Outtake from Chapters 44 & 45 of Pinned but Fluttering

Edward's Point of View

As Esme and Carlisle led the way back to the house so that we could greet Tanya and our extended family, I gazed down at Isabella and allowed all the love I felt for her to shine through my eyes. Carlisle's words of love and acceptance to my Isabella had warmed me, and the softness in her eyes entranced me.

As our glances met and melded, all thought of Esme, Carlisle, and the Denalis faded, and Isabella was the only one on my mind. My pride and love for her was boundless, eternal. My heart thrilled as our souls spoke the words of love that our lips did not need to.

For decades I had considered myself a monster, soulless and heartless. Only with Isabella's entrance into my lonely life did bitterness flee, and acceptance, followed speedily by an all-encompassing joy, took its place.

For how could I possibly think that my Isabella was without a heart or soul?

Despite all the horrors of her human life, her heart was open and expansive in its ability to love my family…and to love me.

As I gazed upon my beloved, I rejoiced at the new strength and joy that flowed from her crimson eyes into my very soul. For although she loved me, Isabella been unable to fully accept that I adored her just as completely in return.

Until now.

Exultant, I opened my arms to her, and Isabella flew to me, embracing me and…kissing me. Surprised by her passion, I couldn't move for a moment, but before thought caught up with action, my arms trapped her form against my chest and my lips returned her kiss with enthusiasm. Tentatively my tongue caressed her closed lips; when she parted them, I tasted her for the first time, our kiss slow and deep and passionate.

As I pulled her body completely flush with mine, we continued to kiss, our lips moving hungrily, our tongues twisting and twining deliciously. As my hands explored her back, she buried her delicate fingers in my hair; I stifled a growl of pleasure at the sensation as my eyes rolled back into my head in sheer ecstasy.

So deeply involved were we in our mutual passion, that neither of us noticed the vampire approaching us until she cleared her throat rudely.

I groaned internally; I knew that sound all too well. It was quite incredible that two very…involved…vampires neglected to hear Tanya walking up the gravel path, and she was not pleased by our, uh, inattention…to say the very least.

I must have paused for a moment, distracted by Tanya's annoyed and jealous thoughts, but as Bella's lips recaptured mine, Tanya's mind and presence was banished from my mind. Her impatient sighs made no impact upon either Isabella or myself as we continued to kiss…exactly like the teenagers we were.

"Do we need a garden hose to separate you two?" Tanya growled, obviously angered by our display.

Stifling my sigh of annoyance, I broke our kiss at long last. But I refused to even glance at Tanya; my eyes were fixed on the beautiful woman in my arms, the woman who was everything to me.

Once again, Tanya's presence was forgotten as I gently brushed a strand of mahogany hair from Isabella's lovely face. But beneath my hands I felt Isabella tense as she became more aware of Tanya's frustration and anger.

I tried to calm Isabella with the warmth of my gaze alone, but I could see the struggle in her eyes; she was ready to turn on Tanya and take her out. Now.

And I knew that Isabella could and probably would do just that.

What I wouldn't give to watch that match…but it wouldn't be polite to allow Isabella to remove Tanya's head for her. After all, Tanya was a guest…and was considered to be extended family, after all. Damn it.

Never taking my eyes off of Isabella and placing my hands gently on Isabella's arms to calm her, I spoke to our rude guest with meager restraint, "Tanya, we would greatly appreciate a little privacy, please. We'll return to the house shortly."

There was no surprise on Isabella's face as I addressed Tanya; she had obviously known the identity of the rude vampire interrupting our private moment. My quiet words and touch seemed to quiet my lovely one as we smiled in shared amusement at the welcome sound of Tanya's designer heels grinding into the gravel pathway all the way back to the house.

So much for that pair of Jimmy Choos, sighed Alice mentally from within the house. I smirked for a moment before returning to a serious mood; I had something important to say to my lovely one.

