"Dad, there is something I don't understand" Nessie spoke for Bella's benefit. "You believe in heaven and hell and all that like Grandpa Carlisle?"
"True" Edward answered, skeptical on where this conversation was going.
"And you believe that you lost your soul when you became a vampire?" she continued.
"I did, yes" Edward answered honestly.
"Then why don't you think your soul is already in heaven or hell? If it left your body at the time of your "death"… shouldn't it or you have been judged by God on your human actions alone rather than your actions as a vampire?" Nessie asked.
Edward sat there contemplating her words but was having trouble coming up with an answer.
Carlisle who had been in his office at the beginning of this discussion had come down after Nessie asked Edward the first question. After hearing her theory about souls going to heaven or hell based on their human life, he stood shocked. He recovered before Edward and laughed at the look on Edward's speechless face.
"She really has you there son." he laughed. "In all the years, almost a century, that we have discussed and debated the lose or retention of our souls, I never once thought to ask you where they disappeared to. Well done Nessie." Carlisle congratulated his granddaughter.
"I just think of our souls as our consciousness. With everything you have ever taught me, and everything of Theology and Religions I have read, our consciousness, our minds, is the closest thing I can come to compare to our souls. So Dad," she said once again turning to Edward, "I just don't see how you are still walking around, going about your 'existence' without your soul."
Edward inhaled and thought for a moment before answering, "First your mother and now you have shaken my belief system." He continued with a smile and a shake of his head. "Ness, I believed that I was a monster, something that did not deserve this life. The only things that kept me going, before Bella, were my family and the fear of the unknown. What would happen to me if I 'died' without a soul?" Edward paused. "And then your mother came along… She became what I lived for. I still believed I did not have a soul but I knew I wanted to be with her more than anything," he said and pulled Bella into an embrace. "When she saved me from walking into the sun in Volterra, I believed I had gone to heaven. There was no other conclusion my mind could draw with the information I had. Bella was dead, she had already left this world and gone to paradise. Therefore, when I found myself standing in the sun, holding Bella in my arms, thinking the Volturi had already killed me, I believed that God had allowed me a reward… a last chance to hold my Bella. I still believed I was going to hell, I just didn't care as long as Bella was in my arms."
"Bella confronted me about it later, telling me that I did have hope, pointing out that, if I really did believe that I had lost my soul, I would have realized that she was alive and not that I joined her in heaven. And I would not have said 'Carlisle was right'. After that conversation, I thought about it while she slept. I tried to reconcile my beliefs, and nothing fit. I could only come up with uncertainty. I no longer knew what I believed." Edward held out his hand to Nessie so that she would join himself and Bella. "But when I heard your thoughts before you were born and realized that you were a gift rather than the monster I had believed you to be, I found God." Edward still had trouble talking about that time in his life. "I knew he had not forsaken me for what I had become or even all the horrible things I had done since I became a vampire. I know it must hurt you to know that I didn't want you to be born at first." Edward lowered his head, "I will never be able to adequately apologize for that. Just know that it was about my feelings about myself, not you. I thought myself to be a monster, so how could I sire anything other than a monster. And there were my fears for Bella. I was not opposed to having a child."
Bella interrupted him, "In fact, I remember him telling me, after we told Grandpa Charlie that we were engaged, that he wished it was possible for us to have kids."
Edward continued, "I was ONLY opposed to being responsible for bringing another soulless monster into the world. And the second I heard your thoughts, I was in love. I had watched as your mother became closer and closer to death, once again. We didn't understand what you needed. I cursed myself for putting her in that position. I truly believed she was going to die."
Bella saw Nessie's face fall at Edward's last statement and interrupted him again, "Nessie, honey, that was in NO way your fault. My frail human body wasn't built to withstand a one month pregnancy. I knew that but I love you. I made the decision the second I realized that I was pregnant that your life was more important than mine." she pointed to her locket and Nessie mouthed the words. More than my own life. "I knew you were perfect and the most special thing in my life. I had faith that things would work out as they were supposed to. I knew that there was a chance that you would only have your father, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to raise you, but I also had faith that Edward would save me."
By this time, the entire family and Jacob were listening to the conversation.
"Nessie, I regret many, many things that I have done in the past, but you will always be the best of me. Please believe me when I tell you that I love you with all that I am." Edward begged.