Glass Etched Hearts

Never before had Bella felt so hollow. Even when her parents had split up, her mother moving to Phoenix to start a new life and leaving Bella behind, did she feel so low.

Even then though, after all the heartache and abandonment Bella had experienced, both as a young girl and more recently as a young adult she had never felt the sharp burn as profoundly as she did now. For reasons she both didn't understand and was unwilling to admit, this was somehow worse.

Her parent's actions were things she could reason about, find understanding from. Her mother had been nothing more than an overgrown child herself. Renee had married too young and gave birth when she had no business being a mother as she could barely take care of herself. So she did what she always did, she gave up and did what was best for her. It just didn't include being a part of a family or being a mommy anymore. And Bella had learned to be okay with that. It took some time but she had accepted it.

Charlie's loss was profound and altering for Bella, as losing a parent to death always is for a child. Yet it was understandable, the reason was known to Bella. Charlie had smoked close to a pack a day of cigarettes for nearly thirty years and it was only a matter of time before lung cancer took him. While this was something Bella could grasp, it didn't make losing him any less hard. What did was having the time to adjust to the idea of him no longer being available to her. He was able to get his affairs in order and work out a lot of details which would be needed for after his final day. Most importantly he and Bella had been able to really open up and share with one another in ways they hadn't before. Bella was able to hear how much he loved her and wanted her to follow her dreams and how he prayed she would be loved like she was the most precious gift, because to him she was. Bella had been able to say goodbye.

With Edward none of this happened.

She had absolutely no explanation for why he suddenly changed his opinion of her. She was unable to fathom what it was in their conversation that day to have so abruptly changed his mind. True, they had shared a very significant moment, or so she thought, but she had been so sure the change was positive but then... why were his blinds still closed?

Bella had tried her best to hide any feelings of hurt, confusion, or disappoint from Alice and Jasper during lunch. She attempted to reason that perhaps Edward had closed the blinds for a presentation or a private meeting and they would be reopened when she got back. Bella didn't want to concern Alice or Jasper with her idle thoughts, so she put on a good game face and ate lunch as though she didn't have a care in the world. It was lucky for her the twosome were so wrapped up in one another to notice just how off Bella was. She really didn't have a game face.

When Bella once again found herself in her office, she delayed. Bella visited with Angela in her cubicle to catch up on office gossip. Apparently Mike had finally moved on and begun hassling a data collector, Jenna Marcusin. Jenna didn't seem to mind the attention, Angela and Bella agreed she must not be all to bright. Rumor also suggested the company was planning on going through with personal changes as Jasper had mentioned during a meeting a few months back. Whether those changes would be of the good or bad kind remained to be seen. Shortly after this Bella left Angela to her ringing phone and work but had no intention of going back to her own just yet.

The small office kitchen was fairly empty by this time of day so Bella found herself getting a glass of water and sipping it slowly. She let her mind drift blank, keeping any thoughts which dared pass through to be work oriented. She really needed to start applying herself more if the rumor were true. While she didn't love her work at CompuCon she still needed the money. As much as her heart longed to write, longing didn't pay the bills. Longing didn't do a lot of things to be quite honest.

When it became clear to Bella all these distractions wouldn't be able to last she once more took to her office. Upon arrival she was able to do a few more little things to keep her from her main source of discontent. She tided up the few folders and sheets of paperwork on her desk. She put files away in storage for accounts that had been completed and wouldn't be needed again for awhile. As she began to straighten her pens and pencils she glanced upon her beloved black maker lying atop a stack of clean, white sheets of paper. The utensils gave her pause and forced her to confront the elephant in her office. It was time to check the window.

Her heart broke again. Edward's blinds were still pulled tightly closed. Whatever was behind his jarring action still seemed to be present. Bella once again felt she was the reason for it. She just didn't understand why. She hoped whatever had come between them would be gone by the next day.

