I knew Alice would see me coming home and she would tell the other. I could already hear their welcoming remarks and see their joyful expressions. Carlisle and Esme would be overjoyed and willing to welcome me back with open arms. Jasper and Emmett would be pleased to have me home as well. Alice would want to know what took so long. Even Rosalie would be pleased to see me come home; though, she might not be willing to openly admit it, but I would still know.
I wondered what they would think of my decision to return to Forks; to bring Bella back into our lives. Who was I kidding? As if it was in any way my decision. As if she would even want me after all this time, after what I’d done to her. It was silly to think that after four years Bella would still even think of me in that way. It did not matter what they thought now. I was going back for her no matter what they said.
I had to be with her, to be near her again. If she didn’t want me, if she had moved on with her life, that would be fine. But I had to know. I had to at least try. I could still see the pained look in her eyes the day I left her standing there in the woods. I was sure it would kill me, to do what I had done to her that day, to turn around and leave her standing there alone, to make her believe the blackest of lies: that I no longer loved her, and that she was no good for me. What insanity! And how easily she believed me broke my heart even more. The memory of her face, the hurt I had caused her, has tortured me ever since that day. Like a fire burning inside me bursting to get out, but only getting hotter instead of dying out. My “distractions” had done me no good. No matter what I tried all I could think about was her.
It wasn’t far now, and I knew soon enough I would begin to hear their thoughts, hear them preparing for my return. I was more anxious to get home now as I thought on this and I quickened my pace. I could feel each snow flake blow past me and tickle my face now as I ran back to the house in Denali.
I could hear their thoughts now as I approached the house. Carlisle was reading a book aloud to Esme. Anne of Avonlea, one of her favorites. Rosalie was impatiently watching Emmett and Jasper in yet another wrestling match. None of them even seemed to be aware that I was approaching. Where was Alice? Her thoughts were no where to be heard in the house. Had she not seen me coming home? What could be so pressing on her mind that she had missed this? Perhaps she was away, visiting friends elsewhere. That was unlikely, since Jasper did not go with her. I would find out soon enough.
I stepped through the door and Emmett’s eyes were the first I met.
Edward? he thought to himself as though he didn’t believe his own eyes. I smiled at him and was surprised how excited and happy it made me feel to see him. I had missed my family. I don’t believe it, are you really home?!
“Edward!” Emmett shouted in his deep, husky voice. Jasper stopped mid punch and turned to gaze the door where I stood, disbelief on his face. I don’t believe it! He thought eagerly.
Rosalie’s head snapped up staring fiercely in my direction. For once her thoughts were silent with shock.
I could hear the confusion in Carlisle and Esme’s thoughts as they hurried to the living room to see what the commotion was about. Esme stopped in her hurried steps when she saw me.
“Edward?” she gasped. If tears could fill her soft golden eyes they would have. I felt the intense ache of what I had done to her rip through my body. It was agonizing. It was almost as excruciating as what Jane could do with just a glimpse in one’s direction. The excitement and love in Esme’s thoughts couldn’t console the guilt I felt now for leaving my family for so long. It was wrong what I had done to them.
“Edward!” Carlisle greeted me with a big hug, wrapping his arms around me so firmly. “Welcome home, son!”
“Thanks, dad.” I hugged him back tightly.
Esme wrapped her fragile like arms around me and kissed me tenderly on the cheek.
“Edward, I’m so delighted you are home.” She said with a tear in her voice.
All I could do is smile at her.
Emmett shoved through the others wrapping both arms around me, lifting me up into the air and squeezed me so tight that it would have crushed my bones, if they could be crushed.
“Hey, eh, Emmett.” I coughed out. If I needed to breath I wouldn’t be able to through his firm grip. He chuckled to himself. Oh, sorry, kiddo! He thought, setting me back on my feet.
Jasper nodded his head at me, Hey man, missed you.
“I missed you to, Jasper.” I said.
Rosalie was standing next to Emmett still glaring at me, her mind still drawing a blank.
“Are you really home, Edward?” she asked skeptically.
I nodded at her.
“It’s good to finally have you home Edward.” She said genuinely. I could hear the sincerity in her thoughts. Even she had truly missed me.
I felt elated at seeing all their faces. I had missed them all so much and it was good to be home, for a little while, at least.
“Where is Alice?” I said, remembering her absence. Jasper’s jaw tightened and I saw a flash of something familiar in his mind before he quickly changed his thoughts to something else. I starred at him confused for a moment and then realized he was doing this to hide something from me. Quickly I scanned through the others thoughts. Emmett’s thoughts immediately began churning over the wrestling match he’d just been in with Jasper. Rose began retuning her car in her head. Esme and Carlisle did the same as Jasper by strongly focusing on something other than the question I had just asked to keep me from seeing something in their minds. I starred at all of them so confused. Why were they keeping this from me? As soon as the words had left my mouth I felt a wave of calming emotions whoosh over me emanating from Jasper. That’s strange. Before I had a chance to question further Jasper answered. “Alice has gone to visit an old friend.” He stated assuredly. I starred deep into his eyes to see if it could help me penetrate through his mind to see if he was telling me the truth, but he was still blocking me out.
