"She would go to the ends of the earth to be sure we wouldn’t get hurt in the process, as if that thing could hurt us! She was sacrificing herself for her mother. My perfect Bella. But why didn't she wait for me to take care of it? Of her mother? Of James?"
1. Mistaken Escape
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The plane would not move fast enough.
If I could, I would have been running instead. My memories helped to relieve the pent-up emotions—vibrant green and brown hues, in perfect clarity even as I ran past at over one hundred miles an hour. The pure exhilaration as I sidestepped dangerous overgrown roots and fallen trees without a second thought. Practically flying, but just like Icarus, I couldn't wander too close to the sun.
Ah...the sun. In Phoenix, it was everywhere, inescapable. I had to close the windows so it wouldn't touch my skin. Here in the bright openness of the south, it was not hidden behind a canopy of clouds.
But even though I couldn't see the sun, the thought of it gave me hope. The sun equated Bella, the flame in my heart that burned everlasting.
Bella was my only thought, my mantra, my salvation. The only reason to continue going on, or to go anywhere. If only I could run as fast as a plane could fly. Alas, I am not that quick, no matter how much I wish to be. God, if only these…. they call themselves pilots…if only they had any idea in how much of a hurry I was. I couldn't take another second of this plane ride. It had been only a few hours since I heard her voice, but it felt far longer than my entire century of existence. I had only one place to be. Being away from her was causing real, physical pain. My unbeating heart throbbed with the dual aches of love and worry. I left her unsafe. I knew Alice and Jasper, like good guardians, were keeping Bella under close watch. I knew they could handle it. How many times had Alice reminded me before we left?
Edward. You don't have to worry. We're not going to let her out of our sight. Just go where you need to go.
But I needed to be there. I needed to hold her in my arms, pull her close against my chest, and whisper in her ear that I had everything under control. But I didn't. He escaped! The filthy excuse for a creature escaped, and I have no idea where he went. I failed. What a miserable excuse for a...whatever it is I am.
I shut my eyes as hard as I could, pinching the bridge of my nose with my thumb and forefinger. Times like these…there were too many voices. Like they were all compressed in a tiny cubicle, each one begging for release. So instead of trying to ignore them for my sanity's sake, I leaned back against the faux leather cushion of the plane chair, and allowed all the voices to wash over me. I preferred any distraction to the exhausting impatience.
"Oh, Jon and I are going to have so much fun in Mexico, I wonder…"
"If there are two cars and a plane, all traveling at different speeds in different directions from the same location, the plane traveling at…"
"Just breathe… no don't look out the window. The flight's almost over. Cindy is never getting me to go on one of these things again."
"Where's my red crayon?"
"The blonde one over there? Yeah, the one sitting next to the big, burly guy, on the other side of the one with the bronze hair. Oh wow."
I was hit with an image of myself, and this girl-child, engaging in activities I did not care to see. I moved on quickly, annoyed.
I haven't heard from Esme in a while, that female had better not have done anything to hurt her. I know she's with Rosalie, and Rose can take care of herself, but I'm still not sure. Poor Edward. He doesn't seem to be taking the flight very well.
I then felt Carlisle's hand gently pat my knee gently, trying to offer comfort in response to his thoughts.
Eighty-nine bottles of beer on the wall, eighty-nine bottles, Oh forget it. Nothing makes time move faster.
I blocked Emmett's thoughts from my head, as he resorted to passing the time by re-living a certain " encounter" with Rosalie he'd had some time ago. Thank you Emmett.
Emmett's thoughts, however, spurred a much more comfortable line of thinking. If I was going to brood over how long the flight was going to take, I may as well pass the time with an enjoyable prospect.
It was effortless to bring the sight of Bella's to my mind. I had no doubt that she would never understand my… infatuation… my obsession with her. I knew every detail of her face perfectly, the exact shades of pink that her cheeks would turn when she'd blush. Pink was definitely my new favorite color. I could see the depth of her chocolate brown eyes, and wonder just what was going on behind them, and curse myself yet again for not being able to read her thoughts. I could see the light honey shades of her mahogany hair that sparkled in the sunlight, her heart shaped face enveloped in stray locks of hair.
