Actions

Work Header

Addicted To You REVISED

Chapter Text

Chapter 1: Addicted to you

Bella found herself yet again lured into the boy’s room. She couldn’t help herself. Edward Masen was the most alluring human Bella had been around in decades.

Would I ever be the same again? That question only had one answer. Everything would end when he died. And who could know how long would be? Years? Decades? How long did the average human live? Seventy years? Eighty years?

Bella never wanted him to die. He kept her alive with his warm, sweet, head-spinning blood.

She watched him for a few endless minutes, until the thirst won again and she approached his bed. She took his wrist and punctured it with her sharp thumbnail. He shifted a little in his sleep and gave a soft, throaty moan. This was arousing for humans; for awake humans, not slumbering ones. He was different.

As the red trickles of blood appeared on the surface of his white skin, Bella leaned and pouted her lips so as not to harm him with the sharp teeth. As soon as his sweet nectar hit her throat, the battle started.

She had to keep him alive.

She had to stop.

His blood warmed her cold body – she could feel it in the tip of her fingers, in every part of her. He was inside her, making her whole again.

The boy moaned softly, his hips rubbing against the blanket that covered him. Bella wrenched her mouth from his wrist and licked the wound clean, sealing the cut.

She wanted to know so badly what he was dreaming about, what he was thinking in the morning as he wobbled downstairs, feeling drained. Little did he know that she was draining him, literally. She touched his forehead softly, and moved his messy bangs from his closed eyes.

Bella allowed herself to watch him for a few minutes before heading back to her small house. The pull to stay so close to him was much stronger than her rational thoughts, so she didn’t go too far. She stayed outside his house until dawn.

At exactly five in the morning, the kitchen light was switched on, and the beautiful middle-aged woman started the coffee then worked on baking muffins. A surge of self-loathing hit Bella in that moment.

The boy’s mother loved him so much that she woke up so early just for him, to cook the blasted muffins that he ate as if his life depended on them.

But Bella was too selfish to look past her thirst. She should have never crossed the invisible barrier. She should have never followed him home that fateful day, waited in the shadows, before sampling his tantalizing blood. Never.

The redheaded woman caught her attention again as she started whistling along with a happy tune on the radio. Bella stifled a smile at the mundane thing. An hour later, the kitchen’s door opened and her black haired mate – or husband, as humans like to call their supposes – entered the kitchen and sniffed loudly.

“Ah, raspberry muffins!” He exclaimed, startling his wife.

“Oh, you! Make some noise!” She chided him, but went to him and kissed him sweetly on the lips.

Bella felt a tug at her dead, frozen heart.

Is it normal for something like me to want that type of connection? Bella wanted to do the same to the boy upstairs. She needed that closeness and sometimes, that need was more powerful than the desire for his blood, which scared the daylight out of her.

“You know, he won’t say no to yesterday’s muffins, right?” The man wondered, keeping his wife in his arms and nuzzling her neck.

“They’re better warm,” she whispered. “Do you want some? There’s plenty.”

“Plenty in a normal human’s amounts or in Edward’s amounts?” He teased, making her huff.

“He’ll eat only these and he’ll live a happy life. When he finds himself a girl, I will teach her how to bake these muffins.”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Liz. The boy doesn’t look past his books’ rims.”

“He will someday, and I can’t wait to see him happy.”

I know how to make the muffins just like you, Bella thought with a heavy heart. Will you consider a dead, eternal creature worthy for your son? The thought saddened her immensely. That would never happen, and the boy’s mother’s words made her realize that he would not be hers forever.

If he found a girlfriend or wife – the thought made Bella insanely angry. No one was allowed to touch him like that. She wouldn’t be able to be near him, to taste his blood if such a complication happened.

A soft groan grabbed her attention, and before she could rationalize her actions, she was on the branch in front of his window. That was very reckless. He could see her, but suddenly, she couldn’t give a damn.

She had exceeded the limit last night. Bella watched his pale form rising from the floor where he had probably fallen. She had to smile at how clumsy he could be. He yawned loudly and scratched at the back of his neck before combing his messy hair with his fingers. She saw him wince and look at his left wrist in confusion.

If her heart was beating, it would have been slamming in her chest just as his was doing right now. Did he know? Did he sense that something much stronger and dangerous than anything else lurked in the corners? Or outside his window, in that case?

He sighed softly and stroked his wrist, looking to his right and shaking his head. What was there? Did he have some theory about his unusual pains?

Bella watched as he put his socks on his feet and then left the room. Curiosity killed the cat. She made sure he was not coming back from the bathroom and jumped into his room looking for what could have gotten his attention.

On his nightstand, stood a book, like always. However, this time it was something that made her stop dead in the tracks. He knew, or at least, he had a theory that brought him to this book. Ah, why did they have to allow such books? Some authors got really close to the truth and put her kind in danger. The slam of the bathroom door alerted Bella that he could be coming back for a few more minutes of sleep.

With one last glowering look at the book, she left his room for the spot outside the house. She peeked into the kitchen just in time to see him entering it.

“Good morning!” His mother chirped, and went to kiss him on both cheeks. They flamed and he shook out of her embrace. Ah teenagers, you have to love them! Bella thought, amused.

He forgot about being embarrassed when he saw the muffins. His eyes lit up, and a huge grin broke on his lips. “Oh, Mom,” he said in a hoarse voice, thick with sleep. He grabbed a muffin and moaned loudly. “Mhmm, yummy!”

She laughed, and Bella couldn’t help but laugh along. He always did that, but he was extra appreciative when she made him raspberry muffins.

“Do you want some milk to go with them?” His mother asked, stroking his hair.

“Mhmm,” he hummed, sitting on a chair next to his father, who was reading the morning paper while eating his own muffin. “How many did you have?” Edward asked, accusatory.

“Just three. There are plenty, Edward,” his father answered with a roll of his eyes.

“Three?” His parents didn’t see or hear him, but Bella saw him mouthing the word in horror as if his father had committed a crime.

“Here, honey. I’ll pack some for school,” his mother said, lovingly. She deposited a glass of milk next to his plate.

Edward nodded enthusiastically and started munching on his second muffin, sipping his milk. His obsession with muffins was adorable.

Bella chose to head to her own house and prepare for school.

She lived in a small wooden cottage; some ranger probably lived here decades ago. She was grateful when she had stumbled upon it. She lived on her own, the only relative she had was supposed to be dead. As far as the authorities knew, she could take care of herself and there was supposedly someone that was helping with money, facilities and was checking on her from time to time. This was a tedious job – to lie to people. Of course, there was no one that checked on her.

Bella changed her clothes and went to the never-ending stack of contacts. She had chosen brown for an eye-color, as that had been the color of her eyes had been when she was human. The brown over her red eyes turned them a nice auburn - unreal color. No one questioned it. She pulled the front bangs of her hair and caught them at the back of her head with a scrunchy. She checked herself again in the mirror to make sure there was nothing to give her away, grabbed the schoolbag, and went to her car.

The idea of blending in and attending high school had come to Bella several decades ago. It was boring, but it gave her something to do. It happened once every few decades, to have a bright idea that saved her and gave her new strength to carry on with the dark life she was doomed to live.

The first bright idea had been to just drink and never kill.

The second had been to blend in.

The third had to do with the second one.

Bella started attending high school. She was too young for a proper, respectable job. Not like that stopped her from writing and becoming famous under different nicknames. It brought her the money she had now, and she was glad for that idea, too.

She felt like another bright idea was needed to keep Edward around, but what could she do? Tell him what she was? Take his soul away? But then she wouldn’t taste his blood anymore. She was at an impasse.

Bella needed a normal, everyday car so she had chosen a Volvo C30 T5. It was small, and she was in love with it. She had wanted it to be black, not the flaming orange it came in, but the man that sold it – convinced she was above twenty-one – showed her some metallic colors, and she agreed on the blue one.

She threw her bag in the backseat and started the car. It purred to life, and she maneuvered it out of the forest, cringing every time she caught something under the tires.

There was an ancient path in the forest’s ground but it needed to be cleared off twigs and leaves to make it a proper road again. Bella had other things to do at night, better things than cleaning the forest. She smiled fondly, thinking of her favorite human.

They arrived at the same time, and he parked next to her, glancing fleetingly her way before grabbing his bag and stepping out of the car. Bella took a big unnecessary breath and opened her door. She was glad he had a safe car. She didn’t need the Volvo for its safety. He drove a silver C70. He had the 8’’ x 18’’diamond cut alloy wheels. They were superb.

She realized she was staring at his car’s wheels, and felt like a dork. She looked around and saw that thankfully, the lot was empty and no one was aware of her nerdy love for cars.

Bella started walking toward the school. Somehow, she managed to still be sorting through her things in the locker when the last bell rang. Being meticulous had its costs, like being late for class. Even though she possessed a blinding speed, she had an appearance to keep so she grabbed her English textbook, shut the locker’s door, and scurried away down the empty hallway. She was positive she was suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Her locker had to be in order, but it usually was a mess.

She slammed into someone, engulfed in her thoughts. Every fiber of her reacted to the person in front of her. Bella’s throat erupted in flames, her muscles coiled, and she felt prepared to spring. Edward was on the floor in front of her, looking around, disorientated. Shit. It was easier when he was sleeping.

His green eyes met hers and widened. He scrambled up, looking worried. Did he think I was hurt? She was more afraid for him. That was quite the fall he had taken.

“You okay?” he whispered. Bella only managed to nod, unable to talk. Her eyes were glued to his pulse point as it beat rapidly against the thin skin of his neck. He glanced down, his ears turning red. “Which are yours?”

She looked down, too, and saw their books and papers scattered around the hallway. Crap. She knew which were hers of course, so she picked them up as quickly as humanly possible then stacked his and handed them to him.

“Thanks,” he said softly.

Bella nodded again and tried to smile. Rushing to her class, she gave a lame excuse to her teacher then sat at the last desk in the back of the room.

It had been excruciating to be near him. She was used to holding her breath or preparing for his scent with small, measure breaths in the classes they shared, but that encounter had been spontaneous. She didn’t have time to adjust to his scent; it just assaulted her, paralyzing her. If only he knew how close to danger he was… But maybe he did know since he was reading Dracula. What had made him go to that book?

Bella thought back to the first time she had given in to temptation. It was a week after school started, and he passed her on his way to the car. She heard him telling someone he would be alone for the weekend. The opportunity was there and she took it, like a greedy, starving person.

She had followed him home and waited around until he went to bed. Climbing into his room, she took the time required to become accustomed to his scent. She had approached his bed and slowly raised his left wrist to her nose, inhaling deeply. The promising blood flew under his skin, and she didn’t think much before running her nail over the soft skin. He had such potent blood. Bella couldn’t stop herself once she first tasted it. His soft moan and the scent of arousal that hit her nostrils had made her freeze mid-feeding. The bloodlust cloud lifted from her brainand she licked his wound shut before rushing out of the house. She hadn’t gone to school for a week after that.

When Bella had gathered her will and finally gone back to school, it took her the whole lunch break, Biology and Gym to get the monster within her under control. The monster knew how he tasted, and she wanted more. What had scared Bella was the fact that he hadn’t been in school until Wednesday, of what she’d heard the others talk.

She had drunk too much! He had been too weak to come to school. She hated herself for harming him. Bella made a silent promise to herself to never go back to his room or near him. When she had to feed again, she went to Seattle and stumbled over a drunken man outside a club. He followed her to a dark alley where she let him do what he wanted. Little did he know, sex was nothing comparing to the alcohol in his blood. But she found herself unable to drink from him. She had cut his neck just as he was reaching his peak, she lowered her lips to the cut but couldn’t drink. There was a much more potent blood waiting for her at home. Bella had thrown him off in rage, and ran. She hadn’t fed for another two weeks when it became next to impossible to go to school. It was like walking into a slaughterhouse and watching steaks of meat rolling around. She was hallucinating; if a vampire could hallucinate. That’s when she decided to visit her little human. She knew how much to drink and his soft moan stopped her again.

For almost three months, she had drunk from him without him noticing.

For over a year, she had attended this high schooland no one knew they were in immediate danger with her around.

The first four classes of the day passed with her thinking of what she had done and trying to come up with the fourth bright plan of her existence. There was only one way – to kidnap the kid and chain him in her room, drinking when she wanted. That thought made Bella sick. It would be like treating him like some kind of pet. No. She wouldn’t do that to him.

She went to the cafeteria and met with Angela, the sweetest human ever, in the line for food. Her friend sensed that there was something odd with Bella, but she never asked questions. Bella was grateful for that.

“Hey, Bella,” she greeted and stepped asidewaiting.

Bella bought her omnipresent apple and let Angela lead the way. She had hoped they would sit alone, but Angela decided to join with her boyfriend, Ben, who was friends with Edward.

“Don’t you want to sit alone, Angela?” Bella asked, glancing at Edward who was now watching her every move. Shit, that book gave him ideas.

“Oh, if you want,” she said in a wavering voice.

She wanted to be there so Bella sighed and sat down next to Edward, but as far as possible. Angela threw her a grateful smile and sat next to Ben, nearly sitting on his lap. After he kissed her cheek, he turned to Edward continuing their previous conversation.

“I think I’ll come with you. I have to shop for Christmas too.”

“Great!” Edward answered, happily. “After school is okay?”

“Yeah, my folks aren’t home until eight at night,” Ben said.

“Where are you going?” Angela asked, frowning.

“Port Angeles. You aren’t allowed to come. My present will be a surprise.”

“That’s so nice of you,” she said softly, blushing lightly. It was clear they were in their own little world. That left an awkward silence between Edward and her.

He cleared his throat and turned to Bella. “About this morning,” he started.

“It’s okay,” she promised. “It was my fault.”

He smiled a heart-stopping smile. Should she be glad that her heart couldn’t stop? He glanced at Ben then back at Bella since his friend was busy giving Angela gooey eyes.

“Erhm… what are you… how will you spend Christmas?”

He had never talked with her outside Biology. Never.

“Home,” she answered vaguely.

“Yeah, me too.” He had a dreamy smile on his face, probably imagining the amount of muffins his mother would bake. “Is your guardian going to drop by?”

“Probably,” she said, not meeting his eyes. He didn’t look pleased with her one-word answers. She watched as the skin between his eyebrows puckered as he frowned. His green eyes were watching her carefully then he focused on his unwrapped lunch.

Bella looked at Angela, desperate to say something else, find an excuse to get out of there, when she realized her friend and Ben were missing. They had left to go somewhere for couple time. Perfect.

Bella peeked at Edward as she spun the apple on the table. He turned to look at her at the same time, and his cheeks flamed making her swallow a mouthful of venom. For a second, she panicked, thinking that she had forgotten to change the contacts, but she had put new ones in before coming to the cafeteria.

Why was he looking at her that way? He swallowed thickly and moved his chair closer. Was he insane? Would it look weird if she didn’t breathe? Probably, since he watched her every movement.

“Do you want some?” he asked in a tense, embarrassed voice as if wanting to offer and not give. Give her what? His nectar? Yes, please.

“Sorry?” Bella managed to get out.

“They’re amazing.” He gestured to the muffins in his lunch box. Holy cow! He wanted to share his prized food with her!

Bella had to say yes, she knew that. But she shook her head and showed him the apple. He smiled and shrugged as if thinking, “more for me.”

She watched the pleasure on his face as he ate the muffin. It almost rivaled the feeling she had when she had drunk from him some hours ago. She always had to be extra aware of him, to make sure he was okay before and after feeding. She never wanted to do what she had done that first time.

When Angela returned with a big smile on her face, Bella was glad. She pushed her apple to her and she took it gratefully. This didn’t escape Edward’s attention. Did anything?

As the bell rang, they got up, and to Bella’s utter dismay, he swayed and caught himself on the back of the chair. She watched the movement, unnoticed by the others, and he caught her eye, shaking his head. Was it her fault?

He grabbed a bottle of water on the way out and drained it by the time they reached Biology. Unfortunately, their teacher had made them lab partners at the beginning of the year. They took their seats, and she couldn’t help but watch him worried.

“Are you okay?” Bella asked, before she could keep the question locked inside.

Edward glanced at her and frowned, unconsciously rubbing his left wrist. Shit, she had hurt him. “I guess I didn’t sleep well.”

“Oh.”

“It’s okay. I’ll sleep when I get home.”

“And drink more water,” she supplied.

Yeah, nice one, Bella. Suck him dry then advise him to drink some water.

“Yeah, I will. I feel like after some blood tests or donation, you know when they draw blood.”

I wonder why. “You’re probably just tired,” she said, trying to distract him from the topic. She didn’t need her meal talking about blood. Did I just call him my meal? Urgh, she was such a hypocrite.

“I stayed up quite late last night. I read a book,” he said, his voice dropping as the teacher entered the classroom. She already knew that. How long he had stayed awake nearly took her mind off feeding. She shouldn’t have fed. He had slept only a few hours and she took quite a bit of blood from him.

“I know how it is to read until late in the night.” She wanted him to admit reading Dracula and tell her why.

“I haven’t read this one in some time and I just… thought it will be nice to go back to it.” Why was he blushing? It was infuriating not knowing what was behind those wonderful eyes.

“What are you reading?”

Dracula,” he answered smoothly, watching her warily. Did he expect her to be frightened? In all honesty, she was a little scared, but she knew that a book couldn’t convince him. Not one that didn’t have the facts quite right.

“It’s one of my favorites.”

He smiled and turned to the teacher, leaning his head on his palm. They didn’t talk until the next class they had together ended. Gym was the worst invention ever.

Bella couldn’t remember if she hated it while human, but now surely, it gave her headaches. She had to be extra careful with everything: her movements, the speed, the balls, the humans around, the walls…

She happened to leave for the parking lot with Edward. Today had been a rare day – they had talked. Sometimes, there were weeks without any words between them. She knew they’d go back to no talking again. It was for the best.

“Well, I’ll go. See you,” he said, scratching the back of his head. Ben was waiting near his car.

Bella had a sudden urge to follow them to Port Angeles since she knew Edward wasn’t feeling well. She jumped in her car and made sure she was at a safe distance from his.

The boys went to a small shop and stayed in there for almost half an hour. She was just around the corner and tried to keep an ear on them. She heard bits of their conversation through the buzzing people in the shop and on the street. They talked about Christmas plans, what presents they wished to get and what to buy for their families. When they exited the shop, they went to the library across the street. It was much quieter there so she could hear them better.

“So what’s with you and Bella?”

Bella’s eyes widened, and she gaped at the steering wheel.

“W-wh-what?” She heard Edward sputter. She had to hear this better so she got out of the car and went close to the library, but not going inside.

“Oh, come on, we left you alone for a few minutes and you were flushed when we came back.”

“I don’t think you saw well,” Edward muttered embarrassed. “She won’t even talk with me. It’s like… she’s keeping a distance.” So perceptive.

“Well, break it. I know you want to.” Did I want to hear where this was heading? She couldn’t have Edward start feeling things for her.

“Man, she won’t talk. Besides, there’s something… doesn’t matter.”

“What?” Ben asked curiously.

“I don’t know. I’m trying to figure it out. Let’s head back. I’m tired.”

Bella flew to her car and drove slowly behind them. The boy could speed! She was constantly anxious of him wrapping the car around a tree.

She had so many questions now that she knew Edward presumed something. She had never encountered such a situation.

What should she do if he realized what she was?

Bella went home and chose to do something productive, to take her mind off the matter. She cleaned the road. Then she cleaned the already spotless house. Then she did the homework. It was already three AM when she finally settled down and sat on the windowsill. She knew what she wanted, what her body yearned for, but she couldn’t do it. She didn’t want him to figure this out.

.

.

.

It was the last day of school before the Christmas break. She parked in her usual spot and to her surprise, Edward’s car was next to hers. He was leaning against the back of his car, watching her car intensely. 

What did he want? There was no one else around. That was a bad sign. They were alone.

“Come on, you can do it,” he muttered under his breath.

She had to stifle a giggle as she stepped out of the car. Bella tried to pass him nonchalantly, not even aware of him, as if that was possible. Her throat erupted in flames the second she was out of the car.

“Um, hey, wait,” he said softly and started walking closer.

“Yeah?” She asked, not turning her gaze on him.

“Look, I was thinking…” He ran a hand through his messy hair and exhaled down his nose. “Do you want… maybe… will you sit with me at lunch?” he blurted out, his whole face red.

Play it cool, she told myself. She turned to him and saw his green eyes glazing over.

“We sat together yesterday, too.”

“Ah no!” He nearly shouted, making her smile. “I mean…alone.” His eyes were trying to tell her something that he didn’t have the courage to get out.

Could she do it? Could she stay there? Should she? She wanted to know him better and hear more about his life. He was more than food.

“Okay,” she agreed.

Bella couldn’t settle down during the first classes of the day. What had she just agreed to do? Alone, with Edward? Was she insane?

As Bella made her way to the cafeteria, she made a plan to ditch him but couldn’t do it. When she entered the room, she saw him sitting at the corner table at the far end. He had a death wish.

She went to him, without bothering to buy the pretense lunch. She sat opposite him and put her hands on the table.

“Hi,” Bella greeted.

His head snapped up, and he gazed at her for a full minute before talking. “I didn’t think you’d come.”

“Me neither.”

“I’m glad you came.”

“What- Why did you want…?” She couldn’t even form a sentence. That was unusual.

“I wanted… you know… to talk?” he said, uncertain.

“Why the sudden interest?” She sounded like a jerk.

His green eyes grew twice in size and his pulse quickened. That wasn’t helping. “Umm, you see…”

Actually, I don’t. What had Ben told him? Why was he suddenly talking to her? He busied himself by taking out his lunch. She watched as his cheeks colored visibly.

“What do you do outside the school?”

She frowned and leaned back in the chair. Where did that question come from? He was uncomfortable at best because he was squirming in his seat.

“I read.” And visit you at night.

“Oh. What do you like to read?”

This was something she wasn’t used to. Bella never shared such things with anyone. But she wanted him to know everything about her and to know everything about him in return.

“I like the classics.”

The ghost of a smirk formed on his beautiful face. Was he reading in that innocent statement? Really?

“Like Shakespeare and Jane Austen?” Edward asked, biting on his muffin.

“Yes. There’s something about that period…” She was giving herself away.

“I know, I would have liked to live then,” he mused, a far away look appearing on his face.

“It would have been nice,” she agreed. Those times had been much simpler and her life hadn’t been as complicated as it was now. “What do you like to read?”

“Classics, too, and fantasy.” His green eyes were glued on hers.

“What exactly?” she pressed. She had her answer, and he was going to explain himself.                                                                       

“Oh, you know… the usual. Myths.”

“Like wizards and dragons?” Bella asked in her best-confused voice.

“Like vampires.” The word sounded so simple coming from his mouth, like breathing.

“Oh. Do you read a lot about them?”

“Yes. Actually, I read too much since I’m seeing things.”

They were heading into dangerous territories. “What do you see?”

“Stuff,” he answered vaguely and returned to his muffins. The boy was infuriating. Was he playing with her? She watched him eating his food and couldn’t help but smile at how cute he was.

“What?” he asked self-conscious, glancing at her sheepishly.

“Do you like muffins?” That was a stupid question.

“Oh, yes! I absolutely love them. Don’t you? It was a shock when you turned me down yesterday.”

She smiled again. “I’m not a great fan of them.”

“Don’t you want to try? Maybe you’ll change your opinion. Mom makes some mean ones.”

Oh, I know that. She smirked and shook her head. He shrugged like yesterday and returned to his beloved baked cookie.

“What’s your favorite book?”

She thought he wasn’t going to talk again, so his question came as a surprise. Bella turned her eyes on him again and thought of an answer. “I really don’t know. I could go on for hours about several books I love. It would be a crime to choose just one,” she chose to answer. “The same goes for music.”

“You’re right!” He nodded and took a few gulps of his water. “Let’s say… what’s the last book you read?”

YES! She fought the urge to jump up and down. They were getting somewhere. “I always seem to go back to Wuthering Heights,” she told him softly. She was right in her presumptions. He was fun and smart. She truly should stay away from him, but now it seemed next to impossible to do that. “What about you?”

“A few nights ago, I finished White Fang. You know, we have it for English class?” Bella nodded in acknowledgment. “It was a great book, but I went back to my little obsession and started re-reading Dracula.”

“Yeah, I love White Fang,” she agreed, urging him with her eyes to tell her more about the other book.

The bell rang, and she cursed it in her mind. His heart took off as if he was panicking. Was he scared, or was he disappointed their time alone was up?

“Umm, Bella?” She felt her dead heart jump at her name coming from his lips.

“Yeah?”

“Can we walk together to class?” His cheeks turned pink.

Something told her that wasn’t the question he wanted to ask. She wanted to tell him that they could see each other over the holiday, but that would have been very reckless.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: The truth

Bella stood outside the Masens' living room window with her teeth clenched, glaring at the scene inside. This wasn't happening. What if they gave him more ideas?

She watched as Elizabeth, Edward's mother, served everyone dinner. They had guests. Bella had smelled that stench only once in her life and it made all her hair stand up. How was this possible? They looked like humans.

Edward's family had another two families over.

She was so focused on the old man talking to Edward's father that she failed to hear the front door opening. It was too late. She heard a gasp and felt eyes on her. There was a girl with jet-black hair, looking at her, startled. Bella tired not to step into the light of the porch or the girl would see her red eyes. Bella moved back slowly and the girl's black eyes kept looking to where she had stood a second ago. The girl sighed and looked up.

The door opened again and Edward stepped out. He wasn't even dressed for the winter air! His thin shirt couldn't keep the coldness away.

"What was that?" Edward asked, sticking his hands in his pockets.

"That was Billy talking in his own language with Dad." She shrugged. "It's coming. It's closer. There are more," she mocked her Dad's friend.

"What is he talking about?"

"I have no idea. They have been at it for a few weeks. Jake may know," she told him. "I think. I mean, he lives there."

"Doesn't your dad talk about that home?"

"Umm, no. It's top secret or something like that."

"Oh."

They stood quiet for a minute before Bella saw him shivering.

"I was over at Jake's a few days ago… and we heard them," the girl said quietly.

"Yeah?" Edward sounded hopeful. Bella was frozen in her spot, praying the girl wouldn't tell him anything that could reveal too much. "Leah?" Edward asked, going closer to her. Bella felt a surge of anger rip through her body as he touched her shoulder. What was that? Why was she so angry?

"We heard something about the cold ones," she whispered, glancing toward the spot Bella had been earlier. "It's an old Quileute myth."

Bella heard Edward take a sharp breath in. Did he know about it? Those creatures couldn't keep the stories to themselves! "I… you mean… are you talking about vampires?" he asked quietly. The last word was almost muted.

She glanced at him in surprise then looked at the spot Bella had been, again. "What do you know about them?"

He scratched his head and looked away. "I read-"

"Get inside now! Before you get pneumonia!" Edward's mother said sharply from the doorway.

No! Bella groaned internally. He knew what the cold ones meant. Was that possible?

Bella couldn't leave her hiding spot until she saw everyone going to their houses. She had to make sure they wouldn't say too much in front of Edward. To her surprise, Leah's father walked into the woods, toward her, instead of their car. Bella backed away and hissed lowly.

He watched her carefully, his eyes widening. "You're not one of them!"

"Sorry?" She asked confused, keeping a good distance between them.

"The Cullens, I thought… I heard they were coming back."

"Who…? I don't know anyone named Cullen," she explained.

"Are you a nomad?" This guy knew more than he should, but she'd heard of the Quileute legend.

"Um… no."

"I'm letting you know there is a treaty here. I will send someone to you to explain more. Where do you live?"

She shot a panicked look at Edward's house. Did this man want her to leave? She couldn't. "I won't…" hurt anyone. She couldn't say it because it was a big fat lie.

"No one will harm you. I promise."

"I will meet one of your people, but not at my house."

He smiled ruefully. "What about here? This spot?"

"Perfect. When?" She asked. She was a thousand times calmer when she could hear Edward's heart.

"Half an hour. Everyone will be furious when they hear this. And we thought they were back!" He snorted and looked at Bella disgusted, then he turned on his heel and left.

Holy… crow! Was he really going to send a wolf monster after her? She had seen one only once, and didn't know how to make her feet run faster. Would he send just one? Bella wasn't sure if a vampire could have a panic attack, but she was surely having one.

She moved a few feet closer to Edward's house and watched him move around his room. Would they make her go away? She couldn't do that. After their talk earlier that week, Bella was sure that she was addicted to his presence. She had found herself in front of his house every night since the talk. Feeding didn't matter, she just wanted to see him, to hear his heart, to smell his intoxicating scent.

A throat clearing from behind her, made her jump startled. She was going mad, surely. She should have heard the footsteps and smelled that stench. The boy-wolf monster was there faster than she expected him. She recognized him as one of the guests.

"Hi," Bella said in greeting, taking a defensive stance.

"I'm here to talk only." He watched her frowning for a few minutes. "There was a treaty made with some of your kind. Decades ago," he told her.

"Okay, I got that."

"The treaty line starts at the river and ends at the shoreline." She tried to remember if she had ever crossed it. "You don't hunt on our land and we'll leave you alone."

She nodded. "Okay, I understand."

"Good. I'll help you to remember if you happen to forget."

"There will be no need," she assured him.

"By the way, if you bite –not kill– we'll know."

"Okay," she said in a smaller voice. It was a good thing she'd never bitten, huh?

He nodded gravely and left.

Bella exhaled a sigh of relief and glanced up to Edward's room. The light was off. She didn't want to risk anything so she went back to her house.

In her one hundred and thirty-nine years, she had never felt alone. For the first time in her existence, she wanted someone next to her, and she knew exactly whom she wanted. He was untouchable. Bella feared to let herself feel more for the human, he should have been nothing more than food. An appetizing dish that you cherish and keep coming to when you desire something divine.

She stayed locked in her house reading, trying to keep his haunting green gaze away from her mind. His smell swirled in her head and she found herself at the front door, multiple times, ready to just go and see him.

Bella was scared of the first day of school and she knew that she should feed before it came. She tried Port Angeles, for a change, but immediately realized she couldn't even think about drinking from someone else. The same old problem. Aware of the treaty and the threat from the werewolf, she jumped in Edward's room on the night before the second part of the first semester started. He was sprawled on his back, the blanket kicked to the foot of the bed as he snored softly.

She knelt next to his bed and caressed his wrist, wishing there was another way. Was there another way? She had to feed and no other blood held her interest. She ran her nail over his fragile skin and closed her mouth around the wound. He moaned quietly and relaxed. The sweet ambrosia clouded her senses again, and again the battle to stop started.

"Bella." She wrenched her mouth away and watched him terrified. Did she have an explanation? Bella licked the wound to close it, quickly, and watched his face anxiously. His eyes were closed, his long black lashes rested against his pink cheeks, his mouth was slightly parted and his breathing was labored. He was asleep.

His wrist moved in her hand and his fingers squeezed hers. "Bella," he repeated in the same soft voice. She breathed a sigh of relief before she let the reality settle.

Edward was still asleep, dreaming of her, saying her name. What had she done? She couldn't let him get attached to her, although she wanted that more than anything she had ever wanted. She could almost see them in her little house, talking, sitting on the couch… she dared to imagine more… having some sort of normal relationship with him.

"Beautiful." His soft voice brought her back to his room.

There were only two solutions.

To leave, which seemed unbearable since she couldn't forget him nor feed from another.

Or, to tell him the truth and ruin what her kind kept a secret for millennia.

Bella kissed the wounded wrist and let herself out of his room. She stayed in the yard until they all rose and started moving around. When Edward appeared in the kitchen, he was extremely pale and she heard his mother worrying about him.

Option number two was the normal one, but what would he think of her? She had taken from him without asking, she had weakened him so much.

.

.

.

When Bella parked in the school's lot, he was waiting for her again. She was determined to explain herself, aware of much powerful vampires out there that could hurt them both.

"Good morning!" he said warmly, a small smile playing on his lips.

"Good morning," she answered and stopped next to him. "Did you have a nice break?"

"It was nice. What about yours?"

"Lonely." Damn this boy! Where were her lying skills?

"Didn't your guardian visit?" he asked concerned, starting to walk toward the school's entrance.

"He was engaged in other activities, unfortunately." She wanted to say more, to ask more but she didn't want to sound too eager.

"Could you stay with me for lunch, again? We never finished our conversation." Edward looked down at her when she didn't answer.

"Yes, of course. Same table," Bella told him.

He grinned and waved his farewell, for now. She was the perfect student in the teachers' eyes, and they kept complimenting her for finishing her homework. Some were truly happy as they said it, others had pity in their voices. She had better things to do than homework, but it took little time so she had that many more precious moments to spend thinking about her human.

At lunch, Bella bought only a bottle of water, having a feeling that Edward would need it. He wasn't there yet when she arrived, so she took her seat and waited patiently. Not ten minutes later, he appeared in the cafeteria's doors. His eyes found hers, and he apologized to one of his friends as he made his way to her.

"You're here," he exclaimed and slumped on the other seat.

"Yes," Bella answered with equal giddiness. "You shouldn't have abandoned your friend." She looked over at Tyler and saw him looking somewhat enviously at Edward.

"He's n-not my fri-friend," he stammered, blushing lightly.

She shrugged and kept an eye on the other boy. He was talking with a group of his friends, telling them to look at Edward. She realized that Edward was aware of the sudden attention, and his cheeks turned an unhealthy shade of red.

"Let them talk." Bella dismissed the situation.

"You aren't upset about this?" he asked concerned.

"No, why would I be? They can talk or think what they please."

"Umm, I was wondering if… maybe… if you don't mind…" He stopped talking and ran a hand through his messy hair. A wave of his intoxicant scent hit her powerfully.

"Yes?" Bella prompted him, curious about his question.

"Could we… would you like… to go out with me?" The last part was a babble of words that she barely caught. She was frozen for the better part of the next minute. Edward watched her anxiously, his heart thumping wildly.

"All right," she acquiesced. She had decided to go with it, whatever happened.

"You don't have to. I mean… Wait! You will?" he asked surprised.

Bella giggled and nodded. The light that appeared in his green eyes, the smile that formed on his lips made a picture she wanted to frame and hang above the mantelpiece.

"You look tired," she noted. He had dark circles under his eyes, and he was paler than usual.

"Umm, well… you should kno-" He stopped talking and shook his head. "Will tonight do?"

"Tonight?" She echoed his weird twist from the subject. You should know – he wanted to say. Did anything escape him?

"A da... a meetin… a date. I have something to tell you." He was so serious as if he was about to tell her his darkest secret.

"Yeah, me too. Tonight," she agreed.

He smiled a knowing smile and opened his lunch, taking out a sandwich.

"No muffins today?" She asked amazed. He blushed and looked away. "I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable, but you always seem to have a few of those."

"I have some, but my mom thought I needed food of more consistency. Have you changed your mind about the muffins?"

"Eh, no, I still don't like them very much," Bella answered. "Maybe your mom is right – you don't look very good today."

His eyes met hers, and in that second, she could tell that he knew something. She averted her eyes and found the bottle of water. She pushed it toward him. "You need fluids."

"You think?" he asked sarcastically. Then the beautiful blush appeared again. He busied himself by biting the sandwich.

Had the werewolves told him something? Were they so careless about their nature? Edward could have figured something out on his own – he was very smart. The books, his friends and… Bella was sure she had her slips. No one was perfect. Tonight was going to be the night.

"Bella, I'm sorry," he whispered, and before she could mover her hand on her lap, he grasped it tightly in his. His eyes were on hers, wide and excited? Fearful? She wasn't sure what to read there. The softest gasp escaped his lips and his thumb moved over her cold knuckles. "I was rude."

"It's okay," she assured him and tried to extricate her hand from his without hurting his feelings. "Could I have my hand back?"

"I don't think so." There was mischief in his eyes. After a fleeting glance around the cafeteria, he released her hand, and she folded them on her lap feeling tingles over her palm where his hand had been. "Tonight." It was an unspoken promise in his voice.

"Where would you like us to meet?" She asked in a whisper.

"Do you want me to… pick you up?"

"NO!" She shouted. She would have been beet red if she was human. "Umm, no, Edward. I'll…ehh…meet you wherever you want." Edward watched her amused for a second, offering no alternatives. "Would you mind meeting me at the dirt road that gets in the forest?" Bella asked, unable to tear her gaze from his.

"Perfect. I will be there around five. Would you rather it were later?"

"Five is splendid."

"Five it shall be," he said courteously. The bell rang before she could read anything into that answer. "Would you allow me to escort you to our class?" he asked playfully.

This was a new side of him, and it would be a lie if Bella said she didn't like it. He was very amusing when he tried to speak like a true gentleman, like men would have spoken in her human lifetime. That thought nearly stopped her mid-step. She glanced at him, trying to read into what he had said, but she couldn't see it on his face. Was he doing this because he knew what she was?

He moved his chair closer to her in Biology and talked nonstop. The teacher even had to chide him a few times.

"Edward, be quiet," Bella hissed, cutting him middle of question. "Tonight."

He scowled a little but remained quiet. At the end of the class, he fell in step with her. "Where was I?"

"Favorite flower," she said quietly, rolling her eyes.

"Yes, so?" he asked eagerly.

"White and red flowers."

He glanced at her surprised but never stopped walking. "You won't give me names." It was a statement so she didn't answer him. "Would it be too soon to bring you flowers tonight?"

"Edward, can we not talk about this here? People can hear."

"So? It's not like we're committing incest or who knows what other trouble."

That you know of, she nearly said aloud. She was older than his grandparents.

"Oh, be silent," Bella said dismissively as they entered the Gym.

"Umm." She turned at his noncommittal noise and saw his eyes calculating as he watched her. "You have… an interesting way with words," he murmured.

Oh, crap! She had to be careful with her words, too. It wasn't enough that she had to be careful not to jump and suck him dry, but she had to be careful with what she told him.

They were playing volleyball during class, and Bella tried to stay on the other side of the net. Edward made sure she stood next to him so he could talk more. He could be stubborn when he wanted something. The adrenaline of playing made his blood more potent, and she kept swallowing mouthfuls of venom as she gave him one-worded answers. Every time she asked 'You?' or 'What about you?', he dodged the answer and had another question.

"What about sports, since we're here?" Edward asked as Bella hit the ball.

"I'm not a great fan of them."

"I prefer basketball and baseball."

"Oh, you decided to share?" She teased, turning to him. His ears pinked and he shrugged one shoulder.

"Well… eh, I thought…"

"What team?" She asked, eager to be the one asking the questions.

"The Mariners for baseball. They're Dad's favorite and I like them too. As for basketball… that's tough," he muttered and glanced her way.

"How come?"

"Well I like Michael Jordan so much that I have a soft spot for the Bulls, but if I am watching any other basketball team, I'd cheer on the Lakers."

Bella couldn't help but giggle, unable to keep the sound inside. He narrowed his eyes. She shook her head, trying to get a hold on the giggling fit. "You have a soft spot for bulls," she managed to spit out.

"Yes, I told you th…" He stopped talking and let out a loud laugh. "Ah, of course, you'd think of the bovine."

That made Bella laugh even harder, attracting attention. She noticed Tyler giving Edward the stink eye. He was unaware of the glare he received, busy regaining his composure.

Bella saw the ball before anyone else could see it. Tyler threw it with all his might at Edward, who was still unaware of his surroundings.

She couldn't let that happen. First, he would be hurt, and second, she didn't need his blood spilled. The monster nodded in agreement, but she had other reasons. She didn't want her food wasted.

"Edward, move," Bella hissed. He looked at her surprised. She could see that Tyler wasn't the only one looking at the ball that was zooming toward Edward's head, a few others did too. Before anyone could understand what happened, Bella hit the ball in the other direction and moved Edward from his previous spot.

She couldn't be in the room after that – the adrenaline, the blood pumping through everyone's veins made her head swirl. She rushed out, not caring about the consequences. Who would they tell? Would she get detention? She'd do it without blinking.

Bella sped home and wondered if it was a wise idea to meet Edward in the evening. He would be even more suspicious.

At two minutes to five, she decided to go. She ran through the forest and as she approached their meeting spot, she saw his car at the edge of the dirt road. He was inside, messing his hair and tapping his foot nervously to the floor.

Bella rapped on the passenger's window, and he started. He jumped out of the car and came to her, looking scared.

"Um, hey," he whispered in a trembling voice.

"Hi." He was terrified. Maybe that was for the best.

"Uh… about Gym…"

"Are you okay?" She asked, scanning him. He appeared to be without a scratch.

"Yes, yes. I was wondering…"

"I am fine," she said, cutting him off.

"Of course you are!" he exclaimed then his cheeks turned pink. "Umm, can we not go anywhere?"

Bella froze and felt her heart sinking. She should have expected that. He had probably told his family to pack and move far away from here.

"Oh, okay."

His eyes lit up. She didn't understand him anymore. "Can we go to your place? Please? We really need to talk. Uninterrupted."

"Edward…"

"Bella, I know some things… I have a theory – I don't want to talk about this here."

"Why don't you park here, just behind those trees?" She asked. "I don't want you to wreck your car."

He hesitated for a second then did as told. Bella joined him at the front of his car and led him to her house. She hadn't thought him this clumsy, but he nearly managed to give her a heart attack – quite hard to do since her heart wasn't beating any longer. She knew that from the second he stepped foot in her house, there would be no going back. He seemed to realize it too and stood just before the threshold for a moment, looking inside the single room house.

Edward took a big breath and stepped through the doorway, closing his eyes. Bella hadn't moved from her position near the door, which placed him just inches away. He looked down at her and gave her a half smile. She was wondering if it was wise to close the door when his warm hand cupped hers that was hovering on the door handle.

"It's okay, you can close it." His voice was honey soft and she could hear some false bravado under his cool demeanor.

"You can go back, I'll understand."

"No, I want to talk to you. Close the door."

He walked into the house, which gave Bella no other choice but to close the door. When she turned around, Edward was on the couch, looking as comfortable as if he had been there many times before. She sat next to him, but left a good gap between them.

"About earlier-"

"I know about you," he cut her off. His penetrating green gaze left her speechless.

"Sorry?" She managed to ask after a few quiet minutes.

"I know what you are." His cheeks turned red and his eyes focused on the carpet.

Bella didn't expect this very conversation so soon. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm not scared so don't play coy, Bella. I know you are… you aren't… you… you know?"

She pressed her lips together, wondering if they were thinking the same word. Human. He took a deep breath and met her eyes. His short intake of breath made her realize one huge mistake on her part. She hadn't put new contacts in her haste to meet him on time. Crap.

She closed her eyes and willed the red to disappear, or to somehow make him forget what he'd seen.

"Is it really true?" he asked softly. His scent engulfed Bella's space as he moved closer, his heart beating erratically.

"Yes." Her answer seemed to ricochet around the room. She was afraid to open her eyes. She could still feel him close, but what if he left? "How did you figure it out?"

"I won't tell a soul!" He vowed, and touched her hand letting a small electrical current zap through her. "Bella, have you forgotten my favorite books?"

"No one has ever… Aren't you scared?" she asked in a small voice.

"Why should I be scared?" he asked confused. That made her open her eyes and gape at him. Because I frequently drink from you and a part of you knows that.

She didn't answer verbally, just shook her head in disbelief.

"Everything seemed to fit. You know? The smooth, cold skin, your words, your gestures, you don't eat… and now…" Their eyes met as if to cement his unspoken words.

"Yes," she said, stopping his rambling. He had every right to be nervous. "Do you really understand this? What I am? Why aren't you running the other way?"

"Because Bella, I've read somewhere th-"

Bella jumped to her feet effectively stopping his words and sending his heart in overdrive.

She rounded on him. "What did you read?" She thundered. "As far as anyone knows that is all fiction!"

"Yes, but it's not," he answered promptly and calmly. Though, his heart was still beating too wildly.

"Edward… I am dangerous."

"I know you won't hurt me."

She snorted at his innocence and his eyes grew twice their normal size. "So it's true!" he shouted. She opened her mouth, but before she could say anything, he rushed on. "Let me talk, please." Bella waved a hand impatiently. "I read somewhere that if a human is bitten he is bonded to the…" His eyes met hers and he took a shuddering breath. Yes, say the word that we have been dancing around, she urged him silently. "Vampire."

"I think that's a lie."

"You aren't su-" He stopped talking. "You… did you… have you really…"

"What?" She was afraid of this question.

"Did you bite me?"

Bella didn't move, not wanting to betray anything. His heart was flying as he watched her with true terror on his face. Had he expected her to deny his words? Had he expected her to act like a vampire, or pretend she wasn't one? Was he that foolish?

"When?" he asked softly, his voice trembling.

She still didn't move, nor answered him. She wasn't even breathing, afraid to hurt him somehow. Edward frowned and rose. "When? How long do I have?"

It was her turn to frown. "What are you talking about?"

"You know what," he snapped. "You bit me. I will be like you."

Bella suppressed a smile. Thankfully, that part was wrong. "I haven't answered yet."

"You didn't have to. Your silence spoke volumes." He fell back on the couch. "But I feel fine. I mean, I'm a little drained. Now I know why. When, Bella?"

She knelt in front of him and gazed at him concerned. "Do you feel unwell?"

"Do you even care?"

"Always. What can I do?"

"Some water would be nice, but you surely don't have any," he muttered. "I have a bottle in my car."

She didn't wait for him to finish talking, as she sprinted out of the door and to his car before he realized what happened. Her brain was working a hundred miles per second. What should she do? Was this the right choice after all? Right now, he was really scared. She grabbed the bottle of water and ran back. He was in the same position she had left him forty seconds ago.

"Here, drink." She offered him the bottle and he looked up startled. He blinked a few times then uncapped the bottle and took a few swigs.

"That was fast," he said appreciatively.

"Umm, can I talk now?" She wondered.

"I am counting on that. You know, I really want to hear this. There's no bite on me, yet you say you did it."

"Edward, I didn't answer your question. You jumped to that conclusion."

"So you didn't… umm… drink-" He shuddered.

Bella sighed heavily and sat at his feet. "I did," she answered softly. "I am sorry, although I shouldn't be since that's what I'm supposed to do. But there's something different about you."

"Who else? Did you… my mom? Dad?" Edward asked in panicked voice.

"Only you." He raised his eyebrow. "The books are right and wrong at the same time. As are all your sources, at that," she added.

"Why? Are you denying it?"

"No, but before I divulge anything, I'd like to know how you feel about this. Be honest. Are you afraid?"

He gazed down at her and bit his lower lip. "I should be, shouldn't I?"

"You should."

"I'm not, though. I find you fascinating. Partly, because you are my every dream come true… and partly, because – maybe it's the thrill of it. I'm not sure, but I like being around you. More so since I realized what you are."

She watched him astonished. He had no sense of self-preservation! "Do I have your word that no one will know of me?"

"I swear that."

"Well then I shall start a very boring story and pray it won't frighten you."

"I told you that you're fascinating. You can't drive me away, Bella," he said petulantly.

"I'll sum it up," she promised, and her hand found his. He squeezed it but she barely felt the pressure. "I woke up alone to this world. Someone very cruel did this to me. I met different nomads that explained the rules and how to hide… I have done everything on my own. There was one big thing I hated about this, besides the monster I had become. I had to kill in order to feed. I tried to make myself believe that humans did that all the time in order to eat, but I was killing innocent people not animals. I tried to kill only bad ones, but I still felt guilty for taking lives." Bella paused and gauged his expression. He was looking with a mixture of awe, shock and fondness. The boy was crazy. "An idea came to me once when I saw a woman cutting her finger while chopping vegetables. I didn't have to bite and kill anyone in order to feed. That was the best day of my entire existence. I use my nails to cut skin."

"What?" Edward asked, sounding a bit choked. She made a movement above her wrist with the nail. His eyes narrowed. "My wrist… it hurts."

"I am incredibly sorry."

"Can I see?"

For the first time since she had become a vampire, Bella lost her balance and fell on her ass. Her mouth fell open as her eyes widened. Was he insane? Did he have a death wish?

He looked so sincere in that second, so innocent and young.

"I can't believe… I've never fallen," she muttered and resumed her crouched position. "You are insane, kid. I'm sorry to say it."

"I've read it-"

"Edward!" Bella snorted, unable to catch herself. "Forget what you read! Aren't you the slightest bit afraid after what I told you?"

"Well, I know you won't bite me since you have other methods. I'm safe."

"You're anything but safe! Your blood is the most potent I had ever smelled. It makes my head spin and… it's so…" She decided not to say it. Delicious? Mouthwatering? Addicting? "There's no other blood like yours."

"It can be different?" he asked confused. He was taking it so lightly as if they were talking about her favorite food. And they were, to some extent.

"Yes, just like you love those muffins."

"Do you mean that my blood smells like a muffin to you?" he asked amused. Bella couldn't stop the smile that spread on her face. He was so cute.

"You could say that," she allowed.

"Then how can you stay here? Because I can't stay near muffins for long."

"I hope I won't frighten you, or maybe this will be the awaking I was waiting for, but Edward… let's talk about muffins, okay?"

He nodded solemnly but a small smile appeared on his lips. He seemed intrigued.

"You have a big delicious, warm raspberry muffin. What would you do?"

"Eat it," he said promptly.

"It's the only one you will ever get. Imagine that you could keep it warm and fresh for a long time. Would you eat it all at once?"

"Probably not, but I'll always go back and… Wait!" He exclaimed and his eyes widened. "I am this muffin?"

"Yes," she said quietly.

He watched her shocked and then gasped. "Umm, not to give you ideas or anything… but I'd eventually eat that muffin."

"I won't. I promise. If you got attached to that muffin, you'd be unable to eat it all. Ever."

"That's sort of disturbing," Edward muttered. Alas! He is scared! "It's sort of weird to get attached to a muffin, but I understand where you're going." Bella could feel herself deflate. She couldn't show him how dangerous this was. "But there are other… muffins out there." He seemed fond of this new metaphor for food.

"There are, but I want just this one." She allowed him to look into her eyes, hoping the red there would scare him. "I can't have any other muffin."

"Why?"

"I simply can't, and trust me, I tried. There's something about you and not only about your blood… it's you, Edward. You."

"What about me? I'm a normal boy," he muttered, stubbornly.

"How wrong you are there! When I first smelled you… it was so hard for me."

"How can you do this anyway?" He interrupted. He had leaned with his elbows on his knees and was impossibly close now. His warm breath fanned over her face.

"It's not without difficulty, but if I feed regularly I can do it."

"Your eyes?"

They were back to one thousand and three billion questions. "I wear contacts."

"I knew it!" he exclaimed jubilantly. His cheeks colored and he cleared his throat. "That was one of my theories."

"Of course." Bella had the sudden urge to hug him close, but she was afraid of hurting him. "I'd like to try something. It might fail, but I'm willing to try. You have to stay still, mister."

He offered his hand, wrist up, straightened his back and he seemed to have ceased breathing. She watched him, confused by his actions, then it all fell into place and a mad giggle erupted from her flaming throat. He was offering himself to her.

"That's not what I had in mind, silly boy."

He dropped his hand and exhaled slowly. "Then what?"

"I would like to hug you." The words seemed foreign to her. She had never had the desire to hug someone.

"Won't it be difficult? Your nose will be really close to my skin." Oh, the ever considerate prey. She smiled ruefully.

"Let me decide that and please don't move. And breathe. If you cease breathing, your heartbeat accelerates along with the blood pressure. Please, breathe," she pleaded him.

"Okay." He opened his arms and scooted to the edge of the couch.

If she could do this, she was stronger than she thought. Bella cut her breathing, just to be sure she didn't screw this up, and slowly wrapped her arms around him. He inhaled sharply, maybe from her coldness, maybe from the shock of hugging a vampire… or maybe finally he was scared. His heart beat steadily, and after a few seconds, she felt his fingers moving over her shirt. She liked this. She loved this. She wanted more hugs from him.

Bella took small breaths, adjusting to his potent smell.

It was excruciating to be engulfed in her favorite muffin, but the other sensations that coursed through her made her almost forget about his scent. Almost. The monster seemed to wake and perked her head up, eyes glowing red and trained on the jugular vein that pulsed in his throat.

Bella wrenched herself from his arms.

Edward watched her confused and looked disappointed. "I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault," she assured him. "I didn't think I could do that much. I feel better now."

He grinned and she found herself answering with the same wide smile. His grin faded and a frown took its place. "Where are the fangs?"

He was so serious and concerned that she couldn't help the laughter that bubbled up.

"There are no fangs, silly boy."

"No fangs?" He was utterly disappointed.

"You sound like a child, you know?" She teased and approached him again.

"Bu- but… I thought-"

"Wrong," she said loudly, before he could tell her about his reading material again. "Everything is a lie, a myth. The sleeping, burnt by the sun, garlic, stake to heart, whatever you name it… it's all a lie."

"Oh." He looked like a kicked puppy. "There must be something right! They had to base what they wrote on something," he said petulantly.

"The speed is right."

"How fast can you run?" he asked eagerly, his eyes glowing in the dark room. She really lived like a century ago. With no light, only the candle light or the rarely used fireplace.

"Faster than a race car."

"Wow. Can I see that?"

"I can show you, but you probably won't see me."

"Ah, you're right."

"Aren't you scared, not the slightest bit?"

"Not of you."

"But?"

"I don't want to go home. Is that bad? I must have sounded rude when I said you're all my dreams come true, but I meant it. You know how is it when you want something so badly that when you get it, you can't let it go?"

"Yes, Edward, but would you please go home? It is very late and I'm sure your mother is worried. What if I told you that I would be with you sooner than you think?"

"Like tonight?" he asked, quietly.

"Yes."

Her favorite crooked smile appeared on his face just as his phone started ringing. He jumped and fumbled with it before answering. His face had caught fire.

"Are you on your way home, honey?" His mother asked softly.

Edward glanced at her, and she knew he was aware she could hear the conversation. "Um, yes."

"Okay, hurry. It's already dark."

"Alright, I'll be there shortly." He hung up and looked at his knees then his gaze found hers.

She sighed heavily and he nodded to himself. "Umm, I should head home."

