Disclaimer: Everything Twilight-related belongs to the Queen of Forks, Stephenie Meyer. I am just an enamored writer who really wanted to play with some of her sparkly toys. No copyright infringement intended.
Note: Underlined passages are quoted from New Moon, pgs 67-71.
Chapter 1: The End?
"Come for a walk with me," he suggested in an unemotional voice, taking my hand.
I did as I was asked, instantly soothed by the coolness of his skin against mine. Yet as we walked, as if my heart suspected something I didn't, the relief his touch provided was slowly replaced by a clammy discomfort. For the first time I could remember in my blissful history of touching him, I wanted to snatch my hand away, to break the connection between us because I could feel something was wrong. Very wrong.
I tried to focus on the scenery. It was an overcast day in Forks, not that that was unusual, but the forest seemed alive with promise. Birds sang happily above us and the trees themselves seemed to sway with the beauty of the afternoon. Had his mood been different, I might have thought Edward was taking me on a romantic hike or showing me another one of his secret hideaways.
But he was quiet and distant, despite the promixity of our bodies, and I felt as if I should brace myself. For what, I wasn't sure.
As we reached a relatively flat spot on the path, Edward let go of my hand. I stopped at the loss of contact, rubbing my palm against my jeans to erase the unpleasantness, and watched as he continued a few paces beyond me. His back was to me and as much as I appreciated the view, part of me wished he would turn around. I desperately needed to replace our recent awkwardness with something sweeter, something more like us, and I couldn't do that if he didn't turn around.
I hadn't consciously been counting the seconds, but I'd been looking at his back for half a minute. The mere fact that he wouldn't – or couldn't – turn around kept me on guard. I opened my mouth to ask him what was wrong but closed it again, somehow knowing he would soon tell me.
As if on cue, he turned to me, his face perfect in its smoothness, and took a deep breath.
"Bella, we're leaving."
Although I half-expected something this serious based on his recent attitude and the distance Alice was keeping from me in school, I was shocked enough to ask, "Why now? Another year—"
"Bella, it's time. How much longer could we stay in Forks after all? Carlisle can barely pass for thirty, and he's claiming thirty-three now. We'd have to start over soon regardless."
I heard his answer and nearly frowned. Things between Charlie and me had just started becoming some sort of normal again, and I was actually enjoying my second year at Forks High. That was mostly because Edward and I had nearly all the same classes, so every day was like a never-ending date. So the timing of our pending departure sort of sucked, but the logic made sense enough. I knew we wouldn't be able to stay in Forks forever, and with all that had happened with James, maybe getting a fresh start somewhere else wouldn't be such a bad thing.
I mulled this over, trying to figure out how in the world I would leave Charlie again so soon and if I could possibly see my mom again before we took off for parts unknown, while my mind replayed what he'd said. And this time, I noticed something. There was no warmth in his voice when he spoke. No excitement but something that sounded like irritation. And that was odd. Edward had no real connections to Forks outside of the Cullens and me, so why would he have such a strong opinion about leaving?
I replayed his words a third time.
"We'd have to start over soon regardless."
That word was plaguing me. Despite being tacked on at the end, my mind began to grasp that the meaning of the whole sentence hinged on it.
"We'd have to start over soon regardless."
Regardless of what?
I looked up at Edward's face. The cool beauty of his features remained, but the fire, that blazing fire that had consumed me the first time his topaz eyes arrested me from across the lunchroom, had gone out, leaving nothing but an arctic emptiness in its wake. And then I realized what they were leaving regardless of. And the chill began.
"When you say we –," I whispered.
"I mean my family and myself." Each word separate and distinct.
I wrapped my arms around my body, trying to warm myself in spite of his words. He was leaving. Edward, the one who'd saved and loved me in so many ways, was standing here in front of me, after all we'd created and survived in the past few months, telling me that he was leaving. My brain seemed unable to comprehend it. "How could you … What did I … We …" I took a deep breath. "Why?"
He sighed. "As I just explained, Carlisle is …"
I shook my head. "Edward, don't give me some crap about Carlisle's age." I couldn't keep the tremble out of my voice. "Not with this. Tell me the truth. You owe me that."
