Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight.

Introduction: I know we've all thought of the myriad different ways Bella could have handled the forest scene in New Moon. I would have preferred a Bella with a little more forethought, who would thus have been prepared to deal with Edward effectively. Here's my version:

Surprise! Bella Has A Backbone

"Don't worry. You're human – your memory is no more than a sieve. Time heals all wounds for your kind."

I snorted. "Bullshit."

He raised an eyebrow, looking at me in confusion.

What the hell, I've got nothing left to lose. Might as well lay it on the line in one last ditch effort to save our relationship.

"That statement is total bullshit. Do your really think I'll just move on, find someone else? That I'll ever be able to forget you or my love for you?"

He nodded solemnly.

I laughed bitterly. "Then you are a complete idiot. Just look at Charlie. He's still mourning for the loss of his relationship with Renee. You can move on if you want, but I never will. Don't you know Swans mate for life? I told you a long time ago that it was already too late. I've already given you my heart. There will never be another for me. I will never get married, never make love, never have children. You've doomed me to an empty life of bitterness and depression. I guess I might as well learn to like fishing and football so Charlie and I can mope through our lives together."

Edward appeared angry. He tightened his jaw and narrowed his eyes. "Don't say that, Bella! Of course, you will find another love and get married and have kids. You're just upset right now."

I scowled. "No, Edward. You're wrong. You are my life. You and your family were my only hope for a future. Without you, I have no future. I'm sorry I'm not good enough for you, not worthy of you. I'm not supernatural. I can't fight fate by myself. I doubt I'll even live to see another Christmas."

Edward looked furious. "What are you saying?"

I sneered, "It's simple, Edward. We've had this discussion before. You admitted yourself that my number was up the day we met. The only thing keeping me alive all this time has been you. Once you leave, there won't be anything standing between me and death any longer. I'll get hit by a truck in Forks, or gang raped in Port Angeles, or eaten by a stray nomad while shopping in Seattle. Maybe I'll get mauled by a bear or choke on my own vomit. It really doesn't matter how or why. Death is stalking me, and it's only a matter of time before I breathe my last. You really should've just let Tyler's van squish me in the first place, if you were only going to leave me in the end."

"How dare you say that?" he growled.

I scoffed. "Oh, come off your high horse, Edward. My life is over now anyway. I can't live without you. I refuse to even try. Just go ahead and move on, Edward. I always knew I loved you more than you cared for me, that you would destroy me someday. You have ruined me for anybody else. I will never want another. I was a fool for ever believing you would want to keep me for eternity. I never should have allowed myself to hope you would want me forever. I see now that I was nothing more than a toy. Obviously, I never really meant anything to you and your family, since you can all so easily toss me aside, like a used kleenex."

Edward looked so conflicted, staring at me torturously.

I sighed, refusing to meet his eyes. "Go ahead, Edward. Run away like a coward at the first sign of trouble. This really has nothing to do with what happened with Jasper and everything to do with your unwillingness to be with me. You've always run from me like a scared little boy whenever things got difficult, instead of trying to work things out like a man. You've never been willing to accept my love or see me as an equal. You always underestimate me. I guess we're not soulmates after all. If we were, you'd never treat me as poorly as you have. You have no understanding of true love. True love is unconditional. It's for better or worse, dangerous or safe, demon or angel, predator or prey, Jekyll or Hyde. You see, I've always accepted you for WHO you are, not WHAT you are. I accept both the vampire side and the human side of you. I accept the vampire who fed off of humans for ten years as much as the human boy who nursed his sick mother until he himself succumbed to the flu. I accept the vampire who wants to drink my blood as much as the man who kissed me good night and held me in his arms all night long every night. You are the one who can't accept yourself. You are the one who can't accept me, all of me. You only want my human side. You can't stand the other side, the side who is willing to become a bloodsucking vampire in order to be with the one I love for all eternity. You can't stand my dark side. You put me on a pedestal and expect me to live up to some impossible ideal, the perfect angel. Well, guess what, Edward? I'm not a perfect little angel. I never have been, and I never will be. I'm not all rainbows and unicorns. I'm just me, and you have no faith in me, my intelligence, my maturity, or my love."

