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Breaking Rules

Summary:
Basically, it's Breaking Dawn before me and my friend read it. It features Edward and Bella techincally dead - though Edward is MIA -, Jacob madly in love, the Volturi, personality differences... And it's different. We don't have a wedding scene *hint hint*. So uniqueness counts, right? Please give us a try.


Notes:
I am working on this with EdwardCullenGirlxo, who also has permission to post it on her profile. We had a lot of fun writing it and hope that you enjoy it lots.


3. Not All Games Are Fun

Rating 5/5   Word Count 6354   Review this Chapter

Like last time – almost two years ago – I found myself sitting with Esme in the outfield while the rest of her family played the game. I hardly bothered to keep score, because it changed so much. All I noticed really was how quickly Edward ran, and how gracefully they all moved. Him especially. I was thinking particularly warm thoughts about my future husband. We watched the game in silence for a while, and I realized how wonderful and peaceful it was compared to last time. The sun was almost peeking through the clouds, and sometimes it looked like people-shaped diamonds were streaking across the field. “Will I be that fast?” I asked Esme, half-doubtful. She smiled, and it lit up her beautiful, heart-shaped face. Her arm was around me, and I was leaning into her cold body. “Maybe not as fast as Edward,” she admitted. “But you might outrun Emmett.” I giggled. “I have a really hard time imagining that.” She laughed too. I could feel her marble body shaking gently under me. Her hand found mine, and she twisted my fingers so that the ring glittered in the sunlight. “My new daughter,” she said softly. I felt the heat rush into my cheeks. “Exciting, isn’t it?” “Out!” Esme called, in the general direction of the field. “I’m sorry, dear,” she apologized. “Yes, it’s very exciting. It will be nice not to celebrate Rosalie and Emmett again, although I’m sure that Rose won’t be able to keep in her jealousy for long.” I sighed. “Does Alice do everyone’s weddings?” I hoped I didn’t sound like a coward. I felt like one just because I had to ask. Esme squeezed my hand and let it go. “Alice is enthusiastic,” she said. “But I’m sure it will be a lovely wedding, Bella. We’re all very excited for you.” “You really don’t mind?” I mumbled, feeling self-conscious. I couldn’t help but to remember that day, so long ago, when I asked a similar question. You don’t mind, then? I had asked. That I’m… all wrong for him? No, she had sighed thoughtfully. You’re what he wants. From her stillness and silence, I wondered if she was thinking about the same thing. “No,” she said, thoughtfully again. “I’m glad that he finally found you. It was wrong for him to be alone for so long. And Bella, dear, you know that we love you. It’s not all about him anymore,” she added. “We want you to be part of our family.” I blushed deeply, embarrassed by the sentimentality of her statement. “Thank you,” I said, suddenly awkward and slightly shy. She smiled again and called, “That’s three strikes.” Edward bounded toward us, a huge grin stretched across his glorious face. “So how did I play?” he asked pointlessly, his smile getting wider by the second. Even he knew his playing could put any major league player to shame. “Would you really like me to answer that?” I looked up at him skeptically. His smile widened noticeably. He laughed; his eyes danced and sparkled. “Esme? Will you play at all?” He turned his gaze to her. “Oh, I don’t think so. I’ve been having such a wonderful time with Bella.” She squeezed my shoulder, and I beamed up at Edward. He chuckled again. “Bella? How about you?” My mouth fell open for what seemed like the thousandth time in the past few days. “What? You aren’t serious.” Alice danced over to us. “Of course we are. Edward or I would help you play.” “No. No way. And how would you help me?” “Well, I could pitch at a normal speed — no matter how much it kills me — and Edward could run the bases for you!” Alice offered. “That’s allowed?” I said. There was no way they could rope me into playing the game. “It is now! Come on, Bella. It’d be so much fun!” Alice pouted. “Alice,” I moaned. I was defeated. “Yes! Yay! Come on, Bella! Let’s go! This is going to be so great!” Alice pulled my arm, yanking me to the field. “Bella’s playing with us!” Alice sang. Emmett roared with laughter. “Don’t break your face, okay, Bella?” “No promises!” I called. Edward caught my waist. “You don’t have to play, Bella.” “Edward,” I groaned. “Stop doing that. I’m playing now, so, I can’t get out of it.” “All right,” he said hesitantly. “But if you don’t want to play…” “I’ll let you know.” I nodded. We were halfway through the game when Alice froze. To the right of me, Edward turned to