I had been sitting up in the tree for most of the morning. After leaving Damon's cocktail on his nightstand I sneaked out of his room and left the house. I needed some time to myself. I hadn't been away from Damon's side in the past day and a half. Jeremy had come for Christmas, which was spent quietly between the five of us. Charlie had moved back to Forks a few days back and had been with Jake and his family.

I was still angry with myself about the incident with Edward. God I felt so stupid about the whole thing. Not being able to control myself and tell him what I really wanted to.

Damon had been quiet. We hadn't talked about what had happened again. I wish I could know what was going through his head right now. What was he thinking? The last thing I wanted was for him to put up walls again.

I had given a lot of thought to what Jasper had said about being selfish. I had never been very selfish before, now that I think about it.

I had moved to Forks with my dad after I noticed how sad it made my mom when her new husband had to leave because of work, and she had to stay behind with me. So I decided to live with Charlie.

While in Forks, I always took care of Charlie. His laundry, cleaning up the house, making sure he had a home cooked meal every night. He had been by himself for so long I wanted to make sure he was alright. We had been apart for most of my life, I somehow wanted him to know that I cared.

With the Cullens I always ended up saying yes to whatever they asked me to do. Alice wanted to play dress up, I played dress up, even though I didn't want to. Edward wanted to stay in and avoid crowds? We stayed in.

I never really related much to other people my age. I guess that's why it was so difficult to re-engage in my friendships after the Cullens left.

At first when Damon told me about going to Europe for a few months after I turned I was reluctant to leave Charlie's side. It took a lot of convincing from his part and Charlie's part for me to say yes.

I had started being selfish when Damon popped into my life with his crazy ideas and adrenaline rushed plans. He had made sure that I did whatever I wanted to do. He made me pick out what to do, where to go, what to eat. He always had recommendations, but never forced them on me. He wanted me to have fun and live. To be stupid. To enjoy my life.

After I turned, and we left to Europe, Damon had sat down with me one day and talked to me about taking risks. We were in Austria, he had taken me bungee jumping and when I saw how deep the fall was I freaked out a little. I backed down. I knew that I could make the jump and nothing would happen to me, but things were still quite new to me as a vampire.

Damon had taken me for a walk.

"Bella, sit, " he said, pointing to a fallen tree log on the side of the road, his eyebrows were close in concentration, then he spoke, "When we face a decision, no matter how small, we all do the same thing: we calculate the risk. Some people play it safe while others dive right in. Taking a risk, diving right in, it comes more naturally to some than others. The trouble is, when you're standing safely back in the edge, you can't help wondering if you're missing out," he told me.

"You see… risks, how we feel about them, says a lot about us. Every day, every moment, we calculate and assess, debate, and decide. But when you get right down to it, the truth is, that when it comes to risks, the only thing that matters, is that you take the ones that are right for you," he added and sat next to me, "So, are you going to sit here and back out? Or are you going to take the risk and jump? What do you want to do? What's right for you?"

Ultimately I took the risk and jumped that day.

I didn't regret it for a second.

I had made a mental note after jumping off the bridge: Take more risks. Stop playing it safe.

I had played it safe my entire life. I always followed the rules. I never got into any trouble at school. I got good grades. I laid low. I never stood out, at least not intentionally. I was a good daughter. I never rebelled against my parents, until I moved to Mystic Falls, that is…

The first risk I took was the night in the graveyard when I drank a few beers with Elena, Damon and Stefan. That night, between slurs I mentioned to Damon that I wanted to do a number of things. He made sure I did all of them. I started taking risks the moment I allowed Damon into my life. And my life had been better since that day.

I haven't been taking many risks lately. Other than letting Damon in, and discovering whatever it is we have going between each other right now.

And since I collapsed on the floor the other day, all I've been thinking about is that I really want to see Edward again and tell him how I feel I about everything. I wish there was some way he could actually see with his own eyes how bad it was for me. How much it hurt. But I was more interested in him seeing how much I had changed, and I actually wanted to thank him for it. Because as angry as I was for everything that happened I'm glad it did.

I'm not the same person anymore.

