Hope Springs Eternal Contest

Number of Prompt Chosen: 21

Pen-name: XXX

Title: Give Me a Reason To Live

Word Count: 6,774

Rating: M

Pairing: Bella and Edward

Summary: Bella is a sad, lonely girl. She's desperate for a reason to continue with her life. Will Edward give her the reason to live?

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. All characters, and some of the dialogue belong to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement intended.


BPOV

I stood frozen in the woods, repeating his words in my head. How could I go on? Why did he have to leave? I went over the past few weeks, trying to find an explanation—wondering if I could have seen this coming. How could things have gotten so out of control? I thought he was different. I was starting to believe all the wonderful things he said. All the words of love he whispered to me. Was it only to get me to sleep with him? I repeated his words again.

"Bella, you're no good for me." What he really meant was that I was not good enough for him. He was perfect. His family was perfect. I was a misfit. No one wanted me.

The tears were running down my face like a river with no end. I felt cold. Alone. Miserable. Then the sobs started coming more frequently. I doubled over in pain, trying to gasp for air. I felt like there was a huge hole in my chest. I threw myself on the cold, damp forest floor, curling into a fetal position, letting the pain, and anguish take over.

This wasn't the first time in my seventeen years that I'd been abandoned. Discarded like yesterday's newspaper. I always knew I was unlovable.

For a short time, I had the perfect life, but I should have known that house of cards would come crashing down on me. Look at me. Who would want someone like me? I was short. I had mousy brown hair. My eyes were a muddy, unremarkable brown. I couldn't walk across a flat surface without falling or tripping over my own feet. Yes, I pretend everything was fine, but deep inside, there was always that blackness waiting to swallow me.

Everybody left. No one loved me enough to stay with me or keep me around. No one wanted me. I was tired of being alone. I felt so cold, and empty inside.

The first time was when my parents separated. I was a baby, and had no memory of it, but I had been told my mother had sole custody of me. I visited my father from time to time, but it was only when Renee wanted a break in the summer, and shipped me off to him. I would travel by myself on a plane with a tag around my neck, seeing the pity in the flight attendants' eyes. Why didn't my father fight to keep me with him? Why was he always happy to send me back as soon as Renee called to let him know she was home again?

Every time I visited him, I hoped he would keep me. Tell me he loved me, and couldn't live with me being so far away. That he would do whatever it took to get me back. Time and time again, I dreamed about this outcome, but my heart always cracked a little when he put me on that plane for the lonely flight back to my mother.

My mother told me over, and over again that it was not me—that she was the one who wouldn't leave me behind, but I knew better. I was lost in my memories. All I could see was the loneliness. Tears were streaming down my face unchecked, but I couldn't stop the memories.

Before I came here, my mother came to me.

"Bella, honey, I'm marrying Phil." This was how it all started. One innocent statement. I lost myself in the memory. I could picture it perfectly in my mind.

"Mom, I'm happy for you." I threw myself in her arms, hugging her tightly. I could see that she loved Phil. She was always smiling when he was around him, and humming while she worked around the house.

"Honey, there is one problem."

She was getting married; everything should be perfect.

"You love Phil. What could be wrong?"

"Phil travels a lot with his job, and he wants me to go with him. I'll feel guilty about leaving you alone."

Now I got the picture. Phil wanted her, but not me. I thought it was a bad dream, but now I realize they were talking about this one night when they thought I was asleep. In fact, they were yelling. Afterward, my mom burst into tears pleading with Phil to change his mind.

"Renee, I don't want a teenage step-daughter. I'm just a few years older than her. I don't want the reminder of your previous marriage around all the time. She could visit you sometimes, but I just cannot live with her every day."

"How can you say that? She's a part of me. If you love me as much as you said you do, you'd love her too."

"I do love you. I can't live without you, but I won't change my mind about this."

"Please, don't make me do this. How am I supposed to choose between my daughter, and the man I love?"

"You don't have to choose. Just send her away for a while; maybe after we're married, and settled down it will get better. Anyway she's going to college soon, and she would have to leave home for that."

In the end, she chose him. He was more important to her than I was. That was the second time I was abandoned. Packed up, and sent to live with Charlie.

