I shudder to think there might be one or two people in the world who might not be familiar with 'Twilight' so just in case, I thought I would explain that this novel was begun by the Saga's Creator Stephenie Meyer and can be read online at her website:
www . stepheniemeyer . com
What follows is my version of the conclusion to the novel she was writing. Obviously, I own nothing here, all rights belong to Ms. Meyer.
That night, Bella tossed furtively in her sleep, kicking her covers off to the floor more than once and even woke herself up a few times. I was able to evade her, though I came precariously close to being discovered twice. But I could not find it in myself to leave as she breathed my name heavily more than a few times, giving me reason to believe I may be the cause for her unrest. As usual, I found myself desperate for her unconscious thoughts, wondering that if I were the cause for her restless state; could I also be the remedy?
There, in the dark of her pungent room, I dared to imagine myself holding her gently in her sleep. Hoping if I had the strength to stay that close to her, she would be happy to have me there, despite the cold, hard body she would have to endure. Perhaps if I could shield her from myself with blankets, she might be able to find some comfort in my arms. I longed to find out if she could; knowing I would not be able to keep these nightly vigils a secret from her much longer anyway.
I spent the remainder of my night wondering how she would react to the revelation of my nightly obsession. Could she forgive my trespasses upon her privacy? I could not keep these nightly visits from her any more than I could stop from coming. But more than the breech of trust and privacy they represented as long as I kept them secret from her, this was not how I wantedmy visits to be. I wanted her to want me with her. I realized it was past time to risk her censure for my intolerable actions, postponing the inevitable would only make things worse. The sun was already approaching, I hastened out the window resolving to fess up at my earliest opportunity and put myself at her mercy; soon.
I adjusted the heat in the car as I listened to her emerge from the house, tense from my silent deliberations of the night before. I made a physical effort to shake it off and relax for her as she opened the passenger door and slid into her seat. "Good morning. How are you today?" I examined her eyes as I spoke, realizing the dark circles under them were even more pronounced than I had expected.
"Good, thank you," she replied automatically.
"You look tired," I wondered if there was any way at all to broach the subject of her dreams from last night without arousing her suspicion. No, probably not.
"I couldn't sleep," she confessed reluctantly.
I shamelessly took the opportunity to lighten the atmosphere, "Neither could I."
She laughed and my being lightened, "I guess that's right. I suppose I slept just a little bit more than you did."
"I'd wager you did," I grinned at her.
Her smile warmed me, "So, what did you do last night?"
Not so fast. "Not a chance. It's my day to ask questions."
"Oh, that's right. What do you want to know?"
The relief of finally being able to assuage my curiosity was making me giddy. I had to chastise myself to quickly compose my questions into the most easily answerable list ranging from the easiest, shortest to the most difficult and longest. "What's your favorite color?"
"It changes from day to day."
Typical Bella, never the answer you expect. "What's your favorite color today?"
"Probably brown," she answered thoughtfully.
I couldn't believe it, "Brown?"
"Sure. Brown is warm. I miss brown. Everything that's supposed to be brown – tree trunks, rocks, dirt – is all covered up with squashy green stuff here." She pulled her hair over her shoulder as if to hide behind it from my sudden censure.
Of course, brown was beautiful, she made brown beautiful, her chocolate eyes, her mahogany hair… it did make sense. "You're right, brown is warm." I wanted to remove any barrier between us and reaching out as carefully as I was able to, pulled her hair off her shoulder and away from her cheek.
"What music is in your CD player right now?"
She mentioned a heavy rock band that seemed impossible to reconcile with her gentle nature, but one that Alice had recently introduced me to. I pulled the CD out of my glove box and showed it to her, "Debussy to this?"
She looked at the jewel case cover art with recognition. Unbelievable girl, just when I had begun to believe we were total opposites, she blew me out of the water. Even though, I had to admit I was pleased to learn we had some things in common.