Because he left, I was forced to do a lot of things that I hadn't been able to do while I was with him. I grew up. I grew into my skin. I grew emotionally. I grew as a person. I grew stronger and more confident.

And it wouldn't have happened if he had stayed.

How would my life be right now if he would have never left?

God. I'd still be playing it even safer. Not doing anything stupid.

I wouldn't have moved to Mystic Falls and never met Elena or Damon, or Stefan, or Jeremy, or anyone else.

And right now I couldn't really picture my life without any of them in it.

Specially Damon.

So, how was I going to pull this off? How was I going to face Edward again without collapsing like the last time? I really couldn't collapse again. Not in front of him. I promised myself I wouldn't cry for Edward again and I had kept that promise.

I hadn't shed one single tear after I promised myself that I wouldn't. I couldn't. I didn't want to. He didn't deserve my tears.

So that's what I had to do.

Promise yourself Bella that you won't collapse. You can't collapse. I wont let you. You hear me? You have to suck it up. No matter how much it hurts and how much air will be missing from your lungs, you can't collapse. You wont fall. You can't fall.

Be selfish Bella. Put your needs first. Above everyone else's. You need to do this. Do it.

I jumped out of the tree and fell on my feet lightly on the ground.

Damon and I were leaving tomorrow. We were flying to Florida to spend a few days with Renee before New Years. But I couldn't leave without doing the one thing that I wanted to do.

I took my cellphone out of my back pocket and dialed Jasper's number. When he answered, I only had to say one sentence that he immediately agreed with.

"I'm going to need your help, your place, five minutes," I said.

"Done," He replied.

I heard him start running and then hung up. He wasn't home. Alice and Jasper had rented a cabin a few miles away from the Cullen's house right after Edward popped up. His emotions were all over the place. It was exhausting for Jasper to be around him.

I walked up the front steps of the cabin and knocked on the door. Alice opened.

"Bella," she greeted me, a smile on her face.

"Hi," I said acknowledging her greeting, but not as enthusiastic as her.

"Jasper will be here any minute now, he went out for a quick hunt," she told me and opening the door wider invited me in.

I sat down in the living room, she sat across from me. We waited silently for Jasper. This was awkward. I started feeling a knot form in my stomach and a strong pull towards Alice.

"Stop," I said quietly.

She was surprised by my request and then realization hit her.

"I- I wasn't aware I was doing that I'm sorry," she answered quickly.

I shrugged.

She looked like she wanted to say something. Her eyes, nervous.

"What is it Alice?" I asked looking into her eyes, "Say whatever you need to say, so that this stupid pull I'm getting from you just stops," I told her.

She pressed her lips together and then spoke, "I don't get it… I mean… You and Jasper were never close. Emmett was around but not that much…" she said, I knew where this was going, "We were friends, why have you let them in but not me? I've given you space, I've contained myself from walking right up your door a million times, I haven't commented on any of your clothes… why wont you let me in?" she asked.

I scoffed and rolled my eyes.

"You really don't get it?" I asked in disbelief.

"You expect me to pick things up with you when you were the only one that actually saw me after you all left? You know what you all did to me. You were supposed to be my friend," I told her calmly, I wasn't getting mad over this. I was not wasting my anger with Alice when I had it all reserved for Edward.

"It killed me to see you like that," she whispered.

"No Alice, it killed me. You saw everything and yet you didn't do anything. Edward wasn't even with you guys, do you all just follow whatever he tells you to do? Don't you think for yourself? Or was I not worth even saying goodbye to?" I asked, a sarcastic tone in my voice.

"I didn't see everything, I can't see everything, not anymore," she clarified.

"Oh, but you saw me at my worst, and you didn't do anything. What kind of friend does that?" I asked.

She lowered her head, "I know what we did wasn't the best way to go, and I owe you an apology for that, but the truth is that no matter what I say, my words wont cut it. Saying I'm sorry won't be enough, but I am. I am sorry," she told me.

The tug started easing down.

That was it. She needed to apologize.

"I really wish I could have seen Edward heading this way sooner, and let you have a little more time to prepare yourself," she whispered.