stone. “No,” Alice whispered. “No,” Edward growled. “No?” I gasped. And there, in the utter silence of the forest, I realized something had gone horribly awry. Someone — or something — was coming. Again. For me. Or worse — my future family. Suddenly, I was thrown a quarter way across the field. I landed in Alice’s marble arms. “What’s going on?” I managed to breathe. Alice didn’t answer me. Her eyes were hard. My own eyes scanned the field anxiously. What had gone wrong? Why was it that this field, the very one where I first met my mortal (or immortal) enemies, has always seemed to bring forth wonderful starts to true horror stories? Alice’s body went even more ridged under me. I stared up at her, my eyes frightened. I could feel my heart beating at an unnatural pace, and I had to remind myself how to breathe. “Edward?” I whispered. I felt my face go white at Alice’s expression. Her face was that of a stone angel’s — beautiful, hard. Her lips were pressed tight together, her hands clenched into fists as she set me down. “Don’t move,” she commanded. I nodded tightly. I faintly realized I was standing on a cliff of sorts, in my mind. If something unexpected went wrong, I’d fall off that cliff into the dark ravine, where sharp rocks surely awaited me, looking forward to my death. I finally found Edward. He was standing — more crouching than standing — near the trees to my left. He met my gaze, eyes penetrating. Then, my nightmare stepped through the forest, coming to greet me. Carlisle was standing in the front of us; Emmett and Jasper behind him. Esme stood nearer to Carlisle than they did — she was only a few feet away. This time, unlike my dream, Aro walked out first. “Carlisle!” he cried. “Aro,” Carlisle said. “Marcus, Caius, Jane.” “Carlisle, I’m afraid we have some…terrible news.” Jane’s eyes met mine. I shuddered. “What did we do to deserve such news?” Carlisle countered. “We see Bella has not changed…much,” Marcus said. He looked past me; at Edward, I guessed. I heard a great growl rip from Edward’s chest. Alice was a statue. “She has not; that is true. We came up with a new agreement.” Carlisle said, his voice smooth. “I’m sorry, Carlisle,” Jane grinned horribly. I cringed. Alice pursed her lips. “I thought we told you that we had a date set,” she said. Her voice was very controlled, but I saw the anger flash in her eyes. “She’s going to be changed on August 13th. Until then…” She stepped out of the way very quickly. I looked up in surprise, and saw Jane smiling widely. She was staring straight at me – where Alice had been only moments ago. I sighed in relief, though I was shaking with fear. I was so glad that Alice could see the future. But Edward was growling – a horrible snarl ripping from his throat. I wanted to run to him, to tell him that it was okay. But I couldn’t under Jane’s increasingly angry gaze. Not taking her eyes off me, she said, “I’m afraid things have changed, Alice.” I caught a glimpse of Alice’s face. Her eyes were wide with horror, as if something had just dawned on her. I wondered what she was seeing. Or what she had seen. Jasper flashed to her side and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, which she shook off. “No,” Edward said coldly, not moving from his position closest to Caius. “What?” I asked. Carlisle was looking to Aro for help, clearly begging his old friend to tell him that everything was okay. I had never seen Carlisle look so frightened. It made me even more nervous. Aro answered coolly, his eyes darting around to watch all of us. Especially Edward and me. “Due to unforeseen circumstances, we realize that Bella needed to be changed much, much quicker.” The last time I had seen Aro, he had been light and happy. The thought of causing anyone pain caused him pain. Now he looked deadly and dangerous. “She is putting us all in danger. We wouldn’t want to have to kill her,” he added, looking at Edward with a hint of a smile, “so we decided that we could just give you a little incentive to work more quickly.” Jane pranced forward and took Edward’s hand. He tried to yank away, but she held on too tightly. I was horribly jealous, even though I knew it was ridiculous. I couldn’t hold him like that. But I wanted to run at Jane, to scream at her to get her hands off Edward. Alice’s cool arms restrained me before I could move. “We’ll just be taking Edward with us,” Jane explained, smiling angelically. I shuddered, and fought against Alice’s unbreakable hold. “What? Why?” Esme asked blankly. Caius’s face darkened. “You broke your promise to us. Aro didn’t want to punish you too severely. But the time has come that you need to make your choice. Change Bella, or let Edward stay with us forever.” Emmett made an impulsive move, as if to attack. Carlisle stepped in front of him. “I can’t let you do this, Aro! This