He leaned towards her and kissed her forehead. The kiss was quick, he breathed in her scent to hold it deep inside himself, as if he could ever forget her sweet smell or the feel of her warm skin against his cool lips. He held his emotions in check but the strain of having to leave her was visible on his face and if she had seen it she would have realized this had been a lie. But she couldn't see his face. She believed every word he had said to her. Wasn't that the point after all? Yet, how could she have believed him so easily? Did she really believe that he had stopped loving her? That he didn't want her anymore? He said the words. The words he knew would break her. It's what he had to do. She needed a clean break. He had to hurt her so that in time she could move on and have the life she was meant to have, a normal human life. The one thing he couldn't give her. He couldn't hurt her anymore. This had been a close call. It could have been so much worse. He had to protect her, protect her from him and his world. Walking away from her was the hardest thing he had done in over 100 years but leaving her was the right thing to do. He could exist knowing that she was alive and that she would be safe from him and the world he came from. He would go back to being what he was before she came into his life. Live in his world, in solitude.
He raced through the woods to put as much distance from her as he could. And yet no matter how far he traveled, no matter where he went he could never escape her. She lived inside his heart that although had not beat in over ninety years had been torn out of his chest when he left her standing there alone in the woods. So many memories lived within that forest. The moment she confided in him that she knew who he was. The fearlessness of that revelation, and the peace that came after when he told her that he had waited so long for her. She was like a drug to him he had said. His own personal brand of heroin he told her. His need for her could never be fully satisfied, she left him wanting more. But now he would have to "live" without her, force himself to kick his habit. It would not be easy and he knew he would never be fully free of her but the one thing that kept him from turning around and running back to her was that she would be better off. What had always been his number one priority when it came to Bella? To protect her, keep her safe, that was what kept him moving with no real destination in mind. Even his family couldn't change his mind about leaving; oh they had been in agreement that it was best to leave Forks. What they didn't agree upon was Edward not following with the family. Well he made one small concession, he would make a quick stop in Denali to visit Tanya and her family but then he was on his own. It was better this way. He would not be worth being around in his present state of mind. Carlisle attempted to reason with him, he couldn't bear losing Edward. He held a special place, his first companion but now his son as time passed. At the same time he understood Edward's need to be alone. So he let him go with hopes that after some time had passed he would come back home. Edward promised he would check in periodically to let them know where he was. Esme was empathic that he call so that she could at least hear his voice and ask him how he was, knowing full well the answer would be the same. Just a shell of a man, but that shell of man could live like this as long as Bella lived. This is the one thing that both Esme and Carlisle feared. They had been overjoyed that Edward had found his soul mate, the other half of him. He had been alone for so long. The odd man out and all that changed when he allowed Bella in. But now…they were worried. He would never be the same again and no one would ever touch him as Bella had. As if he would ever contemplate on finding someone else. Only one would ever hold his heart and he left it with her when he walked away.
There was no sleep for his kind, but now he wished that he could just close his eyes. Even if it were for a few hours so he could escape the nothingness he had become. His existence had meaning several months ago. When a beautiful brown eyed girl made his existence make sense. Gave him a purpose a reason to continue to live if that was what you could call it. He had told her she was his life now. No matter the days, weeks and months that had passed her image, her scent even the feel of her was still so very strong within him. Was this what living in hell was like? He gladly accepted his sentence if it meant she was safe and no longer at risk of being harmed. Yes, he could exist this way. The memories he had stored would get him through what was left of him. He replayed them like a movie. How many nights had he lain awake watching her sleep, how she would turn into him and nestle deeper into his cold arms? How many kisses had they shared? Her lips had been made for his, the thought of someone else kissing her brought him pain but it also gave him some peace. She could be happy with someone else, have the kind of life she should have. He would have been content to have stayed with her until the end of her days and then follow her as soon as he could. That's what he had wanted but she had other ideas. He almost smiled thinking back to the night of the prom. She wanted forever with him. He remembered his words so clearly..
"Is it not enough to live a long and happy life with me?"
She had agreed, for now. But she was determined; she wanted his life because she couldn't bear to be without him. He on the other hand couldn't bear the thought of ending her life, for taking her soul from her. So they were at an impasse until that fateful night. He shuddered and quickly turned his thoughts elsewhere. He had been in South America for the last month, he wasn't really sure why he had opted for coming here but it's where he ended up. He had tried his hand at tracking but quickly discovered he really wasn't cut out for it. He had hoped he would locate Victoria, but he couldn't pick up her trail. He hunted to keep his body strong but he did it out of necessity rather than need. He went through the motions of appearing to be normal to the outside world. He was careful not to draw any attention to himself. The people here were friendly however but he had no interest in striking any friendships with anyone. It was a miserable existence. He was finding it harder and harder to convince himself that she was better off without him. He kept telling himself that after six months she must have moved on. It hurt to think of her with another but wasn't that what he wanted? Her happiness and keeping her safe were the most important things to him. And he hated himself for feeling this selfish need. He wanted her back in his life. He needed her like the air if he needed air to breathe. She consumed him totally and thinking that walking away from her so she could have a normal life would be enough for him. It wasn't. She was all around him. In everything he did she was there. He could feel his resistance breaking down. He wanted to feel alive again the way only she could make him feel. To hold her in his arms again and tell her how much he loved her. How much she was a part of him. How he never wanted to leave her but thought it was the best thing for her. He had always told her he would stay with her as long as it was good for her. He wasn't good for her. He was holding onto every bit of strength he could muster to keep away from her. But he was losing the battle. The battle had been lost the moment he walked away from her. He couldn't fool himself any longer. Would she accept him back into her life? He would get down on his knees if he had to and apologize profusely. He would move heaven and earth if that's what he had to do. How could he ever have believed he could go on existing without her in his world? He had been so sure of himself all those months ago. And for a little while he had duped himself in believing that he could. He was tired of living a lie. Tired of all the lies he told himself. It was over with this ruse, he was going home to Forks. He was going home to Bella. With his decision made he felt as if the world had been lifted from his shoulders. He smiled thinking of seeing her again. He knew it would not be easy but he would fight for her if he had to. He wouldn't allow himself to think of the possibility that she didn't love him anymore. Not now. He had made his decision and started making his plans… ring.