Author's Notes:

Hello! This is a short story I submitted as part of the Fandom Fights Tsunami charity drive. I want to thank everyone who donated either their time or money for that cause!

So...what is this? Well, here is the summary for this story...

Edward left. Bella crumbled. Eventually she created a life for herself. Five years later, can her determination bring them back together? This is my "what if" story. No visions of cliff diving. No vampire army. No trips to Italy to save Edward. No half-breed babies. No meddlesome Volturi involvement.

Genre: Twilight – New Moon AU

Pairing: Edward/Bella

Rating: Mature

Banner: Check out my profile for the terrific banner Rosalynn made for me!

Disclaimer: What follows is a Twilight inspired work of fan fiction. It is provided for entertainment purposes only. Twilight is the property of Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. The story that follows is the property of PiedPiperOSIB.

Bella POV

I glanced down the aisle and shook my head in amazement. I couldn't believe how many people had turned out for the wedding. I looked around for a familiar face seated in the pews or lurking in the shadows, but I couldn't find who I was looking for.

Standing at the altar, waiting for the procession to begin was Jacob. He looked good. He looked nervous. Quill and Embry stood next to him whispering words of encouragement. It was a big day for him. It was a big day for me too. It was my hope that by the end of it, we both would have what our hearts desire.

Five years ago, Jacob Black became my own personal sun. He lit my dark life and brought me out of despair. I needed the light because Edward and his family left. I had blossomed when I was with Edward. He gave me a reason to hope and believe in forever. However, after my disastrous eighteenth birthday, Edward had decided it was too much of a risk for me to be in his world. He of course hadn't said that at the time. His last words had been about not wanting me any more and of seeking distractions.

What a bunch of bullshit that was.

At least that was what I have now resolved myself to believe. At first, I had believed Edward's words. I'd let them take up residence in my soul and tear my heart out. I understood his message loud and clear…I wasn't good enough for him. He obviously had never loved me the way I loved him. His words broke me. His words hollowed me out.

Jacob changed that.

From the beginning, he loved me unconditionally. He didn't care that I couldn't love him back. He just gave. He gave me his smiles. He gave me his warmth. He gave me his heart. Slowly, Jacob melted away the aching glacier that surrounded my soul and gave me my life back.

It wasn't always easy. Finding out that Jacob was a shape-shifting werewolf was…strange. However, I had become good with strange. Before I knew it, I had been adopted into another supernatural family. However, unlike my other supernatural family, the pack would never abandon me. Like the craggy rocks at La Push, they were permanent. Still, I never really became one of them. I would always be the vampire girl. I'd still yearn to be with the Cullens, to be with Edward, but the wolf pack never turned their back on me because of it. That ended up being a good thing, because my run-ins with vampires hadn't ended.

Another struggle was that I believed I could conjure images of Edward by threatening my life. His pull on me was very strong, and I willingly risked my life on several occasions just so I could hallucinate him. Nearly drowning, while cliff diving, cured me of that. I was still very much in love with Edward, but there was only one way I was willing to die for him…the way that ended with me sparkling in sunlight and lusting for blood.

During my reckless period, I learned that Victoria was seeking revenge for the death of her mate, James. Laurent happened upon me in the meadow Edward was so fond of. Before the wolves arrived and killed him, Laurent confessed Victoria's plans for killing Edward's mate. A "mate for a mate" seemed appropriate retribution for that sadistic redheaded bitch.

In the weeks just prior to my high school graduation, I noticed small things amiss at my house. Books and knickknacks had been disturbed; even some clothing appeared missing. My Edward-craving heart instantly hoped that he had returned, and that he was looking over me. I even went as far as to leave him messages in the hope he would respond.

Unfortunately, it wasn't Edward visiting my room. Jacob came over one day and freaked out about the house reeking of vampire. He explained that the Cullen coven had a unique smell because of their animal diet. This smell was more pungent and sweet, but it was not Victoria or the recently deceased Laurent.

Shortly after graduation, Victoria and her newborn boy toy, Riley, finally came after me. In reality, the wolves had carefully planned a trap. The ruse was an overnight camping trip for Jacob and I. He didn't like using me as bait, but it was effective. Victoria and Riley attacked, but they never really got close to me. The wolf pack descended quickly, ripped them apart, and burned the pieces.

Following the attack, I had two revelations that would change how I viewed my feelings for Jacob and Edward.

The first happened just after the attack was over. Finally freed from the threat Victoria posed, I allowed myself to accept my feelings for Jacob. After months of emotional build up, we kissed for the first time.

