Hi! So anxiously excited to try something a little different this time.

Huge thanks to Hadley for being a gem and making my words look pretty! I always tinker after her magic, so any mistakes are mine.

Sobhanya, Mich, Liv, & May are prereading for me and holding my hands. YES, both hands. I need it lolol

Thanks to LizziePaige for the lovely banner! You can find that and weekly teasers on my FBlink is in my profile.

Thank YOU for reading—see you Wednesday.


The room is dim. Faint yellow light glows beyond the sheer curtains, the lone bulb flickering every now and then.

It's late. Or maybe early. I haven't looked at a clock in a while.

Our time, which was once calculated by hours and minutes, is now measured in lingering kisses and labored breaths.

"Are you sleeping?" Edward's voice is barely a whisper.


We're lying together on a small couch at my parents' lake house. The cupboards are bare, and white sheets shield furniture from dust. No one's visited in years, and we thought it'd be the last place anyone would come look for us. Now it just feels glaringly obvious we would be here, and I jump at every foreign sound.

"I was thinking…" I can hear a smile in his voice, and it takes the edge off the darkness. "About the first day we met."

I know he's trying to distract me with reminiscing, but all it does is bring the sinking feeling of nostalgia.

I want to envision that day through his eyes. "What do you remember about it most?"

"I remember everything."



"Tell me more." I'm desperate. "Please?"

So he does. He recalls our conversation. My snarky demeanor. His unwavering confidence. He tells me he'll never forget the red of my lips, the way he was drawn to them every time I spoke. How I was buzzing with a nervous energy that he was desperate to tame.

And he did.

He ends the memory with this: "Even then, I knew I'd love you."

I shift a little to look up at him, keeping my body tangled with his. I memorize the angles of his face, the sincerity blazing in his eyes. Dread fills my stomach. I never want this night to end because tomorrow could possibly be just that: the end.

Our end.

Worst-case scenarios fill my mind and cause tears to prick the corners of my eyes. I allow them to fall freely down my cheeks, marking his shirt with salt and sorrow.

"Baby, don't," he whispers, cupping my face and brushing away my sadness. He shushes me and squeezes my shoulder, brushing the top of my head with his warm lips. "We'll get out. We have to. I refuse to believe there's any other option for us."

"If something happens—" I begin to say, only to have him shush me again by covering my mouth with his. I let his embrace calm me for a moment. A soft kiss. Parted lips. I deepen it, craving the closeness.

When we pull apart, my mind goes there again.

"You know what happened to Emmett—"

"Bella. Stop," he says forcefully. But I know he's thinking the same thing. I know he holds the same fears as I do. I just wish he'd let me voice them aloud. I'd feel better having it out in the open rather than trapped in my own mind. "I love you," he says almost desperately. "I love you, and I don't want to imagine any scenario other than us getting out. Okay?"

The wind blows outside, rustling the trees against the window. Branches scrape against glass, and I stiffen.

"I love you, too." My heart aches. "But I'm trying to be realistic," I counter, voice low. "I just… I want you to know I'd come back here. If something happens to you, I'm coming back and having the Procedure done."

"You can't," he murmurs and shakes his head in denial.

"I have to," I insist. "If we're not together or if—" I pause, unable to speak as overwhelming emotion rises in my throat. I bury my face against his chest, not wanting to look at him as I whisper, "I don't want to remember our time together. I can't. I won't do it."

I can't live with the memories of him if I can't be with him.

"If something happens to me you can't come back for the Procedure," he reminds me reluctantly. "Once you leave..."

He's right.

"They'll kill me," I finish for him, knowing the reason for his hesitance.

My words linger in the air, and he tilts my chin upward so I can meet his gaze. His eyes are hard, determined.

"I won't let them hurt you," he tells me adamantly.

But the fact remains: I broke the law.

No one gets away with being unpunished.

Not even a Swan.