Set during New Moon. Written from Edward's POV. What would happen if Edward found out Bella was in danger and he came back to Forks, but he didn't let her know he was there?
1. Chapter One - Time Passes
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Prologue – Leaving
“Bella, I don’t want you with me”
“You’re not good for me.”
“Goodbye, Bella.” How can my voice sound so calm? These words don’t even make sense!
“Wait!” She’s even paler than usual, her beautiful features ashen with shock. The one word chokes out of her like she’s being strangled. I feel like I’m being strangled, though I have no real need to breathe. Time seems to slow down as I see her reaching for me. How in God’s name am I going to be strong enough to do this? She’s trying to step towards me, but it’s like her body won’t listen to her.
Without my willing it, my arms flash out and grab her wrists to steady her. Bringing her arms to her sides, I lean in and inhale her terrible, wonderful scent for the last time. The pain is going to end me… I gently kiss her forehead. Her eyes drift shut.
“Take care of yourself.” Please, Bella. Please take care of yourself. I can’t exist if you don’t. Be safe. Be happy.
I release her wrists, and with vampire speed I am away before her eyes even have time to open. The pain is trying to take me, but I have a few more things to do before I give in. I rush back to Bella’s house, up to her room where we spent so many blissful evenings together. I promised her peace with no reminders, and I will deliver it. It takes no time to find the photos, the CD, and the tickets. Holding them against me, I indulge myself by curling up on her bed for a moment, just one last time. I turn my face into the pillows, the memory of her scent still on them. Would it really hurt anything to leave a piece of myself here with her in the only place I’ve ever truly lived? Before I have time to talk myself out of it, I lift up a loose floorboard and put the items inside.
I leave a note for Charlie, in Bella’s handwriting of course, on the kitchen counter. One last look at the memories, and I’m away. Maybe if I run fast enough, I can escape the pain. The thought almost makes me laugh, but it’s not a happy sound.
Goodbye my love.
Chapter One – Time Passes
Running came naturally to me; it was like breathing, or at least like breathing used to be. It was my time to think, but now all I could do was howl mentally at the world. How could she have believed me? My Bella, she had to have known how I love her. I was prepared to lie for hours to convince her. In the end it was so easy, as if I had just told her something she had believed all along. Didn’t she know that the idea of me not needing her was complete nonsense? She was my whole reason for existence, and yet she believed I didn’t love her, didn’t want her. It was what I had wanted, but the reality shocked my whole system.
My body felt emptier the further away from her I ran. I was used to the constant pain and longing of my thirst, to the darkness and depression that were my lot in life. This was different somehow, as though I were fleeing into a night from which there would be no sunrise, into a darkness that would truly be eternal. Twilight had always been a peaceful time for me, but not today.
Shaking off these thoughts for the moment, I tried to concentrate on my plans. I had to complete my removal from Bella’s life as quickly as possible. She would be safe if not for me. My family was already gone; I would meet them in Ithaca. Cornell University had been after Carlisle for a while, ever since his guest lecture series two years ago. He could combine teaching with work at the local hospital; moving was no problem professionally.
My family all thought I was insane. Well, almost all of them did. Rosalie thought I should have done this long ago, but somehow her approval was not the ringing endorsement I was looking for. Insane or not, though, they knew this was my decision to make.
I had reached the house. I was already packed, so I just grabbed my small suitcase and headed for the garage. The shiny silver Volvo was waiting for me like a good friend; my car is my refuge. Perhaps the long drive would provide some degree of oblivion. As I swung myself into the driver’s seat, I caught a whiff of Bella’s scent lingering from the last time she had driven with me. I was suddenly seized with a pain I could not fight. I couldn’t see, I couldn’t think. If I had needed to breathe, I would have been gasping for air – I felt like I was suffocating. I could only curl around the empty place in my body and hope it would pass. Bella, please be safe. Please make this be worthwhile.
Finally the agony subsided enough that I was able to start the engine and get on the road. If only I could count on time making it better. But vampires never change.
My room in the house in Ithaca was much like my room in the house in Forks. Black leather sofa, my prized stereo system and, of course, racks for CDs. The racks were much emptier though. I hadn’t brought much with me from Forks and I hadn’t been working on my collection the way I usually did when we relocated. I hadn’t even touched the new piano Esme had purchased for the house. It was too painful.
