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Desperation

Summary:
What would have happened if Jasper had gotten a hold of Bella at her birthday party? **Note: This is co-written with 'sweetishbubble.'Desperation Banner


Notes:
Desperation Banner


7. Chapter 7

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 5879   Review this Chapter

Desperation - Chapter 7

EPOV

I continued my silent, mindless chant all the way to the airport, and all the way to the proper area where the private jets were, where I saw the pilot waiting outside the hangar. His mind revealed that he was indeed waiting for me, and wondering where our destination would be. Fortunately, we had the connections that would allow our itinerary to be approved almost immediately. As I approached him, I reached up and swiftly pulled the pulsing earbuds from my ears I had utilized upon exiting my car, repeating mentally one last time, "Madrid, London, Paris, Brussels, Frankfort, Budapest." This was it - I could no longer hide from Alice. Actually, I was relieved - it was extremely difficult convincing yourself that you weren’t sure where you were going, not to mention keeping your mind continually distracted, in order to keep Alice from seeing.

"Hello, I’m Edward Cullen," I offered my hand in greeting.

"Yes, hello, Mr. Cullen, I’ve been expecting you. I assume you’d like for me to get things underway...have you chosen your destination yet? The last I heard, you were undecided," he finished, waiting patiently.

"I will be traveling to Volterra, Italy. I assume you can make the arrangements quickly?" I questioned. As the words left my mouth, I reached discreetly in my jacket and turned off my cell completely. It had already been on ‘silent’ since I’d made my announcement the night before.

"Certainly...there’s a private airfield I’m familiar with in that area - I’ll be able to get you fairly close, and I will arrange for a private car to take you to your exact location. I’ll get things underway, and we should be ready for departure within minutes. If you’d like, you may go ahead and wait on the plane. Please, make yourself comfortable," he left off, as he hurried to get our schedule approved. Money definitely had it’s advantages at times, as this man was eager to please.

My flight to Italy was long, only because I was anxious; I knew what I was trying to do. I couldn't go on this way anymore, and this was the only real solution left for me. I’d always known I’d never make it without Bella. There were no other options - my family would never have helped. I would go before the Volturi and ask them to destroy me. Once I arrived, I would have to move swiftly - surely, Alice was already in action.

The Volturi is an old vampire coven, which resigns in the city of Volterra. Aro, Caius and Marcus are the leaders - royalty, really. Carlisle had told me of them, and of what they did; how much power they hold to our kind. He had stayed with them for a while, a few centuries back, and had developed a civil relationship. The one thing they pride themselves on is being anonymous. They are the police of the vampire world - the minute they feel their secret is exposed, they move in, and act swiftly to eliminate the threat.

There were a number of things I could do to expose their world once I was in Volterra. Perhaps find an unlucky soul and kill him publicly; maybe find a delivery truck of sorts and lift it over my head. Whatever I decided to do, they'd be watching, especially after I'd informed them of my intentions - they would have to destroy me. The sooner, the better.

Prior to my leaving, I had written letters to my family, saying goodbye and explaining my reasoning. They were all immensely difficult to write, but the letter to Carlisle and Esme had been especially upsetting - they'd done so much for me, to ensure I had a wonderful life. The part that I had written to Alice had been unbearable as well; I knew this would be something she may never accept.

Bella was my one and only - my everything. To think, I'd existed as long as I had, not knowing I was incomplete before she came along. Having finally been able to think my decision clearly, I almost felt relief. One way or another, it would all be over soon, and for that I was thankful. All that stood between myself and my destiny was a plane ride to Italy.

When I arrived in Volterra, the city was celebrating St. Marcus Day. This was perfect, since I knew the Volturi empire would be fixated on keeping the realm of normalcy, while enjoying their sarcastic version of this holiday. It seemed the entire city's population was out; I kept my head low, as I pushed through the crowd, toward the building facade I was seeking.

After passing through the square, I reached my destination. Glancing upward, I took in the building that stood before me. So deceiving...it gave none of its secrets away by sight. The guards on either side of the doors eyed me warily, but something about my demeanor must have convinced them that I was not here to fight. They actually thought I looked...pathetic. I’m sure they were right. They looked away as I passed through the glass doors, making my way to the receptionist's desk.

