "Alice, don't."
"I know you don't want to hear it." She ran her fingers through her perfectly organized hair. "I've seen this working out for you. I can't tell you how, but you should know that."
My heart fluttered at her meaning. "Does he.. Come back?" I asked, my voice small and hopeful.
"No." She replied, my heart hammering in protest. "I see you happy with someone else. I can't place who yet though."
I laughed dryly. "There is no one else for me. He was my soul mate."
She touched my arm, before laying down next to me. "I won't say more about it, except that I don't think he was." My heart ached at her words, though I knew she meant no hurt feelings by it. "Sleep, Bella. You need to rest. I'll be here for you."