The kiss was…awkward. It felt wrong. I loved Jacob Black, but as our lips touched, I realized I was not in love with him. He had become my best friend, my brother. He was not to become my lover.

Surprisingly enough, he felt the same. Jacob confessed that as he settled into his life as shape shifter, his feelings for me had slowly changed from romantic love to brotherly love. He didn't understand it completely until we kissed, but he knew as soon as we pulled away from each other that we would never be more than the best of friends.

Jacob later speculated that the compulsion to imprint must have been at the root of why his feelings changed towards me. Only kissing his fated partner would feel right. The inevitability of his beliefs had hit me hard. I knew the same was true for me as well. No matter who I kissed – and I had kissed a few since Jacob - it would never feel right. Over the past five years, I had learned to live with the heart wrenching knowledge that Jacob, and all my other partners, would never make me feel like Edward had.

The second revelation I had concerning my feelings for Edward occurred after a conversation I had with Billy Black. Last Christmas, we had discussed Victoria and her unrelenting need to avenge James' death. I had never been able to understand and reconcile what drove her hatred. I openly wondered why she couldn't just walk away – Edward walked away.

Billy explained that vampires mated for life…or eternity, as it was. It was similar to the wolves' imprinting. For Victoria, James being her true mate meant that she really had had no choice but to seek revenge. She would have been wholly obsessed with it. Walking away would have been beyond her nature. She would have rather died trying to avenge her fallen mate than to wallow in her sorrow for eternity. After hearing the accounts of her final attack, Billy suspected that Victoria ultimately chose death to an eternity of grief.

Billy then went on to admit that he had been astonished that Edward could have just left his mate behind. The agony and anguish he must have felt – and most likely still felt – had to be crippling.

I scoffed at Billy's comment. Edward didn't want me anymore…he had said as much. I was never his mate. I was discarded because I wasn't enough to keep him from seeking out his distractions.

Surprisingly, Billy vehemently disagreed with my assessment. Although he was glad Edward, and the rest of the Cullens, had decided to leave, Billy was fully convinced Edward felt it was the only way to keep me safe. As Billy and the rest of the tribal elders saw it, Edward leaving was the ultimate show of affection and sacrifice he could make for his mate.

At first, I disallowed Billy's hypothesis. I rejected the idea of being Edward's mate. Part of my recovery had been fueled by the anger I felt over Edward's rejection. I had willed myself to have a life – a damned good life – just to spite him. I went to college. Hell, I went to Princeton just because it was Dartmouth's chief rival. Freshman year at Princeton, I decided it was time to see what I had been missing in the boy department. My anger towards Edward was at the peak of its potency, so I used it to give me confidence to meet members of the opposite sex. I dated. I kissed. I was fondled and groped. I steamed up the windows in a couple of cars. I woke up in a few unknown beds. However, my sexual explorations didn't make me feel loved – they made me feel hollow.

By sophomore year, my anger had dissipated somewhat and I learned to enjoy. I enjoyed my classes. I enjoyed my new friends. I enjoyed my old friends. The only thing I didn't enjoy was dating. I no longer dated because…well, none of them would ever be Edward.

What remained of my anger for Edward drove me to try new things and experience as much as possible. Over the next couple of years, I traveled during breaks. I gained new experiences. I learned to excel at the things I sucked at when I was with Edward. Hell, I even won a dance contest.

However, if Billy was correct, and I was Edward's mate, it would change things quite a bit. The first time I allowed myself to honestly consider that possibility, I knew it was true. I felt the truth of it with every fiber of my being. So much so that the honesty of it literally took my breath away and shocked me to my core.

I was Edward's mate. Edward was my mate. I may not have been a vampire, but I felt it just the same and with the same intensity. Edward could never stop loving me…there could be no distraction from the loss he would feel from our separation. It would eat away at him like acid every day and every minute that passed. Yet, he still stayed away because he wanted me to be safe…he wanted me to experience my humanity.

My brief time with the Cullens had provided many demonstrations of the extreme level of attachment involved with vampire mating. I just never appreciated the emotion and devotion behind it. On the rare occasion that one of the Cullens would hunt without their spouse, they would reunite with one another in a most passionate way. Based upon the amount of sex that went on, I could've easily guessed they'd been separated for months, rather than a day or two. Jasper even alluded to it once. In passing, he had mentioned that his bloodlust was nothing compared to the longing he felt when Alice and he were separated.

