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Chapter 26 – Epilogue
"Hey, Alice!" Bella exclaims, over the phone.
She says her voice sounds different, but I tell her that it's just her enhanced senses. When she called Alice for the first time after her transformation, she was so worried that Alice would know something was different. Not wrong, just different, because Bella has completely embraced her new lifestyle. I am awestruck every single day. I may be partial, but I also know from experience that not everyone adapts so well. Take my sister, for instance. She couldn't even stand to talk to another human being—or non-human—for over a year. The two of us had existed in silence, each of us revolving around the other, careful not to cross over the invisible boundary, until we both couldn't stand it any longer—and so went the past tumultuous twenty years.
I had actually given up hope that things would ever be different between Rose and me. I assumed that we'd endure all eternity that way—tolerating one another, doing things out of responsibility and loyalty. If someone would've told me that a woman like Bella could walk into my life and change everything, I would've told them they were a fool. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that changing Bella would make everything this much better.
Watching her pace the floor as she talks to Alice makes me realize just how far she's come in the last few weeks. We haven't had to replace a door in a week or so, and she's learned how to slow down and do things at a more human speed.
The first time Bella opened a door, taking off its hinges, she freaked out and apologized profusely. It was adorable. She kept going on and on about how weird it was that she could destroy things, even though she wasn't mad, and then she freaked out about what might happen when she'd really be mad.
All I can do is reassure her that I'm going to be there every step of the way, and I won't let her do anything she'd regret . . . and try not to laugh. I don't want to be the first one to experience the wrath of Bella as a vampire. The thought alone sends chills up my spine.
"So, how are you and Edward doing? Is he getting on your nerves yet? Because I can't imagine being holed up with Jasper 24/7. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love that man, but I've gotta have my space!"
Bella looks over at me and rolls her eyes. I've eavesdropped on enough of their conversations to be familiar with Alice's rants. There's no stopping her, you just have to ride it out.
"I really wish I could come see you! This whole Witness Protection Program fucking sucks!" Alice exclaims, finally taking a breath.
"It's not a Witness Protection Program, Alice," Bella replies. "If it were, you wouldn't be able to talk to me. We're laying low for a while and, hopefully, when this is all over with, Edward and I will be able to come back to Seattle." As those last words leave her mouth, she looks over at me with a hint of sadness in her eyes.
I know she misses her friend, but at least Alice has Jasper now, and she's off the streets, which is all Bella has ever wanted for her.
"Do you know how much longer? Have you had any word from Jake and Garrett?" Alice asks.
"I talked to them earlier this week. They still have no leads on where James went. Jake said it's as if he disappeared into thin air. But as far as they know, he's still on the loose and a danger to anyone associated with the case," Bella tells her, which is the truth.
Bella, Rose, McCarty and I have discussed in depth what we should tell Jake and Garrett. The one thing we all agreed on was that turning James' body over to them wasn't an option—maybe if I hadn't bitten him, we could, but it still wouldn't have worked out. They would've wanted us to come in for questioning, and that wasn't a possibility.
We decided to tell them everything we knew about James up to the attack. Jake and Garrett told us they had witnesses who saw him at a gas station outside of Seattle, but no one has seen him since.
We're reasonably certain that he followed us to Bellevue. I'd never told James about this house, so the only plausible way he could've found it was that he followed us. This house was bought and paid for way long before he started working for me. It's always been my oasis—somewhere I could go to get away from the world and be myself.
Under any other circumstances, I would've noticed him following us or sensed that something was awry, but dealing with the death of my mother had overwhelmed me. It had taken me by surprise, and for a brief moment, I'd let my guard down. I'll always feel guilty about allowing Bella to be harmed by James, but I'll never regret changing her.
After Jake and Garrett realized that James might be after Bella, they wanted to put her under a tighter surveillance. I really couldn't have planned it better, had I been given the chance. I told them that I'd keep her with me, in an undisclosed location, and that she'd have round-the-clock security. McCarty met with them and went over our plans. Bella thought it was all stupid and unnecessary, because we all knew that James wasn't a threat, but we had to play along.
McCarty sent us an untraceable cell phone that Bella uses to contact Jake and Garrett every couple of days. I can tell she feels bad that we're leading them on, but we have no choice. It's what's best for everyone involved.
"So, how's the Wicked Witch of the West?" Alice asks. "Is she still trying to get you, my pretty?"
Bella laughs, filling the whole room, and it could compete with angels singing. It's quite literally music to my ears.
