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Only in My Dreams copyright 2012 nikkipattinson

Only in My Dreams

Dear Jacob,

I could have punched you last night when you woke me. The only thing that stopped me was the memory of the last time I hit you. The pain of that broken hand will forever be etched in my memory. As will that night - the night we went for coffee - the night I started lying to you.

In my defense, you should never kiss a woman without her permission. You deserved that punch. You didn't deserve the last five years of me and my baggage though. For that, let me begin this by apologizing for all the Hell I put you through and thanking you for trying to love me anyway.

I tried to love you the same way, but I didn't have the necessary equipment. You see, I no longer have a romantic heart. I gave it away a long time ago and I never got it back. I know that I told you that I was over it, but I lied. I lied to you so many times.

It was eighteen years ago and we were only nineteen. God, how I loved him... how I love him still. We were in our second semester of college. He was going to be a history teacher/football coach and I was going to be a lawyer. We had a plan. In truth, we'd had a plan since we were five years old, but I don't know if we both knew it then. All we knew at five was that we couldn't stand to be away from each other.

I fell in love when I was five. I got on that school bus and there he was – Edward. With those brilliant green eyes and that messy, never quite right hair... I thought he was an angel. He was so beautiful; a sharp contrast to my plain countenance. Yet, he liked me. He wanted to sit with me. He wanted to talk to me. He wanted to be my friend.

He was my protector too. When the other kids bullied me for being smaller than everyone else, he stepped in and fought for me. When they picked on me for being nerdy smart, he defended me. He was the one who carried me to the nurse's office when the big kids pushed me and I ripped open my knee on the pavement. I still have the scar.

At ten, we had to perform in front of the entire school for a Veteran's Day program. I was terrified. I was even more terrified because we were arranged in alphabetical order. This meant the Edward would be on one end of the stage and I would be on the other. I nearly hyperventilated at every practice. I should have known that Edward wouldn't let me be so far away from him and so scared. The afternoon of the program he walked calmly across the stage, squeezed in between me and Josh Simpson, and took my hand. I stared at him through the entire thing. I managed to make it through and not pass out. Again, he had rescued me.

In middle school I hit my awkward phase. I was small and skinny. I had braces and thick glasses. Edward, on the other hand, never had an awkward stage. He just got more and more beautiful with each passing year. Girls were throwing themselves at him and he seemed oblivious to it all. I lost count of the number of times I heard not so quiet whispers behind my back.

Why does he hang out with her?

What does he see in her?

She's so ugly. He could do so much better.

And that was just from the girls. The boys were worse. They said things directly to my face.

Hey, Edward, dump the troll and let's go to the mall.

Hey, nerd, what kind of spell have you put on Cullen? It's got to be some mojo or something. You're too ugly for him to really want you.

Edward always defended me. When I just wanted to go hide away from it all, he would take my hand and say, "Don't listen to them. You're beautiful and you're special. I want you; not them. And I don't care what anyone else says. You're my Bella and I'm your Edward."

I got contacts in the ninth grade the same day that my braces were removed. One day I had metal in my mouth and Coke bottle glasses. The next day, I didn't. Edward wanted to come over that night to see me, but I wouldn't let him. I wanted it to be a surprise. I didn't ride the bus the next day because I wanted him to see me when everyone else did. I just knew that my life would be different.

If I had thought that the taunts would end if I didn't look like such a geek, then I was way too optimistic about the nature of teenagers. I think that I was just destined to not fit in. I was dating the quarterback of the football team, but I wasn't a cheerleader. I was taking AP and honors classes, but I was dating the quarterback. The nerds didn't want me; after all, I must be popular. The popular crowd didn't want me; after all, I must be a nerd. Edward was my only friend.

I tried to not complain or feel sorry for myself. Edward would always defend me. He would try to include me, but his crowd – the popular crowd – wouldn't let me in. Edward would take me to dances at school and I would hide behind him so that I wouldn't be seen. He would try to make me dance, but I was too clumsy and would step on his feet. He should have dumped me, but he wouldn't. He said that he couldn't. He said that he had loved me since he had first seen me and that kind of love never dies. He was right... the love never dies.

I hated high school. My mother once told me that high school would be the best times of my life. I remember thinking that I should just kill myself right then if that's as good as I could expect it to ever get. I broke down after the homecoming dance our junior year and told Edward what Renee had said and how it made me feel. He told me that he just wanted me to have the full high school experience and that he hadn't understood. I knew how much his friends meant to him, so I had endured it as long as I could.

I remember what he said to this day. It's etched in my brain. They were the most beautiful words I'd ever heard; even more wonderful than 'I love you.' He said, "They mean nothing to me. You're my world, Bella. They're... well... just there. You're my heart."

And he was mine. He's still mine. Just as I will always belong to him, he will always belong to me.