I was lucky that I came to this realization during my last semester at Princeton. My ignorance in Edward's motives had allowed me to partake in the human experiences he always wished I could have. I may not have understood or adequately appreciated his selflessness in leaving, but the results worked as intended. I doubted I would have been so keen on having such a robust life, had I properly understood the sacrifice Edward felt he was making.

In the span of a few short weeks, I went from despising what Edward Cullen had done to me, to feeling immense sorrow for the pain our separation must be causing him. In this odd turn of events, I had begun to feel Edward was as much, if not more, a victim of his decision to leave. His vampire nature would not allow him even a moment's peace from this torment.

By the time I graduated from Princeton, I really hated my humanity. I wasn't suicidal, at least not in the traditional sense. However, I longed to become like Edward…if only so I could spend eternity searching for him.

I needed to find him. I needed him to see that I'd had those human experiences and that I was better because of them. I needed him to see that I was no longer the naïve teenager that couldn't have possibly understood concepts like forever and eternal devotion. I wanted him to see I now understood the monster within him. Most importantly, I wanted him to see that I appreciated the sacrifice he'd made for us, and that I loved him even more because of it.

I needed a plan to find Edward. He had unlimited resources and was very skilled at disappearing. However, finding Edward wouldn't be enough. I needed him to want to see me once I found him. I needed to lure him out. I needed to make him listen. I need to make him feel. I decided that if I really wanted to make this happen, I needed to return home to Forks after Princeton, and mooch off my Dad for a bit while I hatched my plan.

Ultimately, my scheme to bait Edward came to me in a dream. Maybe I had watched one too many crappy soap operas with Renee while growing up, but my idea seemed just clichéd and campy enough to work. I hoped it did, because otherwise I didn't have much to tempt Edward to out himself.

I often wondered if Alice ever had visions of me after they left. If she ever had, or if she still did, it would ruin my plans. I needed Edward to be blind to my actions. Luckily, the Quileutes stumbled upon the camouflage I needed.

In creating his strategies to protect the tribe against the Cullens, Sam had experimented with different patrol tactics while the Cullens still lived in Forks. He came to realize that Alice's gift didn't work with the wolves. Something about the genetic makeup of the wolf pack members kept Alice blind to their actions. I probably wasn't supposed to know any of that but Embry let it slip one day. I used the knowledge to my advantage, and I only made my plans and key decisions when I was around the pack, which was easy because Dad had recently asked Sue Clearwater to move in with him.

Now I just needed a way to get in touch with Edward. I knew direct contact would be impossible, but maybe I could hunt down another member of the Cullen family and contact them. I surmised that the easiest Cullen to find would probably be Carlisle. His passion for helping others could serve me well.

I called in a favor with an old college roommate who had gone on to medical school. I asked her to look up Carlisle in her physician's database. All practicing doctors had to be state licensed. If Carlisle was currently practicing in the U.S., he would have an active state license somewhere. Unfortunately, my friend only turned up Carlisle's state license from Washington and his address in Forks.

That pissed me off. I knew Carlisle loved his work too much to abandon it, so he must be using a different name. I decided to make a trip down to the Forks hospital. I'd doubted Carlisle would have left town without providing the hospital with a means to reach him in case of an emergency.

The hospital administration office wasn't much help as they refused to give out any information about their current or previous medical staff. However, I happened to run into Dr. Gerandy by staking out his office for two hours. Once I finally got to speak to him, I explained that I needed to get a wedding invitation to Dr. Cullen and his family. Dr. Gerandy was happy to supply me with a mailing address in Los Angeles and an email address.

So much for privacy rules.

After the hospital, I went to La Push and settled in at Jake's house while I crafted my correspondence to Carlisle.

Dear Carlisle,

I wanted to let your family know of a wedding to be held on August 2nd at the First Presbyterian Church of Port Angeles, Washington. Although this is not a formal invitation (I doubt Jacob would appreciate that), I wanted to let you know about the event given our previous close relationship.

I was also hoping you could pass a message onto Edward. Specifically, I wanted to let him know that I now understand the real reasons for your departure five years ago. I hurt for a very long time afterwards, but time has allowed me to have some additional perspective of that day. I know he wanted me to be safe. I know he wanted me to experience a normal life. While I don't agree with the motives and methods behind the decision, I can now appreciate the opportunities and experiences I have gained because of that dreadful day. However, without Edward by my side, I am living a half-life, at best.

I still love and care for Edward very much. I believe he feels the same for me. He is my mate and I am his. I may not have comprehended what that meant before, but I now understand the depth of emotion and duty that comes with being one's mate. If his sense of loss and yearning has been a fraction of mine, I hope he reconsiders his decision of five years ago. Being apart from my mate is intolerable. I miss him and the entire Cullen family very much.