Charlie acted like he was glad to see me, but I knew better. I was an unwanted burden. To compensate for being thrust into his life, I took over all the household chores. I thought if I made myself indispensable, he would keep me this time. I cooked, cleaned, shopped, and did everything I could think of to make up for my unwanted presence in his life. If I wasn't doing chores, I stayed in my room as much as possible, studying to make him proud of me, but what was the use.

I was tired of trying to be the good daughter. Tired of trying to fit in. Tired of being lonely. I was just plain tired of this life. Why must I suffer so much? No one wanted me. No one loved me enough to stay around. Why should I try again? There was nothing left for me to live for.

With that thought in mind, I picked myself up. I had a plan to make it all go away. As I walked toward my goal, I started rehashing my life, trying to find one little spark to continue. All I needed was one reason for me to live. If I couldn't find one reason, I would choose death.

I had moved to this godforsaken town, and started school like the dutiful daughter I was. It was the typical small-town crowd—kids who knew each other from birth, and had their own cliques. I was surprised when a few kids talked to me, tying to include me in their group. This was new to me because I had no friends at my old school. All the kids had made fun of the clumsy girl.

We were at lunch when a group of beautiful kids entered. They all looked like fashion models. Beautiful, and chic. I was drawn to them like a moth to a flame. I couldn't keep my eyes away. When I caught the eyes of the bronze-haired boy across the room, I blushed. My heart was beating faster. He had a look of disgust on his face. I was ashamed of myself. Why did I want to look at him? Someone like me could never be of interest to him.

Where was my sense of self-preservation? Normally I sat in a corner reading my book through lunch, pretending that it was more interesting that anything that was going on around me. This was a new place, an opportunity to start over, so when I was invited to eat lunch with a group of kids who seemed interested in me, I jumped at the chance. More fool me.

After lunch was biology. I was surprised to see him already seated when I entered the class. His table was the only one with a vacant seat, so the teacher made me sit with him. It was easier than rearranging the other students.

From the time I sat down, I noticed him sitting as far away from me as possible. I understood what was happening. I was used to being shunned. I tried to smell my hair discreetly; it smelled of strawberries from the shampoo I had used the night before. I knew my clothes were clean. I may not have been wearing the latest styles, but my clothes were always clean. I decided to ignore him. After all, I was a loner. I didn't need anyone. I had friends. They were all in the pages of my dog-eared books, but they were the only friends I needed.

I tried to pay attention to the teacher. Trying not to cry at how unfair life was. Why did he have to be so beautiful? By the look of his clothes, he was rich too—while I was a poor, unwanted, unlovable, mousy-looking girl. I had one redeeming quality—my mind, but no one looked past the outside to see it.

As soon as the class was over, he dashed out of the room. I went to hand in my slips from the classes I attended that day, and he was arguing with the person in the office trying to get out of our biology class. Eventually he turned to leave, saying, "I guess I just have to endure it," almost knocking me out of the way in his haste to exit the room.

Late that night, as I thought of his conduct, I decided to give him a piece of my mind. What was his problem? Why did he have to be so mean? I didn't see him for the rest of the week, but instead of feeling better, I felt worse I knew he was staying away from school because he couldn't stand the sight of me.

When he came back to school, he introduced himself to me. Like the fool I was, I pretended that the last week had never happened, and I responded to him, opening up like a flower in the sunlight.

"Hello," he said in his quiet, musical voice. "My name is Edward Cullen," he continued. "You must be Bella Swan."

My mind was spinning with confusion. Had I made up the whole thing? He was perfectly polite now. I had to speak; he was waiting, but I couldn't think of anything conventional to say.

"H-how do you know my name?" I stammered.

He laughed a soft, enchanting laugh.

"Oh, I think everyone knows your name. The whole town's been waiting for you to arrive."

We had a class project, and worked well together. I was glad that all the hours of studying in Phoenix had paid off. The one thing I was proud of was my mind. I may not be pretty, but I was smart, and he seemed to appreciate that. He questioned me about why I had come to Forks. I lied, and told him I wanted to spend time with my father because my mom just remarried. Why he was interested in the little intimate details of my life was a mystery. I was boring. I'm sure he had a much more interesting life.