Leaning forward until our foreheads touched, I whispered, "I am so proud of you, Isabella. Your control is incredible, love. If I wanted to tear Tanya's head off myself, I can only imagine what you were considering…"

Isabella stopped my words with a kiss - a kiss so sweet and evocative that a groan escaped my throat. Despite the coolness of her body, her form felt like fire against mine; reluctantly I pulled away before I seriously considered taking her right here in the gazebo…guests or no guests.

After I explained to Isabella to reason for my stopping, she agreed (reluctantly) to return to the house with me. Wrapping my arm around her shoulder, I prayed that my body would calm down before we reached the house - and the sharp eyes of Tanya who would miss nothing…especially my currently aroused state.

But as we approached the back deck, Isabella stiffened, and my concern increased when she dropped her arm from around me and put some distance between us. For the millionth time, I wondered what my beautiful girl was thinking; I could tell from her shuttered expression that it wasn't anything good. And I definitely did not like her pulling away from me when I yearned to be close to her always.

Stopping on the back deck, I turned around to face my Isabella, trying to swallow down my concern when she once again averted her eyes. "Are you all right?" I inquired softly, grasping her chin in my hand as I tried to read the emotions flitting across her beautiful face.

But she avoided my examination, shrugging and making a noncommittal reply. My worry was quickly escalating into fear at this point.

Quietly I opened the door for her, leading the way into the living room where our "cousins" were chatting with our family. Since Isabella seemed uneasy among so many strange vampires, I took the initiative and, capturing her hand in mine, gave it a gentle squeeze.

A sigh of relief escaped me as she squeezed my hand in return and relaxed a little while she endured Carlisle's rather enthusiastic introductions. I smiled to myself at our father's love for and pride in his newest daughter.

However, I was immediately troubled by Eleazar's inordinate interest in Isabella. He was gifted in evaluating the potential talents in humans and newborn vampires especially; he was also adept at training newborns in developing and strengthening their talents.

Although I knew intellectually that Eleazar was an invaluable resource in assessing Isabella's gift and in training her to control it, emotionally I felt more than a little trepidation at his presence, especially since his thoughts remained so keenly focused on my mate.

The obvious power of Isabella's shield both intrigued him and concerned him, and I could tell that his scrutiny was making her uncomfortable. In fact, the way that Eleazar's thoughts kept returning to how attractive the Romanians would find Isabella's gift, raw though it was, began to truly worry me.

It didn't help that Eleazar, who had spent several decades with Stefan and Vladimir in Romania helping them ferret out potential talents from their human "meals" before they became dinner, considered Isabella to be, without a doubt, the most powerful shield he had come across in his seven hundred years.

I sighed quietly, trying to hide my escalating fear over these revelations as I followed Eleazar's thoughts. I could tell from Isabella's quick glances at Eleazar that his continued scrutiny was making her both uncomfortable and suspicious. I moved closer to her, wrapping my arm around her slender waist and tracing small, comforting circles on the curve of her hip.

Isabella seemed unaware of my barely-there caresses, but she relaxed slightly against me as I nuzzled her hair gently, breathing in her strawberry-tinted scent that symbolized home to me.

Wherever she was, there was my home. That thought rapidly became my lifeline when fear raised its ugly head.

When we approached the three sisters, however, Isabella braced herself as if preparing for battle. I sighed, hating to see her upset and regretting how my past was affecting our present happiness.

Irina's rudeness surprised me; she was suspicious of Isabella immediately, and deliberately ignored my narrowed eyes as Carlisle introduced her to Isabella. Protectively I put my arm around my love's shoulders and pulled her into my side, again nuzzling the side of her lovely face.

Irina's thoughts when she saw my affection for Isabella were…unspeakable. Her thoughts exploded in anger toward me and hatred toward Isabella, viewing her as an interloper who was stealing me away from Tanya.