If I tried not to think about her, it was a little easier to keep going. One more week, just one more week, was becoming a constant mental refrain. If I were able to sleep, maybe it would be easier. Every long minute needed to be filled, yet nothing held any interest for me. Music sounded off-key, books were unbelievably tedious, and my family was less than no help. I couldn’t bear to hear their worries anymore.
Rosalie and Emmett had left on yet another honeymoon for a few weeks, but I could hear the stirrings of the others despite the late hour. Esme was refinishing the floor of the main hallway, worrying over me. She did that a lot lately. I experienced a momentary pang of guilt at the pain I’d been putting her through, but I pushed it away. After all, there was nothing to be done.
Jasper was in the library, working on a research paper he needed to hand in at the university tomorrow. Even though he’s done the college thing a few times before, some courses were still a challenge at this level.
And Alice was pacing in her room. I let out a low growl as I heard what was going on in her mind.
If he only knew what Bella’s going through, what he’s making her suffer, surely he would give up this stupidity. But he doesn’t see, he refuses to see. All he does is sit up there in his room and mope. Never mind Bella, he’s killing Esme… he’s killing our whole family with this nonsense. I have to tell him. Somehow I have to make him see.
I burst into the room howling with rage. “Alice! Enough! I told you not to look for Bella or her future. We’ve done enough damage!”
“You don’t know the half of it, you imbecile,” she howled right back at me, eyes flashing in fury. Maybe she was madder than I thought. “You have no idea what she’s gone through since you left.”
I cut her off before she could gain any more momentum with her rant. “Alice, is she safe?”
“Yes,” she spat out grudgingly. “But that’s not all that matters. She’s-“
“That is all that matters. Bella is human, she’ll forget us, she’ll forget me, if she’s given time.” I managed to quell my flinch at the very idea of her forgetting me. It would be the best thing for her; I needed to believe that. I made an effort to gentle my voice. “Please, Alice, promise me you won’t look at her future anymore. We need to let her go. Please.”
“Fine. Just one thing before you go.”
This was going to be bad. But before I could block her out, I read an image from her mind. I saw a girl sitting at a long table, one of the cafeteria tables from Forks High School, I realized. It took me a moment longer to recognize that the girl was Bella. Her perfect features were the same as ever, but she looked so numb, so blank. It was as though the spark that made her unique was gone. She looked… lifeless.
The pain was coming. I ran back to my room, but not before I saw Alice’s smug-yet-worried look after me. I slammed my door behind me and curled up on the sofa, shuddering with the pain, trying to hold the pieces of myself together and wishing I could pass out. When I could think again, I knew. I need to get out of here.
Then it came to me. Victoria.
After weeks of trying, I finally found a trace of my quarry. For all her teasing (I tried to never even think her name) that I was good at everything, I was proving absolutely useless when it came to tracking. I had been distracted the one time we met, so I had not really paid attention to Victoria’s thoughts. I had no idea what she would have done after James’ end. My only hint came from a glimpse of her thoughts about a favorite hunting range in Canada. She and James had often traveled through the central provinces in the winter months. The short days, frequent clouds and snow, and sparse population provided the very conditions that my kind so need. Perhaps in a time of loss, she would return to familiar haunts.
So I was backpacking cross-country, or at least that was my cover story whenever I needed to talk to humans. In reality my backpack was mostly for show, as was the heavy down jacket I was wearing. It was terribly heavy and difficult to move in, but I needed to blend in. I drew enough strange looks as it was; November was not exactly the height of the backpacking season here. I was beginning to think this was completely pointless. Even with vampire speed and senses, I was getting nowhere. However, my only alternative was to stop and succumb totally to the agony I knew was waiting for me. And who knew? Victoria might try to hurt my family, might even try to hurt – her, as some kind of sick revenge for the death of her mate.
I was somewhere in Manitoba when I finally caught a break. Victoria’s scent was strong in this area; this must be her chosen hunting ground. I was in a farming town with a small population, so I cast outward with my mind, searching for a familiar thought pattern, but to no avail. She was too unfamiliar, or too far away, for me to pick up. Night was falling, so I headed for the campground I had seen signs for outside of town. Not that I needed to sleep, but I had smelled a herd of deer and I was very thirsty.
