Disclaimer: I own nothing related to Twilight.

Author's Note: The last short chapter, I promise...

My lip was hurting. My mind was groggy and slow and I decided to sleep for a while longer. The bed was warm and the sheets felt soft against my skin; I stretched my legs and dug deeper into the covers.

It was still dark. There was an odd nagging sensation in my head that told me to get up. I tried to ignore it. It felt like it sometimes does, when you have to wake up to do something unpleasant, like study for exams, and you know that once you wake up properly you won't have an excuse to put it off any longer. I tried to make myself fall back asleep but a part of my brain was already wondering what that unpleasant something might've been - did I need to study? Try to find applicable universities? Let Alice dress me up for some horrifying occasion? I turned to lie on my left side and there was a sharp pain on my jaw where it touched the pillow. And at that moment everything came back to me. My eyes flew open and I sat up abruptly, my heart beating fast, my eyes scanning the dark room for possible danger, my body bracing itself to flee if anything dangerous was detected.

"Shh, Bella. It's still early. You should sleep some more." I turned to look at the source of the voice and found Edward lying on the left side of me on the bed, on top of the bedcovers. The bed wasn't mine - but it wasn't his either. I looked around myself. We were apparently in a hotel room, judging from the decorations. I turned to look back at him, my heart still racing.

"Where are we?" I asked him. My voice sounded rasp and alien in my ears.

"Still in Seattle."

"Where are the other girls?" And what happened? I wanted to add, but didn't.

"I went and looked for them inside the club. When I found them I made Angela drive them all back home. With any luck they should be home and asleep at this very moment. Not a bad idea for you either, Bella. It's only four thirty in the morning."

I was staring at him for a moment longer. Then I slowly lowered myself back on to the mattress. He encircled his arms around me and I snuggled close to him. I could hear his watch tick close to my ear, otherwise it was quiet in the room.

"Bella?"

"Hmm?"

"What's wrong?"

I frowned. What did he mean?

"You're stiff as a stone and trying to tear my shirt to pieces. "

I realized I was hanging on to him like a drowning man to a piece of wood. I unclenched my frigid, bloodless fingers from his shirt and tried to relax my pose. He covered my hand tenderly with his and I felt his lips in my hair.

I waited him to say something, perhaps scold me for having been so careless and stupid or lecture me about the dangers of alcohol and clubbing, but he said nothing. Instead he just continued to caress my fingers gently and his nose rub against my hair. I felt tears rise up to my eyes again and blinked, trying to make them disappear. I held my breath, trying to stop the tears, the sobs. But of course that gave me away. He moved to look at me in the dark. Even when I couldn't see him properly he looked beautiful, his face pale and soft in the shadows. I didn't deserve him.

"Please tell me what's wrong, Bella. You know it makes me go mad to not know what you're thinking."

How could I begin to explain? I remembered thinking long ago, when he was away - the word I normally used in my head on those rare occasions that I let myself think about his long-term absence at all - that I was damaged goods, ruined from everybody else. Now I was even more damaged, damaged even for him. Someone else had tainted me. This perfect creature next to me would deserve someone who these things didn't happen to. Someone who would've been strong and smart enough to not get into a situation like the one I had gotten into last night. Instead of explaining all this to him I presented him with my previous unasked question.

"I was just wondering what actually happened last night... apart from the..." but I didn't finish my sentence - I knew he understood, his hand grasping mine almost painfully hard. My eyes were open, staring at his chest. He was quiet for a moment, holding me tight against him.

"Alice called me," Edward's voice sounded strange, as if he was trying his hardest to stay calm. "She told me she had seen someone following you. And she kept on seeing glimpses... something she said she would rather not tell me, just telling me to hurry. I was agitated after you left and had decided to go hunting..."

I waited for him to continue but he didn't. I couldn't help but to correct him.

"But no one followed us. We didn't even get into the club at first, we were outside for an eternity. We didn't meet...anybody... before we got in."

He laughed joylessly. "You stopped at a gas station right outside of Seattle, right?"

I was staring at him with my mouth open. He looked back at me, his eyes unreadable.

"What, you mean that..." but before I could finish my sentence I suddenly remembered seeing someone at the gas station. A man with dark hair, smoking a cigarette. And I remembered how the disgusting man later had looked a bit familiar. But was it possible that he had followed us all the way to the club?

Edward's expression was still strange. I reached out and touched his face, caressing the line of his jaw. He closed his eyes. Then he opened them again and spoke with a rougher voice than before.

"Halfway there Alice called me again. She said I should look for you at the parking time she told me... what was about to happen. There was something in the water you drank. I heard his thoughts - together with alcohol it would've made you pass out completely. So he waited until you went outside and followed you... and I arrived too late." His voice was full of regret now and his eyes avoided mine, looking down.

"I'm sorry, Edward." I said softly. He looked at me from underneath his long lashes, surprised. "I thought I was going to die... and I was only thinking of how I never said proper good byes to you. If that would've been your last memory of me..." I tried to swallow back tears but this time in vain: they felt hot on my cheeks when they brimmed over. My voice was broken when I tried to continue: "I thought I would never see you again... never hold you again."

"Don't say that, Bella, please," he begged me in a quiet tone of voice. "I can't bear to think..."

And he held me while I cried, kissing my hair, my hurting cheek - his fingers traced the painful bruise, stopping at my swollen lip, relieving the pain with his cold touch. He let me hold him in a way that would've been painful to a human - I moulded myself to him, wanting to never let go. He started humming softly, caressing my hair and my shoulders. And at some point, while he was humming my lullaby in a quiet, velvety voice, I fell back asleep, letting my body finally relax.

Author's Note: Please leave a review and I welcome suggestions how to continue with this story. I have been busy writing two new fanfic, "Thoughts and Actions" (which is completed) and "Yellow" which I begun writing this morning and have written maniacally for hours now. I have only uploaded the first chapter but have in fact already finished four... so please R&R those two as well! :-)