I rolled my eyes at Irina's dramatic thoughts…yet Tanya's thoughts were traveling along the identical wavelength. Tanya's attitude toward me has always been possessive and proprietary, but I had turned away first her subtle, then her obvious advances without fail over the past fifty years.

One would think the woman would take a hint.

With every offer, I had been polite but firm. One would think that Tanya would get the message, but each time I refused her advances, she only dug in more deeply, plotting and planning her next method of attack, many of which had the opposite effect than she had intended, causing a deep disgust within me at her blatant sexual innuendo.

Over the years, I had felt increasingly defiled and revolted by Tanya's mental skirmishes and had become colder toward her as a result. In fact, I had barely spoken a dozen words to her over the past decade.

However, Tanya was not accustomed to rejection, and her sharp eyes missed nothing regarding the depth of my relationship with Isabella. Thus, Tanya's present thoughts toward Isabella were filled with pure jealousy.

A growl rumbled from my chest at Irina's and Tanya's thoughts. They were blaming Isabella for "enchanting" and "bewitching" me with her talent — as if a shield could do anything remotely along those lines.

They also were envious of her powerful gift; Eleazar remained fascinated by the possibilities of her latent talent, and the sisters had noted his attentive manner toward her. They had also recognized Emmett's protectiveness and Jasper's clear respect for Isabella as well as Carlisle's fatherly devotion.

When the sisters topped their theories off with my obvious "infatuation" with her, they were positive that Isabella was some sort of siren, beckoning vampire males to their destruction.

And they seethed with envy and hatred toward my beloved one.

I wanted to laugh at the absurdity of their assumptions, but the malice they bore the woman I adored was not humorous in the least. I wished that Alice could see if they would attempt to do real harm to Isabella, but my sister's precognition was unfortunately blocked whenever Isabella was involved.

Fortunately, Kate did not share her sisters' envy and malice toward Isabella; instead, I noted an admiration for my mate in Kate's mind which relaxed me slightly. As I shot Eleazar a warning glance as he continued in his dogged attentions to my Isabella, Kate rolled her eyes at me; I returned her humor with a wink, and Isabella, seeing our exchange, smiled for the first time since she had left Carmen's arms.

Unfortunately, Carlisle introduced Tanya next, and her coldness toward and obvious dislike of Isabella was revolting. I tried to carry off the awkward situation with an impression of calm, smiling at Tanya while swallowing down my fury at her rudeness and malicious thoughts toward Isabella.

Tanya and Isabella were exchanging glares of barely-concealed antipathy, and if I were a vain person, I would definitely be flattered by the non-verbal tug-o-war going on between the two females.

I doubt that Isabella noticed my pulling her even closer to me and the warm smiles that I bestowed upon her in the hope that I could pull her out of her strange competition with Tanya.

Didn't my Isabella realize that she owned me - body, heart, and soul?

Kate winked slyly at me, making a pointed comment about all of the Cullens being paired up at last. I laughed internally, but the situation was too fraught with tension for me to reveal my amusement at Kate's blatant barb.

After trying to warn Kate from angering Tanya, Eleazar reluctantly stepped in to Tanya's place as head of the coven, making the expected pleasantries as Tanya was neglecting her usual role, but his thoughts continued to swirl around Isabella and her gift…and her value to the Romanians.

In our world, the two Romanians, Stefan and Vladimir, ruled the vampire world with fists of iron and had done so for over two thousand years. Fortunately, they were usually fair, but they were intolerant of the neglect of our one responsibility as vampires: keeping our secret at all costs.

But Eleazar was right: if the power of our family became common knowledge among nomadic covens, those who were bored and always on the lookout for a challenge would indeed search us out to try their hand at defeating us, just for the thrill.

And the stress of such battles on a regular basis would ruin the peace we sought as well as destroy our usual human masquerade. Unable to continue to live among humans, we would be forced to relocate to an extremely remote area in order to protect as many humans as possible from the non-"vegetarian" vampires who would seek us out to do battle.