"You should."

They were at an impasse. Neither wanted to leave the other. Bella held out her hand. "Come." He took it reluctantly and she led him out of the house.

"No locking?" he wondered when she started to his car.

"Who is going to break in my house out here?"

He shrugged and grasped her hand tighter. They walked quietly for a few minutes until an owl disturbed the night's silence. Edward's heart picked up and she could have sworn she heard him whimper.

"You've got to be kidding me!" Bella exclaimed, making him jump again and stumble over a dead root. She caught his elbow before he could fall.

"What?" He squeaked and looked toward her. She was sure he couldn't see through the dark night around them.

"Afraid of the darkness?" she teased, and he shivered.

"No!" Ah, again with the bravado. He was such a boy!

"I guess it's okay. You're only human, after all."

"Not helping," he muttered under his breath.

"Very good hearing," she said lightly, and he answered with a loud groan. "We're here." She stopped next to his car. He stepped inside quickly and breathed a sigh of relief. She giggled and earned another scowl from him.

"Stupid vamp."

"Ouch."

"Oh, crap! Can you pretend not to hear everything?"

"Nope!" She sang and leaned over the open window of his side. "Promise me to eat and drink. I will be with you soon."

"How soon?"

"I have homework, too. After I finish… I will be there."

"Argh… I forgot about that!" he moaned.

"I will help with yours. Now, hurry, you don't want to worry your mother."

"She thinks I was in Port Angeles at a library."

"What?" Bella asked more venomously. "You lied? No one knew you were with me?"

"Um… no?"

"Why Edward? That was a very stupid thing to do."

"I have to go. Mom will be worried," he said, changing tactics. That was fine, she could wait.

"Okay, I will see you in half an hour," she promised and patted his hand that was gripping the steering wheel. "Drive carefully, the road is icy."

"Yes, mom." He rolled his eyes and lifted the window.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: A curious prey

With the homework done in less than ten minutes, Bella was running toward Edward – her little muffin. A joyful giggle erupted from her throat. She felt lighter than ever.

Edward was dining when she arrived and peeked inside the kitchen. They were at dessert. She saw him eyeing a muffin, biting on it tentatively, then munching slowly. Was he thinking of their conversation? He swallowed thickly and grabbed two more muffins, put them on a plate and bid his parents good night. She decided to wait for him in his room.

She was at the foot of his bed when he entered and stopped in the doorway, his heart slamming against his ribcage. He was looked right at her through the dark room.

"Bella?" he asked in a small voice.

"Yes."

He sighed in relief and closed the door. "I… how did you get here?"

"The window," she answered.

He padded to the window and looked down then turned to her with a frown. "A vamp thing?"

"Yes," she agreed and rose. "You didn't finish your muffin."

"I decided to cherish them."

She laughed and had another overwhelming urge to hug him. "I'm going to hug you again," she warned him and he opened his arms. This time, she tucked her head under his chin and he wrapped his arms as tight as he could around her.

"Bella?"

"Hmm?" Bella hummed, not ready to breathe yet.

"I think… I like you, in fact… I like you very much."

She leaned back and gazed at him then tucked her head back. She listened to his heart as it beat a tad louder than normal. Was this possible? She wanted this to work more than anything.

"Are you still with me?"

She nodded against his chest and tightened her arms around his waist.

"Ow."

Bella hissed and wrenched herself from the hug. "Did I hurt you?"

"Just a little too much pressure. You didn't answer."

"I am sorry for hurting you. I wasn't breathing while being so close to you. I'm still getting accustomed to your scent. It might take a while, if that is possible."

"You can stop breathing? For how long?"

"As long as I please," she answered, smirking. "Don't try it at home."

"Ha ha!" He stood there quiet for a moment then fidget. "I have to… go shower and change."

"I'm not stopping you!"

"I was wondering… if you'd…" He gulped loudly as his face flushed.

"I am not washing your back." She smirked.

"I didn't want to say that!" He replied embarrassed. "Could you help with my homework so we could talk more?"

"Why, you little profiteer!" Bella regretted her outburst at the sudden silence from downstairs.

"Are okay, Edward?" His father's voice came from downstairs.

"YEAH!" Edward shouted back, then smirked at Bella. "Come on, please. I have so many other questions."

"Just this one time," she promised.

He grinned. "Thank you!" He leaned toward her and she moved back. "Just… never mind."

"Not yet," she murmured.

"On the cheek," he insisted.

"Any where. Please, have patience. I'm not even sure I can do it."

As he showered, she finished his homework and she was just closing his English notebook when he entered the room.

"It's done," she declared proudly.

"All of it?" he asked astonished.

"Yep."

"Wow… that was fast." He sat on his bed and patted a spot next to him. "Come here."

"Aren't you tired?" She wondered as she sat next to him.

"Not exactly. I'd like to ask you a few more questions."

"Just a few?" Bella teased and touched his leg. He was so warm… His heart picked up and a small grin formed on his lips. "Why don't you lie down first?"

"I'll fall asleep," he groaned.

"I'll be here in the morning. We can talk for as long as you'd like."

He sighed and listened, lying down. She sat at his feet. "Ah, not there," he moaned and shifted so he was pressed against the wall. "Come here."

That was too close, but she couldn't deny him. She rested her back against the headboard and put the pillow on her chest, Edward took the invitation to nestle his head there, wrapping his arms around her.

"I still can't believe it," he murmured, glancing up.

"I cannot believe you, either. You took everything so lightly that I am afraid, in the morning, you'll realize what a mistake you made."

"There's no mistake, Bella. I'm… uhmm uhhh… infatuated with you."

She giggled at his choice of words and he grinned. "You don't have to use such words," she said softly.

"I always found that old words or phrases are much more wonderful than those simple words we use today." He sighed and took her hand. "Can you tell me more about you?"

"What do you want to know?"

"You told me that you don't know how this happened," he murmured.

"This? It's pretty easy. It was sort of instantaneous, Edward." She giggled at his silly question.

"No… I meant, you becoming a… vampire," he said softly, gulping before saying the taboo word.

"Oh… do we really have to talk about that? I don't particularly enjoy remembering it."

"It's okay. Forget I mentioned it. Would this change things?"

"What things?"

"At school? Out of school. I don't know," he said with a shrug.

"There won't be a change. You promised not to talk about what you know."

"No change?" He sounded upset and disappointed. "I thought that… maybe… umm…"

He was blushing and his heart was humming wildly against his ribcage. What could have caused him distress? "Take your time," she said patiently.

Edward turned around and looked into her eyes. The swirl of his scent around the air between them was almost too much, but Bella was determined to be there and listen to him.

"You can't possibly say that! I mean, we can't go back to what was last week! I want to talk to you at school, I want to… uhh I'd like to… be close to you," he mumbled embarrassed.

"Ah, I see. Of course, we'll be closer."

.

.

.

Bella stayed true to her word the next day and acted normal around him, even let him accompany her to her every class. The boy could be insistent. This new closeness was helping her achieve her personal goal, to be able to be really close to him without holding her breath. She kept wondering if she would ever be able to kiss his cheek, but that answer would come with time. By the end of the week, people were talking and there was a rumor about them being together. Even Angela asked, and Bella couldn't deny it. She just smiled and shrugged casually before sitting next to Edward in the cafeteria. He always had questions and she gladly answered them, returning some of them, and by some miracle, he was answering back.

"I find this sort of exciting," he told her on the next Saturday as they sat on his bed, doing homework.

"What? History?" she asked amused.

He shook his head, chuckling. "Sneaking around."

"Ah… I'd feel better if you told your mother, you know?"

"Why do you insist that people should know? I like this being our little thing, if I can call it that."

"Edward, anything can happen at any second. Imagine what would happen if, say, you accidentally cut your finger." She had tried to explain to him the necessity of telling people about them but he didn't approve.

"Don't go there, again! What would happen? It's not like you…" He stopped and frowned. "You're going to do it, anyway."

"I'm trying so hard not to think of that!" She hissed. "It's been over a week since I last fed and… I really don't want to hurt you."

"Now, that you have my consent, you won't do it?! Maybe you like the sneaking around, too." He smirked and returned his attention to the notebook on his lap.

"Lately, I've been trying to prolong the inevitable, but I can't go more than two weeks. And now that I'm constantly around you, it's harder," she whispered, admitting it aloud for the first time.

"Oh. So now… do you need…?"

"Yes, Edward."

His heart took off and it seemed to make things worse. She swallowed and closed her eyes, trying to regain composure.

"We're alone and you have my approval."

Bella snorted and moved closer to him. "You need to be asleep."

"Why?"

"I don't want you to see me doing that to you!" she hissed, her eyes dropping to his wrist that was resting on his lap. She could see the pulse beating there. "This isn't something you should see, no matter how curious you are."

"Would you believe me if I told you that I've been dying to see it?" He looked so sincere and curious and excited and young… so innocent.

"I'm sorry, Edward. I can't let you see that. Let's finish this."

"No, Bella." She hadn't heard him speak with such determination before. "Your eyes are onyx-like, you need to feed."

"Do you even hear yourself?"

A look of shock appeared on his face; it was replaced with a disappointed one. "I really want to see this."

She sighed, annoyed, and glared at him. "You can't! What could be so fascinating about this? I'd be at my worst! Do you really want to see me sucking your blood?" She cringed as the words left her mouth.

He gasped and watched her somewhat afraid. Had she managed to scare him? "Imagine it the other way round. Would you like to see it?" he asked softly, wrapping his fingers around hers.

"What? I don't have blood. I can't suck myself or whatever is going on in your mind."

He laughed loudly. "No, Bella! I meant, me being like you and you being like me. Would you have liked to see me… feeding from you?"

Her breath caught, not that she needed to breathe but it was instinctive. She seemed to suffocate for a wild second. She could imagine a vampire Edward hovering over her and sinking his teeth in her throat. Blood dripping from his mouth. Eyes glowing red. She might have moaned because she saw him smirking. She understood him completely. He found it… erotic, somehow.

"Edward, this isn't like Hollywood pictures. It's gruesome, not very… exciting," Bella explained.

"I still want to see it. Let me decide if I want to see it again or not."

They held their gazes for a few long minutes before she made up her mind. She had to prove to him that there wasn't anything sensual about a vampire feeding.

"When is your mother due home?"

His eyes lit up and then he turned to the watch. "About half an hour from now. And Dad always comes after six."

There was time. "Are you positive?" she asked, feeling like she was about to do a very horrible thing.

"Yes, I want to see you."

Bella put the books aside and sat next to him, taking his wrist in her hand. His pulse started racing, stirring the tantalizing scent under her nose. She hadn't done it before under the watch of the prey. Usually, her prey was either unconscious or climbing to the inevitable release. She stroked his wrist and brought it to her lips. She dropped a kiss there and offered him a small smile.

"Can you try not to… look every second at me? I can't even do it." It was somehow intimidating.

"Okay, I'm not looking," Edward said with a small grin and closed his eyes, peeking after a second. His tentative grin turned into a full grin and she huffed. "Okay, okay, no peeking!"

"Good. Relax and I need you to stop me. Promise, you will stop me." This was important. She had no idea if he would moan now that he was awake.

"When?" He opened his raw green eyes.

"A minute or two. I usually know when to retract, but… it can be distracting."

"I'll stop you. I'll remind you to cherish the muffin." He winked. She laughed, then sighed deeply. He closed his eyes again, and she raised a finger to his wrist. She couldn't believe what she was about to do. Bella ran her nail softly over his skin and his sharp intake of breath told her that it hurt him. She pressed her lips there and tasted the nectar that flew down her throat, soothing the ache.

"Holy shit!" Edward gasped out. "That's so…ah…hot!"

She kept drinking, sating her thirst and he kept moaning and cursing under his breath. The scent of his arousal hit her nostrils and she realized that he really enjoyed this, even awake. Bella took her lips off the wound and licked it a few times, meeting his eyes. They were a few shades darker and his breathing was labored.

"Holy Mother of…Jesus! You…that…oh, oh Bella!" He groaned. "I think…I need to go to the bathroom," he whispered softly, blushing quite badly.

She kept his fragile wrist in her hands and made sure that the wound was closed then peppered kisses over it. "It's normal, you know?" she whispered.

"What?" he asked in a rough voice.

"For you to be… excited. That's the effect vampires have on humans."

"I know, but I never thought it could be so… carnal." His eyes met hers and after a second, he leaned closer and cupped her cheek. "Please, I have to kiss you."

His low voice made her shiver, awakening new human reactions. "I'm not sure…"

"Let me try. Bella, I need to kiss you or I'll burst something," he pleaded quietly. She couldn't find the words to tease him about his choice of words. "Please," Edward whispered, his breath fanning over her lips.

She didn't feel the urge to hurt him, because she had just fed. Maybe they could do it, after all. "We're only trying, so don't get your hopes up," she advised.

A wide smile spread on his lips and both of his hands cupped her cheeks. His eyes watched hers carefully as he lowered his head. She kept expecting the natural urge to bite him, but it never came. Before his lips touched hers, he sucked in a breath. Then their lips touched. It felt like a current ran through her body and she couldn't help the sound that escaped her mouth. Edward's lips were soft and warm and they molded perfectly over hers. He sighed softly and took her upper lip between his, sucking softly. His eyes were closed and his cheeks were a rosy pink, his heart was humming wildly like a caged bird. It took her a second to realize he had stopped kissing her, and that if she wasn't holding his arms, he would have been on the floor.

"Edward?" she asked, surprised. What happened? He didn't answer. It had been too much for his frail human body – the drinking, the kissing. She leaned for his glass of water and splashed his cheeks with the water. He blinked a few times then opened his eyes and looked at her, confused. "You're okay?"

"I…guess. What happened?" he asked softly.

"I think we overdid it. You fainted. Drink this," she whispered, and put the glass in his hand.

"That never happens in the movies," he muttered, and turned beet red. He busied himself with drinking the water.

"Do I have to remind you that this isn't a movie?" Bella smiled at him, wondering if he'd ever grasp that real vampires were far worse than the Hollywood versions. "How do you feel?" she asked concerned when he moaned quietly and leaned back on the pillows.

"Like…I've been drained of my blood," he teased. She squeezed his ankle to ground him.

"I'm serious. You should have stopped me when you started feeling light headed."

"I was focused on other stuff," he muttered and swallowed thickly. "Can you bring me more water?"

"Sure." She took the glass, went to the kitchen, and filled it with cold water. When she returned, he had an arm over his eyes and she thought he was asleep. She placed the glass on the nightstand and watched him apprehensively. How could she keep doing this to him? It couldn't be healthy.

"Bella?" Edward asked quietly.

"Hmm?" She zoomed to his side and took his hand.

"Is it weird that I find your red eyes very sexy?"

"Of all the questions you could have asked…" she muttered annoyed, but she couldn't conceal her amusement. "I think there's something wrong with you."

"Dad always tells me that I'm crazy. It's not news to me."

She laughed and leaned over him, removing his arms from his eyes. "I love your eyes, they're so green," she murmured and kissed his cheek.

He blushed and averted his eyes. "Is that water around?" he asked weakly.

"Here." She put the glass in his hand and helped him to a sitting position so he could drink.

There was a knock on the front door and he sprayed the last drops of water on her. "Sorry."

Bella frowned and tried to think of an escape. She had promised she'd stay away. It was one of the dogs.

"Are you okay?" Edward asked confused, getting up.

"Go and answer. I'll… see you later." She went to his window just in time to see that Quileute boy jumping up and landing in the room. She froze from his close proximity and hissed loudly.

"What the hell, Jake?" Edward groaned. "Couldn't you have waited?"

Edward looked at ease, obviously accustomed to young men entering by window. In that second, she realized that it must have happened before. Edward knew about the dogs. Did he know the legends, too?

"I thought you promised to stay away!" The dog, Jake, said. He was quivering and trying to maintain composure. "I told you! Bite, not kill!" He snarled.

"Jacob, what the hell?" It seemed that those words were Edward's favorite. "Get the hell out of here."

"Not before I have her promise to never come near you."

"You don't have my promise on that," Edward snapped and wrapped an arm around Bella. "Get out!"

"What have you done to him?"

"She had my approval on everything. I don't even want to hear about your superstitions."

"Everyone is seething!" Jacob yelled. "They thought the old coven was back but it seems that it takes only one to bring back the gene and give us a little surprise."

"What are you talking about?" Bella asked at the same time as Edward.

"Leah is… she will be like us, soon."

Edward froze besides her, and then brought her closer to his chest. She let him do whatever he wanted.

"I'll be watching your every move, pretty leech."

"You can't do anything," she told him.

"The hell, I can't! Just wait until I catch you in act! Although, your eyes tell me a different story." He turned around and left. She was ready to rush after him and lie some more, tell him she wouldn't hurt anyone. Edward caught her wrist and shook his head.

"He knows… he is…"

"I know, Edward."

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: A night together

Edward sat quietly on the kitchen chair and listened to his mother as she grumbled about working on a Saturday. She was an interior designer; she helped people create harmony around their houses. It was a nice job.

"Did you even eat today?" she asked suddenly, narrowing her eyes at him.

"Yes," he moaned for the hundredth time. He had eaten – a lot. It wasn't his fault he was pale, being drained of blood had that effect on him. "I even finished my homework."

"You usually finish it on time," she pointed out and started preparing dinner. "Will you help me with this?" She held an onion up, and Edward jumped to his feet, ready to help her. That's when the weakness came back and he swayed. He prayed she hadn't seen it, but she had.

"You're starting to worry me, honey." His mom felt his forehead. "Are you sure you are okay?"

"Yes, Mom. I'm positive." He took the knife and started cutting the onion. She kept eyeing him speculatively.

Maybe Bella had been right about 'too much, too soon.' He remembered how he felt when he'd seen her drinking from his wrist. The sensation was indescribable. He had been able to feel his blood leaving his body. He felt how gentle she tried to be, how her red eyes bore into his while she licked his skin. Edward bit on his lip to prevent himself from moaning. It was normal to find that erotic, he'd seen too many movies on the subject to think otherwise, but seeing the real thing… it was much more intense. He wanted to see her drinking from him every time she needed. And the kiss… Oh God.

"Did you cut yourself?" Mom asked from his left, worried.

He looked down at his fingers and then at her. "Nope."

"I thought you did. You just groaned."

Oh fuck, he had to be careful with his thoughts around her. He helped her with the stew then took his plate upstairs to watch a movie. He had to be away from his mother for a little while; she knew him all too well.

"Must you bring that stench here?" Bella groaned from atop of his bed.

"What?" he asked confused.

"Your food… It's downright gross."

He laughed at her scrunched nose and she narrowed her eyes. "Movie?" he offered.

"Sure," she agreed, turning slightly to the side and leaning against the wall. He stayed at his desk while he ate, and halfway through the movie, he took the plate down. The kitchen was empty, and he breathed a sigh of relief – no more questions. He grabbed a bottle of water and made his way back to his room where he locked the door.

Edward sat next to Bella and couldn't help but smile at how focused she was on the movie. She smiled and opened her arms, never taking her eyes off the screen. He nestled there against her cold chest and sighed. It felt so right to be there. He pressed his cheek to her breast and glanced up at her face. She was one of the most beautiful creatures he had ever seen, which had to be expected since she was a vampire.

A weird sound came from her body, and when he realized it was just the air going and coming from her lungs, he couldn't help but chuckle. She was fascinating.

"Aren't you watching the movie? You wanted it."

"You're far more interesting," he told her and closed his eyes. He could feel a blush rising to his cheeks.

"I'm still waiting for you to realize how dangerous I am."

"That won't happen. Not even Jake can take me away."

"Ah, he will be a problem. He told me about a treaty," she whispered and stroked his hair.

"Yeah, but it has to be on their land, not here."

"I'm sure, otherwise he would have made justice by now. I really wish there was some other way…" she mused and peered down at him. "I never had a problem with being close to humans, feeding or… just being close."

A sudden thought occurred to Edward, and it made his stomach lurch. He sat up and looked at her, surprised. Was she telling him what he thought she was?

"What's wrong, Edward?" Bella asked confused, and touched his cheek.

"You have… Did you… Oh…" He wasn't very articulate.

"Sorry?" she asked amused.

"You're like… sort of a… how is that named?" He wondered, raking through his brain for the right word. There was a name they used for female vampires that had sex with their preys. It started with 's', but for his life if he could remember it.

"Tell me what it is. Maybe I can help," she offered.

He blushed and looked down at the bed sheet. "I'll think about it…"

"Do you want to know if I was with… other men I had drunk from?"

He gulped embarrassed. Why was he so easy to read? Why? He nodded tentatively.

"The answer is yes, but before you jump to any conclusion…you have to know that it didn't mean a thing."

"I see," he muttered. He was only different because she liked his blood more than any other blood.

"Do I have to repeat that no one holds my interest beside you?"

"But you won't do that with me." As much was obvious from her reluctance to kiss him, let alone think of anything else.

"I think we should be happy that I could kiss you without hurting you," Bella told him seriously. "Let's think about other things later when I have gained some confidence in myself around you."

"But we kissed!"

"And I don't think I'll put you in such a risk any time soon," Bella added with finality. "What time do you usually go to sleep?" she asked before he could retort. She knew the answer, of course, but she had to distract him.

"Ten, but something tells me you already knew that," Edward grumbled.

"Why do you say that?" Her eyes were too wide, too innocent for Edward to believe her.

"Well for starters, you waited in my room that night without me mentioning where it is. And you are far too comfortable here for someone who just saw the room."

"You're quite perceptive."

"So, am I right?" he wondered.

"Maybe…"

His green eyes widened and his heart started beating faster as that adorable blush appeared in his cheeks. "So silly of me… of course you know," he muttered. He was such an idiot not thinking his words through. Of course Bella knew his room – she frequented it at night to sate her thirst.

Bella laughed and moved off the bed. "I was wondering how long it would take you to realize it."

He looked at her amused then sighed and went to his closet to grab pajamas. "Are you staying again?"

"If you want me to?"

"Always, Bella. Just hold on a second."

She nodded, and he went to his nightly routine. He was faster than other nights. However, when he left the bathroom, he didn't come right back, which surprised her. When she heard him saying 'goodnight' to his parents, she couldn't help but smile. They had done a great job at raising him. She didn't know how many teenagers these days did that.

As she waited for him to make his way back to his room, she saw a muffin from earlier today that he had abandoned when he forced Bella into doing homework. The door opened and Edward stepped inside, closing it softly. He made a beeline to the bed, where he snuggled under the blankets.

"It's sort of cold in the hallway," he explained although she didn't question his actions. Every human was different and cute in their mundane actions.

"Then I'll sit here," she told him, leaning against his desk.

"You could lie over the blanket," he protested.

"I don't think so." She watched him turning onto his side and watching her for a few minutes.

"It seems like we've known each other for years," he finally whispered.

"That's kinda true." She couldn't help but laugh at his confused face. "We attend the same school and we have a few classes together," she supplied.

"Right. You know what I mean!"

"Sure I do. Aren't you tired?"

"Not quite. Actually, I'm kind of hungry but it's too cold in the hallway."

Bella laughed at his impediment and glanced at the forgotten muffin. "Muffin?" She suggested.

He quirked an eyebrow then burst into laughter, burrowing his head in his pillow to muffle the sound.

"What could be so funny?" She wondered aloud, narrowing her eyes at him.

"Calling me names?" he asked, amused and trying to get a hold of his laughter.

She snorted and rolled hers eyes. "Actually, I was offering you this forgotten muffin."

"Crap," he mumbled, and she saw the rush of blood in his cheeks from across the room.

"It's nothing to be embarrassed about," she told him seriously and went to him, putting the cookie in his hand.

"It was your idea!" he muttered. "The food analogy."

"I thought we were over that, but if you insist, I could call you muffin," she teased him. Bella smiled when she heard his heart stuttering and his cheeks reddened further.

When he finally fell asleep, she took her spot on the floor next to his bed. One of the changes was that he was holding tightly onto her hand and had a small smile on his face.

She was worried about everything that was to come. She had never been this worried before. She used to have quite a peaceful life. Thank you, Edward, for spicing it up.

The wolves were keeping an eye on her and that made her hair stand up. Edward's friend seemed like an alright guy, the only off thing was his nature. She could see Jacob was just a teenage boy. If she put her mind to it, she could make him do as she said. He wanted Edward, his best friend, to be safe. She was the wrong thing in this story.

Bella sighed and returned her eyes to Edward's face, shocked to see his eyes open and watching her.

"Are you awake?" she whispered, hoping she was seeing things.

He gave her a small smile and removed his hand from mine, burying it under the blanket. "Sorry, I got a little cold."

She leaned to kiss his cheek. "Don't think that you are offending me. I'm sorry I didn't realize that your hand was freezing."

He nodded and closed his eyes. She bit her lip to keep herself from laughing. He wasn't going to remember this in the morning. She stroked his hair a little then moved to his desk chair. Her eyes fell on the photos there, and she found herself smiling at Edward through different stages of his life. Toddler Edward was the sweetest and cutest thing she had ever seen, dressed in blue overalls, sitting serious in his tall chair waiting for food. There were a couple pictures of him around age three or four, and he was in front of the house digging in the dirt, proud of himself. There was a picture with a freshly toothless Edward, blood still on his lips as he held his first fallen tooth to the camera. A few years later, he was outside with a little cat in his arms, not aware he was being watched. She never took him to be a cat person, or any animal person. The last two pictures were the newest. One was taken on what appeared to be his first day of high school, and the last one was taken at Christmas. He was between Jacob and that girl he had talked with outside, Leah. He was a little too close to her, but Bella brushed the jealous feeling aside.

Next, she scanned his desk, which was too neat for a teenage boy. Schoolbooks were precisely stacked in the corner, essays sitting on a little tower of their own next to his notebooks. Actually, after looking around the room again, it was really clean. His mother must be working hard with two men in her house. She was always busy with her job, she seemed to find time to clean the house, cook, and bake Edward's muffins.

Edward mumbled something from behind her, and Bella returned to his side, sitting at his feet. He flopped on his back and put his arm over his eyes. His feet pressed into her leg and she put her hand on them wondering what he was dreaming about. An alarm went off somewhere in the house, and she knew that his mother was awake. She had to leave. She was determined to allow him to spend a whole weekend day with his parents.

Bella heard Edward's mother coming to his room and quickly rolled under his bed.

Why is she here?

Elizabeth approached the bed, and Bella imagined her tugging the blanket better over his chest. She could hear Edward's heart beating faster as if he was waking up. He groaned loudly.

Is she insane? Why is she waking him up so early?

"What, Bella?" he moaned.

Bella grinned. He thought it was her. But then her grin fell when his mother huffed.

"Edward!" she hissed. "It's me. Your mother!" she said pointedly.

"OH! Hi, Mom," he said softly, his heart betraying him.

"You know what today is, right?" she wondered.

"The day I can get one more hour of sleep?"

"Unfortunately, no, and how much sleep do you need, kiddo? You went to bed around nine!"

"What's today, Mom?"

"Your Dad's birthday!" she hissed.

"Oh, crap! I forgot."

"I figured as much. I will work on a cake while you go shopping for a present."

"This isn't fair! He gets to sleep more," Edward grumbled and planted his feet on the floor, hissing. A second later, his feet disappeared. They were back on the bed, probably under the blanket. His mother laughed quietly.

"I told you to start wearing those slippers. It's pretty cold around here."

"Yes, Mom."

"I'll make you two sandwiches. You better be downstairs in five minutes."

"Sure."

They were both silent until his mother's steps disappeared down the stairs.

"Bella?" he whispered.

She came from under the bed, planting her hand over his mouth before he could scream in fright. "Sorry, it was the best choice," she apologized.

"Are you coming with me?" he asked once his heart settled down.

"If it would make you happy?"

"Immensely. Now, I'll brush my teeth before Mom shouts more. Where can I meet you?"

"How about the side of the road, near the dirt road that leads to my house?" she asked him.

He smiled and got out of the bed, cringing. "I'll see you in a bit," he mumbled and sprinted to the door.

She couldn't help but linger, and when he came out the front door, she was still in the shadow of the trees in front of his house. Bella made sure his mother wasn't looking before she darted to his car, going inside.

When Edward entered the car and snapped his seat belt, he glanced in her direction and shouted.

"Holy crap! Don't do shit like this, Bella," he groaned and clutched at his chest.

"Sorry," she whispered and shrugged.

"Sure you are!" He started the car and sped out of the town.

"Where to?"

"Port Angeles. I have a list."

.

.

.

They were in the assigned shop, and Edward was wandering through the aisles, trying to get everything from the list as she pushed the cart and watched him mesmerized.

"Do you like to help your parents?" she asked, watching as he looked between two cologne bottles.

"Well it's not really my favorite thing, but I know that I have to. I mean… they are my parents," he pointed out, glancing her way. "Can you help me?"

She went next to him and peeked at the colognes. One smelled horrible and the other smelled a little better.

"I'm not a great fan of those artificial scents, but this one smells better," she told him pointing to the blue one.

"I thought so. Okay, I'll get it." He put a box in the cart then turned to her. "We can go now. I think I got everything."

"What about a paper bag? A gift bag, I mean."

"Oh, right!" he moaned and took the cart from her hands, pushing it to the gifts and greeting cards area. "You know…I don't know if it is a good idea, but would you like to come with me?"

"Where?"

"Back home. I'd like to introduce you to them." His cheeks turned pink as he looked intently at the bags.

"You know I want them to know that you are seeing me," she reminded him.

"Not because of that," he hissed, turning around. "I want them to know you as…" He gulped and dropped his gaze.

"You want to tell them about me?" Bella wondered, slightly afraid and confused.

"Yes. Just…they…you…oh crap!" He groaned and ran a hand through his hair. "I don't want to ask this in a store but…I'd like to introduce you to them as my girlfriend."

"Really?" she asked astonished.

"Unless you have a problem with that."

"That would be lovely!" she exclaimed with a girly giggle then clapped a hand over her mouth. Edward laughed and sighed in relief.

"You act so normal sometimes…"

"Yeah, practice makes perfect," she said sheepishly and took his hand, squeezing it.

"Let's head back and do this!"

"Now?"

"Yes, why? Is that a problem?"

"Ummm, she will want me to stay over probably. Can't we do it some other day? Please, Edward."

"You can pretend to eat." He sounded so heartbroken.

"Okay, okay. I have just eaten if she asks something."

"That's my girl!" He beamed and wrapped his arm around her neck. She stiffened as his sweet scent engulfed her. "Ooops."

She caught his wrist, not allowing him to retract his hand. "I have to get used to this."

"The Earth wasn't created in one day, Bella," he said softly and took his arm back. "I understand. I guess."

Her little human was perfect.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: My girlfriend

Edward couldn't believe Bella had finally agreed to join him for this dad's birthday. Now, he was the scared one.

"You can turn back to my house," Bella whispered, putting her hand over his leg.

They were in his car, and had just left her place. She needed a few pairs of contacts, just in case.

"No, we're doing this," he said, trying to be convinced of his own words. He had no idea how this was going to work. Bella was the first girl he'd ever brought home, because she was his first girlfriend.

"So we are telling them we ran into each other at the store, right?" Bella asked again.

"Yes."

"In rest, we aren't going to lie, right?"

"Yes." She was too panicked. They were going to be okay. "We can keep a little secret, you know?" He hinted, parking the car in front of his house.

"I won't tell them about my nature, calm down."

"Good. That makes me feel better."

"You really thought I'd do it?"

"No!" Edward shouted, turning to her.

She laughed and exited the car. He took her hand and walked to the front door. He could feel his pulse racing.

"Wait, I can't do it," he moaned, stopping on the porch.

"Your mother is approaching the door so there's no backing down." Bella looked equally nervous.

"Finally, Edward!" Mom groaned loudly as she wrenched the door open.

Edward gulped as her eyes settled on Bella and looked her up and down. His hand nearly slipped from hers at how clammy it was, but Bella squeezed it and met his mom's gaze.

"Hello, Mrs. Masen."

Edward's mom blinked and raised her hand to shake Bella's. She looked a little dazed. That was the effect Bella had on people. "Hello! Umm…" She glanced at her son and raised an eyebrow.

"M-mo-mom…" Edward stammered and finally blurted out, "this is Bella." He couldn't meet her eyes.

"Bella, it's a pleasure," she told Bella then her questioning and amused gaze returned to her son.

Bella smiled encouragingly at him. He finally plucked up the courage and said more. "She's going to join us for Dad's birthday."

"Is she now? I am happy to hear that!"

"You are?" he asked, surprised and momentarily forgetting his embarrassment.

"Oh, come in! Don't stay out there in the cold!" Mom scolded them and stepped out of the doorway. She disappeared into the kitchen, leaving them to take off their coats and boots.

"Oh, no! Why didn't I think of this?" Bella groaned softly.

"What's wrong?" he asked, leaning against the wall with a boot in his hand.

"Please, don't laugh at my socks. I don't need them so I bought them for fun…"

"Like I could laugh at…." Edward couldn't finish the sentence as he dissolved in a fit of chuckles. She was wearing multicolored socks with toes.

"Edward, stop laughing!" she hissed, sounding stern.

"You…that…so funny!" He gasped, trying to get a hold of his laughter. "I'm sorry, Bella, but this is so funny!"

"As I said, I don't need them."

"Now, you'll have to think twice before buying something you don't need."

She narrowed her eyes and folded her arms in front of her chest, waiting for directions or trying to ignore him. Edward wasn't sure which one. He liked to think the first option was the correct one, so he led her to the living room.

"I hope this goes well," she muttered, sitting on the couch next to him.

"And if she insists on you eating…?"

"It would be polite to take a bite… but don't worry about that."

"Interesting choice of words," he said amused.

Bella turned to him, looking confused. Her eyebrows were puckered in the middle of her forehead as her now auburn eyes were watching him, trying to find an answer.

"You were talking about a bite…" Edward hinted and dropped his eyes.

"Oh…that's just a saying, but I can see why you will find it funny."

"Oh, ha ha. Let's laugh at the little human," he said sarcastically.

She didn't get a chance to answer. His dad appeared in the doorway and smiled.

"Here I thought you ditched me, today of all other days!" he said playfully.

"I should have. You slept more," Edward mumbled. "And… this is Bella," he whispered, gesturing to her, awkwardly.

She rose gracefully and offered her hand for shaking, smiling softly. His dad smiled back and Edward couldn't help but feel a little jealous. He shook her hand then kissed the back of it.

"It's a pleasure, Bella. I'm Edward, but call me Ed to avoid any confusion."

"The pleasure is mine, sir."

Edward hadn't seen her interacting with anyone else besides Ben and Angela. She was mesmerizing to watch.

"I'd like to say that I know about you, but Edward has been tongue tied," Dad said with a chuckle.

Edward felt his cheeks turning red and dropped his head. Why was his dad embarrassing him always?

"I didn't want to jinx it," Edward found himself saying. He wasn't sure where that lie came from.

"Yeah, we decided to wait and see if this went anywhere then make introductions," Bella told him, taking his side.

"Did you meet her parents?" Edward's dad asked, surprised.

"They're dead," Bella whispered bluntly.

"Ed! Are you the inquisition?" His mom came to their side and slapped her husband on the shoulder. "Don't mind him, my dear. I'm sorry if he brought back bad memories."

"Oh…it's quite okay. I don't…remember them well."

That was news even to Edward. They hadn't talked about this. Wasn't she supposed to remember everything from her human life?

"Who is taking care of you?"

"Ed, for God's sake!"

"It was a simple question."

"I fend for myself. There is…umm, Peter, who visits from time to time," Bella explained, looking down. "He's my…uncle."

"Oh, that's nice of him." Elizabeth smiled.

"Why aren't you living with him?" His dad was set to embarrass him some more.

"Why don't you come and help me finish lunch?" Edward's mom interjected, taking her husband's hand and dragging him out of the living room. He kept complaining that it was his birthday.

"Yeah," Edward mumbled and scratched the back of his head. "Sorry 'bout him."

"He's just asking normal stuff, I'm sure. I mean, I don't know what a parent would ask but… you know." She shrugged and started laughing.

He was glad she found it as uncomfortable as him. He wasn't the only one new to this.

"Is it true what you told Dad?" he asked in a hushed tone.

"What did I tell him?"

"About your parents and this Peter guy."

"Ehh, yes. I don't remember my parents very well. I have a few pictures to keep their memory alive."

"And Peter?" Edward insisted.

"Are you jealous, Edward?" she teased and pinched his cheek, a little too hard.

"Ouch," he muttered and rubbed the spot.

Her eyes widened and her lips replaced his fingers on his cheek. "I'm so sorry. I can't even play with you."

"It's not nice to play with your food," he told her as seriously as he could. Before she could say anything to his snide remark, he added, "So…Peter?"

"Oh, for God's sake, Edward! He is just someone I know. It was the first name that popped in my mind."

"So he isn't visiting?"

"No. I rarely see him."

"Good." He nodded.

.

.

.

As they took their seats at the table, Bella told Elizabeth that she had just eaten, but Edward's mom insisted that she should have at least some cake. While they ate the main course, Ed kept questioning Bella about different things making his wife roll her eyes or slap him. It was quite funny to see him so alive. He rarely got so enthusiastic.

Soon, Edward realized it wasn't just his dad. His mom's insistence on the cake, her bright smile now, made him realize they'd been waiting for him to bring a girl home. This was their opportunity.

"You don't have to," Edward whispered, bowing his head so only Bella could hear him.

"I'll be okay. A piece of cake won't kill me." She smiled, but he could see her cringing as she swallowed her bite.

His mom was beaming at them, her eyes dancing between their faces or to Edward's hand that was on Bella's on top of the table.

"This is very good, Mrs. Masen," Bella complimented and swallowed another bite.

He squeezed her hand and hoped she knew that he was there, with her. After her fifth bite, he couldn't take it anymore and switched their plates as his parents weren't looking. The relief on her face was instantaneous.

"…great that you aren't afraid to live alone."

It was getting old to hear his dad talk only about and with Bella. Now, he was back to the topic of her little house. Edward fought the urge to yawn but the fatigue was pulling him down, slowly and surely.

"Are you tired, sweetie?" His mom asked as he was trying to keep his head in his hand and eyes open.

"A little," he said and propped his head better on his palm.

"I should head home, too."

"I'll drive you," Edward offered, getting up and finally letting out the yawn that had been threatening to explode.

"I don't think you should drive, and you are welcome to sleep here if you are tired," his mom said softly, putting her hand on Bella's shoulder.

"Oh no, I can't possibl-"

She didn't get to finish the sentence before a knock on the front door was heard. Edward went to answer and came face to face with Leah.

She took a step back and scrunched her nose. Ah. I had almost forgotten. Leah was like the guys in La Push now.

"Hey, what are you doing here?" he asked, leaning against the doorframe. It took him a moment to realize he was rude, and that she might not be as absurd as Jake regarding Bella.

"My dad sent me with a little present for your dad. I'm not staying long. I can smell you have guests," she hissed repulsed and thrust the present bag in his hand. He nearly dropped it from her sudden movement. He knew from Jacob how fast they could be.

And apparently, Leah shared Jake's dislike for vampires. It was in their nature, as Jake had explained to him.

"Leah, wait!" Edward shouted when she turned to go. He put the bag near the door and went out to her. "I know…Jake told me…"

"And? You care?"

"I didn't think it was possible…"

"All the legends are true. Now, go back to your leech and let me go back home."

"At Christm-"

"That was different, wasn't it? I was normal and you weren't liable."

"Excuse me?" he shouted, fatigue burned down by anger.

"What? Am I wrong or am I right? Did I hit a nerve?"

"Leah, you don't know what you are talking about! Bella is different!"

"Oh, I'm sure about that. Jake told me about her eyes. I don't understand why no one ended her yet."

"WHAT? You can't!" he shouted, panicked. Edward couldn't imagine them hurting Bella. How would they do it? How would she die? She couldn't die – she was already dead.

"We can't?" Leah snorted. Her eyes flashed with anger. "I'll be waiting for a wrong move and I swear, I will kill her."

"Leah-" He tried to make her to see sense.

"Good bye, Edward." She turned around and disappeared into the forest, leaving him more scared than he'd ever been.

He knew all about the Quileute legends and about the treaty. The other vampires were different but Jake never told him what that meant. Leah was right. Why hadn't they sent Bella away or…worse? Were they really waiting for her to step wrong? Did they know about their relationship? Did they know that she was feeding from him?

"Everything okay?"

Edward jumped, startled, and turned to Bella who was watching him worried, searching his eyes.

"I… yes, everything's cool." He nodded and put an arm around her shoulders. She didn't look convinced. "Should I drive you home?"

"You'll be wasting gas. I will wait around here till your parents go to sleep then come to you," she whispered and wrapped her arms around his waist. "I'll see you soon."

He nodded and lowered his head slowly – she nodded – and he kissed her lips once then went inside.

"Who was it?" His mom asked.

"Leah. This is for you, Dad, from Harry."

He smiled and took the bag from his hand. Edward wasn't feeling very well suddenly. His stomach was turning every time he thought of what Leah had told him.

"I'm heading to bed," he lied.

"Good night, kid."

Edward took the stairs two at a time, and once in his room, he changed out of his clothes and laid on the bed, thinking of what could happen if something went wrong. He couldn't conceive something happening to Bella.

He stayed there, in bed, boring holes in the ceiling. The sleep was long gone. That's when he heard it. A loud growl came from under his window and he went to open it, thinking Bella couldn't come in otherwise. What he saw made him freeze.

Bella had her hands up and was backing into the forest as two figures stalked her. Edward snatched his jacket and rushed downstairs. The silence gave him an idea at how late it was, and he prayed he didn't wake anyone.

He ran around the house.

"Stop it!" he hissed. He had no idea who was there until he saw Leah's face.

"Go back. We've got it under control!" Leah told him.

"She wasn't going to hurt me!" Edward yelled as loud as he dared.

"How do you know?"

"We've been… there."

"What?" Leah snarled. "What's there supposed to mean?"

"She…we…just don't hurt her," he pleaded with Leah, glancing at Bella who was shaking from head to toe.

"I told you this isn't our business," Jake muttered, attracting his attention to him. He had promised to give it a rest.

"I will never hurt him!" Bella shouted.

"I didn't give you the permission to speak, bloodsucker!" Leah snarled in Bella's direction, and she shuddered. Edward had seen Jake turn into a werewolf and he wasn't ready to experience that again.

"Everything is under control," Edward told them.

"How can you say that? She could kill you any second!"

"I will never-" Bella started talking, but Edward talked over her.

"Why don't you let me choose what is dangerous for me and what isn't, Leah?" he asked, his hands balled into fists at his sides.

"Let's go." Jacob took her arm and jerked her away. That seemed to be everything it took. Leah growled loudly, and Edward watched as she shifted in her wolf form. "Holy shit! Sam will kill us!" Jake groaned, glancing at Edward.

He wanted to tell Bella to come inside where she would be safe but she was nowhere in sight.

"What have you done?" Edward shouted at Leah as she turned to him. Another growl escaped her and then she ran into the forest.

"Go back inside," Jake instructed his friend and ran after her. He left a shoe behind as his wolf shape disappeared through the trees.

Edward could only hope he would calm Leah before she got to Bella.

Edward didn't sleep that night. When he heard his mom leaving her room, he decided to rise from the bed. He nearly fell down the stairs and when he made it to the kitchen, he couldn't even feel happy at the smell of the muffin batter.

"Why are you up so early?" she asked surprised.

He shrugged and stole her cup of coffee.

"I really liked Bella, sweetie. I am happy you found someone."

He gave her a weak smile and leaned against the counter, sighing. "Yeah, she's something else."

"What's wrong? Didn't you sleep?"

"Yeah," he lied and took another sip from her coffee.

Edward went to brush his teeth and by the time the first round of muffins was out, he had made up his mind. He was going to Bella's. Right away.

His mom put a dozen muffins in a bag then walked him to the door, smiling. "Be careful and do say hello to Bella from us."

I will, if I can find her, he thought to himself. He waved goodbye then jumped in the car, and sped to the dirt road. After parking the car behind the trees, he picked his way to her house, hoping he wouldn't get lost.

It took him over half an hour to find the little house and when he did, he felt his heart beating in his throat.

"Bella? Are you here?" he asked, stepping inside.

She neither answered nor came into view. What had happened last night? Edward walked to the couch and slumped there, dread filling his body.

He called Jacob, hoping he had answers.

"'lo?" His friend mumbled.

"What the fuck happened last night?" he snapped, his voice trembling badly.

"Edward? What's going on?" he asked, confused.

"Yeah, it's me. Where's Bella?"

"Oh…that." He sounded so blasé, didn't he care at all? She was his enemy, he got that, but she was his girlfriend!

"THAT?" Edward thundered. "What happened?"

"Keep your pants on and stop shouting. She's so freaking fast that I have no idea where she went. We lost track of her outside Forks. Leah is sorry for her outburst."

"I don't give a flying fuck about Leah!" he sneered. It was a sign of just how upset he was. He did care, but she had put him in this situation...

"I'm sorry, man. I have no idea where your leech is."

"Jacob!"

"Whatever. Can I go back to sleep?" His groggy pleading pushed Edward's last nerve.

He snapped the phone shut and closed his fist around it.

Where are you, Bella? He wondered and leaned his head back on the couch, closing his eyes. Had Leah scared her away? What if she wasn't coming back? He was going to kill Leah.

Some time later, he felt something cold on his face and jerked upright. He had fallen asleep.

Bella was next to him, rubbing her thumb over his cheek and looking at him with an odd expression.

"Bella! BELLA!" he shouted and hugged her, not caring if she was uncomfortable.

"You scared the crap out of me, Edward," she said frustrated.

"I scared you?" he asked bewildered. "Where have you been?"

"At school?"

"At...oh, fuck! What time is it?"

"Late. It's nearly six pm."

"WHAT?"

"I let you sleep because you looked tired. I know it worried your mother, but when you didn't come to school, the first thing I did was call your house."

"You told MOM?"

"I'm sorry. I didn't think you'd be here."

"She knows I'm here, now?"

"Yeah, I called her after I arrived home. She told me you came to me this morning."

Edward sighed and let his head fall against the back of the couch again. "Yeah. I didn't sleep. I was worried."

"I was fine. I just…" She looked down then glanced at him with fear evident in her eyes. "I thought she would…"

"She won't touch you," he promised and put his cheek to her chest. "I won't allow her to hurt you. I love you, Bella."

She kissed his forehead and rubbed his arm, reassuringly.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: Leah

"Are you sure about this?" he asked skeptically.

"Yes, Edward! It's going to be fun!"

"But there is no need to know all those things! We don't need this," he insisted, scowling at the papers in front of him.

"Just sign here," Bella said impatiently, putting the pen in his hand.

"I don't want to!"

"Are you embarrassed?" she asked, trying to figure out why he wouldn't agree with this.

"No, of course not!" The bravado she had missed was back in full force. His ears turned red, too. His heart was slamming against his ribcage like a hummingbird.

"We can sign up to something else if you want," Bella whispered.

"Why do we need to sign up to anything?" He moaned, tapping the pen to the desk. "I could spend that time with you, alone."

"Where's your social spirit?"

"I don't have one. I don't want any of this shit!" But he signed his name on the Sex Ed paper nonetheless. He turned to her and raised an eyebrow. "Happy?"

"Look, I don't want to force you or anything, but I never took this class and I thought it would be fun if we attended together."

"We're gonna go. I signed."

He didn't want this. She shouldn't have insisted.

It wasn't like she'd learn anything new. She already knew it all, and she also knew that she'd never be in these human girls' predicament if they had unprotected sex.

It was something Edward should know in case they went their own ways when Edward got tired of dating the living dead.

"Look, Bella, I didn't say no to having every other class with you but this…this is…urghh! I don't think I could…" He ran his hand through his hair, stirring his tantalizing scent around them. "If I drop after the first class, well…be warned," he chuckled.

She took his hand and twined their fingers. "Thank you."

He shrugged and led her out of the secretary's office. "What do you want to do now?"

"No idea. What about you?"

"I still have to finish that stupid essay for English class."

"Okay, we'll finish that then…figure something out."

Bella was getting used to the stares, but Edward – not so much. When he was aware of being stared at, he became clumsier than usual.

"I wish they would stop staring! I mean, we've been together for over a month!"

"Shh, ignore them."

"Easy to say – hard to do," he mumbled. "I wish I knew what they were thinking."

"I'm sure you already know that," she told him, gently.

"Probably." He shrugged and started walking faster to her car. "And tomorrow, I'm coming after you."

"Whatever you say," she said, amused.

When they arrived at his house, his mother was home which was unusual. Edward raised an eyebrow at Bella, and she shrugged. How could I know why she was early?

"Mom?" he called out when we entered the house.

"Oh, I thought you went to- Hello, Bella." She smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes. Something was wrong.

"Good afternoon," Bella whispered.

"Why are you home early?" Edward asked, somewhat accusatory.

"I finished early," she told him. It was a lie judging on her heart skipping a beat. "Are you two hungry?"

They didn't get a chance to answer because she disappeared into the kitchen. "Go upstairs, I'll bring you something!" she shouted.

"What the hell? She's acting weird," Edward muttered. "I'll go talk to her… Would you mind going upstairs?"

Bella nodded and took his backpack. She could still hear everything they were saying and she wished she couldn't have heard them.

"What's wrong, Mom?"

"Sue called me earlier," she started saying. Bella had no idea who this Sue was. "It's…Harry. He's in the hospital."

"Oh! What happened?" Edward sounded genuinely concerned.

"Minor heart attack. I went with her. She was very…upset. I don't know how the kids will take it."

There was silence from Edward's side. Harry…that sounded familiar. Could it be the same Harry who talked to Bella in the forest? Leah's father? She felt dread settling inside her.

"You should call her." Elizabeth's voice was soft, pleading.

"Is this the food?" Edward ignored his mother, which was unusual. He was really upset with Leah.

"Yes, and don't change the subject. Sue told me that you haven't talked to Leah or Seth in over a month!"

"Yeah, I will call her. Okay?"

"All right. Let me know how she is." That was sneaky of his mother, but she had only good intentions.

Bella heard Edward's feet thumping on the stairs and then he made more noise as he arrived in the room and slammed the tray with food on his desk.

"Fuck!" He groaned, and slumped on the chair. He rarely used such crude words.

"It's okay," she whispered and stroked his hair, pressing his face to her chest.

"No, it's not! I hope against hope that Seth will pick the damn phone," he mumbled. "Right now, I hate Leah. I could kill her over the phone if I had the power."

"Let's not be dramatic. Her father is suffering, which means she's suffering too," Bella reminded him.

"Since when are you the good Samaritan?"

"I do have a heart, you know?" she told him, quite hurt by his remark.

"I know that." He sighed and turned to his food. "I can't even eat…"

Bella sat on his bed, preparing to start on her homework – a vain attempt to block his phone conversation.

"Hello?"

Edward's eyes met hers when a male's voice answered, and he sighed in relief.

"Hey, Seth," he replied. Bella focused on the book in front of her.

"Edward! How are you? We haven't talked in ages!"

"I'm doing well. What about you? Mom told me…about…you know?"

"Yeah. He's okay, now."

"So…what's new?" Edward asked awkwardly, scratching his head.

"I don't know if I'm supposed to tell you but…I am one of them, now." He sounded gleeful.

Joy! More werewolves.

"Really?" Edward asked genuinely surprised.

"Are you going to stop talking with me, too?"

"What?" Edward wasn't a good actor.

"I thought that was the reason you gave Leah the cold shoulder," his friend explained.

"It's not that! She didn't even tell you what happened, did she?" Edward asked, angrily. "She's such a…"

"Hey! She's my sister! Good or bad, no matter," Seth defended Leah.

"Okay, sorry, man. I'm sure she didn't tell you the reason why I stopped talking to her," Edward grumbled, picking his fork, moving the beans around in his plate.

"She told me, actually. She said you chose the corpse."

Bella cringed at his word, but deep down, she knew he was right. She wasn't alive…like Leah.

"Fuck you, Seth!" Edward shouted and threw the phone to the wall.

She wanted to go and hug him, to tell him everything was going to be okay, but she couldn't. That would be a lie. Instead, she focused on the textbook in front of her.

Edward ate his food and some that was supposed to be hers, studiously ignoring Bella and scowling at the pieces that were once a phone. When he finished, he took the tray downstairs, not answering his mother's question about the conversation. Then he heard a door slamming and water running. She was beyond trying to focus on homework. The water stopped, the bathroom door opened and Edward came to his room, slamming his door too then locking it and advancing to the bed. He looked like he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Bella whispered, unsure how to proceed. Teenagers could be volatile and he proved that with his next actions.

Her textbooks and notebooks landed on the floor after he shoved them off the bed. He crawled up to her and straddled her legs. She put her hands on his chest, trying her best to accommodate to his sudden invasion.

"I love you, Bella," he whispered, his voice trembling with emotion.

"Edward," she murmured, taking his warm cheeks in her hands.

"I'm so sick of listening to everyone, of being the good guy…" He pressed his forehead on hers. His minty breath was fanning over her face. He had brushed his teeth. "I want…to kiss you."

She hadn't fed in over five days, but she pressed her lips to his, she was getting better at this. His heart took off when their lips touched and his fingers knotted in her curls. This wasn't going to be a sweet, short kiss, like the ones they had shared in the past. Edward was frantic, his head titling in both directions, trying to get the best angle to taste her lips. He pulled her closer, moaning and hugging her so tight that she thought she'd lose control to the intoxication. His fresh, fruity scent filled her and she was afraid of losing focus.

"Edward," Bella said softly, moving away.

"No!" He moaned in protest, and claimed her mouth again in a deep kiss. When she felt his eager tongue probing her lips, she pushed him off and shook her head. For a second, he looked confused as to how he ended up on the other side of the bed, then his green eyes met hers and dropped quickly as his infamous blush filled his face. "Sorry."

"It will be okay. Just don't try that. I know you want more and believe me, I want more too. I'm not sure what may happen if my venom gets too close to you."