I felt a twinge of anger. Not at her, but at myself.

"It was enough," I said and let out a sigh.

It was time. It was time to make my peace with Alice. I had to let go of this, I had to start letting go of stuff so that I could handle the bigger things that were yet to come.

"Look, Alice, it's never going to be the same, I can't go back there," I told her sincerely, "I honestly don't feel that way anymore, I don't think we'll ever be as close as we were because I don't want to go back. Sure, we had good times and I'll remember them, but that's all they are, memories. I'll be nice, and I won't ever deny a greeting because that's just mean, but we wont be close again. Not like we used to. I appreciate everything Jasper has done and is doing for me, and you're his wife so I know he wants us to talk, he's tried before, but I've stopped him. Just, don't force anything to happen because it wont. Because I don't want it to."

She looked down in disappointment and was quiet for a few seconds.

"She's nice," Alice said

"Who?" I asked.

"Elena," she looked up at me, "she's nice. She's really protective of you."

I stared at her. She was hurt.

I nodded.

"I guess if there's someone that you can relate to it's her… I get it," she said quietly.

I sighed.

I felt kind of sorry for Alice, but I was doing what was right for me.

I nodded.

"But if you ever need anything from me, if I can help in any way possible, let me know, you can count on me," she said.

I shrugged.

Then I realized I would need her help, and soon.

"There is something you can help me with…" I told her… her face lit up.

"Done, I'll do it," she told me, without even knowing what it was.

That was when Jasper walked into the house. A grin on his face.

"Look, we're being civil," I told him.

He chuckled, placed a kiss on Alice's cheek and sat down next to me.

"So, what's going on? What do you want to talk about?" he asked, placing a hand over the top of the couch.

"I need your help," I said.

"Uh huh, with?" he asked.

I swallowed, because what I was about to ask wouldn't be easy on him, "With a very selfish thing." I answered honestly. I stared into his eyes, not blinking. Letting him know that it was serious.

"Oh," he answered realizing what I was asking for, "That is a very selfish thing."

I nodded.

"She's helping too," I said, pointing to Alice, who nodded quickly.

"I have no idea what it is, but I'll help," she said quickly. I'm guessing she was just excited about finally being let into the whole plan.

"Are you ready for this?" he asked me.

"It's now or never. I have to do this before leaving," I told him.

"Okay… what do you want us to do?" he asked.

"You block," I said to Jasper, and then looked at Alice, "You make sure you project like you've never projected before…"

She was startled, "Project?"

"She wants you to show him everything," Jasper explained.

"Everything?" she asked in surprise.

"Everything," I answered.

She blinked a few times.

"Alright," she agreed without hesitation.

"Okay. Give me an hour. We'll meet at my place, we go together," I told them.

They agreed and I left.

You're doing the right thing. This is what's right for you. Be selfish Bella. Be selfish.

I got home and walked up to Damon's room. I had to talk to him about this. I opened the door and found him wearing only a damp towel wrapped around his waist. He was looking for something to wear in his drawers while he sipped the glass of cocktail I had left him.

He smiled as soon as he saw me.

Knot. Butterflies. Warmth in my tummy. God the things this man made me feel when he smiled at me.

"Hey… when did you sneak out?" he asked, walking towards me.

"A few hours ago…" I answered while he wrapped his one free hand around my waist, placing small kisses along my neck.

"Did you just wake up?" I asked.

"Mmm hmm…" he answered while playfully rubbing his nose down my collarbone.

Chills ran down my spine.

I had noticed that Damon was always more affective after he had fed. Especially after feeding from my cocktail. I had also noticed Damon was sleeping in more and more. Which was surprising, since he was always up before I was. It worried me. It was as if he was growing tired.

"Where did you go?" he asked, as he raised his head, now looking into my eyes.

"I went into the forest, found a really tall tree, climbed it, sat on the top branch for a while, thought about some things…"

He became serious. Smile gone.

"What did you think about?" he asked carefully.

I bit my lip.

"I want to try talking to him again," I said.

His eyebrows came close together. A frown appeared on his lips. He started shaking his head no.

