"Bella-it's so good to see you again," Esme said, her smile so genuine that I felt compelled to believe her. She stepped forward and embraced me tightly. I stood shocked by her behaviour for a minute before I returned her hug.
It seemed hard to believe how much I missed her, until I had her arms around me. Her familiar smell reminded me of home and I was both comforted and saddened by that. She had been a second mother to me and I hadn't realised how confusing it would be to see her again, I almost wished that she hadn't hugged me at all.
I was pleased when she turned her attention to Simon and greeted him with a hand shake before inviting us inside. Gladly Simon was keeping to his word and that I had a couple of seconds to sort my thoughts out as she led us into the living room. I felt apprehensive at being back in their house with the familiar décor, it unsettled me how similar their new house looked to the old one I knew.
When we entered the living room, everyone was waiting. Carlisle was the first person I saw as he was standing just inside the door when we entered. Again I was assaulted by the same sadness and comfort I had felt when I first saw Esme. How could I have forgotten how much these people meant to me?
"How are you Bella?" Carlisle asked. He made no move to embrace me as Esme had and for that I was grateful. Being already overcome with emotion from being back in their over familiar house, I knew that had I been embraced by Carlisle I would have ran from the house – unable to cope with this reunion.
After struggling to find my voice, I managed to answer him.
"Shocked to see all of you again," I said honestly as Esme gestured for Simon and I to take a seat on the coach.
Once seated, everyone lapped into an almost awkward silence, it was as if suddenly no one knew what to say. It was then when I realised that everyone else was properly feeling exactly the same and I began to feel a lot more comfortable.
Esme finally broke the silence.
"I'm so sorry we left you Bella, we've missed you so much." Although her words were meant to provide some sort of comfort, they were only painful, reminding me of the pain in my reunion with the others.
"I've missed you all too, not that I ever admitted it to myself. I didn't understand why you left me…I thought I was part of the family – "
"You are part of this family but we all thought we were doing the right thing for you. None of us wanted to leave you but we put our feelings aside because we thought that you would have a better life without us." Esme said.
"None of us were the same after we left you. For years we tried to occupy ourselves but only felt the loss of your presence."
Silence once again fell at Carlisle's words and I knew that if had been able to, I would've been howling. Never had the thought of how their leaving was like for them crossed my mind, I was too angry and upset to see past my pain. Right now, I felt the most selfish I had ever felt…
"It's in the past now, let's all forget it and move on," I said desperately wanting to change this upsetting topic. After a few seconds, Esme once again broke the silence.
"Jasper tells us he knows your friend from his previous life?"
"Yes ma'am, I was fighting his coven once…or I was supposed to…Instead I took my freedom and ran from there, while I could." Simon answered.
"Well any friend of Bella's is a friend of ours, it's a pleasure to meet you Simon," Esme said kindly.
"It's a pleasure to meet you too," Simon replied and I was proud of his attempt of friendship.
"Our children have also told us of your past and your new beginning Bella, and we couldn't be sorrier that we left you to face that on your own – you are very brave," Carlisle said.
"I don't regret anything; I wouldn't have met this man hadn't I been changed," I said smiling at Simon.
"Bella, did you keep track of your human life?" Esme asked gently.
"Yes I did." I answered.
"Do you know what happened to your parents?"
"They died. Charlie died about 50 years ago, of a heart attack. He searched for me for many years but he also moved on with his life, he married Sue Clearwater about 5 years after I disappeared; her husband had died shortly after I disappeared. I'm glad he moved on and found happiness after I was changed. Renee died about 8 years after Charlie of old age I think, her and Phil never had children so I have no family left. The only thing I regret is that I couldn't tell them I was alright – so that they didn't have to worry or wonder what had happened to me. It must have caused them great pain, but I have come to accept what has happened and like I said, and again I don't regret what has happened to me."
"What about Jacob?" Edward asked.
"I don't know," I answered honestly, "I never found out…he must be dead now though…"
Once again silence fell amongst us again; it felt strange mentioning my parents again, although there wasn't a day that went by where I didn't think about them. I felt guilty at me admitting that I hadn't found out what had happened to my best friend, I stored the thought away in my mind to find out later.
"So Rose and Emmett got married again, what was the wedding like?" I asked changing the subject again.
For the next hour, Simon and I listened as Alice and Rose gave accounts of the wedding paying particular detail to the relaying of the dresses, flowers and venue.
Finally after what seemed like a decade of lace detailing talk Simon finally interrupted the tirade of fashion spiel by saying it was late and we needed to hunt before school the next day. We said goodbye to the Cullen's with handshakes and hugs and a quick kiss from Edward before we finally reached the door.
"Bella, Simon, before you leave I'd like to invite you to stay this weekend, we could go hunting together and get reacquainted with each other some more? I completely understand if it's too soon though." Esme asked.
I looked towards Simon, not knowing how to respond, thankfully he did though.
"We'll talk about it tonight and Bella will tell your children tomorrow, is that ok?"
"We completely understand and that would be lovely ," Esme said her eyes sparkly with excitement. We started heading back and as we heard the door close behind us, I didn't know if I had the strength to say no and make that excitement disappear…
"So are we going to be staying at the Cullen's this weekend?" Simon asked me hours later when we were walking back to my house after an eventful hunting trip.
His question didn't surprise me at all, I had been expecting it since the moment we said good bye to the Cullen's. "I don't know." I was completely torn by the idea of staying at the Cullen's. A part of me did as I wanted to spend as much time getting to know each other as possible – we all had so much catching up to do… But at the same time, I didn't know if I was completely ready to rebuild my bonds with the family again.
"Bella, we don't have to go. Whatever you want is fine with me. It's a lot of time to spend with a group of people who up and left you."
"I know, but I think I want to. I've missed them so much but I'm scared of getting hurt again."
"Then we'll go and if you feel overwhelmed at all and need to go home. Then we'll go, whatever you need Bella, I'm here for you."
"Thanks, Simon. I don't know what I'd do without you. You saved me all those years ago and your still doing it know," I said reaching out to hug him – momentarily halting our progress through the woods.
"You saved me too, Bella," Simon whispered against my hair before placing a kiss lightly on my forehead.
We stood in the dark forest, embracing as the light breeze shifted our hair for a few moments before Simon stepped back. "That's enough of the sissy stuff; let's get home so you can change. You managed to miss your mouth again," he teased pointing at my shirt.
I looked down and saw a miniscule drop of blood that now blotted the front of my shirt. "That's nothing! No one's going to notice that!" I cried, rolling my eyes at his teasing comment.
"Fellow vampires will notice it, and I don't think Alice will take kindly to you ruining a shirt. Isn't that a rule against fashion or whatever?"
"Oh shut up you! Race you back home!" I call as I run off towards my house racing to beat him home.
I bust through the door with Simon a mere second behind me. "You must be getting slower in your old age," I teased Simon, "do you need to sit down and catch your breath for a moment?"
"You think your funny do you wait until I catch you..." He moved forward, seeing what he was about to do, I darted away from him and back out of the door, running through the woods.
"I'll show you whose old," I heard him chasing me through the woods, so I increased my speed as I darted between the trees.
Just as I thought I'd lost him in the woods, I felt arms wrap round my waist as Simon caught me, we tumbled down, rolling over the grass until we came to a stop. Both of us laughing as we lay on our backs looking up at the dawn coloured sky.
"You should properly get ready for school," Simon said, after our laughter died away.
"Your right," I said begrudgingly.