If Edward so desires, he can find me at the altar on August 2nd.


Isabella Marie Swan

I emailed and sent the letter to the addresses Dr. Gerandy had given me. The email would obviously be received first, but I sent the letter overnight, hoping to receive a delivery confirmation sometime the next day.

Shortly after I sent the email, it was returned to me stating that the address wasn't valid. I wasn't too upset as I'd expected as much. The next day I received a confirmation that my letter had been delivered, but it was signed for by a J. Jenks. I was unfamiliar with that name, but at least my letter wasn't returned. I never received a reply, nor did I expect one. I had to wait.

My eyes kept darting around the pews searching for his face. My vantage point only granted me a limited view of the assembled guests. The music finally changed and it was time to walk down the aisle. The bridesmaid in front of me started her march. After what seemed like an eternity, I was told to proceed down the aisle. My heart beat wildly in my chest as I took extra care to keep my pace in time with the music. I tried to glance around the church, but I couldn't see Edward anywhere. The ache in my chest grew with each step as I slowly realized he had not come.

As I approached Jacob, he smiled warmly at me. It was good to see him happy. As I reached the altar, I made my turn and faced Jacob. Our eyes locked for long moment before the doors at the back of the church swung open suddenly. We both looked up waiting to see who would be entering. My heart clenched tightly in my chest as Sarah started her walk down the aisle.

Jacob had imprinted on Sarah Chenoa during my sophomore year at Princeton. He and Embry were in Port Angeles to pick up some engine parts. They stopped to get some lunch at a local sandwich shop. Sarah waited on their table. As soon as Jacob looked at her, he felt his world shift and the imprint took hold. Sarah's father was descended from the Yekoochet'en. Her great grandfather was their chief and their tribal history purported that they also had shape-shifting genes. During my trips back to Forks, Sarah and I became good friends, and I was flattered when she asked me to be her maid of honor. Sarah's mother had raised her to be a Presbyterian, hence the location of the ceremony. Before meeting Jacob, she had been somewhat aware of her Native American heritage. Since then, Sarah learned a lot more about her and Jacob's ancestry.

Sarah looked beautiful and tears of joy threatened to fall as she stood next to Jacob. I noticed tears glistened Jacob's eyes as well. Holding hands, they both exchanged their vows in English and Quileute. Throughout the ceremony, I glanced around the church looking for any sign of Edward. Finally, Jacob and Sarah were announced husband and wife, as the church erupted in applause.

After we exited the church, Charlie pulled me aside to tell me, yet again, how beautiful I looked. He even openly wondered when I might be making the trip to the altar myself. I had coached myself before the wedding to not get upset if Edward never showed. He hadn't and Charlie's teasing about my own wedding day was more than I could handle. I burst into tears and starting sobbing uncontrollably. Edward didn't want me back, and I could no longer hold back the tears. Charlie was never one to handle extreme emotions well, but he tried his best to calm me.

After a few minutes, I decided to gather myself before we headed out. I had to be presentable for pictures and the reception, and in my current state, I was sure I looked atrocious. I asked Charlie to give me a minute while I ran back into the church to fix my face. Not being an overly religious man, Charlie opted to wait outside.

Instead of heading to the restroom, I walked back down the aisle and sat in the front pew staring numbly at the altar. He hadn't come. I knew in my heart I wasn't going to give up, but for today, the same ache I felt in my chest five years ago had returned. Fresh tears streamed down my cheeks as I allowed myself to feel the full weight of my disappointment.

From the far side of the altar I saw some movement, and then I heard an angel's voice.

"Bella, please don't cry, love."

After five long years, Edward's voice flowed through me like a bolt of lightning. I could tell the very instant my soul recognized his presence, because the ache in my chest vanished and a long forgotten feeling of warmth and excitement sprang forth.

I looked up slowly at Edward and blinked several times as I tried to make sense of the apparition standing in front of me. I had hallucinated him before, but this seemed almost real. I cocked my head to the side and tried to find the evidence I needed to prove that he was genuine.

"Bella, I…I…" Edward's image stammered before he dropped down to his knees, and looked directly into my eyes. He tentatively reached up and ran his fingers along my cheek to smooth away the tears that lingered. My hallucinations had never touched me before. I started to sob again, but this time it was not from sorrow, but rather from relief.

"Are you real?" I croaked. My voice was as raw as my nerves.