He nodded solemnly and dumped a pillow on his lap, still not meeting her eyes.

"I can go," she informed him, aware he would be more comfortable without her around him, in that situation.

"What? Why?" he asked panicked, rising his eyes.

"Umm…you know…?" she asked embarrassed, pointing to his pillow.

Edward's ears turned red and he crumpled the pillow in his fist. "Ehh, yeah…sorry."

"I told you to stop saying sorry for this! It's normal, natural," she insisted.

"Then stay! You always stay," he muttered, shifting a little.

"Well…this is different," she tried to reason with him.

"It's the same! And it…goes away, you know?"

She tried to fight her smile, but it won the battle. She couldn't believe they were talking about this!

"Are you laughing at me?" Edward asked, hurt.

"No, of course not! This situation is hilarious! We have more important matters to talk about and here, we're worrying about your body reactions."

"You want to talk? Fine! Let's talk!" he snapped, looking out the window, his eyes narrowed, focused on something unseen. "I hate Leah! Happy?"

"No," Bella answered simply.

His raised his hands in the air, in frustration. "You were supposed to agree with me and admit how scared you are of her – of them."

"I…" He could read her too well for her liking.

"Don't you dare deny it! I saw it on your face, Bella!"

"You don't know… You have no idea… It is in our nature to hate each other! And they are so many. I'm just one. Of course, I'm terrified!" she shouted. "You want to know what they're doing? They are checking on me every week. I try to…pretend I don't see or smell them, but I know they were there."

"At your house?" Edward interrupted her outburst.

"Yeah, at my house," she snapped, but regretted it the next second. "I didn't mean to sound so harsh."

Edward crawled closer and put his arm around her shoulders. "I'm gonna say it again and you won't like it. Sorry."

Bella smiled softly and rested her head on his shoulder. She could hear his heart so clearly, since her head was so close to it and she loved him more. Every beat made her love him more. She knew she'd never hurt him in any way.

"Do you know why they…are watching you?" Edward asked, in her ear. His hot breath tickled her skin, making fire explode in her tummy.

"We both know that, but they will never find a reason to send me away. I don't bite," she whispered, taking his hand.

He chuckled and kissed her forehead. "You can, you know?"

She frowned and titled her head to look at him in confusion.

"I don't bite," he mocked her, widening his eyes.

Bella rolled her eyes and shook her head. "You can be so young sometimes."

"Can I ask something?" He asked after a few minutes of silence.

"I won't answer inappropriate questions," she told him with a big smile, already knowing his question. She'd walked into that one, without meaning it.

"It's a simple question. About your age, you know?"

"As I said, I'm not answering inappropriate questions."

"I don't want to know how many centuries you have! I just want to know…your age…the one you stopped aging at."

Bella laughed at him as he stumbled over words. "Edward, it's not nice to ask a lady her age."

"Okay, gee! You're kinda paradoxical."

"Such big words, Mr. Masen," she teased.

"You are," he insisted, squeezing her fingers. "You kiss me, you…well, you never answered me about doing other stuff before, but I'm sure I know what you've done…and if I ask you about your age…you get all shy," he continued, hotly.

"That's in the past. I regret my actions. As for my age, Edward, that's the way I grew up."

"Can't you at least tell me when you were born?"

"Late eighteen hundreds."

"Oh." His green eyes were unfocused, staring right through mine.

"What do you mean, 'Oh'?" Bella hissed in mock hurt, holding his gaze.

"It took me by surprise, honest. I thought you were…older."

She laughed and kissed his square jaw. She loved to see him maturing under her eyes, at least physically if not mentally. He was still a teenage boy.

She suggested they do their homework, and reluctantly, he picked his backpack and dumped it on the bed. Bella helped him with what he didn't know or understand, and they were done by nightfall.

"I'm driving you home. Mom has to see you leave."

"I drove you to school," she reminded him. "I'll get the car back and come to you soon. You should talk to your mother."

"Be back soon," he whispered, rubbing his thumb to her knuckles.

"You won't believe how soon I can be back," she challenged and pecked his cheek. "Now, go downstairs and talk to your mother."

He threw her his trademark cute smile and led her downstairs. Edward kissed Bella at the front door then waited until she was in her car to close the door. She wanted more than anything to hear his conversation with his mother, but she knew that she shouldn't listen. She had intruded in too many private conversations.

Besides, she had more important matters to think about. Like… should she return his words? He had told her twice that he loved her and she still hadn't answered. It would be polite to answer, even though he knew, deep down, that she felt the same.

The second she turned on the dirt road, she knew she had company. This time, he wasn't even hiding and he was human.

Bella walked past Jacob Black and when she opened the door of her house, he spoke.

"Wait!"

"What do you want?" She growled, not turning to him.

"I'm trying to understand you. Not just your actions, all of you."

"That's why you've been spying on me?" she snapped, whirling around.

"Spy…" He trailed off then his eyes widened. "Leah!"

They both realized how much Leah hated Bella in that second.

Bella groaned and closed her eyes, trying to remain calm. "Will you tell her nicely to butt out? I'm sick of her!"

"She won't because…well, there are a few reasons," he answered seriously.

"Yeah, I'm a vampire and she's a werewolf."

"That's true, and…she likes Edward."

"WHAT?" Bella yelled, surprised. She hadn't expected that. "Edward didn't tell me anything."

"Because he is clueless like any other boy! You were there on Christmas, I know you were. You saw them outside."

She looked in his black eyes and felt her head spinning. No! This can't be happening.

"We had been tight friends since we were little, and then…you appear and he starts gravitating around you like a moon."

She was shell-shocked and couldn't answer him. She knew that her mouth was open, but it seemed impossible to close it.

"Now you understand why Leah is a little upset. She made my head explode for the past few years about Edward this and Edward that, but she was too stupid or shy to act on it. I told her she deserved what happened, and well, she nearly broke my jaw."

"I don't know what to say. If I wasn't the one in the middle…I'd say that I'm sorry," she admitted.

"No need to lie." He shrugged and dug his foot in the dirt. "Look, don't tell Edward anything about this. Leah's going to kill me for telling you about it, anyway."

"Then don't tell her," Bella said, shrugging.

"As if it were that simple!" he groaned. "You don't understand. It's a wolf thing. Anyway, I have to go…I stayed too long around a leech."

"Bye, puppy," she said sweetly, waving her hand.

He scowled and turned around, shifting into his wolf form and disappearing into the woods.

Bella's thoughts spun at a mile a minute as she ran to Edward's house. It was later than she had promised. She came to a skidding halt at the edge of the forest when she saw him outside, near an unknown car, talking with none other than Leah. Dread filled in her body and consumed her. Bella had never experienced such a feeling. Was it jealously? Was it despair? What was it?

Leah knew Bella was there because she saw her head turning in her direction. Her eyes burned with a fire Bella knew – determination. Then Leah looked back up at Edward.

"So?" She asked, continuing their conversation.

"What?" He asked back, his voice wavering. "I can't answer that!" Bella wondered what they had been talking about.

"Of course you can," Leah whispered, and put her hand on his arm.

Bella saw red. He is mine! But she didn't move. She wanted to see how far Leah would take this.

"Leah, look…you're my friend…"

Leah had told him how she felt about him! Edward didn't look like he was returning her feelings from what Bella could see on his face. His eyes were trained on her hand, probably willing it to leave his arm.

"Exactly! I'm your best friend! We know each other very well."

"And that's what I want, to remain friends with you."

"We can be friends even if we get together."

"LEAH! I'm not… I am…" He sighed heavily and ran his free hand through his hair. "I love Bella."

"Right!" She snorted. "And I love the rocks on the beach! They are the same, she can talk back – that's the only difference."

"Will you stop insulting her? And if you want to see me again, you'll better refrain from doing so!"

"Are you serious? Do you want to tell me that you…actually love the bloodsucker?"

"How would you feel if I called you a wolf every second I got?" he snapped, snatching his arm from her grasp. He was getting angry.

"I've been called worse."

"Good. I will think of a better one. Now, I should head inside."

"Wait, Edward!" She called for him as he started walking away. "You aren't going to say anything about what I just told you?"

"What do you want to hear?" He groaned, turning to face her.

"That you like me back, or something."

"Leah, if I told you that I liked you…you'd take it the way you want so I won't bother. I'm going to repeat myself. You are my best friend, but if you keep talking trash about my girlfriend…I may stop talking to you, at all."

"Suit yourself. But beware, Edward, this isn't over. I'll show you what kind of monster she is!" She shouted, her eyes glancing at Bella's hiding spot.

Edward caught her looking, and he gasped when he saw his girlfriend. "You little bitch! You knew she was here!" He yelled at Leah.

"I'll tell Seth about that. He's not very happy with you upsetting me." She went to her car, flipping her hair over her shoulder.

Damn, Bella had to hand it to Leah – she was a good actress. Edward fell for her act instantly.

Edward looked at Bella, devastated, then caught Leah's shoulder. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say that."

She smiled and shrugged then stepped in her car and drove away. Edward started walking to Bella, but she raised her hand and pointed to his room.

He appeared in the doorway of his room, just as she sat on the edge of his bed.

"You shouldn't have run," she scolded him as he sat next down, inhaling sharply, his heart beating erratically.

"What did you hear?" he asked, jumping straight to the point.

"Nothing I didn't know."

"You knew she had a thing for me?" he questioned, looking at the floor.

"More than a thing. I had a guest when I arrived home."

Edward frowned and looked at her, confused. "She was here…"

"It was Jacob. He told me everything about Leah and why she is so against us. Besides the fact that I am a vampire, I stole her boyfriend."

"I wasn't her boyfriend," he muttered, his ears turning red.

"Can I ask something?"

"Sure."

"Why did you apologize?" She had been wondering that since he said the words.

"Bella, she's my friend no matter how stupid she is. I regret what I told Seth, too. I'm not so hurtful, usually."

"I know." She couldn't ask him what had been zooming through her head since Jacob had told her about Leah.

"I'm going to shower. Be right back," he muttered and patted her leg.

Bella lay back on the bed and closed her eyes, relaxing. She wanted to forget about this, but it was at the front of her brain, eating at her. As though she could forget something. When Edward returned and scooted onto the bed next to her, wrapping his arms around her, Bella maneuvered the blanket so he wasn't touching her cold skin and stroked his hair. "Sleep."

"I can't possibly sleep!" he muttered.

"Try."

They stayed in silence for a long time. She thought he had fallen asleep until he whispered, "I think I always liked Leah, but I can't love her."

Bella felt her heart clenching at his admission. She chose not to answer, unsure of what to say.

"Bella?"

"Yeah?"

"Can you help me understand this?"

"Understand what?" she asked, rubbing a hand over his back. He fidgeted and looked up at her.

"How can I hate her for talking bad about you and feel sorry for calling her a bitch at the same time? She's just my friend," he whispered, his green eyes looked confused.

"Maybe you really like her," she said offhandedly.

"She's my friend! Of course, I like her. She's just some other girl, though."

"I'm not good with this. You're the first person I've ever loved," Bella told him, realizing how easy it was to confess her feelings.

"You love me?" he asked, shocked.

"Of course, silly boy! Now, you need to sleep."

"I don't want to. Tell me again." He grinned.

"What should I tell you?" she wondered, moving his hair out of his eyes.

"You know what."

"I love you, Edward."

His smile widened and his lips smashed onto hers.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: Discovering

Edward was kissing Bella, and for some odd reason, she was allowing him to kiss her the way he'd always desired. Her cold mouth tasted delicious – it was sweet like candies, and she wasn't stopping him.

He moved on top of her and buried his fingers in her soft brown curls, kissing the daylight out of her, happy he was allowed to show her just how much he loved her.

"Edward," she moaned and touched his chest. It took him a second to register she was pushing him away and that he was waking up from a very vivid dream.

"Oh God!" He groaned and shoved his face in the pillow, wanting to die of embarrassment.

"I thought you weren't going to wake up," she whispered.

Slowly, Edward started becoming aware of his body and to his horror, he had a hand under her blouse, on her boob, and his lower half was pressed into hers. He was hard as a rock. He squeezed his eyes and pressed his face deeper in the pillow.

"Edward, you don't have any reason to b-"

"I have every right to be mortified," he hissed.

"It's my fault," she murmured and kissed his neck, making him shudder in pleasure and harden further.

"How can this be your fault? I'm just a horny motherfucker."

"Don't say such things about yourself," Bella scolded. "I couldn't help myself. And I wished you'd stayed asleep."

"What are you talking about?" He asked, raising his head to look at her.

"I…" She dropped her eyes and squeezed gently his left wrist. It all made sense why he was so turned on. She had been drinking from him. Edward looked up into her vivid red eyes and willed his body to relax and especially, his erection to go away. "I could help you," she offered.

"No way," he whispered loudly.

"How do you feel?"

She raised an eyebrow when it took him a second. Did she really expect him to answer that?

"I want you." He went with honesty.

Bella cupped his cheeks in her hands and kissed his lips. "I want you, too. We can try something since I'm in control."

"What should we try?" He asked, wondering if they were thinking of the same thing.

Bella pushed on his shoulder until he was on his back and then her small hands were on his stomach. He felt his muscles tensing and clenching from her cold skin, but he welcomed the feeling. She scratched there, the tips of her fingers making his harder than he'd ever been. He was panting like a dog in heat by the time she pushed her hand down his sleep pants. He watched with rapt attention as her eyes widened. Her mouth opened as her fingers found his dick. He groaned a little too loud when she touched his engorged head.

Her eyes met his and he nodded enthusiastically, hoping she wouldn't stop soon. He was rewarded with her beautiful smile and a firm tug of his dick.

"Tell me if I hurt you," she whispered.

Edward was ready to melt into the bed, so he only nodded and prayed to whoever was out there or whoever was listening that he wouldn't come after her second tug.

Somehow, in the middle of his haze, he realized that his pants were down around his knees and Bella was using both hands – one on his dick and one on his balls. She was an expert at this, and he didn't want to know how she knew the right touches. When her head bent, his eyes bugged out and he felt all his muscles tensing up, his toes curling, his teeth digging in his lower lip and just as her lips pressed to the base of his dick in a kiss, he came undone.

"Holy shit! Holy….Oh…Oh…Jesus! OOHHH! AHHH!" Edward kept chanting different words and sounds as his body kept seizing up.

"Oh, no!" Bella moaned, and he felt his pants being rolled up and the blanket covering his body.

He was still trying to focus on her but there were three of her.

"Wha'?" He managed to get out.

"Shh. Your mom is awake. You should have been quieter. I'll be right back, try to sleep."

Only when he saw his mom's face, he realized what was going on.

"Are you okay, sweetie?"

"I guess," he whispered, his voice thick with sleep and something else. He hoped his mom didn't grasp the something else bit.

"Were you having a bad dream?"

Please go away. "Probably. I don't remember."

"Do you want me to stay here?"

"Mom, honest, I'm okay," he grumbled, painfully aware Bella could hear the whole conversation.

"Okay, but if you need me, you know where I am."

"Yes, Mom."

She smiled and kissed his forehead. Then she looked at him with concerned. "Are you sure you feel alright? You're a little flushed and damp."

"Mom, please. It's probably too warm in here."

She nodded and left. As much as he loved her, she seemed to forget he was growing up and that he didn't need her to hold his hand or put him to bed.

Edward turned on his side and searched for some tissues, managing to knock the book from his night table off.

"Shit," he muttered and leaned to pick it up. He touched something furry and it took all his might to keep from screaming.

"Sorry, sorry," Bella whispered as she retracted from under the bed. It had been her hair, probably. "It was easier to hide there."

He couldn't look at her without blushing.

"What did you need?" She asked, raking her fingers though his hair.

"Tissues," he mumbled.

She brought him water, using human speed to give him time to clean himself. She seemed to understand his need for privacy. He couldn't believe what had just happened. He still wasn't convinced it hadn't been a dream.

"How do you feel?" Bella whispered after returning to his side with a glass full of cold water.

"Umm, I'm better than other times," he told her.

"I'm sure you are. I barely…you know?"

He rolled his eyes at her. He didn't understand why they couldn't be open about this. "Are you still thirsty?"

"Don't even think about it. I'll be okay."

Edward drank from his water and felt a weird taste in his mouth. He must have made a face, because Bella sighed and bit her lip.

"What's wrong?" He wondered, still drinking, hoping to get rid of the iron taste.

"Edward, I thought it was like every other time when you rolled on top of me, but then…somehow, you were kissing me and it took all my might to keep from doing something that I'd regret."

"I kissed you after you fed?" He asked, eyeing her confused.

She nodded, and he swallowed, realizing how close to the danger he had been. Then another thought occurred to him. "Argh! Yuck!" He gagged, feeling the urge to rub his tongue.

She watched him worried, hovering, unsure what was wrong.

"I can taste my blood."

She laughed and shook her head then her hand slapped the side of his head very gently. She could probably decapitate him if she wasn't careful. "I could have bitten you, Edward! This is very serious!"

"I know! You are allowed to shackle me to the bed before feeding, but this is plain gross," he insisted, wiping his mouth.

"You're insane, kid," she told him with a note of seriousness.

"I've been told that," he retorted. "I have to go brush my teeth," he muttered after a few minutes.

"It's still early! You'll awake your parents!"

"I don't care!"

Edward let the faucet drip the water so it wouldn't make any sounds as he brushed up and down, left to right, circular movement, tongue brushing, lip brushing until he could only smell the minty toothpaste. He rinsed his mouth then went back to bed.

Bella was waiting on the bed, looking on the edge of bursting into a fit of laughter.

"I feel clean."

That did it. She started laughing. Edward put the pillow over her face, glancing at the door, and hoping his mom was still sleeping.

When he woke up next time, it was morning and he could see a few rays of sun through the curtains. He yawned and stretched, not ready to leave the bed. He was particularly warm this morning and that meant one thing: Bella wasn't here.

He opened his eyes and saw her on the chair at his desk, writing furiously.

"Morning!"

Her head snapped up and she offered him a small smile. "Hey." Then she returned to whatever she was writing.

"What's up?" He asked, yawning loudly.

"You better get ready for school. I'm writing our Biology project."

"We have to write it together."

"I'd get bored today! But I promise, next time we have a project, I'll allow you to help."

"What do you mean, you'll get bored?!" He asked, confused.

"I'm not coming to school," she whispered, looking pained for some odd reason.

Then he realized why the curtains were dawned. But it still didn't make sense. She had been out in daylight.

"Does something happen if you are under the sun?" Edward whispered, frowning.

"Something." She nodded, scribbling on the paper. "Get ready for school, you don't want to be late, do you?"

When he made it to the kitchen, Elizabeth was putting her coat on. Her eyes widened when she saw him still in my pajamas.

"Oh goodness, Edward! I completely forgot!"

"What?" he asked, confused.

"To wake you up, sweetheart! I'm in a hurry, I have a meeting with Mrs. Stanley." She grimaced. He understood. If she was anything like her daughter, he felt sorry for his mom.

"I'm up, now. I'll eat something then head to school."

"All right. You're better?"

He nodded, and she kissed his cheek then rushed out of the house. He went into the kitchen and saw a couple sandwiches on a plate, the carton of milk on the counter and the muffins on the table. After eating, he went to take a shower.

"Edward! You have fifteen minutes to get to school!" Bella demanded from the other side of the curtain making his lose balance.

"I'm out, I'm out. Can you-"

A white towel appeared behind the curtain and after wrapping his waist in it, he opened the curtain. She was rocking on her heels, watching him amused.

"Do you mind?" He wondered.

"What? You didn't have a problem last night."

"Bella," he moaned. She left after winking.

Edward saw clothes on the toilet seat and was grateful for her help. After leaving the bathroom, he bumped into Bella, who was waiting in the hallway with his backpack.

"Mom used to be this crazy when I was little," he muttered under his breath.

"I'm not crazy," she retorted.

"Could have fooled me."

"I wanted to kiss you goodbye, but in this case…" She trailed off and opened the front door, staying out of the sun's way.

He stepped closer to her and she took a step back, bumping into the wall. He grinned and caught her lips in a loving kiss.

"I love you," he whispered, nuzzling in her cheek.

"As I love you," she answered softly and kissed a spot on his jaw. "Now, go!"

.

.

.

Classes were torturous. Edward felt like he was missing a limb. He was so used to having Bella by his side every waking moment that now, when she couldn't be here, he was almost handicapped.

At lunch, he sat at their table, not daring to go back to Ben since he was alone with Angela. He started one of the sandwiches he hadn't eaten that morning and was wondering what he could do for an hour when his phone buzzed.

Is it lunch break already? ~Bella

Surely, she knew that it was lunch break.

Yep. He typed and pressed Send.

A second later, she replied. Great! Can you come outside? Behind the school? ~Bella

Edward was out of the cafeteria before he realized he moved. He pushed the doors open and stepped outside, rounding the corner of the school and looked around. She wasn't here.

"Psst!"

He turned to the woods to his right and saw Bella smiling. He rushed there and hugged her.

"Missed me?" she asked, smirking.

"You have no idea!" He groaned loudly.

"I finished the project and decided to see how you were," she told him softly.

He was beyond being shocked at how fast she could finish projects that would take him days.

"Why can't you be here with me?" He asked.

"I'm not sure if you should see that. It's enough you know everything else about me."

"Do you transform in some kind of….something?" He asked helplessly, sounding like a stupid three-year kid.

She eyed him carefully then took his hand and they walked a little deeper into the forest. Edward was aware of his heart slamming in his chest, in anticipation. From what he could see, all the myths in the books were a big fat lie. Bella stopped abruptly and he knocked into her back. She steadied him before he could fall.

Before he could ask why they stopped, he saw the small clearing a few feet away. Her red eyes seemed to scorch as she gazed at him for an immeasurable period of time.

"Are you ready?"

He nodded eagerly and she sighed softly. She didn't move.

"I understand if you don't want to share this with me," he rushed out. Edward watched her lips moved fast, saying muted words. "What are you doing?" He questioned after five minutes.

She beamed. "Praying you won't run the other way."

"That's plain stupid!"

"Keep your eyes closed and open them when I tell you to," she warned.

"Okay," he agreed and closed them.

He didn't hear her moving, but when she whispered that he could open his eyes, he did so slowly then blinked, unsure of what he was seeing. Edward had never seen a diamond under the sun, but he was sure as hell it would sparkle just like Bella. She looked uneasy as he gawked at her, unable to form words. He couldn't take his eyes off her. He had never seen her look more beautiful than in that second. Her dark brown hair was like a halo over her head, her red eyes burning against the white sparkling skin, as she stood unmoving in the middle of the clearing.

"Say something," she murmured anxiously.

He laughed at how nervous she was. When he wanted to explain myself, she wasn't there.

"What the hell is so funny?" She snarled from behind him. He jumped startled by her unseen movement. "Do you care to enlighten me? You realized what a monster I am, and now you're making fun of me!?"

Edward turned around and opened his mouth but she disappeared again from view.

"Huh? Let's laugh at the sparkling vampire!" She sneered, appearing to his left and he had enough presence of mind to catch her elbow. She wouldn't run again because she'd never hurt him.

"You're wrong, Bella," he started saying.

"It's okay. I understand if-"

"Will you shut the fuck up!?" He shouted and slapped his hand over her mouth. Her eyes widened and glanced down at his hand. He couldn't feel her breathing but he didn't care, knowing she didn't really need to do it. "I had no idea what to say! I was stunned! I had never seen something or someone as beautiful as you! It happens, to humans," he hissed the last word, narrowing his eyes at her. "I don't care what you did in your past! I don't care you are a vampire! I don't care if you sparkle! I love you for who you are! Will you ever grasp that?"

She blinked. Edward had never seen her blinking before. Her lips moved under his palm and he took his hand away, hovering it above her mouth, ready to put it back if she said something against herself again.

"Oh, Edward!" She cried out, and threw her arms around his neck, kissing him hungrily. He stumbled, being hit by her weight and fell into a tree. She didn't end the kiss and all too soon, it turned into a make-out session. He wasn't against it as long as she wouldn't stop when it got better. She didn't, and he let his hands adventure to new territories – like her round ass. Bella moaned and started kissing his neck, switching their positions. He was starting to feel light headed as all his blood rushed down to his little head. He nudged her legs open with his knee and tried to hint that he wanted her to wrap them around his waist.

"No way," she whispered breathlessly. "I'd crush you."

He accepted that and only pressed his pelvis to her, moaning at the connection. Bella seemed to understand why her legs around him would make it better and wrapped just one under his thigh, bringing him closer to her center.

"Edward! Oh…" Her fingers wrapped in his hair and he bucked his hips in hers. She didn't seem to mind as she answered with a move of her own. He had no idea where this was leading, but he couldn't step away not even when he heard the bell ringing. Bella seemed unaware of it, or she just plain ignored it because her movements increased their speed and her sounds got louder.

Edward squeezed her left thigh, digging his erection further into her, groaning like a rabid animal. He could feel the burn in his belly ready to erupt and he didn't know what to do to make it explode faster. And then Bella did the impossible – in her opinion – she wrapped both legs around him and he could feel her right there, so cold, so delicious, so close… He saw stars as he exploded, gasping for breath and murmuring her name in her hair, hugging her tightly. Edward could feel one of her hands gripping his hair as her other hand squeezing almost painfully at his shoulder, but the vision in front of him blocked the pain. Her head was resting against the tree trunk, her mouth was open, her eyes were closed, she looked stunning as a few rays of sun made their way through the leaves and danced on her face. He pressed his lips everywhere he could reach, telling her how much he loved her.

Her fingers traced his cheek, his jaw, his nose, his lips as she watched him with adoration.

"You're so precious to me. I hope I didn't hurt you," Bella whispered after some time.

"I think I'm okay."

"I hope so."

They stepped aside and he rolled one shoulder, making it pop loudly. "I'm fine," he said when she opened her mouth.

"Do you want to go back?" She nodded in the direction of the school.

He shrugged. "Do I have another option?"

"We can go back to my house and… do that again," she whispered, winking.

He had never skipped classes. It wasn't like him. "Umm…"

"I'll be in your car. You can tell Mrs. Cope that you didn't feel well and are going home."

Before Edward could answer, she was out of sight. He grabbed his backpack from his locker then rushed to the office. It was quite uncomfortable to walk after what had just happened. He was glad for wearing dark jeans.

Mrs. Cope didn't even let him finish when he told her that he wasn't feeling well. She ushered him out of her office, telling him she'd cover for him.

"We need to detour past my house," he told Bella, as his cheeks turned red.

"What if your mom comes early? I would go get whatever you need and meet you at my house."

"No way! You can't!" He was getting more embarrassed by the second.

"What do you need, Edward?"

"Ummm…" He wasn't able to continue. He couldn't ask her to bring him a change of clothes.

"Oh! Don't be silly. Just park here, in your usual spot and wait for me. Wait!" she insisted.

Edward nodded, not meeting her eyes. He wondered if this could get any more uncomfortable. He turned the radio on and couldn't help but agree with the song that was playing. It seemed to be made for Bella. It fit her like a glove. He started humming along, unaware of his surroundings so when he heard laughter from his right, from the passenger's seat, he screamed in fright.

"Oh, don't let me interrupt you!" Bella giggled.

He narrowed his eyes at her, but the song caught his attention and he mock sang to her.

"Kiss me, k-k-kiss me
Infect me with your love, and

Fill me with your poison
Take me, t-t-take me
Wanna be your victim,

Ready for abduction
Boy, you're an alien, your touch so far away
It's supernatural, extraterrestrial"

Bella beamed, holding her laughter as she clapped her hands.

"I had a feeling you'd like this," she told him as they started walking to her house. He was trying his best to ignore her, but it was extremely hard. He glanced in her direction and saw a brown bag.

"What's that?"

She made a face then started laughing. "Can't you tell?"

"More clothes?" He was already holding his backpack that was filled with clean underwear, and socks – for some odd reason.

"Muffins for my muffin."

Edward groaned, wondering if his face would return to its normal pale color. She was determined to embarrass him today.

Then she burst in laughter, he looked at her confused. Could a vampire lose their mind? She doubled over and kept laughing.

"Uhhh, Bella? Are you okay?"

She raised one finger, trying to stop laughing, but laughing even harder.

"Okay, I'm going inside… to change…you know?" He said, awkwardly.

Ten minutes later, she came inside looking sober and he was glad she was over her insane moment.

"Care to explain what happened outside?"

She grinned and he feared for a second that she'd start laughing again. "I was thinking of that song, you know? Sweets for my sweet by Searchers?" she asked, still smiling.

"I should have known," he muttered. "Now, give me those muffins."

Chapter Text

Chapter 8: Visitors

Easter break wasn't going to be as Edward had envisioned it. Bella wouldn't join his family because it was sunny. It was the silliest excuse she could find. He got it, that if she ate human food, it was bad for her, but she could at least be there and pretend to eat.

She would have none of his pleadings. He didn't sleep well, so he was up and alert at dawn. They spent fifteen minutes near his window, kissing. Edward was stalling, in a futile attempt to keep her close. After another sound kiss, Bella took a step back.

"Have fun today, Edward."

"You too," he grumbled.

Bella turned around and escaped smoothly out of his window. He watched as she disappeared into the woods after waving over her shoulder one last time.

Edward sulked back to his bed and fell on it with a thud. It smelt like her and he was going to miss her today. More than ever.

"EDWARD!" He shot up, nearly falling flat on his face. He had managed to fall asleep. "The red tablecloth! What have I told you? Why aren't you paying attention?"

Oh, his mom was talking with his dad. He let his heart calm down and closed his eyes again. He should have slept more; he was so tired he could barely keep his eyes open. As he was going back to dreamland, someone knocked on the door.

"No," Edward moaned, putting the pillow over his head.

"Wake up, son! Mom needs help with preparations," his dad announced from the doorway.

"Mkay," he mumbled.

"I don't know what you're doing at night, but you should sleep as normal people do."

"I am," he insisted, raising his head to watch him through bleary eyes. He had been so awake a while ago when Bella left…and now all he wanted was to sleep.

"Sure you are! Get up, now. Quickly," his dad urged, taking the blanket off his son. "Why are you sleeping with the window open? Do you want to catch a cold?" He scolded him and went to close the window. "If I come back in five minutes and you are still in bed, I'm dragging you out myself."

"Uh huh," Edward hummed, closing his eyes again when he heard the door shutting behind his father.

"Is he awake?" He heard his mom ask from the other side of the door. Great. "You can't even wake your son! Seriously Ed, what can you do?"

"Well, there is-"

"I don't want to hear it!"

She was angry for some reason and Edward didn't want her screaming at him so early, so before she opened the door, he was out of bed and on his way out the room. He bumped into his mom when he left his room.

"Oh, good. You're awake!" She exhaled. "Go and wash up, quickly."

The next few hours, until the guests arrived, he was sure he lost a few pounds from jogging up and down the stairs. He felt like a house elf. His mom had turned on to him since his dad wasn't listening to her requests and since Edward was always listening…he had to do everything his dad wouldn't.

Edward was fighting with his tie's knot when the doorbell rang. Of course, his mom shouted for him to answer. He threw the tie on the bed, not seeing the reason he should dress up for brunch with family friends and sprinted down the stairs.

He opened the door quickly and let Jacob and his dad inside, shaking hands.

"Hello, Edward," Billy greeted, his eyes wrinkling when he smiled.

"Hello," he answered back, and punched Jacob's shoulder. "Hey!"

Jake grinned, shoving Edward in return. Ed appeared from the living room, taking Billy with him. Why hadn't he answered the door if he was here?

"What's up?" Jake asked, as Edward led him to the kitchen.

Edward shrugged. "Dad's annoying me," he muttered.

"Alone?" he asked, ignoring his comment.

"Do you see Bella here?" he snapped.

"No. What's wrong?"

"I just told you that Dad's driving me crazy! And Mom thinks if he wouldn't listen to her, she should give me his chores, too! I don't feel like partying, right now."

"Ahh I know how crazy-"

"No, you don't, Jake. Trust me, you don't know."

The doorbell rang again and Edward sighed, not even waiting for her shout. He went to open the door.

It was the first time since the heart attack incident that he saw Harry and he looked good. Edward had no idea if he should look different, but he didn't look changed. Edward still wasn't on good terms with Leah, but she seemed to behave.

As they started eating, Edward felt something was going to happen. Leah kept giving him weird looks and all too soon, she opened her mouth.

"Where is your cool girlfriend?" she asked, never taking her eyes off him.

"Home."

"Leah, pass me the salt," Harry said loudly, trying to make her shut up, probably.

"You're not allowed salt, Dad," she told him, not looking away from her friend. "Afraid of the sun, is she?" She sneered.

Edward broke eye contact and started cutting the lamb. He could feel she was still staring at him. He didn't want it to get to him, but it eventually did.

"Careful not to cut yourself. God forbid that!" Leah said with a maniac giggle as Edward's knife slipped.

He slammed the silverware to his plate and ground his teeth. "Will you shut the fuck up?"

"Edward!" His mom hissed, scandalized. He wasn't listening to her.

"I was merely looking out for you," Leah whispered. He knew that had a double meaning and it made him even more angry.

"You're a hypocrite, you know that? How dare you do this, huh?" Edward yelled.

"Did I hit a nerve? You wouldn't react if it wasn't true!"

"Stop butting your muzzle where it's none of your business, cow! You don't have any right to talk like that about Bella! She's a thousand times better than you! She'd never say such crude things about you even though you deserve it, idiot! This just proves how stupid you are! You can't accept that I made other friends…you consider enemies!" Edward shouted, standing up and glaring at her. If the table hadn't been between them, he would have done something stupid surely. He was aware of the eerily silence in the room. "You truly are a bitch, in every sense of the word," he screamed.

"How can you say something like that? Go to your room, Edward! Now!" His mom snapped, glaring at him.

"You can't tell me what to do anymore! I'm not a stupid kid to have to listen to your orders!"

Edward returned his glare to Leah, who had the guts to open her mouth, ready to say something else. He showed her the middle finger and stormed to the door. He heard footsteps behind and whirled around ready snap at Leah when he saw his mother. She was angrier than he had ever seen her.

"Don't even try to make me stay for another second around that bitch," he seethed.

He didn't see her raising her hand, but he felt the stinging against his left cheek. He felt his head turning from the intensity of the contact.

"Go! I'm not stopping you, but come back only when you learned how to treat the people that love you!"

Edward snatched the door open and stormed out. Someone ran after him and when he felt a hand on his elbow, he snatched his arm back.

Edward hated that he could tell it was Leah but the leather and wood scent.

"Back off, Leah," he snapped.

"I'm really sorry."

"I don't want to hear that! You should apologize to our families," he told her, angrily.

"I'm trying to tell you she's not good for you!"

Before he could answer, she was all over him, kissing him.

Edward pushed her away out of reflex. He saw her falling down, but he didn't care if she injured herself. He just ran as fast as his feet allowed him. He found the house quickly, even though he wasn't paying attention to where he was going.

He took a breath in his burning lungs and raised his hand to knock. The door opened before he could hit it. Bella slammed into him, but caught his hand before he could fall.

"Easy there," she whispered, like it had been his fault she ran into him. "Why are you here?" she asked, confused.

"Why do you think?" he asked, sarcastically. "I hate that little bitch."

"You can't come in." What was that supposed to mean? Since when am I not allowed in her house? He was counting on her being supportive.

"Are you sending me away, too?" Edward shouted, disbelief laced in his voice.

"What do you mean 'too'?" She reached up to touch him, but he turned away. It felt like no one wanted him today. "Edward?" She insisted when he didn't answer.

He took a huge breath and started talking. "I screwed up, okay? I snapped at Leah at the table because she kept hinting different things about you and…I couldn't take it. I called her every bad name you can think of and finished with: 'You truly are a bitch, in every sense of the word!' Mom sent me to my room, as if I were four, while I continued to glare at Leah. When she opened her mouth, I flipped her off and got up from the table. Mom reached me at the front door, and I thought she'd make me stay, but she only slapped me and told me to come back when I learned how to behave." Edward dug his toe in the dirt at his feet, breathing hard. He was getting angry again. "Then, I didn't take ten steps in the yard when the bitch in person came after me, apologizing. I told her to talk to someone that would listen and then because she has a single neuron, she kissed me. I pushed her away and I don't care if she fell then I ran here. Now, can I stay over?"

Bella hugged him tightly and he relaxed in her embrace. He felt better, like he belonged there.

There was a thud from inside her house and Edward frowned, looking at the closed door.

"Is someone with you?" He wondered, taking a step back. That explained why she had rushed out when he arrived. Was there someone he shouldn't know about?

He allowed her to clean his lips of the remains of Leah's lipstick with her thumb, still looking at her door confused.

"They dropped by unannounced. I'll send them away if you are uncomfortable," Bella explained, softly.

"I remember calling you first, Bella!" A male's voice shouted from the inside. It was meant for Edward to hear, because she would have heard him if he'd spoken quietly.

"I guess… I could come later…" He stammered, unsure of what was happening. Who was there?

"Don't be silly. You're my first priority," Bella said firmly.

Edward looked at her unconvinced. She had guests. Since his day was planned ahead, she had planned her day, too. He was ruining her plans.

"Would you like to meet them?" she asked.

"Umm." He bit his lip. "I guess."

"They won't bite." Bella kissed him reassuringly. He would have smiled at her statement if he wasn't so wound up.

They entered the small house and Edward was sure his heart would beat out of his chest.

He was aware Bella was talking with the others about what had been shattered on the floor, but Edward couldn't focus on the words. The guy was quite tall with sandy brown hair and burgundy red eyes – somehow, that was scaring him. The woman, on the other side of the room, was around Bella's height with long black hair and deep red eyes, smiling at them. It seemed that he loved only Bella's red eyes, not other red eyes.

"Edward, these are my friends: Peter and Charlotte."

"Hey," he murmured.

"He smells great," Charlotte said, nodding.

Edward felt a wave of fear rushing through his body as he stepped directly behind Bella, squeezing her hand.

"Well, Bella, he's not that bad! I expected worse from you!" Peter snickered.

What was that supposed to mean? It was a bad or a good thing that she was with him?

"Say kid, do you happen to like chess?" Peter asked Edward, grinning.

Edward felt his eyes widening as his mouth went dry. "Yes," he answered in a small voice.

"Great! Would you like to play?" He really wanted this. Edward could see it on his face. He wanted to ask Bella what she thought of this, but he knew that it would be like asking his mom for permission to play outside.

So, after being sure this Peter guy wasn't going to hurt him somehow, he grabbed Bella's chessboard, which was his old one actually, and he went to the couch. Edward was glad he'd brought the board here, some time ago. Bella hadn't mastered a way to beat him at it, but it was a nice change from playing with his dad.

As they worked to place the pieces on the board, Edward saw with the corner of his eye that Bella went to her girl friend, talking to her quietly. He glanced at his companion and a chill ran down his spine. He knew that Bella wouldn't have allowed Peter near him if he wanted to harm him. Edward trusted her.

"Relax, kid. I just missed a good game of chess," Peter told him, attracting his attention.

Edward started to loosen up a little. Peter really didn't mean any harm.

"Black?" He asked.

"What?" Edward asked back, blinking, confused.

"The chess pieces…"

"Oh, white. Always." Edward grinned and Peter nodded.

"Go ahead then, and start."

They started playing and Peter asked about how Edward had met Bella, about what he liked to do, about school. He was genuinely curious and he seemed fascinated with some things they did in school. In return, he told Edward about himself and Charlotte.

"You don't need to know the beginning of our story, but I owe everything to my friend, Jasper Whitlock, for saving us. After that…everything was easy. Well, until Bella." He didn't say anything more about that, but he told Edward about places they had been, about people they met…

After some time, Bella joined them on the couch and wrapped her arms around Edward. He immediately welcomed her cold skin, having missed it.

"That's impossible!" Peter groaned as Edward moved his knight in front of Peter's king. He couldn't help but grin widely. He won again.

"I guess it's checkmate," Edward announced.

"No! No! You've been telling him what to do." He pointed to Bella, his eyes narrowing.

Edward couldn't help but snort. "I would have lost if she told me anything, and besides, you would have heard if she had."

Peter scowled and glared at the board between them.

"No offense, love, but you suck at chess," Edward whispered, turning to Bella.

"None taken." She knew she was rubbish at this.

That's when his stomach decided to embarrass him. He felt his face catch fire as they started laughing. It would have been funny if it was someone else and not him.

Once Bella regained her composure, she fussed around him, worrying about what he should eat. She finally offered him the muffins from yesterday. As she said goodbye to her friends, Edward eyed the cookies. They were too hard, and he couldn't eat them. He should have eaten in the morning, before everyone arrived, but he had barely had time to breathe. And lunch didn't go well.

"They're hard. I can't eat them. And I'm not going home," he blurted out once they were alone and Bella started apologizing about her friends being there.

"Then let's go and buy something." As if, it was that easy! Nothing would be open on Easter Day.

"It's Easter! Everything is closed."

"Edward, you should go home."

"Don't do this! Just don't!" He groaned and went to the couch. "Why must this be so freaking hard? You said you get along with Jacob!"

"We're talking without wanting to rip the other's throat, but that doesn't mean we're best friends. It is in our nature, Edward." She shrugged.

"Can't you come to an agreement or something?"

"I seemed to have come to one with Jacob," Bella said thoughtfully.

"I guess it's enough. For now," Edward whispered, sighing then laid down on the couch. "You don't mind, do you?" he asked, blinking heavily. He was tired for not sleeping well, he was hungry and there was no way in hell he was going back home.

"Sleep. I'm sorry I don't have any food."

Edward fell asleep soon enough, but his stomach had him up in a few hours, demanding food. He tried munching on the hard muffin and when he was half done with it, his jaw was hurting. Bella joined him on the couch, and he put his head on her lap, willing the sleep to come back. It seemed that the hunger was more powerful than the sleep which seemed illogical, but he tried to forgot about it and relax enough to fall asleep.

Bella woke him up what felt like a few minutes after he had managed to fall asleep. She had food for him, and he ate faster than he should have, but he was so damn hungry. He couldn't allow her to see how much her little gesture touched him. He blinked away the tears rapidly, focusing on the food.

Edward was content with eating cereal and chocolate, but she didn't seem to agree, because after two days of hogging her couch, she drove him home, nagging him about better bed, better food, his mom missing him, blah blah blah.

His mom was ecstatic to see him, as if Saturday hadn't happened. Edward brushed inside past her open arms and went upstairs, slamming his door shut. He didn't emerge out of his room until eleven at night when hunger won the battle with his pride. Luckily, he didn't bump into anyone. He raided the fridge then went upstairs and shut the window. He didn't want to talk with anyone. Logically, he knew that Bella could come in even if the window was closed, but he wished she'd respect that he didn't want to talk to her at the moment.

Edward woke up to his phone ringing and he groggily answered, trying to see what time it was. Almost eight am. It was a school break! He wanted to sleep more.

"Yeah?" He grumbled in the phone.

"Morning. Did I wake you up?" Seth asked, joyfully.

"Yeah."

"Sorry. I need your help," he whispered then launching into a mind boggling explanation about him not having a driving license and Sue sending him shopping and Leah not helping and…

"OKAY!" Edward shouted, rolling out of the bed. "I'll be there in half an hour," he promised.

"Great! You're a life saver."

.

.

.

When Edward arrived in front of Seth's house, he realized that he had read his clock wrong because the dashboard clock read 08:00. He honked, not really caring if he was waking up the whole La Push. Seth rushed out of the house and slid into Edward's car.

"Morning!"

"What the hell is wrong with you? You woke me up at seven!" Edward moaned and turned the car around. "Where do you want to go?"

"Forks is good. If not…Port Angeles." He shrugged. "Did you stay up too long or something?"

Edward threw him a glare that seemed to silence him. Once they arrived at the Thriftway, they forgot about the rocky start of the day. Seth tried to apologize in Leah's name, but Edward brushed him off. As long as they stayed off the Leah-subject, everything was perfect.

When they made it back to Seth's house, Jake was there to talk with Seth, but when he saw Edward, he decided he was a better candidate at the apprentice stuff. Edward got dragged into helping Jake restore his Rabbit.

By the time he made it home, Edward was aching all over, he was famished and when he offhandedly asked if Bella called or dropped by and his mom only shook her head, he decided not to call her until she came to him. It was childish and stupid, but she had brought him back against his will.

He talked with his mother and told her he didn't want to think about Easter. She nodded and it was forgotten. He even apologized for shouting, when he wasn't that sorry.

The next few days were spent in Jacob's garage, learning about tools Edward hadn't known of and becoming covered in grease. He ruined three t-shirts in four days and a pair of jeans.

"Wrench!" Jake shouted from under the car.

"I'm eating!" Edward groaned, between bites of pizza.

"Throw it over so I can finish! I'm starved, too!" He shouted, sliding out and flipping his friend off.

Edward snatched the tool from next to him and threw it in Jake's way just as the garage door opened. Edward's eyes widened when he saw the wrench approaching Leah's head. Fast.

"Watch out!" He yelled, choking on his bite.

She turned to him in time to see the wrench and dodge it right before the impact. Jake caught the wrench and disappeared under the car again, as if Edward hadn't nearly decapitated their friend.

"Do you want to kill me?" She hissed, narrowing her eyes at Edward.

"I didn't mean it! Swear to God!" He rushed out, barely hearing his voice over the thudding of his heart. "How was I supposed to know you'd be there?"

She huffed and went to the car, taking a seat inside. The car dipped a few inches under her weight.

"That's right, Leah! Kill me," Jake grumbled and slid out.

"Oh…"

"Yeah, oh!" He groaned and rubbed his arm. Jake wiped his hands on his jeans then went to grab a slice of pizza.

"So…how have you been?" Leah asked, crossing her legs and looking at them.

"Are you serious?" Edward asked incredulously, before Jake even had time to swallow his bite and answer. "You want small talk? What were you doing at brunch? What was your goal in asking those questions?" He snapped.

She laughed. "Oh, I really did hit a nerve! I was just trying to open your eyes."

"They are open, you little-"

Edward jumped, startled when the garage door was slammed shut. Jacob wasn't around. What the hell?

"You guys should know that I'm not going to open this door until you talk out your problems. There's a boulder in front of the door. I highly recommend not destroying the doors, Leah. Dad will kill me." Jake's voice rang from the other side.

Perfect. Edward glared at Leah and she returned the favor. He wasn't going to make peace with her since she was the one that started this whole mess.

He started looking around, hoping Jake would open the door soon. After finding an old box, Edward started rummaging through it when he saw the things inside. It was from when they were little. There was a picture of the three of them on the beach and it involved lots of fish.

"We had fun that day," Leah said softly from behind him.

"Yeah. You really believed it had rained with fish," he chuckled, not turning to her.

"There were so many…and I always believed what you told me."

"You were too easy," Edward muttered, finally turning to face her.

"That changed, didn't it?" She asked, looking up at him.

He shrugged. Her eyes filled with tears and before he realized what happened, she was hugging him. "I'm sorry. I'm really a bitch."

"Your words, not mine." He laughed, nervously.

They ended up emptying the box on the floor, and between memories and happy times, he explained about Bella. He never thought he could have a normal conversation with Leah about Bella. It looked like he could. She was understanding by the time they finished looking through everything.

There was only one problem. How to get out of the garage?

"Allow me," she said, grinning. She pushed the doors open and Edward could hear the metal against rock sound when Jacob appeared, fuming, and he started shouting then stopped. Something on their faces gave them away.

"Are you friends again?"

"Yep." Leah and Edward answered at the same time, sharing a smile.

"Thank God!" He sighed in relief, and clapped Edward's back.

"I'll be back tomorrow with food!" Leah said, winking. She was already gone, not seeing the horrified look the boys shared.

When Edward made it home, Leah called, making sure he'd be there the next day and he wouldn't ditch just because she was going to cook. After hanging up, he went to close the window of his room, only to find Bella there, watching him worried.

He felt horrible for not calling her for so many days. He told her about his time with Jacob and explained about hashing out their problems with Leah.

Edward realized how he had destroyed what they had with the distance. Bella couldn't even stay near him, but she proved to the both of them that she could even, if it was unbearable. She put her head in the crook of his neck, sniffing there.

"Have you been eating and drinking?" Bella asked softly, in his ear.

"Yes," he answered quietly.

She pressed her head to his chest, bringing his hand to her face, not allowing him to look again. He wanted to look, to see how she drank, but he guessed she should do this her own way since he had hurt her with being apart for so long.

Edward felt the now familiar itch when she sliced the skin, then her cold lips closed over the wound and he felt how the blood left his body. The sensation was indescribable and the image of her bowed over him, feeding, it became too much. Again. But this time, she didn't seem to stop as quickly as before.

"Bella," he whispered, unsure of her reaction to him stopping her. "Umm I think you should stop."

She moved away, licking the wound close. Edward was a little woozy, but he blamed it on how tired he was.

"How do you feel?" Bella asked, as if sensing he was not feeling well.

"Okay?" he answered, uncertain.

"Don't lie," she hissed, narrowing her eyes.

"I'm just tired. I worked in that garage the whole day," he explained.

"I'll bring you some water. Sleep."

.

.

.

In the morning, when she woke him up, Edward realized why he had felt so tired the night before. He felt stuffed, his throat was burning and he was dizzy.

"Edward? Wake up, sleepyhead. It's school time." He could hear Bella, but it was difficult to open his eyes. "Edward!"

He groaned, putting an arm over his forehead, wishing the room would stop spinning.

"What's wrong?" Bella asked. Edward could hear the panic in her voice, but he could barely swallow, let alone talk and reassure her that he'd survive. Hopefully.

"I…don't…can't talk," he murmured, putting his hand around his throat, trying to show her what was wrong without words.

"Can I do anything?"

"No."

"Is something hurting?"

He wished she had realized what was wrong. He pointed to his throat again and before he could pluck up the courage to start talking and explain myself, he started sneezing.

"I'll be right back," she whispered and kissed his forehead. Edward was having a fever surely because her lips were colder than usual in contact with his heated skin.

Next thing he knew, his mom was coming in the room and when she realized what was happening, she started fussing over him, telling him about having to go to work and how she hated this client…blah blah. Edward didn't care. Edward knew that Bella was coming back.

Elizabeth put the phone next to her son, making him promise to call if something was wrong. After a few minutes, Bella appeared by his bed, grinning.

"I'm going to buy you a few things, okay?"

"Lots of throat pills," Edward croaked.

She nodded. "Anything else, while I'm out?"

He shook his head and pulled the blanket over his head, going back to sleep. If his mom had been home she'd have kept him awake, telling him that sleep made him better but he had to fight the cold, staying awake and stuff. He was glad Bella was around.

Suddenly, his stomach decided it was fun to turn around and make him nausea. Edward made it to the bathroom right on time. When Bella came back, she helped him wash, and back to the bed.

Later, he accompanied her to the kitchen and watched as she baked muffins. She was entertaining to watch, but he knew that the fatigue was winning the battle. They went back upstairs once the muffins were in the oven. Actually, Bella carried him upstairs which Edward would have found extremely embarrassing if he could have fought back.

When he woke up, Bella was coming inside his room.

"Hey," she whispered, smiling.

"Hi. I want another thingy for my throat. It's on fire."

She giggled, shaking her head. "That's how I feel most of the time I'm around you." He averted his eyes. "But first, you should eat. The muffins are out."

"Sounds good," he agreed.

They put on a movie while Edward ate, then he took another pill, but he fell asleep pretty soon.

Edward woke up when he heard voices whispering, but he stayed quiet. His head was on Bella's lap and he was content with that position. She tried to rise, but he hugged her waist tighter, not allowing her to go away.

"You can stay here," he heard his mom whispering. "Are you hungry?" He fought the urge to snort at the stupid question.

"No, I'm fine. Thank you." Always polite.

When Edward was sure they were alone again, he talked, "I think it was the first time she didn't embarrass me."

"You're awake!" Bella exclaimed.

"For some time now. It's quite comfortable here."

"Of course it is! I put a pillow on my lap, you're snuggled in that blanket, I'm sure you're quite cozy."

"I'd be better if you kissed me," he whispered, grinning up at her.

She kissed his forehead, but when she wanted to lean back, he didn't allow her, keeping her head close and touching their lips together. It wasn't like she could get whatever he had.

"Mhmmm. I've missed you. I've been so stupid not talk to you."

"It's okay. You're a teenager, after all," Bella said, amused.

"That's no excuse!" He shouted and started coughing.

"Now, you've given yourself away!" She moaned, her eyes fixed on the door.

"Edward!" His mother wailed as she entered the room, switching the light on.

"Hey, Mom," he greeted her, blinking to accommodate with the sudden brightness. "Can you extinguish the light? Please?"

He felt Bella shaking in laughter under me. So what if he used such words? He remembered telling her that he preferred them in favor to the contemporary ones.

"Just let me see you, then you can go back to sleep, although you should stay awake a few hours," she advised.

Edward got up, allowing her to make sure he was okay. He was feeling lots better than that morning.

"Come downstairs to eat something, then take more aspirin."

"Awww, can't you bring here some-" He started protesting.

"I'm not your nurse," she snapped amused. She always made him do this. He wanted to be alone with Bella again.

So he turned to Bella, grinning, fighting the urge to bat his eyelashes. "You'd bring me the food, wouldn't you, Bella?" Her eyes widened, and before she could answer, Edward returned his attention to his mother. "She's been an exceptionally amazing nurse. She made me muffins and let me sleep all day, unlike you."

"Get downstairs, mister," she scolded lightly.

"Can you move?" Bella whispered, concerned when Elizabeth was out of earshot.

"Don't carry me again. You made me dizzy," he blurted out, worried. "You can hold my hand if I can't walk, okay?" And it would have looked weird for five foot tall Bella to carry his six foot tall frame.

"That sounds good," she agreed and took his hand, helping him out of the bed. "Stay here, I want to open your window. The room needs some fresh air."

Dinner was quiet, Bella picked at the vegetables, and when no one was looking, she carried her food to Edward's plate. After they ate, Bella decided to help his mom with the dishes and Edward went to the couch in the living room.

