I wrote this story as part of a big bang challenge over on livejournal (twilightbigbang(dot)livejournal(dot)com) I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I'd appreciate feedback.

If anyone would like to hear the soundtrack I made to go with the story, you can find it at

(moosical-fic(dot)livejournal(dot)com/8607(dot)html)

Edward P.O.V

Prologue

13th September 2007

Descending the stairs into the living room, I had to admit even I am impressed by the effort that Alice has gone to, but I had to reign in my enthusiasm as I felt Bella tense by my side. I gave her shoulders a gentle squeeze and gently kiss the top of her head.

"You okay?" I murmur, knowing all too well that she's not. Even with her mind being closed to me, I can read her so well at times.

Bella nods and assures me that she is fine, but she's such a bad liar. I let it slide though not wanting to push her any further.

"You'll enjoy yourself" I sooth.

As we reach the bottom of the stairs and join the family her body isn't quite so tense, but her heart is still hammering in her chest, the sound of her heartbeat is the most significant sound in my world. I swear I could pick it out from miles away.

Alice had decorated the room beautifully, using various shades of Bella's favourite colour, purple. Alice has been meticulous and every last detail has been considered. My family are all wearing outfits that complement each other and as I look over to my sister she grins at me, she is very pleased with herself. I notice that everyone is stood at their designated spots, which Alice had us rehearse several times. I had to stifle a laugh when Bella reacted to the size of the cake. I did try to warn Alice that it was a little extravagant, seeing as only Bella could eat it, but she had insisted that it was part of the whole experience.

The cake would look more at home at a wedding. It had four tiers, each beautifully decorated with white icing and various purple shades of decorations and it was surrounded by exquisite cupcakes and fancy edible flower decorations.

"Alice, that cake is far too much," Bella chastises.

Alice just shakes her head and sticks out her tongue like a petulant child, but follows it up with a brimming smile, showing that she hadn't taken offence to Bella's chastisement.

"It's not too bad. I'm sure Charlie would enjoy some and we can take the leftovers to school," I assure Bella.

I feel Bella's body sink into me and she nods her head.

Everything runs smoothly, Bella thanks the family for the party. I have to admit that I am even impressed by Rosalie, despite her reservations about my relationship with Bella, she's remained civil when speaking and even her mind has been relatively neutral and calm.

Rosalie even managed to smile at Bella as she passed her the present that Alice helped her to pick; a beautiful, yet understated necklace. It may look very simple and elegant, but I know all too well how much it cost. It was my idea to have it taken out of the Cartier box and put into simple, plain box. I was sure that Bella would have struggled to accept it if she knew the true cost.

Emmett can't help his enthusiasm as he moves in for a hug, he picks up Bella easily and swings her around like a doll, she giggles and asks him to put her down. He dutifully obliges and passes her his gift. As bella shakes it, she is confused at how light it is. Emmett barely misses a beat as he tells her that her gift has already been installed in her truck.

"A new stereo system" he beams. Emmett had only driven her truck a couple of times, but he found it an uncomfortable experience. I have had to endure him telling me that the truck was sorely missing a decent sound system for months.

Bella seems quite pleased with the gift.

"I hope you were gentle with my truck"

"Sure I was, but what's another scratch here and there with that hunk of junk" Emmett mocked.

"Hey! You be respectful to my truck, its old enough to be your grandfather" she joked back."Seriously though, Thanks Em." Bella beams.

Emmett ruffles Bella's hair and goes over to join Rosalie, the smile on his face is genuine. I find Emmett's thoughts refreshing. They are vastly different to Rosalie's; he genuinely enjoys Bella's company and sees her introduction to our family as a blessing rather than a curse. I just wish he could convince Rosalie of the same.

Looking around at my family as they surround Bella, I feel content. I love that we could all be together like this. Everything is perfect, even Bella seems to have fully relaxed now, her posture is relaxed and her heart has calmed down. She seems to be genuinely enjoying herself, having gotten over the hang-ups she had when we first arrived.

Everything continued to be perfect until Bella was passed Carlisle and Esme's gift. I knew what was inside the envelope; plane tickets for both of us to go see her mom in Florida. It was partly my idea as she had been worrying about her mom quite a lot in her dreams lately.

As Bella tries to open the envelope, three things happen simultaneously.

She cuts her finger and two drops of blood hit the carpet. The scent hits me hard and I tense as I feel the reaction of my family at the same time.

Alice gasps, foreseeing what is about to happen; the scene playing through my head is horrifying. It's playing in my mind in slow motion, but in truth it passes so quickly.

Jasper starts to growl, driven wild by the scent and the hunger and advances towards Bella.