Since I had no other friends, I sat with Edward's parents at his football games. Edward started playing football when he was eight. He was a natural. I, unfortunately, was never a natural at anything athletic. I couldn't walk on a smooth surface without falling and hurting myself. But for Edward, I learned football. I read any book I could find on the subject. I watched games with my dad and peppered him with endless questions. I became somewhat of a football expert. The consequence of this is that I watched all of Edward's games with rapt attention. Unlike the pom-pom shaking airheads on the side of the field, I actually knew what was going on during the game.

It was the fourth game of Edward's senior season. I was in my usual spot on the fifty yard line sitting next to Esme when Emmett missed his block and Edward was sacked. I still can't tell you if it was Esme or me who gasped. I can tell you that I was on my feet first when I realized that Edward wasn't getting up.

I think that I was screaming his name, but it sounded so far away that it could have been Esme. I ran to the gates in the end zone. I was fumbling with the latch when Emmett suddenly appeared. Emmett is Edward's cousin and one of the few people who has never been horrible to me. He wouldn't let me in. I tried to push him out of the way, which was pointless because Emmett was and still is an immovable object. Emmett told me to wait there, because they would bring Edward out to the ambulance through that gate. All I heard was 'ambulance.' I was fighting the urge to vomit when Esme appeared at my side.

Esme asked the questions I couldn't make my mouth form. 'Was he alright?' 'What happened?' Emmett had missed his block; we all saw that. Edward was unconscious and the trainer was having difficulty waking him. I sat down hard on the grass. I was staring at the field waiting for any sign that he was alive. Suddenly, he raised his left arm and touched his nose. I pulled on Esme's pants leg and pointed. He was conscious; I could breathe again.

They got him on the stretcher and started walking him off the field. As he passed us, he reached out with his left hand. He called my name. I rushed to him and clasped his hand in mine. He smiled and squeezed my hand.

"Don't cry. I'm gonna be fine."

Edward had a concussion and a broken collarbone that took him out for the rest of the season. The first few games after his injury, Edward sat on the sidelines in his jersey and jeans. Finally, he told the coach that sitting there was pointless and he just quit the team altogether. We still went to all the games, I was kind of addicted to the sport by then, but Edward would sit with me in the stands.

It was at one of those games that we both almost got expelled from school. It really wasn't our fault. No matter how many times Edward told the girls in school that he wasn't interested, there would always be one that wouldn't take no for an answer. Lauren Mallory was one of those girls. She also happened to be the vice principal's daughter. Edward and I were sitting under a blanket about three rows down from his parents enjoying the last game of the regular season. If we won this game, we would go to the playoffs. Suddenly, Lauren appeared at my side. She and her friend, Jessica, sat down next to me and Lauren bumped my shoulder.

She tried to act like it was an accident. It hurt too much to be accidental. Edward put his arm around me and pulled me closer. Lauren bumped me again. This time Edward felt the weight of the impact. He leaned over and glared at Lauren. She took this as an invitation and started to flirt with him. She actually grabbed my arm and tried to move me out of the way. This was unacceptable to Edward. He grabbed her wrist and yanked her hand from my arm, causing her nails to rip open my skin. Edward told her to go away as I cowered behind him clutching my arm.

Lauren was outraged. She slapped Edward across the face. I don't know what snapped inside me, but I couldn't take that. He had always defended me, now it was my turn. I stood up and advanced on her. I fully intended to hit the bitch, but I was too clumsy. If I hadn't been so clumsy, I might not have fallen like I did. As it was, I did fall. I fell down two rows of the bleachers and hit the side of my head on one of the steps. What happened next is kind of blurry. Esme was at my side, quickly checking me for serious injuries. I looked up to see Carlisle holding Edward back as he frantically tried to get to Lauren. Jessica was standing in front of Lauren trying to make her leave. I closed my eyes when the police showed up.

Carlisle told the police to back off, that he had it under control. Lauren ran to her daddy crying that we had attacked her. I spent the rest of the night in the emergency room getting the gash on the side of my head at my hairline stitched; eight very small, very uncomfortable stitches. Edward never left my side. Edward and I were called to the vice principal's office Monday morning.

Edward was waiting on me at the door. I had a black eye and a bandage over the stitches. A collection of Band-aids covered the cut on my arm. I wasn't looking my best. Edward had a small bruise on his left cheek where Lauren had hit him. When we walked into the room, Lauren was there sobbing theatrically into her hands. Her father was sitting behind his desk.

She put on quite the show. She accused us of attacking her. We attacked her? Edward snapped and started yelling at the vice principal, probably not the smartest thing in the world to do. When he threatened to expel both of us for fighting at a school function, I thought Edward was going to make the man look worse than I did. I was thankful that Carlisle and my dad showed up at that moment.

Carlisle dragged Edward from the room to calm him down. Charlie asked me to leave as well. I don't know what was said, but about ten minutes later, Lauren came out of the office with dry eyes. She glared at me and then stalked out of the room. Edward was sitting next to me clutching my hands and saying that it was all his fault.

