Scene Stealers Contest Entry

Title: Like the Light in Your Angel Eyes

Book and Chapter you are stealing: New Moon, Chapter 3

Word Count: 7959

Rating: T/PG-13

Disclaimer: Everything from the Twilight series (characters, original dialogues etc.) is a property of Stephenie Meyer. The author of the entry owns only this fictional story.

Summary: Edward succeeds in leaving Bella, but he doesn't get very far. Will his Angel take him back?

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EPOV

My feet carried me further into the dark forest. The ache in my hollow chest and the pulsing of agony in my head was driving me to the edge. I'd been racing for the last four hours, not really of the direction I was heading, or where I actually was. Each step came with more and more effort; I was acting like a machine now, automatic and unfeeling. I was running away from my life, yet death evaded me.

I recalled her face, foolishly hoping it would somehow make things easier. It appeared in my mind immediately, but it was not the image I wanted to see. The memory of her blank face and distant eyes in the moment I said goodbye to her flashed before my mind's eye without my permission.

How could she believe that I didn't want her? How could she take those goddamned, outrageous lies to her warm heart and hold them as truth? After all the times, the thousands of millions of times I had confessed and vowed my love for her, after the hundreds of thousands of times I had sealed my vows with chaste yet passionate kisses... How, how could she possibly believe me? I could not understand it.

I always admired her superhuman perception, the way her brown, piercing eyes drilled through the thick layers of a lie and camouflage I wrapped myself up in over the the long, lonely years. She had always been able to find the very best in me and bring it out; she warmed my frozen heart and frigid lips with her fiery embraces and burning kisses. From the very first day she started to change me in ways I didn't even know were possible, and even my family had seen the transformation in me. I had always been sure she felt it, too – what she did and kept doing to me. But what if I was wrong all this time? What if she'd never really believed the words when I said I loved her? What if all she really thought she was to me was an insignificant distraction, or a possible prey to feast upon when I finally grew tired of her?

The idea of her feeling that way was disgusting to even think about, but what hurt the most was the scorching awareness of the truth, that the first feeling I'd acknowledged I had for her was pure bloodlust and the sad realization that I could actually see why she would think so little of herself, or me. The explanation was really simple. For her own safety I had never been able to adequately show her how much she meant to me, how strongly I loved her. In order not to kill or worse, poison her, I could never let my guard down and really kiss her, nor could I hold her as tightly as I wished I could. I'd never been sure if she could truly comprehend the depth of my love for her, ever. She was a human, and humans didn't think the way vampires did. She just couldn't understand how much I cared for her, or so I thought.

But to think that I would never again be able to try and show her and make her realize the one and only truth was too much for me to bear. Immediately I lost my speed and crumbled to the ground. Go back, go back, go back! My inner voice screamed at me and as if on command, my mind replayed the most precious memories I had of my Angel. The first kiss, the last kiss, the prom, the meadow, the first night I watched her sleep, everything came crashing down on me, and I clutched my head, screaming at the top of my lungs.

"NOO – oah – Aah, Bella-ah, no!"

I sent some birds flying and animals running, but I hardly noticed what happened around me. Still pulling at my hair, my screams transformed into dry, inhumanly terrifying sobs as I began to rock back and forth on my knees. The name of my love never ceased to roll off my tongue as I repeated it over and over like a mantra, only it sounded more like a prayer being said by a dying man in great pain. "Bella, Bella, Bella, no, Bella, Bella..." Her name was the only thing that kept me tied to sanity; without it I'd be gone for good.

I don't know how long I sat like that, rocking, always whispering her sweet name, but after a while I succeeded in suppressing the sobs and tried to rise to my feet. No such luck, though. As soon as I was erect, that voice inside of me gave out a string of shrieks so loud I thought my head would explode any minute, Go back, go back to her, GO BACK! I collapsed again, shaking my head like a mentally ill person. No, no, no, I can't return, I can't, no, I repeated over and over again, willing myself believe it.

If I went back, if I succumbed to the temptation and returned to my Beloved, the weak man that I was, I would never be able to leave again and that would – not could, would – result in taking away the happy life she should have. And I could not do that, at least, that was what I told myself. I could not return; I could not take back the lies I'd told; I could not condemn her to any pain or this empty existence, if I could possibly help it. But with each moment I spent lying in the dirt it became harder and harder to follow through with my promise to never interfere in her life again.

