A/N: I don't own this, we all know who does. What I do own is a copy of the Channing Tatum movie 'Dear John' that I bought myself for Christmas. It was $5.00 at Walmart. I bought it last year when it came out, but then took it back because I needed the money for groceries more than I needed a dvd. :D

So, I started this little Christmas story for the Countdown to Christmas - 2012 - A Lyrical Melody, hosted by Breath-of-twilight. Unfortunately, my sister-in-law passed away very unexpectedly and I wasn't able to finish this story on time. I feel horrible about it, especially since I always try my hardest to fulfill my commitments. Breath-of-twilight was so sweet and understanding, which I appreciate. That being said, I hope you'll all go over and check out the one-shots & collab written for the Countdown. :)

(Take out the ()'s from the address when you paste it in)

www().()fanfiction().()net/s/8713743/1/Countdown-to-Christmas-2012-A-Lyrical-Melody

Thanks to staceleo and CullensTwiMistress for prereading this and for talking me off a ledge when I thought it HAD to be happy. :D You know me...I'm incapable of writing happy or funny. :D

The song I chose for this story is "I Wish You'd Stay" by Brad Paisley. It was the angstiest of the choices, and you know how much I love angst. :D These are the lyrics that go along with this story...

I know that you've done some changin'
And I know there's no changin' your mind
And yes I know
We've been through this a thousand times

I'm sorry for still holdin' on
I'll try to let go and I'll try to be strong, and I'll

Wish you the best
And I wish you nothing less
Than everything you've ever dreamed of
And I hope that you find love along the way
But most of all
I wish you'd stay

Now that all of that's out of the way...here we go. ;)

~*~O~*~

Chapter One

~*~O~*~

"Edward, I got it!" Bella yelled through the phone. "Can you believe it? Me! I got the job!"

Edward sighed as quietly as he could, pushing aside the emotions that were quickly consuming him. He had to be happy for her. She'd worked so hard over the past couple of years, and this was her dream. It was nothing like Edward's dream, but Bella didn't know that. He'd never told her. It was something he kept to himself.

"That's great, I'm really proud of you."

He was proud of her, and for the moment he chose to focus on that emotion instead of the pain that was gripping his chest, breaking his heart.

"I leave next week. I have so much to pack, I can't believe it. California, Edward! I guess I won't be able to hang out this weekend, unless you want to help me box up my apartment."

"Sure, you know I will."

Bella laughed. "I'm so excited, Edward. I'm finally getting out of this dead-end town. I'm gonna be something. I can't wait!"

Edward mumbled in agreement, even though he knew Bella already was something. She was his something—his everything. Too bad he'd never told her, and now it was too late. She was leaving and he couldn't make her choose between her dream and him. It was done, and his heart broke as she said her goodbyes and hung up the phone.

~*~O~*~

"Well, why don't you go with her?" Grandma Masen asked as Edward moped around his parents house.

"You know I can't go, Grandma. I have too many responsibilities here, helping Dad at work. And who's going to drive you to all of your appointments if I'm not here, huh?"

His grandmother gave him a sad smile. She knew he was right, that he was too responsible for his own good. That was part of what made him wonderful. She'd never quite been sure what kept Edward and Bella from being together. They'd been best friends since middle school, and anyone within twenty feet of them could see the way they gravitated toward each other. The way they doted on each other. The way they carried on silent conversations between themselves. It reminded her so much of herself and her Anthony, God rest his soul.

"Edward, you know I can call that elderly service. They have that van that takes people to their appointments. I don't mind calling them if it means you're happy and in love."

"Grandma, over my dead body will you use that service. You know how those drivers are."

"I know, bu-"

"No, end of discussion. Bella made her choice and it wasn't me. That's just how it is. I'm staying here and helping you and Dad. There's nothing left to talk about."

A sadness shone through his eyes, and his head lowered as he walked out of the room. If only Bella knew she'd had a choice, maybe things would be different. Maybe her grandson would be happy. Maybe she'd finally have her first great-grandchild on the way. Maybe she wouldn't have to worry so much about her favorite grandson anymore.