"Has Bella been a good nurse?" His dad asked, waggling his eyebrows.

Edward felt his cheeks turning red. "Yeah."

"Really? Thoroughly taken care of you?" He winked.

"DAD!" He groaned, wishing Bella wouldn't hear this.

"What, I'm just looking out for my son," he said, defensively.

"She took better care of me that Mom. I mean she allowed me to sleep the whole day."

"I bet you prefer Bella in favor to your mom. I'd find it weird if it was otherwise."

Edward wanted to bang his head against something. He should have went upstairs once dinner was over.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9: Being sick is great

Edward felt a little less stuffed after his third day in bed, but the sore throat and the runny nose were still there. Of course, his mom realized when and why he got the cold and once Bella had left to change her clothes, she made his head hurt with her chiding.

He knew he shouldn't have stayed in just a shirt and not in the breeze, but it was so damn hot in Jake's garage and working on that stupid car was harder than he had anticipated. Every time he opened his mouth to explain what happened, his mom snapped something else and in the end, he allowed her to shout until her throat went dry.

One thing made him happy. He was friends again with Leah and she seemed to understand everything, once she just listened to him without opening her stupid mouth to insult Bella. She had called Edward when she heard he was sick, thinking he was just ditching her in fear of getting food poisoning.

It was Friday and he was going insane. His mother had sent Bella to school since they had both missed too much – like she didn't know all that stuff and more! Edward liked their routine and that day was going to be the worst day. Since Tuesday afternoon when he could stay upright without falling, they made muffins together, watched movies, talked and made out. A lot. He wondered if she'd get in trouble if he sent her text messages in class, but he decided against it. No need for Bella in detention.

By noon, Edward was digging in the fridge for what his mom had left for him. After heating up the pasta and meatballs, he went back to the TV and continued flipping through the channels.

When the doorbell rang, Edward groaned, knowing it couldn't be Bella so early and he wasn't up to other visitors or even one of his parents back early.

He trudged to the door and opened it to see Leah with a casserole in her hands and a smile on her face.

"Do you really want to poison me," he grumbled, opening the door all the way.

"I thought you'd appreciate some company."

"Yeah, come in." He stepped aside. "Lucky for me, I just ate." He grinned and pointed to his empty plate on the coffee table.

"Oh, crap!" She groaned, mockingly. "There goes my plan."

"Shouldn't you be in school?" Edward asked while taking his plate to the sink and putting the food from her, in the fridge.

"They let us out early. I can't say I complain. How do you feel?"

"Like I've been turned inside out."

"No need to be so graphic."

"You wanted an answer," he muttered and slumped back on the couch.

"So…" She trailed off, sitting next to him. "Weren't you getting bored every day?"

He glanced at her, gauging her mood. "Uhh, no. Just today. Mom sent Bella back to school to see what we've missed," he told her.

"She stayed with you?" She sounded surprised.

"Yep. And I guess I got used to that routine." Edward sighed and picked a paper tissue from the table. "Sorry," he muttered and blew him nose. "I wish this would be over!"

"One thing I love about this wolf stuff is-"

"Shut up!" he groaned. "Jake boasted about that enough." He didn't need her to rub it in his face that she couldn't get sick when he was sneezing and blowing his brain out.

"I'm just saying," Leah giggled.

His phone rang and he didn't need to look at the clock to know it was his mom, reminding him to take the pills, which was good cuz he always forgot.

"Hello?"

"Hey, honey. Just reminding you," she said in a singing voice.

"On it, now," he answered.

"Are you bored yet?" She laughed.

"Are you kidding? Leah just dropped by and it was right on time or I'd have gone mad."

"Okay, have fun." She hung up after they said goodbye.

Edward picked up the pills and washed them down with juice. When he heard laughter from his left, he glared at her.

"Oh, you look like some old person, taking so many pills!"

"Why, thank you, Leah!"

She poked her tongue out. "So what do you wanna do? I can stay until your mom comes back if you want."

"Anything you want." He shrugged. Her smile widened and he narrowed his eyes at her. "Don't get ideas."

"I was wondering how good you are at Scrabble."

"Better than you," he announced to her. He'd played the other with Bella and won more times than her.

Edward brought the board and put it on the couch between them. And so it started.

It went well until the very end when they had weird letters and Edward couldn't help but add his last letter 'Y' to the four letters on the board, writing the word 'P-U-S-S-Y'. He wasn't proud of it, but it helped him win.

"I'm sure that's not ethical."

"Oh, and you are the queen of ethics!" He snapped playfully. "But look on the bright side! I won!" He clapped his hands, beaming at her.

"Next game, we're allowed to write any word. Okay?"

Edward shrugged. He still won, no matter how many stupid words they used.

"Admit it, I'm better," he teased her after the fifth game he won.

"No way! I used to beat Seth."

"Seth is younger than me."

She huffed then looked down at the board. "Can you stop writing three lettered words?"

"Why? It's fun to block you!"

"It's not!" She moaned in protest and threw a letter block at him.

"I needed an F, thanks." He grinned playfully, but she seemed to have reached her limit. Before he realized she moved, she was on top of him and the couch toppled over, which sent then on the floor, laughing.

"Oops."

"I think you broke something," he moaned, rubbing the back of his head.

"Sorry, but I couldn't take it anymore. We can continue playing."

"After you sent the letters all over the floor?" he asked skeptically.

"We'll put them back, but you have to promise not to do it again."

"Do what?" he asked innocently, moving to the couch and trying to right it. He didn't have enough strength. "Will you help me?"

"Here I thought you were the guy!" She laughed.

"I'm allowed not being strong since I'm sick and after all, I'm only human," he said mockingly.

She gasped in mock shock and he tackled her down. When she froze under him, Edward thought he had seriously hurt her, but then he heard Bella's voice. He hadn't heard the front door.

"Edward? Oh …"

He got up and turned around, scowling at Leah who looked tense.

"Hey," Edward whispered to Bella, scratching the back of his head. "Umm, we were playing Scrabble." That was lame and stupid, but he felt like explaining what was going on.

Bella looked at him confused then at the couch and finally, behind him, at Leah. "I can come back later," she whispered softly.

"No, stay!" He was next to her in three long strides, grasping her hands. "Leah was…"

"Leah was just leaving," Leah answered from behind him in a bleak tone. "It was nice while it lasted."

He looked after her, wondering for the umpteenth time if it would ever be possible for her to be around Bella without losing it. He wanted to go after her, but he knew he'd worsen the situation with Bella.

"Do you need help with the couch?" Bella asked, once they were alone.

So they were going to dance around the subject. Perfect.

"Yeah…"

"I don't care what happened here. And I don't want to know. It's for the best," she told him after righting the couch.

"Nothing happened, Bella. We were playing Scrabble then…she jumped on me because I kep-"

"I don't care, Edward!" She insisted, not turning to face him.

"What do you think happened?" He wondered, taking a step closer.

"I don't have to be a genius to know what I walked in to. I'm sorry."

"Are you insane?" Edward yelled and grabbed her shoulder, trying to turn her around. That was a difficult task since she wouldn't budge. "Bella, we were just playing."

"You were just playing, Edward. Do you really think she gave up," she murmured. Her voice was trembling and he wondered if she could cry.

"Are you…crying?"

She turned around and looked him in the eye. Her now red eyes were bright and full of unshed tears or venom or whatever was happening to her. "I can't cry."

Her arms wrapped around his neck and her face pressed in his chest, her shoulders shaking as she sobbed dryly. Edward put his arms around her, unsure what he should say or do.

After a few moments, Bella let out a small giggle and took a step back. "You really stink."

"Jeez!" He rolled his eyes at her.

They looked at each other for a few seconds then burst in laughter. He extended his arm to hug her again, but she put her hands up.

"Enough is enough! Can you shower?"

"Only if you wash my back." Edward felt his eyes widen, having no idea where that came from.

"I thought you'd never ask!" Bella took his hand, walking him to the bathroom.

Edward thought she was joking, but when she told him to lift his arms so she could take his shirt off, he knew she was serious. He didn't know if he should be happy or afraid of this. He was in a daze.

"It's okay if you don't want me to do it," she whispered when she saw he wasn't cooperating.

"I'm just shocked," he admitted.

"You can undress alone while I fill the tub." She turned her back to him and he still couldn't believe he was going to do this. There was no reason for him to be embarrassed, she had seen him naked before.

"Edward, have you mastered a way to wash with your clothes on?"

"What? Uhh, no," he murmured, turning red and fumbling with the hem of his shirt.

Bella came to help, unbuckling his belt and accidentally touching his stomach. Edward was too warm or she was too cold, he didn't know whichever was, but he sucked in a breath making her take her hands away, quickly.

"Oh, sorry."

"It's okay," he mumbled and threw the shirt in the hamper, working on his jeans. He took them off, his socks followed and only his boxers were covering him. People bathe in underwear, right?

"Aren't you forgetting something?" She asked amused when he approached the bathtub.

"Are you serious?" He asked in a voice that sounded like a five-year girl's voice. It wasn't his finest moment.

"Edward, sweetie, I saw you without them before. Several times. So…lose them." She smiled encouragingly and he couldn't help but grin back. His boxers joined the other clothes in the hamper.

"How is the water?" Bella asked softly, once he was inside the tub.

"Perfect. You're an amazing nurse."

"Tonight, you can tell your dad that I did my duty very well. Thoroughly." She winked and picked the soap and a sponge.

Edward felt himself hardening at her words and he knew this wasn't going to be just a bath. Bella started like a professional nurse until she got her hands under water. Her eyes widened comically and a hand went to her mouth almost theatrically.

"What do we have here, Mr. Masen?"

He seemed to harden further as her fingers skimmed over his abdomen.

"Someone's naughty, Mr. Masen."

"It's you who is naughty, my nurse," he played along.

"Me?" She gasped in mock shock.

"Look at the little skirt and this wet, white blouse," he told her, narrowing his eyes. Had this been her plan all along?

"I can't believe you, Mr. Masen!" Her hand, which had warmed considerably, wrapped around his erection making him forget about any witty comeback.

"Bella," Edward moaned, raising his hips.

She leaned closer and kissed him. Somehow, he brought her in the water with him and he started dry – or wet, considering they were in the water – humping her. She allowed him to act like a horny teenager, enjoying it.

"Do you think…we could…ever?" He asked brokenly, gasping for air.

"We can try if you want." She kissed down his neck and his stomach muscles tightened further at her words.

"Really? You want to be with me?"

"Of course, I do, Edward," she breathed in his ear. She rubbed against him exactly how he wanted, how he needed, and all too soon he exploded.

When Edward opened his eyes, Bella was out of the tub, dripping on the tile, a torn towel in her hands as she watched him with wild red eyes.

"Bella?" he whispered, worried. A part of him knew what could have happened or probably happened. His shaky hand went to his throat, expecting to feel the sticky blood there. There was nothing.

She was shaking her head and suddenly, she moved closer, kneeling down and hugging him tightly. He couldn't understand her.

"What happened?" he asked in a shaky voice.

She cupped his cheeks in her hands and looked at him seriously. "I nearly bit you." Her voice was muted and if he hadn't looked at her lips, he would have missed the words.

"Didn't you say that you used to do this?"

"Edward…oh God! What if I had hurt you?" She cried out and kissed his cheeks.

"You didn't answer me," he said between his pouted lips since she was squeezing his cheeks.

"It was different. I either bit them or…was already drinking. Don't make me talk about that," Bella said in a disgusted tone. "Please. I want to forget about that or, put the memories back because I can't forget anything."

"Can't you…" He swallowed. "We can try when you…feed," he whispered so low, he barely heard himself. He was positive his face resembled a tomato.

Bella didn't answer, but helped him up and used the shower head to rinse him then wrapped him in a towel.

"I'll bring you clean clothes."

She was out of the room before he could tell her he could get himself clothes. Was this bothering her? Didn't she want more?

When she returned, he tried to arrange his thoughts so he could ask her about this matter.

"I heard the front door. It must be your mother," she whispered and turned to get out of the bathroom.

"Hold on." He grasped her hand. "We need to talk about this."

"And we will. Not here. Not now."

As they descended the stairs, Edward realized Bella was wearing a pair of his sweatpants and one of his shirts. "You changed?"

"My clothes were wet." She winked and led him to the living room.

Of course, neither of them took into account their wet hair. Elizabeth didn't miss it and that resulted in a long talk he wished he'd never had to hear, especially with Bella around.

"…very important and I'm not ready to be a grandma-"

"We're taking Sex Ed," he blurted out, feeling like his face would explode.

Bella hadn't uttered a word since his mom started her speech and it was worrying him.

"They're giving you ideas! I always was against those classes," she started all over again. Edward had hoped that would shut her up.

"Uhh, Elizabeth, it was my idea to take the class," Bella whispered, not meeting her eyes.

His mom's answer took Edward by surprise. "You want to corrupt him!"

"MOM!" He protested loudly. "Please! We didn't do anything."

She didn't look convinced, but left the room after glaring at Bella.

"I guess we're not friends anymore," Bella said with a sad sigh.

"Don't worry about her. She'd come around."

"I don't think so."

"You sound sure."

"I think she met with one of them, she smells like them. I hope they aren't giving her ideas," she murmured. "But let's not worry about that. You should eat something, take your pills and I'll tell you what happened at school in our absence." She beamed.

As Edward ate, Bella talked and she seemed unstoppable. She told him that Angela had filled her in about their classmates, about what she and Ben had done on the small break. Then she told Edward how classes were: that they already had a paper to write in English, that the much awaited Sex Ed class was boring as hell and she was sorry for dragging him into that. There were rumors that new students would arrive in the fall. She was like a little tabloid.

"Did you breathe?" Edward mocked her when she was done.

"I don't need to breathe. I have more news if you want to hear." She smiled innocently.

"No, please, no more. My ears would bleed and fall off."

"Food! Yummy!" Bella grinned and rubbed her hands making him choke on his bite. "What? I thought it was funny," she added when he got his cough under control.

"Very funny and mature," he grumbled.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10: A huge mistake

As April rolled around, they started doing more interesting and informative things in Sex Ed class. Soon Bella was the one wanting to quit. Edward was paying far too much attention to everything the teacher said and even attempting to practice once they went to her house.

For instance, he was determined to prove her that what happened a month ago in his bathroom was an accident. She knew they'd get there eventually. The tension had been building and he was a teenage boy, after all.

His wet, insistent kisses covered her throat as she worked on his shirt. They kept getting more physical since the bathroom incident and she wasn't complaining. This type of contact required that she had fed recently, which he seemed only too eager to offer himself to her. Bella still couldn't wrap her head around how selfless he could be.

"Ahh," Bella moaned quietly when he traced her hard nipple with his thumb. She was rewarded with his huge smile and another hungry kiss. "Be careful," she murmured, not wanting him to hurt himself accidentally.

Bella took his shirt off carefully, and after slowly getting his skin used to her cold hands, she started exploring. He always moaned and bucked his hips into hers when she got too close to his pants. She knew that today something was going to change; he seemed like a man on a mission as he sucked at her bottom lip and groped her breasts.

"Edward!" she shouted, surprised when he ripped her shirt and lowered his head to lick her chest. He only moaned and pressed his body further into hers. "You don't want this," she warned him, knowing he wasn't going to stop this time.

She had to ground him, to keep his focus on the danger.

"Of course I want this! I've waited so damn long," he hissed and kissed the swell of her right breast. "You're so beautiful."

"Edward, we're on my couch!" She tried to make him see sense.

"I'm not a girl! I don't freaking need balloons and roses!" His green eyes were slightly dilated as they bore into hers. "I just need you, Bella. I want this. Please."

"Edward…"

"Don't back out. Not now, Bella. Please, love," he begged, putting his hands over her cheeks. "I love you. You won't hurt me. I'll let you drink if it makes you feel better, but please."

Why could she never say no when he begged? Bella felt drunk with his tantalizing scent as it became more and more potent with his arousal. It was going to be the most difficult thing she'd done so far, but she wanted this as much as he did.

Edward unzipped her jeans and pulled them down, sucking in a breath when the panties caught in them and left her bare. She had seen him naked a fair share of times, but he hadn't had the privilege of seeing her naked in return – just her chest, a few times.

"Edward, breathe," she reminded him, touching his cheek.

He took his eyes off her lower half and met her eyes. His green ones were shining with happiness. "You're gorgeous." She smiled and was happy she couldn't blush. "Can I try…"

"NO!" Bella shouted, catching his wrist. "I don't know what happens…if you touch me there."

"I hate to break it to you, but I will eventually touch you…there. A lot," he whispered, grinning, his face glowing like Rudolph's nose.

"Not skin on skin. Never. I use a condom," she told him, realizing then that they didn't have one.

He rolled his eyes. "Are you for real? The only girl that can't get pregnant and she wants a condom?"

"Edward! I have no idea what my venom can do to your skin!"

They were killing the mood, but maybe it was for the best.

"It doesn't do anything! You lick me all the time!"

He had a point, thought she doubted he could have phrased it any more bluntly.

"Let me try please. If something happens, I swear to take my hand away," he whispered, drawing small circles on her tummy. When Bella didn't answer, he took it as a yes and moved his hand lower.

"Argh!" She couldn't help it. Edward shot up and folded his hands on his lap, watching her warily. When he realized she was laughing at him, he slapped the cushion at her head.

"You scared the crap out of me." His heart was beating out of his chest as he glared.

"You were concentrating so hard, I couldn't help it," she giggled and moved to undo his pants.

"Argh!" He mocked her, flailing his arms over his head. "If I knew you would feel it, I'd hurt you, Bella," he muttered jokingly.

"Oh, I'm sorry, sweetheart, I thought it was funny," she whispered, helping him out of his pants and boxers, following his lead.

"Holy shit!" He exclaimed, scooting back and sitting on her knees. "I have no idea what I'm doing."

"Like I do," she told him, amused.

"You know more."

"I never loved my partners, so I never cared if they ended up hurt in the process." She knew she had crushed bones, bruised bodies or done who knows what else to those poor humans that ended up as her prey.

Edward smiled and leaned to kiss her, his hand going back to the bundle of nerves between her thighs, spurring new feelings inside Bella. She had never been touched like this, so caring and loving and gentle. She tried to be equally gentle as she wound her fingers in his hair, keeping his head close to hers to kiss him more deeply and adventuring to licking his bottom lip. He responded enthusiastically, bringing his own tongue out, making her gasp for air she didn't need. His middle finger probed around her folds, toying at her entrance before going in slowly. He quickly added another finger and curled them, scratching her walls, making her want to let herself enjoy this without thinking of anything else, but she had to be very careful of any change.

"Edward!" Bella moaned as she felt her orgasm approaching. She always panicked, aware she could hurt him in those few seconds she was on cloud nine. He didn't even blink, moving his lips down to her chest, to her stomach. She had to stop him, at the same time knowing that couldn't be right – from doing what he wanted, but she was coming undone and there was no way she could stop him now. She felt his lips there and her eyes rolled in the back of her head.

Don't hurt him, Bella. Look at him. Don't hurt him. She kept chanting in her head.

"Oh…Ah…Ow..."

The last moan made her eyes open wide. Her legs were wrapped around his neck as he looked at her sheepishly. His hair was sticking in every direction and his eyes were sparkling with mischief.

"You're going to get yourself killed one day, Edward!" She scolded him and let her legs fall to either side of him, hugging him to her chest. "Did I hurt you badly?"

"Nope, I'm good. But what a way to go," he mused, turning his head to peck her lips.

"Insane," she confirmed. She made a personal effort to keep him alive every day, and he didn't care about his safety at all.

He shrugged and squirmed. "Can I…?"

"Do you really have a death wish?" she asked amused.

"Oh, you can be all cheery after coming, but I'm still suffering." He pouted and widened his eyes.

Bella kissed him, lifting her legs and then gently guiding him inside her. His eyes grew wider, if possible, and his breath came in short pants. Edward caught her shoulders and watched her, a little scared as he inched deeper.

"Are you okay? Am I hurting you?" she asked anxiously.

He nodded wildly then shook his head, biting his lip. His warm, sweet breath washed over her face as she tried to figure out what was going on since he wasn't talking. He was so hot, making her feel like she was burning from the inside – reminding her of her transformation – but this was a thousand times more pleasant. He moved out, then back in, slowly, repeating the process a few times. Bella started building for another release. Edward's hands cupped her face, his thumbs stroking her cheeks as he looked at her so lovingly she thought her heart would split in two. She could feel his love as he moved in her gently, as if it was possible for him to hurt her.

Bella was afraid to actually touch him anywhere so she kept her hands locked loosely around his waist. When she knew she was seconds away from her release, she turned her head to the side, but that resulted in more burning at her throat since his wrist was right here.

"Edward," she breathed. "I need you to move your hands away."

"No," he panted. "You need this."

"Edwaaarrd," she moaned, arching her back. Her vision clouded, she clenched her jaw, stopped breathing in a vain attempt to keep him safe. She felt his hips slapping against hers as he moaned her name loudly, a few times.

She opened her eyes and saw his exposed neck, not even an inch away. NO! Bella shouted at the monster. She put a hand over his neck, blocking the view. His eyes snapped open and looked down. She had no idea what he was seeing, but for the first time, he looked scared.

"Bella…it's me," he said shakily. "Umm, you don't want to do that."

She felt her nails pushing into his thin skin and all too soon, she inhaled his amazing blood as it oozed out and she had to taste it.

"BELLA!" Edward yelled. "Bella, please! I love you."

Her eyes met his and in that second, she saw everything clearly. The raw panic in his green eyes was enough to make her push him off her body. His heart had never beat as fast as in that moment.

"Leave. Now," she said urgently. Her voice sounded dangerous even to her ears.

"Uhhh…"

"NOW, Edward! Leave!" She shouted, panicked.

Bella had never seen him move so fast. In less than a minute, he was dressed and out of her house. A part of her wanted to make sure he got out of the forest safely, but another part wanted to follow him for a much darker reason.

She wrapped the shredded shirt around her and curled on the couch. How could I hurt him?

Bella wanted to hurt herself for the danger she had put him in. She had known this could happen and she encouraged him to continue. She knew how frenzied the monster could get in the throes of passion and she still told Edward yes. Why?

She pulled at her hair and pushed the heels of her palms in her eyes wishing the stupid tears would fall, but nothing alleviated the pain. Never had she wanted the tears to fall as much as she did now. Never had she wanted to be human as much as she did now.

Bella was sure she had lost Edward after what had happened. No human in their right mind would come back, not even him. It hit her like an EF5 tornado.

She had lost her life. Her reason to exist. Her everything. He was gone.

Everything seemed so unimportant, meaningless. She couldn't live without him, without her heart, her life. He had brightened her days and nights since she'd met him. She couldn't just give up, but she had to. She had to resign herself because of her actions. There was only one option: to leave. Fast. Very fast. Before the wolves caught wind of what had happened, but on second thought, letting them have a piece of her might not be a bad idea. She deserved to be a little shaken up.

She couldn't leave. She couldn't move. Her feet wouldn't cooperate. She couldn't stir from the couch. It still smelled like Edward, like them.

Bella was vaguely aware of light coming and going from the windows, but didn't care how many days passed or what day it was. Eventually, she had to admit to herself what had happened and to leave town. He wasn't coming back. He would have if he wanted. His vivid green eyes kept haunting her behind her closed lids.

Sometime later, her door was shattered and she jumped up, alert and ready to attack if that was the case. A wolf was here. The stench gave him away. When she saw the person in the doorway, Bella froze and realized this was the end. She was here to kill her.

"How could you hurt him?" Leah yelled, every fiber of her body convulsing.

Bella didn't answer, but bowed her head in shame. She'd allow Leah to do whatever she wanted.

"Answer me! I thought you loved him! I understood and stepped aside!" The wolf kept yelling.

"Of course I love him, you idiot! But…I understand why he doesn't want anything to do with me anymore," she finished in a whisper.

"Are you insane, bloodsucker? He hasn't left his room in a fucking month! A MONTH! I don't know what you've done in all this time, but you better get your stinking ass over there before I rip it off! He is not the same person anymore!"

Bella blinked, trying to comprehend what Leah was telling her. A month? But when? Had she sat on her couch for a month? And why hadn't Edward gone to school? What had happened? What did she miss? Could he still feel something for her? She could see her subconscious scowling at her foolish thought.

"Do you have problems understanding? Should I use small words? You nearly killed him when you told him to leave! When you didn't return! When you didn't answer the phone!"

Bella's head snapped up and she watched Leah terrified. What have I done?

Bella was on autopilot as she put a dress on, and after another glance at Leah, she was out the door – or what had once been a door. She didn't care this was one of the five sunny days Forks got in a year, she didn't care about anything but seeing Edward, making it better.

Bella arrived at his front door, staying just inside the shadow and knocked. He was there, she could hear it, and for the first time, she couldn't use his window. He was alone and probably sleeping despite for being so early, but she kept knocking. She heard his heavy footsteps on the stairs and his heart hammering in his chest. The closer he came, the stronger his scent became, and she'd nearly forgotten how difficult it was to be around him. Bella had ruined everything in every sense of that word. She had to get used to him again, that was if he allowed her near him again. In either case, she would need to feed soon.

Her knuckles seemed unstoppable as they kept rapping on the door.

"Hold on!" Edward yelled. "Who the fuck comes over so early, anyway?" he grumbled and unlocked the door.

Her hand wouldn't cooperate as he opened the door and she knocked on his head. Bella willed her arm to go down as Edward gaped at her, breathing in big pants.

She almost couldn't recognize him. He had lost weight, a lot of weight. His hair was longer, nearly shoulder length as his green eyes were hollow, set deep in his head. Huge dark shadows under them showed everyone how little sleep he got. She could see the scars on his neck and they made her sick.

After the initial shock wore off, he slammed the door in her face. She stared at the closed door, unable to comprehend what he'd done.

"Edward," she whispered and pressed her forehead to the door. "Please…I have some explanations."

"I don't need anything from you." His voice was bleak and husky.

"Edward, sweetheart, I'm begging you, please," she pleaded with him.

The door was snatched open and he glared at her, shoving his finger in front of her face. She eyed it dubiously.

"Don't you fucking dare call me 'sweetheart'! You lost that right a long time ago!"

And the door closed again.

"I understand. I am… sorry." She didn't manage to finish the word when the door opened again. This was ridiculous, he'd destroy the door.

"Sorry?" He thundered. "Do you expect me to believe that?"

"YES! I was the stupid one!"

"Oh, I get it," he drawled. "The 'it's not you, it's me' speech."

"Edward," Bella growled. "I should have never have allowed you to go further than…the fingers…thing," she mumbled embarrassed.

"We both agreed to try!"

"And look how that worked out!" she snapped.

"What do you want, Bella?" He asked, sighing and leaning against the doorframe. She felt a soft warm buzzing inside her as he said her name.

She caught herself leaning closer, and closing her eyes as she inhaled his overwhelming scent.

Edward jumped on the worst conclusion possible. "Oh, I get it. You're thirsty."

"Wh…" She frowned, unable to finish the word at how shocked she was.

"I can see it. Dark circles under your eyes, black eyes, eyeing me as if I'm a piece of meat."

"That's not true!" She retorted loudly although he hadn't raised his voice. He had just stated those things.

"Which one isn't true?" He asked, sarcastically.

"Edward, I hadn't moved until a few minutes ago. I haven't moved from my couch in a month."

"Why should I believe you?"

"Because I suffered and I wished I was the only one suffering."

"News flash! I loved you more than the air I breathed, Bella! I felt like suffocating when I realized you weren't coming back to me, when…you didn't come to school, when…I called with no answer, when-" His voice cracked as big tears rolled from his eyes.

"Edward," she breathed and took a step closer.

"Don't come any closer!"

Bella bit her lip and remained with a foot suspended in the air. "I had no idea a month had passed, not until Leah came to me."

"Leah?" He asked surprised, meeting her eyes.

"Yes, she came to me and…"

"I told her to stop meddling! I thought…everyone was happy now."

She didn't understand him right away, but she saw his ears turning red. It was her turn to feel like suffocating. Had Leah lied to her? Actually, she had, because she told her he hadn't left his room when he had gone to school. He had tried living his life, unlike her. She had lost all notion of time when she thought she'd lost him.

"Leah? Leah, Edward? Why would you do that to me?" She cried out, her throat feeling raw.

"I thought…I was sure you left! And she…we…" He gulped and averted his eyes. "I thought at least someone should be happy."

My selfless boy. "I never left my couch," Bella repeated. "Then…why did she come to me?" That was the mysterious part.

"Probably because she got tired of being with the living dead – no pun intended." He shot her a weak half smile.

"Oh, Edward!" Bella moaned and wrapped her arms around his neck. He stiffened a little before wrapping his long arms around her waist.

He chuckled in her hair. "I wish I could lift you and twirl you around. God, how I missed you, Bella!"

"I wish you could, too." She found herself whispering in his ear.

There were applause from behind then and Bella decided it was time to visit a vampire doctor if something like that existed. She always got lost in Edward and wasn't aware of her surroundings.

They turned around and saw Jacob, Leah and another young boy, probably Seth, clapping, smiling, and in Jacob's case, whistling loudly.

Edward's face flushed red as if on command and she couldn't hide her giggles. She was buoyant. When she felt his hand on the small of her back, urging her outside, she shook her head violently.

"I'd rather not," she whispered.

"Oh, please, I want to know what the elders were talking about when they said you could sparkle!" The one she thought was Seth whined.

However, Bella didn't pay him much attention. Leah was watching her intently and Bella nodded almost imperceptibly to Edward, at least. Leah cocked her head, looking between Edward and Bella then sighed loudly and turned around, about to leave.

"No, you don't!" Edward shouted. "Was this some plot to get me back to Bella?" He asked, annoyed.

She turned around, glancing at Jacob then looking at Edward. "Not really. I honestly thought I could change your mind. It proved harder than I thought. It was like…I was trying to prove you…" She stopped talking, frowning. "Okay, I'll make a stupid comparison, but it's the only thing I can think of. It was like I was telling you all the flowers are the same without knowing you had edelweiss."

Bella felt her mouth opening in surprise. This was Leah's way of saying that she gave up and that she understood how much they loved each other. She had tried and failed and, in the process, she realized what Bella meant to Edward.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11: Agony

It hurt like a bitch. It was stinging and to say the sensation was weird, was an understatement. Her hand was squeezing his neck and he couldn't breathe as her nails penetrated his skin.

Edward realized that something awful was about to happen and maybe, for the first time, he understood her worries. He should have listened to her and not to his seventeen year old hormonal body. She knew better. She knew her limits and he pushed them, and now…if he couldn't talk her out of it…he'd probably be drained of blood in seconds.

He could see the head titles: Teenage boy body found in abandoned cottage. Suspicious wounds on his neck.

"Bella, it's me." He tried to reason with her. He had never been so scared of her. "Umm, you don't want to do that."

Her red eyes were scorching and watching him wildly, frenzied, unsure where to bite probably. As the pressure on his neck doubled, he resolved to shouting.

"BELLA! Bella, please! I love you!"

And then, she told him to leave.

Edward had never thought it was possible to go from the top of the mountain to the bottom so fast. Seconds ago, he was experiencing the most surreal things of his life, touching Bella, tasting Bella, being inside Bella…and now, because he'd never listened to what he was told, he had to go in order to stay alive.

He dressed quickly, and with a final glance at her, he was out of her house. He had no idea how he made it home, but it was dusk when he opened the front door.

"Studying late, again?" His mom asked from the kitchen as he tried to subtly go up the stairs and clean his neck. "Edward?" She wanted an answer to her stupid question.

Edward groaned and looked up the stairs then to the kitchen. He had to hide his wounded neck somehow.

"Be right back," he promised, and sprinted up the stairs and locked himself in the bathroom.

He looked in the mirror and felt his stomach revolting. There were two punctures on the right side of his neck, one close to his jaw and another one under his left ear. He had dried blood on his neck and shirt and he could see it oozing from the two spots that were bigger. Edward could tell his mom he had cut myself while shaving, although he didn't have hair on his neck. Fuck! He was in trouble.

"Edward! What are you doing there? I need to talk to you!" His mom shouted from downstairs.

"HOLD ON!" He hollered back, still staring at his neck. He found some alcohol and put a little on a cotton ball then touched it to his neck. "HOLY FUCK!" He shouted, stuffing his fist in his mouth, hopping around, tears brimming in his eyes. That wasn't a good idea. It stung like hell. At least, it got the job done. He wasn't getting infected. It stopped the bleeding after he cleaned it with some water. He tiptoed to his room and stripped down his shirt, throwing it under the bed and picking a turtleneck shirt then finally going downstairs.

"Finally!"

"Sorry, Mom. Uhh, emergency," he mumbled, turning red. She could think whatever she wanted of that piece of information.

"Are you okay, now?" she asked, concerned.

"Yep."

"Good. I need you to make a trip to La Push and bring me the fish from Sue. She called me earlier, but I was at work. I came home and started dinner, but I still need to add it."

He nodded and left. All the way there, Edward kept wondering how Bella was. He hoped she wasn't blaming this on herself. He couldn't wait until later tonight when she came to visit.

He parked in front of the little yellow house and rushed to the door since he hadn't thought to grab a jacket and it was pretty cold this spring evening. The house was so close to the ocean, making it even colder.

The door opened and Leah gasped in surprise, looking at him shocked. He pushed inside past her.

"Hey, I'm here to get the fish."

"Oh, right," she said softly, somewhat disappointed. "Couldn't have showered before dropping by, could you?"

"Would you stop this? Everyone smells fine!"

"To you, I suppose," she giggled. "The cold ones smell sickeningly sweet. Like caramels, honey, candies, chocolate, sherbet and old grandma wearing a whole bottle of a fruity perfume – all in one."

Edward couldn't help but laugh at her little outburst. "Must be better than the wet dog smell," he said it before he realized it would hurt her. "Shit. I'm sorry, Leah."

"Yeah, it's okay." She shrugged then her eyes lit up. "Do I really smell that bad to her?"

"Yeah, you do. I have to scrub thoroughly after I'm near you or Jake."

"That's great news." She handed him the bag with the fish.

"It is?" he asked, confused.

"And you're meeting her now?" she asked, eagerly.

"Not now, now…" He trailed off, unsure if he should tell her about the nightly routine. "But I'll see her soon."

"Amazing!" She flung herself at him and hugged him tightly, rubbing her cheek on his chest. "There." She beamed after taking a few steps back. "Now, you smell better."

Edward rolled his eyes and turned to go. His hand didn't reach the door handle as she grasped it. One hand on his arm, one tugging at his turtleneck down, her eyes and mouth open in horror.

"It's not…" He whimpered, trying to shake free from her grip.

Leah was shaking so much he was sure she'd phase in front of him. He'd had enough adrenaline for one day.

"You're not leaving," she hissed, her voice trembling. "How are you feeling? How could she do it? She promised!"

"It's not what you think!" He yelled over her growls.

"Edward, I know a bite when I see it!"

"Based on what? She doesn't have fangs!" He was aware of his loud voice and that it sounded hysteric.

She blinked. "No?"

"NO!" Edward snatched his arm from hers and pulled his turtleneck in place. "And don't tell anyone about this."

"Then what the hell is it?" Her eyes narrowed to slits.

"Could you two keep your voices down? I have a pape… She bit him?" Seth asked from the doorway of his room, his eyes bugging out.

What was wrong with them? Then Edward looked at his hand and saw the blood. The wounds had reopened and they were bleeding.

"What was in her stinky head?" Leah snapped and pulled him to the bathroom. "Seth, come here, I need help," she order to her little brother. "Take it off," Leah told Edward harshly.

"Sorry?" he asked, confused.

"Your shirt. Off."

He obliged, praying she wouldn't see other marks he hadn't noticed yet. He stayed quiet as she used some sort of rough stone on his wounds, it burnt, but it stopped the bleeding. She told him it was called Alum. As he held the stone to the spots on his throat, she put some kind of miraculous detergent on his shirt. They used the blow dryer to dry his shirt.

When Edward returned home, he had been gone for about an hour. He gave his mom the fish.

"I thought you went to catch it!" She chuckled.

"Ehh, no…I talked with Leah and Seth."

She nodded, smirking. Edward didn't want to read too much into that. After his dad came home and they ate dinner, he went to his room half expecting to find Bella in there. He checked his phone, but there was nothing so he showered, hoping to take the Leah-smell off his body. It was close to eleven when he called Bella for the first time, getting no answer from her. It wasn't until the first rays of daylight that he realized she had blamed herself and was probably long gone by now.

He thought of going to her house, but the image of the empty house made his head spin. Or maybe, there was no house at all and he had lived a dream for the past four months. Edward turned the lock of his door and put the blanket over his head, remembering everything, playing it scene by scene in his head – from the first time he'd seen her, last year, until mere hours ago.

His mother didn't check on him before leaving for work and he was okay with that. Actually, he didn't really care about anything else. He felt like suffocating which was a sure sign of a panic attack. He couldn't live without Bella. He needed her more than the air he breathed. Edward couldn't conceive a day without her, let alone forever? That's when the panic settled in and he started gasping for air, clawing at his sheets and thumping his feet on the bed like a stubborn little girl. He couldn't accept this. She was going to call. She was going to be at school. That thought made him smile and he rushed through his morning routine, grabbing some food then driving to school, ready to apologize for his insistence. She had known better and he had pushed her limits.

He didn't see her car, so he waited, leaning against his. The bell rang and he never made it inside the building. When he heard the bell again, signaling the end of the first class, Edward felt burning around his eyes and ducked inside the car, driving home. He had no idea how he made it back in one piece, because when he was close to the road that led to her house in the forest, he broke down, his vision blurry. Once home, he went back to his room, locking the door once again and curling in the corner and allowing the news to settle in while he sobbed.

He hadn't cried like this since he was five years old and his parakeet died. It had been his fault, once again because he had used the slingshot inside the house while playing with Jacob.

Another sob ripped through him and he wasn't sure why he was crying anymore. It always happened like this: he started to cry because of something and then he remembered all the things that ever made him cry and he let it go.

After a while, his throat raw and face blotchy, Edward wiped his nose with the back of his hand, trying to breathe, which proved difficult; his nostrils were blocked. He kept inhaling until he ended up swallowing the snot, which seemed incredibly funny at that moment. He couldn't stop laughing until all the crying, not eating much, and the snot tried to crawl back out. He made it to the bathroom in time. Of course, when you throw up, tears spring to your eyes. That resulted in another round of crying on the cold tile of the bathroom, and this round didn't seem to end. There were so many memories from when he was sick and how Bella had taken care of him. Even the tile reminded him of her – being a warm brown – and to the touch, it was freezing cold.

After throwing up again, Edward managed to cleanse his mouth and crawl back to his room, sitting in the corner. He felt like this was punishment for forcing Bella to do something she was sure she couldn't. It wasn't long before he felt the tears rolling down his cheeks again.

A knock on his door, startled him and he realized he hadn't locked the door after returning from the bathroom trip.

"Edward, honey? I got a call from school," his mom whispered stepping inside the room. "Are you in here?"

Oh right, she couldn't see him since he was behind the door. Maybe, if he was quiet, she'd go away.

"I swear, you've been so reckless since you met Bella," she grumbled and the door started closing.

A scream of agony, probably, escaped him and the sobs erupted more violently than earlier. Suddenly, his mom was next to him, raising his chin and looking concerned.

"Edward!" She exclaimed and hugged him to her chest. Edward clutched at her shirt, bawling like a little kid, welcoming her warm scent and everything that was her – mom. He needed her more than ever. "What happened, my baby?" She stroked his hair, his face, wiped his tears.

He squeezed his eyes, wondering if he could tell her that Bella broke up with him. He hadn't thought those exact words until then, and the reality behind them resulted in him crying harder. He knew he wasn't going to talk any time soon. His mom seemed to understand and wrapped her arms around him, rocking them softly. Edward pressed his face to her chest, willing the tears to stop falling. He hated being so weak.

As he calmed down, he became aware of footsteps coming closer, hushed words spoken and a door gently closing. Yeah, his dad didn't like to see his girl crying. Edward raised a hand to wipe his nose as he lay there quietly, listening to his mom's breathing and heartbeat.

And because she had a sadistic side, she started singing softly and he burst in a new round of tears. He didn't deserve anyone.

Edward woke up on his bed and wondered how he had gotten there. He rubbed at his eyes, trying to unfasten his crusted lids. He tried not to think of the previous day, but kept having flashes of him bawling in the corner of the room. There was a note on the nightstand and he reached for it, feeling incredibly weak. He hadn't eaten much, thrown up twice, then there was the crying. Who thought crying could be exhausting? They say it brings relief. Yeah, right. It brings relief, my ass. Edward wanted nothing more than to put the pillow over his head and continue where he'd left off last night.

I talked with the Principal and you can stay home this week. Mom took some free time to stay with you.

I hope you are better.

Dad

Mom was home? For him? Edward really didn't deserve them. When he looked again at the nightstand, he noticed a glass of milk and two muffins under a napkin. He wasn't going to let the tears fall for something so little.

When he heard movement from the rocking chair near the window, he shot up with the stupidest smile on him face, which fell the second he saw it was only his mother, sleeping in the most painful position ever.

The sob caught in his throat and he wasn't sure why he was crying – because Bella wasn't there or because his mom loved him so much that she stayed so close the whole night. He had probably freaked her out yesterday.

Edward wondered if he could get her in bed. She couldn't possibly be that heavy. Although, with his two left feet and clumsy hands, he managed to wake her up before he could try to move her.

"Edward, honey, what are you doing?" She asked, surprised to see him hovering over her. His arms were still outstretched, as if to pick her up.

"I…wanted to move you to the bed." His voice was husky for not being used in so long and crying for hours.

She cupped his cheek and smiled weakly. Then she reached for his hand and tugged him to sit on her lap.

"Remember when I used to come here when you were little and you had a nightmare? I'd rock you the whole night," she whispered gently in his hair.

Edward put his head on her shoulder and watched a tear traveling down his nose and falling between them.

"What happened?" she whispered.

He knew this was coming. He gave her an honest answer. "I messed up."

"You hurt her?" She questioned softly, never accusing.

Define hurt, he thought to myself. "Not physically."

"Edward, Bella is a sweetheart and she would forgive you. I'm sure of that."

"Mo-om." He hiccupped and hugged her tighter. "I think…she left."

"Where would she go? Don't be silly, now. Don't worry if she won't answer the phone for a few days – that's how girls are. You'll be back together in no time."

"Mom, it's my fault!" He tried to make her understand.

"You have to admit that to her and apologize. Maybe you should buy her flower-"

"MOM! Bella wasn't comfortable with…" Edward closed his mouth and opened it then closed it again. "I forced her, okay?" It was a horrible thing to say, but it was kinda true.

And there it came. Right in his poor left ear. "EDWARD ANTHONY MASEN!" And then the slap across his face came. After which came the lecture.

He took it all, with his head tucked in his chest. He enjoyed every slap and every tug at his hair. He deserved them. It wasn't right to lie like that to his mom, but he couldn't tell her that they both wanted it and Bella was scared of hurting him so he lied and he endured the consequences.

Once she stopped yelling and her chest was heaving as if she had run a marathon, her eyes narrowed. "You actually didn't do anything. I hope," she seethed. "Edward, you didn't!" His mom gasped, outraged, when he didn't answer. "What have I taught you?! I've raised you better than this!"

Edward raised a finger, trying to mollify his lie and deny that he actually had sex with Bella. His mom slapped his finger away. "Don't you try finding excuses! What you did is inexcusable! No wonder the poor girl left! And she had no one! Don't you have a heart? I can't believe you're my son! What happened to you Edward? It's like you've lost your mind since you started dating Bella!"

"Mom…"

"Don't you 'Mom' me!" She snapped and whirled around. In the doorway she stopped and turned to look at me. He had never seen her so angry. Never. "Tell me – and I mean, CONFIRM IT – that you used protection."

He gulped, his whole face caught fire. He hated sex talk. He didn't hear her words because they were too high for human ears to comprehend what she said next, but he heard the door slamming so hard that a picture fell from the wall.

Edward needed to pat himself on the back for what had happened. He fell on the rocking chair and sighed, putting his hands in his hair and pulling at it.

.

.

.

Time passed relatively quickly and extremely quietly after that. He went to school, hoping, wishing, Bella would appear. It never happened. His own mother was avoiding him at all costs while his dad was trying to pacify hem, always ending up sleeping on the couch. Edward told him to give it up before something else happened. He was sure he couldn't survive if one of them left the house. It was already tense around there, but with them fighting too, he couldn't take it.

Leah visited one day and she learned what had happened after his visit to her house. She dropped by every day after that. Until his mom found them in Edward's room, working over homework and had a hissy fit about him being alone with her. Leah didn't know the details of Bella's departure. After that, they moved their studying sessions to the living room where his mom could see them. That was a little extreme.

Like I was thinking of that! Edward couldn't even concentrate on school, he was always thinking of Bella, wondering where she was, how she was… He held a single ray of hope, knowing she couldn't feed from anyone else, she'd come back. Every morning, Edward checked his wrists, but they never hurt or had any sign of being injured. Every night, he stayed up for as long as he could keep his eyes open, crying in his pillow and wishing he could turn back time.

About three weeks after his meltdown, he was on the couch with Leah, helping her with Calculus. They were sitting next to each other and he was leaning against her, explaining the correct way to get the result. Edward saw it with the corner of his eye, how she kept glancing at him or, more accurately – his lips.

"Do you understand, now?" he asked, turning his head to her.

She leaned closer. "I guess." She smiled, but her black eyes locked on his lips like a blind man staring at the sun.

Edward knew what she wanted and he thought about what he was going to do before he acted. At least, one of them should be happy. He pecked her lips – just brushing them.

"You're welcome." He moved on his side of the couch and returned to his abandoned English essay.

"Edward, you-"

"I thought you wanted to," he said nonchalantly. He felt his heart hammering wildly in his chest. He had a burning feeling in his stomach. He felt like he was cheating on Bella.

"Why the sudden change of heart? I'm not your last resort!"

"I never said that. I realized you deserve to be happy."

"What about you?"

"What about me?" He countered, throwing his book to the floor.

"Do you even like me?" Leah asked softly.

"I wouldn't have kissed you if I found you repulsive." Girls were confusing.

"Let me get this straight, you'd kiss me because you know I want you to and you want me to be happy."

"A small correction," he quipped. "I'd do more than kiss you if you want. I really want you to be happy."

"More?" She squeaked.

Edward rolled his eyes. "Like…get you from school, help you with homework," he nodded to the papers on the coffee table, "take you out for ice cream…" He shrugged. "Kiss you." He put a grin on for effect.

Edward came to hate her super speed. He didn't even see her jumping on him and suddenly, she was straddling his lap and kissing him. There was something different and he knew it was the way they were kissing. French kissing. Something he had never experienced with Bella. He sniffed as softly as possible, hoping she wouldn't notice, but she did and took his head in her hands.

"Now, this is the part you tell me something got in your eyes or I suck at kissing or… that you still love her…" Leah told him, eyeing him concerned.

He dropped his eyes and blinked quickly, trying to get rid of the tears. It didn't work. More came.

"I feel like a pussy," he mumbled and wiped his eyes.

"Can you tell me what really happened?" she asked gently, sitting closer.

Edward told her everything, skipping as fast as he could over the sex part. There were wet splotches on his gray sweatpants by the time he finished with what his mom misunderstood.

"But you don't even know if she left!" Leah exclaimed.

"Why else wouldn't she call or come to school?"

"She's a freaking vampire! She doesn't have to socialize! She simply exists. Unfortunately."

He glared at her and she smiled weakly, shrugging an apology.

"As for your mother…you should tell her the truth. Does she even know about your neck? Or that you didn't rape Bella, just pressured her?"

"She hasn't looked at me since the argument! I doubt she'd notice if I died."

"Don't say such things! And you should talk to her, tell her the parts she can understand."

"I can see that conversation going very well. 'Hey, Mom, I have to tell what really happened with Bella.' She won't look at me and I'd start rambling, adding something like, 'Oh, yeah, by the way, Bella's a vampire. Cool, eh?' Is this what you want me to tell her?"

"Not in so many words, but yes. You could skip the vampire part."

"I may actually say it, loud and clear. I'd probably get her attention that way."

They stared at each other for a few minutes then doubled over in laughter. It felt good to laugh. He hadn't laughed in a long time.

After she left, Edward didn't get the courage to tell his mother anything. He stood in the doorway of the kitchen for at least half an hour, opening and closing his mouth, trying to find the best way to approach the subject. When he plucked up the courage, his mom brushed past him, up the stairs. He wondered how long she could keep this no talking thing up. She was his mother, after all!

He idly wondered if she'd talk with him if he got sick or accidentally cut his finger or something. Edward was desperate to hear her speak to him, to see her look at him, to have her make him muffins – to just have her back. His dad was making a personal effort to leave work at six and be home to eat dinner with his son. Edward appreciated it, but when he had cases to resolve, Edward ended up eating alone in his room or, more often lately, he found myself having dinner at Leah's house.

They hadn't really said the words, but everyone guessed what was going on. Everything seemed to proceed fairly normal between them, although he wasn't present one hundred percent. Until one day in late April, when Edward was working with Jake on his car.

Leah dropped by with food and Jake, as always, wriggled his eyebrows at his friend. Edward flipped him off and kissed her lips once, as it had become their 'hello'.

"What's for dinner?" he asked, taking the bag from her hand.

"Mac and cheese."

"Oh, man! I love it"! Jacob shouted and snatched the bag from Edward's hands.

There were only two containers, but he was used to sharing his with Leah. She always had an extra fork.

They took a seat inside the car and started eating. He was in the passenger's seat with her on his lap as Jake sat behind the wheel.

"It should be done soon," Jake contemplated, looking out the windscreen.

"Did you find the plugs?" Edward asked, taking a bite from the delicious food. Leah really could cook. He regretted doubting her skills.

"No, but Sam promised to look for them next time he goes to Seattle."

Edward kept asking him what parts he still needed until Leah groaned.

"Can you two talk about something else? Or at least, talk in English! I don't speak car language."

"We're speaking English, Lee," he whispered. She always liked when he called her like that, and now was no different; she sagged against his chest and sighed.

But he ruined the moment big time with his next words. "Bella knew cars." The words tumbled out of his mouth on their own accord, taking him and everyone else by surprise. The effect was immediate and painful. Leah left the car, nearly smashing her head to the ground when her leg caught on Edward's foot and he put a hand over his eyes, hoping Jacob wouldn't see the tears.

"Man, have you tired…going to her house?" he asked quietly.

"She told me to LEAVE! She doesn't want me!"

"That's because you took it that way!" Leah yelled. Edward thought she had left the garage. "You men are clueless sometimes! She told you to leave because she was afraid of hurting you further or that's what I hope," she mumbled the last part.

"Then why hasn't she come to me? Once she was calm and in control," he challenged, getting out of the car.

"I can't answer that," she spat in his face. "I'm not a vampire, Edward! I'm sorry for that! I truly am, but all I am is a wet dog."

"Leah…"

"DON'T! I should have known. I knew it would come to this. It didn't work. You tried to make me happy, but are you happy?"

"Doesn't matter. I don't matter," he hissed.

"You matter. A lot. Edward, I love you. That's why I am going to talk with your leech and make her see sense!" She whirled around, her tears splashing as she ran out of the garage.

Edward was gaping after her. She loved him? He felt awful for everything. He should have never tried to be with her. It wasn't even working. He knew what it was to be with someone and what he was doing with Leah was…what five year old kids do. Holding hands on the beach, eating ice cream and stealing an innocent kiss.

Edward needed Bella and her passionate love, the almost carnal feeling of having her in his arms, kissing her. He couldn't forget how she looked when they made love. That image haunted him. She was radiant.

"What happened to him?" Edward heard a vaguely familiar voice.

"He's been like this for a while," someone answered. He recognized the voice as Jacob's. "I think it's hysterics."

"What brought this on?" the first person asked. The voice was so warm and familiar, but he couldn't really focus on his surroundings.

"A talk about…Bella."

"Oh, for God's sake! Not again! Get him inside."

"Man, help me now. I can't carry you up the stairs. It would look weird."

They were home. How did they get here? Edward hiccupped violently and grasped the banister, lowering himself on the stairs. He heard Jacob mumbling something and then a door closing.

"It looks like you have more to tell me."

Edward raised his head and saw his mom through blurry eyes. She had been the familiar voice.

"I shouldn't have…It just came back…If I hadn't thought…"

"Edward! Take a breath, honey. Breathe."

He took a breath, but felt like suffocating. He shouldn't have let this built inside, but he relied on being with Leah and thought the bad thoughts were gone. He was mistaken.

"Now, can you talk?" He felt her hand on his and squeezed it with both of his.

"Mom," he whimpered. "I can't tell you."

"Don't be silly. I have to understand this. It looks like you were more hurt than I thought, in the process."

"It's not really the way you interpreted it. I can't tell you! Please, you won't understand."

"Try to stop crying. You'll be okay." She brushed his tears away and kissed his forehead. When she rose, Edward thought she'd leave so he held on her hand tightly.

"I'm going to bring you something good. Stay here." She returned quickly with a glass of water and two small pills. "Let's get you to bed, first."

"I don't need these!"

"Trust me, you need them. Everyone has been through a break up, Edward. You'll be fine. Time heals the wound."

She led him to his room and he slumped on the bed, taking the pills dutifully. He didn't want to believe her. He knew there would be no one else for him. He knew it because he had tried it with Leah and…it backfired on him.

In the morning, Edward woke up to loud pounding in the front door. He decided to ignore it, but the person was insistent as hell. Whatever his mom had given him, it made him groggy and barely able to walk. On the way to the door, he rubbed at his eyes violently, wishing he could see more than two feet in front of him. He should stop crying before going to bed.

When Edward opened the door, he couldn't help but close it immediately back. He was sure it was his brain playing games. Bella couldn't be there, but she was outside the door and after opening and closing it a few times, they started shouting and his silly joke about the living dead seemed to do the trick. She flung herself at him and hugged him tightly. Edward didn't have the heart to tell her it hurt, because honestly, he'd take any pain just to have her back.