After an eternity of a few endless minutes I crawled to a tree and sat up, my back pressed against the the trunk and my knees pulled up to my chest. I beat my head against the tree in a quick, steady pace, wanting and needing the pain that never came. With each new hit the throbbing agony of being without her ran through my body in great waves, making my dulled yet unbearably clear mind think I had a pulse again.

Time stood still for me, for there was no reason why I should keep on going with what had been my life, no reason why I should try to live through the minutes, days, years of unending torture and suffering that I knew were to come. I saw no point in anything, and I knew I'd never be able to live with my family again. I had broken so many promises I'd intended to keep simply by deciding to leave her alone, safe. If that was the price I had to pay, I would pay it without hesitation. If death ever found me, I was more than certain I would be going to Hell for my deeds.

Hell. I thought of the days after the van accident last year as a type of Hell. Only now did I see how wrong I was back then. How could I not see that every second spent in her beautiful presence was a pure, heavenly bliss? What I wouldn't give to go back... Stop whining, you, selfish moron! Stop whining and get your pitiful stone ass back to her – she needs you! Again the inner voice intruded on my silence and I resumed the argument that never changed: my heart would scream, Go back! but my mind would refuse to kill the Angel.

The light slowly turned into darkness. Somewhere in the process I had stood up again, this time without screaming, I was stumbling through the woods, not seeing where I was going and catching myself on random trees time after time. When I lost my footing once again and grabbed a thick branch for support, I found myself breathing brokenly and sending unspoken, wordless prayers to Heaven knows who. I lifted my face to where I believed a God resided and inhaled sharply again.

As much as I could tell from the new moon rising in the east, it was about nine in the evening. I imagined her in her small house, making dinner for her father, asking about his day. Then she would wash the dishes and say goodnight to Charlie before climbing upstairs to her room. She would have already done her homework, I guessed, so she would be reading. She'd already finished reading Romeo and Juliet that we were reading for English class, and I wondered which book she would choose to read next. Would it be Pride and Prejudice, another love story with a happy ending? Or would she choose Wuthering Heights?

I never understood what drew her to that novel. There was nothing good or pleasant in that book – sheer, unadulterated hatred was the center everything else circled around, and that was it. Abruptly my mind shifted gears and the thought of hatred led me to a different question. Did she hate me for leaving her? A shudder ran down my spine and suddenly I felt very cold. I wasn't that naïve to imagine she wasn't capable of hating, but all the same, to think the only feeling she had left for me was hate... Honestly, it felt like someone was desperately trying to separate my head from my body by pulling my hair instead of just breaking my neck. Such torturing agony and the sensation of feeling my neck stretch and stretch even more until it snapped in two is what I was I destined to endure, because my torturer just wouldn't hear my pleas for mercy and wouldn't make it quick and painless to free me of the agony.

But even that wasn't the worst. The worst part came when I realized I was going to have to live like this until the end of time: with the endless 'what-ifs' that seemed to multiply with every passing second; always over-thinking and second-guessing all the things I'd done in my long existence. Things regarding and things not regarding my love. I would always be wondering if there was something I could've possibly done differently that would have affected the outcome or if I, in my insatiable need to change the future whenever the prospects weren't to my liking, haven't done something very wrong that made everyone's future disappear

Who are you trying to fool, Edward? When her time comes and she dies, you know as well as I do that you are going to go to the Volturi and beg them for death. And your death will cause everyone you care about to fall apart.

The Voice was right. Going to Italy has been my plan since last March. But I paid no attention to those words; only one phrase kept echoing through my hollow head. When her time comes and she dies, when her time comes and she dies. Granted, I've always known that a day would come that there would be no Bella in this world anymore, but the reminder still shook me to the core. Like the sick masochist I was, I tried to imagine how it would feel to know that she didn't exist anymore, but the feeling I found was the one thing that broke my resolve. That overwhelming nothingness, the awareness that there was absolutely nothing left for me on this sorry planet and that sensation of feeling myself, my whole being – body, spirit, everything – being cut open, torn apart and left bleeding before setting the disfigured remains on unextinguishing, eternal fire... It all summed up would kill a human in a matter of a few seconds and though I was a vampire, an undying and invulnerable stone creature, feeling what I felt in that damned, short moment made me want to kill myself to make it stop. And that was when I took off running again.