The situation would be a nightmare for all of us.

But we had no choice at the time we changed Isabella. We could not let her die — and she had so very nearly done so despite our best efforts.

Eleazar began to voice his concerns, warning us of the repercussions of changing Isabella. I cringed as Isabella, already uncomfortable due to Tanya and Irina's cool reception and Eleazar's continued attentions, stiffened in my arms. Stress marred her lovely face as she realized the implications of Eleazar's statements.

One glance at her momentarily unguarded expression revealed her thoughts and feelings: Isabella was not only afraid for us, but she also was feeling a tremendous guilt for supposedly putting out family in danger.

Attempting to maintain a sense of calm, I broke the silence following Eleazar's announcement, explaining how close Isabella had come to death and that changing her was not an option, but a necessity. Carlisle stepped in and quietly but firmly backed me up, describing the situation.

But then Eleazar explained the issue of the nomads to our family, and although the thought of this particular danger had never occurred to me before today, apparently it was not a new thought to either Jasper or Emmett.

Unlike the surprised reactions of our female family members and even Carlisle, Jasper's and Emmett's thoughts showed no shock at Eleazar's concerns; the two of them had even discussed it privately on a hunt last week, and I had been too involved with Isabella to note their subterfuge.

Carlisle's thoughts upon this point were resigned; he felt no guilt in changing Isabella and would meet any repercussions of our decision as were necessary.

As Isabella asked about the Romanians and Eleazar explained their position in our world, I noted her brow furrowing with worry and felt the beginnings of fear creep into my heart.

Of course, Isabella would think that this danger was her fault.

And she would want to leave to protect us.

Then and there, I resolved that I would never allow her to leave … not unless she took me with her.

As Isabella sought comfort in resting her forehead against my silent heart, I wrapped my arms around her, holding her close and breathing in her familiar and lovely scent…the scent of "home" wherever we may end up in the future.

Only Tanya's frantic hissing at Carlisle pulled me out of my quiet meditation as I lost myself in the scent and the touch of the woman I adored.

Not bothering to attempt even a façade of civility, Tanya addressed Carlisle in scathing tones. "You have done a foolish and dangerous thing, Carlisle. And because of the ties between our families, you are putting us in danger as well as yourselves. We will be honor-bound to defend your family now as covens flock here to test their mettle against your family. You should have thought about the repercussions of your actions before making such a foolhardy decision." Yet while she berated Carlisle, her eyes were on me, carefully judging my reactions to her criticism.

Of course Tanya would assume that Carlisle changed Isabella; after all, he had changed me, Esme, Rosalie, and Emmett.

I spoke up, informing Tanya that I had been the one to change Isabella and for her to direct her criticism to me rather than to my father.

Tanya's shock would have been comical if the situation were not so tense. Her thoughts were convoluted, a mixture of surprise, jealousy, anger, frustration, and sadness.

The sadness surprised me. For decades, I had looked on Tanya's pursuit of me as merely a pastime for her, something to ward off the inevitable boredom that often accompanied this eternal life. Until this moment, she had guarded her mind from me as well as her heart.

Apparently Tanya really cared for me.

And still did.

I felt sympathy for her plight, yet I knew very well that I had given her absolutely no encouragement. Tanya was watching me carefully, and the momentary pity I felt for her must have shown in my expression. Her immediate reaction was anger toward me and hatred for Isabella. My eyes narrowed at Tanya in warning, but she merely smirked and turned her mind to Lady Gaga lyrics to mask her true thoughts.

Quickly I glanced at Alice, praying that somehow she would see something – anything of Tanya's possible plans.

Ignorant of the battle lines being silently drawn, Eleazar and Carlisle continued to discuss options regarding the nomads and the Romanians until Tanya interrupted them with the rude suggestion that Isabella leave. It didn't help that her words were accompanied by a flirty grin toward me designed to anger Isabella. Almost everyone in the room, including myself, rolled our eyes at Tanya's flair for the dramatic.