I thought I saw him flinch, but I must have imagined it because the marble mask never seemed to alter.
"My world is not for you," he said grimly.
"That's always been true, and we've always dealt with it together," I said with better control of my voice than I'd thought was possible. "What could have changed to make you think you need to leave me?"
His eyes narrowed and I could almost see images from my party reflected in them. Yet he said nothing.
"So because of what happened on my birthday, you're leaving?"
He caught my eyes then looked away. "We are leaving."
"You're making everyone leave Forks because of this?"
"We don't force our choices on each other," he said to the wind. "But yes, my family supports my decision and they are coming with me."
This time I saw him flinch, his upper lip twitched as if to stop a grimace, but he didn't answer.
"Where are you going?"
"That doesn't really matter," he said, and the apathy in his voice intensified the shiver running through me, freezing my heart to near stillness. "The point is that we are leaving and we will not come back."
I pinched my side in the vain hope that I was dreaming, but the brief moment of pain was an unwelcome confirmation of my being fully awake. And getting colder by degrees.
"But you …" I closed my eyes, trying to force my mouth to form the words. "In Phoenix, you promised that you would stay –"
"As long as that was best for you," he interrupted to correct me. "What happened on your birthday, although unfortunate, merely cemented a decision I have been contemplating for a long time. It is not safe for you in my world, Bella, nor can I comfortably exist in yours. This is the best thing for me, and it's good for you as well. I'm sure you'll eventually see it that way. In time," he seemed to be finishing up a closing argument. "It will be as if I'd never existed."
With my eyes closed, I had a strong enough hold on myself to hear what he was saying without falling completely apart. The very idea of Edward leaving me was beginning to steal my breath, and I thought I would start hyperventilating. But something happened as his last words entered my ear, causing something vital to snap within me. The impact broke the icy spell his goodbye had been casting over me, dissipating the chill, and the next thing I knew I was angry.
Blindingly, blazingly angry.
I squeezed my eyes shut because I didn't want him seeing me this way, not that he was looking at me. I'd never felt so out of control, so out of sync with reality yet in touch with my feelings. The heat radiating through my body made me feel as if someone had doused my soul with gasoline then set it on fire. I'd never felt something so intensely venomous toward anyone, except maybe Tyler when he told everyone he was taking me to prom. But even then, I didn't really want to kill Tyler. I just wanted him to go pine after someone else. But as I stood there with the echo of Edward's words burning a hot trail of fury through me, the prospect of physically attacking him, even if it resulted in my death, was starting to hold a certain appeal. I could not believe I was having such a violent reaction to Edward, to this beautiful boy who, only a few months ago, I thought I'd die without. As I had hidden out in that hotel with Alice and Jasper in the next room, praying for James' reign of terror to end, all I could think about was my Edward and how very much I wanted to hold him, touch him, kiss him.
Now I wanted to kill him.
As I struggled to get myself together, I wondered if this feeling was what my natural scent unearthed in him. If this all-consuming, raging urge to devour and destroy me assailed him every time I was in his presence. If it was, if he felt anything close to this yet somehow didn't act on it, he had more self-control than I ever gave him credit for. And maybe if I could empathize with him long enough, it might save him from my wrath.
It wasn't until he spoke my name that I realized he was still standing there, and that I hadn't spoken in a while. I clamped my lips shut, trying to recover before I totally lost it. Taking on a vampire, even the ridiculous vampire that I loved, might be tempting in theory, but as my sanity caught up with me, I realized that I valued my human life enough not to risk it ... at least not like this. I knew I would have to speak to Edward, and I would rather not do so with a slew of profanity. But I needed some time. And after the heaping bowl of malarkey he'd just fed me, he owed me at least that.
He didn't seem to understand and I couldn't break my silence to tell him yet. I was collecting myself – my thoughts, my composure, my resolve not to pick up the nearest branch and whack him over the head with it – and his interruptions were complicating things. I was almost at the point where I could speak with some measure of calm. I just needed a few more moments before my wall of forced serenity completely collapsed.
"Bella." His tone was sharp. "Stop this right now."
I opened my eyes and glared at him. He should have kept his beautiful mouth shut.