The world came back into focus as my breathing slowly evened out. I could see my surroundings again, the trees, the leaves, the animals, and I could finally hear the world around me. The pain that had taken hold in the void where my heart once was, slowly diminished to a level I could quite easily ignore. Now that I knew I was going back to my life, I straightened out like a burden had been lifted off my shoulders. My eyes found the sky again and I sent another prayer to the Man up there.

I prayed that this would not make things worse, that I would not be tempted to kill my Angel just at the sight of her beautiful face and soft, translucent skin. I also prayed, though I had no right to do so, not even hope for such a thing, that she would not despise me too intensely and that she could find it in herself to forgive my blind act.

It truly made me feel better and I eagerly took a cleansing, deep breath. Though the air wasn't needed, I received strange refreshment and comfort from it. The quiet, hissing sound of the air coursing through me brought me peace. Soon I picked up my own scent and sped up, following it, but after some time it struck me that I was just wasting precious time. On my way running from the one thing that meant the world to me, I had gone a winding road, kind of moving forward, but then taking a turn backwards to the west. It repeated every now and then, more often that I'd like to admit. But my apparent weakness didn't repulse or shame me anymore. It was an obvious proof that she was always guiding me back the the only place I always wanted to be, pulling me like a magnet.

Smiling like a crazy person, I climbed up a tall tree and looked down on the dark forest. There, in the distance, I could see the lights of a town. Civilization. People. Bella. Again I scanned the tree-tops, choosing the way back to my love, my Heaven, then, still with a smile on my face, I let myself fall.

With the moon I ran, going westwards at my top speed, her radiant face always before my eyes. I was fully aware that I had chosen the easiest way, but I couldn't bring myself to regret it. Not if dreading the pain I had to suffer made me a weak man, and not if being a weak man made me return to the Keeper of my heart.

All too soon I was out of the forest and faced by a freeway. I made sure the closest car was far enough away, then continued along the roadside, keeping some greenery between myself and the road. I was moving completely automatically, my only thoughts were about seeing her again, being in her presence. Very soon, I thought. I was excited, but also scared. What if she didn't want me anymore? I knew that only eleven full hours had passed since I last saw her face, but still. If she really believed I didn't want her, which she did, it was more than possible that she would continue believing I didn't need her in my life. That stopped me for a minute. Did I want to escape the torture that was my life without her, only to be rejected and sent away?

Yes, yes, yes! The Voice chanted. I sighed heavily. I didn't have to ponder for long to decide I completely agreed with my selfish inner monster on this one. I wanted, needed to go back and though it would hurt a lot to hear that she hated me or didn't want me, I would at least hear her rich, melodic voice and feel the warmth of her soft body as it radiated from her. I could spend a thousand lifetimes just listening to her angry screams while trying to apologize to her. I was certain about that. I would gladly follow her forever, crawling on my knees begging her to take me back. I would never tire of that, because anything she would give me was better than being alone. And with that the foolish smile crept back to my lips again, and I resumed running. I passed a sign that said, Welcome to Washington, and my heart swelled in my chest while my grin became even wider. It felt so good to be home.

The closer I got to Forks, the stranger I felt. As I passed Olympia, I was sure something wasn't right. My stomach was twisted up and tied in countless knots and my breath became gasps again. I knew that, were I human, my heart would be pounding insanely and my eyes would be full of tears. With each step the sensation grew, making the hair on my scalp stand on end. My chest felt like it was being gripped in a vice. The sensations became so intense that I had to stop to catch my breath. I leaned into a tree, clutching my throat and looking around like a deer caught in headlights. What the hell was this? I couldn't think of an explanation that would fit, but one thought didn't leave my mind. For the hundredth time tonight, I prayed. God, please, let Bella be okay, please, I am begging You!

Having somewhat regained my strength and sanity, I started towards the small town that was the only true home I had ever known. The iron paw that had strangled my torso just minutes ago, seemed to have retreated and my speed increased with every inch I left behind. I practically flew the rest of my way, my feet barely touching the ground.

When I finally entered Forks territory, an epiphany made me realize the truth that was hidden in the old saying, Home is where the heart is. Given my situation, I was back home, and that meant I was only minutes away from having my Angel and heart back in my arms. In that moment I thought I had never been happier.

