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Forget Me Not

Summary:
The Cullens have left Forks, leaving Bella broken hearted and alone until a near-fatal car accident temporarily erases her memories. What happens when the one person she finds comfort with happens to be the brother of the man she can't remember? Will she regain her memories of Edward or will she find a new love with Jasper?


Notes:
This story starts around the beginning of New Moon. Rated NR-17. B/E and B/J. DISCLAIMER: All characters are the sole property of Stephanie Meyers but the story is my own.


20. Learning to Cope

Rating 4/5   Word Count 3596   Review this Chapter

Bella’s POV

It was eerie, the way my life seemed to make a complete circle, landing me right back where I started. My insomnia returned along with the depression and loss of appetite. I made it a point to pretend to be happy whenever Charlie was around and always waited until he was asleep before shedding my bottled up tears. Edward and Alice took a week off of school due to their non-existent flu when Jasper left, but when they returned, they acted as if nothing was different. Alice noticed my depression and tried everything she could to cheer me up, although each attempt ended in a miserable failure. Edward was patient with me and didn’t try to sway me to make a decision on the pending status of my feelings for him. I was thankful for that, although I knew he wasn’t going to be patient forever.

I was worried about Jasper. A month passed without a single phone call or letter to say that he was doing well or even to offer a simple “hello”. The only thing Carlisle told me was that Jasper went to visit an old family friend in Alaska. Despite the reassurance that I had nothing to worry about, I knew they were lying to me. Nobody ever mentioned Jasper’s name around me and if I dared to bring him into any conversation, the subject was quickly changed.

Lunch time rolled around and, as usual, I sat with Edward and Alice. I gazed across the lunchroom at my old group of friends as they laughed and horsed around. I missed the days of having a normal life and envied their happiness. None of them bothered to acknowledge me anymore and I couldn’t say that I blamed them for it. Angela and Jessica had become very close over the school year, leaning on each other for self-assurance that they were better than all the other girls in school…including me. I let out a sigh, not noticing Edward staring at me until he nudged my elbow.

“Let’s get out of here,” he whispered into my ear. I glanced over at him as he got up from the table and motioned for me to follow. Alice nodded at him and pranced out of the lunchroom. I grabbed my tray of uneaten food and followed Edward’s lead. Once we were outside, he quickened his pace, heading away from the school.

“Edward, where are we going?” I mumbled, trying my best to keep up without falling over my own feet.

“Somewhere we can talk.”

Before I had a chance to object, he snatched me onto his back and dashed through the woods. I lowered my face into the nape of his neck as my thoughts drifted back to the first time Jasper carried me this way. It was different, I felt completely at ease with him. Although there was the possibility that he manipulated my emotions to help calm me, I was almost certain he didn’t. I always felt comfortable with Jasper, even at times when I probably shouldn’t.

We reached a high point in the forest and stopped. Edward set me down and immediately started pacing, showing more signs of stress than usual.

“Bella, I’m not even going to try to imagine what is on your mind lately, though I am sure I have a pretty good idea.” He stopped in front of me and stared deep into my eyes as if he hoped to see into my soul. I didn’t know what to say to him. My heart ached, knowing that I was hurting him. His concern made me feel guilty for dwelling on Jasper.

“Talk to me, Love.” He brushed his hand over my cheek, begging to be noticed.

“Edward, so much had happened in the past two months. I am just trying to come to terms with everything.”

He dropped his hand from my face and moved over to a large, moss-coated boulder a few feet away. He rested his hands on the stone, keeping his back to me.

“Do you love me, Bella?” My heart dropped into my stomach. I knew he would eventually ask that painful question, but I had hoped it wouldn’t this soon.

“I don’t know what I feel about anything anymore.”

“You still love Jasper, don’t you?”

“I don’t know!” I shouted. “You both walked away from me when I needed you to stay. Neither of you took my feelings into consideration when you left, why do you care now?”

Edward lowered his eyes in shame as I quickly turned away from him, not wanting him to see me cry. He already thought of me as a weak human and falling apart in front of him now would only prove his point. I was determined not to let my emotions get the best of me no matter how much it hurt to hold them in. He came up behind me and placed his strong hands on my arms.

“Walking away from you was the biggest mistake I ever made. I thought I was protecting you. I know now that all I did was hurt you. It pains me to see you go through that much sadness again.” He buried his face in my hair as he gently caressed my arms.

