FGB New Moon 5

It had literally felt like forever since I had sat there, watching my beautiful Bella sleep, and the differences were impossible to ignore. The comfort we had once shared in each other's presence within that room was gone, even as she slept. Rather than stretching out beside her on the bed with her body draped along my side, or occasionally curled up against my chest, I sat closer to her feet, and even that was far more than I deserved.

I could still barely wrap my head around the events that had transpired, the myriad of emotions I thought myself incapable of after almost a century of near dormancy. The ache of loneliness as I had never experienced at being away from her. The devastating and crippling despair when I believed her dead. My resolved surrender to a fate I had only ever contemplated, and with a longing only comparable to one other in my entire existence—Bella herself. The relief to feel her alive and warm in my arms, the agony at seeing her still so broken and shattered, believing she was nothing to me. Fear at losing her all over again, and finally, an emotion I never imagined I would ever feel, at least directed at her—anger.

Bella had, for the lack of better comparison, thrust herself between me and the firing squad, putting her at the ultimate risk once again in an attempt to save me. Did she not understand that it would have made no difference? I still would have perished that day, only after witnessing the destruction of the most important thing in my universe. We would have been parted forever, regardless of the order in which we met our demise, if not for Aro's twisted mind. And then, of course, there was the anger I bore toward Alice. She knew exactly how I felt and why, but more importantly, had given Aro exactly what he wanted; that God forsaken assurance that Bella would be changed, by her, if need be.

However, all thoughts were once again lost as I gazed down at my slumbering angel. If possible, she had managed to grow more beautiful in the passing months, even in her sleep. How had I ever thought that I could survive without her and the peace she brought me? I had known since the moment I met and talked to her that she was the missing element in my so-called life, that I had found my reason for existing.

I was a fool to have ever believed that I could simply walk away from her and never return, to follow her only in the event of death. However, I was no longer that same fool. As I had told her in the very beginning, I was far too selfish of a being to ever be able to do what was best for her and walk away. The evidence of it was right there in that room.

Despite everything that had happened, there I was once again, sitting beside her on that bed and watching her sleep, knowing very well that I would never be able to willingly leave her side again.

Suddenly, soft gasps sounded from the head of the bed and I watched as Bella's face began to wince in her sleep. I had seen it before, both in person and through Charlie's memories during my absence; whatever dream she had been having was shifting into a nightmare. That was probably one of the only, and rare, instances that I would be forever grateful that I was not privy to the inner workings of Bella's mind. I already felt heavy guilt of all the pain and horror I had brought into her life during her waking hours; I would probably never forgive myself if I knew exactly how much of her nightmares were a direct result of my presence in her life. She would have been spared so much had she never met me; danger, heartbreak, and near death…again. Yet, I still could not bear to stay away from her, especially after the agony I had experienced in the twenty-four hours I believed she was dead. I was selfish and despicable, undeserving of her.

I needed her far too much for her own good—or sanity, for that matter.

Within seconds, those small gasps became more desperate, her body fidgeting beneath the covers in sharp, panicked movements.

"Stop! Stop!" Bella cried out in her sleep and I reached over to touch her shoulders before she roused Charlie again. She jumped slightly as my fingers made contact with her skin, and my hand moved quickly down her arm until it met hers, where it grabbed mine tightly.

Bella's eyes opened and gazed at our joined hands for a moment while trying to catch her breath and gain her bearings. The look on her face as her fingers gently maneuvered mine was that of half-awake confusion, but I could see realization slowly creeping into her features and her eyes began to flicker, hesitant to rise and look at me.

When her gaze finally met mine, her gasps stilled for a moment, but she never retracted her touch. "You're here."

Her voice was soft and her breaths were shaky as they resumed, as if terrified that I would vanish from in front of her.

"You can sleep," I said gently, yet instead of soothing her as I had intended, her eyes filled with fear again and she held my hand more securely. After everything in Italy—every word spoken, every touch shared, and of course, the reason we were all there in the first place—she still did not comprehend just how much she meant to me, or how completely my existence relied upon her. She feared that I would leave her again; it was evident in the look in her eyes and the slight tremble of her lip as she subtly shook her head. "I'll still be here when you wake up."

However, even that did not seem enough to calm her mind and her eyes averted from mine, and I knew with that one gesture that she did not believe me—not that I blamed her. I had hurt her and betrayed her love and trust, with that string of lies that drove daggers into each of our hearts. And even when her eyes returned to me, they did not remain for long, and I could see that it would take so much more to reassure her. She also deserved the answers she was silently asking for.