I kept on running and the last few miles I ran as fast I'd never ran before. The thought of being so close to seeing her again fueled my resolve and with renewed strength I darted through the dusk, a shadow barely visible in this half-light, but in truth I was burning from the inside out from hope and desire.

Of course, the main reason why I was here right now instead of lying in a pile of dirt somewhere in the world, never left me, never stopped mocking me. In the very beginning I had taken myself out of her life to protect her, to kill the future that saw me killing her. Then, having lived for a second in an imagined world where she didn't exist anymore, I had fled from the pain and back to her. With my return the possibility that I might not contain my bloodlust and drain her magnificent body returned, and I had come a full cycle. This vicious circle, this Catch 22 would exist as long as she or I did: I leave her in order not to kill her, but I return, being unable to go on without her, and by coming back I once more subject her to mortal danger. But all the same, I couldn't bring myself to regret anything but the fact that I had left her in the first place. If I was weak, then I would stay weak forever, if it meant I could be near her.

A car passed me. The radio in it announced that it was five in the morning. She certainly was sleeping soundly at this early hour and she would be mumbling in her sleep by now, too. Would she say something about me? Would she.. aah!

The train my thoughts were on was cut off by the same suffocating feeling that something was very wrong. It was a good thing that when the light began to dawn I had retreated deeper into woods, because my legs gave out from under me and I fell to the ground, wrapping my arms around my torso to keep myself from falling to pieces. Please, God, I am so close. Only a little further to go and I would be back by her warm side where I always have belonged. If only I could make it that far. Please, God.

Though the pain didn't leave me, I got back on my feet and ran further. I couldn't afford to waste another one of those precious minutes I had left to be with her, so I gathered my last strength and sped up. I had to make it, I had to get back to her. There simply was no other way for me.

Step by step I moved on and then finally, after what felt like years, not hours, I emerged out of the woods across the street from the small, two-storied, two bedroom house my heart lived in. On the inside I was bursting with joy. Though I had left this place less than twenty-four hours ago, it felt like it had been a lifetime, if not an eternity. I missed this house, because I missed her and she lived here. I thought back to last afternoon, how she had begged me not to leave her, how broken she had been. Her love for me had shone through her blank mask and even her pain as she watched me go and couldn't do anything to stop me and I seriously didn't understand how I ever managed to leave. To think that I could survive even a second without her! No matter what I would tell her or myself, the only truth was that I needed her.

Something flashed in my mind and I glanced down at myself. I looked nasty. My clothes were torn in some places and I had dirt all over myself, with pieces of leaves and small branches stuck on me and in my hair, as I discovered, running my fingers through my locks. I sighed, still examining my appearance and paying no attention to the silent neighborhood. This was hardly an appropriate way to reunite with my Beloved. I didn't have another option however, I had no clothes with me and I simply couldn't leave this place again without having seen her face. If I wanted to keep my common sense, I had to see her, this much I knew for sure. I brushed and rubbed my clothing, trying to get it somewhat clean. Then, seeing that it didn't make things better, I decided that it would just have to do for now and lifted my foot to take the last steps towards my Heaven.

"I want to know if Edward left you alone there in the middle of the woods," Charlie's voice rang out, crystal clear in the foggy dawn.

I froze. It was obvious that the man was talking to her, but why was he talking? I mean, it's not like I hadn't expected of him to ask for an explanation, but hadn't they already had this conversation? I was very confused and because I knew I had to go in there and present myself to them, also scared of what I would find out. Once more I lifted my foot.

Bella started speaking and I froze again, carefully listening to what she had to say.

"It was my fault. He left me right here on the trail, in sight of the house... but I tried to follow him."

Her voice.. it was so empty. A shell of what I'd hoped to hear. Beneath the surface, though, I sensed a great amount of excruciating, make-me-wanna-die pain that threatened to break free at any other moment, but still she tried to keep the pain at bay. For Charlie's sake, I guessed. She was so selfless, even when brutally broken. I didn't hesitate anymore, I darted across the street. I had to comfort her, I had to fix this beautiful creature I had so carelessly ruined, even if it's the last thing I did.

"Well, I hope he's happy now," Charlie growled and then watched as she clamped her palms over her ears.