Esme, changing the subject, began ushering me into the living room. “Oh Edward, it’s been so long!” she said sadly, giving me a slight hug as we entered the large, white room. “Where have you been all this time? What have you been doing?” Everyone followed us into the living room and they all quietly starred at me waiting for my answers. I wanted to answer them and tell them everything. But the way they all acted when I asked about Alice had me distracted. I stuttered over my words.
“I’ve…um… been working on my…um…skills as a tracker.” I said.
What had I just seen in Jasper’s mind before he changed his thought? It was so familiar, why couldn’t I pin point what it was? A room with blank walls, all white. Tables set out symmetrically throughout the plain room and a buffet of food; a cafeteria perhaps? We had been in so many different cafeterias over the years pretending to be students. But this cafeteria looked more familiar than most.
“Edward!” Esme gasped with concern in her voice. I shot her a comforting look. Of course she would worry for me.
“Alright!” Emmett burst out enthusiastically.
I knew he would be thrilled to hear my stories of trying to track down Victoria. I had even looked forward to telling them to him knowing how eager he would be to hear them.
I was still too preoccupied by the thought in Jasper’s head to really hear what they were saying to me. I replayed the quick image over and over in my head trying to figure it out. Who would Alice be visiting from an old school we had been to? We had never made friends with any of the humans at any of the schools we attended. We always stayed a safe distance away from the humans. Except for one. Suddenly it hit me. Forks High School. The cafeteria at Forks High School. I would always remember it because it was the first place I saw her face. Alice was in Forks. And the only friend she had made there was Bella.
“Forks?” I said, hardly a whisper. Why would Alice be in Forks? Just the thought triggered an inkling of fury in me. Had I not asked all of them to stay away from Forks? To stay away from Bella!
Everyone in the room heard me and froze in place.
“Alice, is in Forks?” I asked, although I didn’t need them to confirm it. The way their minds reacted to this very statement assured me that was where she was.
“Why?!” I demanded.
“Edward,” Carlisle said firmly. “Come have a seat Edward, and we will talk. We have much to discuss.”
“Why is Alice in Forks?” I demanded, fighting back the growl that was building in my throat.
Oh, here goes the temper tantrum! Rosalie thought sourly.
Calm down, bro. Emmett pleaded.
Jasper was still fighting the thoughts in his head to keep from me Alice’s reason for being in Forks.
Why were they keeping this from me? Why had Alice even gone there? Not that it mattered much now since I would soon be going to Forks myself to beg for the love of my meaningless life to take me back. But why had Alice done this? How long had she been gone to Forks? I tried to reason for her. Just because she was in the one town we could all truly call our home didn’t necessarily mean she was there for Bella. Of course, it didn’t mean that at all. Bella could possibly not even be in Forks anymore. It had been four years. She had likely moved on with her life. My dead heart ached at the thought. But Jasper had said she had gone to visit an old friend. And I couldn’t think of anyone she knew in Forks that she would have visited. But just to give her the benefit of the doubt I would ask.
“Had Alice gone to visit Bella?” I said a little more calmly.
When I said her name Esme slipped. I saw Bella’s face in her mind and Alice sitting next to her. My eyes shot to Esme’s where she stood starring at me apologetically. Her mind was full of regret and sorrow, I couldn’t understand why. She could tell by my glare that I hadn’t missed her slip.
“Edward,” she whispered with such sadness in her tone it would have drawn a tear if I could cry. I always thought you’d come back for her, too, Edward.
Of course Esme thought that. It pleased her so much to see me with Bella. From the day she met her she thought of Bella as her own daughter. What did she mean by “too”? I glared at her statement while everyone turned to stare at our private conversation. I could hear Carlisle begging her in his mind not to say more.
“But that’s just it, Esme. I’m back because of Bella. I’m here because I am going to Forks to ask, to beg, Bella to take me back.” I stated. I could hear the shock in all their minds now.
Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me! Rosalie snarled.
Edward, after all this time, really? I could hear Emmett’s disapproval.
“Edward, you can’t do that.” Carlisle said sternly.
I starred into Carlisle eyes hoping it would better allow him see and hear the desperation in my words. “I have to try, Carlisle. I can’t go on living like this. It’s not even living what I’m doing. I need to be with her.” I pleaded, needing his understanding.
“I know that, Edward. I can’t imagine how hard all these years have been for you. But you cannot do this, Edward. It’s been too long. It’s…it’s too late.” He said remorsefully.
My heart sank in my chest at his words. I knew he meant well, but I couldn’t allow that to stop me. Not after all this time.
“I know how long it’s been, and I realize she might not feel that way for me anymore, but…” Esme’s thought stopped me mid sentence.
She’s finally happy now, Edward.
I stared at Esme. Had I heard her right? What did she mean by that? “What?” She starred back at me with the most aggrieved look in her eyes. What weren’t they telling me? What could possibly upset Esme so much cause her to have that dreadful look in her eyes? I want to go to her, wrap my arms around her and comfort her, but I didn’t know what for.
“Oh, for goodness sake, just tell him already!” Rosalie shouted impatiently.
The room fell silent; silent of words, silent of thoughts, silent of even our breath. No one dared breathe or even think. What was going on?! Finally, Carlisle broke the silence with a sigh, looking at me with the same sadness in his eyes as Esme’s and spoke, his voice laced with agony.
“She’s getting married, Edward.”