“Please, Edward. Don’t do this.” Tears escaped down my cheeks like a pent up waterfall, finally free to escape its imprisonment. Edward turned me to face him and, though I wanted to run away, I didn’t struggle. I needed to be comforted. He pulled me close to his chest and, for the first time in the past month, I allowed my emotions to show.

“I’ll never leave you again, Bella. If it takes an eternity to earn back your trust, I will do whatever it takes. I love you so much,” he whispered, holding me tighter.

My heart broke all over again, pulling me deeper into the blackness of my depression. I did still love him, I just didn’t know how much of my heart belonged to him and how much belonged to Jasper. He slowly lifted my face to his and, before I knew what was happening, he pressed his cool lips against mine. For a moment, I let it happen. Edward had never kissed me like this before. It was passionate, full of desperation and unbridled desire. Though this was new for him, it was familiar to me. I recalled the first kiss Jasper and I shared. He had every reason to be with cautious with me and yet, he never held his desire back. I shook my thoughts clear and tried to ignore the tearing in my heart as I threw my arms around his neck, returning the kiss with urgent need. Edward brushed his tongue over my lips, coaxing them open. My heart raced as he lifted me up, pulling my legs around his waist. His hands roamed across my back and then slid under my shirt, searching my skin with his icy fingertips. I ran my hands through his hair, feeling the heat building deep inside of me. He set me on the boulder and started pulling at the buttons on my over-shirt. Guilt washed over me as I stared into his eyes, unsure of my feelings.

“No, Edward.” I quickly pulled away from him. The hurt in his eyes made me feel worse as I struggled to free myself from his embrace.

“Please, Love, don’t run from me.” I backed away, trembling from the sadness and despair that was devouring my soul.

“I’m sorry, I can’t…” I turned and ran into the thick of the forest.

“Bella, no! Come back!” he shouted in the distance.

I ran for a while, unaware of my surroundings or where I was going. Nothing mattered anymore. I was tired of crying, tired of hurting. The pain in my chest was returning and, unless I did something about it, Jasper’s sacrifice would have been for nothing. When I reached our meadow, I fell to my knees. Like a patron in a theater, I watched the memories of my relationship with Edward flash before my eyes. Instead of dwelling on the lost happiness, I focused on the moments when he made me feel unworthy and weak. My sadness quickly faded to bitterness and anger. I sifted through each memory I had in Forks, paying attention to only those that fed my hatred. The pain in my chest dissipated, taking my depression with it.

A sudden feeling that I was being watched pulled me out of my head. I glanced around the clearing, expecting to find Edward perched up in a tree.

“I know you are there,” I shouted, keeping my eyes on the woods that were growing darker as the sun faded. I noticed a movement in the trees ahead of me and quickly jumped to my feet. My heart raced as I moved in the direction of the disturbance.

“Edward?”

A small fox dashed out into the clearing, wagging its bushy tail innocently. I let out a gasp of relief as I clutched my pounding chest. With a nervous laugh, I shook my head, feeling ridiculous for panicking. The fox watched me with curiosity for a moment and then darted back into the woods. A crack of thunder rang out as the sky filled with black clouds. I turned to make my way back down the trail and froze when I found myself staring into a pair of familiar, fiery-red eyes.

“Bella, it’s so nice to see you again.” Laurent smirked, looking me over in a way that sent chills down my spine.

“Laurent, I didn’t know you were back,” I stammered. He raised an eyebrow at me while sniffing the air.

“Where are your friends?”

“They’re close by,” I lied. He shook his head while clicking his tongue in disappointment.

“It’s not polite to lie to a friend.” He took a step forward and I responded with an instinctive, shaky step back.

“Why are you here?” I tried to think of a way to escape his hungry stare but I knew that running would be a waste of energy. Laurent took another step in my direction, but this time, I stood my ground.

“We have come to pay a visit to our dear friends, the Cullens.”

“We?” The word nearly lodged in my throat and my heartbeat drummed hard against my chest as Victoria came into view behind Laurent. My survival instinct kicked in and I turned to run but he quickly grabbed the back of my hair and jerked me down to my knees as he knelt beside me.

“I suppose a little snack before we hunt the others won’t hurt.” He pulled my head back and brushed his tongue over my exposed jugular. I closed my eyes and focused my thoughts on Charlie.