Mr. Mallory and Charlie came out a few minutes later. Mr. Mallory apologized to us both and said that he had been given bad information. We were free to return to class. Edward, still holding onto my hand for dear life, stood and glared at Mr. Mallory before we turned to leave. I apologized profusely to Carlisle and Charlie for them having to come to the school.

Charlie thanked Edward for protecting me. Edward said that he always would. That's probably why my parents didn't argue when Edward and I decided to go to college together. Their only stipulation was that we both live in the dormitories the first year. Like that would have stopped two hormonal teenagers.

For Edward's sixteenth birthday his grandfather, Noah, let him pick whatever car he wanted off of his used car lot. Edward chose a Nissan Prerunner pickup. Some of my best Edward memories are of zipping two sleeping bags together and making out in the bed of that truck. We had a place out in the woods near his house that we would go. We had no idea what we were doing, but we learned together. I can honestly say that I was in love with the person that took my virginity. Well, maybe he didn't take it so much as receive it when it was offered. It was a gift we gave each other. We'd planned to never be with anyone else. So much for plans, huh?

For a graduation gift, Noah told Edward to pick another car; preferably one with a trunk. Parking was limited at the University, so we would be taking only one car. Truthfully, my ancient truck probably wouldn't have made the three hour trip there anyway and if it did, it sure as hell wouldn't make it back. Edward and I went to the lot and together we picked a Ford Probe. Edward didn't want a 'grocery getter.' Like every other teenage boy in America, he wanted a sports car. We needed a trunk. The Probe was our compromise. I had wanted the Volvo. The moment we drove off the lot, I missed the bed of that Nissan truck. Edward reminded me that we'd have real beds when we got to school.

The first semester at the university was absolutely amazing. Edward and I were able to spend almost twenty-four hours a day together. We took the same classes. We ate in the same dining hall. Our dormitories were next-door to each other. It was heaven. I have never been so happy in my entire life.

We went home for Christmas break. It was strange to not see Edward constantly after being basically attached at the hip for three and a half months. I started working at a jewelry store in the Mall wrapping Christmas gifts for $5.25 an hour. Edward got a Christmas help position at Hibbett Sports. I worked during the day and he worked in the evening. I didn't know that he was also washing cars at his grandfather's car lot for extra money.

I found out about the other job on Christmas Day when Edward asked me to marry him. The diamond was small and he promised over and over to replace it with a bigger one when he could, but I thought it was perfect. I cried and, of course, said 'yes.'

My job ended on Christmas Eve, but Edward's continued through the New Year. He was still working the two jobs. He had closed at Hibbett after working all day at the car lot. He was tired. He probably fell asleep. I'll never know. I'll never know how fast he was driving. I'll never know if he swerved to miss something in the road. I'll never know what he thought before he hit the tree.

I do know that Carlisle called my dad and told him that there had been an accident. I know that I was driven to the hospital by my parents. I do know that when I saw him I collapsed in the floor and sobbed.

That wasn't my Edward. He wasn't there. Lying in that bed was a shell. His beautiful face was virtually gone. He was so swollen from the impact with the windshield that you couldn't make out any of his features. Blood had turned his bronze hair a sickening crimson red. There were tubes coming out of his throat and his arms.

Brain Dead

I remember hearing those words from far, far away. This wasn't happening. I was dreaming. This isn't real. I screamed at the doctors that this wasn't real. I punched and clawed at the people who tried to control me. This wasn't real. This couldn't be real. We had plans. We were going to be married. He wouldn't leave me. I didn't feel the injection that sedated me, but the sleep didn't make it better. It just prolonged the pain.

Carlisle and Esme donated his organs, so the funeral was postponed a few days. People kept telling me that I should take comfort that some part of him would live on. I wanted to tell them to eat shit. I didn't want a part of him to 'live on.' I wanted all of him to live. I wanted all of him with me.

I had made a bit of a scene at the private, family viewing, so I had to be sedated again for the funeral. What did they expect me to do? The funeral home had slicked his hair down with gel or something. That wasn't how he wore it. He wore it messy and sticking up in erratic spikes. They had painted his face in a way that made him look artificial and grotesque. They had made him look like even more of a stranger than when he was lying swollen on the hospital gurney. I reacted. I'm sorry if they thought it was inappropriate.

Through the fog of sedation, people who had ignored me in high school hugged my shoulders and apologized for my loss. I stared blankly at them. I couldn't cry anymore and the medication had me too drunk to react to most of them; most of them, but not all of them.

I don't know what snapped inside of me when Lauren walked into the room, but all of the rage I had bottled up erupted. I practically sprinted across the room and attacked her. It took four people to pull me off of her. When they did, I had a large chunk of her hair balled up in my fist. Esme had my dad take me home.