When he realized Leah was behind this, he got angry, completely forgetting their shouting contest in the garage. He should have known she'd do something like this. He didn't quite get her analogy with the flower, but Bella seemed to understand it and like it enough to come into the sun and stop a few inches from Leah. For a second, Edward thought Bella would hug Leah, but they thought better of it and just smiled at each other. Seth was in awe at seeing Bella sparkling, Jake couldn't keep his eyes off her sparkling legs and the boyfriend in Edward reacted. He stripped down his shirt and wrapped it around her waist, making everyone laugh.

He shrugged in dismay. At least, everything was okay, and who would have guessed that a human's broken heart could bring vampires and werewolves together?

Chapter Text

Chapter 12: Come back to me

They were sitting on his couch. Edward's arms were wrapped tightly around Bella, and her head was tucked under his chin. Her throat was in flames, but she fought to ignore it. She knew it wouldn't be long until she had to feed again, but for now, she would enjoy this. Just them. Alone. Each reacquainting with the other's body, and scent, in her case.

She smelled the salty water before she heard him sniffing. Bella kept rubbing his arm, knowing that he wouldn't like her to see him crying. He was a boy, after all. When the sniffles turned into full sobs, she titled her head and stroked his hair.

"Shh, shh. I'm here. We were so stupid," she murmured.

"I feel like a freaking hormonal girl. Since that day…" He hiccupped and wiped his nose "…I cried everyday, like if I didn't cry one day, the world would end, or something," Edward confessed.

She was sure that it was incredibly hard for him to admit that. She stroked his cheek, wiping his tears in the process.

"I will take part of the blame. I simply…ceased to exist once I sent you out the door. If Leah hadn't come to me…let's say, that centuries could have passed and I wouldn't have taken notice."

"You'd have needed to hunt."

"Edward, that was the last thing on my mind. I kept imagining what could have happened, thought of how I hurt you," she traced a finger over his fading scars, "I was catatonic if that term applies to a vampire."

"I'd take catatonic every day and leave you with the tears. You are the girl, after all." He chuckled.

"I'd take the tears gladly," she told him softly. "I wonder…" Bella caught a fresh tear on her finger and eyed it.

Edward watched her, amused. She brought her finger to her nose, inhaling the salty texture then she flicked her tongue out and caught it. It tasted as expected – salty.

Edward's green eyes caught her and soon, they were laughing so hard the couch started shaking.

"That was disturbing. Have you changed your diet?" He teased when he got a hold of his laughter.

"If I could live on tears, I'd be happy." She grinned at him.

As they gazed at each other, he grew serious. "You must be…famished. I have never seen you so…your eyes are so black."

"Don't worry about me."

"How can I not, Bella? I love you so much! Please, do it." He took his hand off her hip where it was resting. "I'm begging." He gave her his hand. "Please."

She wished she could cry. Bella hugged him again, and when she retreated, she planted a small kiss on his cheek.

"Is there an ulterior motive why you insist on me feeding?" she asked, tracing a finger over the visible vein on his forearm.

His face turned red and she bit her lip to keep from laughing. "I want to kiss you so badly. I missed you so much. You have no idea."

"I think I have an idea. Because I love you even more," she whispered, leaning closer. His eyes widened but she rolled hers at him. Bella ran her nose over his square jaw, feeling the little stubble there then ever so slowly, she inhaled, ignoring the burning as best as she could. She nuzzled in his neck and then gently pressed her lips to the scars she found there. They weren't very big, but they were a reminder of what could have happened.

His heartbeat sped up and Bella heard another heart beating steadily as it entered the house. She had to move. She had to leave before they saw her eyes; although they were a very human black, she was sure she looked different. She pressed a final kiss on Edward's neck, and before she could move away, someone screamed.

"ARGGHHH!"

Edward shouted, startled by the scream. Bella hissed, as she raised her head, which was still bowed over his neck. She watched as Elizabeth dropped her papers at her feet and was watching them, scared. Her eyes were round and filled with terror, fixed on Bella.

"Mom," Edward squeaked. It would have been amusing if Bella wasn't sure what Elizabeth was thinking of. She could almost hear the word in her head. And she was right.

Bella moved off her son and looked down, trying to find a way to depart. There was too much adrenaline for her burning throat to withstand.

"Bella," Edward's mom breathed. Bella couldn't quite put her finger on her tone. Shocked? Worried? Angry? Scared?

"Hello. I just…dropped by," she whispered, glancing at Edward and pleading him with her eyes. I must go.

"What's going on?" she asked, her voice shaking badly.

Bella invented a lie on spot. "Uncle Peter was in hospital. I was telling Edward how I had to leave. I am incredibly sorry. I forgot my phone home…"

Elizabeth beamed at Edward with an 'I told you so' look.

"Could I have a word you, Bella?" Elizabeth said to her, kindly.

Bella glanced at Edward then nodded to his mother. Elizabeth went to the kitchen, and before Bella could take a step in her direction, Edward caught her wrist, looking up at her with big, worried green eyes.

"I'll be okay, sweetie." She ran her fingers though his hair and was rewarded with a blinding smile. He kissed her hand quickly before releasing it.

Bella entered the kitchen slowly and found Elizabeth at the sink, helping herself to a glass of water. She tried not to scare her – honestly, she did – but the woman still jumped when Bella whispered her name.

"Bella, how are you, sweetheart?" she asked, worried. There were conflicted emotions in her eyes.

Bella shrugged. "Uncle Peter is fine, now."

"I'm glad to hear that, but I was speaking of…what my son did."

She frowned. What had Edward told her? They still had so much to talk about. "I…we were talking when you came in," she explained.

Her eyebrows shot up. "It looked to me like you were ready to bite his throat." She laughed unsteadily. Bella giggled nervously then froze as the words sank in. All her muscles froze and her eyes widened. WHAT had Edward told her? "If that was talking, Bella, then I'm sorry. Maybe I'm too old and I forgot how teenagers talk." She shrugged, offering her a small smile. She was joking. Thank God!

Bella looked down, happier than ever that she couldn't blush. "We were talking, but we got a little…"

"Distracted," she supplied, finishing her sentence with a kind smile.

Bella nodded, returning her smile. "I am so sorry he suffered. I was in pain, too." Bella wished she could tell her more.

Elizabeth came closer and hugged her. Bella felt like a deer caught in the headlights.

"Mom, I think I'll have Bella back," Edward said from behind them.

His mom released her and Bella closed her eyes, swallowing the venom that had accumulated in her mouth. She had to feed. She felt her heart breaking at the thought of hurting Edward. Elizabeth waved them off and Edward took her hand, leading her upstairs.

"Uh huh! Couch," she snapped loudly.

Edward grumbled under his breath about 'paranoid' and 'jumping on conclusions' and changed his trajectory. Bella didn't understand him.

"What did you do, muffin?" she teased him, bumping his shoulder.

"Lied to save my ass," he whispered and slumped on the couch.

"What did you tell her? If my heart still beat, she would have stopped it," Bella told him. "She thought I was sucking your throat – no pun intended."

"I'm sure it looked like that to her."

"So? Does she know? I mean…she looked differently at me."

"No, Bella! I haven't told her anything. If she suspects anything, it's Billy's fault."

"Billy who?" Bella asked confused.

"Jake's dad."

"Oh." She contemplated that then focused on Edward. She hoped no one spoke of her true nature with his mother. "You said you lied. What did you tell her?"

He groaned softly and rubbed a hand over his face. "Making the whole thing short, I told her I forced myself on you and that you left. Then she asked about…protection, I didn't answer and she stopped talking to me. She hasn't looked, talked, or even cooked for me in a month. Yesterday, was the first time she spoke to me since the day after I left your house, and that was only because I broke down in Jacob's garage. Long story," he added quickly when she opened her mouth to ask.

"How could you tell your mother such a thing, Edward? No wonder she was upset!"

"Upset," he huffed. "She wasn't even looking at me."

"If I knew what you did… If only I'd been human enough, argh, Edward! How could you?!"

He shrugged and rubbed his eye. "It's too early to fight. Please, Bella."

"Oh, right. Typical male answer," she muttered and rose.

"Where do you think you are going?" he exclaimed, panicked.

"Home? I will come back later."

"I'm coming with you," Edward told her, getting up.

"No, you aren't! You stay here with your mom and talk to her. You will see me later. I promise."

"You're thirsty, admit it." He smirked, folding his arms in front of his chest. It was then that she realized she still had his shirt over the skirt of her dress and he was wearing a thin undershirt.

"You can have this back. You must be cold." Bella handed him the shirt.

"Don't change the subject, Bella!"

"Yes, I am! Happy?" She challenged as she started to walk to the front door.

"Then stay," he said softly, shrugging the shirt on and coming to her.

"You need to explain yourself to your mother and I need to calm down. Prepare for later," she added suggestively.

He watched her intently, his brows knitting in the middle of his forehead then a slow smile formed on his face. She wondered what was running through his brain.

"I'll tell you later," he whispered and led her to the door.

"You don't have anything to tell me. That was just to make me curious and make me come back!"

"You guessed." He chuckled. "But, no. I really have to tell you something important."

Bella caught his face in her hands and kissed his forehead soundly. "Be good. I'll be back at twilight."

"I'll be counting down the minutes."

"Don't be corny."

He shrugged and she turned around, rushing to the woods and hoping his mother didn't see her.

She knew it was impossible, but she still tried.

Bella went to Port Angeles and walked around, looking at the humans walking hurriedly past her, engrossed in their little lives. She didn't have the heart to snatch anyone and feed. She knew she should, but she couldn't. She stumbled over a homeless man that was rocking in an alley and knew this was her chance.

She scrunched up her nose at the repugnant piss and alcohol smell, combined with his atrocious blood it made her want to retch. He saw her coming and cowered in his blanket. She crouched in front of him and turned his chin to the side, looking at his dirty neck. He eyed her in panic, trying to shout, but being too tired to even fight.

"Just kill me," he said in a low voice. "Do it. I know it's been coming."

"I won't kill you," she found herself answering. She never made small talk in such situations.

"Please, do! They killed my friend. I knew someone would come after me. I shouldn't have seen it," he said in the same low voice.

"Who? What are you talking about?" Bella realized she was talking with a crazy person.

"The red headed woman and the blond guy! They killed my friend. Sucked her dry."

She looked at him and realized he knew what she was.

"Kill me."

She looked in his eyes for a full minute, searching them. He really wanted to do die, but she couldn't kill him.

"I may spare you the pain if you tell me in which direction they went," she whispered.

"Spoons or something."

"Forks." She smiled softly then her face fell. Forks meant Edward. NO!

"Yeah, that one! Still silverware to me."

"I'll be quick. What's your name?" She asked.

"Tom."

"I hope you find your friend, Tom. It's better dead than…this, trust me. Good bye, Tom."

He cocked his head, making room for her to bite and for the first in a long time, Bella opened her mouth to do so. Then she thought better of it and sliced his throat open with her nail. She drank his warm blood, trying not to gag. I am ridiculous! There was something wrong with her! She should drink any kind of blood, right? She had promised him to do it and she couldn't leave him to bleed to death. That would hurt, she was sure. So she kept drinking. When Bella was sure he was dead, she licked the wound and pushed him behind the garbage bags. She hated leaving him there like that, but she had to know who was going to Forks.

She ran home to grab her contacts and then went to Edward. On the way back, it started pouring, and she was soaked by the time she made it to her house. Bella hadn't smelled a thing on her way there, but she was sure they were already in town. She had to tell the wolves about this. If those the nomads killed anyone, the wolves would blame it on her. She had finally become friends with them, if she could call it that.

She ran faster than ever to Edward's house, only to find it engulfed in darkness. No one was home. What the hell? She was about to turn around when she smelled it. Blood. Edward's blood.

Bella opened the door, not caring if she had to find excuses for ripping it off the hinges. She followed the scent and it led to the kitchen. There was a big knife on the floor and lots of blood around it and on it. On the counter were the forgotten bread slices soaked in the tantalizing blood. She sighed in relief, but still, he was hurt.

She looked at the door and wanted to slap herself. What was she going to do? To her luck, she saw Edward's phone on the coffee table and picked it up, scrolling to Jacob's name.

"Yeah," he answered quickly.

"Jacob, it's Bella. I have a sort of an emergency."

"What did you do, now?" He groaned, exasperated.

Bella explained to him in a few words everything, including the nomads, and he said he'd come over to repair the door. When he arrived, she left to get her car and drive to the hospital. She'd raise too many questions if she appeared there looking like a drowned rat and told them that she ran. No one would believe her.

Bella parked near a black car she recognized as Edward's dad's and rushed inside the hospital. How badly was he injured? She was out of her mind to go inside a hospital, full of fresh blood, but the things she did for Edward…and she was in control, she had just fed.

"Hold on, young lady!" Someone shouted after her. "Where are you going?"

Who was this woman? The police? "My boyfriend…" God, that felt amazing to say aloud.

"Name?"

"Edward." She grinned, rocking on her heels.

"Full name, miss," she told her in a bored voice.

"Masen. Edward Masen."

"I don't have any Edward Masen," she replied after five minutes of tapping. "You should go to E.R., you might find him there."

What hospital was this? Bella scowled at her. She had managed to kill her fun. She rushed in the direction she pointed and saw a big area with a few people on chairs, waiting. She saw Edward near his mother, in the far corner. They couldn't see her. She hurried there and stopped in front of them. She realized he was seriously injured from the now red cloth around his hand, his head was lolling on his mother's shoulder.

"Bella!" Elizabeth exclaimed softly, careful not to wake her son but clearly shocked by her appearance.

Bella looked at her, panicked for a second, not having an explanation if she asked how she knew that they were here.

"Bella? Where?" Edward groaned, opening an eye. He blinked rapidly when he saw her there. "What are you doing here?" he asked, tiredly, but his voice was laced with worry.

"You're hurt," she whispered and looked at his injured hand.

"He decided to cut the bread," Elizabeth explained, rolling her eyes. "Can you stay with him for a second, I have to see where Ed went," she added.

Bella nodded quickly and took her seat next to Edward. His head fell on her shoulder and he sighed.

"You're insane, Bella. This is a hospital. I'm bleeding."

"Yeah, not the way I wanted to feed," she joked, whispering in his ear.

He didn't even laugh.

"Are you in a lot of pain?"

"There's a huge gash between by forefinger and thumb. Mom thought it was funny to start talking about when she found us on the couch. She asked, and I'm quoting, 'Is she a vampire or something?' My knife slipped and here we are," he murmured, wincing when he flexed his hand. "It hurts like a bitch."

She moved the hair from his forehead and kissed the damp skin there. "It will heal."

"How did you know…?" He asked quietly, pressing his lips to her neck.

"It's a long story, but I sort of broke down your front door. Don't worry, Jacob is repairing it as we speak," she promised in a whisper as she saw his parents approaching.

"Come on, son," his father beckoned him, extending his arm. He offered her a small smile.

Edward got up, swaying, and Bella caught his elbow before he fell. She put an arm around his waist and let him lean on her.

"Come here, she's so small. You'll kill her before we reach the doc's door."

"She's tough," Edward grumbled, but allowed his father to help him walk. He had lost so much blood. What were those doctors thinking, leaving him to wait for so long?

"Will he be okay?" she whispered to Edward's mom.

Elizabeth put an arm around Bella's shoulders. "Don't you worry, sweetie. He's in good hands."

She shot her a weird look when she stopped her from following them inside the room. "You don't wanna see that, kid. As much as you may love my son…it's ugly."

Bella swallowed and nodded. She knew when the cloth bandage was off because his scent became so potent she nearly salivated. She kept swallowing and politely answering every question Elizabeth had. When Edward yelled in pain, Bella couldn't take it anymore, and wrenched her hand from Elizabeth's, bursting in the small room where the doctor was torturing her little muffin.

Her heart constricted as she saw Edward gripping his dad's hand as the doctor stitched his. Before she could be scolded for being in there, Edward whimpered her name. She moved too fast, but she could care less. Ed moved out of the way and she squeezed his son to her chest, kissing his cheek.

"I'm here, love. Grip my hand."

He squeezed as the needle entered his skin. Weren't they supposed to anesthetize the spot? She bit her lip as she watched what the doctor was doing. For the first time since she had met Edward, she could feel his grip on her hand and feared for his bones. Could he break his hand? It was possible. Bella tried to relax the grip a little and he whimpered loudly.

"Shh, he's nearly done."

The doctor rose and went to clean his hands. Was it over? When he returned, he instructed Edward how to keep the suture clean and to be careful. She paid great attention, knowing he wasn't even listening.

They left the hospital and Edward seemed glued to her side. Elizabeth nodded to her and Bella led him to her car, silently thanking her. If she tried to pry him off her, he'd throw a tantrum.

When they were safely in her car, he started shouting, probably letting it all out. When his fist – the good one – hit the dashboard, Bella caught his hands.

"Hey, don't hurt my car. And you're hurting yourself. Calm down."

He raised his pained green eyes at her. "Come inside with me and stay the night. Let Mom know you are there. I don't care. Please, Bella."

"Okay. Buckle up," she whispered and released his hands apprehensively. "Can I ask something?"

"Sure," he agreed.

"Didn't the doctor use anesthesia?"

"It didn't kick in! Fucking shit! Now, it's starting to get numb," he hissed under his breath.

"He should have stopped and-"

"Don't you think Dad didn't try to stop him? But the son of a bitch had another emergency. Like I wasn't important! I nearly cut my hand off!"

"Shh," she soothed him, reaching for his hand. "I'll find some painkillers when we get to your house, if you want."

"I told you I can't feel it, now," he said, amused. "You can probably feed if you want, I can't feel it."

"Maybe blood loss is best friends with brain damage," she said lightly. "You already lost so much blood and you want me to feed! You're insane, Edward! Besides…I already fed." She grinned, proud of myself.

"You did?" He sounded astonished.

"Yep. That reminds me, for the next few days, stay close to me. We're having some visitors."

"Uncle Peter?" He joked.

"Nomads. I don't know them. I'll tell you everything when we get inside."

She parked the car next to his and helped him out. He slung his arm around her neck and slumped in her side, laughing loudly.

"Should I carry you inside, Princess?" she mocked him.

"Yes, please! My brave knight!" He batted his long eyelashes at her and wrapped his other arm around her neck.

"Did they drug you there?" she joked and dragged him to the house.

"I just realized I have you back. For good. I missed you so much, Bella."

"Whatever you say, Princess." She kissed his cheek and opened the front door.

"I preferred the muffin analogy."

"Why? Princesses are much better than muffins. Muffins aren't important in fairy tales."

"Then I'm the ginger man or whatever his name is," Edward declared.

"Yeah, that sounds better. You smell a little like ginger."

"I was kidding!" he exclaimed.

"Oh, you came here," Elizabeth said surprised from the top of the stairs.

"Let's go to yours, she doesn't want me," Edward said loudly in Bella's ear. She was positive they gave him morphine.

"What are you doing to the poor girl, son?" Ed asked, coming out of the kitchen. He looked at Bella sympathetically.

"We're going to her house. Bye!" Edward turned her around, still clinging to her neck.

"Morphine and Valium," she saw Ed mouthing to her, confirming her thought and adding the idea of Valium, which proved his happy state. It should have kicked in earlier.

"Have fun! Don't do anything I wouldn't d-"

Bella clasped her hand over Edward's mouth, smiling apologetically to his parents and rushing him to her car.

"Shut up, kiddo! Before they decide you should stay home."

"I'm not a kid," he insisted, pouting and contradicting his own words.

It was going to be a long night. She couldn't believe it had only been this morning that Leah had come to her and announced what had happened to Edward. And now, some hours later, she was watching a stoned Edward, trying to assault her in her own car. Bella knew the saying 'when it rains, it pours' but this was ridiculous.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13: Visitors

School. Edward hated school. If their class mates were surprised to see him with Bella when they started their relationship, they were literally gawking at them every fucking second now. It wasn't helping their case that she insisted Edward stayed close to her until she found out who those nomads were. There had been a couple of deaths at the diner the other day and Bella was freaked out. As much as she wanted to go and find them, she stayed with Edward every night and made sure he was safe.

Edward slammed his locker's door and Bella was in front of him, smiling.

"This is ridiculous!" he exclaimed. "You're like my bodyguard!"

"But I'm scared, Edward. The wolv- Jacob promised to find them-"

"That's the problem! Why are you interfering? They're feeding, passing by! If you bring the heavy weapons, they might stick around and slaughter the town!"

She giggled and took his hand. "I won't allow them anywhere close to you."

"What about the others?" He hissed, looking around them at the busy hallway. "Angela? Ben? My parents?"

"You told me you were going to visit Seth tonight," she said, changing the subject.

"So?"

"I will find them while you are safely in La Push." She beamed at her masterplan.

"Do you think they know not to go there? Bella, please!" Edward rolled his eyes, pushing the door of Biology class open. It took him a second to realize she wasn't beside him. Bella was rooted in the middle of the hallway, gaping at him, her eyes wide in fear. He glanced around, realizing she was attracting attention, and he grabbed her arm. Of course, it was easier to move a boulder than make Bella move. "Let's go, love," he urged her.

Her head turned to him. "Oh God! What-"

"Shh!" Edward hissed and dragged her after him once she allowed it. He was glad no one was yet in the class. He closed the door. "Bella, as you said, I'll be safe there. If something happened – which it won't – there are the wolves," he whispered, stroking her face. "But I'm worried about you. You said they were two."

"I'll be fine. Nomads are usually kind toward other nomads. They know how it is to live like this."

"But you aren't a nomad!" Edward shouted.

"They don't have to know that." She smiled sweetly and went to their table.

"I still don't like this. Take Jake with you."

"Now, you want to throw the wolves in the middle of this," she exclaimed, amused.

He groaned and ran a hand through his hair. "Don't get hurt, Bella. I just got you back."

"I won't." She leaned to kiss him, but it was cut short as their classmates filled the room.

It's been a month, but it felt like yesterday: the whole meltdown episode, Bella coming back… Edward smiled, fond of the memory of his trip to the hospital. He loved morphine.

"What are you smiling at?" Bella whispered, leaning closer.

"Just thinking of morphine and Valium," he whispered back, showing her the biggest smile he could muster. She smiled back and shook her head.

That night, Edward's assault in the car, had turned in a full make out session that ended with them making love again. She had been far too gentle, but he guessed she was still scared. After that, they had been together almost every night. He preferred his bed – it was bigger than her couch.

Once school let out for the day, a panic attack hit Edward and as Bella drove him to La Push, he tried to calm down. As he saw the La Push sign, it truly hit him, what she was going to do, and black spots appeared on his vision and a faint buzzing filled his ears.

"Edward, don't faint on me, sweetheart." He could hear Bella as if she was talking from the end of a tunnel. "Edward!"

He turned his head to her, not seeing anything but black spots. Cold air hit his face.

"Breathe! Put your head between your knees, I heard that works."

He swallowed, doing as told. He started to hear and see clearly, the cold air working. She stopped it after a few minutes.

"Are you better?" she asked worried.

"I guess," Edward mumbled.

"Good, because I think I just crossed my word. I'm on their territory," Bella told him slightly scared.

"Whose territory?"

"The wolves'!" she shouted. "Can you walk to Seth's house?"

"I don't think I can stand," he said, honestly.

She groaned and hit the acceleration. "Where is his house, again?"

Edward couldn't answer, his eyes seemed to have disappeared into the back of his head as his stomach hit his back. She had never driven so fast.

"Yellow house on the beach," he whispered, wrapping around both hands on the seat belt.

"I'm sorry. I know I'm not welcomed here," she told him, apologetically. As she stopped the car, Seth appeared next to the car. His eyes narrowed at Bella and she raised her hands, which trembled.

Edward leaned over and kissed her cheek. "Be careful."

She nodded and he staggered out of the car. "Hey, Seth," he greeted his friend.

He didn't seem to have eyes for Edward. Seth kept glaring at Bella and she was glaring back. Edward thought this had ended when Leah brought Bella back to him. Edward was mistaken. Bella turned the car, leaving tyre tracks, dust and smoke behind her.

"Do you realize what you did?" Seth turned to him, annoyed.

"I didn't mean any harm. She didn't realize it until we were here."

"I truly hope she makes it out. Paul was ready to-"

"How do you kno…Oh, you were waiting? Hoping this would happen?" Edward asked, angrily.

"No, of course not."

Edward rolled his eyes. "So why did you want me here? Besides the obvious?"

"Help me with Math."

"You need to pay me. What is it with you Clearwaters and your aversion to Math?"

"We're not all born Math geniuses, Masen," he joked and punched Edward's shoulder.

"Oh, great!" He groaned, realizing he had forgotten his school bag in Bella's car.

"What's wrong?" Seth asked, turning toward the house.

"My school bag... I wanted to start working on a project…"

"More time to help me," Seth said amused.

.

.

.

Bella drove faster than ever before. She had managed to piss the wolves off. She needed a prize for putting herself in danger. She seemed to have a magnet for it. And now, she was headed to greater danger: nomads that didn't seem to leave her small town.

She'd been secretly tracking them and she knew where to find them. They were in the woods, close to the diner. Bella approached slowly, aware they knew she was there. They were sitting down on the wet ground, talking and holding hands. Were they a couple? Shit.

The woman's head snapped up when Bella stopped three feet away. Her red eyes looked sinister against her pale skin and flaming red hair. His blond hair was caught in a ponytail as his red eyes met Bella's as a sly smirk appeared on his face.

"Are you joining us, little girl?" he asked.

"I'd like to talk to you." Edward was right. She couldn't say she was a nomad since she was going to send them away from her town.

"My name is James," he continued in a silky voice. "And this is my mate, Victoria."

Bella nodded and tried to smile. "Bella."

"Good to meet you, little girl." She absolutely loathed being called that, but she had to suck it up so she wouldn't start a premature fight.

"Look, you've been here long enough. People are starting to talk," Bella started on an even voice. "I live here."

He smiled ruefully. "We all love pets. Yours smells delicious."

"Please. Tacoma is bigger."

Victoria laughed loudly. "You love your pet!"

Bella tried playing her part flawlessly. Her eyes frosted. "He's just a pet! But if he suspects something…he'd leave or worse, tell people about us!" She widened her eyes.

James cocked his head. "I think she's right, Vic." Then he turned to Bella. "This will be our last meal on your territory. Don't fear, little girl. We'll head to Tacoma in the morning."

"Thank you. I won't linger for long, but this pet is very good," Bella explained with a huge smile.

"We understand." He nodded.

The three of them started at each other until James sighed. "Would you like us to go now?"

Bella looked at the diner and saw Angela and Ben walking to the door. "If you could. Three murders are too much for this small town."

Victoria huffed, looking at Ben and Angela. "I'd like to have her."

Bella's nostrils flared and they saw right through her. She was beyond caring.

"You won't touch them," she hissed.

"Is that one your pet?" James asked, interested.

"No, it's not! She has another scent around her. I quite like it and I'll find him." Victoria was more perceptive than him. Bella hated her.

"NO!" Bella shouted and sprung onto her. It was a huge mistake on her side, because James was right behind her. She hadn't fought in her life, but for Edward, she had to do it. James managed to catch her hands behind her back as Victoria caught her head, and pressed her teeth at Bella's neck. She was going to kill her. Bella tried to squirm, but they were two, stronger, just fed vampires. She felt a yell of pain escape her as her wrist twisted at an odd angle. Bella squeezed her eyes and hoped Edward wouldn't suffer when someone told him about what had happened.

She didn't have time to think of that, because Jacob appeared from behind the trees in his wolf form. James dropped his hands and took off, leaving Victoria behind.

As Jacob ran after him, his tail touched Bella and she suppressed a shudder. Victoria had lost interest in ripping Bella's head off. She saw her trembling. Bella jumped on her back, trying to twist her neck as she wailed and tried to claw at her.

"Scared of the big bad wolf?" Bella teased. Her left hand was hurting from what James had done to it. It was still at an odd angle.

Bella lost concentration as she examined her hand and Victoria slammed her to the ground. She shouted as Victoria tugged violently at her arm. As much as she wanted to reach for her, her other hand clutched at her shoulder. When she smelled the wet dog stench, she sighed in relief. A small, gray wolf appeared, his eyes found Bella's but she couldn't make out who he was. He jumped on Victoria, and with her help, she was dismembered. Suddenly, the wolf collected as many limbs as he could carry in his mouth and took off in the deeper forest. Bella picked what was left and rushed after him. Where the hell was he going? She came to a halt as she saw Jacob, in his human form, near a fire. The gray wolf threw the pieces in the fire and she did the same, stepping back.

"You can say thank you now, or later," Jacob whispered huskily.

"Thanks, guys," Bella murmured.

The gray wolf had disappeared behind some trees and Bella heard movement from behind her. When she turned, she saw Leah coming back, dusting her soft black dress.

"You…" Bella didn't have words.

"You're welcome. I told Jacob you'd need help. No one else wanted to help, though."

She felt tears prickling at her eyes. Leah was good, after all. "I'd hug you, but that's a terrible idea," Bella said softly.

Leah giggled and held her hand up. Then, when Bella didn't move, Leah waved her hand violently, glaring. Tentatively, Bella touched their palms, retracting fast.

"That was the shortest high five in the history of high fives!" Jacob chortled.

"Watch out, dog!" Bella said in a joking tone.

His black eyes clouded and she wasn't sure if he was joking, too. That was until she saw a huge brown tail in front of her, wriggling. He had phased and now was leaning on his front legs, wriggling his huge tail in front of her face. Leah scowled at him, rolling her eyes. Suddenly, Jacob rolled on his back, all ten feet of him and grinned at them, putting his tongue out.

"That's just disturbing. I'm glad I can't sleep or I'd have nightmares," Bella said in the most serious tone.

Leah kicked him in the side and after a few more dog tricks, he went behind them to phase back into his human form.

"How old are you, five?" Leah snapped at him when he reappeared next to them, eyeing Bella with mischief in his eyes.

"Don't you dare!" she screeched, raising her hands in front of her. "You'll be running on three legs if you touch me."

"Details, details," he said, bored.

"Thanks for the help, really. I have to go back to Edward."

"You'd better wait around here or Paul will finish what they started," Leah said in a warning tone, as she nodded to the fire.

"Oh, right. I didn't realize. I just wanted to…"

"I know that, but it's better to be on alert with you vamps."

Bella scowled at her. "I'll be at my house," she said over her shoulder.

Leah nodded and took Jacob's elbow, dragging him away, scolding him.

Bella wondered if something could happen between them, but when she tried to imagine them together, she shuddered and turned her thoughts on another route.

.

.

.

"Square root of what?" Seth moaned, trying to keep up with Edward.

"This one, here," Edward hissed, annoyed his friend wasn't paying attention. He had been distracted for an hour now, since Leah had left in a rush after looking pointedly at her brother. Edward didn't understand that look. He kept tapping his pencil to the paper in front of him until he managed to dot the digits of the equation.

"Right. I get it." Seth reached for a small calculator.

"No, no!" Edward snatched the device from him. "Use your head!"

"You're worse than my teacher, man," he groaned, and focused on the problem. "I can't do this," he muttered after a few minutes.

"Give it here. Do I have to explain again?" Edward asked, worried he'd have to go through the process again.

"That's not the problem, Edward! Do you know why Leah left?"

"No…" He shrugged.

"Jacob called – I heard that –," he added when Edward raised an eyebrow, "they went to save your leech's ass!"

Edward felt the blood slowly leaving his face as the now familiar buzz in his ears appeared. Bella was in danger. He heard Seth moaning loudly and, a second later, a brown paper bag appeared in front of his face.

"Stick your mouth in that! And breathe deeply."

"They…" Edward said in the bag.

"Your leech will be safe so calm down. Do you want some water? Juice?"

"Water," he answered, still breathing in the bag. He liked how it filled with air when he talked into it.

"Here, drink." Seth handed him the glass. Edward put the bag down as he gulped the water. It made him feel a little better.

Seth managed to distract his friend until the front door burst open.

"… I swear! NOW, Jacob!" Leah screeched, hitting him. She was on his back as he carried her.

"But it's fun!" He defended his actions.

"Where's Bella?" Edward asked, jumping on his feet, looking outside.

"Hello, Edward, nice to see you!" Jacob greeted, dropping Leah and earning himself another slap.

"Where is she?" Edward hissed.

"Calm down! She's…"

"Oh, yes, Bella…" Leah started talking over Jacob, slapping a hand over Jacob's arm.

Edward was sure his heart was going to burst if it beat any faster. Something had happened. They were trying to tell him in small words. The black spot were back.

"I think we should go with the truth," Jake said when he saw how affected their friend was.

"No," Edward moaned. "I don't…" He saw his hands shaking.

"She's fine, Edward!" Leah yelled, shaking his shoulders.

"No, no. I knew it was stupid…" he mumbled.

"SHE'S ALIVE!" Leah shouted, slapping him. "Oh God, sorry. I swear I didn't mean to slap you."

"Bella's okay?" he asked, the buzzing in his ears subsiding.

"YES!"

Edward felt a grin splitting his face. He rushed to the door then turned to Jake. "Would you drive me back?"

"What do I look like? A chauffeur?"

"Please, Jake." His voice was shaking horribly as he caught his friend's arm and pulled him to the door.

"We were just joking around, but you have no sense of humor, man," he chuckled, stepping into his freshly restored Rabbit.

Edward slammed the door, just to irk him. "You can't joke about that."

"I know. Now," he added under his breath. "I don't know where she lives so you have to tell me where to stop the car from the road. I know the way through the forest, only."

Edward rolled his eyes and pointed to the spot he knew that lead to her house. Jake eyed him amused. "She's a vampire in every sen-" Now, he thought it would be good to start talking about where she lived, alone in a cottage? Why hadn't he commented about Bella being a vampire in every sense of the word before?

"Shut up!" Edward hissed. "Thanks for driving me," he muttered and jumped out of the car.

Edward started running through the forest and in his eagerness, he fell a few times. The dead roots weren't his friends, nor were the stones. When he finally reached her door, he launched at it, pounding. When she opened it, being braced mostly on the door, Edward lost his balance and fell in her arms.

"Hey, sweetie," Bella murmured and kissed his cheek. "What's the rush?"

"You're here!" he exclaimed, grinning like a lunatic.

"I owe my life to the wolves. I still can't believe they saved my ass."

"Everyone loves you, deep down, Bella." He kissed her lips, closing the door with his foot. "I love you more than anyone else would ever love you. You're the most important thing to me ever. If something had happened today…"

"Shh," she shushed him with a finger on his lips. "What happened to your palms?" she asked after a second, taking his hands and looking at the scratched palms.

"I fell down. A lot."

"Silly boy," she giggled and kissed his palms. "Let's get you home and disinfect this before something bad happens."

.

.

.

His parents were both home, shouting – one from upstairs, one from the kitchen – as Bella and Edward entered the house. He shot Bella a confused look and started to the kitchen only to bump into his mom who was coming out.

"I told you to pack," she yelled into his face. Then she saw he wasn't her husband and patted his cheek. "ED!" she yelled, looking up the stairs.

"I'm doing it, woman," he shouted back.

"What's going on?" Edward asked, fearfully. Pack? That didn't sound good.

"Your father has been invited by a charity to a party in Chicago after his last case."

Edward nodded, gulping, and glancing at Bella. Were they leaving? Just like that?

"And, the idiot just told me today. He called me at work, all cheery, telling me that tomorrow we have to be in Chicago. We'll be there until early next week. I called Sue and she promised to send food. I am so sorry for having to leave you alone, honey."

Edward blinked, not understanding a thing. "Wait. You and Dad are going to Chicago for a week and I have the house to myself?"

"Something like that. I know I won't be here to make sure you study in the living room, but I do hope you'll get some work done," she said, looking behind him at Bella. Edward felt his face catching fire. Alone with Bella for a week? Ah, the possibilities!

He turned to her and winked. Her gaze dropped to the ground immediately and he was sure she'd be just as red as him if it was possible.

And then, the most embarrassing thing ever happened.

His dad appeared at the top of the stairs, not seeing either Bella or him, and asking loudly, "Which one should I pack, sweetie-pie? Both?" He was holding two undergarments Edward wished he had never seen in his father's hands. That's what happens when you let the man pack, he tried to console himself.

Edward could feel the heat coming in waves from his mom's face. "Ed! The kids are here," she snapped, rushing up the stairs. That's the moment Edward realized he could have a little brother or sister, anytime. He hadn't thought of them…still…doing it. He felt like throwing up, just thinking of them that way.

"Oh, hey there! Didn't see you." His dad waved a red bra at them.

"Shoot me," Edward mumbled, wanting to claw his eyes out. His mom echoed his thoughts as she ascended to where her husband stood.

"Hi, Ed!" Bella answered cheerfully, waving back.

Two hours later, they were ready to leave and Edward couldn't be happier. He was wondering if bleach would erase his mom's undergarments from his brain or maybe that stuff Leah used on his shirt that day. That seemed to work pretty fast. He should call her.

"Call me if you need anything at all," Mom repeated as she kept kissing his cheeks and squeezing him in her arms.

"We'll be fine, Mom! What trouble could two teenagers get into?"

Bella snorted as his mom looked pointedly at him. Edward's ears turned red on command. As his mom hugged Bella goodbye, his dad grinned down at him and patted his back. "There's a present for you on your desk," he whispered conspiratorially in his son's ear.

"Thanks?" Edward asked awkwardly. He had no idea what his dad could have given him.

His smile widened. "Use them wisely. They're only ten."

Edward frowned and shrugged. "Okay."

As he left, he winked at Bella, and Edward felt his eyes widening, understanding him. He waited for them to pull the car out of the spot before sprinting to his room. His eyes fixated on the desk and sure enough, he had been right. On the middle of his desk was a box of condoms. They seemed to be burning.

"What's the hurry?" Bella asked from behind.

Edward made a squeaking sound he wasn't proud of and pointed to the desk, swallowing hard. Bella seemed braver than him as she took the box in her hand then she raised her eyes to meet his, giggling. "Banana flavored." Her eyebrow wiggled and he blushed harder. "Oh, cheer up! Let's put them to good use!"

She chucked the box at him and he was too slow to catch it. Since she'd realized they could have sex without hurting him, she'd been unstoppable. Edward would have never guessed she was such a sex minx. Of course, he wasn't likely to stop her – he was a teenage boy, after all.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14: Teenagers in love

"Yesss! Yess! Argghhhh!" Bella couldn't stop the screams. Edward's neighbors could call the police for all she cared.

She fisted her hands in his soft hair and banged her head again in the door as Edward pounded inside her, his hot breath washing over her breasts as he kissed them reverently.

"Oh! Oohh! OOHH!"

"Bella," he grunted, slamming his hips into hers so hard she was sure there would be bruises in the morning. They'd go away.

"More, Edward," she moaned, urging him.

His arms wrapped around her back as their chests collided, Edward smashed his lips to hers, moaning as she saw stars.

Bella snarled. What she was sure of, was that they were in the hallway having left a huge gap in his door. He didn't seem aware of the change, though, Bella was helping by supporting his weight. Once he came undone, she smoothed his hair from his forehead, kissing his lips lovingly.

"What?" he asked slowly when he saw her amused look.

"First, you are in my arms," she giggled, dropping his legs to the ground. "And second, we're in the hallway."

He glanced around then peeked behind his shoulder. The loudest laugh she had ever heard him let, rocked through him. "Oops."

"Oops is an understatement, Edward," she said softly then joined him in laughter.

Some time later, they were in the kitchen and she was pleading with him to eat something. He wasn't even looking at the food. His green eyes were fixed on her face as his hands were holding hers, while he was sporting the stupidest smile. Bella was smiling back, even more broadly. It felt like they were truly alone for the first time, with no worries around them. Every danger was gone and they could finally be happy like a normal couple that was very much in love.

Edward sighed and closed his eyes momentarily. "I haven't been so happy since the morphine episode," he admitted softly. "Probably not even then."

Bella licked her lips and raised his hands to her face, kissing them. "I have never been this happy. I hope we can be this happy forever."

He nodded enthusiastically, not really understanding the enormity of her words. Forever. Bella had been thinking of that for a while, but she had never been brave enough to approach the subject. And if she did now, she'd ruin their happy bubble. So she kept her mouth shut.

He finally ate some of the food his mother had left, and as Bella was cleaning the plate, he pressed her into the sink, kissing her neck. In no time, they were on the kitchen's floor, making love again.

"I don't really enjoy wearing those things," Edward told her softly as they lay on his bed, later that night.

"Now, we have to use some, or your father would make fun of you."

"Maybe we should fill them with air like balloons and hang them in the hallway, downstairs, writing 'Welcome back' on them. I doubt they'd realize they're not balloons."

Bella snorted with laughter. "Edward, don't be silly!"

"I'm not! I just hate them!"

"The condoms, right?" she asked, smirking.

"Of course!"

"I'll think of something. You, sleep."

He grumbled a bit, but nestled his head on her chest before falling asleep.

Next morning, she welcomed him into the kitchen with freshly baked raspberry muffins. His eyes widened and he slammed into her, kissing her passionately. Bella couldn't help but return the kiss. What followed the kiss made them five minutes late to their first class.

The teacher didn't give it much thought, to their relief. It was the last day of school, anyway. Edward was more talkative than ever and more affectionate. When he nearly came skipping to her and kissed her in the middle of the hallway, she furtively felt his forehead, afraid he was running a fever.

"What got you so happy?" she asked.

"Dancing." He grinned, showing her his teeth.

"Dancing?" She echoed his one worded response.

He nodded quickly and took her hand, leading her to the doors of the Gym. Bella eyed the banner carefully then looked up at Edward.

"So would you?" he asked, the smile permanent on his face.

"Would I what, fool?" she teased him.

"Come with me," he answered smoothly then started laughing, his ears turning red. "No pun intended this time."

She grinned back. He had been shouting at her to come with him that morning – pun totally intended. "I don't understand you," she said, feigning stupidity. He knew as well as her that she was aware of what he wanted.

His eyes tightened. "You're gonna make me say it?"

"Out loud. Nice and clearly, please." Bella couldn't stop the grin forming on her face.

Edward rolled his eyes and gulped loudly, his heart beating faster and louder. He took her hands in his suddenly clammy ones and looked in her eyes. "Would you accompany me to prom, Bella?" he asked softly.

She nearly swooned, and jumped in his arms, hugging him tightly. "Yes," she breathed in his ear.

"Really?" he asked surprised. As if, she'd say no to this amazing specimen!

"Of course! I love you, Edward." She kissed him and he returned the kiss eagerly. She had to stop him when she felt movement in his pants. They were still at school.

They walked to cafeteria hand in hand and she didn't give a damn about the looks they got. No one would ever understand. She was finally happy.

Edward only bought a bottle of water, and as they sat at their table, he took out the muffins from the lunch bag she'd packed, beaming. Her heart, long dead, almost moved, fluttering with pride for making him so happy. He looked at her as he ate his favorite dessert. She could see all his love shining through his eyes. Was it possible for a human to love someone like her so much?

Every girl in school talked about prom, and when Angela asked if she'd liked to go dress shopping with them, Bella had to agree. She hadn't even realized that it was that weekend, on Sunday.

Later that evening, they went to Port Angeles because Jessica claimed to know the perfect dress store. Bella shrugged and followed her lead. She didn't care. Edward had gone tux shopping with the guys, but he seemed more interested in texting her or sending her pictures of different tuxes with funny comments.

The last one was the funniest so far. He was dressed in a beautiful black tuxedo with a top hat and all. Under the picture was the next comment: I'll be your Tuxedo Man if you will be my Sailor Moon.

Bella laughed and texted back. Tuxedo Mask, Edward.

Whatever. You know what I mean. So you like it?

She smiled and looked at the photo again. He was more handsome than ever. I approve. She sent it and pocketed her phone when Angela appeared behind the curtain in her baby blue dress, twirling.

"Wow, Angela!"

She smiled, squealing. "This is the one!"

Jessica chose a bright pink dress that made Bella's eyes hurt, but it was her choice. She wouldn't call her a friend, so she didn't care much.

"What about you, Bella?" Angela asked, softly.

"Who are you going with?" Jessica asked, buttering into our conversation.

Bella looked at her as if she had three heads. Wasn't it obvious? "Edward."

"Oh."

"Let's fine you a dress," Angela whispered and took her hand. She frowned a little at the coldness, but didn't question it. "Don't mind Jess. She's just jealous. Actually, you should try cuffing yourself to Edward."

Bella giggled and looked at the dresses in front of them. Black was always a safe option, but Angela shook her head when she saw Bella reaching for one.

"It clashes with your skin."

"I'm white," she defended herself.

"You want a dark color?"

"Yeah."

She rummaged through the dresses and thrust one at her way, sending her back, behind the curtain. This one was a dark blue and when Bella put it on, she knew it was the dress. It fell so nicely and hugged her waist, covering her knees. She just needed shoes and found them in a few minutes.

Bella was glad school was over for the moment. She'd never been so glad for a school year to end. She couldn't wait to start her summer with Edward.

Prom wasn't something important to Bella, but Edward thought every girl loved prom so he went overboard with the whole thing. Luckily they were alone.

On Sunday, after getting dressed, he told her to head back upstairs and find the present he'd left on his bed. She found a clump of gift paper on his pillow. As she suppressed laughter, she unfolded it, wondering if there really was something inside. She heard a thud from downstairs and she hoped he hadn't stumbled over something. When he was nervous, he was clumsier than usual.

There it was, a bracelet with two charms. Bella inspected each of them carefully. A sparkling heart – she hoped it wasn't a diamond or he'd be in trouble – and, what looked like a mouth with fangs. She inspected the fragile thing closely. Yes, they were fangs.

She carried the bracelet downstairs, knowing he'd like to fasten it. "Edward, this is very thoughtful," she said softly, entering the kitchen. He wasn't there. "Edward?" she asked louder, wondering where he went. They were supposed to leave soon.

There was a knock on the door and Bella just knew he was on the other side without relying on her other senses. She opened the door and there he stood in all his tux glory, glowing of happiness with a red rose corsage in his hand.

"You don't do anything halfway, do you?" she asked, amused, extending her left hand.

"Mom worked hard on my manners," he said courteously.

"I'm sure she did. Fasten this, too, will you?" She held the bracelet to him.

"Do you like it?" he asked after struggling with the lock for a bit.

"I love it." He kissed her knuckles, as she answered smiling. "I love you."

"I love you, too, Bella."

That night was one of the best she had spent with him. They danced, talked, had fun with their friends, and acted exactly like teenagers. Much later, after most of the people went home, they were sitting on a small bench outside. Bella had her head on his shoulder as she was gazing at the stars.

"I'm nineteen," she whispered, squeezing his hand. Edward's heart took off and she suddenly chastised herself for disturbing him. "Uncle Peter…"

"He turned you."

"How…did you know?"

"I watched how you were around him, that time," he murmured in her hair. "I should have known."

"It wasn't his intention, but Charlotte stopped him from killing me. They'd been wandering alone for quite a few decades and I was an easy prey as he told me later. I hated him for almost a century." Edward didn't try to stop her even though she took a moment to collect her thoughts. "I think she wanted a friend. After Charlotte told me what I was, what had happened to me…I went berserk. I stayed long enough to hear the rules then I ran. I wasn't going to have a perfect life, but it was going to be a normal, close to human life." She sighed and closed her eyes. "He deprived me of it. As I grew up and learned more about us, about humans, about everything, I started to forgive Peter. It took me a long time to find him and when I did, I stayed there for a long time then went back on my own."

"So you weren't always alone?" Edward asked, stroking her palm.

"I was alone because they were together. They tried to include me in their activities, but it didn't work out well. I left."

"I'm glad you made up with them."

"Me too, but we went our separate ways. They usually visit me when they're nearby. Technology is quite good." Bella shrugged and opened her eyes again. She loved to watch the stars, they were so many and shiny and different shapes. Her eyes could see them much better than Edward's ever could.

"Thank you. For sharing this with me," Edward whispered, wrapping his arm around her.

"I thought it was about time I stopped hiding myself behind the lies."

She felt him shiver slightly and glanced up. "Are you cold?" she asked.

"A little bit."

"Then let's head home. Why didn't you say something earlier?"

"I'm supposed to be the guy, you know, the tough part of the relationship."

She elbowed him in the ribs, gently. "There's nothing traditional about us, Princess."

"Stop it, ummm…" He stopped talking, probably trying to find a bad name to call her.

"Yeah? Say it," she challenged him.

"You little red eyed monster," he replied after a moment, smirking.

Bella gasped in mock shock and punched his arm. "Edward!"

"What?" He feigned shock.

"For that one, you won't get your surprise."

"Oh, no! Please! I want a surprise." He smiled and leaned closer to kiss her. She turned her head away, so much, that he ended up kissing her ear. That made her giggle. "Do I get my surprise if I'm a good boy?" he asked eagerly, taking her hand and leading her to the car. In his haste, he opened the back door and frowned at Bella when she didn't get inside. Then he realized his mistake and turned fifty shades of red, closing the door fast and opening the passenger's door, mumbling under his breath about clichés.

She couldn't help but ask. "You want to fool around in the backseat?"

Edward choked on his spit and caught his toe in the tire as he turned to walk around the car. He was too flustered for his own good. Bella watched carefully as he made it to the driver's seat safely.

"I was just joking, Edward. I'm sorry," she apologized.

"What's wrong with you people? Joking about the stupidest stuff?"

"Sorry?" She was taken aback by that.

"The day you went after the nomads…Jake and Leah thought it was funny to joke about your safety and I nearly fainted on them. You, mythical creatures, have a horrible sense of humor. One day, you'll kill me."

Bella stared at him in shock for a minute then started laughing.

"Laugh away," he grumbled and drove to his house.

Edward managed to avoid her until bedtime. She was wondering how long he'd last without speaking to her. She changed into a pair of sweatpants and one of his t-shirts then entered his room. He was drinking from a bottle of water, studiously ignoring her. She sat in the rocking chair and started rocking softly, looking at him, trying to conceal her growing amusement.

Ten minutes after the light was out and he was under the thin blanket, she heard him heave a big sigh.

"Would you mind? I'm trying to sleep and that thing is annoying me," he hissed.

"Oh, sorry," she whispered and rocked faster.

"BELLA!" His green eyes seemed to bore holes in her red ones. "Stop it!"

"What upset you, Edward? I will stop making jokes," she promised, realizing he was truly upset.

"You're all making fun of me. Why is that? I'm just in the middle, the stupid human!"

"It's not true! I think more of you."

He patted the bed next to him and when she sat there, he hugged her. "Sorry."

"I forgive you. I'm sorry too. I didn't mean to exaggerate."

"Lie down with me," he suggested. They stayed quiet for a few minutes until he chuckled. "I kind of ruined the night, didn't I?"

"No, you didn't!" Bella insisted. "It was perfect."

More time passed. "What was your surprise?"

She laughed at how curious he was. "I'm sure you are tired. We'll try my idea tomorrow."

"No, I'm not tired. Alert as the day I came." He grinned then started laughing at the stupidity of what he had said.

"I want to try something. I'm not even sure it will work," she whispered.

"What is it?"

Bella grimaced, remembering what he had done earlier in the bathroom. "Uhh, I want to make you happy by doing this. I know you can't do it and I won't allow you to return the favor, but I can at least try to please you that way." She was rambling.

"What?" he whispered, and kissed down her neck.

She let the foreplay progress and when his pants were on the floor. Bella picked the box of condoms from the nightstand and sat on her knees, between his legs.

"We agreed to fill them with air," Edward groaned, eyeing the box.

She took five of them out and carefully rolled them all on his hard erection.

"Bella, what the hell?"

"Shh," she whispered and lowered her head. She had to be quick. Her venom surely dissolved the condoms pretty fast.

"Oh, shit! Oh, yes! Yes, Bellaaaa," he moaned in approval as she sucked. Bella was partial on the banana-flavored condoms. They should try strawberries or raspberries, maybe she'd understand his obsession with them. Like any men, he loved this kind of attention. She loved how his fingers felt in her hair as she moved her head over his dick. She had never done this before, but from the sounds he was making, she was sure she wasn't messing up.

"Oh, Bella!" he moaned, saying her name as if it was prayer. "Don't stop, please, don't ever stop."

She had to stop, unfortunately. Bella was at the last condom and when she felt skin against her lips, as much as she loved the feeling of that, she had to back away. She could seriously hurt him or scrap him with her poisoned teeth.

"NO!" he wailed, almost crying.

Bella kept her mouth open, trying to keep the pretense as she rubbed her hand over his velvety skin. He twitched violently in her hand and came in her mouth with a loud shout. Bella hadn't thought through her actions, but she swallowed. His semen had a faint taste of his blood, but it was different in taste and texture. A lot different.

She raised her head and watched Edward, who was fluttering a hand over his red face.

"Are you okay?" she asked worried.

"Yeah. Give me a sec."

Bella watched him apprehensively as he returned to his natural pale color, his heart settling down and his breathing becoming steadier.

"Wow."

She grinned. He was okay. She hugged him tightly. "Don't scare me like that."

"I could barely form words. I loved your surprise."

"Glad you enjoyed it," she whispered. "Would you sleep now?"

"Do I have to?"

"Yes. We're going to my house tomorrow."

He smiled and took her hand, falling sleep. Bella pulled the blanket over his naked body and snuggled in his side, closing her eyes and imagining how it would be to sleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter 15: New neighbors

"I think you are cheating," Edward mumbled, throwing his playing cards away.

"You're just a sore loser," Bella teased him and leaned back against the couch.

"Oh yes, I'm sure! You just got a card from th-"

"I didn't!"

"You did! I saw the card moving. You move quickly, but my eyes are pretty good."

Bella laughed and shoved him with her foot. "So what? I like to cheat a little."

"For that one, you will pay!" he hissed. He rose on his knees and leaned closer. Bella leaned back, feigning fear. Then he was around her, hugging her and kissing her neck. "Mhmm, what should I do to you?"