"I don't think that's a good idea," he said, letting me go from his embrace and walking back to the drawers. He placed the cocktail on top of the armoire and took out a shirt.

I sighed.

"I need to do this Damon," I told him.

"You're not ready," he said as he squirmed into the black shirt.

He was upset.

"I am," I replied.

He shook his head and drank a mouthful of cocktail from the glass.

"It's been two days!" he pointed out.

"Yes, but what Jasper said makes sense, and I'm mentally ready to do this. I've given it a lot of thought. I don't want to leave without doing this," I said as I walked over to him, "I need to do this before we go, because when we go, the last person I want to have on my mind is him. When we go, it's going to be about you and me," I said, grabbing the glass with the cocktail and putting on the armoire again, and then taking both of his hands into mine.

His eyes softened.

I needed him to know what my priorities were. Because with Damon, I couldn't be selfish. I knew where his protectiveness was coming from, his insecurities. Yes, Damon had insecurities, insecurities that he would never talk about, because he wanted everyone to think he didn't have any. But I knew better.

"I'm doing this, I'm not asking for your permission, I'm just letting you know," I said softly.

"I'm not okay with this," he whispered and then added, "Call the Shrink, he has to be there…"

"I already did… I spoke with Alice too," I told him.

He raised an eyebrow, "Really?" he said in disbelief.

I nodded, "She's going to help me with something."

"Hmm…" he replied.

"You can come if you want… maybe I'll need you to knock him out if things get too unbearable," I said between light chuckles.

"I'll rip his head off," he told me.

I grinned. Was that a hint of jealousy I was getting from him?

"So you'll come?" I asked.

He nodded.

"Jasper will be here in a few minutes… then we're walking over there," I told him.

"Okay," he said grumpily and then added, "If it's too much, you tell me and I'll get you out of there."

I nodded.

"Bella, promise you wont let it get to the point where I'm going to have to throw you over my shoulder and run like hell to get far away," he said.

"It won't get like that," I told him.

"I don't want to see you screeching on the ground, you make the slightest whimper and we're out, like that," he snapped his fingers.

He was worried about me.

Butterflies, warmth, contortionist stomach.

"If it hurts we're out. I don't want to be on the floor either. Not again," I told him.

He eyed me up and down.

"Okay, let me get dressed," he said and kissed my nose before turning around.

I plopped on his bed while he finished getting ready and closed my eyes.

Be strong. This is it. You can do this. Suck it up. You need to do this Bella. Close this chapter once and for all. Do not collapse on the floor. Don't wince. Don't lose your cool. Don't even let him start speaking. Let it all out. All out.

Just be a selfish bitch okay? Can you be a bitch?

Of course I can. I can be a bitch.

No. I am a bitch.

Pfft.

I'm THE bitch.

No. Don't be a bitch. The calmer you are the more it stings. Be like, look at me man, I'm happy, now stop making me twist on the floor in pain you insufferable pain in my ass...

I ran my hands through my face.

Enough. Stop it. Be you.

My eyes fluttered open and I sat up. Damon was standing in front of me, staring.

"Are you sure?" he asked.

"Yep," I said and stood up.

He extended his hand to me, I took it and we walked outside.

We sat on the porch while we waited for Jasper and Alice to arrive. Damon was quiet. He had that look he got when he was upset or worried, or both. The look that told me that he'd respect my choice but if things didn't go as planned he'd take charge.

There had to be a way in which we could go over there and I could talk with Edward without any interference. He would know when we were near, because as much as my thoughts were a mystery to him, he could still listen to everyone else's thoughts. I didn't want him inside Damon's head. I really didn't. I didn't know what Damon was thinking. I have no idea how he even thinks. I just know that I don't want him knowing whatever it is Damon's running through his head.

I wanted his thoughts to stay private.

That was one of my selfish needs right now.

Damon's thoughts to be mute.

I needed Edward to concentrate, really concentrate on what I had to tell him.

