Epilogue: The Goodbye

August 1st 2008

b.p.o.v

Tonight is warm. The air is still damp from the rain the day before, and there's a slight breeze sweeping along the coast, but it's perfect. We're at our spot on the beach – secluded, quiet – listening to the gentle waves crashing against the cliff face as we lie with each other in the van. We're spent, sweaty, and sticky, and my skin is slick against his, but I don't care. It's warm and comfortable, and I never thought I'd be so happy cuddling up to Edward on Jasper's tacky shag carpet.

It's ridiculous that I almost like the stupid carpet.

I hate when Alice is right.

"Mmm," he hums in my ear, "you're so warm." He presses his chest into my back, and twists his legs with mine, absently tracing patterns on my belly. "And soft," he continues quietly, "I love touching you." His thumb dips gently into my navel, where he knows I'm ticklish, and I squirm in his arms. "I love when you do that, too," he chuckles, "it's fucking adorable."

I laugh, and turn my head slightly, straining my neck to kiss him.

"Bella?"

His fingers pause in the middle of my stomach.

"Yeah?" I whisper anxiously.

My eyes are closed; my lips are hovering near his.

"I-I'm...in love with you," he tells me.

My heart beats rapidly, echoing in my ears, and my eyes snap open, staring into his; gorgeous, green, sincere.

"Really?" I reply softly, nervously.

He smiles a little, showing me a vague outline of the cute dimples I love so much. "Absolutely," he says with certainty, "I love you, Bella...with everything I am. You have no idea how much I care about you. I've...I've never felt like this, ever."

I fervently press my lips to his, turning in his arms to face him. I place a succession of kisses on his cheeks and jaw, over his throat, back to his lips again. He laughs, gripping me tight to pull me on top of him. "I take that as a good thing?" he asks.

I nod, taking a second to breathe. "I love you, too," I confess with a blissful smile.

I just hope it's enough to make him stay.

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August 25th 2008

I stare dismally at the open door, the sunlight pouring in, the bags on the front porch, Jasper standing next to the one person I'm not really sure I'll be able to live without. They're leaving today, going on the road for another year, travelling the country from coast to coast. I know, without a doubt, they'll have a blast, but saying goodbye is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, because I never thought I'd have to say goodbye.

"I don't even know what to say," I admit quietly, "I...I'll miss you, like crazy. I don't know what I'm going to do without you."

I see that familiar, quirky smile, and even though it's accompanied by tears, I know it's a happy smile. I smile back, because we agreed it was for best. It's what we both wanted. "Me neither, but...this makes sense, Bella. I'll miss you, too, so much."

I nod, believing the words. It's a lot to take, but I know it's the truth.

"Call me once in a while, yeah?" I ask through my tears.

"Yeah," is the reply I get, "of course I will. All the time...you'll get sick of me calling so often."

I chuckle, "I highly doubt that." We exchange smiles again. "Have fun," I say, "and be safe." Then I look over at Jasper. "Good luck," I tell him, "and, you know...if you two happen to be in the area any time between now and next summer, you know where we live."

They both laugh, and Jasper smirks. "Of course," he tells me, "and don't you worry, I'll keep my eye on this one."

"I know you will," I say honestly.

I'm overcome with tears again, almost to the point of sobbing, and we hug. I rock us back and forth, clutching tightly, because it's breaking my heart to be saying goodbye. I was surprisingly okay with the decision when they first told me, but now...it's real. It's happening, and I kind of can't believe it.

We say a few more words, full of hiccups, tears, laughs, and smiles, and then they leave. I watch them from the front door, loading the bags, waving, getting in the van to begin their journey. I see those green eyes from the passenger window, and the same quirky smile I had laughed at on the day we met.

"Bye, Bella," I hear vaguely from the open passenger window, "love you."

Arms wrap around me from behind, strong and comforting, and I smile at Alice. "Love you, too," I say to her from the front door, "now go! You're going to make me cry again." Alice smiles back, and she and Jasper wave from the van before they pull away from the curb and drive out of sight.

I cry silently at the loss of my best friend.

I turn in Edward's arms, laying my head on his chest. "I'm going to miss her," I whisper to him.

He gently kisses my temple and rubs his hands up and down my spine. "I know," he tells me soothingly, "but, hey...you got me, right? That's got to count for something." I laugh, sniffling as I look up at his handsome face.

"I think it definitely counts for something," I admit. I step up on my tip toes, press my lips against his, and sigh, "Are you sure this is what you want?" I ask, "I-"

"I wouldn't want to be anywhere else," he says seriously, "I love you, Bella. I want to be here, with you. Everything else I can manage."

I kiss him again, overwhelmed by my feelings. "I love you, too," I tell him.

He hums in contentment, and gently pushes me away from him, looking down at me. "So, roomie," he says with a hint of humour in his voice, "want to show me my room?"

I laugh and take his hand, closing the door. "You've seen your room," I reply playfully, "plenty of times before."

He wiggles his eyebrows, and chuckles, bending slightly to scoop me up in his arms. "Well, sweetness, I think you need to show me again."

THE END

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Just another quick thanks to my ever-amazing beta, Claire, for always helping me through my work and making it as good as it can be. I adore you for your insight, thank you for being an amazing beta and friend. Thanks also to everyone over at FFA! Love you ladies like you wouldn't believe, Kyndall, Tiff, Zen, Gen, Sam, Feral, Mezz, and everyone else that makes up our fanfic family.

Also, links to some outfits, Jasper's van, Alice's car, and a banner I've made will be up on my profile.

Please, PLEASE check out the rest of the Ficawesome Gift Exchanges stories here: www (dot) fanfiction (dot) net/community/FAGE_2/89748/14/0/1/