I couldn't leave Jane in the company of total strangers so I took her hand and led her to where Rosalie was standing. I smiled at Rose who looked horrified by my appearance and said, "This is Jane. She is a very special little girl. Jane, this is Rose. She is very good at volleyball. Would you like her to show you how to play?"
Jane nodded and a big smile grew on her face. Rosalie held out her hand for Jane's and I nodded as I said, "You're safe. Everybody here is a good man or woman."
Jane went with Rosalie and I turned toward the ponds to find Edward. He was putting down stones to make a path like the planting group had done. At least he wasn't starving himself or falling apart. I expected to be gone for weeks and weeks, but I was back before one month had passed. I thought Edward would be able to see that as a positive.
I saw him before he saw me. He was on his knees placing stones in a pattern. I stood a watched him for a moment. His frame had filled out again and the muscles on his back appeared to have grown. After the ugliness in men I had witnessed, he looked beautiful to me. He finally leaned back and wiped the sweat from his brow. I cleared my throat and he jumped a little before standing and turning to look at me. I kept my head down and he didn't approach me.
"I'm back," I stated with a trembling voice. He didn't move and it took him a moment to speak.
"Did you succeed?" he asked sarcastically.
"Yes, I did," I said proudly.
He chuckled as if he didn't believe me and asked, "It was that easy?"
I let my head rise slowly and saw the horror spread across his expression. I shook my head and said honestly, "No, it was not easy."
In less than an instant he was holding me in his arms. I inhaled sharply his familiar scent and then held onto him as if my life depended on it. I cried very hard as he reassured me over and over again that he was there. He was tender and loving and it was just what I needed. I wanted to stay this way forever, in his arms as the memories of what happened faded into the background. But I knew I couldn't. It wouldn't be fair to him to keep my own humiliation a secret when he shared his with me.
When we finally went to his hut to talk he sat in a chair and let me have his hammock. I told him every detail from the moment I left until when I returned. He listened without interrupting me, even during the difficult parts. When I was finished he sat silently for a few moments and then said, "Bella, do you have any doubt I love you?"
I held out my hand for his and he crawled in next to me. "I can feel your love for me," I told him.
"If I ask you to marry me will you swear you will never leave me again?"
A huge smile broke out on my face which was actually quite painful. "I swear," I replied.
"Will you marry me, Bella Swan?"
"Yes, I will marry you Edward Cullen."
There was an awkward silence and then Edward began to laugh. "Well, that was quite anticlimactic."
I rolled onto him and kissed him over and over again. He never once grew rough or tried to escalate things. I finally decided to address it. I pulled back and said, "Is it my hideous appearance making you refrain from sex?"
He shook his head and ran his hand lightly over my hair. "I know how it feels to be violated. I know you need time to heal. I don't think I could ever be rough with you again."
It was one good thing that came out of the whole mess. Edward didn't see me as something he needed to conquer anymore but more as an equal who now understood his victimization. "Let's go find Jane," I said, and got out of the hammock. He followed and I droned on and on about the child as we walked to the beach.
She was still playing with Rosalie and when I called to her. She smiled widely and ran over to me. I knelt down and said, "Jane, this is the man I love and who I am going to marry. His name is Edward."
She looked up at him and used her tiny hand to guard against the glaring sun. "Hello, Edward," she said.
"It is very nice to meet you, Jane," he replied, and smiled down at her. "Bella has told me so much about you. I'm very glad you are here."
She smiled at him and then looked back at me. I kissed her cheek and asked if she was having fun. She nodded and I let her return to her play. Edward and I walked to the plane and found Carlisle, Esme, Eleazar and Irina sitting inside. We sat with them and joined the conversation.
"There will be so many factions trying to grab power. The agency will be able to take them down before they can take control. James turned in a report with all the names the agency needs to apprehend any successors," Carlisle said to catch us up.
"So we can really leave?" Edward asked.
"If you want to leave," Eleazar said cryptically.
Esme smiled and said, "Eleazar deeded the island over to Carlisle. We can stay if we want and build a real community here."
My head spun around to Edward and I said, "Did you know we are only two hours from Rio?"
His eyes widened and he said, "No, I didn't know that."