I closed my eyes, and tried concentrating the way Sage had taught me. I was becoming aware of my whole environment, everything that was around me, who was next to me. Damon was next to me. I took his hand and started imagining a helmet on his head, so that his thoughts couldn't come out. It was probably not going to work. But it was worth taking a shot at it. I wanted that helmet to be tight, thick and hard.

That sounds obscene.

Concentrate Bella.

The helmet.

Helmet head.

Helmet head like me.

Helmet head.

Helmet head.

Helmet head.

Helmet head.

I let out a sigh.

Damon squeezed my hand.

My eyes fluttered open.

"You okay?" he asked.

I nodded.

"Just picturing something..." I told him.

He raised an eyebrow, but didn't say anything.

Jasper appeared through the tree line with Alice.

"Ready?" he asked.

"I need you to concentrate on him, and not on me," I told him.

"I can do that," he answered.

"Just... block him, I need him to be receptive to what I'm going to say," I explained.

"I understand," he told me.

I looked at Alice, "Make sure you show him everything you remember," I told her.

"Everything?" she asked, "Are you sure about that?"

"Positive," I answered.

She nodded. She knew that whatever she had seen was going to hurt her brother. Whatever. He made his bed now he had to lay in it.

"Alright, let's go then," I said, and started walking into the woods. I looked back, Damon and Jasper were starting at each other.

"What? Let's go," I said again.

"Bella are you sure about this?" Jasper asked.

"Yeah, let's go," I told him confidently.

They started walking in my direction and we went into the forest.

You can do this Bella.

Be selfish.

Why am I even thinking in third person? I need to own this.

It's about me. Not him. Me. What I need to say. What I want to show him. What he has to hear because I need him to.

I can do this.

I can do this.

Pulling my walls up. You wont knock me down.

Not again.

Not ever.

"Wait here," I told them as we reached the Cullen's house. I had barely said anything when everyone was standing outside the house.

I felt the pang on my chest as soon as I saw them all standing in front of me. Emmett was surprised, worry spread across his face, I gave him the "I'm okay" look. He glanced at Jasper and Damon, who must have given him some sort of order or sign because he immediately walked next to Edward and stood behind him. Ready to do something if it came to that.

I stared right into Edward's eyes and took a few steps closer.

I was feeling it. The unbearable pain. It was there.

"Bella-" Edward started saying.

I raised my hand and closed my eyes, "Shut up," I said as soon as he tried to speak, and then added, "It's my turn to talk."

He closed his mouth immediately.

Breathe...

Just breathe...

Where do I even start?

What now?

I glanced back at Alice, gave her a nod, telling her to start, she nodded back, looked at her brother with guilty eyes and I guess she started showing him the movie of my life after they left because his expression changed and the tightness around my chest got even stronger.

"Oh, that upsets you huh?" I said.

"Bell-" he started saying.

"Don't even start," I cut him off.

He clenched his jaw tightly; I could hear his teeth grazing each other.

"You know, I had pictured this moment in my head many, many times. I had prepared this speech you see, this speech that I was going to give you if I ever saw you again. I had it memorized," I chuckled, "but I'm not giving you that speech, because I made up that speech in my head before any of this happened, before I died, before I changed..."

He winced when I mentioned my death.

"That speech was an angry speech. Because I was angry... I was soooo angry," I said and looked up as I said it, "I was angry at you, I was angry at Alice, I was angry at Emmett, I was angry at all of you, but most of all I was angry at myself. I was this foolish little girl that had believed everything you had ever told her," I scoffed.

"You promised that you wouldn't leave me, and you did. That day in the woods... you remember that day right? When you broke up with me? I know I do..." I started saying.

"I tried following you, but what a stupid thing to do, considering you had vampire speed to run out of there," I shrugged, "I fell that day, I'm pretty sure you heard me calling out for you, screaming and crying on the ground," I stopped and stared at him. He was looking at me directly. I knew it. He was still around when it happened, he remembered.

I rolled my eyes.

"You made me promise not to do anything stupid. Guess what, I did," I shrugged, "Sorry... wait... I'm not," I told him seriously shaking my head no.