"Not as wicked these days."
"That's good to hear. I'd hate to have to track her down and cut a bitch."
Since the night Rose and I found out our mother passed away, my sister has changed. Rosalie has done a complete turnaround in her thoughts toward immortality. I don't think she wants to create any sort of vampire army or immense population, but she understands the need to have someone to love—someone to call your own.
We speak openly about McCarty being changed eventually. Although it would've been easy to change him while he was gravely injured, Rose refused. I think if his condition were any more life-threatening, she would've done what was necessary; she didn't want to do it without his approval, one that he was unable to give at that time.
Once Bella has adjusted to this life, it'll only be a matter of time before Rose changes McCarty. I've overheard her talking in depth with Carlisle over the phone, wanting to know every detail and every pitfall of changing a perfectly healthy human being. She battles with her guilt, knowing that she wants to do anything she can to keep McCarty forever, but not wanting to take away his life at the same time.
Fortunately, McCarty has also changed his position on the whole deal. Years ago, when he first learned about me and Rose, he made the decision to continue to live out his human life, spending as much time as he could with Rose. He's never had the desire to be changed. But I think he, too, sees that life is over in a matter of moments, and he now wants to be with his soulmate for eternity, even if that means giving up his life.
During a conversation we had while we were waiting for Bella to wake up, he told me that he realized that he'd die for Rose, so why not die to live forever with her?
The vision standing across the room from me is my forever. I've never felt worthy of happiness, but I know that Bella was made just for me, so I must've done something right in my former life.
Bella catches me watching her, as my eyes slowly travel up her body and back down again.
"Alice, I'm gonna have to get off now. Edward and I have some things to take care of." The inflection in her voice is obvious to me, but Alice misses it.
"Okay, I miss you, B! Tell Edward I said hi!"
"I miss you, too, and tell Jasper that Edward will be emailing him later today with the final contract."
Her eyes turn feral as she hangs up the phone and takes calculated steps toward the bed, where I'm sitting, like she's a lioness on the hunt and I'm her prey—her very willing prey.
Using her newfound speed, she's across the room in the blink of an eye.
"I'm glad vampires don't sleep," she says, pushing me back onto the bed.
"We should hunt soon," I tell her, seeing the deep crimson of her eyes.
"The only thing I plan to feast on for now is you," she groans, as she rips the shirt over my head. I'm not sure Bella will ever master the finesse it takes to undress without destroying clothes. The pile of mangled clothing in the closet is growing by the day.
Her teeth capture my bottom lip and her hands make fast work of the buttons on my jeans. Every movement, although intense, is fluid and effortless. We move in cadence like the gears of a well-oiled machine.
Ever since Bella realized that she's as strong as I am and capable of overtaking me, she's been a force to be reckoned with, but I have no desire to stop her. Seeing her like this, primal and desperate for me, makes me lose myself. She takes me to a whole new level of ecstasy, one I've never known before.
"You are so beautiful," I tell her, as she looks up, her eyes making contact with mine.
"Not as beautiful as you," Bella replies. She's so delusional. Although she can see the evidence in the mirror, she doesn't see what I see—her long and flowing, chestnut hair, pale alabaster skin, and flaming red eyes. Her soft, womanly curves have only been enhanced and preserved in her transformation. She's nothing short of stunning, and she's all mine.
I move to turn her over, wanting to have my way with her, but she stops me short.
"I'm not finished with you yet. I want to taste you."
Bella takes my cock in her hand and slowly places her lips at the tip. This was always unacceptable before, so not having any rules or limitations now is liberating; Bella takes her liberty . . . frequently and skillfully.
When I think about all the times I denied myself the pleasure of Bella's mouth wrapped around me, I feel like a saint, but as much as I enjoy her mouth on me—her tongue gliding up and down my shaft—I enjoy my mouth on her even more. She's exquisite.
"My turn," I tell her, gently pulling her off me and laying her down.
One of the many advantages to Bella now being my equal is that I no longer have to restrain myself.
Being with Bella like this makes me feel like I've been reborn—like my life's been given back to me. She's my angel—my savior—sent to rescue me. She reminds me that I'm also her own salvation.
I'm not a fool, though. I know that we might not always be fortunate to live so peacefully, but I'll spend the rest of my days protecting her and trying to make her as happy as she's made me.
"I love you," I whisper, not wanting to disrupt the quiet.
"Will you love me forever?" she asks, already knowing the answer.
"Forever won't be long enough."
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