"No!" She moaned. "Please, no!" It sounded pathetic even to her ears.

He laughed and glanced at her lips then to her eyes. She nodded; she was in control. He grinned and pressed his lips to hers. Bella tried to be careful where she put her hands and how much pressure she applied. It was easy to get carried away with him. His eager tongue touched her lips and she opened her eyes to glare at him, finding his shining with mischief.

"Be careful, Edward," she murmured and caressed his cheek.

"What can happen? I allow you to do worse things to me."

"If there is an open wound in your mouth and I touch it…" Bella shuddered and closed her eyes. "It's better like this. Please."

"I'll remind you that next time you want sex," he chuckled.

She smacked his head lightly, making him laugh more. He pressed his nose in her neck and tried to regain composure.

That's when she smelt it. Vampires. She felt all her muscles clench.

"Stop," she whispered and pushed him aside, looking toward the window. "Someone's here."

"Who?" Edward asked confused.

"Shhh!" she hissed and put her hand over his mouth. She had no idea how to react. There were two vampires outside her house. She had to protect Edward and she was scared that they would get through her.

"You can go back. I am doing it!" A girl's voice said softly, reassuringly.

"I'm staying with you, darlin'," the other answered in a low drawl.

Holy shit! What was she going to do? Bella looked panicked at Edward. He was oblivious to the danger, as always.

"You have to run when I tell you," she whispered to him. Not that it would help much, but maybe she could distract them.

He nodded, glancing at the door when there was a knock. Bella took his hand and led him there, shielding his body.

"We mean no harm, Bella!" The girl's tinkling voice said loudly.

Bella stopped dead in her tracks. How the hell did she know her name? The girl wasn't someone she recognized from her past. She turned to Edward and pointed to the back window.

"Go," she mouthed.

"No way," he said loudly. "What if-"

"Edward, GO!" she snapped.

"Bella… I am not leaving your side," he retorted, twining their fingers.

"You are so stubborn! This is not the moment to-" Bella froze when the door of the cottage opened. She jumped in front of Edward and snarled at the two intruders.

The girl was short, with short black hair and the boy was tall with blond hair, but what caught her attention were the scars on his body. Where they going to hurt her?

"Let him go!" Bella told them. "Please, don't hurt him," she begged, keeping a strong hold on Edward's forearm. There would be bruises.

"We mean no harm," the girl said softly. "I'm Alice."

"And I'm Jasper, Ma'am." Her partner introduced himself with a small reverence.

They were playing mind games, to trip her up, but she wasn't going to let them hurt Edward.

"Let him go and I'm all yours," she insisted.

"They mean no harm, didn't you hear?" Edward whispered in her ear.

"They do not!" Bella hissed when Alice took a step closer. She stopped and raised her hands.

"We are good, Bella."

"How do you know my name?" She was such a freak! And why were their eyes honey gold? Were they from the Volturi? Had they gotten wind of her relationship with Edward? No, please!

"We're not from the Volturi," she said softly.

"Alice, we are here to talk, not play around," Jasper told her amused. "Carlisle is waiting."

There were more! Bella was more than outnumbered. She wrapped both her arms around Edward, still facing their enemies. She took a defensive crouch.

"WE ARE GOOD!" Alice shouted, rubbing her forehead. "You're giving me a headache, woman!"

Bella clenched her teeth and growled loudly. "Step aside. Let him leave," she repeated. Her mind was producing plans how to keep Edward safe and at the same time, she was trying to keep them away. She wished she had the power to keep them away from them.

"Bella, I really don't think they are bad. They would have killed us already if that's what they wanted," Edward murmured in her ear.

"Everything is wrong about them!" I found myself screaming. "Not every vampire is as good as me, Edward! Look at them! They know my name, they are trying to socialize and look at their freaking eyes!"

"Bella, let us explain. We really mean no harm." Jasper locked gazes with her and she felt her guard slipping, her muscles relaxing. What the hell?

She glared at him and felt something snapping inside her head when he turned his eyes to Edward. The effect seemed to be instant. Alice shrieked and fell to her knees, clutching her head. Jasper knelt next to her, worried.

"I can't see anything! Everything is black!" she wailed, looking wild eyed at Bella. "What are you doing?"

"I'm not doing anything," Bella snapped. She wished looks could kill. Alice would have been dead since she dared to break into her house.

"STOP it!" Jasper snarled at her, his eyes turning black.

So she'd been right. They were bad. Edward's heart took off and Bella knew that he was scared. She could feel it, smell it, but he never did what she expected him to do.

When he moved from her arms – and she have no idea how he did it – trying to step in front of her, Bella whirled around and crushed him to her chest. "Don't be stupid, love." He wanted to confront the other vampire.

"I'm not going to stick around here and watch him yell at you," he said angrily, glaring at Jasper.

When Bella peeked behind them, Alice was standing again and she was gaping at her. "How did you do that? You simply…I couldn't see anything!"

"What?" Bella asked confused.

"You see, I can see the future and…it just vanished."

"You can see…the future?" she asked in a high pinched voice.

"Yes, but that's not why I'm here," Alice said impatiently. "So answer me. How did you do it?"

"I didn't do anything," Bella found myself answering in equal confusion.

"Please, I promise we won't hurt either of you. Carlisle, our leader and father, wants to talk with you. You were here first."

"You don't have my permission to stay around," she growled.

"We have a house. It's been here for decades. Come and visit us. Follow our scent," she whispered.

"You don't have to bring him," Jasper added, quietly.

"I sure as hell won't!"

"We'll see you soon, then," she said cheerfully.

Jasper bowed then took her hand and they left. Bella watched them until they disappeared into the forest.

Once they were out of sight, she turned to Edward who was looking dazed after them.

"I won't let them hurt you," she promised him and hugged him.

"I can wait here," he offered.

She shook her head vehemently. "When are your parents due back?"

"You know that, Bella. Next week."

Of course, she knew. She was just trying to find a way to keep him safe. "Crap. I was thinking…could you go to your friend, Jacob? Please. You will be safe there."

"And you?"

"When the meeting is over. I will call you."

"And if you don't? Bella…please, don't do this."

"I have to. I'm curious about them." She wanted to find an answer to the mystery behind the golden eyes. Why were they golden?

"Bella, I love you," Edward whispered and pressed his lips to hers. The intensity of it took her by surprise, but she returned the kiss.

"Take my car. I love you, too, muffin," she teased him.

He smiled weakly and took the keys from her hand. "Call me, love."

"I will. And if I don't…" She swallowed and closed her eyes, not wanting to see his hurt, tearful eyes. "Don't come after me. Promise me, Edward."

He opened his mouth, ready to retort something, but then closed it and sighed. "Okay."

Bella kissed him again, as passionately as she dared then led him to her car.

"You'll be safe with Jacob," she said, even though she hated sending him there.

Bella started walking on the path Alice and Jasper had disappeared down. What am I going to do? After a few minutes of walking, she came across a small river. She had never ventured to this side of the forest.

There was a small clearing after jumping across the river and next to it, was a huge Victorian house. It was three stories tall with window walls and a small garden to be.

Bella felt fear creeping inside her as she approached the porch. She didn't have many options left.

She couldn't have ran away because Edward's presence held her such that she would have to come back to feed. And she'd never be able to leave him behind anyway.

And this…right here, was something she'd never done. She'd met various nomads over the years, but never a coven. If she angered any of them, even just one, she was dead.

Bella knocked once and waited. When the door opened, she closed her eyes and whispered inside her head, I love you, Edward, hoping she would survive to see him again.

Alice opened the door sporting a huge grin.

"Hello again, Bella," she said softly and stepped aside.

Bella looked around as she moved inside, aware that they could attack at any moment.

"No one will hurt you!" Alice moaned, somewhat exasperated.

"Can you really…?" she wondered surprised.

"Yes. And I was right earlier. You are seriously giving me a headache with your decisions."

"Sorry, I guess." She shrugged.

"Come on. You have to meet everyone," Alice said cheerfully and took her hand, leading her to the living room, probably.

The living room! Ha! That was an understatement. It was huge! They had several couches, a large plasma, an elegant table with six chairs around it, a nice fireplace and a few beautiful vases. Who decorated this room had great taste.

"Hello," Bella greeted them warily. She was still defensive.

A blond man, who looked like a model, rose and came closer. Bella took a step back and bumped into Alice. Crap! What now?

"I mean no harm, child," he told her softly, stopping two feet in front of her and raising his hands.

Bella nodded, glancing back at Alice, who was scowling. She turned her attention to the man in front of her. His golden eyes were shining as he looked at her.

"I'm Carlisle Cullen," he introduced himself, holding his hand out for shaking.

"Bella…Swan," she said hesitantly and put her hand in his. She snatched it back when he lowered his head. She realized her mistake when he chuckled. He was a gentleman – he wanted to kiss her hand. Suddenly, Bella was glad blushing was something she couldn't do.

"As you already know, Alice and Jasper are my children, as are Emmett and Rosalie," he continued, waving a hand to the red loveseat. Emmett was quite intimidating and looked like a weight lifter. As for Rosalie…well, she was a piece of art. Bella had never seen such a beautiful vampire. "And Esme is my lovely wife," Carlisle said with genuine love in his voice as he gestured behind him to a woman with caramel-colored hair.

Bella smiled and waved shyly. She was starting to believe Alice. No one there was out to hurt her.

"It's nice to meet you all," she told them. Alice pushed her further inside the room and she had to comply.

Bella took a seat on a blue couch and looked around. They were watching her as if she was some rare exhibit.

"Why am I here?" Bella asked them after a few minutes.

"When we arrived last night, we realized someone was on our land-"

"YOUR land?" she shouted. He had the nerve to invade her territory then claim it as his?!

"Yes, Bella. We've been here before. Several decades ago."

"Oh…I didn't know." She felt stupid for screaming. Carlisle just smiled sympathetically. "Well…do I have to…umm…leave?" She wondered as tears sprang into her eyes. That was impossible.

"Oh no, sweetheart," Esme said softly. "We just wanted to meet you and since we have Alice and everything…" She turned to her mate and smiled. "Carlisle?"

"We have a proposition," he told her seriously.

"Okay…"

"I don't mean to offend you, but what is your diet?"

Bella stifled her laughter, letting only a small giggle escape her lips. "I think you know that."

"This is a small town. People will talk soon," he whispered, still very serious.

"Oh, no," Bella said quietly then looked down, ashamed by her outburst. "Ummm, it's not what you think," she explained.

"Your eyes are giving you away, Brownie," Emmett told her in an angry voice.

"Sorry? Brownie?" Bella asked, surprised by his crude tone.

"Emmett! We don't speak like that with our guests," Esme scolded him. He only narrowed his eyes at Bella.

"I'm…there's…it's only…one," she said, stumbling over her words under his glare.

"Only one what?" Carlisle asked her curiously.

"One human. He is…" Bella gulped a mouthful of venom at the memory of Edward's blood, and looked around. Should she tell them about Edward?

"Is it the boy we met?" Jasper asked quietly from his place near the window.

"Yes," she whispered, nodding.

He turned around and raised an eyebrow. "I'm very good with emotions, knowing what you're feeling. I'm also able to make you feel what you feel when I want you to feel it. So your news, although staggering, doesn't surprise me. You love each other."

"I know… I don't know how to explain it…"

"Let me get this straight," Emmett said in a booming voice. "You love a human and drink only from him?" he asked in a combination of amusement and disgust.

"It's complicated, but to answer you simply…yes. I love him and try not to drink very often from him." She turned her attention to Carlisle. "Now, can I ask something?"

He nodded, his brow creasing when he heard her explanation.

"Why are your eyes golden?" It sounded accusatory even to her ears.

He chuckled lightly. "I was going to get there. Have you thought of another lifestyle?"

"WAIT!" Emmett yelled over Carlisle. "Alice said…the human is alive."

"Of course, he is!" Bella snapped at him, outraged.

"How in the hell….when we bite…the human turns into a vampire or dies," he shouted, narrowing his eyes at her again.

"I never bite! I haven't bitten anyone in decades!" Bella shouted back.

"And how do you drink?" he asked sarcastically. "You stick a straw in his jugular?"

"EMMETT!" Esme and Rosalie shouted scandalized, at the same time.

"What?" he asked sheepishly.

"He has a point. How do you do it?" Carlisle asked Bella, confused.

"I … you know… cut a bit of skin with my nail…and then drink…" She explained and was once again grateful for being a vampire. She was sure her face would have caught fire by now.

Everyone laughed. "That's very ingenious," Jasper noted.

"I don't want to hurt anyone. I always hated myself when I killed someone so I came up with this," she explained.

"And we return to my previous question," Carlisle said lightly. "Have you thought of another lifestyle?"

"Like what? We can't drink anything else. Can we?" she asked, suddenly confused. He knew more than she did.

"Unfortunately, blood is the only option, only sustenance. But what I am trying to tell you is that you don't have to even drink human blood," he said, emphasizing the word human.

"What else could I…?" she trailed off.

"Animals."

"Animals?" she echoed him. "Like Louis de Pointe du Luc?"

"Louis who?" A chorus of voices asked confused. Only Carlisle chuckled again.

"Exactly. Only he found it gross," he whispered to her, still smiling.

"Who is this Louis guy?" Emmett asked confused.

She knew them for, what? Not even an hour…and she wanted the earth to swallow her whole. Again.

"She's talking about the fictional character," Rosalie explained him.

"Not so fictional," Carlisle and Bella said at the same time.

"Is there something you haven't told me?" Esme asked him, while everyone else was looking at them shocked.

"He exists," Bella found herself saying. "He just had to lie about a couple of things in the interview."

"The whole interview is fictional!" Jasper groaned, rolling his eyes.

"It's not!" Bella insisted. "I met him a while back… He told the author everything."

"I want to believe it but-"

"We're here to convince Bella to join us not to talk about Louis!" Carlisle said loudly, over everyone else's murmurs.

"You feed from rats?" She wondered, not even trying to conceal her disgust.

"Animals in general, especially deer. It's very sweet."

"Ummm, I don't know…" she said unsure.

"Do you like what you are doing?"

"NO! But I cannot stop," she told him.

"Of course, you can," Esme told her softly.

"No, I can't! You don't understand! I drink only from Edward because I CAN'T drink from anyone else. Does that make sense? I feel sick when I try to drink from someone else."

They watched her with varying sizes of unhinged mouths. Yeah, she already knew there was something wrong with her.

"I've heard about this. His blood is the best you have smelled or tasted," Carlisle said, nodding.

"Yes. He is everything."

"He is your singer," he explained. Bella knew that.

"I didn't know you were familiar with the term," she told him.

"Emmett met his singer a few years ago."

Bella turned to Emmett, and he was sporting a huge grin. "Best thing I ever tasted."

Bella turned her eyes to Rosalie, wondering if she was that person. Alice started laughing out of nowhere.

"Sorry, but she has a vivid imagination," she apologized.

"I was just…"

"No, Rose isn't his singer. They were happily married when it happened and she forgave him."

"Reluctantly," the Beauty Queen supplied and kissed Emmett's cheek.

"Then…what happened with the singer?" Bella asked confused.

"I drained her," he told her stiffly.

"What?" Bella shouted surprised, her eyes widening.

"I don't know how that boy is still alive," Jasper joined the conversation. "There is a pull between them. It's magnetic. I admire you, Bella."

"I'm… uhh…flattered," she whispered.

"Jasper's the last to join our family and it's still hard for him to adapt," Carlisle explained kindly.

"Oh…I see."

"How do you stop?" Carlisle asked her, curiosity glistening in his eyes.

"Umm, I just do," she said embarrassed. She wasn't about to tell him that Edward's reactions snap her out of it. "And sometimes he stops me himself."

"It sounds like you need a lot of strength. Wait! HE stops you?" he asked, astonished.

Bella nodded meekly. "It's his favorite extracurricular activity. To watch me when I feed from him." Her voice dropped so low as she finished the sentence that she barely heard herself.

"Does he have a death wish?" Alice broke the silence that had fallen.

"He is just fascinated with vampires," she whispered, not meeting anyone's gaze.

"When can I meet him? That takes some gut, to watch a vampire feed from you! I've found my best friend forever!" Emmett said loudly, rubbing his hands together.

"I'm not so sure about this…"

"You can talk to him, and if he wants to meet us, we aren't saying no," Carlisle told her softly.

As she was nodding, her phone started ringing. "Excuse me," she murmured and went outside, not that it made a difference, but it gave her a sense of privacy.

"Bella? Are you okay?" Edward asked before she could greet him.

"Hello to you, too. I'm still alive, if only after a fashion," she told him, giggling at her own joke.

"Don't scare me! Have you looked at the clock?"

"Why do you sound like my father?" Bella asked sarcastically.

"It's nearly one AM!" he groaned.

"And why are you awake?" she teased.

"Um…there's uhh…I'm sort of lost in the woods," he blurted out.

"You're what?" she yelled.

"I think I heard you. Not just in the phone, outside too," he laughed.

"What happened to going to Jacob? Where are you? What do you see around you?" Bella asked panicked, ready to go after him.

"Jake?" he asked surprised. "Ahh yes, I never made it – long story. What do I see around me? Is that a trick question, Bella? I see trees and stars….and oh, Sherlock, they stole our tent!" He started laughing at the joke he was implying. Bella knew the reference from Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, but she couldn't find it funny. Not then.

"I'm serious. Can you stay where you are? I'm coming after you. Are you deep in the woods?"

"I was at your house when I decided to try and find my way to you."

"Definitely dropped on the head when you were a baby," she muttered. "Or probably the muffins caused some sort of problem with your brain."

"Don't talk about food. I'm hungry! Are you…close by? I think I heard a wolf."

Oh, joy! "Wolf," she echoed him and speed up. What kind of wolf?

"Yes, I shouldn't have left your house," he mumbled.

Bella stopped deep in the woods and used her nose to find him. He was nearby. "Your mom knows you are safely at home, right?" she asked, trying to distract him.

"Don't mention this to her when she comes home, please."

An owl hooted and he whimpered in the phone. She could see him now, leaning against a tree.

"I'm here. Can you see me?"

"YES!" he yelled and snapped the phone shut, breaking into a run and hugging her.

"Careful, Edward," she warned him. He was too exuberant for his own good.

"Can't I be happy to see you?" he protested.

"Of course, silly boy. Just be careful, I don't want to hurt you."

"What happened there? Were they good to you?" he asked hurriedly, taking her cheeks in his warm palms.

"Yes. They told me about another way to live," she told him. "A way I won't hurt you again. Ever."

Chapter Text

Chapter 16: Ruby and Jade

Bella took Edward's hand and they started walking to her house.

"So why didn't you make it to Jake?"

He gulped and prayed she wouldn't kill him. He knew how much she loved her car.

"Edward?"

"You see… I've never driven in the forest…."

"Oh, you got lost!" She jumped to the most plausible explanation, and rubbed her thumb over his knuckles.

"Actually…" He glanced at her, gauging her expression and mood. "I sort of…wrecked your car."

"What did you just say?" she shouted, whirling around. "You had an accident?"

"You could call it that. I was nervous, and scared for you and suddenly, there was a tree right there. I'm so sorry, Bella."

"Are you okay? Were you hurt at all?" she asked urgently, inspecting his face, arms, lifting his shirt to peer at his chest.

"I'm okay. But the car…"

"Fuck the car," she snarled and crashed him to her chest. That was the first time she cursed in anger. "I should have never made you leave the house," she murmured as she squeezed him in her arms.

"So you're not upset?"

"Edward, you're more important than steel on wheels," Bella said softly and kissed his lips. "I leave you for a few minutes alone and you manage to get in trouble!"

"Don't you know it? My middle name is 'Trouble,'" he joked.

They started walking to her house again, and Bella kept shooting him worried glances.

"Honestly, I'm fine! I'm just sorry about your car." He looked down at his feet.

"Should we go to the hospital, just to make sure?" Bella asked, squeezing his hand.

"No."

"But I'm worried. What if-"

"I was so worried about you! I couldn't even see where I was going! How many others are there?" Edward asked, changing the subject.

"They're six."

He stumbled over his feet. "Are you insane, Bella? What if they had hurt you?"

"Something told me they wouldn't. You were Pro-Cullen when they were inside my house."

Edward opened his mouth, but nothing came out.

"Are you scared, now?" she teased.

"Me? No!" He looked at her, amused. "I love vampires – have you forgotten that?"

Bella giggled and stopped at her door. "They want to meet you, but only if you're comfortable. Do you want to?"

Edward's eyes lit up and he felt his smile growing. "Let's go!"

"Not now, Edward! Aren't you tired? It's so early or late, however you want to put it."

He yawned involuntarily and shrugged. She eyed him for a second, smiling.

"Are you opposed to being carried home? I want you to sleep in your bed not on my crappy couch."

Edward bit his lip. They were at her house, after all, and in the morning, they could get to the others more quickly if they stayed there. The decision was made.

"I love your crappy couch!" He declared with a big smile.

"If you complain one more time that your back aches or wonder why you woke up on the floor, I swear to you…" she trailed off, frowning.

"Yes," he prompted her. She could never carry her empty threats, not even playfully. She loved him that much.

"I'd do something, okay?"

"Make it some other fruit flavor next time." He winked. Edward wasn't sure where all the sudden courage was coming from, but he decided to embrace it.

When she realized what he implied, her eyes widened comically and she sputtered, something he had never seen her doing.

"Is little Bella speechless?" Edward teased.

"You better run. Fast," she hissed, her red eyes twinkling in the moon's light.

"Now, I'm scared," he said passively.

When she took a step toward him, curling her lip over her teeth and snarling; his eyes widened. She wanted to play? He felt for the door handle and quickly slid inside, slamming the door closed. He turned around, smiling triumphantly, only to find Bella in front of him, watching him intensely.

His heart jumped in his chest, despite the fact that he knew he wasn't in any danger. His heart seemed to want to beat its way through his ribcage.

"How did you… " Edward was at a loss.

She started laughing hard. "Luckily for me, the window was open. Get to bed! Or couch, whatever. You need to sleep."

"But I'm not tried."

"Edward, in the morning, you'll pay for not sleeping. Come on." She took his hand and dragged him to the couch.

The playing cards were still spread there as they had left them.

"What did they want? You said…they told you something. Something about not hurting me anymore."

"Make yourself comfortable on the couch and I'll tell you," she whispered.

Edward quickly took his shirt off and looked at his pants, glad he wasn't wearing jeans. He could sleep in the sweatpants or, in his boxers. He glanced at Bella, contemplating the idea.

"You better keep the clothes on. It's cold at night, you know."

He didn't put the t-shirt back and lay on the couch. "So?"

She knelt next to him and rested her back against the coffee table, her knees pressed into the front of the couch.

"They told me something I wanted to know, something I've been searching for years. Remember when I told you how I wanted to exist without hurting you at all? They told me how."

Edward smiled and reached for her hand. She took it and traced his palm with her fingers, sighing softly.

"Their eyes are honey gold because they feed from animals. I had thought of that option once or twice…but I never thought beyond feeding on rodents."

"Like in Anne Rice's books?"

"Exactly, but Louis didn't like that." She grinned.

"Of course, he didn't! Who'd eat a rat?" Edward scowled.

"Anyway, Carlisle, their leader, told me about deer and other animals I could feed from. I won't hurt you again. I am so happy!"

"But can you?" Edward chewed on his lips, watching her worried. He was happy she wouldn't torment herself with hurting him. He hardly could call it hurting when every time, it turned him on. The downside was feeling fatigued afterwards.

"I think so. I mean…I did it in Port Angeles…"

"Bella, we both know how repulsed you were. You told me." He looked at her and saw her eyes dropping. He didn't want to make her think that she was weak, but she was unable to stop feeding from him – that much was clear.

"I will try to do this. Next time they go hunting…I'll go with them," she murmured. She kept talking, but drowsiness won out soon, her voice sweet humming in the background.

.

.

.

"BAD IDEA!" Edward heard someone shouting, but didn't want to open his eyes. He didn't think he could have opened them even if he wanted; he was so tired.

"Just stop it," he heard Bella hissing. "If Edward wakes up, you're dead!"

"But I already am, Ruby," a taunting voice answered.

"STOP that, will you?"

"Nope. Ruby, Ruby, Ruby! You know, there's a song called Ruby by the Killers. How fittin-"

"Emmett, I swear, I'll face Rosalie's wrath without blinking, but you won't leave my house with all your limbs attached to your body if you don't shut up!" Bella was angry. Edward wanted to see that. He just had to make his eyelids cooperate.

"First of all, you don't need to blink, Ruby. Secondly, you can take off anything you want, just don't touch my cock."

There was a commotion and a loud crash then another. Edward finally pried his eyes open, just in time to see a huge guy on top of his little Bella. Her hands were on his face, from what he could see, she was trying to claw his eyes out as he straddled her, pinning her to the ground.

"HEY!" Edward yelled and jumped on the guy's back since he was so close to the couch.

"What do we have here? Did the human wake up?" The guy slung Edward in his arms, grinning at him.

Edward kicked his feet in the air, wishing he could escape the grip. He blushed as the guy started cooing at him, then with a hand on Emmett's face, Edward tried to push him away.

"Put him down! Emmett, I swear to you, I'm not joking! I'll present Rosalie with your ashes!"

"Ouch, Ruby."

Emmett looked at Edward, grinning, his yellow eyes looked out of place somehow. He had grown used to Bella's red ones. Edward loved her red eyes.

"Oh look, we can call him Jade."

Edward frowned, confused, and Bella let out a sigh of frustration.

"Ruby and Jade," Emmett declared, finally letting him down next to Bella who immediately wrapped her arms around him. Emmett beamed at them like a proud parent.

"Don't mind him, he's a huge buffoon," she whispered, kissing Edward's cheek.

"Now, can we go? He's awake!" Emmett tapped his foot impatiently.

"He has to eat, idiot!"

"We can find something at our house. We have to keep up pretense," Emmett said, narrowing his eyes at Bella.

"What? Expired food? I don't think so."

"I'll take him to McDonald's if you want."

"That's only marginally better! And Forks doesn't have one!" Bella shot back, annoyed.

"The diner, then."

"We have food here!"

"WILL YOU TWO KNOCK IT OFF?" Edward shouted, stepping between them. "I'm right here," he hissed.

"Oh, he's so adorable. Hurry up and eat," Emmett said impatiently.

Edward glanced at Bella, hoping she realized he had other needs too, not only hunger. He had to use the bathroom, to brush his teeth, change his clothes… It was a bad idea to stay at her house overnight after all.

"We'll meet you at your house in half an hour, buffoon," Bella told him seriously, taking Edward's hand and started walking to the door.

"You can call me Buffy. I love her! There's no shame in that name," Emmett shouted after them.

"I'm gonna run. You should keep your eyes closed," Bella told him.

Edward didn't like the idea of Bella carrying him, but he had to deal with it since he'd wrecked their transportation vehicle. And she was going to run! He knew how fast she could be, but he hadn't experienced it first-hand.

He wrapped his arms around her neck and buried his face in her soft hair. Edward felt the air whooshing around them, in his hair, against his face, but he didn't move his head from her hair.

"You can let go," Bella said softly, dropping him to the ground.

To his surprise, they were in the bathroom, at his home. "That was…nice." He smiled at her.

"I'm glad you enjoyed it. I love running. We can go the same way to their house."

"You bet! And this time, I'm looking around."

She shook her head, amused. "Hurry up, I'm sure that idiot will come here after us."

Edward laughed at her annoyed face.

"Argh! He came around five this morning, demanding we go to his house. I kept explaining to him that you needed sleep," Bella muttered, getting angry.

"He's a weird guy," he commented, sticking the toothbrush in his mouth.

"I preferred it when he called me Brownie," she mumbled, sitting on the closed toilet seat.

"Like the food?" Edward asked, his voice slightly muffled by the toothbrush.

Bella looked confused at him.

"You know, the dessert? Brownies?" He hinted, looking through the mirror at her.

"No…"

He sighed and rinsed his mouth, spitting a few times. "They're quite good."

"I think you're hungry," Bella declared.

"That's possible." The second he finished talking, his stomach agreed with him, making a horribly embarrassing noise. He smiled when Bella started giggling.

After he was done in the bathroom and dressed for the day, he wolfed down a bowl of cereal with milk.

"Why does he call you Ruby?" Edward asked, between bites.

"My eyes are red. And I'm sure you know why he called you Jade."

"Should we return the favor and call him Topaz?"

Bella whirled around from her spot near the sink, watching out the window. "Now, that's a great idea! You're so smart!"

"I have my moments." He shrugged, feeling his ears turning crimson.

"Are you done?" Bella asked when he dumped the bowl in the sink.

"Yep. Let's go!"

"Are you sure you want me to run? You just ate," she said, concerned.

"Don't worry about me."

"If you feel sick, you better stop me before you throw up on me."

"I won't!" Edward hissed, embarrassed.

Edward locked the door and she turned around. "Hop on my back, it will be easier. Keep your eyes closed and stop me if you feel nauseous. Please."

"Will do."

He climbed onto her small back, feeling very out of place hanging there. He was aware of his weight, but he knew she was tougher than him, tougher than a weight lifter. Once she made sure he was securely holding onto her, she took off. Edward didn't close his eyes, loving the scenery that flew by. His stomach disagreed with him, turning round and round.

"Bella," he moaned, trying to breathe though his mouth.

She came to a halt and put him down. "We're here. How are you?" She turned around and her eyes widened. "You're so pale. I told you it wasn't a good idea."

Edward swallowed, hoping the food would stay in his stomach. He tried to focus on the white house in front of them, but it didn't work. His gag reflex kicked in and he turned away from Bella right in time for his breakfast to make a reappearance. He felt her cold hand on the back of his neck, rubbing softly. He felt stupid for insisting on running after just eating.

"Is he alright?" He heard a velvety voice asking from nearby.

"He's just paying for his stubborn nature," Bella responded, her voice laced with disappointment.

"Here. It's some water. It will help," the kind voice told him. Edward grasped the bottle of water and rinsed his mouth, then drank a bit.

When he had the courage to raise his eyes, he saw a man around his height, with blond hair and golden eyes, smiling at him. He wasn't older than twenty-five, but his flawless skin made him look even younger.

"Do you feel better?"

"I guess. Sorry about…" Edward glanced down, his face burning.

"It's alright," he told him understandingly. "Drink more water, it will help you hydrate."

Edward uncapped the bottle and drank some more, promising to himself to always listen to other people when he was told something.

Then Emmett came out of the house. Edward cringed, waiting for his snide remark.

"Jade and Ruby! Our most awaited guests!" He boomed so loudly, Edward was sure his ears were bleeding, which was a bad thing around vampires. "What's up with you, Jade? You look a little pale."

"Emmett, leave the boy alone. He's just motion sick." Edward decided to like this blond vampire. "I'm Carlisle Cullen," he introduced himself.

"Edward Masen. Nice to meet you, Mr. Cullen."

"Carlisle, call me Carlisle."

"Aw, poor little human," Emmett cooed.

Edward glared at him, throwing his bottle to his head. He felt terrible the next second. What had gotten into him? His mom taught him better than to hit strangers, especially vampires.

Emmett's yellow eyes turned so big, they resembled golden coins then he started laughing loudly, water dripping from his left side of head as the bottle had shattered upon impact.

"I knew you were funny! We're going to have so much fun together!" He wrapped his heavy arm around Edward's shoulders, letting probably all his weight on them.

Edward sagged his shoulders and winced when the joints popped.

"Don't hurt him, you moron!" Bella cried out, panicked, and snatched him from under Emmett.

Suddenly, Edward felt like a puppet on strings. Emmett dragged him back, never lifting his arm and Bella pulled at his hands, glaring at Emmett. They seemed to calm down when Jasper, the guy from yesterday, came out of the house.

He just stood near the door, looking at them, but Edward felt calm and Emmett dropped his hand.

Bella stepped closer, touching his face, asking without words if he was okay. Edward nodded, swallowing and looking around.

It was the first time he realized he was surrounded by vampires. Three female vampires had come out of the house; one of them he recognized as Alice. Edward was looking around, trying to understand why he wasn't scared or running the other way. He felt comfortable there. Even though Emmett deserved a good kick in his ass. Maybe he'd get Bella do it, later.

The silence was broken by a pearly laugh from tiny Alice. They locked eyes and he seemed to have some sort of connection with her. As weird as that might sound. She grinned, clapping her hands and rushed to him, hugging him so tight Edward thought he'd suffocate.

"You're an amazing guy, you know that?" she asked, releasing him.

"I…uhh thanks," he whispered, embarrassed.

"And you smell delicious."

There was a small growl from Bella that he both heard and felt since she was so close to him. Edward peered down at her and kissed her head. He loved how protective she was of him.

"Edward, this is my family," Carlisle explained, waving a pale hand to the vampires around them. "Esme, my wife." He took the hand of the woman with caramel colored hair and smiled. "Rosalie is Emmett's wife." He looked at the only other female vampire. She was quite tall, like a model, with shiny blonde hair and big yellow eyes that made Edward wonder if they had been blue in her human life. She had great features, a beautiful woman, but she paled in comparison with his Bella. Just from his first glance, he could read her. She looked like a vain person, concerned about her looks more than her brains, and he hated to think of that. He knew it was bad of him to associate a blonde female with a stupid one. "And you've met my other children. Emmett, Alice and Jasper," Carlisle finished. Edward was still looking at Rosalie. Her eyes were throwing daggers at him. She wanted to make him look away first, but that wasn't going to happen. Edward seemed to be an ace at staring contests without knowing.

"Rosalie," he heard Emmett saying softly. He had no idea Emmett could talk like that. "What are you doing, babe?"

Then the blonde vampire smiled brilliantly at Edward, her eyes twinkling. "He didn't even blink!" She remarked in a melodic voice. "It's very nice to meet you, Edward." That's when he did blink, breaking the spell. She was bi-polar. A second ago, she was glaring at him and now she was smiling and complimenting him.

"What was that?" Bella asked curiously, squeezing his hand.

Edward wasn't sure if she asked him or her, but he didn't answer. He had no answer.

"He can hold his own, and he's the first human I've met that knows of our nature and didn't run the other way," Rosalie explained. She sounded astonished.

"That's Edward," Bella answered. Edward could tell she was jealous from her voice. He hadn't meant to offend her, and he was sure if he told her that she was beautiful, he'd worsen the situation, so he kept his mouth shut.

"It's very nice to meet you, dear boy. You're so brave!" Esme told him, smiling.

Edward smiled back, lowering his eyes to the ground. Who would have thought he'd live to see the day when his dream came true? He'd always been fascinated by vampires, and now, he could see them close-by and be with one. He looked at Bella who was obviously uncomfortable.

Emmett blurted, "What do you do for fun?"

Everyone turned to Emmett who shrugged and kept looking at him. Edward's mind went to the gutter, of course, and he felt his blush extending to his neck as he tried to avoid eye-contact. Emmett started laughing loudly and came toward them, smirking.

"Really? You're doing Ruby?"

Bella hissed and jumped in front of him. Emmett stopped walking and frowned.

"Ruby, what are you doing?" he demanded, apparently unable to approach.

Bella maintained her crouched position in front of Edward, hissing still. Edward couldn't help but look at her ass. Angry Bella, crouching in front of him, protecting him…it was too much for his hormonal teenage body.

When Emmett was able to advance, he didn't notice, too busy watching Edward in awe. Then, Edward realized everyone was watching him. Jasper seemed to be a little uncomfortable, his golden eyes shining.

Edward didn't look, but he knew that his whole body was red as a boiled lobster. They could smell his arousal.

Would the earth open if he focused on it hard enough? He needed a hole to hide in from them. Minutes passed, during which he continued to wish the ground would open. He eventually found the courage to raise his eyes. Everyone besides Emmett had scattered. Bella was a few feet away with Carlisle, deep in conversation. The others were probably inside the house.

"What?" Edward asked, self-conscious as Emmett kept watching him with a weird expression on his face.

He walked closer. "How is it possible?"

"I think you know that," Edward mumbled.

"I know the mechanics, Jade. But how is it possible? She's a vampire!"

"Practice makes perfect," he replied, without blushing.

Edward glanced at Bella, just in time to see her looking at him and offering him a shy smile, then returning her attention to Carlisle.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17: Accidents

Edward looked like he was really one of them. He didn't seem to mind that everyone around him was a vampire. He was concentrating on playing chess with Alice – or just staring at the board.

Once he learned more about her ability to see the future, he started questioning her about all kind of things, and they became tight friends. That was unexpected.

He raised his hand again, and when Alice grinned, his hand fell to his side, scowling. This was never going to end. There were only three pieces moved in over half an hour.

"This is nothing. You should see when we play chess," Jasper said, chuckling, from next to Bella.

"I'm sure Alice wins at everything," she said, amused.

"Not everything, Ruby!" Emmett boasted from the other side of the room, flexing his muscled arms and winking. "I'm the best at arm-wrestling."

"YES!" Alice exclaimed, her eyes meeting hers. It had been a fleeting thought to challenge him to a match.

"Freaky pixie," Bella muttered under her breath and was rewarded with her laugh.

"What's going on?" Edward asked, eyes still focused on the board. He moved his knight. "HA!" He smirked at Alice then turned to Bella. "So?"

He was adorable. Alice was gaping at the board then turned her angry glare to Bella.

"You distracted me, Bella!"

"Sorry." She didn't feel that sorry.

"I'll tell Emmett what you want," Alice threatened.

Bella shrugged. She'd do it. Anything to kill the boredom.

"Ruby, careful what you wish! And if you're thinking of something kinky then you have to know that I love Rosie."

Bella rolled her eyes. "You think you're so great at arm-wresting?"

"I know I am, Ruby," he boasted, smirking.

"Let's see!" She advanced to the table in the corner of the room.

"NOO! NOO!" Alice shouted so loud Bella thought she'd become deaf for a second. "It will break. Esme loves it – it's an antique," she explained in a hurried voice.

"Thank you, dear," came Esme's reply for the floor above.

"Outside it is, Ruby!" Emmett boomed and slung his arm around Bella's shoulders, steering her outside.

As they knelt next to a boulder, everyone joined them. Bella eyed Edward, amused. He wasn't leaving a chess game until it was finished. She must be more interesting than the game and he was probably getting bored of staring at the chessboard while Alice blocked his moves.

"You ain't got a chance in hell," Emmett told her, grinning.

"I beg to differ," she replied, putting her hand in position on the boulder.

"My Emmett is strong. You're just a girl." Rosalie decided to talk from her spot on the steps.

Bella scowled and flexed her fingers, fixating Emmett with her eyes. His eyes widened, as if realizing something.

"Scared?" she teased.

"This really isn't fair. Just a question before we start."

"You're stalling, but ask away," she indicated.

"When's the last time you fed?" His eyes went behind her, probably meeting Edward's.

"A week ago," Bella replied calmly.

"Hmm, this might work, after all." Now, he was talking to himself. "On three."

"If I win, you aren't allowed to make fun of me or Edward and you will stop with the horrid nicknames," Bella requested.

"When I win, it will get worse!" He grinned and took her hand in his. So confident.

Bella hadn't used her full force on anything in a very long time. It was a nice change to feel her muscles pulling, stretching against her skin.

"One," she whispered.

"Two," he continued, narrowing his eyes.

"Three," they said together.

He pushed at her hand, but it seemed glued to its spot. Emmett hissed under his breath and kept pushing, nothing happening. Bella grinned, realizing why he was interested in her last feeding. She was obviously stronger than him. Drinking human blood made her stronger than him.

"I'm truly sorry, Topaz," she taunted him, just flexing her wrist and easily slamming his hand to the boulder. A part of the stone groaned under their combined weight and fell to the grass.

There was a loud whoop from behind and the next second, Edward was next to her, hugging her tightly.

"I knew it," he shouted in her ear. "I'm gonna be a rich man!"

"You bet on me?" Bella hissed, narrowing her eyes at him.

"Uh, you know…I had faith in you." He stumbled over his words.

"Wait! Wait! Wait!" Emmett shouted. "What did you call me, Ruby?"

"Firstly, I won. You aren't allowed to call me that. Secondly, it was Edward's idea."

When Emmett turned on him, Edward waved nervously, giving him a small smile.

"You have an explanation to give me, human."

"Ouch! That's a low blow," Alice muttered from a few feet away.

Bella tried to conceal her laughter as Edward cowered into her side.

"You know…you started it," Edward said in a shrill voice, filled with tension. "And I thought we should return the favor."

Emmett's jaw clenched and he stepped closer. Couldn't Edward see that the fool was just playing around? Apparently, he didn't because he pressed his back to Bella's chest and whimpered.

"You have ten seconds to say sorry or you will be sorry," Emmett warned Edward.

When Bella saw Edward crouching to the ground, she thought something had happened, but before anyone could react – which was weird because they were all vampires – Edward threw the fallen piece of rock at Emmett. It pulverized into a shower of dust on contact with Emmett's head.

The first to break the silence was Rosalie. She was laughing loudly and in an un-girly manner. "I think you found your match, babe," she told Emmett who was still dusting stone bits from his hair. What was it with Edward and throwing stuff at Emmett?

When Bella saw him, stalking to where they stood, she stepped in front of Edward, unsure if Emmett was still joking or not.

"You're good, kid! I have to hand it to you!" He nodded. "What about a match?"

"No way!" Bella snapped. "He's human, unless you missed it somehow," she sneered.

"I'll be gentle. And why don't you let him decide?"

Edward bit his lip, eyeing Emmett then he turned to Alice. "Will I be okay," he whispered.

She looked like she was lost in thoughts for a second then nodded. "Everything is okay, just don't speak."

"I can do that," Edward said and took Bella's previous spot on the ground.

Was Bella the only one seeing a horrifying outcome? Emmett was a huge, strong vampire and Edward was…well, he was only human.

"What's the bet, little human?"

"You'll lay off my back."

"It will get worse." Emmett smirked.

"Don't you have some other line?" Edward observed, taking his adversary's hand.

"I'm just telling you the truth," Emmett answered. "Three."

"Two," Edward snapped, tightening his eyes.

"One," Emmett added. "Keep in mind that I'm using not even an ounce of my force."

"No need to boast. You don't have any force. A girl beat you," Edward taunted.

What was he doing? Alice had told him to keep his mouth shut!

Emmett pushed his hand against Edward's, slapping it to the rock. Three things happened.

Alice screeched.

Edward howled in pain.

And Bella could almost feel his pain at the loud crack.

"Oh my God! I'm so sorry, Edward!" Emmett shouted, panicked.

Carlisle rushed to Edward's side, inspecting his hand as Bella sat on his other side, thinking of ways to kill Emmett and make it look like an accident. She should have been upset with Edward, but then again he was only human and every human loved a good challenge. So she was mad at Emmett. He knew better.

"Let's go to the hospital. I was hoping to start on Monday, but I should have known I wasn't going to stay away for long."

"Start what?" Edward asked, through clenched teeth.

"I'm a doctor. Oh, don't look so shocked. I'm the best of them at tolerating human blood."

Bella was staring in shock at Carlisle. She couldn't believe it. If only she'd known there was some other way…she would have never hurt so many innocent people. But if she had been aware of that, would she have met Edward? She had conflicted feelings about her diet.

"Are you joining us?" Carlisle asked softly.

Bella nodded and took Edward's good hand, following Carlisle to their garage. He led them to a black Mercedes and she sat in the backseat with Edward. As they drove away, she heard Esme admonishing Emmett.

"Does it hurt badly?" Bella asked, curious and worried at the same time.

"Yeah. I had my arm broken once when I was little, but I don't remember," Edward answered, biting on his lip.

"On a scale of one to ten. How bad is it?" Carlisle asked from the front, looking at Edward through the rearview mirror.

"Eleven."

He pressed the acceleration as Bella kept kissing Edward's left side of face, whispering soothing words to him. Carlisle was muttering under his breath about Emmett and not knowing when to stop.

"My insurance is at home." Edward groaned when they reached the hospital.

"Don't worry," Carlisle reassured him.

Every head turned to him as he walked inside. Some were staring at Bella, too. She didn't care. She was used to being stared at.

"Wait here for a second." They nodded and Carlisle disappeared around the corner.

"What the hell are you staring at?" Edward hissed annoyed when a guy had stopped walking, only to gawk at Bella.

"Shh," she whispered, turning his head to her. "Don't mind them. I don't."

"But it's annoying! You're mine." He winced as he squeezed her hand.

"Be careful. You're already hurt."

Carlisle returned before Edward could hurt himself further by fighting with the idiot in the middle of the hallway.

They spent the next few hours in the hospital, x-raying his wrist, then his arm when Edward mentioned his elbow hurting, and in the end, Carlisle put his whole arm in plaster after making sure he didn't need surgery or anything else.

"This is the best way to start summer vacation," Edward grumbled as Carlisle finished with his arm.

"Wait until you tell your parents!" I reminded him.

"Oh no! Mom's gonna kill me!"

"Remember what you said when they left?" she asked, giggling. He shook his head, frowning. "'What trouble could two teenagers get in?' Lots, is the answer." Bella grinned at him.

"Oh yeah, I was betting on a quiet few days with you. Look how that turned out!" Edward chuckled. "Could you kick Emmett's ass for me? Pretty please?" he asked, jumping off the bed.

"Anything. I'd hurt him worse if I knew Rosalie won't hurt you."

Carlisle shook his head, but it was too late. The damage was done. Edward frowned deeply.

"Why would she do that?"

"I'm driving you back home. I don't want to stay here on my day off." Carlisle offered.

Edward didn't seem to hear it. "Why would she turn on me if you hurt Emmett?"

"Later," Bella whispered.

"Later? You always say later when it's something about your nature!"

He stomped after Carlisle. After a look in the rearview mirror and a few muted words from Bella regarding directions, he drove them to Edward's house. She waved to him as he left and turned to Edward who was glaring.

Bella took him to the couch and they sat on opposite ends. It was a first, in that. She was worried of this conversation. She never wanted it to come.

"Is it because Emmett and Rosalie are mates? Like us? You fight like animals? Mate for mate?"

She should have been hurt by his blunt words, but they were so true she couldn't even meet his eyes.

"Are you my mate, Bella?" He sounded impatient and exasperated.

"I guess," she whispered.

"You guess? What the hell does that mean?" he roared, his green eyes turning a shade darker.

"I don't want to think that way." It will hurt too much when you will start aging, or you'll find a human mate, she finished in her head.

"Mates are for life. Forever. Always. For eternity, in your case," he said stubbornly. Damn your perceptiveness, Edward!

"There…" Bella closed her mouth, not wanting to lie. She put her hands over her face, wondering what she should tell him. How much?

"The solution is pretty easy," he continued calmly. Too calmly.

She didn't attempt to answer.

"I have to be like you." That's when she started panicking. Still, Bella hoped they would never have this conversation. "Why are you shaking your head?" She hadn't realized she was doing it. Bella understood what humans referred to when they talked about out of body experiences. She was having an out of body experience.

"Bella?! Don't you want me by your side forever?" Edward asked quietly, surprised and shocked. Hurt.

"I do," she answered before she could stop the words. What was happening to her? She could filter her words better than this!

"That's hard to believe! Am I just a toy? Once you finish high school, are you going to leave? To move on to another human that you'll become addicted to? Is this only a charade so you'd keep yourself fed and entertained?"

His words stung, being like a dagger to her dead heart.

"Why aren't you answering? Is it true? Was Leah right the whole time?" he shouted, touching her shoulder. "Bella, I'm talking to you!"

Bella lowered her hands and saw his red-rimmed green eyes watching her, conflicted.

"This was a mistake. I never knew it would go this far," she whispered. She reached for his good hand, but he snatched it back.

"I'm a mistake? Is loving me, toying with me, a mistake?"

"No! I never thought it would go this far. I can't stop myself. You are right. I am addicted to you. I can't live without you and I won't. I am not going to…" She lowered her eyes. "I would have to leave, but I will always be around. You'll go to college. We could attend the same one. Then…you'll get a job somewhere else. We'd have to move constantly, sadly."

"Let me guess?" he asked sarcastically. "I'll be human the whole while?"

"Of course," she told him, shocked.

"Of course," he mocked, slamming his hand on the couch.

"You can't want this life!"

"Why don't you let me choose what I want, Bella? Why haven't we talked about his before? Do you think I'm some kind of an idiot? Have you forgotten that I love everything about vampires?!" He seemed on a roll and she couldn't stop him. After glaring at her for a few seconds, breathing hard, his heart slamming in his chest, Edward rose and started pacing. After walking to the window and back three times, he stopped in front of her. Bella had never seen him so angry. "How do I become a vampire?"

"Edward…"

"How do I become a fucking vampire?" He stomped his foot down with every word.

"You have to be… Edward, this is ridiculous!"

When he stormed out of the room and snatched the front door open, she knew she had to stop him. She ran after him and caught his hand.

"What are you doing," she demanded, annoyed.

"Going back to them. Maybe one of them thinks enough of me to answer the question. It's not so complicated that it shouldn't have a simple answer."

"Don't do this."

"You really don't want me to be like you," he whispered, looking at his feet. She could smell the salty tears and her heart clenched.

"I want you by my side. Forever. I don't want you hurt, that's all." Bella didn't want to tell him the process, not just about how he could change into a vampire, but about the life what came with that, the responsibilities.

"Then tell me, Bella! Tell me everything! Stop hiding stuff! Was it two days ago when you promised to stop hiding things? Are you going back on your word? Or was that another game?"

"I can't tell you," she whispered. "I just can't."

The moment was broken by his cell phone ringing. Edward groaned loudly. "This conversation isn't over," he snapped, shaking his phone at her then opening it.

As he talked on the phone, she went inside the house, gathering her thoughts. She had to tell him something. Bella didn't know much about it, either. Peter hadn't told her enough. All she could remember was the pain – the excruciating, blinding, iron white pain. She wished that part had remained with the foggy human memories. No such luck.

Too late she realized she couldn't hear Edward outside. She rushed to the front door and saw his car gone. She was losing her touch. Closing the door behind her, she took off after him, along the road. He didn't turn at his usual spot but a few feet away. He spun the car and kept driving through the forest. How did he know the way? If Alice had something to do with this… Bella ran faster than his car and stopped in their driveway just as Edward arrived there. His eyes widened when he saw her, slamming the brakes.

"Holy shit," he muttered under his breath.

Bella nodded solemnly. She snatched his door open and took him out. "Are you insane? You are hurt and you drove!"

"Bella, look…"

"Oh, now you're reserved. You sound a little hoarse! Screamed too much," she hissed at him. "Get back inside the car!"

"You're not my mother!"

"CHILDREN!" Bella felt her shoulders sag as Esme's motherly voice came from behind them. She should have known someone would come out of the house. "Why don't we take this inside?"

"Go inside. They will explain to you everything you want to know. Then – after processing everything – come to me," she told him, upset. Turning on her heels, Bella ran to her little house.

Was it possible for her dead heart to break? Bella had tried to keep him away from the truth of her nature, as much as she could, but now there was no going back. She slid against the closed door and hugged her knees. What were they going to tell him? Would he be scared once they were done? Would he still want to become a vampire?

She closed her eyes, allowing herself for the first time to imagine a perfect future with Edward by her side. She hadn't dared think of him as a vampire so far. She had never turned anyone and she knew that she wouldn't be able to stop. She was sure that for turning someone, one had to drink more than she was used to and it was going to be even more difficult to stop. But the image before her eyes left her hopeful and aching all over. A happy vampire Edward walking through the forest with her by his side.

But at what price? A sane part of her brain countered.

He'd have to give up his life, his friends, his parents. She couldn't do this to him. Bella knew how deprived this life was. She knew what being a newborn was like. She knew how much it hurt to transform into a vampire. She never wanted him to go through that. Never.

If Bella had a say in this, he'd always stay human, but she knew that his decision mattered. Without asking, she knew what his decision was, and that scared her to no end.

Chapter Text

Chapter 18: The truth

Edward's heart was pounding in his ears, trying to take everything in. Carlisle had been kind enough to explain to him what he wanted to know.

There was only one question. Did I love Bella enough to go through all that hell to be with her for an eternity?

The answer was simple. Yes.

"Carl…" He swallowed and cleared his throat. "Carlisle, you said that Esme was dying, Rosalie was dying, Emmett was dying…do I have to be dying?" Edward asked, feeling his ears turn red.

He'd make sure to wrap his car around a tree or accidentally fall out his window or something.

"The last one won't work!" Alice said from the doorway of Carlisle's office, appearing out of nowhere. "You'd be long dead before anyone found you."

Edward blinked, surprised, still taking it in that she could see the future. She came to stand next to him with a hand on his shoulder.

"I wasn't dyin-"

"ALICE!" Carlisle said scandalized.

"Tell me," he urged, turning his attention to her.

After she glanced at her father figure, she turned to Edward. "I certainly wasn't dying, Edward. Someone named James changed me. I don't remember anything else. The room was dark and there was so much pain…"

"James?" He interrupted her. That was the name of the vampire Bella, Jake and Leah had killed. "You don't remember him, do you?"

"No. Why?"

He shrugged. "There was a guy named James…around here a while ago…"

"A vampire?" Carlisle asked, worried.

He nodded. "He was with a female. They're dead."

"How? Bella is only one!"

"Ummm…" Edward had just realized they were the vampires Jake had told him about, but could he talk to them about the wolves?

"Who helped her?" Carlisle asked.

"You know…there are…some… werewolves in La Push." He broke off, feeling his hands sweat. "They are my friends and they helped her."

"You are telling me that werewolves allied with a vampire to destroy other vampires?" Alice asked in a shrill voice, in his left ear.

Edward winced, fighting the urge to stick a finger in his ear. "Pretty much."

"Interesting," Carlisle murmured, just as the door of the office opened to reveal two shocked vampires. Jasper and Emmett.

"And they didn't turn on her?" Emmett shouted.

"Of course not! I would have killed them if they did! And I had already had that conversation with Leah."

"Leah…as in, a girl?" Carlisle asked, his golden eyes wide.