"I'm not sorry. I don't regret it. Because, honestly, now that I think about it, I was pretty stupid while I was with you. Maybe it was teenage infatuation, maybe I was mesmerized by the mystery creature that you were to me back then, I don't know… I do know that I wasn't really thinking for myself at the time. It's like I didn't have a world outside of you and your family."

"I was completely invested in making you happy. In doing what you wanted. My whole world revolved around you. My happiness depended on you. That's where I failed. Where I failed myself. Because my own well-being can't depend on someone else. I think that's why I crumbled so easily..."

"You see, I never felt like I deserved you. I felt like I wasn't worthy of being in your presence, of having your attention. Me? Silly, clumsy Bella Swan? I had more insecurities than I can count."

"So when I realized that I had made a promise to you, when you had already broken yours first I said... fuck it," I raised my arms, "Why should I keep a promise when you had already broken yours?"

"So I bought a bike," I told him, his jaw clenched up tighter, I chuckled, "Jake helped me fix it. He taught me how to ride it, I fell a few times, got a few bruises here and there. But that's not the crazy part. The crazy part is that I saw you. Like my mind was so fucked up, that it conjured you up out of nowhere," I said.

"Alice probably can't remember that because she can't see the wolves," I said, pointing at Alice.

His eyebrows came close together.

"Oh yeah, Jake's a wolf..." I told him.

"I guess hanging out with a wolf is a big no-no on your list," I said and then shrugged, as if saying, I couldn't care less.

"But anyways, every time I did something risky or dangerous, I saw you. That's crazy right?" I laughed.

"How messed up is that? You really did a number on me," I said.

"So, at first, I did it to piss you off, because Imaginary Edward got really mad, and I wanted to make him mad, it was my way to rebel against your wishes. Then something happened... I actually started to enjoy it. Not the pissing Imaginary Edward off, no, I enjoyed doing those adrenaline rushed things. Because for the first time in months I actually felt alive. Because when I was with you, I was alive, sure, blood was pumping through my veins, heart beating, etc, etc, I was alive yes, but I was barely living."

"I couldn't even open birthday presents without risking my life!" I said, and then looked back at Jasper, "No hard feelings or anything," I told him. I knew he regretted that night. He winked at me.

They were all quiet.

"When Charlie got that job offer I agreed with moving in a heart beat. Didn't have to think about it twice. We packed our stuff and left. And it turned out to be the best decision I ever made," I grinned, but didn't look back at Damon.

"Pay attention cause this is where my speech changes. This is the part where I let go of the anger. Because if you hadn't left, none of the great things that happened to me afterwards would have happened. If you would have stayed I would probably still be alive, living in the glass box you wanted me to live in so that I didn't get hurt."

"I started living when I met Elena and the gang of crazy people that came with her," this time I looked back and smiled at Damon.

"I didn't know what they were at first, the last thing I wanted was to get mixed up in the crazy supernatural world again, but, Elena befriended me and invited me into her life, introduced me to her friends, and I felt comfortable. I had never, ever, felt comfortable. I had always felt like an outsider. Weird, odd, clumsy. So when I found out what they were, I didn't really care."

"Best decision ever."

"It turns out that they could have let me die once, I'm pretty sure you know what I'm talking about because I know Elena showed you," I told him.

"But they didn't, they saved me."

I was quiet for a few seconds.

"They saved me," I whispered while looking down. Realization had hit me.

"They saved me from Victoria, but they also saved me from myself," I looked up at Edward.

This was when I noticed that the pain in my chest had toned down to a minimum. I looked back at Jasper, "You can stop," I told him, he looked at me in surprise, "I got it," I assured him.

I turned around to face Edward again.

"Elena has her own problems, but she doesn't let them get in the way of her life. She continues to live normally, well, as normal as she can considering everyone who's after her... and Damon showed me how to have fun," I smiled.

"He built my confidence up, and I suddenly didn't look down when I walked, I stopped fidgeting, I barely tripped over my own feet," I said. Emmett smirked, I looked at him grinning, "I said barely, not never, I was still human," I rolled my eyes.

"I rode in the back of his Ducati, we went partying on a school night, he took me paragliding, I once went to school with the worst hangover ever," I chuckled, I looked back, Damon was smiling too.

