A/N: ok wow... i could write you a book of excuses about why this has taken so long. first of all, i KNOW, i haven't updated in more then a month, but i've been so busy that i didn't think it had been that long. finals came and went, christmas came, i've been working, seeing old friends, spending time with my boyfriend, my grandfather passed away, i had to fly across the country for that, and ever since i got home last saturday, i've barely had a chance to sit down and start writing until tonight... amazing huh? i'm a busy girl. and while i tried to write over that hiatus, the last chapter was coming together badly... i deleted a whole section out of it tonight in irritation. pain in the ass, let me tell you... endings aren't my favorite.

let me prepare you: after quite a long and fantastic journey, it saddens me (but a good sad) to announce that this will be the final chapter of this story. i put that in bold so that if you're someone who skips author's notes, you won't go bananas when you come to the end of the chapter, and realize that it's over. i really, truly, tried to stretch this sucker into two chapters so that the ending wouldn't feel so abrupt (which it really isn't) but it would be two chapters at 3 and 2 pages each. so i vetoed. and now i'm warning you.

maybe you think it's cheap of me to end it this way (haha "end it this way" soooo soap opera esque) but you should've known by the last chapter (why don't you read it again, for a refresher course) that this was wrapping up. and i've just felt that it's time for this trilogy to finish... it's been a fun run but all good things have to come to an end. and now this story is. after all, it's grown to 333 pages in MS word, the longest story i've ever written.

you guys rule at life, there is love to you below. gracias.

Chapter 66

When he pulled back softly, I bowed my head with my eyes still closed to revel in the feeling. While my head was down, he softly brushed his lips across my forehead in the sweetest of kisses. I felt my breath catch and pulled back my head to look up at him, dizzy.

He smiled back faintly but pulled further away, putting his arm around my shoulders, appearing preoccupied. And sure enough, it was about Jonathan. "After everything that has happened with Jonathan…" he repeated himself softly, shaking his head slowly. He looked down at me and explained finally in an eerily calm voice that seemed detached from him, "It was drugs."

"Drugs?" I repeated him softly, concerned, but at the same time, not too surprised. It wasn't a secret that most rich families were corrupted with drugs… when you had the money, you could have it all, right?

He nodded and then voiced my thoughts, "That's what happens to some people when they have too much money to burn." I saw him almost sneering in the dim light as he sat me down on the divan. "It was a huge mess… it involved some guys that I know, not good friends, but friends, nonetheless… I had to be there for a deposition, to say that I had no part in the drugs at all, that it was all Jonathan and the other guys."

"Why Massachusetts?" I asked curiously.

"The guys who were selling the most go to boarding school there," he was sneering for certain right now, his handsome face twisted into a bitter grimace. "The cops busted them and then traced it back out here off of their cell phones, through their phone logs, and the times of the deals and…" he trailed off with a sigh but his face softened. "I still don't know all the details," he said after a long pause. "And you're not supposed to know any of this, by the way," he looked down at me for confirmation.

"I won't tell." I answered him softly, meaning it. "Not even Ana."

He smiled down at me wearily, looking much older then eighteen in the semidarkness of the library. The sound of the glittering ball with wealthy people dressed in clothes costing thousands of dollars, laughing over expensive champagne, getting drunk just in order to be able to handle the superficiality of it all, was muted by the walls lined with books. It was so muted that it seemed it was far away, much further away then what it really was, which was just outside the double doors. He sighed and broke the silence to tell me softly, "I shouldn't tell you but I feel like I need to tell you."

"You don't have to-" I began to tell him quietly, because I really didn't need to be told.

He pressed on, cutting me off by saying softly, "I have to make sure that you know that I would never leave you hanging and disappear for a week. He grew even more serious, cupping my face with his free hand, other arm wrapped around my shoulders, essentially holding me in his arms. "If I could have had it any other way, I would have been here, in California, with you," he said softly, running his thumb softly across my cheekbone. "You mean so much to me, Isabella," he said softly, leaning in and touching foreheads with me.

I closed my eyes and felt chills run up my spine and down my arms. "You mean a lot to me too, James." I whispered almost breathlessly in reply, swallowing hard to try to dissipate the lump trying to grow in my throat.