I stayed in bed for three days. I didn't sleep. I didn't eat. I didn't even move. I laid there and stared out the window... and I grieved. I grieved for Edward. I grieved for my loss. I grieved for my broken heart. I cried until all I had in me were dry, empty sobs.

On the fourth day, my mom knocked on my door and entered with a chilled bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream and two glasses. She sat on my bed and, in her way, tried to pull me out of my pit of despair. It was her idea for us to drink the bottle of whiskey. In her mind, the combination of chocolate and liquor would cure my depression. I stared at her and then at the bottle. I reached for one of the glasses and immediately started getting shit-faced.

I don't know how much I drank, because the bottle never seemed to end. Looking back, she probably had more than one. Knowing Renee, she had a case hidden from my dad and I made a serious dent in her stash. I passed out eventually. I finally slept.

I apparently slept for an entire day. I woke with a horrible headache and a bag of cotton balls in my mouth. I dragged myself out of the bed and dragged myself to the bathroom. I relieved myself and tried to brush my teeth. The second the toothpaste was in my mouth, my stomach lurched. I vomited until I was too weak to stand.

I rinsed my mouth when I finally stopped and realized that for the first time in over a week I didn't feel depressed. I was too sick to feel anything but the headache and the nausea. I wanted to die, but for an entirely different reason.

I made it to the kitchen somehow. Mom was there nursing a cup of coffee. She looked as bad as I felt. She half smiled at me and poured another cup of coffee. She handed me the coffee and a bottle of Excedrin. I accepted both.

She asked me how I felt. I told her that I was fine. I lied, but I figured that it was what she wanted to hear. She looked at the floor for a moment before she asked what I was going to do now. In truth, I wasn't sure exactly what she was asking. What was I going to do at that moment? Probably finish at least one cup of coffee and then go back to bed. What was I going to do in the future? I had no idea. Instead of actually answering her, I shrugged.

She asked if I was going back to school. I shrugged. She asked if I was going to get a job. I shrugged. She sighed and said, "Edward is gone, Bella; he's dead. You aren't." The dam broke again. I screamed at her and threw the cup of coffee across the room. I ran back to my room. I slammed the door closed and locked it.

That night, Dad popped the lock on the door and came into my room. He told me that there was a mess that I needed to clean up in the kitchen. I pulled the covers over my head. He jerked them off the bed and told me to get up. I refused. He picked me up as I kicked and screamed. He dropped me in the bathtub. Before I could get up and out, he turned the shower on... cold water only.

I screamed and scrambled, soaking wet, out of the tub. What the Hell! I stood there trembling in my wet pajamas. Talk about tough love. He told me to clean myself up, put on some clean clothes, and then to meet them in the living room. Decisions were going to be made. I begrudgingly took a shower and did as I was told. It was one thing to be rude to my flighty mother, but it was an entirely different situation when it came to my father.

At the end of our 'conversation,' it had been decided that I would take a break from school and get at least a part-time job until I 'recovered.' I agreed to everything they said just to get out of the room and back to my bed.

I was genuinely surprised when Dad came into my room the next morning and told me to get up. I was apparently going to be looking for a job that day. Having no discernable skills, I was reluctant to do this. I tried to reason with him, but he wouldn't budge. I didn't know how to do anything. The only job I'd ever had was wrapping gifts at a jewelry store. Dad told me to start there. I thought he was insane to even think that anyone would hire me, but I apparently had no choice.

Dad drove me to the Mall. I went to the store I had worked at over the holidays and asked the manager, Leonard, if he might have a part-time position available. I could see the sympathy in his eyes. He knew what had happened; the whole town knew. He glanced behind me at my dad and then told me that he could find something.

Leonard had me man the register during the peak hours of five p.m. until close so that the sales associates could focus on the floor. I was responsible for ringing up purchases and closing out the register at the end of the day. I also helped with the nightly inventory. You see, in a jewelry store everything has to be accounted for at the end of the night. Every diamond had to be counted and then everything was placed in the safe until the next morning.

I had been working at the store for two weeks when I met Rosalie. Dad usually dropped me off at the Mall a few minutes early. Most of the time, I waited in the Food Court for my shift to start, but one day I actually walked down the Mall. I stopped to look at the Christmas ornaments that were on clearance at the 'Things Remembered' kiosk. Rosalie asked if I needed any help.

I think I mumbled something along the lines of not needing help with a purchase. Suddenly she exclaimed that she knew me; I was the girl who dated the quarterback. She thought we had gone to school together. I didn't remember her.

Apparently, she was a year ahead of me and was 'all goth' in high school. I suppose that it was a harsh contrast from the tall, pretty blonde standing before me. I told her again that I didn't remember her and walked away.

A few nights later she showed up at the jewelry store and asked me if I wanted to have lunch the next day. I told her that I didn't eat lunch. She said that everyone ate lunch. I rephrased and said that I didn't eat. She looked at me like I had lost my mind and said that she'd be in the Food Court at one the next day if I wanted to talk.