My questions continued to gush out like a waterfall that had been dammed up for the rainy season. Her answers were a constant source of amazement, seldom what I would have expected and often perplexing enough to trigger a new line of questions. Occasionally, her reluctance to answer any one question would also tease my curiosity more than I could bear and I wouldn't tolerate an evasion. Most often, her embarrassment would include an admission of her comparison to me in some form or the other. I tended to skip over these comparisons quickly. I hoped she would think I did so to avoid prolonging her discomfort, but in reality it was to hide the pleasure I felt at dominating her thoughts and receiving more praise than I deserved from her.
I continued to indulge my curiosity until Mr. Banner dragged the AV cart into Biology class. In anticipation of the movie, I slid my chair away from Bella's hoping the lessened proximity would help. It didn't make any difference at all. The electric spark, the cravings and compulsions, were all just as strong as they had been the day before. In the dark, I saw Bella gripping our table's edge with a ferocity that turned her pale fingers white with the tension. My own hands were balled up into fists, much as I had done the day before. I fought the urge to touch her, even more difficult to do today because I knew that's what she would want.
When the lights went on, the electric sting stopped, but the compulsion to touch her remained fresh and urgent, I knew we both would not want to stop at one mere touch. I fought myself in silence by her side all the way to the gym. Then, just as it had yesterday, my hand reached up of its own accord and traced the smooth silk of the skin on her temple to her chin, tingling with the painless burn of her touch. I pivoted away from her forcibly dragging my arm and the hand attached to it with a great effort, to my side. I managed reluctantly to put one foot in front of the other toward my next class, away from her, while watching her watch me go.
Class dragged, but I was getting better at watching Bella while getting through my own day well enough. That is to say, without causing undue notice to myself by bumping into people or stationary objects, without laughing out loud for no apparent reason and most usually without involuntarily jumping out of my seat to run to her aid, [though the latter took the most self control of all] each time she stumbled. My list of questions for Bella was growing, even as I thought of the answers I'd gathered and the picture of who she was began to take a fuller shape in my mind. It was hard to move at a human pace to get back to the gym, the smile that lit her face when our eyes finally met again, warmed me from the inside out.
Her voice was the sweetest sound in my world as she tried to describe her world to me. I turned her words around in my head carefully stroking them, squeezing the descriptive adjectives for every ounce of meaning so I could share her past with her as clearly as possible. Listening to the love in her voice as she described the people and places of her past with awe and respect, wrapped me in the oblivious cocoon of her company. Too soon the sound of the police cruiser's engine pierced our solitude and a vague sense of Chief Swan's anticipation invaded my consciousness as I hesitated.
"Are you finished?" her dark, bottomless eyes looked up at me hopefully.
"Not even close," I grinned at the thought of my never ending and always growing list of questions. Reluctantly I added, "But your father will be home soon."
"Charlie!" she exclaimed softly, remembering the rest of the world still really did exist outside of our intimate, self-made bubble. "How late is it?"
"It's twilight." The sadness of our inevitable parting was beginning to overtake me now. The difficulty of leaving her, no matter how short the duration was intended to be, never lessened, never seemed to get easier in the parting. "It's the safest time of day for us," I looked back into the wide chocolate eyes that seemed to swim with her gentle kindness, "…the easiest time. But, also the saddest in a way… the end of another day, the return of the night. Darkness is so predictable, don't you think?"
"I like the night," never the expected response; that was Bella, "Without the dark, we'd never see the stars. Not that you see them here much."
She was right, of course, I laughed at my own melancholy. "Charlie will be here in a few minutes. So, unless you want to tell him that you'll be with me Saturday…" I looked down at her hopefully.
"Thanks, but no thanks," she said as she moved to gather her things together. "So, is it my turn tomorrow, then?"
"Certainly not!" I grinned, quickly sidestepping that inevitability. I wasn't ready to give up my edge, "I told you I wasn't done, didn't I?"
"What more is there?"
"You'll find out tomorrow." I reached across her lap to open the door for her and felt the warmth radiating off of her. Suddenly, as I grabbed the door handle I heard another mindful intent jump out at me, thoughts of Bella's house and …of Bella.
I sure hope Bella's home tonight. It's been so long since the beach…
Looking deeper, I recognized the older man sitting next to the driver/thinker in the cab of a truck headed our way, as a Quileute elder, Billy Black if I was not mistaken. Not exactly a Cullen fan. "Not good."