"I can't talk about this anymore, Dad. I want to go to my room." She walked out of the room before her father had a chance to say something.

I jumped up and grabbed the wall above her window, then pulled myself up, slid the pane open and climbed on the window sill. There I sat and looked around the small room my Angel resided in. Everything looked exactly like yesterday when I'd last been here. It smelled the same too, only the scent somehow seemed to have faded, not as strong as I recalled it, though it still ignited my throat. Meanwhile, she was climbing up the stairs. I listened to her breathing and heartbeat, as well as her rather loud steps.

Everything seemed normal, until she stopped for a moment. Before I had a chance to step onto the floor or even wonder what was wrong, her previously somewhat steady breaths became accelerated and her heart sped up. She practically ran the rest of the way, panicked, and for a split second I was afraid she might fall. But the next moment she burst through the door and spun around to lock it without even noticing me. Then she turned back, her gaze immediately found her CD player and her foot rose to take a step, but I guess she caught sight of me out of the corner of her eye. Her empty gaze locked on my eyes and she froze.

Charlie's mind hadn't given me a clear enough view of her and to be honest, I was thankful for it. I didn't think I would've been able to keep from kicking the front door down and rushing to her, had I seen exactly how bad she looked.

She was still wearing the same clothes she had on yesterday, which were even dirtier than mine. They were still wet as I could tell from the smell. Yeah, the smell. That was another surprise. Mixed in with her divine aroma there was the fragrance of rain, the scent of fresh, green plants, forest, I believe. Then there was the smell of soil, wet, dirty forest soil, a little bit of mould and leather, with something medical. And the unmistakable stench of a werewolf. It couldn't be. I couldn't believe it, but could I really be surprised at my love's magnetic pull towards all things supernatural and dangerous? I think not.

Aside from her dirty clothes and hair, the unnatural emptiness on her face and in eyes drew my gaze and I felt my stomach churn. What had I done? She looked like I had sucked her life from her, for all that I had done to avoid this! Her face was even paler than usual, now having a grayish tone and looking like a dead person's. Her wide, beautiful and previously sparkling eyes were a dull reflection of what they had once been. No matter where I looked, she represented a lifeless shell of a human being. Hadn't I heard her heart pounding rapidly in her chest, or her sharp yet oh, so soft gasp, I would never have believed she was still here with me. What had I done?

Still, as insane as it would sound, I felt a tsunami of relief, love and completeness washing over my crouching form still sitting on the sill, just at seeing her. I felt my lips curl up in a wide, overly happy and maybe even crazy-looking smile and I lowered my feet to the floor, taking a step towards her.

"Bella..." I sighed. I was so happy.

But my happiness was soon switched off like a lamp, when I watched her pale face turn slightly green and her eyes widen with fear. Her lips were parted and she was whispering in voice barely audible even to my ears,

"No, no, no..." She chanted over and over again, backing away from me until her back was flush with the door.

When I saw what I was doing to her, I immediately retreated and put as much space as possible between us. Raising my hands as if to show her I wasn't armed, I looked straight into her lifeless eyes and said, "I will not hurt you, I promise."

As soon as the words were out, it struck me how much of a truth they had been, and I had sworn I would tell no more lies when it came to her. I wanted to kick myself. Groaning in frustration, I covered my eyes with my hand.

"Okay, forget that one."

I heard her pulling in a shaky breath and a scratching sound against the wood of the door. I lowered my palm to see that she was trying to find and grab the door handle, to escape the prison she'd locked herself in together with the most dreadful monster in the most violent nightmare. It hurt me to see the enormous distrust her terrified eyes displayed, but what else could I possibly expect? I had broken her by telling her the most awful lie. I had left her alone in the woods where she'd laid until nightfall, if not longer, as much as I could tell from Charlie's words and now I came back, foolishly hoping everything would be as they were yesterday. Could I possibly be even more idiotic?

Feeling panic growing in my chest and my face twisting in a horrorstruck expression, I spoke again, using my most calming and persuasive tone.

"Bella, can we please talk?"

Her eyes widened even more, but she stopped grabbing at thin air. I took that as an agreement and breathed a sigh of relief.

I slowly walked to her bed and sat down, patting on the mattress next to me.

"Would you please come and sit down?"