I didn't meet her the next day. A week later she showed up at the store again. This time she had a bag from 'Wendy's' in her hand. She thrust it at me across the counter and said that everyone had to eat. Then she turned and left the store.

The next night, I bought a chicken sandwich meal from 'Wendy's' and walked down to the 'Things Remembered' kiosk. I dropped it on the counter in front of Rosalie and told her that the next time she wanted to buy me a burger to make sure that it didn't have onions or pickles on it. Then I turned and walked away.

That's how our friendship started. Rosalie was insistent that we were going to be friends and I fought her the entire way. It came as a complete surprise to me, when I suddenly realized that I was eating and sleeping again. Rosalie didn't make me talk; she let me talk. She wasn't overly sympathetic, but she was understanding.

She also had a huge group of friends. They were all kind of weird. They considered themselves to be outcasts and were okay with it. I didn't fit in, exactly, but none of the group actually fit in... anywhere. After several months, I was comfortable around them and almost happy.

I met James at a party that Rosalie insisted we attend. My dad had bought me a car after I had managed to keep my job for more than two months. I had drawn the short straw, so I was the DD that night. I walked out to my car to get some air and there was James. He and a couple of his friends were leaning against my car. I remember exactly what I said to him.

"Do you mind getting your ass off my car before you scratch the paint?"

He smiled and sauntered over to me. I looked him up and down. Then I told him that whatever he thought he had that I might want wasn't even close to anything I would consider. Then I flipped him off and walked back into the party.

I'm telling you about James because he is one of those things that I had lied to you about. I had told you that I had never slept with anyone that I didn't love. I slept with James. He searched me out after the party and called me. He talked me into meeting him for dinner one night before my shift at the store. Apparently, he had talked to Rosalie and knew my story. He had a similar one. His girlfriend, Victoria, had died of an overdose two years before and he was still grieving as well.

The first time we had sex I think that it was for comfort. We were both hurting and wanted to feel something other than the pain. We started to hang out and go places together. My parents were thrilled. They thought that I was moving on. I wasn't and neither was James. I was a poor substitute for Victoria and he was an even poorer substitute for Edward.

We were 'fuck buddies' for almost a year. In the mean time, I introduced Rosalie to Emmett and they became serious. James met a girl named Catherine and they became serious. I was alone again, but this time I was okay. I had resigned myself to it and it felt right.

I didn't date anyone for a long time. I was promoted to a full-time sales associate position at the jewelry store. I started studying and received my gemologist's license. I began helping Leonard with appraisals. He eventually started training me to be a jeweler. I learned how to mount stones and progressed to designing and casting custom pieces. I never went back to college.

Edward had been gone for four years. I had been living with Charlie and Renee the entire time. I was now twenty-three years old. The assistant manager at the store got pregnant after having tried for a very long time. She quit and Leonard offered me the position. It would mean more responsibility and a considerable increase in pay. I accepted his offer and started making plans to move out of my parents' house.

I found Alice through the want ads in the newspaper. She was looking for a roommate and I needed a place to live. We met and it was like oil and water; fire and ice. She was hyper and bubbly; I was stoic and moody. She floated into a room and made people smile with her laughter; I sulked into the room and made people frown with my scowl. She instantly loved me; she grew on me.

I moved in with Alice. She was dating a guy named Jasper who thought that it was his personal mission in life to make me smile. He annoyed the hell out of me. I had to fight the urge to not slap the shit out of him every time he was at the apartment. You remind me of him at times, Jacob.

I had been living with Alice for about a month when the first dream happened. I remember every detail. It was so real to me. I wish that 'Dream Bella' hadn't reacted the way that she did. I wish that my subconscious hadn't been so fucked up at the time.

I was sitting at the kitchen table in Carlisle and Esme's house. I felt him before I saw him. I turned and there he was... perfect. He looked so beautiful. His hair was bronze again and not that horrible crimson. It was all messy and sexy like it should have been. I could see his gorgeous green eyes because he wasn't swollen or distorted by injuries. He was perfect... and I was mad.

I stood up so fast that the chair fell over. I launched myself at him and began beating his chest. I screamed at him for leaving me. I screamed at him for abandoning me. How could he just leave me alone to suffer? I didn't understand how he could be so cruel.

I must have cried out in my sleep, because Alice came into my room and woke me. I lied and told her it was a nightmare. In a way, I guess it was. But it was a nightmare that I desperately wanted to have again.

I didn't have another dream for weeks. I wanted to have one so badly. I tried everything. I took Tylenol PM every night, thinking that if I could get into a deeper sleep state then maybe he would come back. I switched to Nytol so that I could take more and maybe not permanently damage my organs. Nothing brought him back.

After several months and no Edward, my life returned to its normal state. Well, my normal anyway. I went to work; I ate dinner with Alice; I returned to my impersonation of a functioning human being.