Edward looked at me with his dull golden eyes. I remembered the sparkle they'd once held. However, now they looked almost lifeless. Edward reached up and cupped my other cheek. The coolness of his marble skin touching my heated cheeks felt like home.

"Yes, love…I'm real. But the question is, are you?" Edward released my cheeks and reached for my hands. He raised my right hand up to his face and gently took a breath. Edward's eyes clamped shut and he swallowed heavily. He continued to breathe my aroma in steady, measured pants. Over the years, I had forgotten how uncomfortable my blood could make him.

"Is it too much?" I asked.

Edward's eyes shot open. The lifeless look had vanished and his eyes sparkled brighter than they ever had. It was if my very essence had energized his soul. His nose touched the pulse point of my wrist and he inhaled as deeply as he could. He swallowed again, but kept his eyes squarely focused on me.

"It will never be too much ever again," Edward said before sighing heavily. "Bella, I have done some truly horrific and monstrous things in my existence, but leaving you is far worse than anything I have ever done. I will never be able to express how sorry I am for the pain and anguish I have put you through. But, if you let me, I will spend every moment of eternity trying to prove to you how much I love you."

Edward inhaled again deeply, as he re-acclimated himself to being around me. Warmth kept spreading from within, lighting me from the inside out. He was here. He still loved me. I forgave him a long time ago, but I wasn't above making him work a bit more at it, so I stayed quiet and waited.

"In your letter you said you understood why I left. You were partially correct. Bella, I never felt worthy or deserving of happiness. I spent so many years seeing myself as a monster that I fought against the miracle of your love. I despised myself. I should have been overjoyed and embraced your acceptance and love. Instead, I allowed my prejudices and fears to darken my emotions and thoughts. I only allowed myself to see the burdens and dangers you would endure from being my mate. In the woods, I told the blackest of lies that day in an attempt to convince you I didn't care. You believed me so easily, I knew you must not truly love me as much as I love you. When you did not denounce my lies, I thought I had made the right decision. So I left to make you safe, to protect you from the horrors of my life. I was willing to endure any level of suffering, if you could find happiness someday."

Edward closed his eyes and shook his head. He was fighting the memory of our last meeting in the woods. Being a vampire, Edward's recollection would have been perfect and I could see the pain etched across his face.

"In your letter you spoke of living only a half-life without me. Without you, I had nothing. I barely existed. I was often numb and unresponsive for months on end. In fact, I went an entire year without speaking to any of my family. I saw it as my penance.

"You were stronger, Bella," Edward whispered. "Eventually you moved on. I know it wasn't easy for you. Over the past couple of days, I have been able to see in the minds of those around you. Jacob and your father were there for you. The wolf pack was there for you. I wasn't. The kind words in your letter absolved me of this, but I will regret that day I left for the remainder of my existence." Edward's chest heaved in a strangled sob. I knew vampires couldn't cry in the traditional sense, but the emotions still existed.

"I tried to hunt down Victoria after I left," Edward continued. "I'm really terrible at tracking, I found out. I thought she was in South America, but Victoria was here tormenting you. I should have been the one that ended her existence, but I am glad the Quileutes protected you."

Edward hung his head down in defeat and submission. A year ago, I would have celebrated Edward's suffering and grief, but not now. We both needed to heal. We both needed to heal together. I leaned down and placed a soft kiss onto his forehead. Edward raised his head and looked at me intently.

"I was wrong, Bella. I should have never left my mate. I don't deserve your forgiveness or your love, but God help me, I want it. I want you. I want us. Forever."

I couldn't help the elation I felt at Edward's use of the word forever. That single word had filled me with more hope and joy than I'd ever felt possible. Before I could respond, Edward's eyes glanced at the church doors.

"Charlie is coming to look for you," Edward said sadly. We both wanted more time.

I glanced at the doors and just nodded. "I need to go. Now's not the time to let Charlie know you're back." My eyes widened in shock and my voice rose up colored by my panic. "You are back, right?"

The first glimpse of Edward's trademark smirk ghosted his lips. "Rabid wolves couldn't drag me away." I rolled my eyes at Edward's poor attempt at humor. Edward reached into his suit coat pocket, pulled out a phone, and handed it to me. "I have so much more I need to say, but I want to give you time. When you are ready, call or text me…all of our numbers are in the phone."

"Is everyone back?" I asked tentatively. Now that Edward was here, I was getting greedy. I wanted all of the Cullens back in my life.

"Of course. Esme and Carlisle are opening the house back up. Alice is beside herself with joy, although it has troubled her to not see you when you are with the Quileutes. She's expecting a call." I heard the door of the church open as Edward darted behind the altar at vampire speed.