She still hadn't said anything, but cleared her throat quietly and sliding along the wall, sat in the rocking chair across from me. Our reversed positions were amusing in a sick and sad way. The first night I'd been here, I had sat where she did now, afraid of getting closer, afraid of doing something wrong. Though the fear was still on her face, her movements seemed cautious and longing, like she wanted to come closer, but was afraid I would run away if she moved too fast. I looked at her pleadingly, but seeing her distant and blank gaze, understood that she wouldn't make a move until she felt it was safe to do so.

Fine, then. It seemed that this was going to be the moment where I spoke. I wasn't sure where to begin, but I knew I had to apologize, so I started with that.

"Forgive me. I know this is very selfish of me to ask but Bella, please, forgive me?"

My intense gaze roamed over her her face, but she just silently stared back, saying nothing, doing nothing. My eyes dropped to my lap where my joined palms were squeezing each other and nervously poking at the dirt on my jeans.

"I.. I, honestly, I don't know where to start," I admitted, stuttering, then chuckled without any humor.

Only she could put me to stress, or bring out such emotions as nervousness, fear or the need to protect. I timidly looked over at her again. She shifted in her seat, then sighed, her breath coming out in a trembling 'whoosh'. She stirred again, then placed her hands in her lap and continued to stare at me as if inviting me to get it on with.

"Bella," her name rolled off my tongue so easily and I closed my eyes in pleasure. "The reason I left –" I heard her pulling in a sharp breath and my eyes flew open.

She looked so small, so terrified, and my dead heart ached at the sight. Her left hand twitched, like she wanted to touch me to prove to herself I was real and I quickly proceeded with my speech, "– and why I returned.. I don't... It won't be easy to explain, but Bella," I stared at her, "Please, please hear me out. Try to understand, love." She stiffened at the word 'love' and I automatically mumbled, "Sorry," while gazing at my hands in my lap.

"After the accident with Jasper I knew something had to be done. I couldn't stand seeing you put at constant risk of getting hurt by someone of my family.. or me."

While speaking, I felt the hatred for myself rearing its head again. The monster in me repulsed me and I despised myself for not being able to be something more, something better for her. I flinched, remembering the bloodbath her birthday party had turned into.

"When Jasper was taken away from you and I saw what I had done, I realized I needed to make you safe – no matter what it would take from me or my family. And it felt like the best way to protect you was eliminating the biggest threat by taking myself away from you."

I swallowed the lump in my throat that had appeared from the memory of that torturing decision I'd been so sure I'd had to make. I looked up into those once warm, but now so cold chocolate pools and silently vowed to never again consider myself wise enough to make any decisions about what was the best for her.

"I only left you in the first place because I wanted you to have a chance at a normal, happy, human life." I sighed. I still wanted that but like the selfish creature I was, I wanted to have her to myself more than that. I couldn't say that aloud, though.

"I could see what I was doing to you – keeping you constantly on the edge of danger, taking you away from the world you belonged in, risking your life every moment I was with you. So I had to do something, and it seemed like leaving was the only way. If I hadn't thought you would be better off, I could have never made myself leave."

She watched me with a piercing gaze, concentrated hard on my words, observing me with the polite curiosity as a student listening to her teacher. Her eyes seemed to bore through my stone shell and see into my heart. If that was right, I prayed that she saw saw the truth that laid there, hurt, broken, wailing for her curing tough.

When she kept quiet and an awkward silence wrapped around us, her brow furrowed a little and I was forced to continue.

"I'm much too selfish. That's why I came back. I thought that if I could leave you alone to your human life and you'd go on, I would be satisfied, content with what I had done. I thought the pain of living without you couldn't be more than what I had already suffered through the time I've walked this earth. But I was wrong, Bella, I was so wrong."

I leaned forward, putting my elbows on my knees and hiding my face in my hands. I kept talking, but the stifled whispers were so quiet, I wasn't positive she'd hear, let alone understand them. Regardless, I didn't close my mouth, nor did I remove my hands from my face.

"I know I was away only thirteen full hours, but even that was too much for me. I thought I was going to lose my mind, it hurt so much. I needed to come back, but I knew I couldn't do that. I couldn't risk your life again, I couldn't do that. But you, your face never left me, you were pulling me back, Bella, I could feel it. I can feel it even now, when you're only a few yards away from me," I waved my right hand in the space between us and glanced at her with my one eye open.