"What is it?"
"Another complication.," I pushed her door open and withdrew to my own side of the front seat just before the headlights of the truck in question were intrusively thrown across our faces. "Charlie's around the corner."
Despite her bewildered expression, Bella jumped out quickly, taking my cue. Then I heard him start.
It's one of those blood sucking Cullen's with poor little Bella! Oh God no!
I was immediately furious and frustrated that I could not stay and face this son of a mongrel. If it weren't for Bella's wish for anonymity with Charlie, I would have enjoyed staying by her side tonight. For just a moment, I contemplated doing just that despite her wishes, but I knew this would cause her more anguish than necessary. I made myself content to rev the Volvo engine at him and depart in time to maintain my promise to Bella.
When I returned to Bella's house that evening she was still in the kitchen talking to Charlie. I guessed they'd had a later than usual evening with their guests.Bella slept more peacefully this night. She didn't wake up at all, and her movements were slower, more relaxed. She called my name twice, asking me to stay… I thrilled to hear my name on her lips and did as she asked as long as the sun allowed.
The next morning I brought new meaning to the word punctuality. Bella pleased me by rushing out the door to meet me less than a minute after my arrival.
She definitely looked more rested "How did you sleep?" I asked her.
"Fine. How was your night?"
"Pleasant,." I answered truthfully and wondered again how soon I could end the charade without endangering my visiting privileges.
"Can I ask you what you did?"
No, I wasn't ready for that yet. "No. Today is still mine." I was anxious to learn more about how she viewed the people in her life. She was animated as she described her mother and grandmother. The morning was passing quickly while she continued to explain her perceptions in between classes and breaks. I was stunned that she claimed no previous suitors though. "So you never met anyone you wanted?"
"Not in Phoenix."
Hmm. Good answer. It was already lunchtime and we were headed for the cafeteria by the time it occurred to me, "I should have let you drive yourself today."
"Why?" she demanded.
I felt a reluctant frown begin to cloud my expression as the dread of leaving her again began to invade the temporary haven that existed only while I was at her side, "I'm leaving with Alice after lunch."
"Oh," her smile also began to fade, "That's okay, it's not that far of a walk."
"I'm not going to make you walk home. We'll go get your truck and leave it here for you." Did she really think I would be so unthinking, so uncaring, so… so…unchivalrous? She doesn't really know me at all…
"I don't have my key with me, I really don't mind walking."
She sounded so sad. "Your truck will be here, and the key will be in the ignition – unless you're afraid someone might steal it." I laughed at the thought of such an unlikely theft.
Her chin raised up a fraction of an inch in defiance, "All right," she seemed to be making some sort of challenge and once again the silence from her head was deafening. I struggled to guess what was going through her brain and I could only suppose that for whatever reason, she had some doubt as to my ability to deliver on my promise. "So where are you going?"
"Hunting; if I'm going to be alone with you tomorrow, I'm going to take whatever precautions I can." Honesty - the best policy. "You can always cancel, you know." I could already see in her eyes there would be no possibility of that choice crossing her mind.
"No, I can't."
"Perhaps you're right." No hope of that anymore.
She changed the subject, "What time will I see you tomorrow?"
"That depends… it's a Saturday, don't you want to sleep in?"
"No," she answered swiftly, without reservation and her lack of reserve pleased me more than I wanted her to know.
"The same time as usual, then. Will Charlie be there?"
"No, he's fishing tomorrow."
She seemed inordinately pleased at the prospect of leaving me no incentives whatsoever for prompting my good behavior. Her casual treatment of this dangerous situation irritated me, "And if you don't come home, what will he think?"
"I have no idea, he knows I've been meaning to do the laundry. Maybe he'll think I fell in the washer."
I scowled at her nonchalance, she scowled back at me… which prompted me to glower at her. She seemed ready to capitulate.
"What are you hunting tonight?"
"Whatever we find in the park. We aren't going far." I couldn't help smiling at her feigned casual tone.
"Why are you going with Alice?"
