You know who owns Twilight; it's not me.

I'm very sorry I have made you all wait so long for an update. .

I had been planning to continue this story beyond the short story I originally wrote it as. Unfortunately, due to sad and unforeseen circumstances, I am unable to commit to this right now. This chapter is the original ending that completes it as a short story. There is a possibility I will come back to Slips Away later and continue it, but not just yet. Thank you so much for your patience and understanding.

My wonderful betas are TheaJ1 & my sister, both of whom are amazing.

6: Another Stage

Bella

I was deep within the volcanic belts of the Kamchatka Peninsula near Siberia. I could hear the fast flow of water nearby and the heartbeats of a pair of large brown bears somewhere in the distance. A cold arctic wind was whistling around me and while the temperature was inconsequential to me, the noise was an unwelcome distraction. I knew I was being hunted and every one of my senses prickled in anticipation of an imminent attack.

When the assault came, it was swift and expertly delivered, giving me only a fraction of a second to react. But it was enough. The crash of our bodies must've echoed for miles around, startling a large flock of birds into flight. I was ready though. With a slight shift in my weight, I sent us tumbling along my pre-planned trajectory. My assailant fought hard, but I maintained the advantage, eventually managing to pin and hold him beneath me. He ultimately stilled beneath me, offering me a triumphant grin.

"Had I known losing to you would feel this good, I would've let you win long ago," he teased.

"Your competitive nature would never have allowed it," I reminded him.

I stared into his kind eyes, wondering how I had been so lucky that he was the first vampire that had crossed my path after my change.

"What are you thinking?" he asked me. I did my best to quash the memory of Edward that his question conjured and was partially successful. I had managed to avoid telling Garrett about Edward and the Cullens, and intended to keep it that way, to banish them firmly to my past, where they belonged. I had reconciled myself to a future without them. Garrett tilted his head, still awaiting my reply.

"I was thinking that it's very unfair that your eyes are already amber, whereas mine still glow red," I told him. He smiled wider still and I bent my head to kiss him, finding the urge irresistible.

I had found a place that I fit. In Garrett's arms and in this isolated, diverse and abundant corner of the world that had become my home. I was no longer lost anymore. And no matter how my future unfolded, there was one thing I was very confident of. That the next time I crossed paths with Victoria, she would be the one to go up in flames and I would be the one who walked away.

Jasper

Alice had trawled through her visions and the results were always the same. Going after Bella at the moment would be a mistake. We either wouldn't find her…or she would be much less than receptive to us if we did.

It had been a hard decision to leave her alone, but Alice was convinced that the male she was with could be trusted to keep her safe. There was also the added complication of Edward. He was still completely off grid. No decisions made by him meant no visions to guide us to find him. Alice was confident he was still alive, as she had always watched for him so closely that she would've seen the results of any circumstance that would have led to his demise. We were all acutely aware that if he were to get any inkling of what Bella had been through because of his decision to insist we all leave her, the emotional fall out would be astronomical. It would be so unfair for Bella to get caught up in that, especially after what she had already endured.

The most prudent course of action was to do nothing. To leave Bella in the company of this vampire who obviously cared for her. To wait for Edward to resurface and to draw him back into the family and help him come to terms with recent history and then decide how to proceed from there.

Inaction was wisest, yet most difficult and frustrating plan, but we had no other choice.

It was strange. I had always considered myself an outsider in the family, an in-law, only welcome because of my association with Alice. It was only now that I realized how much I had enjoyed being a part of their lives. It was not the same anymore and I missed what was lost. Those of us that remained were making the most of the remnants of the family and holding on to the hope that we could be reunited with both Edward and Bella eventually. Maybe there was a chance that one day they could recapture the future that had slipped away from them. However unlikely it seemed right now, one thing we were not short of was time, or hope.

The end, for now.

Thank you to all of you who have supported this story by reading and especially by reviewing. I appreciate every single one of you more than you could know. You all inspire me to try and be better at this.