The dark wooden slats remained closed up and kept Edward closed off for the remainder of the week. Bella was unable to see him, his laughing smile, his leaning frame, or hunched shoulders as he scribbled a new sign or worked at his large desk. She didn't she him running his long fingers agitatedly through his copper tresses, didn't get to enjoy his crooked grin or dancing fingers along the glass walls of his world.

Bella wasn't able to laugh at his jokes, get any song suggestions to listen to or see his friendly wave hello in the morning or his hand pressed to the window in a somber goodbye at the end of the day. Edward and his beautiful face, the light he brought to her day, the carefree ease and feelings of confidence she had garnered under his kind words and thoughts spoken across the street no longer filled Bella.

Instead she was hollow. By the close of Friday, with still no sight of Edward, Bella had resolved to be finished with these outrageous feelings by the following work week. She shouldn't, couldn't, wouldn't have these emotions tormenting her anymore after the weekend. Not over a man she didn't know.

She may have thought so but clearly she had been wrong. It was time to move past this. And really, she was more upset about not talking to a stranger through the window than the loss of her own father or mother?

No, she just needed to get a grip on reality and move on. It seemed to be what Edward had done and so now would she.

At her apartment that weekend Bella put away all reminders of Edward. Each sign she had carefully tacked up was taken down and put away in a folder to be shoved into the very back of her upper most shelf in the far corner of her closet. The hand sketched picture of Edward which had remained by her bed was tucked out of sight to be put out of mind. Bella allowed herself one single crying session, just the one, as she hid away these once precious memories. After her collection of notes and feelings were placed in their new home Bella turned off any other emotion she felt to the situation. It was done and she would be fine now.

Weeks followed as Bella muddled through each day. Mondays bled into Thursdays without her being aware of it. She threw herself into her work, focusing any extra energy she could spare from not thinking about her buried hurt onto the projects and clients at her job. Bella didn't spend much time outside of her desk space, except to eat in the small kitchen now instead of at her desk. She didn't speak to anyone beyond pleasantries and only attempted those when forced.

Bella had very few visitors anymore as everyone had taken to giving her a wide berth in the office. Even Victoria was giving Bella space, though it was probably due to the lack of ability to sink Bella any lower than she already was. It saddened many of the other employees to see the young woman appear to age so much when only just a short time before she had been thriving and full of life. Now her radiance had dimmed.

This is how Alice found Bella's office blinds to be closed themselves several weeks later when she came in for a visit to see her best friend and the love of her life, Jasper Hale. Of course Alice didn't want to be a completely horrible friend so she stopped into Bella's office first.

Bella was surprised to see Alice perched in her doorway. Looking up from her screen, she allowed her eyes to refocus from the glaring white background of her computer to the warm smile which graced Alice's cherry red lips.

"Hey Alice." Bella offered her own watered down version of a smile. "What's up?"

Bella watched as her friend's face fell from smiling to confused as she peered around the office. Her hazel eyes took in the darkened state of the room and looked to the window to find the reason. Bella only allowed her eyes to follow Alice's briefly until she was able to determine where they would land before she ripped them back to the screen in front of her, a much safer place for them to rest.

"Bell, why are the blinds closed?" Alice's chiming voice questioned. "Doesn't that make 'sky watching' more difficult?" she said teasingly.

"I don't watch the sky anymore Alice," came Bella's short reply. She really didn't want to get into this right now. She was really on a roll with this current account. Regretfully, Alice seemed unaware of this fact as she pushed for more information.

"Since when? Last time I was here, you looked so excited and happy you were about ready to jump out that window and fly across the street. What gives?" she said as she came further into the office, pulling the door closed behind her.

Bella released a deep sigh. This wasn't something she wanted to talk about to anyone, let alone her now love struck friend. Unfortunately she knew Alice wouldn't let this go. She could be a bulldog about certain things, Bella's happiness being one of them. While it usually made Bella feel loved right now she just felt smothered.

"I'm just not spending my time that way anymore, Alice. It was getting in the way of work and I can't let that happen." Bella did her best to put some inflection and meaning behind her words but could tell the desired affect fell flat of its goal.