"Yeah," Edward hissed. It sounded more like a 'Duh' to his ears.

After covering that matter, Carlisle told him more about the process of changing, the first years of being a newborn, about mates, about vampire love.

Only when Edward saw the sun setting, did he realize how late it was. He had to go to Bella and talk with her. Alice decided to escort him so he wouldn't get lost again.

"You'll have to think about this. Discuss it with Bella, first."

He scowled. "If she'd only cooperate…"

"Edward, she wants this, trust me. She's just apprehensive about it all. I'm sure she hates to see you hurt." She smiled and looked at the door of the cottage, sighing. "I'll leave you here."

"Thanks," he whispered. He decided to enter without knocking. They were well past formalities. The door didn't seem to cooperate.

"Hold on," Bella said softly from the other side. Had she locked herself in there?

The door opened after a few seconds and he stepped inside.

"Hey," he greeted.

"Hey," she whispered back and came to hug him tightly. "I love you."

It wasn't often when she expressed her feelings, but it always felt like his heart would beat out of his chest when he heard the words.

Edward wrapped his arms around her small frame and pressed his cheek to the top of her head. "I love you more than anything. I'd do anything for you," he stated, hoping she'd understand where he was headed with the discussion.

"Anything?" she asked, quietly.

"Anything," he insisted.

"Then think twice before you make a rush decision. Think about your parents. Think about your friends. Think a lot before making this life changing decision." Bella gazed up at him. "Please, think, Edward."

"I thought a lot and…I want you." His voice wavered and he hated it. He had to find a good lie for his parents so he wouldn't feel so guilty.

"Let's wait a little while, and see if you change your mind."

"I can't change my mind! I never thought I'd find this – what we have! Mom always told me that true love is so…rare. Yet, I didn't even have to try hard to find it. You were right here and you are everything I've ever wanted, Bella." He looked down at her, wishing she saw the truth of his words in his eyes.

"You've said that before. Every dream come true, I think your words were," she acknowledged.

Edward grinned. "That's partly true. Vampire stuff aside-" he said, chuckling "-I love you for who you are." That's when he started using cliché words. Bella seemed to realize what was coming because her lips pulled up. "I love how smart you are; I can hold a nice conversation with you. I love when you smile. You have different smiles for different things and I love each and every one. There's one when you talk to our friends, one when you are trying to be polite even if the situation annoys you, one when you know what I'm about to say – whether in annoyance or anticipation, one when you just look at me, lost in thought, one when I tell you how much I love, one-"

"I get it, Edward. I have many smiles," she interrupted, giggling. "When we find our partners, it's for life. We love forever. Loving as much as I love you is life altering." She cupped his cheeks and brought his head down, kissing him soundly. "Did they explain this to you?"

"Yes. Carlisle was very patient and then Alice joined…"

Bella stroked his cheeks, gazing up at him. "Do you think you can wait another year?"

"Why?" he moaned, pressing his forehead against her cool one.

"For your parents. Please, Edward. You can tell them you're going to college or something."

"Sounds good," Edward agreed. He couldn't wait for next summer to come, suddenly. "It feels like an eternity," he admitted after a second.

"Feels like that to you, huh?" Bella giggled, and he realized how stupid he must have sounded. "You see time in another light than I do. Tomorrow is so far away for you, while it feels like next minute for me."

Edward grinned and ducked his head, pressing his lips to her cold ones. He could never get tired of kissing her, of touching her.

His phone ringing interrupted their kiss. Was it Alice again? She crept him out earlier when she had called. He should have known it would be easy for her to find his number, but still.

"Hello?" he answered. When he heard who was on the other line, he was glad he hadn't answered the way he initially thought. If it had been Alice, he would have told her to leave him alone because he was busy kissing Bella.

"Hello, Edward. Are you being good?" His mom asked.

Bella was biting her lip and watching his injured hand.

"Ehh, I guess…" he answered, unsure.

"What happened? I thought you wouldn't get into trouble."

"I didn't! I swear! It was… We made new friends today," Edward told her, wondering what to tell her about the Cullens. When his mom didn't say anything, he felt obliged to explain what had happened.

"I thought you learned your lesson when you fell from the tree!" She snapped, making him cringe.

Bella gasped, her eyes wide. He waved his hand in dismay at her then put it back to his ear since that hand was holding the phone.

"Mom," he groaned. "We were having fun. It happens, really."

"Should I come home? No, don't answer that. I'm coming home tonight."

"No! Please, enjoy your time in Chicago. Are you having fun?"

"Surprisingly, yes. I thought it was going to be boring, but the party was a ball, it was quite nice. And tomorrow we have tickets for the opera."

"Wonderful. See? You can't leave," he told her, smirking.

"You caught me, but if you need me, call me and I'll be home."

"Seriously, Mom. I told you, Dr. Cullen is very nice, and besides, I have Bella." Edward winked and earned a scowl from his girlfriend.

"That poor girl! I don't know how she still puts up with you after everything!" His mom moaned. He could imagine her shaking her head.

"I don't know either," Bella muttered on a mock tragic tone.

"Hey," he hissed and nudged her with his elbow. "She seems to agree with you," he muttered, sulkily.

His mom laughed. "Did you eat today? You teenagers tend to forget to eat!"

"Oh…I did," he lied, just realizing how hungry he was. Besides the cereal that hadn't remained there for long, he hadn't had anything to eat.

"Good. I have to go, your father needs help. Good night."

"Night, Mom," he said and hung up.

Bella was watching him with her mouth hanging open, pure fright in her eyes. "I forgot to feed you again!"

"Oh, shut up! I should have realized this…but I was distracted," Edward whispered.

"Still, I feel like a failure. I should be taking care of you and look what happened!"

They walked back to the Cullens' house and took Edward's car, going home. Bella insisted to cook something for him, thinking he was bored of the food his mother had left. He kept insisting it wasn't necessary but she sent him to watch TV.

After some time, she came back with sausages and mashed potatoes. They tasted amazing.

"Mhmm, how do you know to cook so well?" he asked, chewing on a piece of sausage.

"I don't know." She shrugged. "I guess from the smell of it, although everything smells horrible to me. I've spent quite some time around you to see what kind of food you like."

"Have you… Did you spy?" he asked, amused.

"Yes." Edward wasn't expecting her to admit it. "Every morning, after feeding from you, I'd linger and watch your mom cooking."

"Do you still do it?"

"I'm usually still in your room when she starts the breakfast."

He nodded, and focused on his food.

.

.

.

"Can you tell me about…when you became…like this?" he asked, apprehensive to start that topic. They were curled on his bed and he was waiting for the painkiller to kick in.

Bella sighed and raised her head to watch him. "I don't remember much, really. I was going home and it was raining and I wished I hadn't left at all the house. I knew someone was following me, but I thought it was just some other idiot like me, leaving the house on such a rain. It turned out it was Peter." She smiled softly. "When he dragged me into the dark alley, I thought of the worst. I was nineteen, but it wasn't like nowadays. It was shameful for the girl not to be a virgin when she married. I remember my father looking for a boy for me and I had never liked any of them. So when Peter slammed me against the wall, I started begging him not to hurt me. I was willing to give him the money I had on me. Anything but that."

"He wanted something much more precious than some flesh," Edward whispered. "He took your life."

"I'm glad we agree on that point. Are you sure you want your life taken?"

He rolled his eyes. "Bella, I'd do anything for you. That includes dying."

She cupped his cheek and leaned closer, kissing him softly. "I remember seeing his shiny white teeth in the night and the thought crept inside my mind, but I denied it as soon as it had formed. Vampires didn't exist. His red eyes told me another story, though. There was a sharp pain against the side of my neck and I remember crying when he raised me in his arms. I was still afraid he'd rape me when I should have been scared of what I was slowly becoming."

"Did he… I mean… you know?" he mumbled, afraid to voice his thoughts.

"No, he didn't. He had Charlotte and he wouldn't cheat on her. I woke up in a barn, in the hay with the sun shining above me. I don't know what scared me the most. My torn clothes or my shiny skin."

"Whoa! Don't skip like that!" Edward complained. "Tell me about the transformation."

"Edward." She shook her head. "It was painful. I can't describe it in words. It was like I was on fire, but worse. I don't ever want you to be in such pain. Do you understand my reluctance at you joining my kind?" Bella asked, stroking his hair.

"Carlisle told me about it and I don't care. A few days of pain to an eternity with you? I'd take the pain without blinking," he admitted.

"You don't have to be brave."

"This isn't bravery, Bella!" Edward shouted, getting annoyed. "What happened next?" he asked, steering away from a fight.

"After or before I was screaming my lungs out in panic?" she asked, humor glinting in her eyes.

"Start with before," he teased.

"Well, I inspected my arms and legs. There wasn't a piece of hair left on me besides on my head, my skin, my flesh, were hard, toned, my hair was shiny and as I said, I was sparkling like a diamond. When I let everything settle in, I started screaming. I was at the door of the barn when Charlotte appeared in the doorway. I had no idea who she was, but she was sparkling just like me. It took me a second to understand what I was. You know the rest."

"I'm sure you were entertaining to watch," he murmured, playing with a stray of her hair.

"Yeah, I'm sure. Peter told me something like that. I'm sure I made his day when I woke up."

"Where was Charlotte? You said she stopped him?"

"Yeah, she was there in the alley, but I didn't see her. I was focused only on Peter – I told you."

The next morning, Edward woke up to pounding in the front door. He turned on his side, wishing whoever was there would go away or for Bella to answer or a miracle to happen.

It wasn't his lucky day.

Firstly, he rolled on his injured arm.

Secondly, the person outside kept knocking.

Thirdly, Bella wasn't around.

Edward swung his legs out of the bed and stumped his way down the stairs to open the door.

"What?" he demanded, snatching the door open.

Edward came face to face with Sue and a yummy smelling container. Shit. He felt like a jerk.

"Oh, I didn't mean to wake you up, Edward. You were sleeping," she whispered, realization vivid in her eyes.

"Uhhh." He scratched the back of his head, aware of his current state of undressing and rumpling. "Sorry," he said softly, not meeting her eyes. "Mom mentioned… I'm really sorry, Sue."

"It's all right, darling. It's my fault I came so early. What happened to your arm?" she asked, worried.

"Broke it." He shrugged and stepped aside so she could come inside.

"Was it the tree again?"

"A boulder," he answered, smiling. "Thank you for this." He nodded to the food.

"It wasn't trouble."

"Thank you, but I could really survive on my own for a few days. Besides, I have Bella. She made me dinner." It was more like midnight snack, but whatever.

"Oh, I didn't think…" She stopped talking.

"I know. I didn't think she could cook until last night." All Edward had known was that she could bake some yummy muffins.

She giggled and handed him the container. "Well, I'll let you go back to sleep. If you need anything…"

"I know your phone number."

"Good. Have a nice day, Edward." She patted his cheek and turned to the door.

"Bye, Sue!" He called after her then closed the door. "Great," he grumbled, and went to the kitchen, depositing the box on the counter. The clock caught his attention and he saw it was ten. He hated painkillers, they made unaware of the surroundings. And where is Bella?

As he was debating what to do, there was yet another knock on the door. He trudged there and opened it to see Emmett grinning down at him. Fabulous.

"What is it?" Edward asked, turning back to the kitchen.

"What happened to you, Jade? Looking rumpled. Had a rough night?"

Edward snapped his teeth together, trying to talk himself out of hurting Emmett because he would be the one ending up hurt.

"My arm hurt. I couldn't sleep well," he snapped, lying, and opened the box. There was omelet. He didn't bother with a plate, just grabbed a fork and delved in the delicious breakfast. "Where's Bella?"

"Oh, that's why I'm here, actually," he said, as if just remembering that. Idiot. "She's home, fighting with my Rosie about her car. Rosie decided to help her repair it and Bella wasn't very…cooperative?" He struggled for the right words, smirking. "How can you eat that?!" He huffed, suddenly, making Edward choke on his bite.

"It's delicious?" It sounded like a question even to his ears. "I think we agreed on you stopping to use that horrid nickname," he added, just realizing how Emmett greeted him, once he could breathe again.

"Right, sorry. Plans for today?"

"To stay away from you," he muttered under his breath. When Emmett laughed loudly, Edward realized his mistake. "I'm going to wash."

"Another reason I'm here!" Emmett said from behind him, following him up the stairs. "Carlisle instructed me to assist you in your shower. It's a 'don't talk, don't tell' thing."

"You mean 'don't ask, don't tell'?"

He shrugged. "Should I wash your back?"

"Bite me!" Edward snapped and slammed the bathroom door behind him. He could do it alone!

Emmett laughed from the other side of the door, waiting for him to need his help. To Edward's utter embarrassment, he needed his help even before stepping inside the tub. "Oh, Topaz?" he asked as sweetly as he could.

He appeared in the bathroom, grinning. "Yes, Jade?"

"A little help?" Edward pointed to his boxers, his face as red as a tomato.

"I'm not into that sort of thing, Jade," he scolded. He was serious!

"I can't take them off! I need both hands and you made sure I'd have just one for a month," Edward spat.

"Oh, why didn't you say that?" Edward was naked and in the tub before he realized what happened. Emmett wrapped a plastic bag over his cast, and Edward was grateful. "Do you need anything else?"

He bit his lip and thought about it. He could hurt himself if he attempted to wash on his own. Badly.

"Oh, turn around," Emmett sighed in annoyance and started washing him. He was a little too rough.

"Hey! Do you want to snap every bone in my body?" Edward groaned, when Emmett rubbed a soapy heavy hand over the human's back.

"Sorry about that. I'll be gentle, Jade."

Edward felt his insides twist and wished Bella was there to do this. When Emmett's hands went lower, close to his ass, Edward jumped, startled, and shouted.

"Keep your hands to yourself!"

"I'm only washing you!" he defended himself.

"I can wash myself there. Alone," he grumbled and snatched the soap from his hands. Edward soaped his legs. He made quick work of his chest, ass and genitals. "Just my good arm left," he announced loudly.

"And hair, or you don't wash it?"

"Not now," Edward said hurriedly, wishing to be done with the torture.

Emmett rinsed the soap off Edward's body, and he breathed a sigh of relief when the water shut. There was a towel around him as Emmett put him in the center of the bathroom, drying him. Once he was done, he wrapped the towel around Edward's waist and steered him out of the room.

"Wait! I have to brush my teeth!" Edward groaned and turned to the sink.

Once he was done, they went down the hall to his room.

"Accident?" Emmett asked, amused.

"Sorry?" Edward asked back, trying his best to stop blushing.

"The door? Was it an accident?"

"Oh…Shit! The door!" He shouted, remembering how Bella went through it and they ended up in the hallway, while having sex. Having sex with a vampire had its downsides, like destroying stuff. How would he replace that door?

"What have you done to her to throw you out the door? Through the door," he corrected himself.

Edward busied himself, finding clothes for the day, wanting to burrow his head in the closet.

"Oh, I see!" Emmett said loudly. "It was like that…"

"What?" Edward inquired, confused.

He smiled knowingly. "She's a vampire, isn't she? It's common to destroy stuff while in the throes of passion. Rosie and I smashed a few houses along the decades."

"Smashed…houses?" he asked, in a slightly hysteric tone.

"Don't be such a baby! I thought you wanted to be like us."

"Yeah, of course," he told him, gripping his clothes to his chest. "But…houses? I mean, what could you possibly….?"

"You'd like to know, huh?"

"Actually, I'd rather skip," Edward muttered. "Help me with these, will you?" He nodded to his clothes.

"I could help with the door," Emmett offered after assisting him get dressed.

Edward shrugged and slumped on his bed.

"Don't sit there! Help me," Emmett demanded. Edward rolled his eyes but helped him.

That's what they were trying to do when the front door slammed to the wall, making Edward jump and nearly hammer his leg.

"You wouldn't believe what happened!" Jacob shouted, thumping up the stairs.

Emmett's eyes widened and Edward swallowed thickly, wondering if it was wise to have them close. Jake stopped at the top of the stairs when he saw Edward's company.

"Oh, you already know."

"What?" Edward asked, squirming when Emmett glared. He wondered briefly if it would hurt him if he hit Emmett with the hammer.

"They're back. Sam just talked with their leader… Interesting how you became friends so quickly."

"We're not friends!" Edward defended, raising the hammer in a threatening manner when Emmett opened his mouth.

"What happened to your arm?" Jake asked, shocked.

"Arm wrestling. Guess who won?" Emmett boasted. This time, Edward couldn't help himself and he really hit him with the hammer. "OW!" Emmett shouted, glaring at him. It hurt him! Yeees!

"He broke your arm?" Jake asked, incredulously.

Edward was still grinning like an idiot, hammer in hand, when Emmett stood and looked down at Jake. "Yeah, got a problem with that? I apologized."

"I should have listened to Alice," Edward quipped up, his smile vanishing. "And can you guys…not fight?"

They were already having difficulty in repairing the door. Maybe a new door would be wiser, but with what money? How would he explain it?

'Oh, the door…you see, it was adrenaline rush!' Yeah, right! No one would believe him.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19: Surprises

"If you destroy it even further…" Bella growled, hovering.

"It's wrecked! I'm just trying to see if I can salvage something, anything. You'll need a new front."

"You mean, a new car," she said, rolling her eyes.

"Just a new radiator, protection bar, paint job – that is going to be tricky – and headlights," Rosalie ticked off the parts that needed to be replaced for Bella's car.

She was grateful Edward was alive and everything, but it still hurt her to see her car damaged so badly. It was like her baby and now, it was in O.R. or something.

"Are you sure you'll make it work?" Bella asked Rosalie, wriggling a greasy cloth in her hands.

"YES!" she shouted, coming out from under the car. "Get the hell out of here and let me work!"

Bella bristled and turned on her heel, slamming the garage door behind her. Such a bitch. She found Esme at the kitchen table, writing a list, and decided to leave her to her problems.

"Wait a second, my dear," she said softly, catching her wrist. "I'm trying to figure out what your friend eats. I thought it would be nice, when we invite him over again, to offer him something. It might make him feel comfortable."

Bella gaped at her, but recovered quickly. "He's not really picky." She shrugged.

They truly loved Edward and they wanted him to feel welcomed.

"Pasta sound good?"

"Pasta sounds excellent." She nodded, enthusiastically, knowing he loved Italian. "With tomato sauce."

She nodded, scribbling. Bella kept listing things Edward liked to eat and the paper was soon filled on both sides. It looked like they were planning to adopt him.

Emmett appeared in the doorway of the kitchen, grinning. What had he done, now? He was supposed to be with Edward!

"I think you should restrain your human. Perhaps shackles? You should consider it," he said off-handedly.

"What?" Bella asked, confused.

"Or a mental institute. Yeah, that would work better," he added, talking to himself.

"What are you talking about?" Bella asked, her confusion growing.

"His friend dropped by. We had been trying to repair the door." Here, he wiggled his eyebrows, and Bella did her best to look unaffected by the news. Emmett knew of the broken door. "Suddenly, he hits me with the hammer!" he exclaimed, shock written all over his face.

"Hammer? What friend?"

"Jake, the stinky dog. And seriously? To hit a vampire with a hammer? It hurt! Did his mother drop him on his head as a baby," he continued, absently, rubbing his knee.

Good aim, Edward. She was proud of him. "I had no idea that a hammer could hurt us, but you deserved it. As for the other part, I've been wondering about that a lot, lately."

They chuckled until Esme scolded them. Emmett already felt like the big brother she'd always wanted.

"I'm going to see if he's okay," she whispered.

"I don't think you are allowed there. He went to La Push. Told me to pass the info along or he'd come back with the hammer."

Bella laughed, doubling over. Actually, she could hear everyone in the house laughing. The image of Edward running after Emmett with a hammer in his hand flashed through her mind. Hilarious.

"He's found your Achilles heel!" She giggled.

"Someone had to put you in your place!" Rosalie's voice came from the garage.

"You put me in my place, alright, babe," he told her, making his way there.

She greeted him at the door, wrench in hand. "Yes, baby, but who thought that you'd be scared of a human," she cooed.

"I'm not scared of a human, Rosie! Just…you know that it hurt? He has quite enough force for a boy his age," he complained, walking her back to the garage.

Bella looked at Esme and they shared a smile. Although, Bella wished Edward had called her and told her personally of his plans, she was glad he made time for his other friends.

She found her way up the stairs to Alice's room, and soon, she was in the middle of her bed while she showed off her wardrobe. She was one of those friendly type of girls that you can't hate even if you want to. Bella could see herself being best friends with her, and of course, once Alice saw that, she was tackled down.

"Oh, and this…" Alice sighed dreamily, stroking the silky fabric. "I wore it at Rosalie's fifth wedding." She kept showing her clothes.

"How many times did they get married?" Bella groaned, exasperated.

"Seven," Alice answered, promptly, just as Rose's voice answered from the garage. "And counting."

Bella laughed and shook her head. Marriage…she had never thought of that.

"Are you….?" Bella trailed off, watching Alice's small frame disappear in the large closet.

"Yes! Jasper and I married the night we met! Or maybe it was the next day?" Her head poked out of the closet, looking contemplatively then she shrugged. "We talked a lot when we met," she said, disappearing back between her clothes.

"It hadn't occurred to me that we could marry and… you know…" Bella found herself saying.

"It works the same way, only we don't do it in a church."

"Of course." She nodded. "Where did you…?"

Jasper appeared in the doorway of the bedroom, smiling. "Vegas."

"Sorry?"

"We got married in Vegas. Elvis was alive then, such a pity…" Jasper chuckled.

Bella laughed, momentarily unable to stop.

"And I'd marry you again if a fake Elvis would be there," Alice whispered, rushing to him. "Without even knowing this Elvis madness was coming, he sang me Elvis songs that night," she told Bella, smiling dreamily.

After a few hours, Bella decided to go to Edward's house, thinking he had made it back. She was mistaken. So she sat on the front step, waiting.

When a small red car pulled up in front of the house, she knew he had decided to come back. He exchanged pleasantries with Jacob, who conspicuously waved to Bella without Edward noticing. She nodded, looking amused as Edward fumbled with the house keys, blissfully unaware of her presence. She was right in front of him! How unobservant could he be?

Jacob pulled away, leaving them alone. Only when Edward approached the front step, he saw her, stopping in his tracks.

"Oh!" He exclaimed, his heart beating erratically. "Bella."

"Hello, Edward. How are you?" she asked conversationally.

"Ehh…well, I guess. Have you been waiting for a long time?"

"You can say that. Lucky I'm not human, huh?"

"Sorry. I just… I wanted to visit only, but Sue kept me for lunch, and then I helped Seth repair a radio…"

"Of course, since you started the day repairing stuff," she said proudly and stood.

"Oh, he told you." His ears turned red.

"Of course, he did! Pity. I would have loved to see you running after him with a hammer." Bella couldn't keep a straight face anymore and started laughing loudly. Edward joined her in laughter.

"We decided on a new door. Tomorrow."

She nodded, humming. "How is your arm?"

"Good. Bella, there's something I have to tell you and you'll hate me," he blurted out.

"I don't think that's possible." She couldn't gauge his expression. He looked somewhat ashamed. She had no idea what to expect. "Edward, is there something wrong?"

"Wrong? Oh, no…but it may be."

"What happened?" she asked, wanting to make it better.

He gulped. "Tomorrow…"

"Your parents are coming back."

"Besides that!" He groaned. "I didn't want to tell you because you'd have made a big thing out of it!"

"That they're coming back? We can do that condom-balloon thing if you want," she told him amused. He didn't even crack a smile. This was serious.

"Umm tomorrowissortofmybirthday."

Bella blinked, thankfully catching his tangled words. Birthday? Why hadn't she thought of that?

"Say something," he said softly, looking at his feet. "I'm really sorry I didn't tell you, but I hate parties and…I don't need anything…"

"It's okay," she whispered. "You should have told me, though."

"I sort of forgot about it, too." He chuckled. "Sue and Leah asked if I wanted a cake and it fell into place. I told them I don't need one. I'm lucky my parents don't arrive until later in the day."

"Are you sure about not wanting a cake?" she asked, surprised. Humans loved cake.

"There won't be a need. I mean, I'm the only one eating."

"That's not true," she countered. At his surprised expression, she explained myself. "You can invite your friends from La Push. I won't say no. What about Ben and Angela?"

"You started doing it," he moaned. "That, right there, is why I hate parties! I want it to be just the two of us. No one else, so I won't have to share you."

"That's selfish," she giggled.

"I'm a selfish person." He shrugged, noncommittally.

"Come here, selfish boy," Bella whispered, taking his hand and dragging him close. She hugged him tightly. "We don't have to party if you don't want. I just thought people liked birthdays."

"Not me," Edward muttered in her ear. "Argh, it's so inconvenient," he moaned quietly, after a moment.

"What's wrong?" she asked, worried.

"My arm…I wish I could move it."

"You can always resort to the hammer." She winked and pulled him inside the house.

He skipped dinner since he had eaten his fill in La Push. They stayed at TV and watched some silly shows until he yawned and dropped his head on Bella's shoulder.

"Promise me, you'll be here in the morning. Please," he begged.

"Okay. Did something go wrong this morning?" she asked, anxiously.

"Something? Everything!" He groaned, dramatically. "The baboon came to wash me and it was embarrassing as hell. Then he started joking about the door, but what happened in the bathroom was…" Edward shuddered. "Please, keep him away."

"Of course." Bella smiled and kissed his forehead.

Next morning, Edward insisted to visit the Cullens. He loved them since they were so good and willing to help him and everything, but Bella was still wary about having Edward around Emmett.

After helping him through his morning routine, she took him to the kitchen, anxious to show him her insignificant present. While he slept, she had baked him raspberry muffins. She had arranged five of them with a candle in one on a plate with a glass of milk near.

Bella kept a strong grip on his hand as she pulled him inside the kitchen. He'd beena good boy and kept his eyes closed.

"This is utterly ridiculous. Can I open my eyes?"

"Now, you can," she whispered, stepping aside.

She watched his green eyes widen as he took in the sight in front of him. His mouth opened but nothing came out, then suddenly, he turned to her and wrapped his good arm around her shoulders, bringing her to him. She moved willingly into his embrace.

"Thank you. It means a lot," Edward murmured.

"Happy birthday," Bella whispered in his shirt.

He titled her head and grinned wolfishly. "I love you so much." His lips descended on hers in a deep, meaningful kiss before he started eating.

"I love you more," she replied, watching him eat.

After breakfast, she drove to the Cullens. All the way there, he talked with his mother on the phone. She was really upset for not being around. Bella had even learned how old he was now. Since they were going to be seniors in September, she thought he was eighteen so she hadn't even raised the subject, but as she heard Elizabeth saying something about seventeen, Bella glanced at Edward, who was studiously ignoring her, blushing. His mother chided him for not telling her about how bad his arm was hurt and having to hear about that from Sue. He promised her that the new neighbor was a doctor and he was well taken care of; that seemed to calm her a bit.

"…sure, promise," Edward mumbled, rolling his eyes at Bella. "Yes, I will. Bye." He closed the phone and sighed heavily just as she pulled up in front of the white house.

"Let's go," she said, stepping out of the car.

As Edward rounded the hood of the car, Bella could hear movement from inside the house as if they were running around. That was weird. She took his hand and led him to the door.

The door opened just as she was about to knock. Her eyes widened when she saw the pink paper hat on Alice's head.

"Shit," Edward groaned, squeezing her hand.

"Alice! What is this?" Bella hissed under her breath, making sure Alice was the only one to hear.

She winked. "Happy birthday, Edward!" Alice shrieked and hugged him. "Come in, we hav-"

"No way! I don't need this." He plated his feet on the floor, refusing to walk.

"Of course you do. You're seventeen only once," she insisted and tugged him inside.

Why didn't I know how old my boyfriend was? Bella walked in after them and by the time she made it to the living room, Edward was on the couch with a Superman paper hat on his head and a huge scowl on his lips.

"Alice, is this really necessary?" Bella asked.

"Yes! Don't be a party-pooper! He likes it!"

"I hate it!" Edward said, from the couch.

She ignored him and brought a gift. Bella started to hate her visions. Before Alice could reach him, Bella pulled on her arm, dragging her away.

"He doesn't want this! I didn't even think you'd do this. Please, stop it. He just wanted to spend the day normally," she whispered, glaring in her yellow eyes.

"But, Bella, we haven't celebrated anyone's birthday in years!"

"So what? Wait until someone in YOUR family has a birthday and do it!"

"Aw, don't be like this," she moaned.

Bella became aware of eyes staring at her, and when she turned her head to see Esme looking quite disappointed. What had Alice done? He glanced at Edward who was trying to push Emmett away and his huge box – the one that had been at Alice.

"I thought he'd like it. You really should open that, soon," Alice said softly, gesturing to the box.

"I don't want to," Edward muttered, stubbornly.

Only when the box moved on its own did Bella hear the small heartbeat. It was something alive. She gasped, looking at Alice, shocked.

"You should probably open it," she told Edward. From what she could see there were no holes in the box and the animal could be suffering.

"Not you too, Bella," he moaned.

"Trust me. Open it." Bella picked the box and put it on his lap.

As he fumbled with the bow, she heard a soft mewl and turned to glare at Alice who smirked. Did they buy him a cat? She thought in disbelief.

"Holy shit!" Edward exclaimed when he had the top of the box off. "It's alive!"

"Of course it is!" Alice huffed.

"Well, it's very…" Edward looked up to Alice. "It's very nice of you," he whispered, returning his eyes to the inside of the box.

"You had a cat when you were little. I thought you missed it." Alice shrugged.

"How do you know that?" he asked.

Alice only grinned in response.

"I saw a picture on your desk." Emmett shrugged.

Bella stepped closer, peeking inside the box.

The cutest kitten she had ever seen was nestled there, looking up at Edward with a curious expression. It was so small and beautiful. The fur was orange with small dark red stripes, while the tummy and muzzle were white and the eyes a beautiful light blue-green.

It rose on the back legs and attempted to get out, mewing loudly. It was a boy.

"You should take him in your hand," Emmett whispered from behind them. "I think he's sick of being in the box."

Edward bit his lip and glanced at Bella then took the kitten from behind the neck and deposited him on his lap. He stayed there quietly for a few seconds, looking around with his beautiful eyes, then turned to Edward, regarding him. She had never watched a cat, but this one was super cute. He folded himself on Edward's thigh and closed his eyes.

"He likes you!" Alice squealed.

"Thank you. I appreciate this. I love it." Edward smiled in Alice's direction, moving a finger over the kitten's back.

"I chose him. Alice told me to go and buy one," Emmett said proudly. "He was quite scared of me in the beginning but then he realized I won't hurt him."

"Oh!" Edward gasped. "It's an animal." He hovered a protective hand over the kitten as he looked at Emmett.

"Don't be silly! We won't hurt him! Besides, we like big game." Emmett winked.

"Have you thought of a name?" Esme asked Edward, narrowing her eyes at Emmett.

"Not really. It's still a shock," Edward mumbled.

"Ginger," Bella said at the same time as Emmett. He scowled at her.

"Sounds good." Edward shrugged. "I'll think of something else, though."

The kitten raised his head and blinked at Edward, rubbing his head on Edward's stomach.

Carlisle entered the room, smiling. "I see they introduced you to your birthday present. Happy birthday, by the way," he said softly.

"Thanks," Edward answered, grinning.

"Can I have a word with you?" Carlisle looked at Bella. She nodded and followed him to what looked like his study.

"Bella, do you want to take this step and try our lifestyle?" he asked seriously, sitting in his chair.

"Yes, I told you. I don't want to hurt Edward anymore."

"This weekend, we're going hunting. Do you want to accompany us?"

"Of course." She nodded vigorously.

"Good. I'll let you know before we head out. Now, go to the birthday boy," he said, smiling.

"Are they always like this?" she asked curiously. "Emmett and Alice," she clarified when Carlisle raised an eyebrow.

"You'll get used to them."

She giggled and let herself out of the room. When she arrived in the sitting room, Edward had the kitten on his cast arm, playing with him. He saw her coming and grinned.

"Come here, Bella. He's so cute."

"I'm sure he is cute," she told him, sitting next to him on the couch. "So, does he have a name yet?"

"I was thinking of Blinkie. He blinks a lot," Edward whispered. "But I like Ginger, too."

"It's your cat, honey. Choose whatever you want." She shrugged.

He leaned into her, kissing her slowly. "I think I like my birthday," he murmured against her lips. Suddenly, his eyes widened and he jumped as if burned. "Ow."

"What happened?" she asked, worried. That's when she saw it and smelled it.

"He… I… Uh, I'll just you know…go?" Edward said hurriedly, rushing outside the house.

"What did you do, Ruby?" Emmett asked curiously from the doorway.

"I didn't do anything," she said, perplexed. Then she saw the kitten looking innocently at them. He had scratched Edward. "Why did you hurt him?" She groaned and scooped him up.

He mewed and moved his little paw over her jaw, probably trying to scratch her, too.

"I'll go see if he's okay. I'm sure he was more worried about you," Bella told Emmett, knowing Edward well enough to realize why he fled.

When she closed the front door behind her, she saw Carlisle, crouched near the passenger door of the car, trying to calm Edward's panic attack.

"Hey, are you hurt?" she asked, stepping closer.

"It's just a scratch. He was worried about us," Carlisle told her.

Edward chuckled. "Sorry, but I had no idea what else to do."

"If it makes you feel better…I could still smell you from the house," she whispered, giggling. He eyed her surprised then sighed in defeat. Bella dropped the cat on his lap. "Do you want to head home?"

"Is here a meeting?" Jasper asked, from behind them. "We had an errand to run. Happy birthday."

Edward only nodded to him.

"Lucky, you just came," Carlisle told him, patting his shoulder. "Can you calm him down?"

"But you weren't…I'm sure that you didn't feel well when he scratched me," Edward mumbled, looking at Carlisle.

They managed to convince Edward to return inside. It turned out that Jasper and Rosalie had gone to buy a cake, which made Edward groan. He was an unhealthy shade of red as the Cullens decided to sing for him, and as he bent to blow the candles, his eyes squeezed shut, probably wishing to never have a birthday party again. He opened his green eyes and they settled on Bella.

His intense stare made her realize what his wish was and she couldn't help a tremor run through her. She smiled and reached up to kiss him. He hugged her and returned the kiss, fervently.

"Bring the popcorn, we have free porn," Emmett boomed, making them separate.

Bella saw both Rose and Esme hitting him from different sides, as Edward looked down, continuing to blush.

Chapter Text

Chapter 20: Fun in the summertime

Edward was arranging the cat tree for Ginger, the name that had eventually stuck, while Emmett and Jasper put the new door in place. He was shocked to see that they had bought him a cat and even more shocked when he left their house and Alice rushed after him with a dozen bags, explaining that they were for the kitten.

"We're done!" Jasper announced.

"Thanks, guys," he told them, leaving Ginger on the floor and going to them. "I appreciate it."

"You're welcome." Emmett patted his back slowly. "We'll just go. See you."

"Okay. Bye." Edward walked them downstairs. Once he closed the door after them, he realized that there were only a few hours left until his parents arrived home.

"Are you okay?" Bella asked, appearing from the living room, looking anxious.

"I guess." Edward shrugged.

An hour later, he was atop the counter, eating cake and bouncing his legs nervously. Every time he heard a car, he whipped his head around and watched out the window.

"I think you really miss them," Bella announced from the chair.

"Maybe."

"Maybe? When's the last time you were apart?"

"Eh, never?" He shrugged, grinning.

"They never left you behind?" she asked skeptically.

"Of course not! Usually Dad went alone to those things, and if Mom had to tag along, I was there, too," he answered truthfully. "Maybe they decided to leave me home alone knowing you were here with me."

"And I was a horrible nanny. You got hurt."

"Are you serious? A nanny? What do I look like? Five?" Edward huffed, putting the plate in the sink.

"When you act like that…" Bella said slowly.

He opened his mouth to retort something when he saw and heard the kitten in the doorway, mewling and looking at him.

"How did you get here?" he asked, confused.

"It's a living being. He walked," Bella explained, poking her tongue out when Edward narrowed his eyes at her.

"Interesting," he mused after picking up Ginger. "You're not alive, yet you're walking."

"Edward!" she gasped, her eyes widening.

"What?" He shrugged, hugging the cat to his chest. That's when he looked at Bella's eyes. "Shouldn't you put some eye contacts in, or something?" he questioned.

"I completely forgot." When he started laughing, she groaned. "Okay, I didn't really forget. I have some in your room," she whispered and rushed upstairs.

Edward peeked at the small cat in his arms and he looked up with those huge blue eyes. "Are you hungry?" he cooed, stroking his finger over his little head.

"NO!" Bella shouted from upstairs.

Edward looked at the cat and he blinked. It took him a second to realize Bella had answered his question and he couldn't help but laugh.

"I was talking to the cat," he announced to her, turning to the fridge in search of milk.

Bella appeared next to them, scaring the crap out of Edward. She caught the carton, but the cat wasn't so lucky, or he was since he had nine lives, now eight. He meowed loudly, rubbing his head to Edward's legs.

"Sorry, jeez," Edward muttered and picked him up again. "Don't do that!" he hissed to Bella.

"I can see you love him more than me, which is pretty disturbing. He is a cat and well, a HE!"

"I still love you, but I think he's hungry," he mentioned, eyeing the cat.

"You should heat that milk."

They were sitting cross-legged on the floor, watching Ginger lap up the milk when the doorbell rang.

Edward went to answer and had enough time to crack the door open before his mom enveloped him in her arms, hugging him tightly and kissing every inch of his face. Her eyes fell on his injured arm and she took a step back. "Oh, honey! You have to tell me everything. How did you manage to hurt yourself so badly?"

"Mom, it's fine. Really. Just arm wrestling, I told you."

"I hope you had a happy birthday, even though we weren't here," she said softly, rubbing his cheek off her lipstick.

"Yeah. It was nice," he answered, shrugging and glancing to Bella. To his shock, his dad was hugging her, whispering to her something that made her giggle. "Hey, stop molesting my girl!"

His dad looked up at him, eyes twinkling and started laughing. Thankfully he also released Bella. "Your mother was monopolizing you, so I said hello to your lovely girlfriend." He clapped his son's back, grinning. "No groping, I promise," he whispered in his ear.

"Hi, Dad," Edward greeted him, smiling. He had missed his wit.

His dad put his hand on Edward's shoulder and looked him in the eye. "Was my gift useful?"

He felt his face catching fire as he averted his gaze. Edward cleared his throat a few times, unsure what to answer. His dad just laughed and picked the luggage.

"Oh! Uh, our neighbors…" he started saying. "They sort of…they…" He bit his lip, wondering what the best way to approach the situation was. When his mom raised an eyebrow at him, curiously, he just blurted it out. "They bought me a cat."

As if summoned, Ginger appeared between his feet and just like that, his mom forgot all about him.

"Oh, aren't you a cutie!" she stared cooing to the cat, petting him and Edward was sure that the world could have come to an end, and she wouldn't have noticed. Their previous cat, Mr. Nosy, had been hers and he had died when Edward was about four. He still remembered him and missed him, but his mom was the huge cat lover in the family.

"It's a he," Bella whispered, being the only one to actually pay attention to what Mom was babbling. "His name is Ginger."

For some odd reason, his mom turned red and exchanged a look with his dad, who was grinning so large Edward feared for his face. He really didn't want to know. Not ever.

He shuddered and helped his dad with their baggage.

"So did you have fun while we were gone?" he asked, as they walked inside their room.

"Yeah, lots," Edward said with fake enthusiasm.

His dad laughed and sat on the bed, patting the spot next to him. After finding out about their 'activities', Edward was reluctant to sit there, but he did nonetheless.

"Like using my early birthday gift for you?"

He choked on his spit. "Is that what it was?" he asked surprised.

"Yeah. Unfortunately, your mother left me in charge of that and knowing we'd be gone…" He winked at his son and Edward turned red. "Of course, when I told her what I did, she went to the flight attendant demanding a parachute."

"Ha ha! You're really funny."

"You don't believe me? Ask her! You should thank me for putting so many miles between us before I told her," he said smugly.

Edward looked down, picking at invisible lint on his jeans. He couldn't believe his dad had told his mom about the condoms. And to think they wanted to use them as balloons! But the way Bella decided to use them was much more pleasant.

"From the shit eating-grin on your face, I take it you enjoyed them."

"DAD!" he shouted, embarrassed.

"What, son? It's nothing I haven't done. It's not like you just popped out – no pun intended."

Edward felt his face burning in embarrassment. Edward could hear Bella's laughter from downstairs and he wanted to die.

"So what else interesting happened while we were gone?" he asked, smirking.

"I don't know…I met the neighbors…I broke my arm…I got a kitten for my birthday…You know? The usual." I've decided to become a vampire.

He chuckled and patted his son's shoulder. "Tell me about the neighbors. I heard about them, but not much."

"Well… Carl- Dr. Cullen is a doctor at the hospital and the kids are coming to high school with us." He shrugged. "I don't know much about Mrs. Cullen."

"I do," he grumbled. "Your mom found out she likes interior designs…guess they'll be friends, huh?"

He should have known Esme had decorated their house. It looked wonderful and was definitely to his mom's taste. If his mom wasn't suspecting Bella already, she definitely would after meeting Esme.

Bella stayed over for a late lunch that she tried not to eat, after which they moved to the living room and listened to stories about his parents' time in Chicago. It was past eleven when they looked at the clock and his mom insisted that Bella should spend the night.

They didn't protest. He took Bella's hand leading her upstairs.

"The guest room, I hope!" His mother shouted after them.

Edward froze and turned around. "You can't be serious!"

"I don't want to know what you've done while we were gone, but now that I am home, you will do as I say!"

Edward threw his dad a venomous glare, which seemed to amuse him since he started laughing. Bella tugged on Edward's hand, leading him up the stairs to the guest room. "I will have to stay here if she comes to check…"

"Great. I can't sleep without you."

.

.

.

So far, it had been the best summer of Edward's life.

He had escaped from the cast a few days ago and couldn't be happier.

Bella's first hunting trip with the Cullens hadn't gone well. She didn't go into too much detail, but she was in his room around three in the morning, not that he was waiting awake with bated breath or anything. She had shrugged and smoothed her skirt, which he noticed was ripped and bloodied.

"It was a total disaster," she had mumbled, sitting next to him on the bed. "Sleep."

"You'll get used to this," he had told her, not knowing what else to say.

What else could he tell the vampire that couldn't stop drinking from him? Even if she wanted to try something else. Difficult answer.

Needless to say, he had woken up with a raging erection. He knew she had drunk from him, but he couldn't be upset with her because he had insisted she should drink when she wanted. He was glad Carlisle was the one running his blood tests; he wasn't surprised when he was often anemic for all someone else would see. Naturally, he needed her to help with his little problem once he was awake. It was a narrow escape since he had never been quiet when they had sex.

Later in the day, he found himself in a clearing in the forest.

"Are you sure about this?" Bella asked him worried.

"Yes! What can happen?" Edward shrugged.

"Let him have a little fun!" Emmett laughed, and wrapped his arm around Edward's shoulders. "Here you go." He put the little white ball in his hand.

"I'll be fine, I swear!" Edward groaned when Bella kept eyeing him worried.

He was cast-free. He wanted to enjoy the use of both his hands.

They were playing baseball in the clearing behind the Cullen house and he was the pitcher. He eyed Emmett and hoped he'd get it right the first time. He wasn't that good at baseball, but he had to try, right? So he threw the ball as hard and fast as he could, nearly throwing his arm along with it.

Rose was crouched at Emmett's feet and she caught it. Crap.

"BALL!" Esme yelled.

Edward huffed and tried again. He narrowed his eyes at Rose and she grinned back.

"Come on, little human," she taunted.

"I'll show you a human," he said through gritted teeth. He tried his hand at a screwball and to his shock, Emmett hit it. Emmett broke into a run as Jasper rushed to catch it. Emmett touched home a few seconds before Jasper caught the ball.

"Home run, baby!" he exclaimed clapping.

As Alice had predicted, the rain started, just as Emmett screamed. Edward pulled the hood over his head and they kept playing until momma bear, also known as Bella, whisked him up and took him to the Cullens' house.

"Get in the shower! Where are the towels? I hope you're using hot water! I am going to run to your house and bring some clean clothes."

That was a relief. It meant she was gone. Who knew she could be so obsessive?

After showering and changing into the clean clothes Bella brought, Edward went downstairs to watch TV until everyone came back. She made him something to eat, despite his protests.

They stayed on one of the many couches, watching TV until the power went down. It was a hell of a storm. He was always going to listen to Alice. She had said it was going to be 'a wicked one' and it surely was.

He called his parents, telling them he was spending the night over at the Cullens', and they agreed, seeing the terrible weather outside.

"Now what?" he whispered, trying to locate Bella in the pitch darkness.

"I don't know." She moved closer and put her head on his shoulder. "We can talk or…play something."

"I'm sorry to break it to you, but I can't play anything because I can't see a thing."

"Why are the lights out? Are you getting down and dirty on Esme's couch?" Emmett was home.

"The power went out!" Bella snapped to him.

Edward wished he could see something. As much as he blinked, he still couldn't make out any shape or form in front of him. It was so inconvenient to be human in that moment.

"What are you doing?" Bella asked, giggling from next to him.

Edward stopped pressing the heel of his palms into his eyes and looked toward her voice. "I wish I could see."

"I know the thing!" He heard Rosalie exclaim.

A few minutes later, a small light appeared at the top of the stairs and grew as she descended. She placed the big candle on the piano, grinning at him.

"Better?"

"Lots. Thanks."

She nodded and sat on the bench. "What should we do?"

"You kids depend too much on the electricity!" Carlisle chided them. "In my time…"

He didn't finish the thought because all of them started to snicker. Esme patted his arm, giggling, earning a huff from him.

Alice dragged Edward into a chess game, while Rose started playing the piano. He paid more attention to her than the board in front of him, knowing he wouldn't move a piece any time soon. He'd always wanted to learn how to play, but when his mom had indulged and taken him to piano lessons, he didn't like the teacher, and a week after the classes started, he got chicken pox. He's missed a lot of classes and gave up. Later, when his mom told him to try again, he was about nine and he was too cool for the piano.

"Are you kidding me?" Alice snapped him out of his daydream.

"What?" Edward asked, surprised.

"Last time, you beat me…not in an orthodox method since Bella helped unintentionally, and now…you spaced out and I beat you. Are we going to play, or what?"

"Yeah, sure. Sorry. Jeez." He turned all his focus on the board.

They kept staring at the chessboard for at least an hour. She would see his move and her twinkling eyes or her smile would give her away so he wouldn't make that move. Someone needed to distract her, like the last time, or they weren't going to move a piece ever.

Suddenly, Alice moved so fast he barely saw it. The pieces fell on the floor and she was standing up, glaring. At first, he thought something terrible was going to happen.

"You are no fun, Edward!" She huffed, and stormed upstairs.

Edward looked after her, shocked. No one was moving and even Rosalie had stopped playing the piano.

Jasper chuckled, sending him a wide grin from across the room. "I have to say I've never seen her angry."

He left the room, probably going to calm her with his powers. It was then that Edward truly looked around the room. Only Esme and Emmett were there along with Rosalie who had resumed playing the piano.

"Where's Bella?" he wondered.

"She's with Carlisle," Esme explained.

A few minutes passed and Carlisle rushed downstairs, looked toward them then left the house. Edward frowned confused and worried, and earned a laugh from Emmett.

"I think he didn't hear it." Emmett laughed, still.

"You think?" Edward mocked him.

"He had an emergency at the hospital," Bella whispered, joining them. "No more chess?"

He scowled at her. "Alice gave up. I was too good for her."

"You're so annoying," she yelled from upstairs, for his benefit.

Emmett rose and left the room with a smirk on his face. Edward didn't want to know what he wanted to do. He came back with a white rectangular box.

"I thought we could play since there's nothing else to do." He shrugged and sat in front of the fireplace.

When he took the lid off, Edward started laughing.

"Monopoly?" he asked, incredulously.

Who would have thought that vampires were just like humans in so many aspects?

"What? Everyone loves Monopoly. Don't tell me you're going to deny it."

"No, I'm not denying." Edward chuckled. "Bella?" he asked, turning to her.

"Of course. I want to beat your ass at something."

"Dream on, love."

Emmett handed Edward the green plastic pawn because he was Jade, Bella the red one because she was Ruby and he kept the yellow one.

"Because you're Topaz," Edward sneered.

Emmett narrowed his eyes at Edward and raised his hand to slap him.

"NOO!" Alice screeched loudly, appearing in the doorway. "No, Emmett!" She looked scared.

"What was he going to break?" Edward asked fearfully, shifting away from Emmett.

"Break?" Alice asked un-amused. "He was about to take your head off. It wasn't going to be pretty. And Esme was going to be upset about the white shag being spotted."

"Definitely not worth it," Edward told Emmett. He was the only one finding it amusing.

"I'm sure you have it wrong, darling. I wouldn't have cared about the carpet. Edward is important to all of us," Esme retorted softly.

They had become his best friends in a very short period of time. He couldn't imagine living in a world where they didn't exist.

"I'm going to kill you if you as much as look at him," Bella hissed at Emmett.

He raised his hands in defeat and solemnly nodded.

"Can I be blue?" Alice broke the tension.

"I'd like to play too. I'll take white," Rose joined the group on the floor.

Bella took Edward's hand, squeezing it gently. He thought back of what Alice had just seen. He was damn lucky to have her around. She had just saved his life. He didn't realize he was staring at her, but she smiled when their eyes met.

The group tried dragging Esme into playing with them, but she claimed she had other things to do. Emmett mumbled that moms should play with their kids, earning a chuckle from her and a sigh of defeat. She chose the orange pawn.

Edward realized Jasper was the only one missing, but Alice shook her head and said he didn't like to play.

Edward was sure that Jasper not being there had to do with him. He saw it how Jasper tried keeping his distance when he was around. He was sure Jasper could do it – being close to him. Bella was doing it and she wasn't even like them. But she was being careful – mind over matter.

Esme was the first to lose, not having played before and probably not really interested in this game.

About an hour after that, Alice slapped all her proprieties and money in front of Edward. "I give up."

Rosalie was in a deep fight with Bella over B&O Railroad.

"It's not even your turn," Edward snapped, swinging the dice in his hand.

Rosalie gave him a venomous glare then looked at Bella. "Just you wait, Ruby!"

"Would you drop it? I'm working on the topaz color," Bella hissed, narrowing her eyes at Rosalie.

Emmett nodded to Edward, urging him to do something. So he threw the dice on the board. Rose huffed and Bella grinned, smugly. He snagged Pacific Avenue, silently thanking Alice for the money.

"No! It's so not fair! You don't play like this!" Rose exploded. "First, Ruby won't give me B&O, and I have all the other railroads! And now you, Jade, you come and destroy my green avenue!"

His eyes widened in fear, and he was about to throw the card at her when Emmett started talking.

"How about we pair up? Rosie and I against you two, huh?"

"Thanks," Edward whispered, aware everyone could hear him.

"No, that won't work, Emmett. I get to pair up with one of them," Rosalie insisted.

"Okay, choose," Edward said, growing tired of this.

She thought about it, looking at what cards they had then smiled at Bella. "Come here, sista'!"

"You're leaving Edward to Emmett? Have you gone mad?" Bella exclaimed.

"I'll play nice," Emmett pointed out, winking at Edward.

It was their turn and while they talked about it, Edward was fighting with Emmett about what pawn to keep.

"I want my green one! It was very lucky."

"Are you denying a vampire?" Emmett growled, shaking his yellow pawn in front of Edward's eyes.

"Oh, I'm scared!" Edward said in mock fright. "You should listen to me. I'm in the minority. The only human around."

"That's the thing," he thundered. "Minority submits to majority!"

"Guys? One of you should roll the dice," Bella whispered as if afraid to interrupt the quarrel.

"Not until we have a pawn," Emmett snapped.

Rose took the rules. "If you decide to make groups in the middle of the game, the first pawn off the board is off and the one remaining would be the one the team is playing with."

"You just made that up!" Emmett huffed. "I know the rules by heart."

"But she has a point! You took it off. Mine is still there," Edward yelled and slammed the dice to the board. They flew in different directions. "And look here, Topaz! If we keep my pawn…we're going to GO. If we keep your shitty yellow one, we're ending up in jail."

The pawn between Emmett's fingers snapped and disintegrated. "I hate you," Emmett muttered, folding his arms over his chest.

Eventually, he forgot about being upset and they made a great team. Two bags of chips and a bottle of water later, Edward wanted the game to end. His head was dropping and he was trying to keep it upright. It would be embarrassing if it fell on Emmett's shoulder, or worse, his lap.

"Go to bed," Bella whispered, eyeing him warily.

"I'm fine. We're a team. I can't abandon him." Edward yawned, taking the dice from her hand and shaking his wrist.

"Just throw them already. It's like you're giving them a hand job," Emmett grumbled.

Edward glared at him, feeling the tips of his ears turning red. He let the dice fall in the middle of the board. One-one.

"Go to bed! You're useless! We just lost, you realize that!" Emmett shouted, shoving him.

Edward was too tired to realize what happened and lost his balance, falling on his side.

"Oh crap, are you okay?" Emmett asked worried, helping him in his previous position.

"Yeah. I'm just doing my best to keep my eyes open," he snapped, rubbing his elbow. "I'm not hurt," he shouted when Bella opened her mouth.

"Is he always so bitchy when he's tired?" Emmett asked, and Edward wished he could hurt him.

"Stop dodging your way out of this. You're on Boardwalk, with a hotel on it," Rose told him, smiling.

Edward helped Emmett count the money, but they still needed at least five hundred more.

"You can give us the green one," Rose told them, smiling cunningly.

"No way in hell! I'd die before I do that," Edward shot back. He had managed to keep Pacific Avenue up until that point.

"So you're going to die when we finish the game?" She smirked.

