Chapter one:


I dream I am in the forest … so deep in the lush, wet, woods of Washington, that I can smell the earthy ground and taste the saltiness of the North Pacific waters that permeates the air. My heart is pounding and there is something wrong with my breathing; it's too fast and too labored. I am flooded with puzzlement and overwhelmed with grief. I am running blindly, because tears have clouded my vision, yet there is purpose behind my speed. Suddenly I am falling and my face is planted into the deep dark earth. Though I would gladly welcome the pain, I feel nothing.


However, I do start to hear something. The voice is soft at first, and then the volume grows and the earth is suddenly shaking so badly that I am certain it's an earthquake and I'll soon be swallowed whole.

"Bella, you need to wake up now! You need to wake up and listen to me. Please Bella. I don't have long; Edward is hunting, and I can's risk having him hear my thoughts. Bella, please!" Her voice sounds urgent and desperate.

I find myself turning deeper into my pillow, trying to sink further and further into my sleep.

"Bella!" she yells.


My head hits the hard mattress with so much force that I sit up quickly in my bed with my hand on my heart. I wince as the pain in my arm registers with my brain.

"Ow," I groan out loud. What a horrible dream. Then I feel, rather than see, that I'm not alone in my room. I gasp as Alice's otherworldly features come into my view.

"Alice? What the hell ...?" I look at the clock, that is on my floor.

Apparently I knocked it over when I was rudely awakened. Five O'clock a.m.

I groan, "Ugh. Go away Alice." I try to lie back down but my shoulders are pulled forward abruptly.

"No, Bella, I'm not going anywhere and I don't have time to apologize. You need to wake up and you need to listen to me because I don't have much time." Alice's face is shadowed in the dimness of my bedroom. The light from the hall in the entryway makes her marble skin glow.

"Time?" I struggle to grasp what she is saying. Time for what? My brain is still foggy and I can't even understand my own voice; it is thick with sleep and sounds like it's clogged with tears.


I feel something else to, but can't put my finger on what it is I am feeling.

I shake my head in an effort to clear it and my stomach suddenly clenches. I almost gag at the sensation.

And that's when it hits me.

That's when I recognize what I'm feeling. The punch of it socks me right in the middle of my solar plexus and I gasp out loud.


Yep, I am afraid, all right. I'm scared right down to my bones, and out of my wits. I struggle to find a reason for this emotion. I look at Alice's anxious face, and begin to remember all the details of what had transpired last night. The memories are rushing to the forefront, and I find myself desperately trying to catch my breath, but the air is as dead as my true love's heart.


Oh God, I remember his face as he dropped me off at home last night. He looked so sad, so defeated. Worse, he looked resigned. The old cliché about the other shoe waiting to fall is true after all. Except it wasn't a shoe. It was a boot with a metal heel, and it hadn't just fallen, it had kicked us both in the ass.

That. Fucking. Party.

I knew in my heart that having a party was going to be a huge mistake. I'm not a psychic, but for some reason as the events played out last evening I knew ahead of time exactly what would happen.

The ripping of the envelope. The warm drop of blood that oozed out of my finger tip. The sound the blood made when it plopped on Esme's prized Persian carpet. The stares from the Cullens, who looked at me first with curiosity, and then with appetite.

The scenes played out frame by frame like a bad movie.

Edward's beautiful face contorted in the shadows that flickered from the hundreds of candles which illuminated the room. I saw his frightened eyes lock on mine and I let out a small gasp.

And then it began.

Jasper's hiss was guttural and his lithe body lunged at me. Emmett and Carlisle leaped to their feet and pinned him down. I'll never forget his screams of frustration as he fought them off ferociously.

Edward grabbed me fiercely, and tossed me out of harm's way. I catapulted into the air, and was sent careening into the glass cocktail table knocking it over and shattering it to bits.

Then the blood began coursing down my arm and pooling on the rug. With each beat of my heart, more of my fluid was spilled.

Oh God, I really hate the smell of blood. I would have passed out if it weren't for the scream.

Edward's scream – his defensive stance as he poised in front Jasper; his death grip around Jasper's shoulders as he tossed him unmercifully into his cherished piano.

The piano.

Somehow, throughout all this drama, the destruction of his piano was the most heartbreaking sight of all.

The tears that pooled in my eyes burst forth like a ruptured dam. The scream that was caught in my throat pined out of me.

Edward's face. As long as I live I will never forget the look on Edward's face.

I waited for him to come for me and to rescue me from the sight of his ruined piano and the smell of my own blood.

But he didn't.

Carlisle rushed to protect me. I remember feeling relieved, yet disappointed. That was supposed to be Edwards's job.