But Isabella only lowered her eyes to the floor, refusing to look at me — or at any of us, as a matter of fact. Her eyes remained averted and her posture defensive even while Carlisle deliberately and clearly outlined Isabella's permanent place in our family and firmly requested Tanya to treat Isabella as such.

Tanya glared at Carlisle, and then she took her revenge. Grinning maliciously, she thought, You know, Edward, it could be quite amusing to inform your innocent Isabella of our long and passionate history together. I could tell her how you have pursued me for decades, despite my constant refusals. Perhaps it is mere sexual frustration that has created this supposed "bond" between you and this … newborn. Ugh. She's worthless, Edward, really. Think of how I can make you happy. With my centuries of experience, I can guarantee that you would be begging for more … continually. Hmmm, "confessing" everything to Isabella will be sooooo entertaining, don't you—

I tried to move slowly enough to avoid alarming Isabella as I pressed a kiss atop her head before releasing Isabella; I then flashed forward to grab Tanya's wrist in a grip that would be painful even to a vampire.

"Time for a chat," I informed my family in a voice barely concealing my fury at Tanya's proposed machinations.

Emmett cheered me, but the rest of the family appeared worried as I dragged Tanya none-too-gently out to the backyard.

I was so furious that I could not concentrate on the conversation in the house as I spun Tanya around to face me, dropping her wrist and taking a step back to try to gather the scattered forces of my self-control before I damaged her.

Permanently.

Of course, causing permanent damage didn't seem so terrible right now.

Tanya smiled seductively, well-satisfied that she had managed to get me alone…and especially away from Isabella.

With fists clenched at my sides as I shook with barely-controlled anger, I towered over Tanya, noting with grim satisfaction the change across her face as her grin faded and fear took its place.

Pointing my index finger into her face to emphasize my words, my voice trembled with suppressed rage as I addressed her. "You are not to tell such abysmal lies to Isabella, Tanya, or, so help me, I will quite happily tear you limb from limb, set fire to your dismembered pieces, and watch you burn with glee, rejoicing that you will never interfere in my existence ever again. Am I being clear, Tanya?"

Through her frightened thoughts, I watched myself, my formerly golden eyes black with rage as I trembled with anger.

Tanya was staring at me as if I were an alien, her eyes huge and her mouth hanging open in utter disbelief as she cringed away from my fury.

For the first time in our ninety-year acquaintance, she was truly afraid of me.

Good.

However, she seemed frightened into immobility, and thus was unable to reply to my questions, and I definitely wanted her to respond — after all, these were not rhetorical questions I was asking. I wanted Tanya's assurance that she would leave both of us alone.

Grabbing her shoulders roughly, I shook her for emphasis – not too hard, but enough to demonstrate how serious I was taking this conversation. "Am I being clear?" I repeated, my voice a low growl.

Tanya's expression of extreme shock remained frozen, but she managed to nod mutely. I released her, wiping my hands on my jeans as if I had touched something unclean.

"Good. Glad that's cleared up," I said derisively, folding my arms over my chest and turning my back on Tanya. As I watched the white rapids of the river, I tried to calm myself enough to re-enter the house. I needed Isabella in my arms.

Now.

Badly.

But it was going to take some time to reign in my temper.

A long silence passed while Tanya tried to regain the ability to speak and I tried to conquer my raging emotions. I doubted that I would ever forgive Tanya for her words and thoughts tonight regarding Isabella.

"B-b-but Edward-" Tanya started, and I could tell that she was not finished; instead, she was going to attempt another tack. She was going to start whining and pouting; after all, this approach had worked without fail in her encounters with human males who couldn't resist her supposedly gorgeous lips. Tanya had long considered her pout the "ace-up-her-sleeve."