I imagined we were at the meadow, lying in the sun together. Like the first time, without inhibitions or consequences. When things were so much simpler. I would spend forever with her there, asking her a million questions. I wanted to know everything about her. There was still so much about her that I didn't understand. Being alone with her like that would be absolute heaven, the closest heaven I could ever attain. If I ever die, there's little doubt that I won't ever feel that same kind of happiness.
Why couldn't this plane fly faster? My heart relentlessly throbbed and ached; it continued to become heavier and heavier in my chest as it pulsated violently. It was certainly making up for the lack of feeling I’d had in the last nine decades.
All passengers, we are nearing the airport at Phoenix— please fasten your seatbelts as we begin our descent.
My heart seemed to jump at the words of the pilot's dull sounding voice.
Bella, I'm almost there.
The plane descended slowly out of the clouds, and I saw Emmett looking out the window at the immense city that seemed to appear out of thin air. I glanced over his shoulder at the sight, and half smiled, grimly. Bella had once tried to describe what Phoenix was like, the romantic spread of the desert, the openness of the sky, how you could see past the horizon for miles. The description was fitting. The world seemed so small still so high in the sky, but the view was still mesmerizing. I would have found Phoenix much more intriguing if we were not facing so much conflict and uncertainty.
The plane taxied into the port, and once it stopped I didn't even wait for Carlisle to pull the bags out of the overhead storage compartment. I darted out of the small walkway, down the hall of the terminal faster than was possible for a human. Bella was here. I would get to see my angel. I would run up to her, arms held wide, and she would finish the last few steps, jumping into my arms—I would know she was safe. I pushed through the throng of irritated passengers, ignoring their rude words and even more obscene thoughts.
I searched for Alice's mind, anything at all to know how Bella was holding up. I was hit by a flash of images.
I saw a strange, mirrored room, the reflections ghastly and blazing from the sun through the windows. I saw a dark, shadowed figure standing in the crevice of the wall, waiting. I saw Bella, sitting in a car, eyes closed and dreamy looking. Alice must be having a vision. But what was this?
I searched for Jasper's mind, hoping that his usually intellectual thoughts would provide some answers.
Thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three, thirty-four. Oh, why am I even bothering with this? Edward has to know anyway. How could I be so stupid? How could I lose track of her? I should go and find her, while the scent is still fresh. But it stopped, so suddenly… and Alice is having a vision. Besides, I've got to tell Edward.
Tell me what? Did he just say, "lose track of her?"
I returned to the depths of Alice's mind, my horror increasing.
Bella, dialing a phone number at a house that looked somewhat familiar to me. She had tears streaming down her face, and she was fumbling the numbers.
Bella, running down a street in the glaring, late afternoon sun, down a street called Cactus to a small shopping complex with a number of stores.
Bella walking into a mirrored room, with the shadowed figure suddenly appearing.
I could feel enormous amounts of anger hissing, ripping, scathing, only needing direction to vent the rage. Bella, my Bella, was running away. Why she was running away didn't occur to me. I was lost in the fury that Jasper and Alice had lost her. The impossible! I ran faster, not caring about witnesses, to where Jasper and Alice were waiting, just next to a hallway to a storage center. With one hand, I yanked Jasper's shirt and shoved him against the wall, pinning his tall body against the cold concrete.
"Where is she?" I growled through gritted teeth, a deep snarl forming in the back of my throat. "What have you done? How could you lose her?"
I pushed him harder against the wall, making a larger dent in the concrete to emphasize my point. I was beyond caring. All I saw was red. All I saw was fury.
Jasper grasped my hands and squeezed, trying to direct my attention to his thoughts.
