The one who got away - by Inge Sleegers

It was hard for me to come here. Hard, because I was dealing with a serious case of mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was glad to be able to share this important moment in our family's life. Because that's what we were, in every way that mattered. The Denali's and the Cullens, members of one great family the world didn't even know still existed.

On the other hand... Well, seeing Edward with someone else would be kind of hard. I had been thinking about that for a few days now. It wasn't that I was still in love with him... Well, not really. I wanted him to be happy. He was family. It was just the fact that his rejection still hurts. And now he had found someone that he did want. I had a little trouble coping with that. I wondered what she looked like. Would she be pretty? Prettier than me?I comforted myself with the fact that she was only human. She couldn't possibly compete with any of us... At least, not by appearances.

And so I walked toward our family, trying to calm the twirling thoughts in my head. They all looked very happy, except for Rosalie maybe. I knew the underlying reasons for her lack of joy. She didn't like her brother's new wife, for the same reason I felt a hint of jealousy when I thought about them. Edward could really make a girl feel insecure. As always, Carlisle welcomed me with a smile. Esme looked proud. She was glowing, like every mother who had the opportunity to walk her favourite son up the isle should.

And then I saw him. Tall, pale, handsome as always. He looked glorious. He was smiling widely, and his golden eyes were sparkling as if they'd never seen anything before this moment. He wasn't looking at me - of course not - but stared fascinated at the creature by his side. A little, dark-haired girl with a remarkable pale skin. She was beautiful indeed. Gorgeous for human eyes, no doubt, but even beautiful for our standards. Her glowing skin and her frail figure made it seem like she was one of us already. The smell of her sweet human scent told me otherwise. She looked shy, uncomfortable, as if she didn't like all these people disturbing their private moment. I couldn't blame her for wanting to be alone with her husband. The jealousy struck me, harder then I expected it to. Harder then I had allowed it to. Suddenly she noticed me, staring at her. Immediately, she turned away again, in an embarrassed fashion. Had she noticed my secret envy? I didn't want her to feel intimidated by me! And heaven forbid, I didn't want Edward to suspect I still had some hidden feelings for him. So I forced myself to put my most glorious smile on my lips, and walked joyfully toward them. I greeted Edward as it is customary to great an old friend.

"Ah, Edward, I've missed you."

I held out my arms and placed them around his hard stone body. I tried to make it look like a friendly, brotherly hug, but I knew in my heart that Edward would probably not be fooled by my attempt. After all, he was a mind reader. With every inch of my brain, I tried not to think of how nice it felt to hold him in my arms, to feel his thin, muscled body... But it had no use. In the attempt of not thinking about it, I was of course, thinking it anyway. Gentleman as he was, Edward smoothly escaped my embrace. I was disappointed I'd let go of myself in such a childish way. I'd really thought I could handle this much better. Edward looked at me now, with his gentle golden eyes, which told me he at least wasn't offended by my weak hormones. Somehow that didn't help to make the guilt float away.

" It's been too long, Tanya. You look well."

"As do you."

That was an understatement. He had always been quite handsome, but he looked amazing today. Like a Hollywood star on the release night of his newest movie. But above all things, he looked happy. And I guess that was the most important thing. If she could make him this happy, then I shouldn't envy her. Was there anything more I could wish for an old friend? Edward and his family were the closest thing I had to friends, except for my sisters.

He looked at her again, with that same look, as if he was staring at an angel that just fell out of the sky.

"Let me introduce you to my wife. Tanya, this is my Bella.", he suddenly said with a wide and satisfied smile on his face. It was the smile of a child that had just received a piece of its favourite candy. For some reason, that made me giggle a little. It was a strange phenomenon, to see serious, moody Edward smile as if the world had suddenly changed into a better place. We had always known him as a rather weary person, a worrier, and now it looked like he had to prevent himself from doing a victory dance. I looked at Kate and saw she was laughing too. In the meanwhile, Bella was staring at me again, with that same anxious look she gave me before. I could see she wasn't afraid of me just because I was a vampire. There was something more. Was she feeling... insecure about me being here? Was that it? I didn't understand. What reason did she have to see me as a threat? Edward obviously adored her.

Anyway, I would show her I posed no threat to her relationship. I had no intention to steal him from her. Not anymore. Not when he seemed so utterly happy with her. I would be the bigger person. I reached out to take her hand, and tried not to shake while doing so. Her hand was abnormally warm, not sweaty though. I felt the blood pulsing trough her veins and her heart slightly excel as our skin touched.

"Welcome to our family, Bella.", I managed to choke out of my mouth. I tried to smile comforting at her, and hoped she wouldn't notice the lie that smile withheld.

"We consider ourselves Carlisle's extended family, and I am sorry about the, er, incident when we did not behave as such. We should have met you sooner. Can you forgive us?"

I focussed on the am, because I wanted to make sure she understood that I really was sorry about not supporting them in the fight against the newborns. It was ridiculous and selfish of us to refuse to help them, just because of Laurent's relationship with Irina. Laurent acted inexcusable toward the Cullens, and Irina's affection changed nothing against that fact. They were our family, and we betrayed them in the worst possible way. They had been right and we were wrong. Laurent deserved nothing more then death, for what he tried to do to Bella. I truly regretted making the wrong decision. And I really wanted Bella to understand that. Maybe we would never become true friends, but I wasn't her enemy either. And above all things, friends or not, we were family now.

"Of course.", she whispered to me. "It so nice to meet you."

I couldn't tell if she really meant what she'd just said, but her words sounded honest and sincere. She didn't seem like a very good liar anyway. We stood there, staring at each other, not knowing what to say anymore. The silence started to become awkward. She was staring at her feet, and then suddenly she looked at me, like she had just seen a ghost. We were still holding hands, but it felt weird, like we were two statues moulded together because they had no other choice. I decided to enlighten things with a little joke.

"The Cullens are all evened up in numbers now. Perhaps it will be our turn next, eh, Kate?"

I grinned at my sister and punched her on the shoulder. She rolled her eyes at me.

"Keep the dream alive.", she sighed annoyed.

I knew Kate would react exactly like she did. She had a one-track mind. You could always count on a ironic response. I knew Kate had no need for a boyfriend, at least, not like I needed one. She did perfectly fine alone, and had no problem in doing so. Kate took over Bella's hand, and I was glad she did. I was making Bella uncomfortable, despite my intentions, and hoped cheerful Kate could break the edge between us.

At that moment, Carmen and Eleazar joined our small group. I felt relieved I wasn't alone with Bella and Edward anymore, and the surroundings of my coven made the joyful feeling stronger. We were all here together to share the happiness of our relatives. The jealous feeling toward that happiness faded away slowly, but clearly noticeable. It struck me now, as I saw them together, gazing upon each other, as if there was no one else left in this world... Edward, protecting her in all her frailty, and Bella, worshiping him in every look, even though he posed the greatest threat to her. My feelings for Edward were nothing against the deeply rooted love they had for each other. They needed each other, like the earth needs the sun to grow, like humans need air to breathe,... It was a fascinating and beautiful sight. They matched, like wind and water, like fire and ice. And suddenly I could see the beauty of that. My affection never went that deep. I could see that now.

Edward was the first vampire I ever had feelings for, and that's why it was so hard for me to let go. I usually preferred humans, but when you have eternal life, it's not easy to cope with the death of others. Edward was the first immortal that ever caught my eye, but it didn't have to mean he had to be the last one. I had peace with his happiness now. I just hoped, deep in my heart, that someday I would be someone's Bella too.