"You really want to become a soulless monster?"

"Oh, please, Edward. Your whole soulless monster argument holds no water. If you truly had no soul, you wouldn't consider yourself a monster in the first place. A soulless being wouldn't concern itself with morality. It wouldn't care about hurting or killing humans. James was a soulless monster. He delighted in causing pain to others, both humans and vampires. How dare you classify yourself in the same category as that sadistic beast? The very fact that you consider it wrong to feed off of humans, even evil humans, proves you have a soul. If you still disagree, then you just have a strange idea of what a soul is in the first place."

Edward was lost in thought. He furrowed his brow. "What about the fact that I still want to kill humans, to feed from them?"

I rolled my eyes. "If wanting to kill people makes you a soulless monster, then I'm just as guilty. I've fantasized about killing other people before, when they made me mad. If thinking about it is enough, then I am no different than you. As far as I'm concerned, there's a big difference between wanting to kill someone and actually doing it."

His brow tightened further as he considered my argument. "Well, what about drinking blood? I still kill animals on a regular basis."

I snorted. "I eat meat, dufus. Animals die to feed me too. There is no real difference between eating an animal's flesh and drinking its blood."

Edward nodded reluctantly. He had heard the same argument from Carlisle before. "But you're in danger when you're around me!"

I laughed. "I'm in danger when you're not around too. Like I said before, the only difference between you being here or not, with regards to my danger threshold, is whether or not you'll be around to save me from whatever danger fate is throwing my way. I'm not safe with you or without you, and I won't be until I'm dead, one way or another. So if this is all some crazy plan to keep me safe by leaving me, then I can tell you right now it won't work. I could break my neck tomorrow simply tripping and falling down my stairs. If you were there, you'd catch me before I got hurt. Without you, I'd just be a crumpled heap at the bottom of the steps. And Edward, let's not forget that the times you've saved my life, you've been able to do so because you're a vampire, not in spite of it. A human could never have stopped the van from crushing me. A human could not have found me when I needed him in Port Angeles. So, if you weren't a vampire, I'd be either dead or gang raped right now. I, for one, am mighty darn happy you're a vampire."

"I never really thought about it that way."

"Have you ever considered how many people Carlisle has saved, how many surgeries he's performed, how many diagnoses he's arrived at, or scars he's prevented, simply by the use of his enhanced senses? His sight, smell, and hearing? How many times has he detected an illness much earlier than a human doctor could have? How many surgeries has he performed at a speed or skill level impossible for a human? How many sutures has he placed with such delicate precision that the scar is virtually impossible to see? How many times has he used his perfect memory to put together the puzzle pieces to determine a diagnosis from seemingly unrelated symptoms? How many times has he detected and reported child abuse that a human would have missed? How can you possibly say that Carlisle has no soul, when he saves or improves people's lives on a daily basis? You can't have it both ways, you know. Don't you see, Edward? There are good people, evil people, and tons of people somewhere in between. There are good vampires, evil vampires, and those in between. A good person will make good choices as a vampire, whereas an evil person will become a sadistic vampire, and a normal person will become a regular vampire. That's because WHO they are doesn't change, only WHAT they are."

Edward stared at me in disbelief. "You've really thought this through, haven't you?"

I nodded. "I've known you were going to pull this crap ever since my talk with Carlisle on my birthday, and you gave me lots of alone time to think for the past couple of days. You know, if you really can't stand the idea of changing me, simply because of the fear I'll lose my soul, I can just get someone else to do it."

"No!" he exclaimed fearfully. "You wouldn't do that!"

"Why not?" I challenged. "I guess I could always take a little trip to Italy. I'm sure the Volturi would love to hear all about my knowledge of vampires."

"NO!" he shouted, shaking my shoulders, getting in my face. "Promise me you won't do that!"

I shrugged, feigning nonchalance. "Why should I? You promised me you'd always love me, and you'd never leave me, yet here we are, so obviously promises don't mean crap to you."

He growled. "I have to leave! You deserve a normal human life! You deserve to have children and watch them grow. You deserve someone who can hold you without worrying about killing you or hurting you. You deserve a life without vampires!"