We stayed still for a moment before he pulled back to press his lips against mine again. I kissed him back with intensity that I didn't know I had, that scared me slightly, but warmed me all over more.

Much later, after some much needed time alone, we decided to join the ball again. My mother caught sight of us holding hands as we moved through the crowd and smiled faintly. She knew what was going on. Ana smiled openly at me over Andrew's shoulder and then kissed my brother after he presumably asked her what she was smiling about. It was the first time I didn't recoil at their sap; probably because I was too busy basking in the glow of my own.

Wordlessly, James led me onto the dance floor, and we began to dance with the other couples. I smiled up at him, really truly happy for the first time in a long time.

A dance floor is hardly a place to have a meaningful (or any, for that matter) conversation, so I allowed myself to be lost in my thoughts. It was truly almost shocking how far I had come and how much I had changed… I had been fine for so long, playing the field, jumping from boyfriend to boyfriend… but things happen; you meet someone that means so much to you, and wonder how you ever got along before. I wanted to make this one last.

I think one of the mistakes that so many people make is that they date someone whom they think is perfect and are deeply disappointed when they find out that wasn't the case. But I know that James is flawed, he is no perfect person, and I like it better that way. To walk into the relationship knowing that he isn't perfect is a relief to me… it means that I won't be finding out some dark secret about him months or even years from now.

I looked up at James as we danced and we shared a smile as he tightened his grip on my hand in his.

Finally, finally, finally.

Two Months Later...

"And now I present to you the graduating class of this year's seniors!" the dean announced. I grinned as we all rose to our feet and threw our hats in the air, excitedly cheering together, and hugging.

After we walked out of the auditorium and out into the bright June sunshine, I dodged the other graduates and threw myself at Ana, who laughed as we collided. We hugged tightly… it had been one hell of a year for the both of us.

"Ana!" Andrew said as he approached us, my mom and Charlie in tow. He pulled her into a tight hug. I was finally glad that we had graduated so that he could stop the gloating he had been doing since the previous day.

"Congratulations, Bella." Mom smiled as she finally came within earshot and then hugged me. "I'm so proud," she pulled back, beaming at me, and I knew she meant it.

"Great job, Isabella." Charlie told me before pulling me into a bear hug. As we pulled back, Mom brushed back her bangs and her huge diamond engagement ring sparkled in the sunlight. I still wasn't used to it even though it had been two weeks since he had proposed.

"Izzy." James said, appearing at Ana's side out of nowhere, grinning.

"Hey!" I grinned back and threw my arms around him.

He laughed and caught me, holding me close. "Congratulations, I'm so proud of you," he said into my ear and then kissed the side of my head.

"Thanks." I smiled as I pulled back. He kissed me for a few seconds, just long enough to not be awkward in front of my mom, and then pulled back, setting me back down on the ground.

"Isabella." I heard a familiar voice say behind me. I turned around to see Dad, standing alone behind me, hands in his pockets. I pulled away from James as I stared in surprise at my father… he hadn't even mentioned that he had the general knowledge that I was graduating today, much less that he would be there.

"Dad." I said in surprise, my expression stunned.

"Congratulations," he smiled at me faintly.

"Thanks." I said softly, glancing at Andrew, who was looking at Dad, and then looked at me. I wondered if he was upset that he hadn't shown up yesterday when he had been graduating but I couldn't read his expression. "Where's Bridgette?" I asked him somewhat curiously though most of me didn't care. I mean, you'd figure that if you marry a trophy, you'd want said trophy on arm at all times, right? Okay, sorry, no, I didn't swallow a bitter pill…

"She's at home," he answered me without meeting my eyes, staring off into the distance. Good, I'd rather her not be here. "Your mother told me that your ceremony was today so I decided to come."

I nodded a few times mutely and then let go of James completely, walking over to my father. He opened his arms awkwardly and we embraced, somewhat stiffly. Maybe that would never change. "Thanks for coming." I said uneasily when we pulled back.

He grunted something that sounded like a "sure" in reply.

"Pictures!" Mom exclaimed, pulling out her digital camera, and handing it to Charlie. "One of us and the graduate," she beamed at me as she came to my right and Dad stood on our left. Charlie snapped the picture. "Andrew!" she exclaimed, waving him over. He stood on the other side of Mom and we took another picture.