is my son you’re talking about.” His voice was getting dangerously level. But Edward and Alice had stopped trying to fight this. “Carlisle, I have to go,” Edward said quietly, not looking at me. “What?” For the first time, I spoke. All heads turned to stare at me. My voice was high and shrill. “You can’t, go, Edward.” I was hyperventilating, and tears were threatening to spill over in my eyes. I didn’t care. Edward couldn’t leave me, couldn’t go with the Volturi. “I have to go.” For some reason, Edward was actually smiling. There was a streak of blonde hair, and then Rosalie flung herself at Jane. A moment later, she was on the ground screaming. Emmett broke away from Carlisle and tried to tackle Jane. I started screaming. Aro, Marcus, and Caius watched unemotionally as Jane turned her steely gaze on Emmett. I began to sob. And then everything stopped. Jasper smiled smugly as Marcus blinked in surprise. Jane danced away from Emmett and linked her arm back through Edward’s. “Don’t –” I pleaded her weakly, though Jasper’s calming power was trickling through me, too. Rosalie helped Emmett to his feet and hugged him tightly. “I’m sorry, Bella.” Aro’s voice was suddenly calm. He turned to Carlisle. “I want her changed soon,” he threatened. And then they were gone. I collapsed in Alice’s arms, sobbing. I fell off my cliff. I was dead. I felt dead. Numb I was in a fog. Covered by a mist so thick, so heavy. Edward was gone. He wanted to be gone. Or did he? Did he really want to leave? Was he really gone? I vaguely remembered the last time he left. I was ripped open; my heart slashed through. I felt the same now. I couldn’t even think his name. It was as if a whole new hole was created in me. He had smiled as he told me he had to go. He had smiled. The Cullens decided to change me quickly. There wasn’t enough time to wait. I went home that night. On the way there, Alice told me her plans. “We should do it soon. Tomorrow, or the next day. They won’t let Edward come home until it’s all over — the full three days.” She kept her eyes on the road. She was driving too fast, again. Her eyes were cold. I managed to nod. My own eyes were still wet. The water had yet to freeze. “Alice?” “Yes?” Her voice held no emotion. “Can I ask you something?” I looked at my hands. “Yes.” “Will everything turn out…,” I tried. It didn’t sound right; I started over again. “Will everything be…okay?” “We’re here.” Her eyes were still blank, staring straight ahead. I stepped carefully out of the car. As I looked back, I caught a glimpse of Alice before she sped off. Her eyes were ice, but I thought I saw a trace of feeling. I knew she felt as I did — losing a part of you, as I’d found out, is never easy. I looked towards the driveway. Charlie’s cruiser wasn’t there. Fishing again, I guessed. I went inside, dreading the night spread out before me. I was free to think, and I didn’t like that. I was too afraid of where my thoughts would lead me. I decided to keep myself preoccupied. I cleaned up a bit — brushed my hair, really. I trudged downstairs to start dinner. I thought of making lasagna, a longer process than usual. It would definitely keep me busy. Before I started that, though, I cleaned my room. I also turned on the TV, and put on a CD. Noise made it harder to think. My thoughts were still audible, even above the sounds. I tried hard not to miss him. Not to burst out crying every time I thought his name. It took all my patients, all my concentration. I still let a few tears escape. Once the lasagna was in the oven, the CD had ended, and the house was practically spotless. My face was wet, though. Again. I went to check the TV, to see if there was anything on. I looked, but there were only basketball games. Watching grass grow could hold my attention longer. I decided to get ready for bed. Dinner was still in the works, but at least I could be ready for the night. I grabbed for my bathroom bag, only to find that it wasn’t on the floor where I’d left it. I stood up slowly, fearing what might have snuck in my room. When I got to my room, I grabbed for my bathroom bag. It wasn’t where I’d left it. I stood up slowly, wondering who — or what — could’ve snuck into my house this time. “Alice!” I whispered. I couldn’t hide my disappointment; I had still wanted someone else to appear there in my bedroom. “Sorry,” she said. “Bella…we decided to do it tonight.” She looked away from my eyes, down to the wood floor. “Tonight?” I gasped. “We need to do it tonight.” I took a deep breath. “Trying not to hyperventilate?” Alice asked, the corners of her mouth turning upwards. “A little,” I admitted. “It will be better. We can’t wait, really,” she explained. I gulped, loudly. Then flushed red. “So…now?” “Yes. That will be best.” “Okay,” I said, slowly. My mind was whirring at top speed. “We should