As If I Never Existed

Prologue

Edward Cullen:

"Mike, the location is fine. I don't think we have time to find anything better, filming starts Monday regardless. Just go confirm with whoever you have to, and I'll call the studio."

Honestly, the man is crazy. All we need is a quiet street to film a single scene in. The car has to screech to a halt, and the police have to have a cross road to cut the driver off.

Mike and I had the perfect location here in the quiet seaside village of Meadowlea, and then today we went to do a last minute check and the entire street had been closed and the road dug up due to broken water pipes.

This street was very similar, nobody would even notice it wasn't the exact same street where our hero had run to his car in the very first chapter of the mini series. The women would all be ogling Jasper Whitlock, our star. Maybe he should take his shirt off before running from the law.

"Okay, it's all set, see you Monday," Mike called and got into his car.

Another crisis averted.

Now I have the whole weekend free and nothing and nobody to answer to for two whole rare and wonderful days. Maybe I should just book a room and stay away, that fight with Bree, my girlfriend, had not been pretty.

Bree is an attractive girl, and intelligent with it, she came third top of the Senior Year at High School and had passed with honors her course at university and now she had a very respectible career as a research scientist, so it wasn't that she was not able to match me in brains and conversation.

She was on paper what every man is searching for. Attractive enough to make other men envious, a smart dresser, a good and kind friend, a tidy home owner. We should be a perfect fit but for one small problem.

She was not my soul mate.

I knew that, but she had become a constant in my life and I understood she was pissed about me not taking things to the next level. I just didn't see the point. If a relationship isn't going to last the distance and go all the way to the inevitable conclusion, wedding bells, what's the point of an engagement?

None at all.

We gave it a good try, we dated for over three years. If there were going to be sparks and fireworks I really think they would have happened by now.

God knows I'd experienced sparks once before and I knew the feeling that I was searching for.

Senior Year, Forks High School.

Isabella Marie Swan.

We had sparked so brightly it was surprising the school hadn't burned down.

Of course, back then I was too young and stupid to know and appreciate what I had. When she got into SeattleU and I got into NYU, I knew long distance was not my thing so I ended it. And lived to regret that decision every single day since.

That break-up had been the hardest thing I had ever done and I truly did it for her as much as for myself, I just didn't know how deeply Bella felt for me and I broke her. Charlie, her father, kept in touch and told me how sad she was and by the time break came around and I came home to make things right, she was gone.

Nobody knows where and she has never been back, never contacted either Charlie or her Mom Renee in Florida. She just disappeared.

I hired Private Detective Jason Jenks to find her when the police had no luck but even he had absolutely nothing to report and to this day he's still looking.

I know, eight years down the track it's very unlikely anyone will find her but I have to try, and not only because she was the only girl who made my heart race and thump out of my chest, also because she needs to contact her Dad. Charlie has some health issues and if he dies without knowing his daughter is safe, I will never forgive myself.

The first guesthouse was fully booked but they suggested another down the next street and I drove past and had a good look. It looked nice, clean, decent and it was only for the weekend, and not only that, I was planning on spending most of these two days running on the beach. All I needed was somewhere to eat and sleep, really.

I could take the short drive home but I like this little seaside village and it's close to Forks, I could possibly even run home if I had to. My running has become a big part of my life and Bree resents that too. I just like feeling free and unencumbered.

Maybe I'll go down to the Res which is situated on the far end of this beach and go visit Jacob Black. He was Bella's best friend growing up and even though he hated me and resented my moving in on the girl he had ear marked for himself, once he got over the disappointment, we became sort of acquaintances, though never friends.

That happened when our girl disappeared and we found it easier to make a joint effort to find her, rather than each covering the same area over and over.

We'd agreed on a treaty of sorts, if you like. Both wanted the same thing, to know where she went and if she was safe and well and happy.

Nothing more.

Well, something more.

We both hoped to talk her into coming home with us.

He's grown up, become a man. The fact he was two years her junior no longer mattered.

I even thought if she did choose him and come back, I could live with it, just being her friend and seeing her happy would be enough.

I know, I'm a terrible liar. It would tear me up inside but just seeing Bella again would warm my cold and empty heart.

The landlady accepted my deposit and showed me to a little attic bedroom with attached bathroom and I flopped on the lovely wide old fashioned bed and before I knew it, I was asleep.

Damned if I didn't dream about Bella.

I always dream about Bella but this dream was different, not based on memories, but frightening. She was in the forest, lost and frightened and calling to me to come rescue her. I was wandering about in circles, maybe blind, unable to find her. I knew she was near and I knew she needed me and I alone could save her. There was nobody else. Wait. I heard my sister Alice's voice. "I will help you, Edward." It didn't comfort me, now she was here, maybe she would be lost as well. Now I had two people I loved in peril.