The woman behind the desk wore a name tag...Gianna. What was appalling about her was that she was human; her thoughts revealed to me that she knew exactly who she was working for, and that she hoped to become one of them some day. She knew the threat, yet dismissed it, hoping they would find her useful enough to keep. It took all of my self restraint to not tell this woman how moronic she was. It was more than likely that she would end up as nothing more than an item on the brunch menu.

"How may I be of assistance to you?" Gianna questioned, somewhat dismissively.

"Respectfully, I am here to request to speak with Aro. My name is Edward Cullen; you may want to mention I’m from his friend Carlisle Cullen’s family. I must note that I will not leave here until he agrees to meet with me," I replied bluntly, glancing at the clock. There really was no time to mince words...I was in a hurry.

She hesitated, surprised at my direct request. She thought I was out of line, which made her think of me as arrogant. Her mind played over all the things she knew her employers could do to me if I was actually rude to them...if she only realized why I was really here.

"Have a seat in our waiting area, Mr. Cullen. One moment, please," she replied briskly, as she picked up a phone, punching in an extension.

As I moved over to one of the chairs, I followed her conversation and thoughts. She was insistent, saying that she was quite sure that I would not leave without my request being met, although I didn't appear to be violent...just impatient. The other party was...irritated, and uninterested. She continued to press though, and finally, she hung up the phone, content that she had gotten her point across.

"Someone will be with you momentarily, Mr. Cullen," Gianna said. With one last glance at me, I heard her think, "It’s a shame he’s so moody; he’s quite handsome," before she turned her mind back to her work. I suppressed the desire to roll my eyes.

As I waited, I tried not to pay attention to various thoughts that were drifting around this part of the building, most likely from the occupants within the closest offices. Almost all of them were focusing on the approaching meal they would be having later that evening. Minutes later, I heard someone approaching from a corridor off to the right, her thoughts resentful. A door off to the side opened, a small child-like figure stepping from behind it.

"Edward Cullen? Please follow me," the girl requested in a flat tone. She too, thought I looked rather pathetic, and was irritated she’d been interrupted to come escort me. She toyed with the idea of using her gift on me, which was basically the ability to torture - apparently, it felt as if you were burning alive. It made me realize what kind of person she truly was; someone who would inflict that upon someone else, purely because they were bored and irritated, made her even more of a monster than me.

After making our way through several hallways and doors, she came to a stop outside a large, intricate arched golden doorway. The girl opened the door, motioning for me to go ahead of her. As I stepped into the room, I noticed it was a vast turret of sorts...with a large drain in the middle, which made me realize exactly what purpose this room usually had. The thoughts of those within the room only confirmed my suspicions...they were looking forward to this evening as well. Some of them turned to glance at my as we moved past the doorway, wondering what the urgency of my visit was. Others simply ignored me, uncaring.

As we approached, a dark cloaked figure turned, studying me carefully - Aro. His thoughts revealed his surprise and interest; knowing I was from Carlisle’s coven, he was incredibly curious as to what had brought me here, alone.

"Thank you, Jane. Your services are appreciated, as always," the man spoke, directing his words to the child-like girl. He leaned over and kissed the girl lightly on her forehead before she turned away. She was gleeful to have his approval - she desired to be his favorite. "Edward Cullen...how wonderful it is to meet you; Carlisle and I were such good friends...tell me, how is he?" he asked, truly curious as to Carlisle’scurrent status.

I informed Aro of Carlisle's well-being, to which he expressed his surprise; he hadn't expected Carlisle to last so long on his 'vegetarian' diet. Upon further questioning, when he realized there were many of us in the family that followed Carlisle's way of life, Aro was all the more dumbfounded. Typically, the Volturi only check up on vampires which are causing trouble, so was unsure of how things had turned out for Carlisle. He’d checked on him once, a few months after Carlisle had left here to start his own life, but nothing had changed, and Aro had lost interest. Carlisle’s choice to abstain from human blood annoyed Aro, so he’d moved on, found something else to entertain himself with.

Finally, he shook his head, laughing. "Ha ha ha - Carlisle was always so unique...I do miss him. Which brings me to wonder, Edward, what could possibly bring you all this way, so far from your family?"

Sighing, I replied, "I wish for you to destroy me Aro...to end my existence."

Aro was silent, gazing back at me intently. The thoughts of the others in the room invaded my mind. One called Marcus was intrigued; he could sense I was missing my other half, and the intensity of what my relationship had been. Another, Caius, was annoyed at my interruption. Some figures lurking in the corner were curious, but eager to see me leave as well. There was a few women that stood a ways off, and they were included in the uncaring category. After a few moments, Aro spoke.