go,” Alice said, after a moment. I could tell she didn’t want to rush me. “Okay,” I repeated. She carried me to her car. My heart leapt into my throat when I saw it was the shiny silver Volvo. We drove in silence. I stared out the window, my head cloudy. This was really happening. This was really going to happen. We made it to the Cullen’s house sooner than I would’ve thought possible. But, then again, nothing was proving itself impossible in the last few years. Alice whisked me through the door. Everyone was there: Carlisle, Esme, Emmett, Jasper, Rosalie. All of them except for him, of course. Alice and I sat on the couch, facing the rest of them. The room was silent for a moment. Then Carlisle said, “So, who is going to do it?” I shivered at the way he said it. Pain was ripping through me irrationally. I had wanted Edward to do it. I had always imagined it that way. And now I couldn’t get that. I tried to console myself with the fact that I would have eternity with Edward. I would have forever with him, so this one moment wouldn’t matter. But he couldn’t even be with me… Sobs shook my body as Alice rubbed my back consolingly. I couldn’t even see his face one last time. I felt as if Jane and Aro had driven a knife through my heart, and I knew that knife would not leave until Edward got back. Rosalie broke the silence. “I’ll do it,” she said, her voice surprisingly tender. We all stared at her in shock. I even stopped crying. She looked back at us defensively, seeming slightly embarrassed. She looked straight at me while she answered. “I owe it to you, Bella.” If she could have blushed, she would have. ”I’ve been horrible to you forever. But I really don’t have an aversion to you as a sister. And it matters to Edward and you. I’m doing this for you, even if I don’t think it’s right.” She stared down at her feet for a moment, chewing her perfect lip awkwardly. “I want to do it. It will make things more even between us. You gave me something beyond what I could have imagined – you made Edward happy. And now it’s my turn.” I was crying again. “Thanks, Rosalie.” I hadn’t imagined this. Of course, I had imagined that it would be Edward. But my second choice idea had been Carlisle. And then Alice. I hadn’t know that Rosalie liked me enough to do that. “Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.” Though it completely destroyed the atmosphere, Emmett grinned. “This will be fun, Bella,” he said, trying to cheer me up. “Think, in just a few days, you’ll be one of us.” “She might not trip anymore, Emmett,” Alice said matter-of-factly. He stopped grinning. “That’s not fair.” I tried to smile, but the flow of tears wouldn’t stop. “It will be nice not to fall down all the time.” I felt a wave of serenity wash through me, and glanced at Jasper, who was smiling apologetically. “We’ll be happy for you to join the family,” he said. Esme took me into her arms. “It will be okay, Bella dear,” she said. “And then we can get Edward back.” I nodded, feeling so much better in her arms. It was like being in the embrace of my real mother, but Renee was much warmer. I glanced at the sun streaming through the windows. “What about Charlie?” I asked, reminded of him when I thought of Renee. Carlisle sighed. I knew how he felt. It always came down to this. What about Charlie? At some point, Edward took priority. I was asking now because we had to tie the loose ends. “I think I can feign your death,” he said solemnly, looking at me through ancient eyes. He looked older in that moment. “You and Edward can die in a car crash. It shouldn’t be too hard.” I shuddered again, and Esme stroked my hair. “I’m so sorry, Bella.” “I just thought I might be able to say goodbye,” I sniffed into her shoulder. We had a moment of silence, as if to mourn. Then, Carlisle asked, “Are you ready, Rosalie?” Rosalie’s eyes were wide and she stared from me to Carlisle anxiously. “I’m really not sure if I know what to do,” she said, her voice small. “I’ll help,” he offered. “But you really have to do most of it yourself. Would you rather I report Bella’s death first, or do that after it happens?” “Report the death first, please,” she whispered. She sounded frightened. “I’ll need you there the whole time. I can’t do this alone. And I want to hunt first. Just in case.” I had never seen her look so fragile. “I’ll be back soon.” Carlisle disappeared suddenly, and Esme followed after she touched my face softly. I sat there for a moment, slightly stunned. “Are you okay, Bella?” Rosalie asked me timidly. Her golden eyes were wide with sympathy and horror. I wondered why she was doing this for me and nodded mutely. “Go hunt, Rose,” I said, my voice trembling. “Thank you for doing this.” She smiled painfully, and then she too disappeared. Emmett looked at me for a moment and then loped after his wife, leaving me