"And that all happened while I was still human. Guess what... I never even got a scratch while doing any that," I told him.

"So, I guess what I'm getting at is, thank you Edward," I said honestly.

His expression was one of surprise.

"Thank you for turning my world upside down, breaking me down, and shattering my heart into a million pieces. Thank you, because I found some awesome people that helped me glue it back together and who left their personal signature on it while doing so. I couldn't have done it without you, without any of you," I looked at everyone.

"I'm not the same Bella Swan you left behind. She's gone. She got tired of feeling sorry for herself. She got tired of crying herself to sleep because some coward told her he didn't want her, when in fact he did, but thought that running away was the answer to everything," I stared into his eyes.

Sadness.

My throat started hurting.

He wanted to say something, but I wasn't done talking.

"Yes, I figured that out," I told him.

"And, if you're not willing to fight for me, then you don't deserve me. I am worth fighting for. I deserve someone who'll stay by me when things get tough, when it's dangerous, when things are not optimal, when it's not all rainbows and butterflies and flowery meadows. I need someone who'll stick by me in the winter. When it's cold, and difficult. When you can't see a feet in front of you because you're in the middle of a blizzard. You are not that person. Not for me."

"When you popped up out of nowhere two days ago, you made me crumble to the ground... again. I had promised myself I would never cry a single tear for you ever, I wouldn't crumble because of you, and you made me break that promise to myself. I hated it."

"You think that saying I'm sorry cuts it? It doesn't."

"So... I'm here, standing up in front of you, to tell you that you need to let go. Let go of the Bella you knew. Let go of everything you ever wanted for me because things didn't really play out that way. Let go, because while holding on to all those feelings you're not only hurting yourself, you're hurting everyone around you. The people that care about you the most. Stop it Edward. Stop drowning in your own self pity."

I swear if Esme could cry she'd be crying right now. She had that look on her face.

I let out a deep breath and walked up to him. Only a few feet separating us. This was it. It was my turn.

"Edward, I'm leaving tonight. I don't want you to come following me. Of course, I'll always care about you… in a way. But what happened made me realize that I had to change. Because I won't pretend to be something I'm not. I am not human anymore and you're not good for me Edward." I placed my hands on his shoulders, "Don't worry, time heals all wounds, and we vampires get distracted easily. I won't ever forget," I told him. Repeating in my way, what he had told me that day in the woods when he broke up with me.

"Don't do anything reckless or stupid," I told him, "I'm thinking of your family of course, take care of yourself… for them…."

Closure.

He was choking up. I could feel it.

"Will you come back?" he finally asked. His voice, hoarse.

"It won't be as if I never existed, because let's be honest, that's not true," I told him.

My words hurt him, because they were his words.

"Are you going by yourself?" he asked.

I shook my head no and looked back at Damon and then back at him, his eyes full of sorrow and sadness, he glanced at Damon.

"Are you… together?" he asked.

I sighed, and nodded. He looked to the ground, placing his arms on his waist. He was crashing down. I didn't even feel a thing coming from him. I had blocked him out completely.

"Goodbye Edward," I said and patted his shoulder, I turned around and walked in Damon's direction.

"Are you aware of who his is?" Edward asked behind me.

I turned around, "That is Damon Salvatore, like everyone else standing here, he has a past. The difference between all of you and him, is that he's the only person standing here that I trust my life with. For whom I would get staked for. Who I would walk through fire to save, and that's all you need to know," I told him calmly.

I turned around again and walked up to Jasper, gave him a kiss on the cheek, hugged Alice, and then extended my hand to Damon, who after glancing around and meeting everyone's judging gaze, took it gently.

We walked away together.

I breathed out.

When we were far away enough from the Cullen's Damon looked at me. Pride in his eyes.

"What?" I asked.

"You're really something Swan," he told me, and put his arm around my shoulders, "How did you do that?" he asked.

