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CHAPTER ONE

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A/N:- This story was inspired by a beautiful banner which FatesLoveQueen had up for adoption.

Something about it struck me the first time I saw it and I knew I had to adopt it.

Since then, this little plot bunny has been bouncing through my mind.

Hopefully it will be different to anything you've read before.

Here's the banner - http:/yfrog(dot)com/oed60p

I own nothing.

Boydblog deserves tones of praise for pushing and probing me, she knows where she helped and I'll be forever thankful.

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"You...don't...want...me?"

I felt a numbness settle into my limbs as the finality of those words sank in. I looked into Edward's eyes, imploring for this to be some kind of mistake; a miscommunication that we would laugh about in a few hours, but nothing on his face contradicted his words.

He doesn't want me.

"I'll always love you, in a way. But I'm tired of pretending to be something I'm not. I am not human Bella. What happened the other night made me realize things have to change."

I shook my head. I didn't want the words to penetrate any deeper than they already had. Maybe if I could stop them from reaching my heart, I could stop it from shattering.

I reached my hand out to him and he took a step back. His expression was ice cold and hard as stone as he spoke. "You're not good for me, Bella."

I stifled the cry that threatened to rip from my throat.

How long had I been telling myself that?

I knew I wasn't good enough for him, but I had allowed myself to believe. I had opened my heart to Edward. That decision had left me vulnerable, and now I was to suffer the consequence.

Never again, I vowed.

I could almost feel the thick wall of emotions building around my heart to protect it from the pain that threatened to break through the staggering numbness. I knew I would never love another, ever again.

I looked to Edward's face. I had always seen him as an angel, a carved Adonis that had somehow found me worthy of his affection. Only I wasn't worthy. He had just confirmed that in one horrid sentence.

Had I ever held his heart?

The torture of the pain I could no longer fight burned the numbness from my limbs. A searing agony radiated through my chest, starting at my heart, where the metaphorical knife he had plunged, twisted sharply.

I finally saw Edward for what he thought he was; a monster with no heart. I had to agree with the assessment. I couldn't find any other way to explain his callous disregard for my feelings.

If he'd ever actually loved me, surely he would have considered what I wanted?

If not, had he just pretended to love me for months? I wondered if I was nothing more than a big joke to him and his family.

Anger simmered inside. Anger at him for this masquerade, anger at myself for believing the lies he had been telling me for so many months. As usual, my tears were hardwired into my anger and pricked my eyes. I brushed them away fiercely, determined not to let Edward see me cry. No doubt that would be another tick on some mental checklist Edward had of human experiences he wanted to witness before moving on.

I bit my lip to keep myself from saying anything I would regret. I couldn't believe how stupid I'd been. I quickly re-examined our entire relationship to this point. My first instinct when I'd found out about Edward and his ability to read all minds but mine was that he thought of me as a science experiment.

Was that all I was to him? Hadn't he just confirmed it?

When he stopped speaking to me after the incident with the van, it had only been after the other boys had asked me out that he started talking to me again. He was just like the child who, upon seeing someone else with a toy, wanted to play with it. If they had never spoken to me, would he have?

I didn't understand. He didn't want me, but no one else could have me either? Was I an item to be possessed before someone else staked a claim? Was that all I was to him?

The anger that had been simmering boiled over into a monstrous rage.

I clenched my fists to brace myself for the words I needed to say, "That's fine."

His face registered with emotion for the first time, the blank mask stripped away to show something else. Surprise?

"I don't want to be just some plaything anyway," I continued. "I would rather find someone who will treat me the way I deserve to be treated."

His eyes widened and for half a second, he looked like he wanted to say something. Then his eyes melted into pool of liquid honey that seemed to swirl in confusion. He closed his mouth, and his brow furrowed. Finally, he opened his mouth again.

"Bella?" His voice was a fervent whisper. He leaned forward, reaching his hand out toward me, but he didn't actually touch me. "Do you honestly feel that I did not treat you right?"

"You. Don't. Want. Me." I fumed, repeating each word slowly to allow the truth of them to sink in.

"It doesn't matter," he whispered, almost to himself. As each word came out, his back straightened and he shifted further away from me.

My anger raged, burning quickly until there was nothing left but the simmering coals of devastation. We'd been together for months, and it was all a lie.

"Did our time together mean nothing to you?" I challenged.

"Does it matter?" his quiet calm a complete contradiction of the swirl of emotions racing through my body.

My mouth formed a hard line as I fought desperately to contain the rush of emotions I felt over his callous disregard for me.

He doesn't want me; he never really wanted me.