with Alice and Jasper. The two people I needed most to be with right now. “It’s going to be all right, Bella,” Alice consoled me, pulling me over to a couch and curling up into my side. I leaned on her, sighing. “I know.” My voice quavered, and I felt a cool hand on my cheek. I felt calm again under Jasper’s touch. “Thank you.” I whispered the word, and then turned back to address Alice again. “I know. I’m just worried about Charlie. I feel bad. And…” I felt stupid admitting it. “I miss Edward. A lot. I really wish he were here right now.” “You’ll see him back again soon.” Alice stroked my hair. “As far as I can see, he’s fighting with Aro right now. He wants to be back. But before he left… He said to make sure you knew he loved you and that he knows you’ll turn out okay. And you know he would rather be here doing it.” I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand. “When did he tell you that?” “He whispered it to me,” she said. “He couldn’t say anything to you directly. He didn’t know how things would turn out. He still half-hopes you’ll decide to stay human. He would give that much up for you. You’re the only thing that matters right now.” I had a hard time breathing. “I can’t change my mind.” She was abruptly serious. “No, you can’t.” “Why is Rosalie doing this?” I asked Jasper. “I thought she didn’t want me to be human.” He half-laughed, but the sound was weak and unsteady because of the tenseness of the moment that even he couldn’t change. “I think she explained it pretty well,” he said. “She really does try, Bella. She would do anything for Edward. And she really does like you.” “But last fall… she voted no.” “She doesn’t want to condemn you to this life anymore than Edward does. But they both know now that they don’t have a choice.” “When will they be back?” I whispered to Alice. “Half an hour, tops,” she said. “Is there anything you want to do before…?” What could I do? There was nothing I could do. I was supposed to be dead now. There was only one person I could patch things up with anymore. My mind cringed away from the idea, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I took a deep, shaky breath. “Alice, could I call Jacob?” I asked. She paused for a moment, and then got up to get the phone. “If you want to go up to Edward’s room for some privacy…” I nodded, and stumbled upstairs. My legs were trembling. I was horribly nervous. My stomach was in a hopeless knot, and the moment I was away from Jasper my heart started pounding again. I wanted this. I could do this. But Edward… gone. Not even him here for this. And it was going to hurt. I sat on the huge bed and stared at the phone for a long moment. My time was running out. I could practically feel it slipping away. I had to do this now. Taking a deep breath, I dialed the phone number that I knew by heart. “Hello?” Billy answered. I tried to keep my voice level. There was no reason to panic him. I had to tell Jacob myself. I couldn’t get all emotional on Billy. “Is Jacob there?” I asked. My hand was shaking as I held the phone to my ear. “Yeah, just a minute.” I stared at the wall as I waited for Billy to fetch his son. I wondered how much things would have to change. Strangely, I wondered if the wall would look different through vampire eyes. I was going crazy, searching aimlessly for things to distract me from the inevitable. Once, I had talked to magnets to control myself. Now I thought about walls. “Bella?” Jacob’s voice was soothing, almost like a drug. I was able to take a deep, steady breath before the panic overcame me again. “Hi, Jake,” I breathed. I was shaking again. “Bella?” he sounded very concerned. “Are you okay? What’s happening?” I took another deep breath, and then burst into tears. “He’s gone, Jacob,” I cried. “What?” I knew I was being incoherent. “The Volturi. They took Edward. They said he can’t come back unless the Cullens change me. They’re doing it today, Jake. In a few minutes. I wanted to call to say goodbye.” The words tumbled out of my mouth quickly, mangled by heaving sobs. “What the hell are the Volturi?” he asked. “Where’s Edward? I can’t believe he’s doing this to you! I’m coming over right now.” He was angry. “No!” I almost screamed the word. I was too on edge. I needed to calm down. “No, don’t come. You can’t. We don’t have time. The Volturi are vampires. I’ll explain them to you another time.” Would there be another time? “I’ll be fine Jacob. I just needed to say goodbye. Before it was too late.” “Bella.” His voice was pained. “Why are you letting them do this?” “They took Edward, Jacob!” I shrieked. “I have to get them back. And I’ve wanted this for a long time. You knew this. You know this. Please, can we not talk about it?” I was getting hysterical. There was a long pause. “Sure,” he finally said, his voice more husky and deeper. “I’m