"That is...an unusual request, Edward...What has brought you to this point? Does Carlisle know you are here?...I cannot imagine him willingly agreeing to such an atrocity..." he trailed off, curiosity burning in his eyes. He was appalled that one of our kind would choose to give everything up, and was strangely interested to know what could cause such a desire.

"I did not inform my family of my decision, although I am quite sure they are all quite aware by now," I replied. "It’s of no matter; this is my choice, and I will do whatever necessary to succeed."

Aro hesitated, turning his head slightly to the side. He was confused by my comment; he was struggling to decide whether or not to use his gift on me - he had wanted to wait to hear my explanation first, then use it to see if I was being truthful. It was a game he liked to play with people sometimes.

"Please help me to understand, Edward - we do not receive this type of request often, and as I respect my dear friend Carlisle, I must fully comprehend your reasoning." Making up his mind, Aro drifted forward, his hand outstretched. His gift was similar to mine, but also very different. Reaching my hand out to meet his, he instantly saw my entire life in his mind...right up to the feelings of crushing anguish that brought me here.

Aro lowered his hand, breaking our connection. "Ah. I am indeed sorry for your loss, young one, although I cannot fully understand it...she was human - and the call of her blood - how on earth did you fight that?"

"Some things don't matter anymore, once you've made up your mind. Her soul became far more important to me than her blood, and now that has been taken from me," I replied bitterly.

Aro was lost in his thoughts. He studied me, completely transfixed by my reasoning. He was satisfied that I was being completely honest, which almost disturbed him more; it was not something he was accustomed to. After a few minutes, he spoke.

"I will need time to consider this, Edward. It is truly a perplexing decision...you have such talent. It would be an unfortunate waste..." he trailed off briefly. "I do wonder - instead of death, would you consider leaving your old self behind, and join us here? It could just as well be a fresh start for you - a complete change. You would be very well...compensated..." he trailed off, watching my expression. He had great interest in my gift, and wished to add me to his list of possessions.

"I mean no disrespect, but regretfully I must decline such an offer. Let there be no mistake, Aro - I am here for one reason, and only one. No matter your decision, I will end my life. Out of courtesy, I stand before you to give you the opportunity to end it easily, without the threat of revealing to the world our existence. If I am forced, I will find a way, no matter what it is,"I finished, with a note of finality.

Pausing, I thought of my family; surely Alice was following along as closely as she could, and had contacted the rest of the family. Quickly, I calculated once again how long it would take any of them to reach Volterra, whether from New Zealand or Forks; I wanted to be sure none of them could stop me. Since I had taken the family’s jet, they would have to wait for a commercial flight. They would never make it; nonetheless, it was best not to take any chances. "I will give you six hours to reach your decision, and then I will act of my own will," I said solemnly.

Aro sighed. "Well, friend, you leave me with no choice, do you? We will discuss this, and let you know of our decision. In the meantime, please reconsider my offer...you could be quite happy here, I think," he added.

Smiling grimly, I turned to leave, then remembered something. "Aro - I do have another request to make," I said, pausing. Aro raised his eyebrows in question, so I continued. "However this ends, please do one last thing for Carlisle. Please collect my ashes and hold them; I’m fairly certain some, if not all, of my family members will be arriving fairly soon after my demise. If you would, please include these," I said, pulling three envelopes from my jacket and passing them to him.

Aro looked at me somberly. He knew I wouldn’t change my mind. "I assume these are the letters I saw in your memories?"

"Yes...they are letters to my family, one to each couple. It is the only feasible way I could truly say goodbye, without having them try to stop me from doing this. They deserve much more, but it is important they receive them; I am hoping it will provide closure. Will you agree to make certain they receive these, along with my ashes?" I questioned.

Aro was troubled, not only by my assuredness that I would be gone soon, but also by the depth of concern I held for my family's well being. It seemed...unnatural to him. "If that's what this comes to, rest assured I will honor your wishes, Edward. Go now, and let us confer."

I nodded once, before returning to the reception area; I would wait there, as it would work as well as any other place. The next six hours would be long, possibly the longest of my life.

Letters

Dear Emmett and Rosalie,

My decision will be difficult for you to understand, I am sure. I only request that you accept it, and live the rest of your lives being thankful that you have each other. True love should never be wasted, nor taken for granted. The two of you have something deeply special and I know that you will always be happy.