The ex-Walters family disbanded awkwardly, Dad clearing his throat. But at least he had shown up. "How about one with you and Ana?" Mom asked me, distracting me from my dad.

"Sure." I smiled, relaxing again. Ana and I hugged then Mom snapped a picture.

"You and James?" Mom asked me.

I looked up at James and smiled. "Sure." I said softly. He smiled back and put his arm around my shoulders as we turned to face my mom.

After she snapped it, I looked up at James, who smiled back down at me. "I love you," he said softly and I knew he really meant it.

"I love you too." I whispered back and then he kissed me softly.

Later that night, late, after everyone who had come for my graduation party had left, and the rest of my family and Ana had gone to bed, I sat in the study in Mom's chair, feet tucked under me, flipping through the pictures on her digital camera. I felt a faint smile rise to my lips at the picture of my parents and Andrew… he had come and I didn't realize how much it meant to me until right then.

I flipped past the one of Ana and me and then stopped on the next picture of James and me. Mom had taken it before we were ready, while we were getting into place, but I hadn't even realized that we were both smiling softly at each other as we did so.

I turned off the camera, setting it down on her desk, and then sank back into the plush leather, tucking my legs under me. I smiled softly… I'd finally found someone to love… and I wasn't going to let go of him anytime soon.


A/N: and thus concludes the search for something more. you guys have been great, supporting me through my sporadic and sometimes really long in between updates, and i love you all for it.

miss-blackhair: thanks! jake's a favorite of mine too... which is why he showed up. and i'm glad you love the drama too, hahaha.

Christina: this is it... i'm glad you love it though!

jmu: mrs. connors really did deserve what she got, huh. hahaha i think izzy wins over gabby, definitely. about the whole "omg what do i do?" with my current boyfriend... it's never happened to me before so it was weird. i'm usually very confident (not arrogant... confident, there's a difference) so it was really quite unusual. glad you enjoyed the chapter though!

Lexi Elizabeth Walker: i wish i could write more... only took me a month and three days to get back to it. mrs. connors is just looking for attention... i think once you're that old (well she's not ancient but she's about middle aged), i think it's too late to change from being a drama queen... best to take care of it while you're young, that's for sure.

blonde-emo: i'm glad you love james! hahaha, he did get better, huh?

Gigi: my exams went pretty good, thanks!

QuOtAtA: oooh let's not even think of shelia as a mother in law... ((shudder))

maybe some questions you're asking about the ending...

Q: what about everything with james's family? what about mrs. connors letting him back into the house?

this story is about izzy... james' and his mother's problems are between them... not the three of them. at least not anymore, that's for sure.

Q: ooh bridgette wasn't there? good/why?/izzy's dad and bridgette are STILL married?

izzy's dad is a smart guy... he knows better then to bring her to something important of izzy's, especially when izzy's mother would be present too.

Q: wow, james and izzy said i love you after two months? isn't that um... soon? or please, two months? they're in high school... please!

based on personal experience, i know it's possible to love someone after two months. and don't tell me it's puppy love or some bullshit... if you want to be cynical, go right ahead, but do it on your own time. i'm a firm believer that you don't suddenly, with an bolt of lightning, realize that you love someone after a certain amount of time. it just happens...

Q: but... but... you're ENDING this? no more ana, andrew, erik, jake, izzy, james, etc...?

good things have to come to an end... it's been 300+ pages in The Search For Something More alone, my friend, it's time to move on. i've got more ideas for new stories which brings me to...

Q: no more story? no more of you WRITING?

no... not at all. i have a story in my head, actually... yes. right now. tonight it's just shy of 3 AM therefore i won't be starting tonight... look for it soon. maybe even tomorrow. i don't have work on monday...

Q: like seriously? this was a loooooooooong story... like 66 chapters? your chapter management needs work.

i've never written a story this length before... i didn't plan for it to be 66 long chapters, ok? i write, write, write, write, and in the end i'm like huh, 66 chapters, 333 pages... oops. the shadow needs work too, yes, i know!

Q: but... don't you love me?

more then you know ((wink))

a big thanks to: everyone who stuck with me through this... life has been so hectic since september but you guys stuck through... i really appreciate your reviews and read, think, and save every single one in my email. so thanks for taking time out of your life to comment upon the blatherings of me, haha.

love, a smile that explodes