"And that voice in my head, it always agreed with you, always told me to go back. It didn't listen when I said I couldn't return and it never shut up, never." I shook my head frantically and though I was aware that I was rambling like a madman, I couldn't stop myself. The dam was broken and it was all coming out; everything I had kept away was pouring out of me now.

"I couldn't go any further, I wasn't as strong as I'd thought I was. I just collapsed in some forest and cried like a little boy. And then, then the Voice said that you would soon be gone then there was that emptiness, that tearing apart..." My voice faded in the still room and I shuddered, remembering that indescribable agony.

"And that did it. Bella, that's why I came back." I looked at the beautiful Angel in front of me and took in her body's position.

She had leaned in and her face was anxious. It looked like she wanted to touch me, comfort me, but was afraid of my reaction. I closed my eyes again. I couldn't bear to see her hurt and that was why I had to finish my story. I had to make her realize the truth, to make her safe and at peace again.

"I couldn't stand that pain, so I ran. And when I ran, it became easier, like you already were close to me and were healing my wounds. And I prayed to God that I could be with you, that you would forgive me, that you would be okay." I almost said it then, out loud. Will you take me back? Five simple words. But there was something else left to say, to ask, before we came to the sweetest or the worst part.

"When I got closer to you, to Forks, there was this strange feeling. Like something had gone very wrong and that feeling was pressing me down until I fell. When I returned, I heard Charlie saying that you got lost?" I drew it out like a question, but the real question was only to come. "What exactly happened, Bella? Please, tell me!" I slid off the bed and fell on my knees in front of her, begging, just like I had seen it in my mind. "Please, tell me what happened."

She averted her eyes and looked out the window. A shiver ran over her small body and she bit her lip. So that was what bothered her. In less than a second I had closed the window and returned to my place. I squatted down before her and stretched out my hand, pleading with my eyes to let me take her hand in mine. She frowned down at me for a moment, contemplating, then hesitantly reached out for my palm. I sandwiched her hand with both of mine and gently kissed her fingers, savoring the warmth that was slowly returning to her body.

A couple of minutes passed and still she hadn't said one word.

"Bella?" She frowned at me. "Will you tell me what happened and how long you were there in that forest? Please, I need to know, love."

She stiffened a bit again, but started speaking and slowly relaxed.

"When you went away," she started, slowly and quietly, but her voice gained strength and her words flowed more and more swiftly as she talked about the painful events of yesterday, "I tried to follow you. I just couldn't let you go. I walked and walked and I was so afraid that I was walking in a circle. It became darker and I hurried up and I fell a lot. Then it was very dark, I fell again but I didn't get back up again. And it started to rain and I, I.."

"Shh, Bella, shh. It's alright now, just, shh."

She was almost hyperventilating. I needed so badly to comfort her, to calm her down, that my arms were aching to be around her frail body and to hold her tight. I pulled her hands and she didn't resist. I pulled her down onto my lap and there we sat as she got it all out of her system.

I rocked and shushed her, sang to her and then shushed her again while she cried on my shoulder. I wished once again that I were capable of crying too, so I could share her pain and let go of my own hurt. But my role this time wasn't one of crying, but to be the one comforting. So I did everything I could think of to put her at peace and give her the solace she sought. I stroked and kissed her hair, kissed her head, her face and every other place I could reach and the bloodthirsty monster didn't demand his part of my Bella's sweetness. In truth, through this pain and crying I almost didn't feel the scorching thirst in my throat at all. It was a waste of time to concentrate on anything other than her, so I focused all of myself on consoling this wonderful creature I had no right to call mine.

At some point Charlie stopped at her door, listening to her crying and cursing me in his mind. I knew I would have to put some effort into getting his forgiveness, which most likely would never be gained, but it didn't matter one bit. As long as Bella would have me in her life, her father could do nothing to separate me from her. I turned my attention back to my Angel, who was still quietly weeping.

When her quivering sobs had finally died down to sniffling, she spoke again.

"Are you back?"

"I am, love," I replied, kissing her hair.

She pulled back and looked at me. Her eyes were red and her face was swollen with tear marks evident on her cheeks. She looked awful, but she was still the most beautiful person in the world to me. She sniffled again and swallowed, then said, "I was so afraid of losing you. Please don't leave me again," she whispered, her lower lip trembling with sorrow.