"Nuh-uh, not buying. Do I look like someone who just met you? Like I don't know what you look like when you're passionate about something? Cause I do," she admonished. "And this job Bella, you aren't passionate about it. You never have been. In fact, I can think of very few things I've ever seen you truly passionate and excited about."

Alice came behind the mahogany desk and grabbed Bella's arm forcing her to look into her eyes. Bella had been told by more than one person how much her eyes gave her away and she knew Alice was seeing it all now.

"Did something happen between you two, Bell?" Alice asked softly after a few moments.

"Alice, its nothing."

"I know I haven't been around lately but Bella, I'm always here for you," Alice eye's pleaded along with her voice. "Just talk to me."

Bella took a deep breath in and held it for a few seconds to gather her thoughts and try to put them into some type of order. When she was ready she turned to Alice and let the story spill out, much like she had done at their lunch all those months ago. Only this time, the story was ending on a much more somber note.

"I just don't understand... we seemed to be getting along so well. I mean, we have so much in common Ali! We like the same bands, the same movies, books... just so much. He made me laugh, Alice, so much." Bella shook her head at the memories she had been holding at bay which now played across her mind's eye like a movie screen.

"He use to draw the silliest pictures if I was having a bad day, just so I'd smile. And they would be awful too, like so bad even though he was actually really good. But my pictures always looked so kindergarten and he would tease me and I ... I just.." Bella blew out a breathe of air as her head dropped to her chest and squeezed her eyes tightly.

Alice reached across the small distance to wrap Bella in her arms, embracing her in a strong hug as Bella continued her story.

"He just shut me out, Ali. One minute we were laughing and teasing then he said the sweetest thing ever. When I told him about writing, he encouraged me! I couldn't believe it. No one has ever encouraged me to do that and it felt so good..." the words tumbled from her mouth without her realizing what all she was saying.

"And then he said he would dance with me and it was so sweet, my heart was beating so fast and then you came in and I didn't know what to do and then after you left.. he was gone... just gone. He's been gone since," her voice shook and trembled as the weight of that heavy afternoon resettled on her shoulders and heart.

"Shh.. it's okay Bell, it's okay. I'm so sorry I ruined that for you," Alice crooned while running her fingers in Bella's hair. "We can fix this, I'll fix this."

"No! There isn't anything to fix!" Bella shot up from her crumbled position and looked at Alice frantically. "He doesn't feel the same, I just want to leave it at that. I've moved on."

"Bell, you haven't moved on, just-"

"I have Alice! I don't even look at the windows anymore. It's over," Bella protested while wiping away the few stray tears which had escaped.

"Bella, sweetie, I'm not trying to upset you. It just seems like this is proof you aren't as okay as you think."

Bella wanted to say something about Alice's lack of support in the past few weeks but couldn't bring herself to. What would be the point when she was clearly right? Bella wasn't okay and she needed help.

"What should I do?"

"Do what feels right, Bell. Don't do what you think you should or what makes the most sense because those things are hardly ever right. What you need to do is what is best for you," Alice encouraged. "You should apply that to work too. If this place isn't right anymore, then don't stay. You are so much bigger and better than this."

Bella nodded her head in understanding. Alice gave her another reassuring hug before she stood to leave Bella to her thoughts. It was well known that Bella needed time to process things.

"Oh and Bella," Alice spoke as she stopped in the doorway. "If you're having trouble deciding what's right, there is one sure fire way to figuring it out." Alice paused and waited until Bella would meet her eyes before speaking again.

"Follow your heart. Always."

With those words vibrating in the stillness of the room Bella watched Alice leave. She was a bit shell shocked. For Alice to use those words, the exact same Edward used, had a profound effect on her. Maybe they were both right and it was time to listen to her heart.

Bella's heart was a very stoic organ apparently. It didn't seem to like talking or at least not in a language Bella could understand. As she progressed through the following week, with more talks with Alice and time for reflection she found some clarity and was able to start thinking about what she wanted for her life, both professionally and emotionally.