"No," I said forcefully. It was all I could get out before my voice broke. "I-it doesn't."

My own words confirmed that this was it. There was no more us, no more Bella and Edward. No more nights held securely in his arms as he hummed the song he claimed I had inspired. I wasn't sure about that anymore; I couldn't trust anything he'd ever said to me. I only knew that I wasn't good enough for him and that knowledge was enough to shatter me.

I could almost hear the click of the lock on my heart, sealing it away from further damage. I would never allow anyone else to claim it, not if it meant that I had to suffer through this heartache when they realized what I had known all along, that I wasn't worthy of true love. I wasn't enough to hold anyone's attention for anything more than a few fleeting moments. In Edward's lifespan, our time together was nothing more than a blip on the radar. A first date that spanned just a few short months before I was deemed unworthy of a second one.

"Well, if we're done here," I said, trying to stop my voice from breaking and giving away how close to tears I was. I wasn't sure if he wanted to speak again or not but I didn't give him the opportunity. I took one last lingering look at his face, which was filled with a range of emotions I couldn't recognize, and then turned and fled as fast as my legs would carry me.

The one thing I hadn't considered was my ability to be a klutz at the worst possible time. I tripped on a fallen tree branch. I put one arm out in front of me automatically to try and stop my fall. My wrist twisted on impact, and I screamed in agony. I rolled over onto my back as quickly as I could, taking the pressure off, but that didn't stop the pain in my arm. I figured at best I had sprained it, but was seriously worried that maybe it was broken because the pain was almost unbearable. I felt a warm trickle spreading across my skin and the smell of rust and salt pierced the air. The stitches Carlisle had carefully placed, had ripped loose.

I struggled to keep conscious as the smell and sight of my blood overtook me, but it was a battle I was quickly losing. The last thing I saw before I lost the fight were the black eyes of a beautiful vampire staring at the bleeding wound on my arm.

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I woke up in a place I knew well—Edward's room—but I didn't know why I was there, not after what had just happened. Or was that just a horrific nightmare?

I sat up and looked at my surroundings. The rows of CDs on the shelves were gone. The stereo was packed away. All of Edward's personal belongings had been cleared from his room. All that remained was one piece of furniture, the piece that I was currently occupying: the black leather sofa.

A light knock on the door drew my attention. I saw Edward standing in the doorway. His face was apprehensive and he seemed hesitant to come any closer.

"Can I come in?" he asked.

I shrugged, trying to bite back the tears. "It's your room."

He looked at the blank shelves. "Not really, not anymore."

His words, and the expression on his face, confirmed what I already knew. What had happened was not a nightmare. It was real and as that hit me, I couldn't stop the tears. I sat staring at the bandage that was now wound up the length of my arm. "Why?"

In my periphery, I saw Edward's head rise and his eyes dart to the place I was staring. "I... I couldn't let you bleed to death. I have enough medical knowledge to stitch a wound back together. I know how you feel about hospitals, so I didn't want to take you there."

"You think I care about my arm!" I shouted, scrambling to my feet and immediately feeling woozy. I swayed, but just before I fell, I felt Edward's arms surround my waist. I hadn't even seen him move.

His face was inches from mine and I could smell the sweet scent of his breath wash over me. My eyes half-closed of their own accord as my lips fell open into a soft pout. My tongue slipped forward and glided across my bottom lip. Another inch and our lips would touch. 'YES', screamed the part of me that would always want Edward. 'PROTECT YOURSELF, screamed the part that was just beginning to try to 'stitch up' the damage he had just caused.

As soon as I knew my footing was stable—as stable as my footing could ever be—I stepped back out of Edward's embrace. He didn't protest. I looked deep into his eyes, mesmerized and unable to turn away.

"Why wasn't I enough for you?" I whispered.

His eyes burned into me, it seemed as if he were imploring me to understand something, but I didn't. The only thing I was capable of understanding was that he didn't want me.

His eyes left my face. "You are so fragile and corruptible," he murmured, his voice taking on a quiet, thoughtful tone. "You are just a human, so it doesn't matter."

His eyes settled back on my face, and he watched impassively as my tears ran freely down my face. I was unable to control them even if I wanted to, but I didn't care anymore, he deserved to see the pain he was putting me through. He took another step closer to me.

"Why did you follow me then?" I asked, my voice shaky from his proximity and not my tears.

"I heard you scream and," he took a deep breath, "the scent of your blood hit me. I couldn't leave you there, bleeding."

He had covered the distance that I had put between us again but he wasn't reaching out to try to touch me.

"Did it smell good?" I asked.