The hour in class flew by. I was distracted by his smile, his eyes, his smell, and that tingling sensation that shot through me when we touched. Most of all, I was flattered by the interest he was taking in me. From what I had heard from one of the girls at lunch, he didn't have a girlfriend. I couldn't imagine why not. I was sure all the girls in school would sell their souls to be with him. One minute he was all friendly in class, but the minute I asked him about the change in his eye color, he turned, and fled like I had the plague.

That was the beginning of the up, and down relationship I had with Edward. From that day, I should have protected myself because he seemed to be psychotic.

One day, I was standing in the back of my truck, overwhelmed by the fact that Charlie had put snow chains on my tires. I was completely lost in a sea of emotions. O forgot where I was or how cold it was. I was so engrossed in thought that I didn't see Tyler's trucking coming toward me until it was almost too late. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw the shock on Edward's face. Next thing I knew, I was on the cold ground, wrapped protectively in his arms. He had been extraordinarily fast, and strong. When I asked him about it at the hospital later, he refused to give me any answers. I tried to get him to explain how he got to me so quickly, and how he pushed the van off my legs, but he became angry.

"Can't you just thank me, and get over it?" he said through his teeth.

"Thank you."

"You're not going to let it go, are you?"

"No."

"In that case… I hope you enjoy disappointment."

With that he turned on his heels, and fled again.

Why didn't I see the writing on the wall? Why did I put up with his rude behavior? I was a puppet, and he was the master puppeteer. After that day, he ignored me for weeks. I would sneak looks at him, and I know he was watching me too, but not one word was exchanged between us. Not even hello. I was in hell. When he was speaking to me or paid me any attention, I felt like a, butterfly coming out of a cocoon. At times like these, my life felt like hell. Just when I was about to turn over a new leaf, pretending to be one of the popular, carefree girls, I felt myself reverting to the real me. This was my punishment for trying to fit in —or trying to be normal. I was going back to the girl I was before I came here. Nothing had any interest to me. I was a robot. School, chores, and school again.

I was getting depressed. My life was worse than before I came here. In Phoenix, I had known I didn't belong, and I learned to live with it. Now after having a taste of what a normal teenager's life could be, to have it snatched back just as it was within reach felt like cruelest trick. Since I had never in this position before, I had no coping mechanism for this. I had to do some fast talking to convince Renee that I was all right. Why should she have to feel guilty? It was my fault. If I was a tall, beautiful athletic teenager like Edward's perfect sister Rosalie, then Phil wouldn't mind having me for a step-daughter. I finally convinced her or maybe she wanted to be convinced. Whatever the reason, we both moved on with our lives.

The school dance was on the horizon. A few guys asked me out, but I was picturing the movie Carrie. I thought it was just a sick joke to get me to say yes so they could pull a prank. I turned them all down. The worst part about all this was the fact that Edward seem to be taking some perverse joy out of my discomfort. I even wondered if he had put these guys up to it when I caught him looking at me through his rearview mirror, laughing after I turned down the last boy.

Before that, we had a useless talk about not being friends, he apologized for being rude, and I accused him of being sorry he saved my life.

"I'm sorry." He sounded sincere. "I'm being very rude, I know, but it's better this way, really."

His face was very serious.

"I don't know what you mean," I said, my voice guarded.

"It's better if we're not friends," he explained. "Trust me."

My eyes narrowed. I'd heard that before.

"It's too bad you didn't figure that out earlier," I hissed through my teeth. "You could have saved yourself all this regret."

"Regret?" the word, and my tone, obviously caught him off guard. "Regret for what?"

"For not just letting that stupid van squish me."

He was astonished. He stared at me in disbelief.

When he finally spoke, he almost sounded mad.

"You think I regret saving your life?"

"I know you do," I snapped.

"You don't know anything."

He was definitely mad.

At the end of that conversation, I was the one to march off, but being the klutz I am, I stumbled on air, and dropped my books. I felt like a fool when he appeared in front of me, and handed them over. After turning down those three guys, I dreaded going to school the next day. I couldn't lie convincingly enough to make an excuse to Charlie so with my stomach tied in knots, I drove to school. I was surprised when Edward appeared next to my truck. He just appeared, out of nowhere, talking to me like the past few weeks were all a bad dream. I was beginning to think that I was going crazy.

