Chapter Fifty-Three: Party-Time

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Here's Chapter 53 of Evening Star. We're almost done—only two more chapters after this one.

This chapter was truly hellish to write. I got lost in Edward's agony and had a difficult time keeping the chapter on track. But it's here, and I hope you'll like it well enough. It's my second longest chapter, over 4000 words again; the last chapter was 4400.

I only hope that I am doing justice to the characters and to New Moon.

As always, all things and characters Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer.

Chapter Fifty-Three: Party-Time

My birthday present to Bella, the disc of my music, continued to flow from her inexpensive CD player, lulling Bella into an uneasy sleep. I tucked her head against my shoulder, holding her tightly to my icy body while my frozen heart shattered into a thousand pieces. With extraordinary effort, I stopped my breathing and stilled my body so that my tearless sobs would not waken the sleeping angel I held in my arms, the wide bandage along the length of her arm pressed against my side in an attempt to soothe Bella's pain.

Bella's pain. My pain. All that we had possessed for the past half-year had fallen apart in a split-second tonight. It still amazed me that the simplest of movements—a mere paper cut—could conclude with my brother racing away into the night, driven by the searing guilt resulting from his loss of self-control and myself determinedly resolving to do the impossible.

I knew that the heart-deep agony of losing Bella was now upon me, just as Alice had foreseen...although she had not seen the simple slip of Bella's finger against expensive wrapping paper that caused the domino-effect of events that would now separate me from my beloved one.

As it was still her birthday, I couldn't bear to tell Bella of my decision—the only decision that could possibly be made in light of tonight's events. What I had feared the most had so nearly occurred.

And, so help me God, it would never occur again.

Never again would Bella Swan's life be endangered because of mine.

Never.

It was so clear a decision to make, but so damnably impossible to actually do.

How in the world was I going to leave behind this beautiful human girl? How could I let my one and only love—the love of my existence—live her own safe, human life...without me?

But I had to.

It was the only right thing to do.

And it would be hell...for both of us.

But especially for me.

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After all, the evening had started out so lovely. After Bella had finished her birthday pizza at her home, I had driven Bella's decrepit truck with laudable patience to our family's home. I had been a little worried about Bella's reaction to Alice's party, especially since Emmett had insisted not only upon attending but also on dragging a sullen Rosalie with him. Despite my concern regarding Rosalie's unaltered attitude of disdain toward my beloved one, Bella had taken the news of her presence tonight better than I had expected.

Then I had to ruin the mood, fortunately only momentarily, by asking Bella what she really wanted for her birthday since she had quickly quashed my brilliant plan for replacing her truck with a sleek, powerful Audi Coupe, the absolute antithesis of the hunk of junk she cherished.

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