I could resist any longer. Slowly I leaned in, letting her know what I intended to do with my eyes, which never left hers. When I was an inch away from her mouth, I whispered my response to her, "Never."

When our lips touched, it was like an explosion. Her lips, so soft and warm, against mine, hard and cold. It always amazed me how she never shied away from my frigid skin, and I loved her all the more for that.

She shifted in my lap, putting her legs down both my sides so that she was straddling me and held onto my neck and shoulders as if I were her lifesaver and she was drowning in an ocean. Of course, I didn't mind and hung to her as well, as tightly as I dared, for she was my only Saviour.

Her mouth moved in sync with mine, her tongue darted out and she ran it along the width of my lips, asking for entrance and this time I gladly gave her what she wanted. When the tip of her tongue entered my mouth and found mine, there suddenly was a lot of quiet moaning and heavy breathing. She blew her hot, scented breath in me, the breath of life and the flames in my throat rose. The fire was pleasantly painful, a delight I thought I'd never experienced before. I didn't stop, because Bella held my monster, tamed and tied with her life-giving warmth and he was purring in pleasure when her hands pulled my hair, trying to get as close to me as possible. I happily obliged and grabbed her hips in a firm grip while leaning back against her bed.

When we had satisfied our burning need for one another, the kiss became slower, more sensual and we poured all the love we felt for each other into that kiss. This was our way of mending our needlessly broken hearts. We would never have it any other way.

Finally she laid her head on my heaving chest, sighing in utter contentment. I caressed her, lazily writing Bella and Edward Forever and I love you on her back with my fingertips. I was in my Heaven and I never wanted to leave. I knew better than anyone else that this wasn't what I deserved, that this Angel was trusting me more than I even trusted myself and she was way too good for someone like me. I knew all that and more, but as long as she wanted me to stay, I was going to stay. I knew I'd never be strong enough to leave again, even if she sent me away.

"How are we going to do this?" Her soft voice made my chest vibrate with peace.

I kissed the top of her head and sighed. "It's your call, love. Tell me what you want me to do, and I'll do it."

She lifted her face to look at me and her eyes were glistening with tears again. I stroked her cheeks with my thumbs. "Don't cry. I am staying. I am a weak man, Bella, but if my weakness means I can't stay away from you, I'm not ashamed of that. I need you too much. God knows I love you more than I could ever explain or show and I honestly don't know how you're able to forgive me, but I admire you for that and everything else that you are."

"Don't be foolish, Edward," she huffed and oh, how I loved to have my tiger back.

"I am not!" I bit down on my lip and lowered my voice, desperate. "I should've never left. How can I ever make it up to you?" I asked, pleading. She climbed off of me, got the quilt from her bed and wrapped herself in it before snuggling into my side.

"Just don't leave me again."

"Never, Bella, and I mean it. As long as you want me, I'm here."

"That's all I needed to hear." Her beautiful eyes were sparkling again. There was life in them, there was light. My Angel was back.

I tucked her under my arm, humming to her as she fell asleep. I pulled her back on top of me so she was comfortable and she smiled in her sleep. I watched her in awe, admiring her strong heart and soul. Even when broken, her heart and soul still were capable of so much love. I had never deserved this heavenly creature, but I would never abandon her like that ever again. I made it my future goal to always make her safe, no matter what price I had to pay.

Outside, the world began to wake and get ready for the new day. People were hurriedly dressing up and getting some coffee before jumping in their cars and rushing to their jobs or school or whatever the place it was they needed to go to, every single one of them so wrapped up in their own problems and completely oblivious to the world around them. I smiled to myself. We'd deal with the world later. Right now, the world was just us two, and I'd never been happier to have her in my arms.

"Edward," Bella smiled brightly in her sleep, "Welcome home."


AN: A gigantic thanks to Angel (aka StAngelS) for beta'ing this - You really saved my ass, Honey! I can never thank You enough, and I hope we stay in touch after this. LotsOfLove

Also a 'Thank You' to everyone who voted for this. I placed 11th with 9 people having voted for me.

Hope You enjoy and leave me Your thoughts, please!

SL [(at)SL_2030 on Twitter]