Please help Alice in her grief; Rosalie, please take time to spend with her, and try to offer her comfort - she's going to need the love of her sister during this time.

Emmett, make her laugh whenever you can, and always continue with your practical jokes - even though she knows what you’re doing before you actually do it, she still finds it highly amusing. Thank you for being such a wonderful addition to our family - the best brother I could ever have asked for.

Esme will need both of your strength...do all you can to show her our family is still complete - I may be absent physically, but my heart will always hold all of you close. This was my only real option, as I am sure most of you already realized...even if you didn’t want to consider it. Just know that having both of you in my life offered me great comfort in all my years prior to meeting my soul mate. Seeing your relationship, as well as the others,’ - I simply didn’t understand what I was missing until I found it. The minute I lost Bella, I ceased to exist. I believe you will understand, if you only imagine not having each other.

Dear Carlisle and Esme,

My dear parents, I am sorry I have put you through this. I’ve never wanted anything other than the best for you, as that is exactly what you’ve always given me. Although not easy in the slightest, please make an effort to understand what has brought me to this point. You know that I would not put either of you through such a thing unless I was certain there was no other way.

Carlisle...I know you have often struggled with your decision to change me. Please ease your mind, and know that I will be eternally thankful for that fateful night in Chicago; in offering me a second life, you ultimately offered me peace...without you, I would never have found Bella, the reason for my existence. I will never be able to fully express my gratitude...your gift was truly the salvation of my soul.

Of course I was far less than the ideal son, yet you both always welcomed me back openly. There are no words for the depth of compassion you offer...by far, you are both the most admirable, unselfish people I have ever met...traits which I cannot claim for myself.

Esme, please do not berate yourself with my decision. Know that you are truly the best mother one could ever ask for, and continue offering your love to Alice, Rosalie, Emmett and Jasper. They will always need you. There was nothing anyone could have done to stop this; it is simply the way it was meant to be. Please accept that, and know that my love for you will always be in your heart.

I will be forever thankful for you both. I don't know where I would be if I hadn't had the two of you to guide me. Know that I am at peace now, and wish the same for you...my undying love will always be present.

Dear Jasper and Alice,

I know that as you are reading this, you will already have been fully aware of what I have done...I am so very sorry.

Jasper, I look to you to offer Alice the comfort she will need in my absence. I believe that having gone through what she has recently, when she briefly lost you, will allow her to turn to you. Console her, and soothe her, as only you can. The love the two of you share for each other is magical, please do not lose it. I apologize for what I’ve done...it was never my intention to hurt either of you, as I know I have. Your thoughts have revealed to me that you know the extent of my despair - you felt it, when you were apart from Alice. Please help Alice to understand that, in whatever way you can. Also know that I completely forgive you for what happened with Bella, and that in no way is this your fault, nor is my decision. Do not spend any time needlessly feeling guilty; things in this world have a path, and I am simply following mine. Thank you for being an incredible brother to me...you are strong in more ways than you know, Jasper.

Alice...dearest Alice. My favorite sister - amazing, stubborn, and so beautiful. Do not waste your life grieving for me...I am at peace now, and in truth, you must know that. Life has so much to offer you. You and I have shared a lot, my dear Alice. Of the entire family, you perhaps know me best; you knew what I found when I met Bella - the other half of my soul. I am truly sorry for trying to deceive you, for trying to allude your visions...it was the only way, as you would have done anything to stop me. It was the blackest kind of blasphemy, and I apologize greatly.

I would always have kept trying, Alice. It was the worst kind of restlessness, the worst kind of unattainable desire...you must try to understand why I had no other choice. Seek comfort in Jasper, and appreciate your love. Above all else, be the happy, exuberant, uplifting woman you were meant to be; I’ll always be with you, laughing alongside you in spirit.

APOV

Stewart's Island is so beautiful, so secluded...I felt as though I was in my own private paradise. Jasper and I had just returned from the beach, where we had been able to run through the sand, jump in the waves, and lay in the sun, simply to enjoy the feeling of warmth, all while not having to worry about being seen. It was amazing.

Every time we came back here, it made me even more thankful we had built this retreat so many years ago. As I watched Jasper lean back in the hammock on the porch, reaching for his favorite book, I wondered why we didn't take the time to come here more often.