We all laughed and then Eleazar decided to approach a more difficult subject. "Jane will inherit everything. There will be a lot people trying to get custody of her in order to control the wealth."
I felt my heart sink. She would never be safe if she inherited all the money. I looked at Edward and said, "No, the Volturi money isn't really hers. She is James' child and she shouldn't have to carry the burden of being a Volturi. She deserves a happy, healthy life."
Edward smiled and made me an incredible offer. "We can raise her here, together."
I looked at everyone and nobody came up with one objection. I squealed with delight and threw my arms around Edward. Not only were we going to be married but we were going to be parents. I was excited to tell Jane, but Carlisle felt everyone on the island had to be given the chance to leave or stay.
We would no longer be cut off from the world but we would be a bit isolated. They could bring relatives here if they wished and the island would no longer prohibit children. It was being called Isle Esme and we were free to come and go.
I was sad to learn Billy and Jake decided to return home. He wanted to see his sisters and make a real life with Leah, I couldn't blame him. Ben decided to stay. He admitted Angela had been showing signs of schizophrenia and he wanted her to be able to live outside of an institution. Out of the 64 who landed here, two escaped, two were dead, and 28 decided to stay.
Instead of living in the huts we built real homes and went back and forth from Rio often. Jane was happy and making friends with the few other children who eventually came here. Edward and I married in a ceremony on the beach. Jane stood up with us and we became a family, unofficially. She began calling me and Edward, mom and dad.
Alice and Jasper had a son who Alice coddled to the point of making him very whinny and needy. Rose was expecting her first child and planned a water birth on the island. Edward and I never talked about other children. We were finding happiness raising Jane so she brought it up one day.
"Mom, are you ever going to have a baby?"
"I don't know," I answered honestly. "Do you want a brother or sister?"
She looked a bit hesitant and then said, "I would love a baby brother we could name James."
I had talked to her about her father a month after arriving on the island. She never really mentioned him since. I motioned for her to come over and sit by me and gave her a hug before saying, "Honey, I think you should use that name when you have a baby."
She shrugged and said, "My son can always be named after his uncle James."
I kissed her forehead and said, "Thank you, if I have a boy I will name him James."
I looked up to see Edward standing in the doorway. He was holding a string of fish so I got up and took it from him and placed it in the sink. He moved behind me and put his arms around my waist. Speaking into my ear he said, "Did I hear you saying you wanted a son?"
"Yes, but I'm not sure what evil family to go after to get one," I teased.
He began kissing my neck, causing my eyes to close and my body to melt against him. "I think my way would be easier," he whispered in-between kisses.
Not once over the past two years had Edward been too aggressive during sex. I had asked if he missed it, but he assured me he didn't. It seemed like we were all healing nicely and maybe it was time to shake up our existence a little. I placed my hands on my stomach and tried to imagine a baby kicking inside of me. Jane and Edward were the most important things in my life but, a baby of my own would be my most prized possession. It would be the one thing that would kill me if someone took it away.
I turned in Edward's arms and looked into his eyes. "I want to live here forever, do you?"
"Yes," he replied to my relief. "This place is my sanctuary where everything important resides."
"I know what you mean," I told him. "It is like the awful things that happened are somewhere else. They exist out there somewhere and we are okay as long as we are where they can't find us."
"Someday our children will have to make the decision to stay for themselves," he pointed out.
"I know, but if they decide to leave they can always return if they want."
"Yes, they can always return."
Our prison was now one of choice. We lived an ideal life and only associated with others when we went to Brazil. Freedom was so much more than being able to come and go. It was also the ability to change. I was free from my horrible life of taking from others. I wasn't Bella the thief; I was Bella the wife and mother who saved her family. Jane was free from the assaults waiting for her and free from the legacy of a name that meant death and pain. Edward was free from his anger that caused him to confuse love with force.
We came to an Island of no return and now realized that only on this island would our demons never return.
I took Edward's hand and led him into our bedroom. We kissed each other eagerly as we removed our clothing and got into bed. I held him tenderly as our passion pulled us into one. Everything felt more intense, more purposeful. We weren't just making love, we were making a child. God, I loved this island.
Author's note: I haven't found the courage yet to read the reviews. It is still very difficult for me. I just want to thank those who took the time to read my story and I really hope you enjoyed it! THANK YOU!