For those unfamiliar with my writing, this is my first, and likely last, Edward/Bella story. It is does not celebrate their love, and I do NOT recommend it to those who are avid Edward/Bella shippers and/or Meyer vampire fans.

Thank you, leelator for pre-reading my story, and offering some great advice.

Thanks also goes out to JaspersDestiny who beta'd this story voluntarily, above and beyond all her assigned beta work from SRP, one of which is my current WIP!

Now, on with the story!

Takes place shortly after Breaking Dawn ends, later that same night.

Blissful Forever No More

The world was brand new and full of hope. I was no longer a monster, and Bella's love was a certainty rather than a question. Finally, I had seen through her eyes, heard with her ears, and felt with her heart. Bella's love for me was the same as mine for her—no, not the same, but as great.

Slowly sitting up, my thoughts swirled in a kaleidoscope of dizzying images, unable to focus on any one thing. Mixed together were the elation of reading her thoughts for the first time, the confirmation of her love for me, and the sublime intoxication I succumbed to every time we made love.

"Edward, I want to try again."

"Love, not to sound conceited, but I'm a vampire. There's no 'trying' required."

"No, not that!" Not long ago, this would have made her blush. I missed it terribly, but seeing her happy, to finally be what she had wanted to become, was enough to fill that void. "I meant lifting my shield. Maybe after…what we just did…would make it easier. You know, since I'm doing it for you."

"There's nothing I'd want more than to read your thoughts right now, to know how our physical love feels to you," I replied, my hand gliding up her bare arm. And nothing I fear more than discovering it may be anything but transcendent.

"Okay, ready?"

I nodded.

Her hands pressed on either side of my face, the bed sheet slipping off, revealing the too flawless skin of her marble white body. Each fingertip touched my cheeks, concentric ovals, those on her right hand an exact duplicate of those on her left, identical in texture, size, and mass. Even the swirls that had been her fingerprints were perfect spirals formed with one line that never strayed from its path.

Ecstasy filled my mind, her ecstasy. Immediately it was clouded with embarrassment, as one emotion bled into the other. She was better at this than she had been mere hours ago. No longer did she strain to send specific messages. Instead, her thoughts flowed freely, as though I were listening in without consent, the way it was with everyone else.

"Do you need your hands on my face to do this?" I asked.

"I don't know. It seemed natural to do it this way. Maybe I'm like Renesmee, or she's like me?"

"That's possible."

Her mind drifted to the night before the newborn fight, when I had presented her with my mother's ring. My heart, and hers, overflowed with emotion. Then, time skipped a little. Bella begged me not to fight, to stay with her. The pain, guilt, and shame this caused her nearly crushed me. If I had known back then, I would have prevented the need for her to ask.

The decision to hide the ring from Jacob came next. She cared for him so—the wounds in his heart scraping away at her own resolve. Completely in focus, her human thoughts were clearer, and the shield lifted to my intrusion with little effort.

"Exercising your ability seems to improve it exponentially."

"Mmm hmm."

Finally, I experienced the moments during her visit with an injured friend that had caused her to cry in my arms afterward. I had seen these moments through Jacob's thoughts, but never through hers.

"I was the natural path your life would have taken."

Jacob had silently hurled those words at me many times, and each time I was able to absorb the guilt and regret they brought on, accepting my weaknesses. Of course, that had been before, when I was unaware that Bella's beliefs mirrored his.

He was my soul mate in that world—would have been my soul mate still if his claim had not been overshadowed by something stronger, something so strong that it could not exist in a rational world.

Hell was certainly what awaited me. What else could there be for one who had cheated death, murdered numerous times, judged who was or wasn't worthy of the life given to him, and played with the fate of others, as though it were his to manipulate?

"Love you, Jacob."

"Love you more."

Moments later, Bella pulled over to the side of the road, then in my arms. She was in pain from her loss of Jacob, remorseful for crying for him in front of me, and regretful I was not him. This regret was housed in a small portion of her heart, but I would have preferred to occupy that space, where she kept her love of humanity, admiration for Charlie, and independence from the opinions of others, then the larger part that sought the plastic glow of glamour and physical beauty. Her fear, that being frozen at twenty-three would make her aged, resided here. That smaller compartment claimed by Jacob was where the girl I first met remained, the one who didn't care what she wore, how she looked, or what her peers thought of her. It was small because I had crumpled it up, squashing it until it nearly disappeared.

My face lifted to gaze into my wife's face. Bella was in an almost trance-like state, her eyes closed, seemingly unaware of what thoughts were flowing. Her mind darted from the day of the newborn fight to many months prior, after I had left her in the woods. There were months of death-like existence, followed by the light of Jacob's company. She had said she couldn't live without me, and yet here she was, living, becoming happier with each passing day, all her broken parts coming together. Even the hole in her chest had begun to fill, until my phone call.