Acting quickly and without hesitation, I push Bella out of harm's way and I cringe as I hear her body collide with a nearby table. I spin around in time to block Jasper and I send him flying to the other side of the room. His body collides with the piano, which collapses beneath him. Turning back to Bella I am horrified by the blood dripping down her arm. In my rush to get her out of Jaspers way I had sent her crashing into a glass vase and she now, rather than the small paper cut, has a large deep gash on her upper arm. Her blood is flowing freely and dripping down her arm. It is now clear why Jasper is still so intent on getting to her. I stare at her lamely as the rest of the family move in quickly to get Jasper under control.

My only thought is WhathaveIdone?IcannotshaketheimagesinmyheadfromAlice'svision...ImagesofmyownbrotherfeastingonBella,rightbeforemyveryeyes.I shake my head to clear the vision and try to get a hold of myself.

I hear Jasper being dragged out of the back door by Emmett, quickly followed by Rosalie, Esme and Alice. They are keen to get him away from the house to stop him from doing any more harm. At the same time they are all having dark thoughts, the scent of the blood affecting them too.

Carlisle is now tending to Bella, he is trying to stop the blood flow and as he looks at me, I can see his face plastered with remorse and concern. I hover in the background as he stitches her up, partly because I need to know she's okay and partly because I fear that if I join the rest of the family now, I may do something stupid and harm Jasper.

"You don't need to be uncomfortable, Edward." Bella states softly, misreading the cause for my discomfort.

I roll my eyes, my jaw tenses and I fold my arms across my chest, making it clear that I am not going anywhere.

"I'm fine" I assure her, but I am not. The scent of her blood, which assaults my senses and causes the burn in my throat, isn't my main concern right now. I am far too preoccupied with what could have happened.

The silence is interrupted as Alice comes back inside and drifts straight to my side.

"I'm so sorry Edward, I didn't see it..." Alice's voice is full of raw emotion as she speaks.

Her thoughts shout louder though, her thoughts are clear, yet frantic. She didn't foresee this, the paper cut was an accident. She is torn between being here to check on Bella and being with Jasper.

I put my hand up in front of her and she stops speaking and her thoughts pause.

"Alice, go check on Jasper. I'm sure he needs you right now."

She hesitates, clearly torn. I sense that she wanted me to tell her that I am okay, but I just couldn't do it, because I am not. After a last look at Bella and another apology she runs out of the house towards Jasper.

The next hour or so passed in a blur, Carlisle patched Bella up and she seemed remarkably upbeat about almost being attacked. I know that she is trying to calm me down, but it's not working. I feel dreadful; I can't believe I put her in danger like this. What a fool I am. I almost lost her to James, which was bad enough, but he was a nomad, unpredictable and dangerous. This is far worse. I almost lost her to my own family! How could I have been so stupid!

Carlisle and Bella are chatting, he looks up to me and his face is full of concern, he can see how tense I am.

"Please Edward, go check on Jasper and make sure he is okay. I don't think he'll listen to anyone else."

I hesitate, my eyes flicker from Carlisle to Bella.

"Edward, I am fine. Please go check on Jasper. Please tell him that I don't blame him and that I am fine." Bella pleads softly.

I am still torn, but I need a few moments to think and I do feel calm enough to see Jasper now that I know that Bella is fine. I turn to the door and run, I follow the scent of my family and it doesn't take me long to find them. When I do, I seek out Jasper; he's leant against a tree, surrounded by the others. He looks terrible. His head snaps up when he senses my presence and he rushes over to me, stopping just in front of me.

His shoulders sag and his head dips down and his hands are balled into fists, he considers his words carefully, before he speaks.

"I am so sorry Edward, I don't know what happened. I was fine, but as soon as I smelt the blood, I lost it. The hunger took over and... I … I am just glad that the others managed to stop me."

I can't remember a time where I had seen Jasper struggle for his words in this way.

"... If you want to hurt me, do it. I won't stop you. I deserve anything you want to give."

I watch as Jasper put his arms out by his side, he unrolls his fists and he stands their offering me the chance to hurt him. In that moment my resolve falters. On the way I had considered taking my frustrations out on him, but now that he was here, offering himself on a plate I just could not do it.

I took a step towards him and he didn't flinch, I gently pushed his arms down and put my hands on his shoulders, I lean my head towards his and sigh.

"I'm not here for retribution Jasper. This is all my fault not yours. "

Jasper relaxes and pulls back to look at me. He is confused. The words I speak and the emotions I emanate betray each other, but whatever his confusion is he doesn't voice it, but I can tell that he is suspicious of my current state.

"Bella asked me to assure you that she is fine and that she doesn't blame you either."

Jasper bows his head at that.

"She's far too kind, when I think of what I could have done if they hadn't stopped me... I will never forgive myself."

Alice rushes to Jaspers side, she wraps her arms around me and her eyes search my own, I can tell that she is worried. Her mind is playing back a vision, of me away from my family, I just shake my head at her and turn back to the house, keen to get Bella home and away from the danger that I had put her in.