The insights she had gained during the week were put to the test rather quickly. It appeared management had taken notice of Bella's hard work and improvement of client figures in the recent months. As changes were being made throughout the company, now seemed like the time to give Bella another promotion, this time to a fast track position which would eventually make her VP of the entire department.

When Jasper had come to her office Friday morning to deliver the good news, Bella was dismayed. She had never considered such a promotion possible for her. She knew she was good at her job but she didn't love it. The passion had never been there. She was honored, of course, but was being a VP of CompuCon what she really wanted to do for the rest of her life?

Bella deliberated her options over the weekend. She could take the new title and go on working at CompuCon in the safe and comfortable pattern her life had already taken. She would be well paid, more power over her assignments, and not ever have to worry about not being good enough at work.

Or she could quit and do something she really wanted do, write. This was where her passion was, where she felt the most drawn. Whenever she thought about it, her nerves would tingle with excitement. But could she do it? She still wasn't sure she could risk finding out. After all, her initial attempts after college were unsuccessful.

Then those words spoken by Alice and written by an elegant hand whispered in the back of her mind. 'Follow your heart. Always.'

As Monday morning dawned with the sun touching the sky in shades of pale yellow and soft pink, Bella made her choice. Her heart and mind were both content in the decision and Bella was ready to start on her new path. A new day had dawned and a new Bella had awoken.

When she arrived at work with a smile and a slight bounce to her step, Jasper pulled her into a hug before softly saying she would be missed but he was glad she had found her happiness again. Bella spent very little time in her office packing away her things. All that was once important from there was tucked away in the closet in her bedroom.

She did linger near the windows that morning for time, dragging her fingers across the back of the white blinds, watching as they swung from side to side in small waves. She contemplated opening them and looking out to Edward's corner office.

She would never have a chance to see him after today, the lion caged forever in his glass world. Her heart tugged at her in it's desperation for him. Despite her mind's diligent work to rid her of any thoughts pertaining to Edward, her feelings still ran deep.

She missed him and as she collected the last of her belongings from her own cage she knew she always would. The fun they had shared was the best part of her time in this place, the only things she would regret not having anymore. What they had shared would always be special to her, even if it never held the same meaning for him.

Bella left the blinds closed in an effort to spare her eyes the agony of seeing Edward's still closed. She left with wetness brimming her eyes but not spilling over. By the time she reached her car after saying her goodbyes to co-workers, she had pushed all the sadness away and was ready to embrace this new journey.

Bella deposited her two small cardboard boxes of odds and ends from her desk into the passenger seat. She sat in her car for a few minutes taking in deep breaths and letting the new sense of freedom wash over her. If she listened she almost thought she could hear Charlie telling her he was proud of her. It was what he would have done, following his dream to find happiness. Bella smiled a real smile for the first time in weeks at the thought.

Bella opened her eyes at the beeping of her phone, thrown into the abyss of her large purse Alice insisted she buy one weekend not long ago. After digging into the bag for a few moments she pulled out the sliver phone and flipped it open to see Alice had texted her.

Heard the good news! Let's celebrate with coffee. Meet me Common Grounds in 30.

Bella chuckled at Alice's enthusiasm. She should have known Jasper would've already spread word to Alice before she even left the building much less been able to tell Alice herself. That was definitely one perk of Alice dating Jasper, Bella wouldn't lose him as a friend since they no longer worked together.

Bella quickly sent off a reply text before slipping a notebook and pen into her bag then untangling herself from the car to walk down the street. Common Grounds was the small coffee shop just three blocks up the street from her old office building. Bella's smile again tugged at the corners of her mouth. She was happy to no longer need a building to call her office, it could be wherever she had pen and paper.

She walked into the warmth of the coffee shop minutes later and quickly claimed a table after procuring a cup of coffee. Alice had said thirty minutes but Bella knew her internal clock ran slow. Besides the fact Bella never turned down coffee; it just went against her nature.