"Don't be a fool, Edward. Forks is one of the cloudiest places in the US. I'm sure other nomads will be passing through, sooner or later, and my blood is sweeter than normal humans. It's just a matter of time before I become vampire chow. I don't want a normal life. I don't want children. I certainly don't want anyone else touching or holding me, and I definitely don't want a life without vampires! For pity's sake, Edward! Your family IS my family. I love ALL of them, including Jasper and even Rosalie. If they leave, I'll wouldn't just be losing my boyfriend. I'd be losing my mother, Esme, who has been more of a mother to me in the past few months than my own mother ever has. I'd be losing a father. I'd be losing my favorite big brother and another brother as well. I'd be losing my bitchy older sister. I'd be losing my best friend, the only best friend I've ever had, and my closest sister, who is as close to me as a twin, even though our personalities are total opposites. I'd be losing my first love, the first and only guy to ever have my heart. If you and your family leave, I'll be in mourning so deep, I'll just be an empty shell of the girl you know. You'll take my heart and soul with you and I'll be left with a gaping ball of emptiness inside where they used to reside. I'd rather die than live a life of pain and misery, such as the one you are condemning me to suffer. You know me, Edward. I'm not melodramatic. I'm not lying to you either."

He looked at me and winced as he read the truth there.

"I know you've always underestimated my love for you, but have you ever asked Jasper to show you what I feel for you? Have you considered having him not only report my emotions, but broadcast them to you when we discuss our love and our future together? I have faith, because I know I am willing to do whatever it takes to be with the man I love with all my heart and soul. Why don't you feel the same? Why don't you have faith in us, in our love? Why aren't you willing to do whatever it takes to be with me, to stay with me, to keep me at your side forever? What are you afraid of, Edward?"

He stared at me in amazement at my insight and then hung his head in shame.

"You're right. I am afraid. I'm afraid I don't deserve you. I'm afraid your love won't last forever, that it won't survive the change. I'm afraid you'll resent me for changing you, regret not experiencing a human life, not having children. I'm afraid you'll come to hate me for making you into a monster," he admitted sadly.

"So you're projecting your feelings onto me, rather than talking to me about my feelings and accepting my feelings for what they are. You are assuming I'll be just like you, but I'm not. I'm my own person, with my own thoughts, feelings, and ideas. You need to respect me enough to accept that while my thoughts and feelings differ from your own, they are no less valid or legitimate than yours," I explained. He looked affronted that I would dare suggest such a thing until I continued and made it more than clear. "You consider yourself a monster, so you assume I will feel the same once I am like you. You have resented Carlisle for changing you, so you assume I will come to feel the same way toward you. You regret not being able to experience a normal human life, though you seem to forget that you weren't destined for one. It was never in the cards for you. It was vampire life or actual death. Yet, since you long for a human life, you assume it is what I want. You refuse to see that just as a vampire life was in your future, so is it in mine. I was destined for vampire life, Edward. I'm supposed to be part of your world. Having a normal human life isn't in the cards for me, I know it."

"You can't know that!" he protested. I glared at him.

"Since when are you stupid enough to bet against Alice? I DO know it. You can leave, but I will become a vampire irregardless of your presence or absence. Just ask Alice. Ask her if your leaving changes the vision she has of my future as one of you. It will happen and soon, within the next couple of years. Wouldn't you rather be here for me when it happens rather than making me go through it all alone?"

He groaned and sank to his knees, holding his head in his hands.

"Look, Edward. The sooner you accept that we are meant to be, that we are soulmates, bound together by something higher than ourselves, the sooner we can both be happy."

He looked up at me, venom tears shining in his eyes. "I just want you to be safe. I do want you to be like me, but I can't be so selfish as to take your life just to have you as my mate."

I frowned heavily. "You still don't understand. I CANNOT be safe. I am ALREADY your mate, and ALWAYS will be, and NOTHING you do can change that. You keep acting like it's a choice, to be or not to be my mate. It's not your decision to make, Edward. It's already done, bonded, finished, sealed. You are my soulmate, no ifs, ands, or buts. I WILL become a vampire, one way or another. The only say you have in it is whether or not it will be your venom that does the changing. If you continue to refuse, I will simply find someone else to do it."