I looked at Edward, and tried desperately to make sense of the whole mess.

And for the first time, I saw him, really saw him, and not as a century-old vampire. No. I saw him for what he was; a shaken and scared seventeen-year-old boy. I saw a frightened teenager who wanted to comfort his brother for behaving badly. I saw a desperate kid who needed his father to take control of a bad situation. I saw a boyfriend who didn't have a clue in hell as to what to do with his bleeding and broken girlfriend who lay in misery on his mother's rug.

And in that moment, in that precise moment, I felt a strong urge to comfort him. I wanted to wrap my arms around him and call him "baby" and soothe him just like a normal girlfriend would do when bad things happen.

But that was not to be. Because we weren't a normal couple, and we never would be.

I listened to Carlisle take charge of the situation. His reassuring words lulled me to compliance as he ministered to my wounds. My eyes desperately searched for Edward's face, to seek reassurance and comfort. But what I found in his eyes was neither.

What I saw, albeit briefly, was fear.

He looked at me then, and the expression on his face was like that of a man who had just received a death sentence. I watched in part horror and part fascination as his eyes glazed over. He blinked rapidly, three times and when he re-opened them, he was gone. Completely gone.

His eyes were empty and lifeless. They looked like the eyes of a dead fish. I almost giggled then, a hysterical chuckle, as I thought of that analogy. It made me think of Charlie. Suddenly, I wanted to go home. I needed my dad.

I don't remember much after that. I know that Carlisle took me into his study, and I recall him stitching my injury closed. I remember both his quiet words and his gentle touch. I also remember snatches of our conversation, as he told me a little bit about himself, his human life, and about Edward. I dimly recall how he shared his philosophy about souls with me. How he believes that vampires may have redemption, and even perhaps stand a chance to reach heaven if they live a good life and abstain from drinking human blood. I remember the tender look on his face when he told me how good Edward was…is. And I recall with vivid clarity his comments about Edward and how he believes himself to be a soulless monster. That he feels he is undeserving of my love. That he could never risk damning my soul, no matter how much he loves me.

Edward entered the study a few minutes later and I remember how I was afraid to look him in the eyes because I knew that their emptiness would be my undoing. I heard him tell Carlisle that he would take me home. My eyes had shot up searching for a sign of life, but found nothing at all in the depths of his amber eyes.

My voice spoke then, albeit, unwittingly. I forced myself to steady my gaze and fixed my eyes on Edwards's collar in an effort to avoid the deceased salmon-like expression.

"I want Carlisle to take me home," I told him quietly.

"No!" His voice thundered loudly in Carlisle's normally tranquil study.

"Edward … maybe it would be best if I took her home." Carlisle said, softly.

Edward spoke again, this time quietly and more controlled.

"No, I am taking Bella home." His determined words did not at all match his lifeless eyes as he got my purse, took my arm, and walked me to the door.

I noticed that his eyes never made contact with mine, and that his touch on my arm was cold and felt almost clinical. We went outside, and I crawled into my truck on the passenger side. I shrank as far away from him as possible, and stared absently out the window. My mind felt numb and my voice was mute.

We pulled up into my driveway and he shut off the truck's ignition. We sat there for many minutes, saying nothing. I could hear the crickets chirping, the rustle of leaves and the thumping of my heart.

Oh Christ, I thought to myself- this is like a really bad coming of age movie. She's All That meets Interview with a Vampire.

I started to wonder what the soundtrack for this poorly-acted and badly-directed chick flick would be comprised of, and my mind started to hum the lyrics to the classic cornball song of the Nineties: Kiss Me. I stifled a giggle and managed to swallow my hysteria with a loud gulp. Not funny, Bella. Not funny at all. This was supposed to be an angst filled moment. Really.

"Bella …" his velvety voice interrupted our silent night. I jumped so hard in my seat that I hit the ceiling, and cried out. My head reeled in pain. I rubbed at the spot vigorously in an effort to quell the sting. Well, that's gonna leave a lump, I remember thinking. Perfect.

"Are you okay?" His cool hand touched me softly, and I thought for a second, no, a millisecond, that maybe, just maybe, everything would be okay.

Yeah, no. It wasn't even in the same vicinity as "Okay."

I looked into his concerned face with confusion. "Huh?"

I struggled to understand exactly what he meant by asking me if I was okay. Did he mean my arm or the drama of the whole evening? Maybe he meant my head. I didn't ask. Instead I continued to rub it. The ache was familiar and therefore comforting. I barely went a day without clunking it. Renee always chuckled whenever it happened and would ask me if I knocked some sense into it. I never had.