“I’m sorry, Dad. Forgive me,” I whispered to myself.

A ferocious roar rang out and I was suddenly knocked to the ground. My eyes flashed open to see Alice lying across me. I quickly looked over at Laurent and saw Edward crouching close by. His lips were pulled up over his teeth and his eyes were like onyx spheres.

“Alice, get her out of here!” he shouted. Alice pulled me to my feet and tried to force me into the woods but I resisted the best I could, considering her superior strength.

“Bella, we have to leave…now!” she demanded.

“No! You have to help Edward.” She glanced over my shoulder and groaned.

“Fine, but stay close to me.”

I nodded and positioned myself close to her side. Laurent watched us for a moment and then turned his attention back to Edward.

“This is truly remarkable,” he laughed with an evil grin. “The forgotten lover risks his life for the very human that has rejected his heart.”

Edward growled, keeping his eyes on Laurent. I wasn’t thinking as I stepped forward, wanting nothing more than to plow my fist into his gut for tormenting Edward. Alice quickly grabbed my shoulders before I could move further than a step away from her.

“If you were smart, you would leave while you still have the chance.” Edward hissed, ready to lunge. Laurent shook his head with a provoking chuckle.

“Tell me, Edward, whose name do you think was on her lips when she felt death upon her?” Edward cringed and slowly looked over at me, heartbroken. I knew he was under the assumption that I called out for Jasper and tried to correct the misunderstanding, but didn’t have the chance. Laurent used the distraction to his advantage and lunged for Edward, knocking him to the ground with a deafening thud. My stomach churned as I watched them battle each other, destroying everything in their path. Edward howled in pain when Laurent snaked around him and bit into his shoulder. Alice quickly released my shoulders and started to run to Edward.

“No, Alice! Stay with Bella,” he snarled, forcing Laurent’s mouth away from his injured shoulder.

Alice returned to my side, pacing restlessly as she watched the ongoing battle. Laurent kicked Edward’s feet out from under him, sending his crashing to the ground and pounced on top of him, wrapping his hands around Edward’s throat. I could hear the cracking of his neck as Laurent applied more pressure. It was gruesome and yet, I couldn’t bring myself to look away. In a swift movement, Laurent raised Edward into the air by the throat and slammed him into a tree, shattering the trunk’s rough bark into dust. Edward fell to the ground, hunched over in pain.

“Shit! He’s giving up!” Alice hissed, balling her hands into fists, ready to finish Laurent off should Edward fail.

My eyes grew wide and I cringed as Laurent kicked Edward in the ribs, knocking him onto his chest. Tears welled up in my eyes when Edward looked up at me, mouthing the words “I love you”. Laurent grabbed a fist full of Edward’s hair and jerked his head back, ready to snap it off at any moment. I couldn’t take it anymore. I tried to run to Edward but Alice caught me by the waist, struggling to restrain me as I flailed in her arms.

“Edward, don’t give up!” I shouted as loud as I could. He stared desperately into my eyes as Laurent dug his knee into Edward’s back, pulling his head back further.

“I’m sorry, Bella,” Edward moaned, struggling to speak through the strain on his neck. He closed his eyes and waited for Laurent to bring his immortality to an end.

“No! Edward, it was your name! I was calling for you! I love you, Edward. Please, don’t give up.”

Edward’s eyes flashed open as Laurent slipped his arm around his throat. With a thunderous growl, Edward grasped Laurent’s arm and snapped it off. Alice ignored her previous instructions and lunged for Laurent, tearing his other arm from his body. They dismembered him, one limb at a time, leaving his head for last.

Once the battle was over, they rushed around, gathering tree limbs to build a fire. I hunched over beside a tree and vomited as the gory scene of Laurent’s death replayed in my mind. Edward threw the wood he collected into a pile and rushed over to me, caressing my back with his hand.

“Are you okay, Love?” he asked, brushing my hair away from my face as I looked up at him.

“Where’s Victoria?” I glanced around fearfully.

“Victoria? She was here?”

“Yes, she was with Laurent. They were...going to…” I shivered as Edward pulled me protectively into his arms. Alice quickly threw the last of Laurent’s remains into the blazing fire and darted around the perimeter of the meadow.

“She’s gone. We better get Bella out of here,” she said, returning to us empty-handed. Edward nodded and lifted me into his arms. I leaned my head against his marble chest as he raced through the woods with Alice in tow. When we got close to the high school, Edward set me down and reached into his pocket. He pulled his keys out and tossed them to Alice.