"Why won't you leave me alone?" I grumbled. Anything was better than this hot and cold emotionally draining interaction we were engaging in.

"I wanted to ask you something, but you sidetracked me. He chuckled.

"Do you have a multiple personality disorder?" I asked severely.

"You're doing it again."

I sighed, "Fine then. What do you want to ask?"

"I was wondering if, a week from Saturday — you know, the day of the spring dance —"

I didn't let him finish. Now I was convince it was all a game to them: "let's torture the poor unsuspecting new girl." I gave him a piece of my mind calling him everything from a bully to an insufferable monster—even accusing him of using those guys to play a trick on me. I was about to slap his face when he held my arm mid-strike, and finished his sentence. It turned out that he had a weird sense of humor, and was not asking me to the dance. Instead he wanted to take me to Seattle - that was the excuse I gave the guys for not going to the dance with them. He made some veiled reference to my truck, insinuating that my truck was not up to taking me there, and back. I gave him a piece of my mind again. Nobody badmouthed my truck. I loved my truck. It was just like me. We were both ugly, and unwanted. Even in this little hick town, it stood out because it was so old, and ugly. It was something my great-great-grandfather might have driven, but I loved it. The previous owner didn't want it so I felt a sense of kinship with it. After I ran out of steam, he backtracked, and said we had to save natural resources, and my truck would l use too much gas. Since I had no self-control when it came to him, I agreed to his offer to spend the day with him. I was actually very excited at the thought. My self-esteem was so low that I was ready to grab at any little scrap of attention he paid me.

He smiled briefly, and then his face became serious.

"You really should stay away from me," he warned. "I'll see you in class."

He turned abruptly, and walked back the way we'd come.

What was all that about? Nobody put a gun to his head, and asked him to take me to Seattle. Why would he offer if he didn't want to take me? Was he warning me to stay away because he planned to do something bad to me? There were miles, and miles of open road between here, and Seattle. It would be easy to hide a body in the woods along the way. Why did I trust him? Was it because he had saved me from a painful death? I promised myself that this would be the last chance he got. If he went back to his moody, unpredictable self, I would not turn the other cheek again. This was his last chance.

We went to Seattle as planned on the day of the dance. We had a wonderful time. We talked, and laughed on the drive there, and back. We went to a few bookstores where we browsed for hours. We had coffee, and pastries at a lovely coffee shop. We even saw a movie. It was the best day of my life. He didn't make any moves, but when he held my hand during the movie, the electricity between us was crackling. I kept hoping he would put his arm across the back of my seat, or try to steal a kiss, but he was a perfect gentleman.

After that, we continued getting closer—or so I thought. One day, I went to the beach with the kids I ate lunch with. I met Jacob—I remembered him vaguely from the times I visited Charlie. We started talking, and he revealed one of the legends from his tribe. That night, I had a nightmare. Edward was a vampire, and Jacob was a werewolf.

Monday dawned bright and sunny for Forks. I was looking forward to seeing Edward to tell him about my talk with Jacob because I was hoping that if I told him, and we didn't have any secrets, we could have a more steady relationship. Somehow I knew this was the secret he was keeping from me but he was not in school. When I got home, he was waiting in my driveway so I parked my car and walked into the woods next to the house. I wanted some answers, and I didn't want Charlie coming, and disturbing us. I revealed everything I found out, eager to hear his side, but as my story unfolded, he got more reserved.

After it was all out, I waited patiently for his to respond but he refused to tell me anything. He neither acknowledged nor denied the facts. I reassured him that it didn't matter what he was, I told him I loved him, but it didn't make a difference to him. Finally, he told me he, and his family were leaving town. I begged, and pleaded with him to stay or take me with him, but he was unmoved by my pleas. He stood there looking at me like an insect under a microscope, and those dreaded words left his lips. The same lips that whispered sweet nothings in my ear not so long ago. The same lips that worshipped my body at every opportunity.

I wanted to kill myself. Why did I have to fall in love with a vampire? Is that why he was going away? If he was a vampire, why was he up during the day? I couldn't take it anymore. I had to end the torture.