Too bad her pout only disgusted me, and whining was simply abhorrent in anyone over the age of two. I was beyond thankful that Isabella never pouted or whined.

"Don't go there," I growled in warning, not wanting to deal with the abhorrent sights and sounds of Tanya in full-temper-tantrum mode.

Tanya's annoyance trumped her fear of me after I had just now wounded her pride; she was definitely getting angry. Great. In her more than one thousand years on this earth, she had never been rejected by a man … until she met me, that is. So, embarrassed, upset, and angry, she made a poor decision and leveled her sights on the wrong target.

"I don't know what you see in that mousy little thing," Tanya hissed. And she was only getting started. But criticizing my beloved was only going to piss me off even more than I already was.

"Stop right there," I ground out between my clenched jaws as I grabbed her arm and spun her around to face me. "You will not say one derogatory thing about my Isabella. Unlike you, cousin," I sneered, "she's beautiful inside and out. She is innocent and pure, kind and unselfish, highly intelligent and extremely talented, always doing wonderful things for others and rarely thinking of herself. She is exquisite in every way.

"So, listen carefully, Tanya, as I will only say this once more: you and I have never been in a romantic relationship. I have never felt more for you than the bond of extended family—of cousins … if that. And I have made my lack of romantic feeling toward you abundantly clear over the decades.

"Therefore, whatever you imagined was between us was just that: imagined. I adore Isabella—and only Isabella. She is my singer, my soulmate, my best friend, and the love of my existence.

"I love Isabella with every fiber of my being, and my admiration, respect, adoration, and worship of her will never fade one iota should we be fortunate enough to spend the next thousand years together."

My harangue had started in with my voice raised, a rare occurrence, but I quieter and more menacing as I continued to lay out the facts to a deluded Tanya. After I finished, I paused for a few seconds to make sure that my words had sunk in.

"Do you understand me, Tanya?" I challenged softly, leaning over her in a threatening manner to make my point.

Tanya did not answer, turning on her heel and fleeing to the relative safety of the house. I think I made my point.

In her rush to hide her fear and embarrassment as we both knew too well that everyone in the house had heard our exchange, Tanya wrenched off the back door, flinging it across the back lawn in frustration.

Deciding to remain outside to gather my thoughts and calm my emotions, I surveyed the thoughts of my family and cousins as Tanya stomped into the house, demanding that the members of her family join her at once in leaving our family.

Fortunately, Tanya missed the victory dance Emmett was performing behind her back in response to her announcement.

All right, I actually cracked a smile at his antics, and while part of me wanted to join him, I didn't want to embarrass Tanya further. Although I had decimated her emotionally tonight, I couldn't find myself regretting a single word or action.

And Tanya wasn't the only one embarrassed this evening; I had to admit that I was ashamed of Tanya's proprietary behavior toward me and hoped that Isabella, whom I assumed had heard my impassioned words to Tanya regarding my deep and abiding love for her, would understand that I had never encouraged Tanya in the least.

But would she understand?

Isabella was so new to this life, and vampires, especially young ones, can be incredibly jealous and possessive.

Would she even speak to me when I returned to the house?

Fear gripped me. I knew all too well that I did not deserve Isabella's love, and I was afraid that tonight's events may bring my happiness crashing down around my ears.

Taking several deep breaths, I forced myself to re-enter the house, feeling slightly abashed at the way I had lost my temper with Tanya. Slowly I entered the room, afraid to even look at Isabella and see the judgment and/or anger I so richly deserved on her lovely face.

Judgment and anger I roundly deserved.

I didn't dare reach for Isabella. Although I felt bereft without her touch, my emotions remained volatile after my confrontation with Tanya, and I wasn't certain I could retain thin veil of normalcy with her.

As long as I avoided Isabella's eyes, I managed to keep my voice cool and steady as I explained Tanya's exit to the roomful of vampires as succinctly and unemotionally as possible.