Those two weeks without my husband had been hell; I finally fully understood what Edward was feeling, as did Jasper. I could only hope Edward would find some way to cope...my most recent vision was disconcerting; shortly after we’d arrived here, I’d seen his sudden decision to go traveling. I was fearful that he was running from everything, and worried that he wouldn't return - that he was choosing the ‘roaming the Earth endlessly’ option I’d seen a while back. Even more, it disturbed me because I couldn’t see where he was going; I had called home immediately.

When Rosalie was the only person I could reach, I was irritated, because I knew she wouldn’t listen. However, when she recounted the entire conversation for me in detail, explaining how Edward had to get away from his memories in Forks, I’d begun to pay attention. It made sense to an extent; I'd felt the same way, until Jasper had left. Memories of Bella saturated the entire area...it had been suffocating to an extent. Rosalie had assured me that he planned on keeping in touch, and that he didn’t seem depressed or desolate about his choice...she said he’d seemed more optimistic than they’d seen in a while. She insisted the rest of my family seemed certain he would return after some time had passed; I hoped they were right. Since that conversation, I’d been keeping a very close watch on Edward’s future, and any other decisions he would be making. So far, it had been quiet, so maybe they were right after all.

I decided to go retrieve my camera from my bag in the living room - I had to capture some of this island to take back with us. As I was returning to the porch, the familiar blurring, slow motion sensation began. Dropping to my knees, I cried out in shock over what I saw.

"NO! No, no, no! Edward no!!" I screamed out, clutching my hair with my tiny fists, panic seeping through every nerve in my body.

"Alice! Alice, what is it?" Jasper was desperately trying to pull me out of my vision, to tell him what was causing me such despair.

"Jasper - we have to go - now. Edward's going to Italy - to Volterra. He would only go there for one reason," I whispered, horrified.

Without a word, Jasper pulled me up into his arms, ran into the house, grabbed our bags, and flew to the car. As we headed to the airport, I began dialing. Someone sure as hell better pick up other than Rose this time.

"Hello, Alice. How are things on Stewart's Island?" Carlisle answered.

Repeating the content of my vision quickly, I waited for an answer. Silence rang clear on the other end of the phone. After a few moments, Carlisle spoke, his voice full of horror. He knew he’d been fooled...we all had.

"Alice...have you seen what will happen yet? What their answer will be?" he asked in hushed tones.

"No...but it doesn't matter - he's already made up his mind that with or without their help, he's going through with it," I replied, panic evident in my voice, my hands trembling. Jasper continued to drive a an alarming speed, too shocked to even try to calm me.

Carlisle said that he and Emmett would head to the airport immediately, and get to Volterra as fast as they could, but his words were full of defeat. I told him Jasper and I would be flying to Italy as well, and I hung up. We continued to the airport, driving in silence. As I gazed out the window, I let the horror of reality settle in; he had taken all the right precautions...we would never make it in time.

EPOV

As I sat in the reception area, I stared at the clock as it ticked slowly, second by second. Obviously by now, Alice knew the full extent of what was happening; I was sure she’d been trying to reach me on my cell, along with Carlisle and Emmett, ever since my flight. That’s why I’d turned it off as soon as I’d made my decision clear. Flipping open my phone, I turned it on for a second to see how bad it was; the screen revealed that I had been correct in my assumption - there were thirty missed calls, most with voice mails. I didn't bother listening to them - I could assume easily enough what they said, and I already felt guilty enough for what I was doing to my family. Making sure the ring tone was still off, I changed screens, and opened the pictures folder on my phone, studying each one of my family's faces; no matter what Aro's decision was, I would never see them again. My gaze settling on a picture of Bella, I shut the phone and smiled grimly - it was worth it to end the pain. Glancing back up at the clock, I realized that finally, in two minutes, the time limit I had set would be up.

As if on cue, I heard Jane approaching. She didn’t appear to know the outcome of my request, but she was curious to learn their decision.

Minutes later, she entered the room. "Edward...please come with me," she ordered abruptly.

Soon enough, I found myself in the same room as before, standing before Aro once again. He was incredibly remorseful; not necessarily that I would be lost, but more so that my talent would be lost.His thoughts revealed their decision, leaving me bitter - so it would be the hard way, then.

"Edward, as I said before, this is indeed an awkward position you have put me in. We have reached a decision, as I am sure you already know, due to your unique gift. We will not voluntarily act to destroy you; I cannot agree to do so, knowing it would be against my friend Carlisle's wishes. As I am sure you also know, if you continue your plan, and threaten to reveal our secret, we will act to stop you...I do hope you reconsider."