I found the perfect tree, and I climbed to the highest branch. Slipping down a few times, but managing to hang on. I was determined to do this right. I may not know how to live, but I will certainly die on my first try. Nobody could jump from this height, and live.

"I'm empty, and I'm cold, and my heart is about to break…come find me." If he really was a vampire, and he had even a tiny bit of feelings for me, he would save me. If not, my life was too empty for me to go on. I closed my eyes, and jumped into thin air. "God, give me a reason to live. Show me a sign."

I felt like I was hit by a truck. All the air left my body, but I knew I was still alive. Nothing hurt. I was just winded.

"Bella, why would you do this? Why?" he demanded, looking furious.

I looked at the beautiful face above me. Staring into his golden eyes, and I started crying again, uncontrollable sobs that tore me apart. Then I told my story. Everything poured out of me. The truth this time, not the fabricated lies I told to everyone to pretend my life was perfect.

When it was all out, slumped against him, and begged for relief.

"Please leave me to die. I can't take it any longer. Why did you stop me?" I was inconsolable. He wrapped his strong arms around me, rocking me gently, kissing my hair and trying to calm me as I sat on his lap.

After it was all out, I felt lighter. I took a deep breath. Inhaling his intoxicating scent mixed with the clean fresh air of the forest. He was still here. He had heard the ugly truth about my sad miserable life, and he was still here.

He handed me a handkerchief. I wiped my tear streaked face, and blew my nose. He put his finger under my chin, lifting my head to look into my eyes. The look on his face almost made the tears start again.

"Don't you know how precious you are? You are beautiful. When I look at you, I don't see the same person you see." I wanted to roll my eyes, but I didn't have the energy. So I whispered.

"Then why did you want to leave? Why you wouldn't take me with you? Is this because you're a vampire?"

"Yes, I was going away because I'm a monster. After your conversation with Jacob, I couldn't risk you putting the pieces together if I stayed. Even if I was selfish enough to tell you the truth, I was afraid that one day I'd lose control. I didn't want to end your life, or make you into what I am, so I decided to leave. I was waiting at the edge of the woods for you to go back to your house. Your safety will always be my number one priority, so I couldn't leave until I knew you were inside. I thought you needed time to think, so I stood at the edge of the path waiting for you. While I was pacing, trying to keep from changing my mind, and coming back to you, Alice called, and said she saw you jumping. I knew I had to come get you before you hurt yourself. When I saw you in that tree, I died a thousand deaths. I didn't want to scare you, and have you trip, and fall, so I decided to watch you. See what you were doing but I was almost too late." I felt a shudder go through him and he held me tighter, almost squishing me, then he buried his head in my hair for a while before continuing.

"I was willing to leave because I wanted you to be happy. I wanted you to have a normal life. I thought I could leave if I knew you would be happy because your happiness is the only thing that mattered to me. I was wrong to hurt you, I should have told you the truth, and let you make a choice. Please forgive me."

He kissed the top of my head, inhaling deeply, then he looked into my eyes.

"You're not afraid of what I am?"

"If you wanted to drink my blood, you would have done it already. You had ample opportunities to do so before."

"I don't understand what you were thinking. You told me your story, but wasn't there anything left living for?"

I shook my head.

"No, I was tired of being on the outside. I was tired of being unloved —when you told me you were moving away, it was the last straw. I felt like someone had punched me in the chest, and my heart was breaking into a million pieces. I didn't want to live anymore. Then I thought if you were really a vampire, and you didn't want me to die, you would find a way to save me if I jumped, or God would make a miracle, and I would survive this, and move on with my life. Either way, it was out of my hands." I was ashamed to admit this. After all the things I had told him today, this was what I was ashamed of the most.

"My darling girl, I will always want you. I will always love you. After all the times I told you this, why can't you believe me?" Yes, he said he loved and wanted me, but when he said he was leaving, I thought he had been lying all along. That he just said the words to get me to sleep with him.

I thought of all the times we had made love over the past few months. We started off slow, kissing, and touching with our clothes on.