"Alice is the most… supportive."
"And the others? What are they?"
"Incredulous, for the most part."
She glanced at their table, taking stock of their scrutiny over our conversation. "They don't like me."
"That's not it. They don't understand why I can't leave you alone."
"Neither do I, for that matter."
"I told you – you don't see yourself clearly at all. You're not like anyone I've ever known. You fascinate me."
She glowered at me, disbelieving. I needed her to believe me, it was important to me that she understand my feelings were genuine, "Having the advantages I do, I have a better than average grasp of human nature," I smiled conspiratorially as I tapped my temple with my finger, "People are predictable. But you… you never do what I expect. You always take me by surprise."
She looked away, embarrassed, I guessed at my obvious awe, "That part is easy enough to explain, but there's more… and it's not so easy to put into words - " I was interrupted by a sudden and venomous thought…
You little bitch…
Rosalie was mesmerizing Bella on purpose, I was suddenly furious at her and a hiss escaped me that only she would hear as a clear threat. Shocked at my intense immediate reaction, Rose let her go instantly.
"I'm sorry about that. She's just worried. You see… it's dangerous for more than just me if, after spending so much time with you so publicly…" the thought of Alice's visions suddenly choked me.
"If?" she was looking at me very gently, the wide, brown eyes glistening with concern.
"If this ends… badly." The torture returned, my shoulders drooped and my head fell into my hands with the weight of overwhelming pain, knowing the risk I was going to take with her life. I ached to make myself safe for her somehow. Impossible.
"And you have to leave now?"
I heard Alice shift in her seat, it's time you introduced me to Bella, don't you think? We really have to go…
"Yes,." I answered them both, and lifted my eyes to Bella's, instantly feeling the relief as I gazed into the darkened liquid depths there, "It's probably for the best. We still have fifteen minutes of that wretched movie left to endure in Biology - I don't think I could take any more." Alice approached us from my rear, "Alice."
"Edward," she said expectantly.
I sighed heavily, I supposed there was no getting away from introducing yet another threat to her safety, "Alice, Bella – Bella, Alice."
"Hello, Bella," she smiled victoriously pleased with herself, "It's nice to finally meet you." I imagined I might be the only one who caught the emphasis of her tone.
"Hi, Alice," Bella replied demurely.
"Are you ready?" Alice asked, turning to me.
"Nearly, I'll meet you at the car," I said almost rudely dismissive. But Alice turned and graciously gave us some space.
Bella tilted her head as she watched her go, "Should I say 'have fun' or is that the wrong sentiment?" she asked, turning back to me.
"No, 'have fun' works as well as anything," I smiled at her unease.
"Have fun, then." It should not have pleased me so much that she was having such difficulty saying goodbye, even for such a short time as this.
"I'll try. And you try to be safe, please." I tried not to think about being away from her even as I realized that I would see her long before she would see me. I wasn't being fair to her, but then, when was I ever?
"Safe in Forks – what a challenge."
The list of human adversaries and dangers loomed heavily in my mind, "For you it is a challenge. Promise.?" My tone was suddenly serious.
She sighed and the corner of her mouth twisted up a bit, "I promise to try to be safe. I'll do the laundry tonight – that ought to be fraught with peril."
"Don't fall in," I teased, trying to lighten up for her.
"I'll do my best," she responded gloomily. I stood to go and she rose with me in unison, as if she were somehow responding to an invisible cord tied between us, "I'll see you tomorrow." She sighed.
"It seems like a long time to you, doesn't it?" it was more a statement of fact, than the question it was supposed to be.
She nodded sadly, and I shared her obvious depression at the parting. "I'll be there in the morning." I badly wanted to reassure her as well as myself. I watched my hand reach across the table and stroke her cheek, pulling it back as soon as I could. Then I turned to escape before I lost the will to leave her.
Alice was waiting patiently in the passenger seat of the Volvo, eager to discuss her plans for Bella. Don't be such a spoil sport, Edward. It was only a matter of time.
"It's not that. She was just so… sad. I'm finding it harder and harder to leave her, even for the shortest time, even for the most important reasons."