Bella wrapped herself in words shortly thereafter. She decided while waiting for Alice she could begin working on her new job. There was no time like the present and she already had an idea of what story she could write. The pages of the notebook began to fill with words and descriptions of glass windows and long distances messages. Not only was it a good start for a story but it would allow Bella to fully expunge her own thoughts and feelings about the personal subject. Writing with such a narrow and passionate focus, Bella soon discovered her coffee cup was empty and her bladder was full.

She found a stopping place before rushing to the restroom. As she washed her hands she noticed nearly an hour had passed with no Alice. Bella mentally chuckled at her friend and decided to send a reminder text as she got more coffee. It really seemed to be giving her a lot of help with her creative juices.

Bella walked back towards her table and her eyes fell on a cup of coffee brimming to the top which hadn't been there earlier. As she drew closer she noticed something else causing her to stop short.

Lying on the table directly beneath the coffee cup was a sheet of white paper.

It was not there when left and it was definitely not from her notebook.

No, it wasn't a blue lined page but it was familiar.

Bella reached for the paper with a shaky hand as she pulled it from under the cup. It was a picture of a bouquet of flowers. The flowers varied in shape, size, and color. It couldn't have been more beautiful to Bella than if they were real. In fact, they were actually more lovely because they were drawn by an elegant hand she would recognize even at a distance.

"Hello, Bella."

Bella could hear the caress in his voice as it wrapped around her name. It was smooth and low, rich and honey filled as it washed along the lines of her body, gently lapping along the shores of her soul. Though she had never heard it before, even come to accept she never would, she knew who it belonged to.

"Edward."

Bella's voice barely pushed the name from her lips, her lungs found it difficult to draw in the necessary air. She refused to turn her head to the angel voice for fear this was all a delusion. And yet her heart wanted nothing more.

"May I please speak with you for a few minutes?"

Bella didn't know if she could. That would mean facing him after all this time had passed, after she had finally began to move forward into a happy place. While her mind screamed at her to say no and run away, her body overruled and nodded in the affirmative. She heard him pull out a chair and sit at her table. Steeling her nerves and giving her self a mental push, Bella turned slowly to face the one person she had never anticipated meeting.

He was even more beautiful up close.

Bella had been right, seeing him from this small a distance was dizzying and her breath, what little she had manged to hold onto, was stolen away by his captivating presence. Finally able to face the man she had begun to fall in love with, and yes she would admit that to herself now damn it, she lost herself all over again.

Bella detailed for her memory his face, every perfect feature from his patrician nose with a slight crook to his strong jaw with its dusting of fine facial hair. His full lips broke into her favorite crooked smile but she barely registered it as her eyes fell into his. Pools of rich, deep sea green gazed intently into her, pulling at the secrets she kept hidden. She had never seen such spectacular, penetrating eyes before. And they were solely focused on her. This knowledge caused a flush of embarrassment and exhilaration to tinge her cheeks pink.

"You're even more beautiful than I knew," he spoken gently across the table. "I can't believe you're really here." Bella's heated skin deepened to red at his words as she ducked her head to hide. She was unable to find any words and the two simply gazed at each other.

Edward cleared his throat after a few minutes and pushed his hands through his disheveled hair. Bella knew that mannerism was a nervous tick and steadied herself for what would be next.

Edward pushed the coffee cup towards Bella which she gingerly accepted with a tentative smile. "This is for you," he quietly said. "Double shot latte with milk is still your usual right?"

Bella nodded and attempted to keep her smile tucked away but was very pleased he still knew her favorite coffee. They had shared coffees in their offices a few times before but she had only told him of her preference once. It warmed her heart to know he still remembered such a trivial thing.

She also knew he was stalling but she figured he could only delay this for so long. He had been the one to seek her out and he was the one who had asked to talk. It was his turn.

"Let me first say, thank you for giving me a chance to speak to you," Edward stated. Bella remained silent but quirked an eyebrow at him to prompt him to continue.

"I owe you an explanation and an apology." A small scoff escaped Bella's lips before she could hold it in. "Or rather a few it seems," he smirked. Bella returned his look with one of her own.