Edward, she asked to get some breakfast. She wanted me to go with her, and she stopped at the bathroom. She didn't come out for a while, so Alice went in and she was gone. Alice and I traced her scent, but it stopped at the—
"You let her go by herself! I'm going to—"
I suddenly felt two pairs of hands yanking me away from Jasper. Carlisle and Emmett, having seen me dash out of the plane, had followed as quickly as was "humanly" possible.
Edward, calm down! You can't make a scene in front of all these humans! Let Jasper explain. We'll get this straightened out.
Edward man, don't kill Jasper. What'd he do anyway? Hey, where's the little squirt?
My coal black eyes focused on Emmett, and shoved him against the opposite wall. The fury was inescapable. Bella, my angel, was missing. She was in even more danger, and I had no idea where she was. And it was all their fault. My fault. If I hadn't brought her to the field...if I had kept better track of him...if he hadn't escaped. If I weren't the monster that I was, Bella would never have been in any danger. Every reason she has been hurt, it had been because of me.
Jasper and Carlisle pried me off Emmett and pinned my arms to my side. I couldn't fight them both. I clenched my fists, unwilling to back down. The very next moment I was going to punch something, or someone. Hard.
Alice suddenly appeared, onyx eyes expressing acute distress and anxiety.
"Edward, Bella is going to find James. He told her that he has her mother. She didn't want any of us to get hurt in the process so she tricked Jasper so she could leave herself. She's only been gone a few minutes. I just read the letter she told me to leave you, explaining what happened."
She held out a crumpled piece of paper, a sheet of paper from those hotel notepads. I snatched it away, and my eyes read Bella's scrawly handwriting at lightening speed.
I love you. I am so sorry. He has my mom, and I have to try. I know
it may not work. I am so very, very sorry.
Don't be angry with Alice and Jasper. If I get away from them it will
be a miracle. Tell them thank you for me. Alice especially, please.
And please, please don't come after him. That's what he wants,
I think. I can't bear it if anyone has to be hurt because of me, especially you. Please, this is the only think I can ask you now. For me.
I love you. Forgive me.
Bella. My Bella. He had her mom. She didn't want to hurt us, so she went off by herself to save her mother. Never before had I felt so many conflicting emotions at once. Bella was so brave, so perfectly selfless. She would go to the ends of the earth, literally, to be sure we wouldn't get hurt in the process, as if that thing could hurt us! She was sacrificing herself for her mother. Yet how could she be so ignorant? Why didn't she wait for me? Why didn't she tell me? Why didn't she let us take care of it, of her mother, of James?
Too many feelings were coursing through my veins—I couldn't distinguish one from the other. Volatile. Unstable. I looked up from Bella's letter to take a single glance at Jasper. He was wincing with the tempest change of emotions.
I did not say a word to any of the curious faces staring at me, their thoughts questioning and demanding to know the entirety of the situation. Instead, I closed my eyes, and breathed deeply, searching for Bella's scent.
Ah, yes, it was so easy to find. I would never have trouble identifying Bella's delicious, mouthwatering scent, the one scent that I craved so much.
I followed it. I shot off from the small hallway, tracking the scent down the path of the food court. It led into the women's restroom, and, without hesitation I pushed the door open, speeding through. I could hear surprised cries from the women that I startled, but shoved open the opposite door to the restroom, almost yanking it off its hinges. I caught her scent at the elevators, and noticed the escalator adjacent to it. I leapt onto descending, spiraling stairs and found her scent at the bottom floor again. The sole focus pushed me restlessly forward.
Oh Bella. Why couldn't you wait for me?
I found myself at the entrance and exit of the terminal, just in front of the shuttle station. I broke through the crowd of irritated onlookers, until suddenly, it was gone. Bella's scent was gone.
I was standing at the corner of the station in the middle of the road, a few feet from the sidewalk. A bus pulled in behind me, the driver laid on the horn to persuade me to move off the road. I backed up, and stared into emptiness, my mind completely lost. Blank.
The scent is gone. She is gone. I don't know where she is.
It was then, I was sure, that everyone for miles could hear the sound of my dead heart shattering.