"There you are, Bells!" Charlie exclaimed. As Charlie approached, he could see my face was still a mess, but I felt lighter than a feather and I was sure it showed.

Charlie gave me his best crinkly grin. "Bells…I haven't seen you smile like that in years. You're practically glowing." Charlie glanced around the church as if trying to catch a glimpse at what transformed me. "I guess you found what you were looking for in here, huh?"

"I did." I hugged Charlie as hard as I could. "Now, let's get back to the wedding."

Charlie escorted me down the aisle. "Kiddo, you will never guess who I ran into outside." Charlie glanced down at me, his eyes bright with recognition. "Then again maybe you already know."

I knew the reception was going to be strange...but I handle strange well.

After Charlie and I arrived, the entire wolf pack smelled Edward's scent on me and Carlisle's scent on Charlie. Sarah managed to get the pictures taken, but the members of the pack were highly agitated. Before pandemonium broke out over the knowledge that the Cullens were back, I asked Jacob to assemble the members of the pack so I could speak to them in private. I hated doing it on Jacob's wedding day, but there was no getting out of it.

In a back room at the reception hall, far away from the other guests, I explained everything. I covered my conversation with Billy about vampire mates. I told them about my scheming and the letter I'd sent to Carlisle. I also told them, in no uncertain terms, that I planned on being with Edward…forever. Edward and I had wasted too much time already. The Quileutes were like family and they deserved the truth about my intentions. Though it might mean I would lose their friendship and love forever, I understood that was a price I might have to pay to be with Edward…I had reconciled that fate a while back.

Paul and Leah were, of course, furious. Sam and the rest of the pack were obviously worried and upset, but listened. Jacob remained silent throughout, with no trace of emotion on his face. The group broke apart as several conversations happened at once; they ranged from taking out the Cullens now before they were retrenched in the community, to patrol schedules so La Push would be protected.

During the fervor, Sarah came in to see what was going on. Jacob quietly explained what had transpired. I expected Sarah to rage at me for bringing this chaos to her wedding day. She should have. I deserved it. But, she never did.

To my great surprise, Sarah ran over to me and hugged me tight. She expressed how happy she was for me as tears started flowing down both of our faces. For Sarah, it wasn't about ancient enemies and treaty lines. It was about a man and a woman loving each other. She understood and accepted the imprinting phenomena, but it didn't diminish her love for Jacob. She once lamented to me that she wished that she could shape shift like the rest of the Quileutes. Then she and Jacob could be together beyond one lifetime. I knew she understood what I was fighting for.

Jacob approached his wife and me. His expression was still unreadable.

"Is this what you really want, Bells?" Jacob asked in a level voice. I could now see the effort it took for him to remain calm as he slowly clenched his hands.

"It's all I've ever wanted," I replied. I was surprised at the strength and calmness of my voice.

Jacob pulled Sarah aside and they had a private conversation. Jacob's emotions were starting to get the best of him as he started to shake. I watched as Sarah reached up and pulled Jacob's head down to her as she whispered into his ear. Jacob's eyes widened and his shoulders dropped. He glanced over at me before approaching Sam.

Sarah came over and hugged me around the waist. She didn't say anything, but she didn't need to. My guess was that she explained to Jacob she would gladly give up her human trappings to spend eternity with him if she could.

I watched as Jacob and Sam started talking. Sam's face showed shock and then he flinched as if he had been slapped. Jacob put his hand on Sam's shoulder as if to reassure him of something. Sam nodded, but he didn't look happy.

Jacob turned and asked everyone to be quiet.

"I never wanted this responsibility, but I feel it is time for me to take my rightful place as the alpha of this pack and as the Chief of our tribe." The pack looked stunned at Jacob's admission. Sam nodded his head in submission as everyone processed Jacob's words. Sarah couldn't help but beam at her new husband…Chief Jacob.

"It has been made clear to me by the words of my father, the histories of our elders, and the wishes of my new wife, that perhaps an exception to Cullen treaty is in order."

The pack erupted into raised voices before Jacob bellowed, "Enough!" I looked around and was surprised to see Billy off to the side, watching Jacob take his rightful role as leader of the tribe.

"Our histories have proven that the bond between vampire mates is similar, if not the same, as our imprints. As Quileutes, we would never stand in the way of a member's imprint. I don't see that we have the right to stand in the way of Bella being Edward Cullen's mate. The Cullens have proven to be trustworthy and respectful of the treaty. I am inclined to grant this one time exception provided that they agree to change Bella far away from our home."