I remembered the first time we kissed. He slowly leaned into me and I was mesmerized by the look in his eyes. I reached out to touch his face, running my finger-tips along his jaw before cupping it in the palm of my hand and brushing my thumb against his cheek, enjoying the feel of his skin. He realized that I wanted to explore so he paused, giving me the time I needed to satisfy my curiosity.

My thumb rubbed against his lips—tracing both top and bottom. He puckered and kissed my finger-tips, opening his mouth to suck my finger tip, and then he held my wrist, and kissed every finger-tip and my palm. I was about to swoon. He watched me carefully as he leaned closer. I nervously licked my lips, the anticipation was killing me—I wanted this kiss more than I wanted anything else.

I heard him groan as he closed the last inch that separated us. Just before our lips touched, I closed my eyes. When our lips finally met, it was heavenly; I loved the feel of his lips sliding against mine, his smell enveloping me and the electric shock that ran right through me making my knees weak.

His lips moved sensuously over mine, and then he took my top lip between his, and gently sucked it. I gasped at the unexpected pleasure, and he took that opportunity to touch the tip of my tongue with his. I copied his action and soon the kiss became more intense. Our tongues were darting in and out of each other's mouths, and both our lips were licked, sucked, and nibbled. His taste, and smell inflamed my senses—making me hungry for more. Without breaking the kiss, he picked me up, and walked to the nearest wall, using his body to push my back flush against it. I wrapped my legs around his waist, welding myself to him. I was trapped between the hard unyielding wall and his body—not even air could have passed between us. By the time he pulled away, I was lightheaded, and gasping for air. If his body, and the wall weren't holding me up, I would have collapsed. After that day, we found secret places around the school to sneak off just to kiss, and necking in his car became our favorite pastime.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx

One weekend, Charlie decided to go on a two-day fishing trip with some friends from the reservation. All the kissing and fondling were making me desperate for more, so I thought that was the perfect time to go all the way. I never had a boyfriend, and I wasn't sure what our status was, but I loved him, and I wanted to do this as much as he did. We spent the afternoon snuggling on the couch watching a movie, but mostly, we kissed, and touched. Our hands explored—discovering hidden delights as the kisses became more heated. Eventually we ended up on my bed with limbs entwined, desperate for more.

"Are you sure about this, Bella? I can wait. We could make out if that's what you're comfortable with."

I wanted him desperately, and from the feel of his arousal, I knew he wanted me too. I wanted to run my fingers up and down his back, and his chest, and follow his happy trail. I wanted to undress him, so I could admire his nakedness.

"Yes, I'm ready. I want this too."

As I said the words, I started to unbutton my shirt but he stopped me, replacing my fingers with his. He slowly undid each button, trailing his fingers over each inch of exposed flesh, prolonging my agony. After my shirt, was discarded, my bra followed. He took his time massaging my breasts, and playing with my nipples, making them perk up from his touch.

I was moaning, and writhing as he licked and sucked my nipples, lavishing the same amount of attention on both before moving down my body. He kissed his way down, stopping to unbutton, and unzip my jeans but before removing them, he slipped his under the elastic of my panties—inching down to feel the moisture between my legs.

I heard a low rumbling in his chest which made my desire increase. My hips moved up to accommodate his fingers in a silent plea for more, and knowing what I needed, he worked those magic fingers into my folds, finding my sore sensitive clit, and rubbing it. The pleasure was extreme making me feel like I was about to explode into a million pieces.

When he removed his hands to pull off my jeans, I eagerly lifted my butt to make it easier for him, so he could get back to where we were before.

He took another deep breath before removing my panties—leaving me completely naked for his appraisal. He stood there watching me like I was a valuable statue in a museum.

"You're so beautiful." He whispered, and the hunger in his eyes made me weak. I felt desirable.

Something inside me was fluttering and I was yearning for more of his touch, and his kisses. I wanted him closer. As if he could read my mind, he shed his clothes. I watched as he stripped, admiring his body the way he admired mine. He was well-built, not muscular, but his chest was toned, and firm. He climbed on the bed, and settled between my legs, putting his fingers inside me again, this time pushing them in and out. My hips were lifting off the bed, matching the thrusts of his fingers, and then he curled his fingers, rubbing my G-spot—pleasure raced through me making me uninhibited. I was moaning louder the closer I got to my orgasm, and the pressure kept building until it crashed over me like a tidal wave.