There were a lot of maybe's running through her mind. Too bad they didn't matter anymore.

~*~O~*~

"I've got a long drive. I mapped it out, and if I push it, then I can make it in two days," Bella said as Edward loaded another box into her car's backseat.

"Well, don't push it too much. If you get tired, you need to stop and rest. Promise?"

She smiled. "Look at you, always taking care of me."

"Yeah, someone has to."

Edward sighed as he went back into her apartment. It was pretty empty, all of her furniture already loaded into the little trailer attached to the back of her small SUV. A few things she was storing at her parents house, but her new place in Los Angeles wasn't furnished, so she'd need most of her stuff. Not that there was all that much, anyway.

"I think Alice is gonna come over later and help me clean the rest of the kitchen. You wanna hang out? She said Jasper's coming, too."

Edward nodded, knowing he would spend as much time with Bella as he could before she finally drove away. He felt a little twinge in his belly...a little nudge. His gut was telling him to tell her, to talk to her, to make sure she knew she had options, but his head wasn't hearing it. His head was overriding every other body part, including his heart. No matter how much he hoped Bella would change her mind, he refused to let himself be the reason for her staying. He knew if she didn't go, someday she would blame him. And the only thing worse than losing her now, this way, would be to lose her years down the road, after they'd made a life together, maybe had a few kids. He wouldn't be able to bear the pain of loving her openly, and having her walk away from him.

Alice and Jasper came, laughing and joking all afternoon. They'd all been in the same group of friends in high school. It wasn't until after graduation that Jasper finally worked up the courage to ask Alice out. Of course she said yes. After that, Edward and Bella got even closer, though he never took the same steps Jasper had. While Alice and Jasper fell in love, Edward watched Bella date loser after loser, getting her heart broken over and over again. If only he'd been more brave, more strong. But he wasn't, and that weighed heavily on his heart as he watched the three of them interact.

"You okay?" Jasper asked quietly. He knew how Edward pined for Bella. He could never understand why Edward didn't just give in to his desires.

"Yeah. Does it really matter? She's leaving whether I'm okay or not."

"She doesn't have to go, you know. You could always ask her to stay."

Edward looked at his friend. "You know I can't."

There was no more discussion after that. The future was set in motion, and there was no going back.

~*~O~*~

Edward wrapped his arms around Bella's waist and held her body against him. He couldn't let go, couldn't make his arms release her. But she didn't let go, either.

"I'll call you all the time, I swear. And I'll be home for holidays. And maybe you can come visit, you know? I can show you all the best beaches and clubs," Bella mumbled against the skin of Edward's neck. It was almost like she was kissing him there. At least in Edward's mind it was.

"Yeah, okay."

He finally let her go, pulling back and seeing her eyes filled with tears. She hadn't cried when her parents left the night before. She hadn't cried when Alice and Jasper had left the afternoon before. But now with Edward, it was all she could do to hold it in.

"Don't cry, Bella. This is your dream, remember? What you've always wanted. And I'm not going anywhere. I'll be here if you change your mind, and I'll be here when you look back from your new life. Go be who you're supposed to be, and I'll be here waiting if you need me."

"You promise?" she asked, her voice shaking with emotion as she let a tear slide down her cheek.

"I promise."

He leaned forward, pressing his lips against her forehead one last time, hearing her stifle a sob as her body shook ever so slightly. He memorized the smell of her skin, how soft her hair was, the way his fingers wrapped around the back of her neck.

"Love you, Bell."

She was silent for a moment, pulling away from him with her eyes shut tight.

"Love you, too," she whispered as she turned and climbed into her car.

She pulled away, leaving Edward watching from behind her. She never even looked back.

~*~O~*~

A/N: So, little angsty, dramatic, whatever. :) And to keep you in the spirit of Christmas, with each chapter I'm gonna tell you one thing I got for Christmas this year. Yeah...I think 5 chapters will cover all the gifts I got. So, you'll get to see how pathetic my life is, and feel so much better about your own in the process. See how giving I am? :D