Chapter 10

Four months later and winter was upon them. The fires in Isabella house were lit constantly and Jasper was constantly out in the woods gathering more firewood for both them and to sell. He didn't charge much for it because he knew how little people had around her and how much firewood was needed but it still made a bit on money in the winter.

Today was the day Alec had asked Isabella to meet him and despite her original "no" she somehow found herself wondering through the graveyard, her tatty fur clock wrapped tightly around her. She could see him at the end of the yard and made her way slowly toward him, her feet crunching on the snow that had fallen during the night. He had his back toward her to begin with but the crunching snow alerted him to someone coming and he turned slowly.

'Alec,' Isabella greeted softly and his face exploded into a grin.

'You came!' he sounded genuinely surprised and considering their last meeting Isabella wasn't surprised. She clutched her cloak closer.

'You're cold,' he observed and removed his own cloak, draping it around her shoulders. She began to protest but he silenced her with a look. 'My clothing is warm than yours anyway… god, I missed you.'

Isabella froze at his words but managed to look away. Was this why he wanted to see her? To torture her with words that implied his love for her and cause her more pain than being apart from him already was. She took a deep breath.

'I missed you too,' she admitted to him, giving him a soft smile. 'What are you doing here, Alec? Why do you want to see me?'

He shrugged.

''I just had too,' she raised her eyebrows in a way that said "really?!" and he continued speaking 'I had to do this at least once more.'

While she cocked her head to the side in confusion, he closed the two strides separating them and pressed his lips against her. She gasped in surprising and without really realising it she began to kiss him back. It took her a few minutes for her to click what was happening being surrounded by his scent, wrapped tightly in his arms and with his lips on hers it was like nothing had changed and part of her was content to pretend that it hadn't but she knew it would hurt more in the long run. She pulled gently.

'Alec,' she whispered and he quirked one side of his lips up in a half smile - he understood.

'… and I wanted to give you this,' he continued as though their kiss hadn't taken place and reached into his clothing a pulled out a thick envelop.

He handed it to her and she opened it, her mouth dropping at the contents. Inside the envelop was a thick wad of hundred pound notes, more money than Isabella would ever see again even if she lived a hundred years.

'What's this for?' she asked warily, staring up at him with wide eyes and he gave her that same half-smile.

'Mary-Alice,' he told her and she let out a breath that almost turned out into a smile. 'Maybe I can't have you but your brother should have the woman he loves if it's possible.'

'Thank you,' she whispered hoarsely resisting the urge to hug him and place a chaste kiss on his lips - that would get her nowhere. 'How did you get it? Why are you doing this?'

He didn't answer the first question but he did answer the second one, 'ever feel the need to just save someone?'

Isabella smiled up at him.

'All the time,' she admitted with a smile though she was shaking her head, 'but I don't think I ever succeed.'

Alec shuffled his feet in the snow, his gaze on them hands deep in his pockets before he looked up at her again.

'You saved me.'

'You're just saying that,' Isabella shook her head more forcefully - what did Alec need saving from?

'I'm not,' he said his voice as forceful as her head gesture had been and he took her hands, standing in front her powerfully. 'You saved me from myself, for that version of myself that most people despised, you made me a better person, someone deserving of the angel that you are.' (He paused as though debating whether or not to say something but when he did his voice was desperate) 'I'm changing back into that horrible guy, Izzy. I don't know what to do. You changed me for the better, I don't want to revert. Tell me what I should do because I just don't know anymore.'

Isabella squeezed his hands still not believing she had saved him from anything.

'I've never saved you, Alec,' she whispered, 'and even if I had, I can't help you anymore. If I had saved you, you wouldn't be trapped under your father and I can't save you anymore because you're not mine to save, I have no contact with you, I can't save someone who I don't see. If I had saved you, you'd be a lot happier right now.'

'Don't be stupid,' Alec replied his voice just as low as his hands moved to cup her face. 'You've made a difference, that's more than most people can hope to do in a lifetime.'

'It doesn't feel like it,' Isabella disagreed.

'Then just trust me on it.'

Isabella stared up at the man that she still loved and saw nothing in his enchanting eyes that suggested he was lying to her and she managed to make her lips twisted slightly into a smile. She opened her mouth to say something when Edward's voice called from the church.

'Izzy?' his voice echoed and both Isabella and Alec froze. 'Are you out there? Jazz is here, he has bad news!'

Isabella gasped, hoping it was nothing to do with Mary-Alice. She went to run toward the church when Alec grasped her hand causing her to look back at him. She slowly walked back, removing his cloak as she did, so she was standing right in front on him, inches between them. She handed him back his cloak.

'I love you, Alec,' she whispered staring up into his eyes. 'Thank you for the money, Jazz will be so happy. I'm really going to miss you… have a nice life, my kind, charming man.'

She raised herself onto her tiptoes so she could kiss his cheek, 'don't forget who you are. Don't lose yourself.'

As soon as her feet touched the ground she was sprinting away from him toward the church to find her whole family gathered into the small room to the side where on a Sunday they had refreshments.

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