He moved up the bed, and pushed my legs further apart, looking at me for permission. I nodded my head because I didn't trust myself to speak—that's all he needed to continue. He entered me slowly as he rained kisses all over my face. I marveled at how slowly he was going because I knew that most seventeen year old boys didn't have this much will-power. It wasn't uncomfortable because my body had produced enough lubrication to make this part bearable.

He kissed my lips.

"I'm sorry, but this part is going to hurt a little."

I raised my hips, using that as a signal that I was ready. He held my gaze, and pushed through the final barrier. It was a strange mixture of pain followed by pleasure as my body adjusted around him. He gave me a second to catch my breath before he started moving his hips, going slowly at first, then increasing his speed as I began to match my moves to him. The pain faded and the pleasure was the predominant feeling now. He continued thrusting into me, sometimes fast and at other times agonizingly slow. He kept going in and out, over and over again until the spring in my stomach was tightening again. I felt the pleasure spread through every vein in my body, heating my blood to a boiling point.

"Sweetheart, I love you," he whispered.

My climax was so strong I felt my muscles gripping him harder, squeezing him tight. Soon he was getting his release also. I saw stars. I was floating on a cloud.

"I love you too, I whispered as I slumped into the mattress. He repositioned himself so he could hold me tightly, whispering in my ear. Telling me how much he loved me. How beautiful I was. All the things that every woman wanted to hear.

After that first time, we spent the whole weekend making love in every room of the house – from the kitchen table to the shower. I was in heaven. The next few months were the same. Whenever we went to his house or when Charlie was at work or fishing, we made love. He even took me to a special meadow, and we made love on the crushed flowers.

Besides the fantastic sex, we had quiet moments while he read to me or took me to dinner, or we watched old-fashioned love stories in black, and white. We argued about music. We played games. I thought I had finally found someone who understood me. Someone who wanted me.

All that ended with the words he spoke to me before leaving me in the woods. Now he's saying that he only did it because he loved me. What was I to believe?

I said the first thing that came to mind. "It never made sense for you to love me. Look at us —we're as different as night, and day."

"That is what I love about you. You're not like all the other girls. You are different, unique, special. You are my whole world." I wanted to believe him, but what if I did, and he left again?

"For now, but what will happen when you decide to leave again?"

"Sweetheart, I can't leave. I couldn't even leave the vicinity without worrying about you. What do I have to do to convince you that I'm sincere?"

"I guess I just need time, but promise me one thing."

"Anything," he promised fervently.

"If you ever decide to leave again, let's talk it through first, and if this is all because you're a vampire, then I want you to change. I would rather be like you than live without you."

"I promise. Now let's go see my family. They're eager to see that you're all right. Alice demanded I rescue you, and bring you home."

Home. I like the sound of that.

When we got to his house, the whole family was waiting on the front steps. Esme, Alice, and Rosalie enfolded me in their arms.

"You will never ever put me through that again," Esme admonished.

"No, Esme. I'm sorry if I upset you." She gave me her beautiful fairy godmother smile, kissing me on both cheeks.

"Welcome back, Bella," Carlisle said as we walked past on our way to the front door.

I smiled shyly, and blushed.

"Bella, no matter what my idiot brother ever says or does in the future, we will always love you. He will too, but he's just stubborn. Always come to us if you're upset. Please promise me this," Rosalie pleaded.

"I promise," I whispered. Alice made us do a pinky swear. All three of us. Then she giggled, and skipped off to the kitchen. I guessed they were cooking another feast for me.

Edward walked me to the love seat, tucking me into his side so closely we seemed to be joined. I felt a wave of love descend on me. I looked up at Jasper, and smiled; he was using his gift for me to feel the emotions of everyone in the room.

"I love you," I whispered in Edward's ear but I knew they could all hear.

"Bella, you are my life now," he replied.

Finally I believed him. This is what I was searching for all my life: someplace to belong; something to replace all the hurt, and the loneliness. Our lives wouldn't always be a perfect, but we'll get through it together.

I was finally home.

The End

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A/N

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