Deer were not much of a challenge. It was less than an hour later that I came to myself and straightened up, taking stock of my senses. And there she was – a familiar mind just on the edge of my range. Her only thought was alarm and flight. I cursed under my breath. She had caught my scent. This would make matters more difficult.
I was immediately running at my full speed, trees flashing by me. When I reached the spot where Victoria had been I nearly tripped over a small dark bundle on the forest floor. Two things registered in my mind at the same time. One was the smell of fresh human blood, and the other was the chocolate brown hair spilling out at one end of the bundle.
“Bella! No, this can’t be happening!” The words ripped out of me before I had time to realize that the blood I smelled was nothing like my Bella’s precious scent. My angel was safe. This poor creature was a stranger.
I bent quickly to the still form. By some miracle, she was alive, if just barely. I must have interrupted Victoria mid-feed. My entire being was consumed with the desire to rend Victoria limb from limb, but I couldn’t leave the poor girl here to die. I gently scooped her up from the cold ground and raced to the emergency room of the small hospital in town. I deposited her unconscious form in the warmth just inside the doors, shouted for help, and took off for the safety of darkness before unfortunate questions could be asked.
I urged my body on to greater and greater speeds. Victoria had been on foot, and my detour couldn’t have taken more than fifteen minutes. I still had a chance to take her down tonight. As I reached the clearing where I had found the girl, it suddenly hit me. Bella. For those few terrible seconds, I had been so sure she was dead, irrationally certain that my greatest fear had come to pass. With the thought of her name, I was unable to keep the image of her perfect face from my mind. The empty cavity that was my whole being caved in and I fell to the ground, shaking uncontrollably.
Images of Bella flew through my mind. I saw her awestruck expression the first time we had gone to the meadow together, when I had shown her the effect the sun had on me. I saw her smile delightedly at me as she let me in her bedroom window at night. If I went back now, surely she would smile at me that same way, let me come back to her. How could she have ever believed that she wasn’t the most important thing in my life, now or ever? Bella, how could you? Alice said Bella still loves me; surely if I return she’ll take me back into her arms and make me whole again.
“No!” I meant to shout, but it came out as a gasp. How can you shout when you have no lungs? Alice shouldn’t have looked. I couldn’t go back, I did the right thing by leaving. One more day, I just need to make it through one more day and surely this will get easier. Sooner or later, I will start to believe it.
I don’t know how much time had passed before the pain subsided enough that I was able to move again. It could have been minutes or it could have been an hour. Moving as slowly and creakily as if I were a century-old human instead of a vampire, I rose to my feet and staggered in the direction Victoria had taken. Any advantage of surprise or speed I may have had was long gone now, even if she were still on foot, which I doubted she was. Sure enough, I hadn’t gone far before I reached a secluded back road and Victoria’s scent became much fainter. She must have had a car hidden here.
I was going to need a vehicle.
A snake slithered by me where I was curled up amid the dense undergrowth. Perhaps that was what shook me from my stupor, but I really had no idea. I may have been incapable of sleep, but over the past few weeks, agony was swiftly becoming a constant companion. I was getting adept at numbing myself into a kind of daze that was almost, but not quite, like relief. At least I didn’t have to be excruciatingly aware of each second as it ticked by.
If it weren’t for the pain, I might have caught up with Victoria before now, but she had managed to stay just a step ahead of me. She was leading me on quite the merry chase, keeping far enough away that I was never able to see her thoughts and had no chance of getting ahead of her. Instead, I was doomed to doggedly follow through the Canadian wilderness, across the Great Lakes, down the Atlantic coast, all the way to this place. I wasn’t even sure where here was, to tell the truth. Florida, maybe.
“I think I’m losing my mind,” I groaned aloud. The frightening thing was, it was true. I was beginning to have difficulty distinguishing from reality and my fantasies… and nightmares. This chase was supposed to give some meaning to my hopeless existence, but it wasn’t enough anymore. I was fighting every hour to maintain my sanity, to keep from returning to the only solace and refuge that could ever help me.
It looked like for this hour at least, I had won.
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