I was working late at the store one night when Jasper and Alice walked through the door. She waved at me and dragged Jasper to the back where I was counting down the register. I didn't notice that they had a friend with them. Jasper introduced me to Mike that night. He was a nice enough guy. Totally not my type, if I had type at all that is. He was short, maybe 5'7", with sandy blond hair and dull, blue eyes. I nodded politely and told him that it was nice to meet him. Then I went back to the register.

I finally noticed that they weren't leaving. Apparently, I was supposed to go out dancing with them when I got off work. I walked around the counter, pulled Alice to the side, and asked her if she'd lost her mind. I was given no choice and found myself at a dance club with my best friend, her boyfriend, and a guy I had just met; exactly my idea of a good time.

After that night, Mike just wouldn't go away. He'd show up at the store or he'd come over to the apartment with Jasper. He was always somewhere near me. He worked days at the tire manufacturing plant in town. It was a good job with excellent pay and benefits. He had his own house and drove a nice car. He should have been everything I wanted in a man. He wasn't. He wasn't Edward.

Mike hung around for two years. He was nothing if not persistent. I don't know how it happened, but we had somehow started to date. I hadn't had any more Edward dreams. I was beginning to think that I could actually move on... be normal.

When Alice and Jasper announced their engagement, I knew that it was time for me to move out. I was at Mike's house looking through an apartment guidebook, when he asked me to move in with him. I balked at first and then he started to plead his case. He made several good and valid points. I couldn't argue with most of his reasoning. There was only one problem... I wasn't in love with him. I loved him, but there was a difference. He said that he understood that I wasn't in love with him right then, but that maybe I could learn to love him that way. He looked so hopeful. I didn't want to hurt him any more than I already had. I agreed to move in with him and told him that I would try.

We had been living together a year when Mike presented me with an engagement ring. I told him I needed to think about it. That night was the second time that Edward came to me in my dreams.

I had always heard that you can't remember your dreams. I know this to be a lie. I remember every dream I've ever had with Edward. I remember every minute, insignificant detail of this second dream even though it happened almost a decade ago.

I was standing on the quad at the university and he was walking toward me. I wasn't mad this time. If anything I was regretting the way I had behaved the last time he had come to me. He was suddenly standing in front of me... so close I could reach out and touch him. I slowly raised one arm and reached out to touch his cheek. I gasped as I felt him, solid, against my fingertips.

This time when I launched myself at him it was to wrap my arms around him. I told him I was sorry for the last time. He held me close and whispered that it was alright; he understood. He apologized for leaving me and said that he wouldn't have left willingly.

I pulled back and stared into his eyes. I said, "I can't believe that you're here."

"I'm always here," he replied.

"I looked for you," I said.

"I'll come when you need me, but know that I've never left you... I can't. But you... you need to move on and be happy. I can't be with you the way you need. You're still alive and you need to move on."

"I don't want to move on. I love you. I can never love anyone else."

"Yes, you can. There are different kinds of love. This guy... this Mike... he loves you and you care for him. He'll take care of you when I can't. You should say 'yes.'"

"I don't want to say yes. I want to be with you," I cried as I wrapped my arms more tightly around him.

"You can't be with me. I don't want you with me. I don't want you to die and that's the only way that we can be together. I don't want that for you. Say 'yes' and be happy... for me."

I pleaded with him that I couldn't. He insisted that I do it for him. I could hear my alarm sounding in the distance of the dream. I tried to ignore it and held onto Edward. He told me that he loved me and he always would as he faded away.

I turned off the alarm and silently cursed it. I turned to look at Mike sleeping peacefully beside me. I smiled as I thought that he never, ever heard the alarm. I gently shook him awake and told him that my answer was yes.

Two months later, Mike and I went to the courthouse and got married. My mom was livid that she didn't get to plan a ceremony and reception. I bit my tongue to keep from telling her that there was nothing to celebrate. I wasn't in love. I had married Mike because Edward had told me to do it. I didn't see it as a joyous occasion.

I didn't think that things would change much after Mike and I married, but apparently he had other ideas. He suddenly wanted me to quit my job. I told him to get bent. I had worked too hard to get to where I was. I was studying to become a certified jeweler. I enjoyed what I did and he was crazy if he thought that I was going to give up my career.

There were other problems. We fought almost constantly. It was like a switch had flipped inside of him when he slid that ring on my finger. I suddenly became less of a person in his eyes. He wanted a stay-at-home baby making machine. There's nothing wrong with that, except that it's not what I wanted. He didn't seem to care what I wanted. The more I went against his 'wishes,' the more we fought. The more we fought, the more Edward came to me.

At least once, and sometimes twice, a week I would dream of Edward. Most of the dreams were just us holding each other. He would pull me to his chest and stroke my hair as I clung to him for dear life. He would always tell me how much he would always love me. Sometimes I cried and he would kiss away my tears. No matter what happened in the dream, I always woke feeling safe and loved.