"NO! Are you insane? You could die!" he roared. "What if they don't stop?"

"I guess that is the risk I'll have to take, since you don't want to do it and won't let Carlisle do it," I replied calmly. He sprang to his feet and began pacing back and forth, muttering to himself and pulling on his hair. I simply stood there and watched him impassively.

He paused and turned to face me. "What about Charlie?" he accused, narrowing his eyes.

I sighed. "Edward, I knew you were upset for the past couple of days. I suspected we may need to move. I walked into this forest with you, fully intending to follow you to the ends of the earth and completely at peace with that decision. I only hoped to delay it until graduation to make it easier on Charlie, but I am eighteen now, a legal adult. I have the right to quit school and leave home if I wish. He can't stop me if I leave of my own free will. I already have a bag packed, Edward, just in case you were to tell me we need to go. I love Charlie, but he isn't my future. You are."

He stared at me in shock. "You already packed a bag?"

I nodded. "I was all set and ready to run away with you today, if that is what you thought was best."

His eyes widened and his jaw dropped. He closed his mouth and loudly gulped his venom. He stepped closer to me and took my hands in his. "Marry me."

"What?" I asked, thinking I hadn't heard him correctly.

He nodded. "I will love you forever and cherish you always. Marry me, and I'll change you myself after the wedding."

"But I'm only eighteen," I protested in shock. "I can't get married! My parents would kill me!"

He rolled his eyes and sighed in exasperation. "Bella! If you have your way, you'll always be eighteen, and you won't even be around your parents anymore! Besides, you want to die anyway, right?"

I gave him a half-smile at his stupid joke, but my insides were in turmoil. Married? Wait a minute! He said that if I married him, he'd change me himself! Well, if that's what it took for him to acknowledge our bond, then so be it. He'd never leave his wife behind, right? And vampires don't get divorced. Hmmm. Now that I think about it, marriage to Edward is a good idea. I'd have rights as his wife that I don't have as his girlfriend. Yep, that does it. "Okay, Edward, I agree. I will marry you."

"You will?" he queried astonished. Then the widest grin I'd ever seen spread across his face, and his eyes seemed to glow with an inner light. "You will!"

He scooped me up and twirled me around excitedly. He threw me onto his back and took off at a run. I quickly shut my eyes before I got sick to my stomach. When I opened them again, we were in the center of our meadow. He pulled a small black box out of his pocket and got down on one knee.

"Isabella Marie Swan, I will love you every moment of my eternal existence. Will you marry me and stay by my side forever?"

I looked down into the eyes of the man I loved more than anything and saw the fear and anticipation waiting there for my response. I smiled. "Yes, Edward, I will."

He slipped the ring on my left hand ring finger. "It was my mother's. She told me to give it to my one and only."

I looked at it. "It's beautiful! It's perfect, Edward. It looks like it belongs there."

He grinned up at me, ecstatic, then stood and kissed me passionately. "We need to tell the family!"

Just then, his cell phone rang. "Alice!" we both exclaimed at the same time.

"Hello, Alice," he answered.

"Thank heavens you came to your senses!" Alice shouted. "The alternative was frightening! Her whole future disappeared as of tomorrow!"

Edward gasped and clutched me closer to him. "Why didn't you warn me? I could have lost her!"

"I was trying to warn you, dipshit, but you didn't want to hear about my visions or listen to anything I had to say," she sniped. Then her voice changed to one of excitement. "So, when are you getting married?"

"I don't know, we haven't picked a date," he responded.

I realized she must be asking about the wedding. "As soon as possible," I replied, thinking I needed to bind him to me before he could get the wild idea to skip town again. I heard her happy squeal, as Edward moved the phone away from his ear.

"Calm down," he muttered. "We'll discuss it when you guys get back here."

He hung up and stared down at me, his eyes glowing warmly. "As soon as possible?"

"Yep!" I agreed. "I'm not letting you get away from me, mister. I'm gonna be the old ball and chain you'll have to drag with you everywhere."

He grinned. "Gladly, my dear, gladly."

He brought us back to his house to await the return of our family.

XXXXX

AN: I must admit, I do love happy endings. *grin*