Despite my strong desire to embrace Isabella or at least look her, I had to get myself under better control. Thanks to Tanya, I was a roiling mass of anger and frustration; I couldn't let go of the fear that Isabella would reject me as a result of Tanya's dramatic performance tonight.

Before I had the opportunity to settle my emotions, Irina was in my face, accusing me of leading Tanya on. Irina's angry and unjustified words forced my emotions into a maelstrom of defensiveness and fury.

Shocked at her baseless charges and barely stopping myself from throttling Irina, who was nearly as deluded as Tanya, I refused to meet anyone's inquiring eyes, especially Isabella's, as I fought for control of my anger.

I was so unworthy of my angel that it was laughable.

Irina was now berating Carlisle, but, wrapped in a hell of my own making, I heard none of her words.

In the back of my mind I became aware that Esme was embracing my Isabella, and I was thankful that someone had looked to her comfort as I was unworthy to even glance in her direction.

Vaguely I heard Isabella's quiet voice excusing herself, and a mere moment later my mind was inundated by furious thoughts from my entire family.

It took me a moment to realize that their anger was not directed at Tanya or Irina…but at me.

I sighed internally, preparing myself to face the proverbial music.

But when I looked up into the furious faces surrounding me, I realized a truth that floored me.

Isabella was not among them.

No.

No, she couldn't be…

But she was.

Somehow, someway, Isabella was gone.

My mind wasn't working right. I should be hearing the angry voices in my head berating me for my stupidity as I had mere seconds ago.

But all was silent now, every mind around me closed and wordless. All was darkness. It was as if all of my senses were blocked at the same time: I could see nothing, hear nothing, feel nothing…

Nothing except an agony so overwhelming that it robbed me of strength and thought.

I was unaware of my knees buckling beneath me as I collapsed into a blissful and welcome darkness where the pain could not follow.

A/N: Sorry this outtake is late, but it is nearly twice as long as my usual chapters. I had a huge deadline for a work project on Monday, so I had to work all last weekend getting it done.

Also, some of you have asked about the Volturi and Romanians. In my "take" on the romance between Edward and Bella, there is no Volturi; they're human and they're the good guys: Mrs. Jane is Bella's social worker while Aro was the judge who removed Bella from the Blacks' home, and Gianna was his secretary. So I substituted the Romanians from Breaking Dawn to be the police of the vampire world in this story.

This story is NOT canon—it's twisted and twirled, with both vampires and wolves being more intense and volatile than in the original books, along with a very damaged Bella. Some of the comments I received mentioned Bella being weak in running away. On the contrary, Bella has never had the strength to run away before—she lacked both the physical and the emotional wherewithal to make and act on such a decision before. After being abused for six years, Bella's choice to run away is self-protective, but instead of rolling into a ball as she has in the past when decimated by the actions of others, she removes herself from the situation. It's a move of strength, not weakness, for Bella to run away at this point; Edward is the weak one, collapsing into himself. (Yes, vampires don't faint; Edward is mentally and emotionally breaking down in the only way he can which involves shutting himself off from all mental stimuli.)

And we see now that Edward wasn't being a "jerk" by letting Bella go; he was so deep into his own personal hell of fear to see Bella leave. Just as Bella didn't listen to Edward's impassioned defense of Bella to Tanya, Edward missed Bella's fear of destroying this family she loves. She reacts too quickly and totally wrongly, but Bella reacts and takes action, which I see as growth for her.

I'm also sorry that I couldn't respond to all of the wonderful reviews this past week; however, I read and saved each one in my "inspiration file." Thank you for reading and reviewing; your passion for this story is remarkable! I love you all!

I hope to post again by Monday, but I'll have to see if I have time. I hope to much more quickly this next time, anyway.

And is anyone doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month—writing 50,000 words during the month of November) next month? I'm debating; I'll be quite busy, but I'll also be able to complete this story if I commit to doing NaNoWriMo.

Much love to you all,

Cassandra

xxxooo