Edward began to fidget in his seat, moving left to right and drumming his fingers along the table for a few moments. His hands fluttered between tugging his hair and pulling at the green satin tie around his neck. Bella watched him as his face moved and shifted with his thoughts.

Bella stretched her hand and pulled softly on Edward's wrist, stopping him from tangling his fingers once more in his hair. "You're going to pull it all out and then what will I make fun of?" she teased.

Edward seemed to relax mildly. He grabbed her hand quickly before Bella was fully able to retract it and began to trace the lines of her palm. He looked up from his ministrations with his sea green eyes into Bella's own coffee colored orbs seeking approval for his action. Bella's whole hand was buzzing with delight at the feel of his soft touch and she didn't want him to stop. She smiled to communicate her agreement. Finally, after what seemed hours, Edward began to talk.

"I'm so sorry Bella. For so many things, really. But mainly for upsetting you. It seems my actions have caused harm and that was never my intention when we started this... friendship," he said the last word timidly as if he wasn't sure calling it that was okay. With a squeeze of her fingers around his she hoped to convey her acceptance.

"I want you to know, I have cherished every conversation we had over the past few months. I looked forward to them each day...so much." Edward swallowed quickly, his Adam's apple bobbing before he spoke again. "I.. I don't know how to tell you... things just got so twisted around so quickly and then.. it was over," his words were coming much quicker and making little sense to Bella.

"I was just confused, you know? And hurt because I thought we-.. that you had.. but I misunderstood and didn't know how to deal with it. So I closed the blinds."

Edward stared directly into Bella's eyes willing her to understand the depths of his remorse. "I should never have done that. It was my only connection and I just shut you out. My only light, and I just blocked it. It was so stupid and I really hope you can forgive me."

Edward was gripping Bella's hand tightly now, his desperation almost another person at their small table. Bella was very moved by his speech but still not clear on what had happened or what he was doing here now, what he wanted. So she asked him.

"I'm sorry, I'm terrible at this. Talking with the signs was so much easier for me, I had time to think, you know?" he chuckled slightly to himself. "You remember that last day we talked through the windows?" he asked, licking his lips.

Bella nodded after refocusing from following the sharp pink movement of this tongue.

"Well after I mentioned dancing, I made a decision. I was going to ask you to meet me. I had been wanting to meet you since the first day."

"That's not possible." Bella stopped him abruptly. "You never asked me for anything personal. I would have given you my number or email if you'd asked."

"I can't explain to you how stupid I feel, knowing that now. But at the time," Edward sighed. "I just kept seeing that guy in your office everyday and I assumed you were together so what would be the point?"

"What? What guy?"

"You had lunch together. Nearly every day, Bella."

Jasper. He thought she was with Jasper? Because of seeing them eat lunch a few times and that stopped him from exchanging numbers? Bella felt her anger rising.

"Why would you assume we were together? It's Jasper, my boss. We went to high school together. You should have asked me about him!"

"You're right, I should have. But Bella, I assumed a gorgeous woman like you would be taken and seeing him there everyday affirmed that belief. So when you shut your blinds so quickly that day after seeing my sign, I knew it was because your boyfriend was there and you didn't want him to know I wanted to me you."

Bella was confused. So much of what he was saying made sense but there were still holes. It was a tangled web they had been weaving.

Why he would think she was with Jasper sort of made sense since they were often asked at work but Edward should have asked. And what was he talking about, a meeting sign? There had never been one, she would have known since it was the only sign she prayed to see every day.

"What are you talking about? You never asked me to meet you."

"I did, Bella. This is where the major misunderstanding took place it seems." Edward paused and looked around the room once before bringing his eyes back to Bella.

"I held up the sign but you closed your blinds so fast. I didn't realize you could have missed it until recently," he smirked to himself, "when it was brought to my attention. As soon as it was I knew I had to find you and apologize. Try to fix this, if I could. If you were willing." Edward looked at Bella with timid eyes.