"How can you are agree to allow her to become a soulless bloodsucker!" Paul spat.

"This is not easy for me! I know what I'm condemning her to become!" Jacob barked back before he took a deep breath. Jacob glanced at Billy for a moment before continuing, "I have no doubt Bella will go through with this, with or without our approval. The Cullens are reasonable, but they will all fight to the death for a family member the same as we would. I hate this perhaps more than anybody…" Jacob was now visibly shaking in anger at the words and the declaration he was making, but he continued, "It is best for tribe that we allow this, as the losses to all involved would be great. One life is indeed a better price than many."

"What about Charlie and his losses in this!" Leah yelled. Between Paul and Leah, I was surprised either one of them hadn't phased yet.

"That is between Bella and Charlie," Jacob replied in a sad voice. I couldn't help but look towards Billy. The pain he felt for his best friend was obvious. "I would hope that the Cullens and Bella would be mindful of his feelings in this, but I have made my decision. I will grant this exception, and I forbid any retaliation against the Cullens."

The pack erupted into loud voices again, but I had noticed that the tone was different. Jacob's word was now law and the challenges were kept to a minimum.

"Bella…" I was surprised to find Billy next to me. Sarah excused herself, joined Jacob, and the rest of the pack.

"I am a torn man. I don't agree with your choice. Our hatred for the cold ones runs in our blood, and to think of you as one of them is unbearable. I have to ask you to reconsider for your sake and for Charlie's." Billy's voice broke at the mention of my Dad's name.

"I can't change who I am or what I feel, Billy. Edward and I are…"

"…mates," Billy completed my sentence for me. "I know. And…I knew when we had our discussion at Christmas my words may very well lead you to this. As I said, I'm torn, Bella. I love you as if you are one of my own. I want you to be happy. Part of me knows it is wrong to stand in your way. Jacob is a much stronger man than I am." Billy looked over at his son, the Chief, with a reverent look on his face. "I am proud of him today. All of this…Jacob, the pack, the Cullens, and you…perhaps this is how it was always meant to be."

I couldn't help the tears that flowed from Billy's admission.

"I'm sorry…" I whispered, but Billy stopped me.

"Bella, maybe now would be a good time to leave." Billy wasn't trying to be mean, I could see that in his eyes. "We're all feeling a bit raw. Give us some time. I'll let Charlie and Sue know you headed out."

I nodded, as words were no longer needed. I glanced one more time back towards Jacob and Sarah before I slipped out the door. Billy was right. Staying here would serve no purpose other than to hurt the Quileutes even more. Jacob had granted me my forever. He paid heavily for it. I now needed to have the strength to close this chapter of my life and move forward.

Outside the reception hall, Edward was waiting for me. I wasn't surprised he was there. I was relieved. Between Edward's gift and his super hearing, I was sure he knew everything.

I ran into his waiting arms and allowed myself to melt into his embrace. I looked up into his amber eyes and I saw my future. Five years ago, I would have seen regret and sorrow reflected back at me, but now I saw hope and promise. Slowly, Edward leaned down and kissed me. As the kiss deepened beyond anything Edward and I had previously done, I remembered the conversation Jacob and I had along time ago. Just as Jacob had prophesized, this kiss felt right. I was home.

~ Epilogue ~

So much has changed in the past two years.

After Jacob's wedding, I spent that next month reconnecting with Edward and the Cullen family. I had become a different person over the previous five years. I had been concerned that maybe Edward wouldn't like the new me. I was stronger. I was more opinionated. I was less susceptible to Edward's bullying. I quickly noticed Edward had changed as well. He was less brooding. He was less controlling. He was a lot hornier.

Ultimately, my fears were unfounded, as Edward and I fell more in love with one another than ever. We laughed more than we ever had. We talked openly and honestly with one another about our fears and our expectations. Surprisingly, we came to quick agreement on me being changed…the sooner the better. We had sex…actually, we had lots of sex.

Somehow, our five years apart had made us stronger. We were equals. I no longer placed Edward high on a pedestal. He no longer treated me like a naïve china doll.

Edward even got along with Charlie. A couple of days after Jacob's wedding, Edward came over to the house and spoke with Charlie…for three hours. Neither one would ever tell me what was said between them, however later that night, Charlie told me I could do a lot worse than Edward.

Three weeks before my twenty-third birthday, I received notice that I was awarded a one-year writing fellowship in Scotland through the University of Edinburgh. I laughed when I read it because I never remembered applying for it. Edward rolled his eyes, as he had arranged for this as my newborn year cover. I had liked it because I could stay in touch with Charlie, and when I was ready, I could come back to see him.