Love can be overwhelming, Edward, it can blind you if you're not careful. You must master it if you're going to be safe for her.
"I'm beginning to understand what you mean, Alice. I've never experienced such powerful feelings, they crowd everything else out…"
Including reason, if you're not paying attention…
"Yes, I can see how dangerous it can be, but I swear I can handle it… for her," I pulled up the car in Bella's driveway. "Bella seemed to think it would be difficult for us to deliver her truck back to school for some reason. The front door key is on top of the door frame, do you think you can find her truck key on your own?"
Alice grinned back at me, without a doubt, back in a flash, bro.
I made certain there were no observers as Alice sped through the front door almost invisible with speed. I knew her keen sense of smell would pinpoint a couple of small brass objects before the correct one presented itself, but knowing Alice, she would already have seen the correct objects' location and gone directly to it without diversion. She was out the front door and in the driver's seat of the truck within seconds.
Not much of a challenge, even. She twisted the key and the engine roared to life.
I followed the slow pace of the ancient Chevy back to our original starting point and pulled up behind the truck. I yearned to ease Bella's sadness and decided a note, just a token, left on her seat, might help her. I yanked a sheet of blank paper from my notebook and folded it twice, making a card of sorts. I sighed as I penned the two words I would be praying for her the entire time we were apart, 'Be Safe' my darling Bella… I did not write the latter anywhere except on my stone still heart.
The relief was instantaneous as I slid through her window silently and turned to see her sleeping form breathing heavily into her pillow. Something was different. She was breathing fine though, she did not move, at all - nor did she speak, not even a mumble all night. If not for her easy breath, I would have been concerned. Her heartbeat was steady and strong, so I was comforted. She was as beautiful as ever… but there was a faint hint of something on her breath.
I looked around carefully and saw a bottle of cold medicine on her nightstand. Was Bella feeling sick? Perhaps she would not feel up to a day hiking in the woods with me tomorrow. I decided not to expect too much from her in the morning, perhaps she should stay home in bed? An ounce of prevention, etc.
My concern melted the following morning when she opened the door and she smiled up at me, her usual radiant self, the relief was yet again, unmatched, "Good morning," I laughed at myself and then realized we were wearing very similar clothing, like minded I thought… and chuckled again.
"What's wrong?" she looked down checking herself, ready, I assumed to accept any criticism.
"We match," I laughed and she giggled a bit as she smiled up at me with relief and also with a hint of some hidden regret. She turned to lock the door behind her and I sped to the passenger's side of her ancient truck, waiting for her. I tried to contain my martyred expression, but I was sure she noticed it when she turned around.
"We made a deal." She didn't need to remind me as she leaned across the passenger's seat to open the door for me from the inside. "Where to?" she asked as I climbed in dutifully.
"Put your seatbelt on – I'm nervous already," I told her truthfully.
She sent a dart at me with her eyes, "Where to?" she sighed.
"Take the one-oh-one north."
After she was out of the driveway and safely on the pavement I expected her to actually push the accelerator down, a little bit more at least. I kept waiting for that until I could no longer contain myself, "Were you planning to make it out of Forks before nightfall?"
"This truck is old enough to be your car's grandfather – have some respect," she retorted… but I saw the hint of a grin creep up at the side of her mouth.
We were finally approaching the turn, "Turn right on the one-ten," she carefully executed the turn onto the highway. "Now we drive until the pavement ends."
"And what's there, at the pavement's end?" she asked, keeping her eyes forward.
"We're hiking?" her voice belied her trepidation.
"Is that a problem?" I thought I might need to carry her, given the difficulty she had navigating the tiled cafeteria flooring.
She did not want to admit any weakness, I'd suspected as much. With more than a little intent to tease her I added, "Don't worry, it's only five miles or so, and we're in no hurry," I stifled a grin, picturing her stoically navigating through the forest. Her silence was as maddening as ever, but we were finally alone together and I didn't have to wonder for long… "What are you thinking?" the words were such a relief to utter.
"Just wondering where we're going."
"It's a place I like to go when the weather is nice."
"Charlie said it would be warm today."