One particular night I dreamt that we were sitting in the back of his old Nissan truck. Edward was leaning against the cab and I was sitting between his legs with my back pressed into his chest. He picked up my left hand and stared at the rings I wore.

"He got you a bigger diamond."

"I like the one you gave me better."

"I had a pretty, laser cut band picked out for you."

"I wish I could have worn it."

"Are you happy, Bella?"

"I'm only happy in my dreams."

Several weeks later, Edward came to me and it was different. We were in a room, but I didn't recognize it. Everything was white and there was no furniture or windows. I could see desperation in his eyes as he pulled me to him. He hungrily kissed me. Breaking from the kiss, he grabbed my shirt and pulled it quickly over my head. He dropped it on the floor and began to kiss my neck; working his way down to my chest. I started to fumble with the buttons on his shirt.

Edward ripped his shirt off and picked me up. A bed appeared out of nowhere. He placed me on it and continued to worship my body. He slid my pajama pants off and tossed them on the floor with my shirt. In the blink of an eye, his pants joined the rest of our clothing on the floor.

"I love you, Bella. I've tried to resist because I know that you're married now, but I can't anymore. I need you."

"I need you, too. I'll never need anyone else. I'll never love anyone else the way I love you. I want this."

We made love in my dream. It was just like I remembered. He worshipped me. He showed me that he loved me with every kiss and every touch. It was just as beautiful as I remembered. James could never have met this perfection and Mike was not even a close third. I felt whole again. I never wanted to wake up.

But I did wake up... to a very angry Mike. Apparently, an alarm clock can't make him budge, but me crying out 'EDWARD!' while obviously having a sexual dream will wake him. He was beyond upset. I hadn't told him everything about Edward. That part of my life was sacred to me and I hadn't felt comfortable letting Mike know any details.

He demanded to know who Edward was to me. I tried to explain, but he didn't believe me. He accused me of having a boyfriend... a lover. He accused me of cheating on him. I tried to explain that it was all a dream and that there was no one else. No one that was alive, at least. He ripped his coat from the hook by the door, grabbed his keys, and left.

A normal person would have been upset that their husband had left them. A normal person would have been wondering if he was going to come back. A normal person wouldn't have gone back to bed in hopes of re-entering the dream that had caused their husband to leave. I'm not normal.

Things were never right between Mike and me after that night. He was constantly suspicious of me. His demands that I quit my job intensified. We argued more and more. I eventually moved into the guest bedroom. I wasn't surprised when I was served with divorce papers at the store about six months later. I was only surprised that it had taken him so long.

I moved back in with Charlie and Renee. I could tell that they were disappointed that it hadn't worked out. I had never burdened them with the problems in our marriage. They liked Mike and wondered what had happened. All that I would tell them was that it just didn't work out. I could sense them watching me; waiting for me to fall apart. This wasn't the same. My heart wasn't broken. I didn't want to die. I felt relief.

The divorce was quick and painless. I didn't want anything, except my freedom and my maiden name back. I left the marriage with my clothes, my personal belongings, my car, and my name. I even gave him back the engagement ring. I just wanted to forget about the whole four year disaster that was our relationship. I wanted to start over.

I stayed with my parents for two years. I helped with the groceries and even tried to contribute to the bills, but my dad wouldn't let me do much. He said that he wanted me to save my money so that I would have a good nest egg. I heard 'dowry.' They were still hopeful that I would find someone else and get married again. I had absolutely no intention of ever repeating that mistake again.

In the two years that I was living in my parents' house, I finished my apprenticeship with Leonard and received my jeweler's certification. I had also started to buy stones and gold to make my own custom pieces. Mom and Dad let me turn a corner of the guest bedroom into a makeshift jeweler's station. I would do special order and one-of-a-kind pieces for friends and family. I made a tidy little profit.

Not long after my thirty-second birthday, Leonard came to me with an opportunity. The manager of one of our other branches was retiring. The position was mine if I wanted it. It meant that I would have to move two hours from 'home.' I didn't even have to think about it. I said yes immediately.

Mom and Dad helped me move to an apartment of my own. It was the first time that I had ever lived by myself. Mom cried as they left me standing in the doorway of my own place. My own place; I still like the way it sounds.

I lived alone for almost three months before I had a new man in my life. He was perfect. He was always happy to see me when I came home. He never argued with me or complained about my cooking. He was affectionate and loyal. His name was Deacon and he was so handsome. He had black hair and brown eyes... and four legs. I bought a dog. He was just enough company for me and I was some semblance of happy.

I was good at my job and enjoyed it immensely. I no longer had as much time to do work at home, but still could provide the service to the customers' of the store. Our business grew and we became the top selling store in our market.

Edward would come to me after every success. I shared every achievement with him. He would tell me how proud he was of me. Sometimes, we would make love; sometimes, we wouldn't. But he never failed to let me know how much loved me. I counted the hours until I could go to sleep every day. I had a good life.