Charlie had mixed feelings about the fellowship. He was excited for the opportunity I was given, but he didn't like the idea of me being away for a whole year. Surprisingly, he felt much better knowing Edward was going to make the trip with me.

Jacob had heard about the fellowship trip through Charlie and dropped me an email wishing me luck in my new life. His impersonal, but cordial note was more than I expected from him and the pack.

A week before my birthday we flew to Scotland. Exactly four hours and twenty-six minutes before I would have turned twenty-three, my heart pumped its last beat.

I wish I could say that my newborn period was an easy one. It wasn't. The change itself was horrific. I still shudder thinking of the excruciating pain and burning. The post-change bloodlust was almost equally horrific. With nearly unlimited strength and stamina, it was exceedingly difficult not to sneak out and slaughter the nearest town.

On the plus side, the sex was beyond amazing. The ability for Edward and I to enjoy one another for days on end without stopping was my favorite way of dealing with the dry, aching burn in my throat. The best was post-hunting sex. It was the most primal, animalistic, and surprisingly, the most sensual experience I have ever had.

It took about nine months for me to tolerate being around humans. Edward and the rest of the Cullens were with me everyday to ensure I never slipped up. I did come close once with the FedEx delivery man, but Esme tackled me to the ground. As my one-year vampire anniversary came around, I was able to partake in most things. Edward and I decided to spend an extra six months in Scotland so I could enjoy the sights and culture that I had forgone during my confinement.

I missed Charlie a lot during our eighteen months away. In our absence, Charlie eloped with Sue. We had talked about it over the phone before it happened, and I couldn't have been happier for him and Sue. They both deserved to be happy.

Once Charlie was officially wedded to Sue, Billy and Jacob let him in on the family secret. Charlie handled it well. I guess being good with strange runs in the family. What Charlie did not handle so well was the reason the Quileutes change into giant wolves. Upon hearing about the cold ones, he immediately guessed what the Cullens were. Luckily, he had gotten married during Edward's and my extra semester in Scotland, because he and Sue caught the first flight to Edinburgh to confront us all.

That first meeting went about as well as could be expected. Most of Charlie's fire had diminished by the time they pulled up to our house in the highlands. He did rage at Edward and Carlisle for betraying his trust and stealing the life of his little girl, but Alice came to their rescue and smoothed things over. I spent a long afternoon chatting with Charlie and explained my entire chaotic history with the Cullens. Charlie didn't speak to any of us for two days after I enlightened him on the extent I'd been exposed to both the vampire and werewolf worlds.

Ultimately, Charlie and Sue stayed for ten days and eventually enjoyed a nice impromptu honeymoon in Scotland. To my surprise, Charlie accepted my decision. Edward told me Sue was instrumental in easing Charlie's mind. By the time they departed Scotland, Charlie was comfortable enough to joke about us being vampires. He asked Edward if the Forks P.D. could use him for target practice since he was obviously bullet proof and would make for good sport on the combat range.

We had been back in Forks for six months. I had to admit it felt good to be back home. However, our time in Forks was very limited. Our lack of aging was becoming an issue with the locals. Several of them, in fact, felt Carlisle had invented some type of anti-aging serum.

After today's festivities, Edward and I would be spending a month on Carlisle and Esme's private island. During our trip, the family would be moving north into British Columbia. I was glad that everyone had agreed to stay in this part of the continent so I could be near Charlie for bit longer.

I heard a knock on my dressing room door. Before I had a chance to answer, Alice and Rose bounded in.

"Bella! Look what Edward sent over for you!" Alice squealed.

Rose handed me a blue Tiffany's box. I rolled my eyes at Edward's fifth gift this week. At least I had become better at accepting Edward's presents. He often commented it was the best change in me during our five-year hiatus.

I carefully opened the box to find a beautiful platinum and sapphire bracelet.

"Oh, there's your something blue," Rose cooed while she and Alice looked over my latest trinket.

"Come on, Bella," Alice chided me. "Put it on so we can get this wedding started! Your husband to be is waiting for you!"

Rose and I rolled our eyes at our excessively perky sister. Before slipping the bracelet on my wrist, I noticed an inscription Edward had engraved on the shiny platinum underside. I smiled and fell in love with Edward all over again as I saw my own words reflected back at me.

"You can find me at the altar."

End of story notes

Thank you for reading! If you liked it (or even if you didn't), please leave me a review! I am thinking about writing an Edward POV of this story. If you would be interested in that please let me know.