Was this really all a big misunderstanding? Had he really tired to ask her to meet but her hasty actions had given him a false answer? It seemed so trivial, so childish and impossible for it to be explained away that easily. Bella wasn't sure she could believe it.

"How do I know?" she questioned. "How can I believe you? After weeks of no contact, why should I trust you now?" Her voice wasn't angry but it was still stronger than she felt. So much of her heart was waiting on the words he would say.

Instead of speaking, Edward reached down beside him to a messenger bag near his feet Bella hadn't noticed before. She watched as he pulled out sheets upon sheets of paper, all decorated with lines and colors from markers. Words and pictures danced across the pages in familiar images. Bella's heart swelled with hope.

"I saved every sign I ever made when talking to you. I hoped we could be eventually meet but just in case I had to have a piece of you, something to remind me you were real." Edward turned over a few of the signs as he spoke. Bella noticed her name was printed in the corner of each along with a date.

"This one is the first one. I couldn't believe you had found a way to communicate with me finally. I had been trying to think of something for so long," he mused while flipping pages. "This is our first game, you remember?" Bella was too choked up to respond with a verbal answer so she merely nodded.

"This is my favorite, I think." Edward shuffled the sheets and pulled on top of the pile his sign about her writing. "You trusted me enough to tell me your dream, having never even really met me. It told me everything I need to know about you." His smile was warm and comforting.

Edward pushed one more sign over to Bella. Her hands trembled slightly as she read the words. 'Want to meet?' was scrawled in his script across the sheet. Bella was anxious as she flipped the paper over, glancing into Edward's beautiful green eyes before allowing her gaze to drift to the corner and find the date written there. He was right, it was almost from the first time they had started speaking.

Bella felt so much in that moment, joy and light and warmth and happiness knowing he had felt the same about her. She was torn too, knowing they had both hurt each other with misunderstandings and words unspoken, actions taken and chances lost.

Bella looked up into Edward's eyes once more. She saw the man before her, strong and beautiful but timid and shy in so many ways as well. He wasn't a lion, he was a man with faults. Just like she was woman who had made mistakes and allowed others to make decisions for her. She could forgive him and try to see where they would go from here. Or she could walk away and keep her heart protected from possibly being hurt again.

"Do you see it now?" Edward asked, his words barely more than a whisper.

Bella watched Edward gaze at her. She could see his desire for her understanding, her forgiveness, for her to believe him. Desire for her. She heard his words echo in her mind again.

'Follow your heart. Always.'

Then she knew.

He was her heart.

She would follow him.

Always.

Bella smiled bigger and brighter in that instance than she could ever remember. She thrilled to see Edward's face mirror her own. Unable to hold back any longer, Bella leaned across the table cupping her hands around Edward's face. She pulled him towards her as she stood up to lean over and bridge the distance between them. She was even more pleased when Edward mimicked her movements.

Her thumbs tenderly stroked the firm line of his jaw as she stared into him. She could feel warm breath as it shakily left him, bathing her face in its minty scent. Her eyes darted quickly down to his slightly parted lips and she swiped her tongue in a small move against her own.

"I see it. It's telling me to do something and I was told to always follow my heart," her voice tickled the small amount of air between them.

Bella then pressed her lips to Edward's in a soft, warm kiss. Her eyes drifted closed at the pleasurable brush of his tender lips against hers. Her body relaxed in comfort and sparked with fire at the intensity of his reciprocation of her actions. This was heaven, right here on Edward's lips. She could spend eternity in this moment and it still wouldn't be enough.

The kiss lasted for far to short a time but upon staring at Edward's glowing face afterwards, Bella found peace. This wouldn't be the only kiss they would share. She could see her future laid out before her in the green depths of his eyes.

The blinds had been opened and distance no longer separated them.

Only each other remained, etched into the glass windows of the other's heart.

A/N: So there you have it the conclusion to our little saga. I have greatly enjoyed every review you've spared on this story. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I'm not entirely sure when but I do plan to do one long Edward POV covering this whole story. If you might be interested in that, put this story on alert. If not, thanks for sticking around this long.