going to miss you, Bella.” Jacob’s voice broke, and so did my heart. “Jacob –” I had to pause because Alice was knocking softly on the door. “I think I have to go. But Jake?” I heard him catch his breath. “Yes?” Jacob’s voice was raspy and horrible. I thought he was starting to cry. “I’ll always love you.” I could barely get the words out. “Bella…” I could hear him crying now. “Bella?” Alice called through the door. “I’m sorry. But Rosalie is here.” I started hyperventilating. The room spun before my eyes. Now. It was really time. “Jake?” My voice was a high squeak. Every part of me was trembling. “Yes?” “I really have to go. They’re… They’re ready for me now. But Jake?” I sniffed and cleared my throat. “I love you. I’m so sorry.” “I love you too, Bella.” It was hard to understand him through his tears. “Goodbye.” I didn’t even turn off the phone. It slipped through my numb fingers. I stepped off the bed and tripped my way over to the door. I couldn’t stand straight up. I fell flat on my face, and got up again, putting more weight on the doorknob than was absolutely necessary for me to open it. Alice took one look at my face and swept into the room. She turned off the phone and wrapped her arm around me, soothingly stroking my back. “It’ll be okay, Bella,” she murmured, as she swept my legs off the ground and began to carry me. I locked my arms around her neck. “It’ll be okay. Everything’s going to be all right.” Her voice was soothing, a calm chant. The words were starting to blend together, but they were still meaningful enough that I could start breathing again. “You need to calm down. Rosalie’s having a hard enough time preparing for this. It won’t help if your heart is racing like that. Too much blood loss. Just calm down. Jasper can only help for so long. He can’t be in the same room as blood.” I starting gulping air, trying to pull myself together as she carried me downstairs. “I’m sorry,” I said, through trembling lips. “I’m sorry.” I repeated it like a mantra, not knowing what else to say. My mind was numb and blank. I could hardly think straight. She brought me back into the living room, where Rosalie was pacing anxiously, leaning hard on Emmett. Carlisle sat calmly on the couch, reading an old book, which he shut when we appeared at the base of the stairs. Seeing him look so calm was good for me. I felt like I was finally able to breathe a bit. But I saw Jasper standing in the corner, looking out the window. “Bella!” Rosalie cried, whirling around to face me. Her eyes were lighter than I had ever seen them. They were also wild with anxiety, and her face was shocked and afraid. Just like mine. It made me feel better to know that we were both scared. Alice put me down, and I stumbled on my feet. Esme caught me. She looked very grave. “Rose,” I said. “Are you ready for this?” She took a deep breath. “I think so…” But her face was a mask of horrified pain. “Are you ready for this?” I tried to find my voice. “Yes,” I squeaked. I didn’t sound very convinced. Carlisle stood. When he spoke, he was using his authoritative doctor’s voice. He was very gentle. “Bella, we’re going to do this up in Edward’s bedroom. I’ll be coaching Rosalie through it. Alice and I will be there the whole time, just in case anything goes wrong. Which it won’t.” I nodded numbly. Anything. Just get it over with. Please. Esme squeezed me gently once, and looked into my face. “Be brave, Bella,” she whispered, her lovely face betraying her worry. “I’m not going to be there when it happens. But you can do this. We love you.” I nodded, hugging her tightly as tears streamed down my face. She stepped back, and Emmett sighed. “Good luck, Bella,” he said awkwardly. “I’ll miss your clumsiness. But I’m excited for you.” I nodded again. I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t deal with this. I took one last look at all their lovely faces. Jasper said nothing, but he sent another calming wave my way. I sighed gratefully, and smiled waterily. “Thank you all,” I said. “I guess… I’ll see you at the other end.” And then they were gone. The house felt very empty and quiet. It was just Rosalie, Carlisle, Alice, and me. I felt the hole where Edward is supposed to be. Carlisle spoke calmly again. “We’re going to go upstairs, now, Bella,” he said. “Alice will help you change clothes into something comfortable. You’ll want to put your hair back. It will make things easier. I’ll explain everything as it happens.” Alice began pulling me back upstairs, and he and Rosalie followed me. Rosalie couldn’t look at me. Her hands were shaking. I was glad to know that I wasn’t the only one freaking out. I wished she would say something, though. Something consoling, like the rest of them. I needed all the consolation I could get. Alice pulled me into her bathroom and began throwing sweatpants