"Well... I gave it a lot of thought while I was up at the tree this morning," I told him, "I guess the only way I can explain it is like this... I realized that it's like I'm in a boat, I've got this one oar over here and it's just rowing and rowing and rowing, furiously fueled by everyone else's expectations, and that's never going to stop, but it's kinda got me going around in circles, cause if I want to move forward, then I also have to row with the oar that represents how I see myself, I have to be selfish," I tried to explain.

He smiled at me.

"How did you see yourself?" he asked

"Certainly not on the floor squirming in pain!" I answered.

He grinned.

"Would you really take a stake for me?" he asked.

"Excuse me, were you not there when I unconsciously knocked out Jane?" I asked.

He smacked a kiss on my cheek.

"We have to pack," he told me.

"Yeah, I'm introducing you to my mother tonight," I replied.

"She already met me before," he answered.

"Yeah, but it's different now…" I told him. His eyes lit up.


OUTSIDE POV

The seven of them were sitting quietly in the living room. None of them had spoken after Bella left. They were all going through the whole thing all over again in their heads.

"She's so different," Esme said, breaking the silence.

Emmett looked up and chuckled, "She's something. Puts up a hell of a fight."

Jasper snickered, "She was holding back on us, I can assure you of that," he told Emmett, referring to the little session they had had with Bella the day before.

Edward's head snapped up.

"He trained her?" he asked.

Emmett and Jasper nodded, "She's quick. She can throw a mean punch," Emmett told him.

Edward glanced at Carlisle shaking his head no. He was not okay with that. He didn't like Damon. He understood that Bella didn't want him anymore, but she deserved better. Better than Damon. He had heard Carlisle's thoughts. He knew what Damon was capable of.

"He's using her…" Edward whispered.

Jasper locked his eyes on Edward.

He knew how Damon felt about Bella. He had felt it. That's how he figured out that they were together. In the few seconds that Bella had let her guard down and the way she acted around Damon, he knew how she felt about him.

"He's not using her," Jasper told Edward.

"Do you know who he is? What he's done? He probably made a deal with the Volturi when he got the chance," Edward told them.

"What are you talking about?" Emmett asked.

"Tell them," Edward told Carlisle, "Tell them why he's using her. Why he doesn't want her to turn her feelings off. Tell them why he's seen it before."

Carlisle let a long breath out. Then he started his story.

"Many centuries ago, a newborn vampire roamed the Old Continent. He was young, alone, and didn't have any guidance coming into this life. He had given in to his desires completely. His bloodlust, was unbearable. He had no emotions, no remorse, no trace of humanity left in him. He had given in to his nature."

"For years he fed from humans without repentance, leaving a trail of savagely dismembered bodies behind. He slaughtered entire towns whenever his rage got the best of him. Of course, the Volturi knew about him and they had their rules. They were very clear on them. But this vampire did not care."

"On countless times, they sent out missions to capture this mad vampire. Every time, only one person returned, carrying with him, the other's ashes. Aro sent in the best of his guard, they all returned as dirt. So they feared him. The Volturi had never encountered such a power vampire before. His ability, unprecedented."

"What was it?" Emmett asked with curiosity.

"He was like a sponge. Absorbed the abilities of those he was near of. Whenever they had him cornered, he used their abilities against them, he disposed of them just as they were going to dispose of him. Something had to be done. He was a menace to the secret of our existence. He was a threat to Aro and all the Volturi stood for."

"It was only with the help of a very powerful witch that they managed to tame down the savage vampire, but the witch fled with him before the Volturi could finish him off."

"For centuries, no one heard of the witch or the vampire. Aro did not forget about him, the witch eventually died and in his mind, Aro thought that the witch had finished the vampire off herself. He did not give much thought to the idea that the vampire could return. But he did."

"The thing about this vampire was, that he was a hybrid. He had been bitten by one of our own, but had completed his transformation as one of them…" Carlisle pointed in the direction of the Salvatore house and finished his story.

"Like Bella," Alice whispered.

Carlisle nodded.

"What was his name?" Edward asked, he was fully aware of the name, but wanted Carlisle to say it out loud so that his siblings would know.

"His name son, was Sage," Carlisle answered.


A/N: I couldn't let B not speak her mind after the last chapter. Make assumptions, theories, break it down. Let me know what you think!