“Take the Volvo, I’ll drive Bella’s truck,” he said, wrapping his arm around my waist and rushing to the dark parking lot.

When we got to my truck, I fumbled through my book bag until I found my keys and quickly handed them to him. Edward helped me into the cab and then slid behind the steering wheel. Alice waited until we backed out of the parking space and then pulled up behind us. The truck’s engine groaned under the strain of the high speed that Edward drove as we headed back to his house.

I tried to stay alert but my exhaustion was taking its toll on my body. Edward slid his arm around my shoulders and pulled me closer to him. He glanced down at me, undoubtedly waiting for me to fall apart, but for the moment, I was numb. There were no signs of an impending emotional melt down and for the first time in months, my thoughts were silent. No haunting images of the past or anxiety-filled ideas of the ever-changing future tormented me. My head lingered in a foggy haze and I was content to let it remain that way.

When we arrived at the house, Edward shut the truck off and raised my face to his.

“Bella, Love, are you alright?”

I nodded silently and sat up straight beside him, not sure how I was supposed to act around him. Alice hopped out of the Volvo and suddenly froze. My eyes darted over to Edward, who was also watching her. The change of his facial expression made me nervous.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“It’s Jasper. He’s struggling with his diet.” My stomach twisted into a knot as I watched Alice tremble while shaking her head clear of the vision. She looked over at me with pain-filled eyes and then rushed into the house.

“You’re not telling me everything, Edward,” I accused, grabbing the sleeve of his jacket. He was frustrated and, though I was afraid to find out why, I knew that it would be far worse if I allowed my imagination to offer an explanation.

“He has decided to stay with Patrick…indefinitely.”

“What?” I gasped; feeling like someone has just punched me in the stomach.

“Bella, not many vampires are cut out for our lifestyle. Jasper has been struggling with this for a long time.”

“You have to talk him out of this.”

“I can’t! His mind is made up.” He threw the driver’s side door open and stormed over to my side. I stumbled out of the truck, overwhelmed with shock. I never realized that Jasper was suffering this much with the lifestyle that Carlisle had established for his family.

We went into the house to find everyone in the living room. The air was thick with grief and sadness making it almost unbearable to be there.

“Carlisle…” My voice trembled as I looked around the room. This once lively house now seemed cold and empty, almost as if they were hosting the wake of a lost family member.

“I’m sorry, Bella.” Carlisle approached me with open arms, ready to offer his comfort. I backed away, angry with the way everyone seemed so willing to give up on Jasper.

“You can’t let Jasper do this!” I whimpered.

“He is very stubborn. When he sets his mind to something, nothing we say or do will change his decision. Right now, we need to focus on this situation with Victoria,” Carlisle said, returning to Esme’s side.

“She ran away when Alice and Edward showed up.” I couldn’t concentrate, my thoughts kept reverting back to Jasper.

“I doubt she will make an attack on us, now that she alone,” Emmet grunted, folding his arms across his chest.

“I’m sure you’re right. However, she wants revenge on our family and I am concerned that she might try to get to Bella.” Carlisle made every attempt to choose his words carefully so as not to put any added stress on my raw nerves.

“I’ll watch Charlie’s house at night, just in case Victoria does try anything.” Edward glanced over at me, waiting for my approval on his plan. I nodded my head in agreement, knowing that it really didn’t matter what I said.

“Emmet and I will start tracking her tonight,” Carlisle announced, turning to Edward. “You should get Bella home before Charlie starts to worry.”

Edward took my hand in his and walked me to the front door. I glanced over my shoulder at Alice. She looked up at me briefly, her golden eyes dimmed with immense sadness. I didn’t have to ask, I knew she was hurt by Jasper’s decision just as much as I was. She forced a smile and quickly disappeared up the stairs to her room. I let go of Edward’s hand and ran down the hall to Jasper’s room. My heart sank when I looked around at the few possessions he had left behind in his rush to leave. Edward came up behind me and rested his hands on my shoulders.

“I’m sorry, Love,” he sighed.

“Take me home, Edward.” With one last look, I turned and followed him out to my truck.

I wanted to be alone to grieve for Jasper. The sacrifice he made to save my life cost him more than any of us had realized and now, he was gone, never to return to his family, his home…or me.