I sat up in a panic, my heart beating fast.

Shit.

That had been nasty.

The clock showed I still had an hour or so to kill before dinner would start to be served, it was available for guests from seven until nine pm, so maybe a walk along the beach would calm me down and let me just reminisce about the years I had spent with Bella Swan before I threw her away and broke her heart.

The wind whistled past my head and I tugged the hood up over my hair and put my hands deep into the pockets and hunched a little as I walked.

"Sorry," I mumbled as I knocked into a small woman hurrying the opposite way. She had a red cloak like thing wrapped around her body and only a single long brown tress of hair had escaped to flow behind her in the frigid breeze. I turned and watched her scuttle down the deserted street and my every sense was suddenly on alert.

My skin was prickling, my arm felt like she had zapped me with electricity, and my head was spinning as I caught the last of her scent.

"Bella! Bella Swan!" I yelled and chased after the small figure almost at the end of this road.

By the time I got to the corner and faced the way she had turned, she was long gone.

Don't even bother thinking I'm delusional because I didn't get a look at her face. I would know her anywhere. She always made my body react in that way.

Only her.

Nobody else.

I marched along the road, looking into every small shop, every cottage as I got past the edge of the village shops, and nothing.

The sun had set completely by the time I got back to the guesthouse and I almost went to bed without having any dinner but I should eat and I should sleep and I should work out what the Hell was going on. How could she be living a mere village away from Forks and not know every cop in the state had her picture?

Charlie himself drove through this very village weekly. He had never given up hope he would be the one to find her.

I couldn't tell you what dinner was but it was good and filling and I would have enjoyed it had my head not been threatening to explode. Back in my room, I grabbed my cell phone and called Jason Jenks. It was after hours and he was at home enjoying his own dinner but that was bad luck, I'd paid him plenty over the years and got nothing but negatives back for my investment.

"Jason, Edward Cullen. You still search all the villages around Forks, right? Even on the shore? I'm in Meadowlea and I swear I saw her myself tonight. I'm staying here all weekend but I would appreciate if you could come and search again. Monday? You can't come at all over the weekend? Fine, but I want a complete and thorough search, if she's here, you had better find her."

Sleep came quickly, strangely enough and even stranger, it was dreamless for once. I was up soon after dawn, retracing my steps again and again. There were few people about but I asked every person I passed if they knew a woman named Bella Swan. No luck. Maybe she had changed her name.

I went back to eat breakfast and talk to Siobhan, the chatty landlady but she shook her head. She knew most of the villagers and that name was unfamiliar to her, although she did know Charlie because of his frequent visits here to check no girl of his daughter's description had stayed in any of the guesthouses along the shoreline.

I searched my car for a map of the local area and decided to go see Jake before doing anything else but remembered at the last minute, I had lent that map to Mike. It didn't matter, many of the shops gave them away for free to tourists, I could go get one and maybe buy myself a Coke to get more caffeine in my system.

"That'll be seven dollars twenty," the clerk said to the female customer at the counter as I looked through the change in my pocket to pay for my own purchases. I glanced up as she turned to leave, same red cloak, same small figure.

Same Bella Swan.

I jumped in front of her and smiled into that face, forever etched into my mind.

"Bella, you have no idea how good it is to see you. Can we talk?"

She looked at me with large frightened eyes and then looked at the ground and tried to pass by me.

"Bella, it's me, Edward. Edward Cullen."

She looked up again and her lips moved as she silently repeated words over and over, and she looked at the hand I had placed on her upper arm.

"Bella, don't you remember me?" I asked, shocked. I was rather unique looking around this small area. No other men were six foot one with coppery hair and green eyes, I did think I was memorable to others even those who weren't fond of me. She must remember me. We had been everything to one another once.

Looking at me blankly with no hint of recognition, she shook my hand away and darted outside.

I tossed a five dollar bill at the clerk and raced out behind her.

"Bella, please, I know I hurt you, but please just talk to me. It's Edward."

She paused and looked back.

The look on her face was terrified and terrifying.

"I have to get back, I have to get back," she chanted. She was so frightened I let her go and she was gone, just like that.

Forgetting everything and everyone else, I ran along the road behind her and watched her run into the edge of the forest then it became trickier because the many paths worn by frequent walkers went off in every direction.

A quick scout around revealed a dozen or more little houses here between the trees and I knocked on every door, but to no avail. Many didn't answer, and the people who lived here didn't choose this location to have friendly neighborhood get togethers. They minded their own businesses and got on with their lives in privacy.

At least I knew she was alive, that was something. But could she truly have forgotten me so completely? Certainly it seemed I was not in her dreams as she was in mine.

It was as if I had never existed in her life.