You know most of the story from this point forward, Jacob. You know that I had been working at the jewelry store for a little over a year when you walked into the door. You were looking for a watch for your dad. I showed you a Bulova. You bought the Timex.

What you don't know is what attracted me to you. You're not my type after all. Other than your height, you look nothing like Edward. Your dark hair and eyes are not what drew me to you. It was your hands. Your hands are almost identical to Edward's. You have long slender fingers. Remember that I asked if you played the piano? Edward did and those long fingers helped him reach octaves that were near impossible for the average person.

You also had some of his same mannerisms. The way you gestured with your hands made me almost hyperventilate right there in the middle of the store. It was like seeing him again, but in the wrong body. It was like you were him... but you weren't. I know that makes no sense, but I can't think of any other way to explain it.

As you left the store, I actually wished that you would return. I had tried to flirt in my way, but you had shown no outward response to my actions. Looking back, you probably didn't know what I was doing. I'd never had to flirt with anyone before and I was kind of clueless as to how to go about it.

You didn't come back into the store for several weeks. That wouldn't have been so noteworthy, but the fact that I didn't dream of Edward in those weeks etched your absence into my memory. Since my divorce from Mike, I had dreamed of Edward almost every night. He had come to me every night since moving into my own place. That he was suddenly absent was curious to me and troubling.

I remember the day you came back to the store. You walked directly to the back counter where I was finishing with a customer. You waved off the other sales associates and waited for me. I thanked the customer for their business and turned my attention to you.

I had hoped that you didn't notice how my knees buckled when you half-smiled at me. That was another Edward-ism. I was beginning to believe in reincarnation. I asked if I could help you. I thought that you might have come in to return the watch.

You said that you never did this, but that you hadn't stopped thinking about me since we had met. Then you asked me out for coffee. I would have been more receptive to an invitation for a drink; a nice stiff one. The similarities between you and Edward were beginning to blur the lines of reason in my brain.

Let me reiterate again that you look nothing like him, but the way that you move is uncanny. It doesn't stop with your hands. Your facial expressions sometimes make my breath catch in my throat. Even the way you walk is the same. You carry yourself with the same self-assuredness and confidence that he did.

These were the things that made me say 'yes' to the coffee invitation. The coffee date led to a lunch date which led to a dinner date which led to... much, much more. I wasn't looking for you, but you had managed to find me nonetheless.

We had been officially together for almost three months, when Edward finally came to me again. I found him sitting on the edge of the creek that ran along the back of his parents' property. He was throwing stones into the water and looking dejected.

I walked up to him and eased myself down onto the grass beside him. "Hey," I said.

"You're falling for him," he said flatly.

"He reminds me of you."

"He isn't me."

"I know that. He makes the emptiness go away."

"I want you to be happy... just..."

"Not with him? Why is he different from Mike?"

"You could never have loved Mike."

"I can never love him."

"Yes. Yes, you can," said as he finally turned to look at me. "If you let yourself; you can."

"I don't want to."

"Why?"

"I don't want to hurt you. I don't want to lose you."

"You could never lose me. I'm yours forever... no matter what happens in your life."

"What does that mean?"

"It means that I won't do anything to change your mind or the way you feel about him. I guess I give you my permission... as if you need it." He went back to throwing stones into the creek.

"Will you leave me?"

He turned to me and smiled that beautiful half smile. "Never."

After that night, Edward came to me less and less often. When he did visit me, he kept our interaction platonic. Edward and I didn't make love again for a long time. You and I became engaged. This time I let Renee plan her wedding. We were married in front of our friends and family. And we were happy... for a while.

I should have known that things would change. I should have known that I couldn't be truly happy with anyone but Edward. I should have known better than to say 'yes' to your invitation for coffee.

I thought that I could love you the way that a wife should love her husband. When I agreed to marry you I thought that I did have those feelings for you. I was wrong and I'm sorry. I honestly tried to let Edward go. He tried to let me go as well, but the kind of love we have can't die. It can't be swept under the rug. It can't be denied or ignored.

I long for him. My body aches for him. My heart breaks for him. My soul yearns to be complete.

This is why I was so mad at you last night when you woke me. You had tried several times before you actually succeeded, but I had managed to keep myself in the dream. I was with Edward. I was in his arms and we were making love for the third time that night. I hadn't felt that whole in years. I was happy and I never wanted to wake up. You threw a wrench in that plan.

But you won't throw a wrench in this one. I love you, Jacob, but I can never be want you need. I can never give you all of me. You deserve more than what I can give. So, I'm letting you go.

By the time you find this letter, I will be with Edward. He told me years ago how we could be together, but it was only after you woke me last night that I remembered what he had said. Please don't try to wake me. If I do it right, you won't be able to anyway. Let me sleep this eternal sleep. Let me be with Edward, where I belong. Let me go.

Love always,

Bella.