Breaking Up is Hard to do
That night we cleared out. Took everything we couldn’t easily replace, swiped everything from the Rumpus Room not nailed or bolted down, essentially left the mansion abandoned, and to all appearances, got the hell outta Dodge...I mean, Forks.
Well, everyone but me left. I had to the whole “let her down easy” thing...or something. I would have to make myself distant.
I was there before she woke the next morning with a truly spectacular headache. I gave her a forehead kiss before darting out her window. No crooked smile this time.
“How do you feel?” I asked, opening the door of her truck for her when she got to school.
“Perfect,” she replied, and winced as the sound of the ruck door slamming intensified her headache for a moment.
We went through the morning together silently, but I could see she wanted to talk to Alice, to know what the seer saw for us in the future. Too bad she was about to be disappointed. We walked into the lunchroom, and the first thing Bella noticed was that Alice wasn’t at our usual table. She talked herself into thinking her class just got out late, until she saw two of Alice’s classmates enter the lunchroom. Then she knew.
“Where’s Alice?” she asked anxiously.
I looked at the granola bar I was fidgeting with and answered, “She with Jasper.”
“Oh. Is he okay?”
“He’s gone away for a while.”
I shrugged. “Nowhere in particular.”
“And Alice, too,” she said quietly.
“Yeah, she’ll be gone for a while. She was trying to convince him to go to Denali.” That was one of our cover stories, anyway. It fit in with what happened during the ill-fated “birthday party”, and plausible enough to make Bella believe it, and at the same time to ensure that she not tell anyone.
She audibly swallowed, and looked as if she were about to cry. She thought we were leaving because of her; that it was all her fault. I let her think it. If I tried to address that now, she might get the hint that I could read her better than I led her to believe. Which was not at all.
“You’ll come over tonight?”
“If you want me to.”
“I always want you,” she said vehemently.
“All right, then.”
I came over again that night, and she randomly decided to take some pictures together. I didn’t stay the night this time. I decided to end this awkwardness the next day. Bella was determined that we would talk about it anyway, which gave me the opening I needed.
“Do you mind if I come over today?” I asked before we got to the truck, beating her to the punch.
“Of course not.”
“Okay, I’ll meet you there.”
When she arrived at her house (I beat her there, of course), I reached to take her book bag as she climbed out of her truck, and threw it against the back seat. “Come for a walk with me,” I said, taking her hand. I began to walk, and my unspoken message was clear: ‘you can walk, or you can be dragged, but either way you’re following.’
She tried to pull away, but of course my grip was too strong. I hauled her out behind the house into the woods, still in sight of the clearing. Now she was mad.
“Okay, let’s talk,” she said. It sounded braver than I knew she felt.
“Bella, we’re leaving.”
“Why now? Another year-”
“Bella, it’s time. How much longer could we stay in Forks, after all? Carlisle can barely pass for thirty, and he’s claiming thirty-three now. We’d have to start over soon regardless.” We could have made Carlisle appear older, but I just needed a plausible tale for Bella.
She didn’t seem as shocked as I anticipated.Oh, she thought I meant that. We both realized at the same time.
“When you say we-” she whispered.
“I mean my family and myself.” Each word enunciated and distinct.
“Okay,” she said. “I’ll come with you.”
“You can’t, Bella. Where we’re going...it’s not the right place for you.”
“Where you are is the right place for me.”
“I’m no good for you, Bella.” Whoa. When did I get stuck in a soap opera?
“Don’t be ridiculous.” She was begging. Delicious. “You’re the very best part of my life.”
“My world is not for you,” I said grimly, at least I hoped it was grim.
“You promised! In Phoenix, you promised that you would stay-”
“As long as that was best for you,” I interrupted to correct her.
“No! This is about my soul, isn’t it?” she shouted, furious, the words exploding out of her mouth, yet somehow still pleading. “Carlisle told me that, and I don’t care, Edward. I don’t care! You can have my soul. It’s yours already!” Aw, thanks, Bella, that’s the best thing anyone’s ever given me. Too bad I don’t want it at the moment. Though the ease with which you are willing to give up your soul is heartening, so buck up, champ.
“Bella, I don’t want you to come with me.”
“You...don’t...want me?” She repeated the words, apparently confused by the way they sounded. Lovely bit of editing you did there, sweetie, but not precisely what I said. Still the main idea’s there, so I suppose I can accept it. Now for the death knell:
“Don’t,” she whispered. “Don’t do this.”
“I’m tired of pretending to be something I’m not, Bella. I’m not human. I’ve let this go on much too long, and I’m sorry for that.”
She swallowed and said, “If...that’s what you want.” Aw, she was trying to be strong.
I reached over and cupped her cheek with one hand. “Take care of yourself. Charlie still needs you.”
I stepped away. “That’s everything, I suppose. We won’t bother you again.”
“Alice isn’t coming back,” she stated suddenly. “No. They’re all gone. I stayed behind to say goodbye. Alice wanted to say goodbye, but I convinced her that a clean break would be better for you. Goodbye, Bella,” I said in the same quiet, peaceful voice.
“Wait!” she choked out, reaching for me.
But I was already gone.
Gone and circling back to her house to remove everything that would remind her of me--the pictures, any of my clothing still lying around, and that CD I made for her, before she got back. Poor dear was in shock, would probably go to pieces in the short term. Meh, whatever. I brought everything back to the Cullen house, and then went back to how Goldilocks was doing in the forest. I expected her to be sitting against a tree or something, numb perhaps or bawling her eyes out. I didn’t expect what I found.
Not only had she not gone home, she had wandered into the forest! Honestly, did this girl possess a shred of common sense? Now she was lost in the woods at night. There were all kinds of things that could get her out here, even from the purely natural. A cougar would find her easy pickings, or a hungry bear would make mincemeat out of her! Now I had to spend all night watching out for her, and I couldn’t even help when the search parties wandered her way-twice-and she said nothing, because that would have given the game away.
Eventually she was found by-oh HELL no! Sigh. Some guy from the reservation. No help for it. At it wasn’t that puppy that’s always running after her. I didn’t know this guy. All I knew was that he was one of the special ones.
He only seemed interested in getting Bella away and safe, so I supposed he was all right. He got Bella safely home, and the doctor was there, and soon Charlie was too, so I was no longer needed.
There was a bonfire over at the reservation tonight, before such search parties were requested. I guess they heard we peeled out. Remind me to send them a thank-you bomb someday.
JANUARY: Oh my GOD this is the worst surveillance job ever. This girl hasn’t done anything interesting in FOUR SOLID MONTHS!! Carlisle is beginning to talk about calling off our wager altogether on account of SHEER BOREDOM! If she doesn’t do something soon, I may have to kick-start her ass somehow.