He'd smelled my blood, just days earlier. There were other threats around then. Now, there was just him and me, and the questions I needed answered.

"Bella!" Edward's eyes snapped to mine almost begging not to be asked that question.

"I want to know if my blood smelled as appealing to you when it was being spilt."

He closed his eyes and whispered, "More."

I held up my arm. "Do you want to taste it again? Untainted by venom and running freely."

He stepped back away from me. "Bella, stop."

I began to unwind the bandage on my arm. I may not have been enough to keep him interested, but my blood did appeal to him. I looked away as I continued to loosen the bandage.

Instantly, I felt his hands on mine, halting my progress.

"Stop!"

When I looked at his face his eyes burned into me, full of unreadable emotions. His hands didn't move from mine.

"It took everything I had to be able to stitch you up with your scent in the air," he whispered dangerously. "I don't know if I could resist it a second time."

"Then don't." I met his eye.

I had known for so long that there was no one else I wanted. Now I knew without doubt that there was no one else I could ever want. At some point—possibly even the first time I'd ever seen him—my entire world, and being, had become wrapped around him.

"You don't know what you're asking," he said, shaking his head slowly.

The way he had looked after me and the fact that he seemed to need me to understand made me certain that he did in fact care for me. Maybe he did love me?

"I know exactly what I'm asking. It's what I've wanted since I met you. You want it too, don't you? I'll be enough for you then, won't I? When I'm no longer a fragile human."

He shook his head, dragging it from side to side as though the tension in the air was physically thickening it. When his eyes focused on me again, I saw hunger and need. I tried to steady my breathing as his hands clamped around my wrists and he guided them around behind my back.

He had complete control over me. My lips were close enough that all I would need to do is stand on tip-toes and claim them.

Before I was even able to close that small distance between us, Edward took a step towards me, forcing me to take a step backwards. His face had switched from needful to the mask of hatred I remembered from the time before we were together, when he had tried to frighten me off.

"Is that what you want?"

I nodded. He took another step, propelling me backwards.

"You want to be in agonizing pain for days on end?" he asked, taking another step. "And when you are just beginning to think that it can't possibly feel any worse than it does, your senses increase and shift, giving you many new and varied ways to endure the agony?"

I didn't know what to say as I stared into his eyes as he spat out his invective.

"To be slave to a thirst that makes you crave the blood of the one person you want more than anything to keep alive? To put your parents through the grief of losing their only daughter so early in her life?"

I felt my legs hit the sofa and I was being held against it. I tried to pull my hands from Edward's grip but he didn't relinquish his hold. My wrists were beginning to ache from the death grip he held them with.

"Is that what you want?" he asked again.

Adrenaline coursed through my body and I felt myself nod. Tears flowed freely down my cheeks.

"And you want to force me to be the one to inflict that on you?" he asked finally.

"Edward, please," I sobbed. "Don't!"

"Don't what, Bella?" he spat. He bent his face down so that his lips were touching my neck. "Don't change you? I thought it was what you wanted?"

I shook my head 'no', unable to talk or see through my tears.

In an instant, I felt myself falling onto the sofa, my arms free of their cage. I choked back a sob that was fighting its way into my throat as the coolness of Edward's hands left me.

"No," I whispered. "Don't do this."

The room was silent.

"Don't go!" I called out to the emptiness around me.

It was too late. The whole house was silent.

Edward was gone.

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I didn't know how much time had past when I registered a shrill ringing in my mind.

My face was sweaty from being pressed against the leather, or maybe it was just soaked with tears, I couldn't be sure. I tried to identify the ringing. The sound was familiar, yet my brain couldn't identify the source. Instead, I rolled over and inhaled Edward's scent on the sofa. It brought a fresh round of tears and a renewed fog in my mind.

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The ringing continued regularly throughout the night, but I couldn't force myself to respond. It was as if a heavy darkness had settled over my whole body as night had closed in.

Since Edward's departure, it felt like sun had left my world permanently. Even his familiar scent—which had been so strong when I'd first woken—was faded to my human senses.

Everything I thought I knew was suddenly wrong. I had thought Edward had loved me. My mind instantly created a thousand excuses for what had just happened. A tiny, hopeful part of me imagined that there was more to the situation, but I saw the simple, inescapable truth. Despite loving Edward with everything I had, it wasn't enough. I was nothing more than a human girl, one that he could easily dispose.

It doesn't matter.

The words he'd said came back to haunt me, swirling around my mind until they changed and morphed into what I saw as the reality of the situation.

I don't matter.

I pressed my head to the soft, black leather and willed myself away from the pain.

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