"Bella, the only reason I left was because I thought I was protecting you," I began and her gaze slowly lifted to me again, still questioning. "I needed you to have a chance at a normal, happy life."

"It was so easy for you to leave," she murmured with a lowered voice and her tone carrying the hurt caused by the firm belief she had in her words.

Caused by me.

"Leaving you was the hardest thing I've done in a hundred years," I replied and watched as her body curled forward, breathing heavily. Although, whether it was relief because she could hear the sincerity in my tone or disbelief in me altogether, I could not be certain, but I would continue to endeavor in regaining her trust for eternity, if I needed to. "And I swear, I will never fail you again."

My eyes were imploring with her to hear my earnest plea, to see how desperately I wished I could turn back time and never have caused her that pain. I brought my hand to her cheek, halfway expecting her to pull away from me, but instead, she held my gaze as I made yet another apology to her—something I would never cease to do.

Our moment was interrupted as I heard Charlie's thoughts stirring as he began making his way up the stairs, cursing me again in his mind for the agony and nightmares I had caused for his daughter that were still lingering, and I could not disagree with him. Yet, I knew I needed to make myself scarce before he arrived at her door, for her sake, at least. "Charlie's coming."

Before the door could open, I disappeared from sight. However, even without seeing his face, I could hear the pain and anguish in every word and thought passing through him. He'd been through hell over the past few months, and then, one of the worst terrors a father could experience came to fruition—coming home to find his child gone with only a vague note that did nothing to comfort him, and even less so over the three days that followed. I knew that Chief Swan was not a man to express his emotions openly, even with Bella, but he didn't have to. I could hear it in every word he spoke and in every catch of his breath—he had been terrified that something would happen to her and he would lose his daughter again. Forever, this time.

Again, because of me.

As was usual for him, he attempted to temper his rising emotions due to the heaviness of the conversation with humor, despite the seriousness of the matter, grounding Bella for "the rest of her life".

As he closed the door in his wake, I managed to maneuver my way behind it to remain hidden, only taking the chance of speaking once I heard him returning to the stairs and beginning his descent.

"I'm not technically breaking any of his rules," I said, moving toward her bed and kneeling down beside it. "He did say I couldn't take a step inside the door. I came in through the window."

My own attempt at humor was nearly lost on both of us, save for a small, hint of a laugh from Bella, before the air turned solemn again.

"He's not gonna forgive me easily," I continued and Bella looked to me again, softly agreeing with me. I knew it would be a long road to regain any form of trust with her father, but there was one thing infinitely more important. "Can you?"

Bella's gaze remained lowered for a moment, and I had to admit, it honestly terrified me. Her eyes rose and they held a sadness within them, but remained otherwise unreadable.

"I hope you can, 'cause I honestly don't know how to live without you."

Bella could have said anything to me in that moment. How I should have thought of that before I left her. That she could never forgive the pain I had put her through. That I did not deserve her. And each statement would have been just as valid as the one prior, and yet, she answered me with two soft, simple words. "Come here."

Before I could succumb to the relief that she had not turned me away, I felt her fingers tilt my chin slightly, drawing me closer until her hand lined my jaw and pressing her lips testingly to mine.

Where once I was afraid of the touches and passion shared between us within her room, at that moment, I could not get enough. I returned her kiss, wanting to feel the warmth of her lips against mine, that tingling caused by her touch as she traced her fingertips lightly along my skin. She made me feel like a man, and it was intoxicating. I could not resist touching her anymore and my hand moved from the back of her arm to her wrist, holding her against me as she made to move back slightly. And when she parted from me, I felt the loss so absolutely, it seemed as if I was still drawn to her like a magnet, my lips seeking out hers once more.

Instead, she began to speak. "Once Alice changes me, you can't get rid of me."

"She won't need to change you," I replied immediately and felt her eyes on me, and the anger at my sister returned. That was not what I wanted for Bella, and certainly not what she deserved. "There are always ways to keep the Volturi in the dark."

"No," Bella replied, blinking as if she couldn't believe what she was hearing—as if I would have given in that easily. The look on her face and the tone of her voice told me clearly that it was exactly what she had thought. She believed that the issue had been settled, and in a few short months, she would be one of us. However, I had never agreed to Aro's bargain, and since then, I had been attempting to devise a way around it, to keep Bella both safe, and human. With her gift, it made the possibility of eluding the Volturi guards more likely. But apparently, that was not what she had been counting on. "No."

I watched her as she angrily rose out of bed and made her way to her dresser, nearly tripping in her haste. It was going to be a long night.