I got out of the truck and my senses were immediately assaulted by the cool night air. I breathed deeply and sighed. I forced myself to look at him, though I was careful not to make eye contact. His sadness enveloped me and it tugged at my heart. I felt it settle over us as it hung heavy in the air and I shook my head in an effort to free myself from its grasp.

I need to get out of here, I thought to myself. Get your ass in gear, Bella, and go!

"Um, I'm going inside now," I told him awkwardly. Honest to God, can this night get any more dramatic?

Never ask God that question. Like, ever.

I heard him sigh. "Bella …" his sad, sad voice filled the air."We need to talk …" His words trailed off and I sensed that the word BUT was going to be included in his next sentence.

"Will you be coming in?" I asked, expecting his negative response.

"Not tonight."

I let out a deep breath and felt the moisture of tears begin to prick under my eyelids. "Okay," I said, as I swallowed my disappointment. I knew he could hear the sorrow in my voice and he watched me warily as I walked towards him. He stepped back as I approached him. I looked at him puzzled and did it again. He took another step backward. It was almost comical. I'd take one step forward and he'd take two steps backward. I repeated the process once more and he followed suit.

Just who was supposed to be the vampire here? I felt like a predator.

"Well, it's still my birthday," I said shakily as I finally managed to back him up against my truck. "Can I ask one thing?" I bit my lip and I waited for what seemed like hours for his response.

He looked at me then and I saw the dead fish eyes flicker. They were full of questions.

"Kiss me?" I looked at him and raised my brow.

"Please, Edward …"

I saw a look cross his features, and I thought he was going to refuse me. I braced myself for his rejection, but his face came towards me and I stifled a small sound of surprise as he pressed his lips gently, yet firmly, on mine. He opened his mouth ever so slightly. I felt his cold tongue snake out and slowly trace the entire circumference of my lips. I gasped. This was no ordinary kiss.

A low current buzzed between us.

My stomach fluttered.

My heart pounded.

My breathing stopped.

The current grew stronger and stronger. The air around us began to sizzle.

And then our lips exploded.

In a flash he grabbed me hard and pinned me against the truck. He bent his knees, slid his entire body up towards mine roughly, and began to kiss me with utter and complete abandon. His hands were everywhere…in my hair, on my waist, cupping my breasts…

Oh my God … my breasts? In all the months we had been together, Edward had never touched my breasts. I wanted him to, but he never did. Our physical contact had been limited to a few chaste kisses, and soft innocent touches. In all my wildest fantasies, I'd never imagined anything like this.

Okay, maybe in my wildest fantasies.

He kissed my face, my hair, my throat. His hands wormed their way underneath my bodice and caressed the swell of my cleavage. His mouth trailed down my neck, and his tongue licked my collarbones, and then returned to the top of my breasts, lapping and kissing them. I felt the top of my dress shred under his urgent touch, and his mouth sought frantically to locate something as he cupped the fullness of my breasts with his hands.

My nipples ... Oh God. Yep, his mouth found my nipples.

I moaned loudly as his cold tongue circled my swollen tips. I had never had a man touch my breasts before, and I had no idea how sensual the experience would be. I grabbed his hair hard, and brought his mouth more firmly against me. His chest rumbled and the sexiest sound I ever heard poured out of his throat … he groaned.

Oh-mah-gawd- Edward groaned!

I felt a sudden rush of wetness flood my panties and my hands left his hair and reached for his thighs.

"Oh fuck," he moaned as he pressed his body firmly on mine, doing the full body slide once again.


Wait -what?

Edward, my sweet, innocent, Victorian, said, "Fuck?"

Oh, yeah - he did. He took a deep breath and buried his face in my hair. My brain fought to understand, and then I heard another rumble, and then ... Oh dear Lord ... I heard him growl. Glancing up quickly I saw his face. His eyes were hooded and his lips parted. His chest was heaving. Heaving! I looked into those ferocious eyes and gasped.

I saw desire.

I saw lust.

I saw raw, naked, unbridled passion.

I saw a Vampire.

And he was as sexy as fuck.

He grabbed my hips and clutched me wildly to his front. I felt something hard boring into my center.

Oh, God.




I went insane with want. I heaved my aching center up towards his, and he moaned again, over and over. His kisses became hard and urgent, and I felt his tongue searching for mine. He tasted so good! Our tongues began to circle each other, as did our hips. Over and over, he ground his arousal into mine. I was panting and moaning;my hands raked his hair, his hands grabbed my behind. He squeezed my bottom and ground himself into me repeatedly. He lowered his face to my neck and pressed hard kisses that should have been icy cold, but were scorching hot. He ran his tongue along my jaw and nipped at me with his cool mouth behind my ear. My senses were so flooded that my brain went completely numb.