"Do I still have your word that you will respect my final requests?" I asked bluntly, past caring.

Aro sighed. "Of course, Edward. The guards have all been ordered...to collect your ashes...if need be," he replied, regretfully. He knew how this was going to end. I glanced over towards the guards he spoke of; they stared back at me curiously, not able to comprehend my decision. One of them - Felix was his name - was actually looking forward to the upcoming events; how courteous of him.

"Thank you, Aro, and thank you for your time. I am sorry these were the circumstances under which we had to meet; Carlisle has always spoken highly of you," I finished, tired of prolonging the inevitable.

"Certainly," he replied, disconcerted. His mind revealed to me that he was full of regret, knowing what news he would have to greet Carlisle and his family with. After not seeing his friend for so long, only to have to inform him of this loss, was something he was not looking forward to; he had seen the unique relationship of our family when he read my history. Aro didn't understand it, but he was sure that it would be a horrible loss to the Cullens.

As I passed back through the reception area, towards the doors, I settled on a plan. I had decided I didn’t want to harm anyone else in my last moment...it was unnecessary, and it would only hurt Carlisle more, not to mention disappoint him. The point of all this was to end my misery, and nothing else. I would step into the sun, threatening to expose our kind. This would be enough of a threat to them, especially considering the crowded plaza. Bella and I had spent some of our happiest moments lying in the sun, as she marveled at my sparkling skin. It seemed fitting that my last moment would be feeling the warmth on my body...since I would never feel her warmth again. Once outside, I followed the shade from the building's awning over to an alley, where I unbuttoned the front of my shirt and waited. Seconds later, they arrived near the back of the alley, out of sight - three guards, sent to follow orders.

I wasn't fearful of ending my life; I could only hope that Bella had been right about me, about my soul. She had believed that I would be accepted into heaven, forgiven for my past sins. If not, I still knew that whatever hell I was sent to couldn't possibly be worse than the hell I was already in. By all means, this was a chance worth taking.

Only faintly in the back of my mind did I hear the thoughts of the predators coming for me, of their eagerness to follow the orders to stop me. They didn’t matter. I wasn't sure how long it took, or exactly what they did. As I had begun to step into the sunlight, the only thing I had felt was a sharp pull backwards, and then it was over. My mind had already been focused on Bella; I remembered her beautiful face in the meadow, the way she gazed into my eyes as we’d waltzed at prom, the smell of her hair, the softness of her skin. I remembered everything, and forgot nothing.

As the darkness began to fade, images started to become clearer...suddenly, as I looked closer, I recognized where I was...I was in our meadow. How did I end up here? There was an incredibly bright light coming from the center - I felt drawn to it. As I crept nearer, the light began to fade, and I could see more clearly what was in front of it. Bella. My beautiful, beautiful Bella.

She stepped toward me, her hands outstretched.

I blinked, then moved forward warily, afraid to believe what I saw. "Are you real? Please... please, tell me you’re real," I whispered, desperate to believe it was her.

She nodded slowly, reassuringly. "I am."

Full of disbelief, I began to raise my arms, and as our fingertips met, brilliancy was restored to my world; the stars were brighter, and the meteor was soaring again, shooting across the sky, casting light upon all the dark corners which had consumed me, igniting the fire within my soul.

"You've kept me waiting," she said softly, an angelic smile brightening her features.

"I'm sorry, love...never again," I whispered, lost in amazement. She had been right after all. Grasping her hands, I pulled her to me, my mind reeling. I embraced her, softly kissing her warm lips; Bella wove her fingers through my hair, and at last, I was home again. She pulled back lightly, gazing into my eyes.

"There's just one thing, Edward," she whispered quietly. She reached up, and unfastened the necklace from around my neck, removing the ring from it. Bella grasped my left hand, and slipped the ring onto my finger.

"There, now it's where it really belongs," she murmured, raising my hand to her lips, repeating the same motion I had made when putting hers in place. Glancing down at Bella's left hand, I indeed saw my mother's ring; the ring that I had put there myself. Amazed, I slowly returned my gaze to her wide, innocent eyes.

"In case you were wondering, the answer had always been 'yes,'" Bella said, pulling me back down to her, meeting my lips with hers. As I lifted her into my arms, twirling us around in circles, I felt at peace; more than that, I felt utterly blissful. Finally, I had found my heaven.

For never was a story of more woe

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo