"Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow."
- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Chapter 1 – You Can Never Go Back
March 12, 2005
By the time you read this, I'll be far away. I know that this is going to seem abrupt, especially after the past few days and all that we've shared, but it is truly for the best. There are events unfolding which, if I leave now, I can stop. This is the sacrifice I make to protect you, and I would do it a thousand times over to know that you are free from harm.
You will never know how much it pains me to leave you. For decades, I've moved through life, learning, but never stretching or growing. I speak six languages fluently. I went to medical school countless times. I've seen every major city in the world, and they all pale in comparison to the time I've spent with you. I shall carry my memories of our time together with me forever.
Please be safe, and know that wherever you are, you are in my heart.
May 18, 2010
The scratching of pens against paper is the only sound in the large lecture hall. Heads are bent over small fold-out desks, shoulders rounded as students frantically scramble to complete the essay questions.
On the far wall, an old fashioned clock, the face round and white like the moon, ticks down the seconds.
"Time," the TA calls. "Please close your exams and drop them on my desk."
There is a collective groan as bodies relax out of their hunched postures, heads twisting and seats creaking as students stand. For some, there is still another final to take or paper to submit, but for Bella Swan, this is it.
The end of her undergraduate career.
She bounces down the center aisle, taking the elongated steps with an awkward, off balance gait. The transition from the steps to the dingy grey linoleum tile is jarring to her body, and she slips. Fortunately, the desk is within reach, and she catches the edge with her free hand, stopping her descent to the floor. The TA smiles at her, and she places her blue book on the wood surface in front of him, then spins and jogs back up the steps.
Free of the thin sheaf of paper, she can feel her spirits lightening, the lead bubble of fatigue and worry lifting up out of her stomach. Just a few days until graduation, and then she can start the next chapter in her life: a new apartment and a job at the Burke Natural History Museum, helping the curator update some of their Native American exhibits. She is going to work at Burke for a year, getting some practical experience, while she applies to graduate schools. She still has to break the news to her father that the best place for Cultural Anthropology is at least ten hours, if not more from Forks.
It's all coming together now. Her hopes, her aspirations, it's finally becoming real. All because of a chance encounter with a boy who changed her outlook on the world, and opened doors to mysterious, intriguing concepts that she never would have considered, let alone investigated.
Knowing that thoughts of him are dangerous, she pushes back the memories, choosing instead to focus on the here and now. She calls goodbye to a few of her classmates as she exits the building, promising to catch up with them soon for a drink or a day at the park. Once free of the crowds, Bella fishes her cell phone out of her pocket. She's promised to call her dad the minute it was over. He's been her biggest supporter over the past few years, and he deserves to share in this moment too. But before she can place the call to her father, the small device bursts into song, a ridiculously campy ringtone that her best friend Jake had programmed into her phone the last time she was home.
"I'll have you know I really hate Duran Duran thanks to you," she says by way of greeting.
"Oh come on, you know you think of me whenever you hear it." When she doesn't answer, Jake plows on, laughing as he teases her. "You are so transparent. I can hear you roll your eyes."
"Rolling eyes do not make a sound, Jacob Black."
"Yours do, Bella Swan."
It's old material, jokes and cheap shots covered many times over their five years as friends. Jake knows her better than anyone, maybe even her parents. He's seen her at her lowest, listened to her dreams (some fueled by his own cultural heritage), and always encouraged her to chase whatever it is she desires. He's kind and giving, sometimes even self-sacrificing to a fault, but deep down Bella knows that is all to get her to see him differently.
Last summer, when she was home from college, he insisted she meet him at the cliffs where the local Quileute boys, showing off their bravery (or craziness), liked to dive into the cold Pacific Ocean. It was there that he told her that he loved her, that he'd always loved her, and that he would always be her friend, but someday he would expect more. He didn't push the discussion, just made the declaration, then pulled off his shirt and jumped out into thin air, his massive body disappearing into the grey blue water below.
Maybe he'd wished she'd follow him, taking a leap of faith or telling him what he longed to hear, but she hadn't. Bella loves Jake, and maybe, in another life with different circumstances, she could have been happy with him, but not this one. Their relationship is a friendship, comfortable and safe and secure. They did argue, and once Bella got so mad she punched Jake, cracking her knuckles, but the passion that existed between them only sparked in anger. There was no consumption, no desire, no pull so strong that it sucked all the air out of the room around her.
Some people would argue that it's impossible to crave what you don't know, but what they don't realize is that Bella's had a hint of what more could be. A few blessed days with a very special person who had managed to create the standard by which all other men would always be measured and fall impossibly short.
"So, what do I owe the honor of this call?" Bella asks. It'd rained during her exam, creating shallow puddles that cover both the road and the sidewalk. Normally, puddles are something to be avoided, but today Bella feels adventurous, splashing through them with a childish glee as she holds the phone to her ear. "I told you I would be out this weekend to see Charlie."
The silence on the other end of the phone is uncharacteristic, and it makes Bella pause. It's not in Jake's nature to hold back or hesitate, and as such, it sends off warning flags in her already fatigued brain. "Jake, what's the deal? You're usually jabbering a mile a minute. What's wrong?"
There is a rustling sound at the other end of the line - a jacket or a shirt, maybe, brushing against the phone Jake adjusts.
His response is so fast she almost misses it. "You can't come home."
"Since when do you get to tell me-"
Jake doesn't let her finish. "They're back, Bella."
Her mind immediately goes to a cheesy horror movie she watched as a child, where a little girl with blonde hair stares blankly at the TV and makes the same proclamation in a sweet, sing- songy voice. Bella can't shake the visual as she stands at the corner, glancing both ways to check for oncoming traffic, most likely driven by zombies or skeletal remains if she gives into the visual from the movie. "Who's back, and do I need to buy a welcome home gift?" she asks. Her sarcasm is lost on her friend.
Jake's pronouncement is flat and completely devoid of emotion. He could have told her the check was in the mail, her goldfish died, or the milk was bad. It's that type of statement. Bella imagines him, leaning up against the wall in the tiny kitchen of his dad's house, his broad shoulders slumping in defeat. Jake hates the Cullens with a passion, one which she understands, but could never truly share.
"When?" she asks. Her tone is just as ridiculous as Jake's, falsely neutral. She's trying hard not to let him know how the mere mention of their name sends her heart racing, but they both know each other better than that. Five years – almost two thousand days since the Cullens left Forks, and reaction is exactly the same.
She has moved on and is living her life, but has she never forgotten him. How could she?
He was her first love, her only love, her what if.
"Bella, you can't come back," Jake says. He ignores her question, going straight at some unknown objective or target. "It's not safe for you here. It might not ever be."
"When did you become my dad?"
"I'm serious, Bella," Jake is sharp in his retort, very unlike the usual jovial boy she knows. "It's not safe. Things are changing, faster than you realize."
The silence is awkward as Bella walks quickly up the path to her building. It's standard college living, a large, squat clapboard building with three apartments on each of its three floors. This has been her home for the past two years, a tiny efficiency with a kitchenette and a bathroom, all she can afford, but a luxury given her solitary nature. It is full of boxes now, mostly packed in preparation for her migration to the next stage of her life.
"I don't understand, Jake. What's changing? What's wrong?"
"Call your professor and ask him about your paper, what he's done-"
Jake stops abruptly, and Bella can hear noises in the background, deep young voices that aren't close enough for her to identify. When Jake speaks again, everything is different.
"I have to go," Jake says, his words suddenly relaxed, almost ambivalent. "Thanks for the call. I'll catch up with you soon, Rach."
She is too late. The line is dead and he's gone.
It will never be the same.
Bella is unnerved as she unlocks her apartment door. Between the comments about the Cullens being back and her being in danger, she knows something is going on with the tribe. She discovered their secret, the latent wolf-like ability not long after the Cullens left Forks. Through a freak chance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, she'd witnessed a giant wolf take down a vampire who'd found Bella lost in the woods. She'd run, only to find Jake waiting for her at her house, insisting that she couldn't tell her father. That is when he explained the Quileute legacy, and the legend of the Cold Ones.
One simple interaction - a happenstance meeting - those are the occurrences that change everything.
Trying to go about a normal, everyday routine, Bella throws her shoulder into the door, the force necessary to dislodge it from the swollen wood frame. She stumbles forward, her body prepared for the weight of a full backpack to knock her off balance. All that is in her bag today are a few pens and a pack of chewing gum.
"Hi honey, I'm home!"
There is no answer. There never is.
She started calling out the greeting a few months into her lease, a way to acknowledge the ghost who spent time in her apartment. It had spooked her at first, the way books were just a bit out of alignment or how clothes would shift in her rocking chair. Over time, Bella had come to find comfort in the ghost's presence, even going so far as to name it Heathcliff in a fit of inspiration.
Bella drops her backpack on the floor next to the door and collapses down on her bed. She's spent the last two weeks studying, writing and testing, and she should be worn out, but Jake's call has thrown her off balance, and she can't unwind.
Why after all this time, and the abrupt departure, would the Cullens return to Forks? Edward made it clear in his parting note that they'd left to keep her safe. If they were back, was whatever threat he'd worried about gone? If that is the case, does it mean they could be together, maybe pick up where they left off?
Five years have passed, and she is very different from the introverted seventeen year old who fell in love with a vampire, but some things will never change. Edward Cullen was, for a few days, everything she ever could have wished for, and she's spent every day since trying to forget. She's lived her life, spread her wings, and has learned a bit more about the world, but he still holds on to a piece of her heart.
Part of her wants to call her dad and pull the information out of him. If the Cullens are back, the Chief of Police would know. But the likelihood of Charlie providing her any information about anyone other than Jake is almost non-existent. He's still holding out hope that something might happen between them, uniting the Black and Swan families over fishing and Sunday football forever.
It would seem, after one failed marriage and a long hidden, slow burn courtship with Sue Clearwater, Charlie is truly oblivious about affairs of the heart.
"Over-thinking isn't going to get you anywhere," she chides herself. "What you need, missy, is a clear head. Shower, sleep, then deal with it. Pulling a Scarlet O'Hara move is perfectly acceptable."
Pushing up off her bed, Bella pulls her shirt over her head and starts towards the bathroom.
That's when she sees the envelope on the floor. It's thick and clearly expensive; it is soft white, what stationers would call ecru or ivory, the edge dirty from where she must have stepped on it on her rush to get inside. She picks it up, trying to ignore the pounding of her heart. The writing, bold and stylized, is all too familiar. It matches the notes from five years ago, both simple messages left in her truck that changed everything.
Notes she could never bring herself to throw away.
Dropping down on the floor, her legs folding underneath her, Bella hastily rips the envelope wide as she rushes to get to the message inside. There is a card, heavy, like a wedding invitation. A small gold key is taped to the bottom left corner, but she doesn't pay attention to that. All she can see is his writing.
I tried. I promise you that I did. I believed that leaving would change everything. My hope was that by sacrificing what I wanted, I would keep you safe, but I realize now that from the minute I stopped that van, it was too late for all of us.
You are in danger. There are people who do not want you digging into the Quileute legends. Your professor has been speaking to colleagues about your senior thesis, and the information has reached parties who fear what you know, as well as what you might expose. They will do whatever it takes to prevent that, including killing you.
I know it is not in your nature, for you are a fighter, but it's time to run. If you refuse to run, you will be dead by the end of this week. This is not said to scare you. It's true; people are already on their way to Seattle. You must move, now.
Take the key attached to this message, and go to your post office. The box number is the last day I saw you, a day I carry with me like a talisman. The box holds more instructions as well as other things you need. Follow those instructions to the letter, do not deviate or our plans will not work. Before you leave your apartment, pack all the cash you have, any medications, and a change of clothes. Take the battery out of your cell phone and leave it in your apartment. Don't think, act. You don't have much time.
I wish I could be there with you to answer your questions, but that will come in time. Please trust us; we will do whatever it takes to keep you safe.
Her hand shakes as she lowers the note card, alarmed by the fatalistic message and instructions. This can't be happening. Her life is supposed to be starting, not ending.
She thinks back on her conversation with Jake, and the information he shared. The Cullens are back in Forks. She is in danger. It is all consistent with the message from Edward.
But why? Jake hates Edward, not just for what he is, but for what he represents to Bella. Jake would never intentionally help Edward, not unless….
That's when his goodbye finally clicks. He cut her off, calling her Rachel. Jake's sister lives in Hawaii, and their relationship is distant. The only reason to pretend Bella is Rachel is to prevent whoever arrived from knowing who he is talking to.
The only people that go to Jake's house are members of the tribe, including the pack. Quil, Embry.
Bella's phone beeps as she scrambles to her feet, and she grabs for her phone from where she dropped it on her bed. The text message forces her into action.
They are coming for you. Trust him, now run. ILY J
She runs into her tiny bathroom, banging her shin on the corner of a box of books on the way. The pain sears through her body, but Bella ignores it, throwing the necessary items into her backpack: a toothbrush, the small amber vial that holds her allergy medicine, and a hairbrush. From the bureau in the bedroom she grabs a fresh t-shirt and jeans and stuffs them in the large center compartment. She hesitates long enough to pop apart her cell phone and pry out the battery. She feels immediately naked without it, but she's seen enough movies to know that cell phones can be used to track people.
With her wallet clutched firmly in her hand, and her backpack tossed over her shoulder, Bella locks the door to her half packed apartment behind her, not sure that she'll ever see it or her belongings again.
After a moment's hesitation, she runs down the hallway, beginning her flight away from her life, although what or who she is running from she is not completely sure.
6Swear not by the moon by hmonster