Bella has momentarily left the studio … please stand by.

"Bella, Bella …" he began to chant, his mouth deliciously wet against my ear.

His groans became rumbles. He grabbed my legs, and I wrapped them around his hips. The circling and grinding became more intense. Somehow, he had managed to move us over to the hood of my truck, and I was gasping and panting so loudly that I thought I might be having a seizure. I felt an unfamiliar coiling low down in my stomach, and I began to keen.

"Edward ..." I groaned, "Edward …"

"Ungh … I'm, I'm ..."

Edward's panting and grinding suddenly halted. I felt him jerk hard three times against my center and then he stilled.

Um, huh?

I looked down at his, er, lap and then at his face.


Edward had, well, just come in his pants.

Yeah, that's pretty much all it took.

My own orgasm shot threw me like I launched a nuclear missile. Until last night I had never experienced one before. Not that I'd never tried. But nothing in the movies or magazines I'd ever seen or read had prepared me for it. Not the whispered giggles of the teenage girls I called my friends or my mother's ridiculous council on the mechanics of sex had offered me anything in the form of being anywhere close to being prepared. I nearly passed out from the intensity of the whole thing.

It was hands down, the sexiest and most intense moment of my life.

My legs turned to jello, and I slid down the hood of the truck.

"Ow!" the pain in my injured arm cut through me like a knife, sliced the charged atmosphere, and stilled us both.

We looked at each other stunned.

What the hell had just happened here?

"Are you okay? Did I, did I hurt you Bella?" His voice sounded strange and raspy. But it was his face that was most troubling. It looked ... pained.

"No. I'm, I'm okay." I stuttered. I sensed his embarrassment and I began to blush. The blood rushed up to the roots of my hair. My ears suddenly felt hot.

"I'm sorry, Bella." Edward's curt apology pierced through my aching heart. "I don't know what came over me just now. I never should have touched you like that. I was a disgusting and wretched … a vile …

Ugh … I'm just so … sorry for all of it. I am beyond mortified."




In that instant I felt my chest crack and splinter. He was ashamed, and his shame left me feeling humiliated and lost. Tears filled my eyes, and my face crumbled. I wanted the earth to open up and gobble me whole. I wanted to die. I had never felt such embarrassment. A sob started to force its way out of me, but I suppressed it before it surfaced.

I forced myself to look at him. What I saw in his face confirmed my worst fears. His eyes refused to make contact with mine. His head hung down in shame and he looked like he wanted to be anywhere in the world but here. Believe me, after seeing that face, I felt exactly the same way.

"I'm going inside now," I mumbled; my legs were still shaky as I attempted to march towards my front porch. I remember hoping that he would somehow stop me and then praying that he wouldn't.

He didn't.

"Goodbye, Bella." I heard him whisper hoarsely into the night. I felt a rush of cool air and knew he was gone.

Determinedly, I continued my walk of shame, entered the house and wound my way up the stairs. I was so exhausted. I shucked off my birthday dress from Alice, (it had been so pretty) and looked at tiredly where it lay in a heap on my floor. Torn and ruined, I thought. Just like me. I threw on my sleep sweats and camisole and didn't bother to brush my teeth since he wasn't coming tonight, anyway.

I found my way to my bed and threw myself upon it. The crack in my chest deepened, and the sob that I'd held in for so long burst forth. I desperately tried to muffle the sounds within my bedding and prayed Charlie wouldn't hear me. He rarely woke up, but it would be my luck that tonight would be his exception.

Happy fucking Birthday, Bella.

Outside I heard an unfamiliar noise. My ears strained to decipher the din which sounded like howling and pain. My head shot up, and I tried to focus on it…what was it? Was it an injured animal? The sound grew louder and louder and its moan pierced through my heart and shattered it.


Oh God, I thought aloud. It wasn't an injured animal.

It was Edward.

Edward, my Edward, was crying in the night.

I pushed my pillow over my head and allowed the blackness to descend. But not before I remembered his last words to me. He hadn't said good night.

He'd said goodbye.


I snap out of my memories with a jerk. Alice's face bears down on me, and for the first time ever, I realize that although she is my best friend, she is also a vampire.

"Bella, whatever you're thinking and feeling right now has got to be put on hold. I need you to breathe Bella. Breathe. And I need you to listen." Her face is beautiful in this moment but there is also pain in her dark and luminous eyes.

I sit up fully and let out a long sigh. I know in an instant exactly what she is going to say. Yes, in this one brief moment I am as clear in my intuition as she is with her visions.

Edward is leaving me.