and a tee shirt at me. “Alice,” I whispered, as I undressed. “Can you see something for me?” She looked at me, waiting. “Do you see how long this will last?” Her face softened sympathetically. “I’m sorry, Bella,” was all she would say. “Think about all the good that will come out of it.” I knew I was in for hell. I climbed into my clothes, trembling. She pulled back my hair quickly and smoothly. “Are you ready?” she asked me, taking my hand? I had to remember how to move. I could feel the pain coming. “Yes,” I mouthed inaudibly. “Think of the good that will come,” she reminded me, and I followed her into Edward’s room. Rosalie was sitting on the couch, staring blankly out of the window. Her beautiful face was composed into a blank mask. Carlisle was standing by the door, waiting for us. “How did he react?” I choked out, surprising myself. “Who?” I was amazed that Carlisle had even understood my garbled speech. “Charlie. When you told him. Did you tell him?” It hurt to think of my father, but I barely felt the pain. The longing for Edward was overpowering, and I could barely feel anything else. Alice lowered me onto the bed and Carlisle surveyed me thoughtfully. “He was heartbroken,” he said. “He believed me, but it was hard to watch him be like that. He’s really going to miss you, Bella.” I nodded. I could live with that. Rosalie got up and paced forward restlessly. I saw her eyes light on my bare neck, and shivered. I was suddenly almost calm. “The first wound is going to be right on the side of your neck,” Carlisle said, “just on your jugular vein. I’m sorry. That sounds cruel. But it’s the best way to do it.” I tried to ignore the nauseous feeling I felt at his words. “Okay,” I said, trying to stay calm. Alice’s words rang in my head. “It won’t help if your heart is racing like that. Too much blood loss.” “We’ll need to see how far that gets you. She also has to cut your wrists and right above your heart. If that’s not enough, she’ll move to your ankles, and the crease of your elbow.” God. Too much. Too much pain was coming. I nodded again, and he smiled helplessly. “That’s all I can tell you. Good luck.” He and Alice seemed to vanish, and I was all alone with Rosalie. “I’m sorry about this, Bella,” she said nervously. “It’s okay, Rosalie.” I shook my hair back from my neck, and I saw her eyes dart towards it again. A tremor ran through my body. “I’m ready.” Unexpectedly, she ran her cool fingers across my face. The gesture was small, but it was huge coming from her. I closed my eyes. I could almost pretend that she was Edward. Though my eyes were closed, I sensed that she was drawing closer to me. I felt very relaxed, totally ready now. I was positive of my course. "Bella." The soft word was like a calming breeze as it entered my mind. I recognized the voice. Oh, God, I recognized the voice. So many times, I had heard it in twisted delusions. Other times I imagined it to keep me sane. It was the voice I wanted to hear right now, and mercifully, my conscious granted it to me. Edward. Realization coursed through me. He did love me. And he was even with me now. "Open your eyes, Bella," the lovely voice sighed. I did, blinking back the tears that had formed on my eyelashes. Rosalie’s face was only inches from mine. But all that I saw were her golden eyes. Soft and wide with worry, kinder than I had ever seen them, I could see her brother in them. That lovely shade of ocher gold that marked them for what they were made me feel achingly close to him. And then I realized… He was still there with me. I wondered if that was what had inspired Rosalie to do this for me. She knew Edward wanted it. She would take his place. I felt Rosalie’s – no, Edward’s – cool lips on my skin and sighed under the feeling. I knew it was only in my mind, but I felt his love through the gesture. "Bella love, it’s going to be all right. Just relax." Anything. Anything for that voice. I felt cold breath on my skin, and wondered fleetingly if Rosalie’s breath was as heavenly as Edward’s was. My eyes fluttered closed again as sharp teeth grazed my neck. I flinched back, and Rosalie pulled away slightly. “I’m sorry, Bella.” Her voice was nearly inaudible. "Edward, I love you." It was the only thing I could think while the teeth moved towards my neck again. She paused, about to piece the skin. Edward, I love you. Anything. For you. This is for you. There was a sharp, searing pain. I exhaled, almost welcoming it. At last. The moment I had been waiting for forever. It was actually happening. "Bella?" As I had hoped, Edward’s sweet voice was the last good thing I heard before the pain began to sink in. It was gentle and loving, warm and wonderful. And I knew he would be with me throughout it all, "Bella, I love you. Don’t you dare give up fighting for me." And then the screaming started.