The journey back to her house is awkward, the silence in the truck is tense and I wish I could read her mind to know what she is thinking. As we pull up outside the house, she keeps looking at me. I know she's perceptive and she can sense something is wrong, but I just can't bring myself to tell her what I am thinking.

"Will you be coming back tonight?" she asks, whilst nibbling at her bottom lip.

"I will try, but I do need to make sure that Jasper is okay first." I lie.

Her eyes scrunch up and she studies my face, she's clearly suspicious of my response.

"Edward, please, whatever you're thinking stop it. What happened at the house was an accident, it was nothing."

I shake my head sadly.

"Bella, you got a paper cut. If you were with anyone else, what is the worse that would happen? They may not have a plaster or it may get dirty, but at our house it almost got you killed! So don't you go telling me that it's nothing!"

I can see Bella is taken aback by my tone of voice and my words. She looks angry and I can see that she's trying to find the best way to respond, but she is struggling. She seems to give up trying to find the right words and her face goes from anger to worry.

"Look, let's not dwell on it tonight, please. You need your rest and I need to check on Jasper."

"Okay, but we do need to talk about this again." She responds.

I just smile weakly and she sighs, clearly unhappy with the direction our conversation has taken. She moves towards me and throws her arms around me. My arms betray my thoughts and I react in kind, I can hear her heart hammering against my chest and I mourn the loss of that sound.

"Edward, it's still my birthday, can I have your present now?"

I'm confused, she made me promise not to buy her anything and despite my wishes I listened to her. I falter, but as she pulls back to look at me - and from her sly grin - I can see she has something in mind.

"Can I have my birthday kiss?" she presses.

"Oh!" I respond.

I can't help but smile at her, I should have expected that this is what she wanted. I am eager to oblige and I move in to kiss her. I give more to this kiss than I have ever done. I go beyond the stage where I would normally pull back. I have to fight the burning in my throat as I greedily hold on to her.

I'll miss her lips so much and I selfishly want a way to remember her. I finally stop when I sense Bella's heart struggling, as she forgets to breathe. As I pull back from the kiss, Bella is panting, her fingers trace her lips and her eyes search mine. I see lust clouding her vision, but I can also see the confusion etched across her face. I hold her towards me and kiss the top of her head and I feel her arms hold me tight.

"Charlie is waiting! He's debating whether to come out and interrupt us," I murmur.

Bella sighs and pulls back, I watch as she walks to her door, she turns to me before she goes inside and I flash her a smile. She smiles back, but it doesn't reach her eyes, she's far too perceptive for her own good.

As soon as she disappears inside I jump in my car and start to drive. At first I drive towards home, but the closer I get the slower I go. It is at this point that I realise that I am the only one who can keep Bella out of harm's way. The worst danger didn't come from James, the worst danger was from me.

I put my foot down on the accelerator and head out of town. I've barely made my decision when my phone rings.

"Alice" I murmur.

"Edward…." She begins; her voice soon becomes a blur as she tries to persuade me against my plans. I let her get it all out, but nothing she says will change my mind. I just curse myself for not making the decision sooner. It was unfair to let Bella get so close to me and my family, but she deserves better, she deserved a healthy and happy human life.

"Alice..." I interrupt.

She continues to babble, but eventually stops.

"I need to speak to Carlisle..." Alice begins to babble again, but when I remain silent she stops and agrees to put Carlisle on.

"Edward." he states cautiously.

My resolve falters for a moment when I hear my Fathers voice. I hate to be a disappointment to him and I know that I am about to break Esme's heart, but I have to do this.

"Carlisle, what happened today at the house can't ever happen again..." I begin.

"Edward, it was just an..." he starts to say, but I cut him off.

"No! Please stop! Bella was almost attacked by my own brother and in my rush to stop that I hurt her myself. She got away with a few stitches this time, but she is always going to be in danger. I... We... can't let it happen any longer. We need to leave. We need to put her out of harm's way. Please …. Carlisle, I am begging you. Move somewhere else, let Bella have the chance of a normal human life, it's the only way..." My voice trails off as the words get harder to say.

I listened to the measured pause as Carlisle considers what I am asking.

"Are you sure?" he asked.

"Yes" I state clearly.

"Very well. I will make the necessary arrangements, where shall we meet you?"

I flex my jaw as I consider that. I didn't know when I would want to be around anyone else.

"I don't know. Nowhere... I will find you!"

I hung up before Carlisle could respond. The phone starts to ring again, but I ignore it. I ignored the other subsequent calls until I could stand it no more. I picked up the phone and crushed it in my hand, and after rolling down the window I throw the remains out of it.

I had no plans of where to go, I just needed to be alone to wallow in my own self pity and I didn't want to drag my family down with me.