Terror shrouded the race to Volterra. The brief moment of relief during our return home was shattered when we encountered Jacob, her best friend, now regarding her as his enemy. She was torn. If I had never left, never been rash in my decisions, Jacob and Bella would have been spared this anguish.

Everything was more vivid than the human thoughts I retained, even right after being turned. Perhaps she had more self-control because she retained more of her humanity, and that was why her human memories were more alive?

The pressure on my face from her hands increased, making the unchanging temperature of her fingers too apparent. It was indistinguishable from mine—we were the same in too many ways. The point where my skin ended and hers began barely made a crevice in the stone. Her new floral scent had washed away the nuances that once drove me mad. Everything she had become only reminded me of the human Bella I had lost—no, the human Bella I had destroyed.

There was no order to her thoughts, which was so unlike a vampire. Pictures flashed from a few months ago and the dance with Jacob at our wedding, then jumped to a year ago, when she brought those broken down bikes to his garage.

Where were the thoughts of me? Earlier, they were all she had, not all that were absent. Why were those images so laborious to reveal when these ones flowed effortlessly?

She loved Jacob. I had known this for some time, but now I saw it too. To my mind, it was all so obvious from the very start. Why hadn't she figured this out earlier?

I was taken back to the day of the newborn fight, this time in the early morning. Jacob was suffering because of me. Insecure and unsure of her love for me, I claimed Bella as mine and made sure he knew she was going to be my wife. Bella bled from the inside out as she followed him.


A small hollow formed in her chest.

"Not good enough."

Desperation. Guilt. Panic.

"Kiss me, Jacob. Kiss me, and then come back."

Lips—not mine, not stone—touched hers. Hot, pulsing flesh warmed her cold body. Then I saw it—what she had never told me.

In a panic, Bella's hands left my face, but it didn't bring the shield up fast enough.

She loved him enough, as much—perhaps, more. She had seen a life with him, what her life could have been—no, should have been. It was a human life where time meant something, a life with family, friends, and stability.

I was crushed but not yet broken—until the end. Something wasn't enough. When she was human, Bella thought a life with Jacob wasn't enough, but she was wrong. Her will was not enough because I had stolen it from her. She had invested too much in me, had tied herself to my family and our life. She believed the fool's gold of our existence to be real. Two years ago when I met her, I had been wrong. It was me who was her personal brand of heroin.

Destiny had intended for Bella and Jacob to spend their lives together. Then why did he imprint on Renesmee?

Sometimes truth can hit you from all sides at once. That's what happened to me. Everything I had known, seen, and experienced came together to answer my question.

The imprint was the only way to save Jacob after I had stolen Bella from him.

His mythical world wouldn't allow the Alpha to rot from heartbreak.

Imprinting didn't make better wolves. It put a bandage on the wolf's one weakness—the woman he chose who hadn't chosen him back. Our daughter was its target because he couldn't live without Bella in his life.

My own chest formed a hollow space, sucking all happiness into it like a black hole.

"Edward, those were my weak, unknowing, human thoughts. I…I don't feel that way now."

I didn't believe her. She was a better liar than before, but not as good as a vampire should have been. Not as bloodthirsty, and not as devious, why? She was never meant to be one. I had done this—altered the map drawn by God. The only eternity waiting for me was Hell.

The panic in her face told me I had failed. For a split second I lost control of my emotions, but it was enough to distress her, fill her with guilt and shame. I pulled the mask back on, the one I had worn for so long—first for Carlisle, then for Esme, and finally, and most importantly, for her.

"I know, love. I remember what I saw earlier. Jacob is your best friend and part of our family." She wasn't convinced. "It's not so unusual for human memories to take on a life of their own after turning." Why did lies flow so easily from my lips? "They were, after all, gathered with inferior senses and weakened by bias."

Her face relaxed, a smile forming on her lips, and I pulled her into my arms, holding on tight. Bella's head rested on my chest, and I buried my face in her hair. My hold would have been too tight if she weren't a newborn. I wanted her to myself. I had fought for her, given her everything she'd asked for, and still part of her belonged to him. Venom filled my mouth, and I closed my eyes. Envy steered my thoughts to vengeful desires, fantasies of killing Jacob, destroying Bella, drinking the blood of her father, even punishing the child who had forced me to change my human girl.

The illusion had been lost and nothing would ever be the same. Our happily ever after was a nightmare, not a dream.

Thank you for reading my short little look at life with Edward and Bella after canon, and reviews are always appreciated!

For those of you following my WIP, Turn and Turn About, no need to worry. The next chapter has already come back from my beta and shall be loaded next.