"And did you tell Charlie what you were up to?"
"But Jessica thinks we're going to Seattle together?"
"No, I told her you canceled on me – which is true."
"No one knows you're with me?"
"That depends, I assume you told Alice?"
"That's very helpful, Bella," the girl was suicidal. I would get no help from her, none whatsoever. "Are you so depressed by Forks that it's made you suicidal?" I couldn't help voicing my irritation.
"You said it might cause trouble for you… us being together publicly."
"So you're worried about the trouble it might cause me – if… you… don't… come… home?" her life meant nothing to her at all. How could I protect her from anything if I couldn't even protect her from myself? I couldn't help the oath that slipped out under my breath. I spent the rest of my energy attempting to regain my composure.
After what seemed like an eternity of strained silence, we finally arrived at road's end and Bella pulled the truck over to the roadside carefully balancing two wheels on and two wheels off the pavement. I pulled off my sweater in the muggy heat anticipating the hike. Even though I was ready and more than willing to carry Bella, she seemed determined to make her own way through the forest. Well, I supposed that was best under the circumstances. It had been a while since I'd spent time in the meadow, but I recognized the way I'd took last time immediately. "This way," I called to Bella who was already gravitating towards the trail.
"The trail?" her voice quivered.
"I said there was a trail at the end of the road, not that we were taking it," I was already sure of our course when I heard her anxiously call to me.
"No trail?" the panic was clearly rising in her tone.
"I won't let you get lost," I tried to reassure her, wondering if I should offer to carry her or whether that would just anger her. I turned to see her face twisted in fear. Perhaps this was more than simple concern over following me through the woods off trail. Could the consequences of her non-disclosure issues on this trip be settling into her consciousness? Maybe she was finally realizing the precarious position she was in… "Do you want to go home?"
Without hesitation, she walked right up to me, so close her body heat washed over that side of me, "No," she said firmly. No quaver there.
What was the problem then… "What's wrong?" I probed as gently as I could.
"I'm not a good hiker. You'll have to be very patient."
Ah, the original guess was the right one after all. "I can be patient – if I make a great effort." I grinned down at her, trying to ascertain if this was indeed the main cause of her consternation. Examining her face, I remained uncertain… "I'll take you home."
She jutted her chin out in the direction of our intended destination, "If you want me to hack five miles through the jungle before sundown, you'd better start leading the way."
I couldn't be sure what was behind those chocolate eyes, so I decided to stop trying. I started for the meadow slowly, carefully measuring my pace to hers. I was at first, sorry that I had teased her into toughing it out, this trek could possibly take longer than we had time to spare. We walked in silence at first and I kept to myself purposefully, allowing her to follow me on her own. But it was necessary to touch her when obstacles in our way proved too large or hazardous for me to trust that she could negotiate them alone. I found myself looking forward to these excuses to touch her, even briefly, as I could hear her heart accelerate each time, and that gave me a thrill. That thrill set my curiosity off again and I took the opportunity to ask her another set of questions while we trudged slowly through the thick undergrowth.
The quality of daylight began to change as we approached the meadow. I could see that she felt the excitement I did as we neared our destination.
"Are we there yet?" she pretended to scowl at me.
"Nearly, do you see the brightness ahead?"
"Um, should I?" she squinted in the direction of the meadow.
"Maybe it's a bit too soon for your eyes," I smirked.
"Time to visit the optometrist," she muttered, I smirked again and allowed her to pass me, so that she could follow her own senses toward the growing light.
I watched her from the shadows as she walked into the little meadow filled with sunlight. The red hints in her hair shining as she gazed around the circle of soft grass and pretty flowers with awe. She spun around to reach for me, only then realizing that I was still watching her from the shadows. Her eyes found mine and gentled. She reached out her hand toward me and beckoned me forward. I took a deep breath, as though I were a human about to be submerged, and walked cautiously toward her. Gauging her expression with each step I took, I readied myself to beat a hasty retreat at the first sign of her intolerance. It didn't come. Amazed, I took her hand gently in mine and kissed it with sincere relief and appreciation.
A/N: Thank you for reading!
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