He showed her the finger, trying to find a way out of this without giving her that precious card. Edward had always had a soft spot for Pacific Avenue for some reason, while everyone he knew would have given a leg for Park Place or Boardwalk. The chances for the opponent to land on green were bigger than the ones for someone to land on the dark blue.

"Ed, man, if you give her that card…it's all the same," Emmett muttered. He had made a pile of their money and cards. "Put it here. We've lost."

"Rematch in the morning," Edward hissed to Rosalie, flinging the card to her.

He got up and stretched, yawning loudly. "Where am I sleeping?"

"Who said anything about sleep?" Emmett teased, but he shut up when Bella glared at him.

He folded out one of the couches. Edward went to the wall window and looked outside. Was it ever going to stop raining? It beat violently against the glass, making the branches of the closest tree scrape against it.

Edward had never been a great fan of storms. He wasn't proud of it, but when he was little, he always ended up huddled between his parents. And older…he laid awake under the blanket.

It was probably the only night he didn't want Bella next to him, but at the same time, he wanted her. He knew she'd understand if he told her, but he couldn't tell her without the whole house hearing it.

Emmett and Rose left the room and Bella patted the couch, now folded out and covered with a bedsheet. He went to her, his steps faltering as a thunder rolled loudly in the night. The game had kept him distracted.

She smiled and hugged him when he was next to her. "I'm here."

Just like that, she understood him. Edward pulled back a little and smiled.

He stripped down to his boxers and snuggled under the blanket. She lay in front of him, stroking his cheeks. "Try to sleep."

He nodded and closed his eyes, snuggling closer to her. He wasn't sure how much time had passed, or if he had actually fallen asleep, but suddenly the room illuminated like it was daytime and the worst thunder he had ever heard boomed loudly.

Edward was in a sitting position before he realized it, both hands clutching at his heart.

"Shh. It's only thunder. Go back to sleep," Bella murmured, rubbing his back.

Easy for you to say.

He was starting to relax, happy no one else had come to see what the commotion was about, when yet another streak of lighting flashed and a peal of thunder followed dutifully.

"I can't sleep," he whispered. "It's a lost case."

"No, no. Let's…associate this with nice memories."

He turned to look at Bella when yet another blinding flash lit her face, making her look a little sinister for a second. Everything was sinister during a storm. He took a huge calming breath, which didn't help at all.

"No one is coming here; they promised to let you sleep. I intend to put you to sleep." She winked, fishing for something in her pocket. "Ta-da!"

He looked at her hands, not really seeing what she was holding since the candle was out. The lightening decided to help, so thoughtful of it.

Bella was holding a box of condoms in her hand and she was grinning.

"I can help you relax," Jasper said from the doorway, making Edward jump. His face turned red as he saw Bella chucking the box under the blanket. It landed on his growing dick.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21: Jasper's story

Edward was watching Jasper with huge eyes, extremely aware of the little box lying on the base of his dick. He swallowed and glanced at Bella.

"I can do it," she whispered to him. Edward could see her lips still moving, probably telling him to leave them alone. Jasper grinned and turned on his heels.

Another lighting hit and he saw Jasper for a second before he disappeared, moving too fast for him to follow with his human eyes.

Bella took his hand. "It's just a storm."

"I know," he grumbled, shifting uncomfortably.

If the others didn't know by now that he was scared, they were aware of it now.

Edward started to relax as Bella stroked his arm then slowly moved down his ribs and to his thighs. Edward's breath hitched as he felt the coil of muscles in his stomach and the tightening in his balls. Her small hand caught the box of condoms and before he knew she moved, she was under the blanket, between his legs. Her head poked out, a huge grin on her face.

"Hi."

He smiled and leaned into her, pressing his lips against hers. They kissed for a few minutes until he had to breathe. His blood was going down, irrigating his little head as Bella's hands wandered over his body.

He moaned softly when she brushed his nipples. They hardened and she seemed to be fascinated for a few seconds, moving her fingertips over them. Her lips started kissing his neck and moved slowly down, covering every inch on his upper body. He was sure he'd explode by the time she reached the spot he desires her lips on.

Edward kicked at his boxers, making her giggle. He took the box impatiently and emptied it between them.

"I don't think we can put that many," Bella whispered.

"Please," he pleaded, unsure what he was asking for.

She nodded slowly and started wrapping them one by one on his shaft. His muscles tightened with every rubber. It felt like someone was squeezing him tightly. The rubbers hugging him like a latex glove.

Edward's eyes rolled in the back of his head when Bella smoothed them. He had no idea how many she had put there, but he was minutes away from coming. The pressure was too much already.

He met her red gaze and she smiled at him before lowering her head, her hair falling on his thighs making them tingle. He was on sensory overload. Every little touch was too much in that second.

First, she licked him from the base to the tip and he groaned loudly, forgetting about where they were. "YES!"

"Shh." Her lips closed around the head of his dick and slowly, she made her way down and he felt the back of her throat with his head.

"Ohhhh!"

She sucked harder, sliding him deeper down her throat. Were vampires deprived of the gag reflex? He couldn't really focus on that because it felt like she was swallowing his dick.

His fists wrapped around the sheet that Emmett had put on the couch. His back arched as he gasped for much needed air.

Edward heard another moan that wasn't his. It was loud and it sounded like it came from upstairs, but he was sure it had been Bella's, although her mouth was preoccupied.

He didn't last long. She bobbed her head a little more before the fire in his lower belly became more than he could handle.

Edward's knee raised and he bumped into something wet. His eyes widened when he realized what he was touching. Bella left some of her weight on his knee, rubbing herself like a cat in heat.

"Ohh! Arghhh!" He couldn't keep the sounds inside even if he'd been ordered to.

Bella started moaning, the vibrations making the fire in the pit of his stomach explode, engulfing him in warmness as he floated on the high induced by the orgasm. He felt her moving against his leg, but he couldn't focus on anything else. She kept licking, probably the last condom.

The lightening struck right at the perfect moment to see her back arching. Her head titled back, biting on her lower lip, eyes tightly shut, hips working a frenzy on his leg. Edward lifted a jelly-like hand and touched her chest.

"Ahhh," she moaned softly, shuddering. A second later, she fell next to him, breathing harder than he'd ever heard her.

He was still working on regulating his heartbeat. Edward realized his hand was still holding gently on her breast, but he didn't move it away; instead, he shifted closer to her and put his head over her chest. Bella wrapped her arms around him, rocking him gently.

Edward didn't even startle when he heard the thunder outside. Mission accomplished. He'd probably have the image of her over him, dry humping his leg craved into his brain every time he thought of a storm.

The beat of the rain in the window and Bella's rocking, lulled him to sleep.

He woke up alone with a few rays of sun glaring at him, his face being turned to the window. Edward turned on his other side, wishing to go back to sleep when something caught his eye. On the coffee table was a pale orange bowl with a note next to it.

He groaned, not wanting to move. He got chilly and realized that he'd kicked the thin blanket to his feet during the night. Thankfully, Bella had put his boxers back on.

"You're awake!"

Edward jumped, startled, and looked at Jasper, who was sitting on another couch reading a book. He hadn't noticed him earlier, but he didn't look in that direction.

"Morning," Edward mumbled in a thick voice.

"Everyone went hunting. I decided to stay back."

Edward nodded and yawned, stretching, then he reached for the note he had seen earlier.

"Oh, right. That's from Bella." He smiled and winked.

His face flamed. In daylight, his brain, no longer foggy – he knew everyone had heard them the previous night.

Good morning Edward,

I hope you slept well.

Milk is in the fridge. The cereal is on the counter. Bowl and spoon next to the note. I hope the milk is still good. The power is still out, and I hope the things in the fridge aren't rotten.

Your mother called and I answered the phone before it woke you up. She knows we (the kids) are on a small camping trip. I hope you don't mind. We are supposedly due back at the end of the week. I hope it is okay with you to spend three more days with the Cullens. If you don't want, we can spend them at my house.

I love you.

Bella.

PS: I'll be back shortly.

Edward felt his face reddening further as he looked at Jasper.

"You can use our bathroom again."

"Thanks."

After collecting his clothes, he went upstairs and to the room Bella had led him to yesterday. He had no idea it was Alice and Jasper's room. Especially the bathroom.

Edward had a disturbing imagine of a little pink bird exploding and covering every surface in pink goo. He made a note to himself to never stay up late again.

After taking care of his business, he went to the kitchen and grabbed the milk from the fridge. It smelt good and he took a gulp to make sure it tasted good before picking the cereal box and going back to the sitting room.

He plopped on the extended couch, trying to open the box of cereals.

"Let me," Jasper whispered from his right.

Edward started and the box escaped from his fingers. Of course, Jasper caught it and deftly opened it.

He chuckled. "It has a toy prize."

"Figures. Emmett bought it, right?" Edward asked, rolling his eyes.

He was trying to act normal. It was difficult. It was the closest he had been to Jasper so far.

"Do you want me to go back to the other couch?" Jasper asked understandingly.

Edward glanced at him and shook his head, busying himself with pouring milk and cereals in the bowl.

"I stayed back for a reason. I've been rude for not befriending you as fast as the others. But I'm sure you understand why that is."

"I know." Edward swallowed his food. "But for Bella it's so easy…"

He laughed. "Ah, Edward. It's not easy for any of us to be around humans. Especially for Bella. She is used to drinking from humans. I can only imagine what she's gone through to be able to be close to you…in every way." He paused, and Edward abandoned the bowl. "As much as I'm sure everyone would like to thank you for last night..." Jasper chuckled and Edward averted his eyes, his cheeks burning. "…I was sure she was going to seriously hurt you a few times. Her self-control is exceptional. I haven't seen anything like it, apart from Carlisle."

"Did you hear us?" he whispered, looking at the spoon in his hand.

"Hear?" He chuckled, amused. "I more than I heard you, I felt you!"

Edward's face turned red and his eyes widened. "Sorry, I wasn't really thinking."

"I can only thank you." He winked.

Edward picked his bowl up again and took a bite.

"Wait until Em is back," Jasper added quietly.

Edward inhaled sharply, resulting in the food going down the wrong pipe and he started coughing. Jasper patted his back so softly, he barely felt it.

"You okay?"

He nodded, wiping the tears away. "Can you distract him," he whispered, once he could breathe right.

"I can try, but not even my powers can do much good when we're talking about Emmett and sex."

"I think…I'm going to pretend to be sick," he mumbled.

"That may help," he said lightly and shifted on the other end of the couch, returning to his book.

Edward finished his breakfast and took everything to the kitchen.

"Do you wish for a chess game?" Jasper asked when Edward returned to the sitting room. The couch he had slept on was back in its usual position and the sheet, pillow and blanket were gone.

"Sure." Edward shrugged.

Jasper smiled and put the board between them, arranging the pieces quickly.

"Can I ask you something?" Edward asked. Jasper nodded, motioning for him to start. Jasper knew Edward liked to be white. He pushed a pawn and focused on his question. "What are- I hope I am not rude, but I'm merely curious about those scars on your arms."

Jasper chuckled, moving his knight.

"They're battle scars."

"Battle? Like war?"

"Yeah. I have to go back in time to make a plausible story. Do you wish to hear it?"

"We have nothing better to do," Edward said. He liked the old phrases Jasper used.

"I was serving as a Major in the Confederate Army during the Civil War when it happened."

"That was in 1850's?" he asked, frowning, his history not very good.

"About." Jasper smiled. "It happened in 1863. I joined the army at seventeen and by twenty years old, I was a major."

"So you're twenty?"

"Yes." He nodded, glancing at the board between them and moved a rook.

"I guess this is a lost case since you're a soldier," Edward said, chuckling and pointing between them.

"You could use a normal game of chess. The one you played with Alice wasn't fruitful."

Edward laughed and nodded, thinking of his next move.

"One night when I was headed to Galveston, and was just a mile outside the city, I saw three ladies on the side of the road and being a gentleman, I decided to ask if they needed help. They were the most beautiful women I had ever seen. Their skin was pale in the moonlight. They started talking about me as if I wasn't present, which I probably wasn't. I am sure I was gaping, mesmerized by their beauty. One of them leaned close to me, half closed lids, inhaling deeply and murmuring about how I smelled. They talked about me being an officer, about how strong I was, wanting to keep me and about patience. I didn't understand a thing at that time. When the brunette told the others to retract in her melodic voice, something told me I was in great danger. She was talking about killing me, but I couldn't move, being mesmerized by the angel in front of me. Men didn't fear women in that time," he said, watching Edward the whole while.

Edward could feel his hair standing up on his arms and on the back of his neck and he wasn't sure he was still breathing.

Jasper turned his head to the window, probably transported down the lane of memory to that night.

"Their names were Maria, Nettie, and Lucy. Maria was the one alone with me. She asked my name and I stammered it, unsure if she was a ghost or not. Her friends had simply drifted away leaving me dazed and confused. She 'hoped I survived', telling me she 'had a good feeling about me.' Then she took a step closer, inclining her head as if she were going to kiss me. I didn't move even though I should have run to the hills."

He stopped, turning his head to Edward. He took a breath, feeling the burn in his lungs, and Jasper chuckled.

"Let's make the story short, shall we?" He didn't wait for an answer, not like Edward could talk or move for the time being. He almost felt like he was on a foreign road in South Texas, meeting those angels. It hit a little too close to home. "She had an army made of former soldiers. She wanted me to be their leader. I spent years training newborn vampires and…killed them off when they lost their newborn strength as she was ordering me. That's how I got the scars – from those battles. Newborns are incredibly strong."

Edward nodded, absorbing everything.

"I became depressed because I was feeling what they were feeling when I was killing them. It was more and more difficult. After a few decades, I befriended a newborn that had survived over the first three years. His name was Peter and he was civilized. He was the newborns' babysitter. We were assigned the job to kill some newborns again since they were outgrowing their strength. A female, Charlotte, appeared, and his feelings for her were so strong that I knew he wouldn't kill her. He shouted for her to run and he bolted after her. I didn't pursue them. Maria was irritated with me when she learned my deed."

Edward opened his mouth to say something about Bella's friends, but shut it back.

"Five years later, Peter came back for me. He told me about his life with Charlotte, about co-existing without fighting, about meeting others in the north. He had me convinced. I left without a backward glance. I traveled with them, but I was still depressed, especially after the first century of my life, I lived in a world of bloodthirsty vengeance. Hate was my constant companion. It eased some when I left Maria, but I still had to feel the horror and fear of my prey. When it became too much, I wandered away from Peter and Charlotte. I didn't want to kill anymore, yet I had to keep keeling. I tried to do it less often, but I got too thirsty."

"Just like Bella," Edward suddenly found her voice, remembering her stories.

"Yes." He nodded, not upset Edward had interrupted him. "I was in Philadelphia. There was a storm, and I was out during the day – something I was not completely comfortable with yet. I knew standing in the rain would attract attention, so I ducked into a little half-empty diner. My eyes were dark enough that no one would notice them, though this meant I was thirsty, and that worried me a little. She was there – expecting me, naturally." He chuckled once. "She hopped down from the high stool at the counter as soon as I walked in and came directly toward me. It shocked me. I was not sure if she meant to attack. That's the only interpretation of her behavior my past had to offer. But she was smiling. And the emotions that were emanating from her were like nothing I'd ever felt before. 'You've kept me waiting a long time,' she said."

That sounded like Alice. Edward grinned and Jasper returned his grin.

"And you ducked your head, like a good Southern gentleman, and said, 'I'm sorry, ma'am.'" Alice laughed at the memory from the doorway.

Edward's head snapped up. He hadn't heard her coming inside.

Jasper walked to her, smiling as if she was the last drop of water – or blood, in his case – on the Earth.

"You held out your hand, and I took it without stopping to make sense of what I was doing. For the first time in almost a century, I felt hope."

Alice grinned. "I was just relieved. I thought you were never going to show up."

They kept smiling at each other. To Edward's relief, they didn't start kissing. Jasper walked her to the couch, taking her on his lap as he sat down.

"Peter and Charlotte?" Edward asked, scratching his jaw.

"Yes, that's what I said. Why?" Jasper asked, raising an eyebrow.

"They…Bella…we…I know them." He felt his blood rising to his face and filling his cheeks.

"You do?" he asked, shocked.

"Yeah. A while ago, on Easter break, they dropped by. I, uhh had some…unforeseen events at home and went to Bella's. They were there." He shrugged. He bit his lip, wondering if it was a good idea to tell him that his friend had changed Bella.

"Are you serious?" Alice asked, her topaz eyes wide with surprise.

Of course, the pixie saw it all.

"Peter changed Bella," Edward said in a voice that didn't sound like his.

"You're Jasper!" Bella exclaimed from the doorway. Edward started to hate their vampire senses, but he couldn't help the smile that spread on his face when he saw her.

"Pleasure to meet you." He chuckled.

"No, I'm serious! I don't know why I haven't made the connection before. Peter told me so much about you…" Bella trailed off.

"I'm sure he did. When did you meet?"

"1899," she mumbled. "I wish he had waited another year. It would have been so cool to say I'm from 1900."

Everyone laughed at her and she shrugged. It was the first time she had given a year. She had told him she was changed at the end of eighteen hundreds, nothing else.

Bella came to him and hugged his shoulders to her side, running a hand through his hair.

"How are you, sweetheart?"

"I'm better now," he said, pathetically.

She smiled and sat down next to him, kissing his cheek.

There was something changed about her and Edward kept looking at her as she talked with Jasper and Alice about their common friends. She glanced at him questioningly when she felt him staring and that's when he saw it. Her eyes were a crude orange, no longer red, not yet yellow. They were the color of amber.

"Edward," she whispered, touching his cheek. "Is everything okay?"

"Your eyes." Edward felt his lips pulling up into a smile.

This meant she had fed, and soon, she'd manage to feed only on animals.

"Oh! They've changed the color?" she asked surprised.

Alice produced a mirror, like some kind of magician, smiling wickedly. "The color becomes you," she whispered, pressing the small mirror in Bella's hand.

"Would you show?" Edward spoke before he had processed the question in his head.

Bella shot him an exasperated side-ways glance while Jasper started laughing so hard the couch shook. Alice was watching him horrified.

"Can you…imagine…Alice not being….able…to see herself…in a mirror?" Jasper asked brokenly, earning himself a slap from his spouse. "God forbid that day."

"Jasper Whitlock Hale!" she screeched, standing up and putting her hands on her little hips.

"Ouch. All three names. I'm in trouble," he said amused.

"Heaps," Edward said under his breath then blushed, realizing they heard him.

"They're beautiful." Bella's gasp made them all turn to her.

Alice huffed, seeing her friend wasn't on her side but admiring her freshly amber eyes. Edward had never thought that color was nice. Until he saw it in Bella's eyes.

"You are beautiful," he said truthfully, taking her face between his palms.

Bella smiled and leaned closer, brushing her nose against his then pressing her lips to Edward's. He had missed her cool touch and pressed his lips harder against her, enjoying the feeling of kissing her. Her fingers went to his hair as his hands dropped to her waist and he hugged her, bringing her closer to him.

"Rosie, they're at it again. Come quickly!"

Emmett's booming voice effectively ruined the mood.

Chapter Text

Chapter 22: New student

"Watch and learn."

That's why Bella was there: to watch and learn. She could feel something adrenaline-like running through her empty veins as Carlisle and she approached a clearing up the mountain.

There was a small herd of deer and she smiled, watching them eating, and drinking from the small stream, moving their ears like radars.

"They're beautiful," she said quietly.

He smiled ruefully. "If we thought like that, we would starve. Besides, I'm sure Edward is beautiful to you, yet you feed from him."

Her eyes widened and moved from the herd to Carlisle. No, he couldn't hurt them.

"You can't be serious!" she exclaimed in a hushed voice.

He thinned his lips and regarded her with a grave look. "Pay very close attention," he murmured and turned his focus on the deer.

Her face was a mask of horror. Couldn't they kill something else? Something less delicate?

He moved stealthily toward the herd and she held her breath, watching him. One deer raised his head and turned toward Carlisle who paused, becoming still. Obviously, the deer realized that Carlisle shouldn't have been there. His ears twitched and he whinnied. The others took off and he turned to go after them, but Carlisle was already on his back, snapping his neck and sinking his teeth in the jugular.

If Bella was human, she would have probably retched, but she was left with an empty feeling inside her. Once he was done feeding, he ripped up a chunk of the grass, dropping the carcass there then put the grass back.

Bella leaned against the nearest tree, wondering if vampires could get sick without eating human food. She surely felt like she was going to throw up.

"Bella? Did you pay attention?"

"I don't think I can do that," the words dragged out of her mouth. "I'm really sorry, Carlisle. I can't kill such innocent and delicate animals."

He chuckled humorlessly. "Oh, dear girl. I'm sure it is hard to do it – animal or human, regardless – because you haven't killed anyone in a long while. You have to try, for Edward's well-being."

She thought of the man she had killed in Port Angeles and felt bad immediately. She was going to try hunting animals. For Edward.

"Okay," she whispered. "But can we try something else? Please."

"How do you think about elk?"

"I don't really like them." She smiled.

"Me either." He winked and led her to a side of the forest where he knew they were. "And you have to learn how they smell, to guide yourself after the smell so you won't accidentally stumble over deer."

Bella rolled her eyes and nudged him.

"Here, smell that." He inhaled deeply. "What do you smell?"

"Blood?" she asked, amused. She let herself take a few breaths. "Umm, it's somehow sweet and like grass…wet."

"Yes, it's elk," Carlisle confirmed, nodding.

Bella waited for him to move. When he didn't, she glanced at him. He smiled and motioned for her to go first.

"After you. Just stay focused on the task at hand. They're strong, but remember that you are stronger and more dangerous. Show him that."

She nodded, gulping the venom that had accumulated in her mouth after smelling the potent blood. She stepped slowly and softly toward the two elks. They didn't hear her approaching. She crouched and sprung on one's back, but too low on his back to reach for the neck.

He bucked his back legs in the air making her slide to his head, which he shook violently. She growled, annoyed that she couldn't grasp his neck already. Just as she took a strong hold of his neck, something hit her right thigh quite hard.

The other elk. Probably its partner was trying to save her mate.

That's when her resolve broke. Could she really kill him, knowing she was going to hurt? She had to kill them both.

Bella snapped the neck in her hands then lunged for the other elk. She started running with Bella dangling from her neck. She heard laughter from behind her but she couldn't focus on that. She was angry at this stubborn creature.

After she managed to snap her neck, Bella dragged her to the other elk and alternated drinking from them. The blood was mediocre at best, but she knew it would have to do if she was set not to hurt Edward. Once she drained them, she pushed the carcasses under the wet ground as Carlisle had taught her. Then she turned to the spot she had left him.

All the Cullens were there, watching her amused. Bella would have blushed if she were human. She averted her eyes.

"Are you okay?" Carlisle asked concerned.

"Why wouldn't I be?" she wondered.

"Because it was your first hunt and you drained two mature elk in a matter of seconds."

"Can I get sick?" Bella asked, shocked. She felt slightly bloated, if that was accurate.

As she approached them, she thought she could feel the blood sloshing inside her—which was extremely funny for some reason—and she started laughing hard. Not ten seconds after that, she felt a sort of a burning down her throat and blood spilled from her mouth.

She felt six pairs of hands around her touching and probing as they asked different things.

Bella had no idea she could throw up blood.

Well, she was learning new things.

"Damn, Ruby, you gave us a hell of a scare!" Emmett bellowed once she was okay.

"Fuck off," she grumbled and rose from her kneeling position.

She felt humiliated. She felt the stinging in her eyes of tears that would never fall, gathered there. Bella picked her way to Edward's house. She knew he was awake and waiting for her. She'd have to disappoint him. She was a failure.

Her little skirt was shredded and bloodied from the elk attack or from the vomiting, she wasn't sure.

Bella tried to remember if any of the vampires she had met in her life had a story about throwing up. Nothing came to her mind, which meant one thing. She was a freak.

Edward greeted her smiling but with heavy eyes. She felt even worse knowing he had stayed awake only to find out that she couldn't stop feeding from him. She didn't talk much and he was too tired to ask questions.

By dawn, she was holding his wrist to her lips like a craving person. Horrid elk blood didn't hold a candle to his warm, sweet blood.

That had been her first hunting trip.

After about a month, Carlisle convinced her to try again. Small game this time. Bella had no idea what small game meant and she told him that she was willing to try as long as it didn't involve deer or elk. She had an aversion to elk.

No wonder why.

The previous day had been one of the best summer days so far. Despite the rain, Edward still managed to have fun and play baseball with Emmett, Rose, Alice and Jasper. Bella had taken him back to their house when the rain became too heavy, and after a warm shower and a change of clothes, they had watched TV until the power was taken. Once everyone else was back, they had played Monopoly, of all the things possible, and after she had paired up with Rosalie, they had managed to beat Edward and Emmett.

Story of her life – Bella beat Edward at something.

The storm seemed to make him antsy, and after Bella was sure no one was coming downstairs, she tried to relax him. The best fooling around they'd had so far. Although, in the morning Bella felt embarrassed when she met everyone. Jasper had felt what they'd felt, and everyone else felt what he felt because it was too much for him.

Jasper promised to watch Edward while she was hunting. He hadn't spent that much time with him so she thought it would be nice for them to bond.

All the way to the deeper woods, Emmett boasted how he'd had the best sex of his life. Bella could have given her left hand if someone told her that her face wasn't flushed. As flushed as a vampire could get.

They crossed the same small creek as the last time, and she inhaled as Carlisle had taught me. She missed hunting with him, but he had to play doctor at the hospital. That's when she smelled it. Such an inviting smell. It almost rivaled Edward's tantalizing blood—almost.

"What's that?" she whispered to Esme, the closest to her.

"Oh, sweetie, you don't want to try that. Small game means something smaller than deer."

Bella giggled. "As long as it's not elk…" she hinted.

"It's mountain lion," Emmett whispered in Bella's ear. "Are you up to it?"

Mountain lion? "A cougar?"

"Yep." He nodded.

"Oh, why not?" she asked, shrugging and walking toward the smelly meal. She licked her lips and saw her. Beautiful. Alluring. Dangerous.

Exactly what she needed.

Esme tried to stop her, but Bella sprung out of her hidden spot, right on the feline.

She hissed and turned on her back. Bella moved on top of her, pressing her front paws to the ground, smirking. She writhed under her, hissing. The cougar hit Bella's shoulder and she turned her head, ready to bite only to see her tail.

"Oh, you want to play."

The feline's yellow eyes glared at her as she hissed, her claws out. Bella glared right back, laughing freely.

They moved again. The mountain lion was back on her feet as Bella sat on her back. Enough fun. Her hands twisted her neck. Hearing the satisfactory pop of her spine, Bella lowered her head to her soft, golden fur and sank her teeth into her jugular. She tasted delicious; like nectar. When she was dry and Bella was sated, she took her gently in her arm and whispered "sorry", in her ear. She knew she heard but she also knew she wasn't accepting her silly apology. Bella put her lifeless carcass under a chunk of wet ground.

Then she looked up, ready to find the Cullen platoon in front of her, cheering. But she was alone. She patted the ground where the cougar rested and headed back to the house. Bella was still thirsty and when she stumbled upon a small doe, she couldn't feel compassion toward her. She was the predator and she was hungry.

The deer felt the danger and sprinted away, but Bella caught up and in a swift movement, she snapped her neck before drinking from her. She was glad Carlisle had taught her how to do it.

When she arrived back to the Cullens' house, she heard Edward, Jasper and Alice talking about Peter and Charlotte. Bella went to sit next to her little muffin—who was watching her fascinated for some reason. Jasper told her in a few words how he'd met Peter. She knew most of the story; he had talked so much about Jasper that she was surprised for not making the connection immediately. It would have saved them from her skepticism in the beginning.

"Edward? Is everything okay?" Bella asked worried when she felt his eyes dancing over her face.

"Your eyes," he whispered, mesmerized.

"Oh! They've changed the color?" She was surprised. She hadn't thought it would happen so soon.

Alice offered her a mirror, complimenting the new color of her eyes. Edward asked a silly question about preconceived vampire theories, which resulted in a small quarrel between the three of them.

Bella was too focused on her new eyes to participate in their silly conversation. They were a rich, amber color, somewhat like red oranges or grapefruit. She analyzed them from every angle, grinning like a fool.

She could feed from animals. That meant she would never hurt Edward again. She felt a pang of sorrow at departing from his ambrosia, but this was for his own good. She never wanted him hurt, and Carlisle had told her his hemoglobin was dangerously low.

"They're beautiful," Bella whispered, raising the mirror and letting the few rays of sun to catch in her eyes.

"You are beautiful," Edward told her honestly, his voice filled with love.

She smiled, knowing he was much safer now. Safer than he had ever been around her.

Bella leaned into him, giving him a small Eskimo kiss then pressing her lips to his soft, warm, pliable ones. He wasn't one to let the opportunity slide so he returned the kiss hungrily, passionately. Her fingers found their way to his soft locks of hair as his wrapped around her waist. She allowed him to pull her close to him, enjoying the moment.

That was, until Emmett broke the spell.

"Rosie, they're at it again. Come quickly!"

Bella had killed both elks that time, out of compassion for the one that would have survived. She could kill both Emmett and Rosalie too so there wouldn't be a mate to avenge.

Alice's twinkling laugh drew her attention. She was perched on Jasper's lap, giggling like a schoolgirl.

"I can see it," she whispered, winking.

"And it makes you laugh?" Emmett asked, misinterpreting her answer.

"Bella was concocting a devious plan to kill you and Rose, not wanting her to suffer once she lost you."

"So Romeo and Juliet of you, Ruby," Rose drawled from the doorway.

Bella chuckled, shrugging. "I won't allow you to harm Edward, Mrs. Topaz," she told her seriously, stroking his stubby cheek. Rosalie huffed.

Bella met Edward's green eyes and they sparkled. They were so full of life. She could never hurt him or…listen to him. She felt like they were running out of time for some reason. Edward kept pleading her almost every night to tell him more about how one transforms into a vampire; how life as a vampire is; and about the newborn years. She always tried to dodge those conversations, but he was a mischievous little thing and they always ended up talking about something or another regarding vampire life.

"How about a rematch in the meantime? It will give you time to come up with a good plan," Edward said cheerfully, smirking at Rosalie.

"You're on, kid."

That night, they went to Bella's little cottage and spent the night on her crappy couch away from other's ears and eyes. She was glad because Edward was extra vocal during their lovemaking.

"First thing I want to do is beat Emmett's ass in arm wrestling," Edward told her solemnly, his head resting on her stomach with their hands linked.

"You wish to have your arm broken again," she teased him.

"Not tomorrow." He huffed, raising his head. "When I'm like you."

All traces of humor left her. They were back to square one. She didn't say anything, just offered him a little forced smile.

When he returned to his house, he told his parents the lie they had invented about the camping trip. Bella was already teaching him how to lie. Life as a vampire was a lie.

Ginger was happy to see him and didn't leave his side for a full week. He even hissed at Bella when she sat next to Edward on the bed, the first night he was back. Edward found that incredibly amusing. Bella was exiled to the rocking chair.

They were a pair—cuddling together on the bed while she glared at the cat. She wanted to be there. That stupid cat could keep him warm. A small voice in the back of her head told her that if he were like her, they would be the same temperature.

Bella was considering it more and more.

In the late August, they decided to wander around the forest on foot and stumbled over a gorgeous round meadow. They fell in love with it and returned daily, until school started. They either lay under the sun, with Edward gazing at her transfixed, or sat under a tree taking turns reading from a book, talking about little things and just having fun. On a few occasions, she humored him and they played hide and seek—which nearly resulted in a broken leg for Edward. That's when she put a stop to it.

They always had some food and water with them in case he got hungry; he'd skipped lunch so they could spend the whole day there. A few times, Bella indulged him on a dip in the warm stream, but the most fun still was making love. She didn't care where they were: her crappy couch; even the Cullens' couch; his bed; the door; the wall; or the grass. All that was important was that they were together in the most intimate way.

A day before school started, Carlisle told her to visit him; alone. Of course, her mind spun, thinking they were in immediate danger. He calmed her, telling her that their cousin of sorts was visiting. Bored of her life in Alaska with her sisters, she wanted to try high school like the Cullens. Bella didn't see any harm in that. She was a 'vegetarian' like them, and Bella knew she'd never cause trouble or anything.

.

.

.

"You're quiet," Edward noted. They were in his car on their way to school.

"I'm thinking of my conversation with Carlisle," Bella whispered.

"Are you going to tell me what's wrong? You look troubled."

"Oh, it's no trouble," she dismissed him, smiling. "They know a clan of vampires just like them from Denali, Alaska, and…one of them is visiting. She wants to try high school life like the Cullens."

"Oh," Edward breathed. "I was sure there was something dark lurking behind the trees."

"Aren't I dangerous enough?" she teased.

"And to think I'm sleeping in the same bed as you!" He mock shuddered and she slapped him playfully on the arm.

As he parked the car, Bella saw Emmett's Jeep and all of them around it; including the new girl. She was around Rosalie's height—which meant she was taller than Bella—with strawberry blonde hair. She could tell she was pretty old from the aspect of her skin. She looked like she'd spent thousands of years on Earth.

"There they are!" Bella said amused. Everyone in the parking lot was gawking at them.

"You'd think they haven't seen a vampire before!" Edward rolled his eyes and turned to look at them.

His heart took off and his breathing sped up. Before she could panic…she smelled something familiar. And to fuel her panic, it wasn't turned toward her. He was holding the new vampire's gaze, his arousal filling the air.

"Edward!" Bella snapped, with a burning feeling inside her.

He didn't move, but instead, he licked his lips and gulped loudly.

"Edward Masen!"

His head snapped to her as he blinked furiously. "Huh?" He sounded dazzled, his eyes were slightly unfocused.

"What the hell was that?" She was jealous, and she wasn't trying to hide it.

"I have no idea," he whispered, glancing to the blonde, a huge smile plastering on his face, and a dreamy sigh escaping his lips.

"You'd think you haven't seen vampires before!" She threw his words back at him and stormed out of the car, slamming the door.

Bella barely glanced at the Cullens as she made her way into the school. She was sure everyone saw how angry she was because they cleared out of her way. She was probably the only one eager to start school because there was no one in her first class. English.

It took her a moment to realize Edward would be in all her classes, but at that moment, she didn't even want to see him.

After the bell rang, he came into the room, looking like he had been taking some drug. Bella gritted her teeth together, tightening her eyes at him when he sat next to her. He didn't even turn to her. He put his head on his palm, his elbows resting on the top of the desk, a dreamy sigh escaping him again.

Bella bristled, folding her arms over her chest. She was going to kill that girl. A slow and painful death.

She'd prefer the Leah fiasco all over again. She'd welcome that anytime.

After the first class let out, Bella went to her locker; Edward seemed to have snapped out of his haze, and was trying to engage her in a conversation about their next class. She dumped her English books in the locker, gathering the History ones, slammed the metal door and stormed away.

"Hey! I was talking to you!" She heard him protesting from behind her.

Alice was sharing their History class. Bella hadn't been happier to see a familiar face, ever. She sat next to Alice, sighing.

"You really don't want to sit with me," she whispered just for Bella.

"Why not? I'm mad at Edward."

"Because Tanya shares this class with us."

Bella hissed, apparently too loud, because a few heads turned to her. "Let them sit together all they want. He seems to want her."

"Bella! Oh my God! Carlisle didn't tell you," Alice gasped, surprised.

"Tell me what? What did you see?" she asked angrily. Bella felt like she was losing Edward, and she had no idea how to deal with that.

"You were so focused on Edward that you failed to see that every male in this building is affected the same way." She giggled. "She's a succubus. That's her power. She's messing around."

Bella groaned, wanting to bang her head to something—something that would hurt her and not become unhinged at the impact.

"Go, sit behind me. I kept that desk for you two."

"Oh, thank you! Keep him close to her!" She moaned and moved there.

Alice turned to her, smiling. "We all warned her not to play her stupid games. But she is doing it, anyway. We'll have a talk with her when we get home."

"I may get her acquainted with my fist."

Alice laughed. "You're jealous!"

"Of course I am!" Bella couldn't deny it. It was burning at her insides. "How dare she come here and steal Edward?"

Alice opened her mouth to answer something when Edward and Tanya stepped inside the room. He was in the middle of explaining to her about History class. His eyes caught Bella's and he gave her his special smile. She returned it, unable to keep it off her lips.

"And this is Bella; my girlfriend," he said softly, sitting next to her, kissing her cheek and taking her fisted hand from the table.

"Oh, it's nice to meet you. I've heard so much about you," Tanya chirped, sitting gracefully next to Alice.

Bella glanced at the little pixie and she shrugged, sporting a knowing smile. She caught Tanya's arm, turning her around, facing the front of the class. "How do you like high school so far?" Alice whispered.

"The male humans are…mesmerizing."

Bella growled quietly, linking her fingers with Edward's. He sensed her tensing, and leaned into her, pressing his shoulder to hers.

"What was that in the hallway?" he whispered in her ear.

"Wasn't it obvious?" Bella asked, nodding to the dragon in front of him.

He chuckled. "Bella… oh, silly, Bella."

She snapped her head to him, narrowing her eyes. "Do you realize what she is?" she hissed so low, she wasn't sure he heard.

"I know I got you wrong, now. I always thought you were like her, you know… the term never came to me, until now. Succubus." He smirked when she raised an eyebrow.

"You thought what?" she asked shocked.

Everyone turned to her and she smiled tensely at them, refocusing her attention on Edward.

He cleared his throat a few times, turning red.

The teacher stepped inside at that moment.

"We'll talk about this after school," she whispered to him.

He nodded solemnly and squeezed her hand. They stayed silent until the class let out. He stopped her from leaving, allowing them to be last two in the class.

"Look, I'm sorry; for everything. This morning…uhhh, she told me why she was doing that—to see if she could get everyone's attention."

"Alice explained what she is. I know you didn't stand a chance." Bella smiled and patted his cheek.

"Bella, I didn't want to like her, to look at her like that…I was trying to fight those strange feelings. I knew they weren't true."

"I understand."

"Forgive me," he whispered, trapping her between his warm body and the desk.

Bella kissed him, hugging him. "Forgiven," she murmured against his lips.

Chapter Text

Chapter 23: The cruel reality

The first day of senior year was the worst day ever. It started out promising with Bella next to him when Edward woke up, telling him that his mother had to rush to work. He didn't eat much food, although he made a nice snack of Bella right on the kitchen floor.

Everything went down when they arrived at school. The Cullens' friend was new to this school life, but that's not what caught his attention or any other male's attention. There was an unseen force pulling him to her. A rational part of his brain was telling him that he couldn't be feeling that. He was in love with Bella.

After first class, Edward bumped into her accidentally, while he was looking for Bella, who had abandoned him in the middle of the hallway.

"I'm Tanya," she told him, smiling, her yellow eyes looked on fire.

"Hi!" He shook his head, trying to clear it. What the hell was wrong with him?

"You must be the one the Cullens couldn't shut up about."

"I'm Edward," he told her, breaking eye contact. He felt a little better, but she still made him squirm.

"You're a cute one. What do you have next?" she asked, showing him her teeth.

"History," he mumbled.

"Wonderful! Lead the way, pretty boy."

"Look…ehhh, Tanya…" Edward couldn't form a coherent thought.

"Tell me about this class," she said, hooking her arm around his elbow.

He felt his ears turning red. Edward started explaining what the class was about before he realized he was doing so.

As they walked to the class, he saw every boy's head turning to look at her. Their eyes became glazed over and they shifted uncomfortably.

Edward's breath hitched when he realized what was happening. He was proud of himself.

"Are you okay?" she asked, stopping.

"You're…a succu…" He couldn't say the word, afraid he'd hurt her feelings.

"Yes, Edward. I'm a succubus. I don't stand a chance with you, do I?" She smirked.

"No, you don't." He grinned back. "So please stop trying."

She nodded, somewhat disappointed. Edward kept answering her questions about school. When they arrived in History class, he saw Alice and Bella talking in the back of the room. He broke contact with Tanya, glad to be away from her and crossed the room quickly to his Bella.

"And this is Bella. My girlfriend," he told her pointedly.

He sat in the empty chair next to her and kissed her cold cheek then he took her hand. Edward hoped everything was okay. She had been upset since she'd fled from the car.

After explaining what had happened and once he was forgiven, he felt a lot better.

By lunchtime, they had fallen into their old pattern; being glued to the hip.

"Where do you want to sit?" Bella asked once they arrived in the cafeteria.

Edward shrugged, grabbing some food. He wasn't going to skip breakfast again. That was a promise.

"Hey, man!" Ben appeared next to him, bumping his fist in Edward's shoulder. "How are you?"

"Hey. I'm good. Great, actually," he answered, glancing at Bella.

Ben followed his gaze and nodded. "Good summer, I take it?"

"The best!" Edward grinned, following him to their usual table without realizing.

Bella didn't object, being glad to see Angela again. They had really isolated themselves from everyone over summer.

The more he talked with Ben, the more he realized how different he was and how different his ideas were. Ben had worked during the summer, to help his parents with money for his college. Edward hadn't even thought about college. There was only one thing he wanted once he graduated: to become a vampire – kind of an ambitious project for a teenager.

The chair next to him scraped and he turned to see who had joined them. They usually sat alone.

Edward fought the urge to groan when he saw Emmett, grinning knowingly.

"How's Tanya?" he asked, shoving Edward playfully.

Edward pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes at him. "Shut up," he hissed just for him. "Ben, this is Emmett Cullen."

"Nice to meet ya, Ben."

Ben nodded, shaking his hand tentatively. He was already scared. Edward could tell.

As the rest of the Cullens joined them, Edward could hear the entire cafeteria growing quiet then suddenly, it broke into loud murmurs. The school's gossip girls had their hands over their mouths and heads pressed together, glancing their way.

"Is it always like this?" he whispered to Emmett.

"Sometimes it's better, sometimes it's worse."

Edward rolled his eyes, fighting the urge to punch him.

Angela warmed up quickly to Alice, and along with Bella, they spent the entire hour talking about who knew what. Edward saw Tanya joining their conversation a few times, but giving up quickly. Rosalie was glaring at everyone looking her way. Jasper was sitting quite erect at Alice's side. He offered Edward a little, tense smile when he caught his eye.

If it was difficult for Jasper to be around him then he could only imagine how he felt surrounded by so many humans.

Edward wondered if he'd be like him once he was a vampire. How would he turn out? Bella had told him some nasty stories at his insistence and even Emmett had shared his experience as a newborn. He'd be a savage. That was certain.

He realized someone was looking at him, and he turned to see Emmett eyeing him, amused. Edward shook his head, trying to stop smiling.

Was it only last year when he'd stayed here alone with Bella, trying to understand her and put the pieces together? It felt like a few years had passed.

He heard a gasp and turned his eyes toward the source of the sound. Alice's fork clattered to the table as her mouth dropped, her eyes fogged.

"Alice," Jasper hissed in her ear.

Nothing happened. She looked like she was in a trance. Edward hadn't really experienced seeing her having a vision – a real one.

She turned to Edward, her eyes still clouded, her face turning into a mask of horror.

He looked around, hoping no one was seeing this. They were minding their own business, but Ben and Angela were with them and they were looking scared at her.

"Will she be okay?" Angela asked Bella.

"Yeah, she probably remembered something. That's Alice," Bella tried to dismiss it, but not even she was able to hide the tension in her voice.

Suddenly, Alice's eyes lost their cloudiness and focused on Edward. He gathered as much – the vision had to do with him. He had no idea how bad it was.

"Welcome back!" Emmett said cheerfully. Edward could even hear his voice trembling a little.

"Is it nap time?" Edward teased her, forcing a smile.

She shook her head. "Sorry. I just remembered something. Edward, can you come with me to the locker?"

"Sure." He jumped up, nearly knocking the chair down.

He saw Alice squeezing Bella's shoulder, whispering something in her ear then she came to him and led him out.

"We're not going to your locker."

"No, we're not." She stopped walking and took a deep breath. "Not here," she whispered. "Bella will get your stuff at the end of the day."

"What are you talking about?" he asked, shocked.

"We're leaving, now. Come on." She took his hand and led him out of the school.

"I don't understand," he groaned, planting his heels in the ground. "Tell me, Alice."

"Not here," she hissed. "We can take your car or I can run."

"Car," he muttered, allowing her to drag him to his car.

They were silent all the way to the Cullen house. He kept glancing at her, but she motioned between her eyes and the road. Edward gritted his teeth in annoyance.

What in the hell had she seen?

He parked the car in their driveway and before he had his buckle undone, Alice opened his door, dragging him out. Edward wasn't so used to their speed since Bella had refrained to show it too much.

"Whoa! Easy!" He grumbled, stumbling.

"There's no time for easy!" She snapped and moved faster to the front door. She took him to a couch and he slumped on it as she started pacing.

"Alice! Skipping school?" Esme appeared in the doorway, smirking. Her smirk fell when she saw how troubled Alice was.

Edward shrugged, not knowing what was going on.

"Are you going to tell me?" he asked, impatiently.

"We should wait for everyone to come back. Esme, can you pack Tanya's stuff? She has to go. No need to involve her in this."

"In what? What's going on?" Edward insisted.

Esme disappeared from the room. Alice whirled to him, shoving her finger under his nose, ready to say something when her eyes became glassy again.

"Oh, no!" she murmured.

"ALICE!" He tried shaking her shoulders, only managing to stumble and nearly hit his head on hers.

She shook her head and focused on him. "Edward… we have to leave."

"What?" he whispered.

"Shh, let me think of something." She sat next to him, unmoving for a long time.

"What do you know about Bella's past?"

Edward turned his head to Alice, unsure if he'd heard her right.

"Answer me. It's important."

"Well…I don't know. She doesn't talk about it much…" He shrugged. "Is she in trouble?" he asked, feeling dread installing in his body.

"Why isn't she with Peter and Charlotte? Why did she leave them?"

"She was angry with Peter over what he had done. She left after Charlotte told her about the rules, whatever that is."

"Did she listen to every rule?" Alice asked, more to herself.

"Is this because we're together?" he hissed.

"No! It has nothing to do with you. But it will, soon." She dropped her gaze and huffed.

"Bella hasn't done anything!" Edward snapped at her. How could she think badly of Bella?

"Has Bella told you about the Volturi?"

"The what?" he asked, blinking.

"Volturi, they're close to royalty for our kind and-"

"Don't you dare finish that sentence, Alice Cullen!"

Bella was in the doorway of the room, glaring at Alice, angrier than Edward had ever seen her.

"He has a right to know!"

"What is going on? What did you see?" Bella hissed, advancing.

"I saw the Volturi coming, okay? Out of nowhere, then it was all clear why they were coming!" Alice screeched.

"And why are they coming? I heard you saying it didn't have to do with Edward."

"And it will, as I added! What have you done, Bella—in your past?"

"Tried to blend in? Like your coven," she answered annoyed.

"Have you…drunk from children?" Alice nothing but whispered the question.

Edward looked at Bella, surprised. Had she? I mean…how much blood could a child have?

"Yeah, so? It was a very long time ago."

How could she act like it wasn't something bad?

"But they were kids!" Edward yelled, without realizing it.

"It was just once if you want to know. What brought this on?" Bella shot him a look that was almost apologetic.

"Once, and you managed to… do the impossible."

"What are you talking about?" Bella stared confused at Alice.

"The child didn't die, apparently. And the Volturi caught wind of that," Alice explained.

Edward was missing on something. Definitely. Everyone appeared in the room, looking scared – no, they looked terrified. Bella's eyes were so wide he thought they'd pop out.

He heard a loud snarl and an even louder crash then he saw Tanya pinning Bella to the wall.

"You created an immortal child! You bitch! You deserve to die!" she shouted in her face.

"I had no idea!" Edward heard Bella yell back in a choked voice.

"Do something," he snapped at the others.

No one was moving. They were watching them sad and pitifully. Carlisle looked the saddest.

"And what the hell is an immortal child?" Edward asked, hoping someone was going to answer him.

"I'll personally hand your ass to Aro!" Tanya snapped. "I wished for a quiet year when I came here to join my old friends."

"I wished for a quiet year, too, since every other possible danger was out of our way!" Bella hissed, trying to pry Tanya's hand away from her throat.

When Edward saw Rosalie moving, he thought she was going to help Bella, but he was wrong. She was on Tanya's side.

"A child! An innocent, little life!"

"I had no idea!" Bella moaned.

"You didn't hear the heart still beating?" Rose roared.

Edward decided he had seen enough. He sprang to his feet and advanced. If they weren't going to save Bella from the two enraged women then he was doing it himself.

Strong arms came around him, dragging him aside. "You really don't want to go there," Emmett whispered in his ear.

"But...Bella," he protested.

"Tanya, you should leave. It's for the best," Carlisle spoke softly, going toward them. Finally!

"Not a chance in hell!" she yelled.

"Please. Just go. We'll get out of this mess on our own."

"I packed your things," Esme whispered.

Tanya was gone before Edward realized she'd moved. Then Carlisle and Esme pried Rosalie away from Bella, who collapsed against the wall. Emmett kept a firm grip on Edward, holding him against his chest, and as much as he squirmed, he couldn't escape.

"How did this happen?" Bella whispered after what felt like days.

"It took me by surprise. I usually have a few visions that lead to such a major thing. They're coming, Bella," Alice told her, going over to her.

Edward was jealous. He wanted to be there, with her, to comfort her.

"Is anyone going to explain this to me?" Edward growled, writhing in Emmett's iron grip. "Who the fuck are these vultures?"

"Volturi." Emmett chuckled tensely in his ear.

"I don't care about that! I want explanations! And what is an immortal child?"

Carlisle sighed and after a pointed look to Rosalie, he let her go.

"Let's sit down. Alice, how much time do we have?"

"They are coming on Friday or Saturday, not sure yet."

Edward rolled his eyes. They weren't even coming in the next few hours. What was the fuss about?

"Okay, let's settle and calm down. Edward, come here." Carlisle patted the spot next to him, on the red couch.

He made to move, but slammed back against Emmett since he hadn't loosened his grip. "Emmett," he groaned.

"Oh, right."

Edward went to Carlisle and watched as everyone sat down. Bella didn't move from her spot against the wall, her head on her knees, hands wrapped around her legs.

"The Volturi are our royalty. You don't irk them unless you want trouble."

"Royalty, my ass! More like Capone," Emmett muttered.

"Emmett, I am telling the story, shut up!" Carlisle hissed, upset. He looked back at Edward, seriously. "They are a very old, very powerful family of our kind. I lived with them for a few decades when I was young. They're from Italy."

"How… Italy?" Edward asked, shocked.

"We're everywhere. I was studying there when I discovered them. They were more civilized and educated than what I knew from London."

"You're from London?"

"Edward, are you going to allow me to finish this before Friday?"

"Yeah, sorry," he mumbled.

"I have a picture of them in my study. They are Aro, Marcus and Caius. They tried to persuade me to stay, but I declined. I wanted to find others like me. I wanted to explore the New World. And so I arrived to America."

"Can I see them?" Edward asked when Carlisle made a long enough pause.

"Certainly. Follow me."

As they left the room, Edward couldn't help but look at Bella and how stony she sat there. Carlisle pushed him out of the room with a hand on his shoulder.

"She'll be okay."

Edward walked beside him, still confused about these guys from Italy. Maybe Emmett was right. They sounded more like Al Capone than the Queen of England.

Carlisle opened the door of his study and once they were inside, he pulled him in front of a painting. "They are the Volturi."

Edward frowned at the three pale faces. Two had black hair and one light blond, almost white, hair. "Aro, Marcus and Caius," Carlisle pointed to each of them.

A fourth person caught his eye and after a double look, Edward felt his breath hitch. He turned to look at his companion then back at the painting, frowning.

"Yes, that is myself, while I was there." Carlisle smiled down at him. He sighed, returning his eyes to the three Italian vampires. "Unless you want to die – you don't irritate them."

"There are rules?" Edward asked, his eyes on the man in the middle – Aro. He looked sinister.

"Just one important one. You know it as well as any vampire would."

"Really?"

He smiled. "You can't tell the secret, can you?"

"Oh, of course I can't," he whispered. "It was so obvious."

Carlisle nodded in response. "There are other rules," he continued quietly. "Tanya was affected so strongly because she has known someone that did just that."

"Did what?"

"Created an immortal child. Her mother. They never speak of her willingly so I don't know her name."

Edward didn't move, listening with bated breath – he might have ceased breathing for all he knew.

"She lived long before I was born."

"When did you…" He stopped talking when Carlisle chuckled.

"Sixteen forties and changed by sixteen sixties."

"Oh." He had no idea what he was expecting, but not that. Carlisle was over three hundred years old, which meant that Tanya's mother was even older. He couldn't wrap his head around it.

"They created vampires out of humans who were barely more than infants. They were very beautiful. So endearing, so enchanting, you had but to be near them to love them; it was an automatic thing. However, they could not be taught. They were frozen at whatever level of development they'd achieved before being bitten. Adorable two-year-olds with dimples and lisps that could destroy half a village in one of their tantrums. If they hungered, they fed, and no words of warning could restrain them. Humans saw them, stories circulated, fear spread like fire in dry brush."

Edward felt sick, his stomach twisting horribly. He could picture a small child with red eyes, a porcelain face, wanting in someone's arms and then biting. Maybe he had watched Chucky too many times.

"Tanya's mother created such a child, though I can't fathom her reason. The Volturi became involved, of course."

Edward looked back at the painting and almost saw the scene Carlisle was reenacting develop before his eyes.

"I told you they were loveable. Well, covens fought to the last man – were utterly decimated to protect them. The carnage was not as widespread as the southern wars on this continent, but more devastating in its own way. Long-established covens, old traditions, friends… Much was lost. In the end, the practice was completely eliminated. The immortal children became unmentionable, a taboo. When I lived with the Volturi, I met two immortal children, so I know firsthand the appeal they had. Aro studied the little ones for many years after the catastrophe they'd caused was over. You know his inquisitive disposition; he was hopeful that they could be tamed. But in the end, the decision was unanimous: the immortal children could not be allowed to exist."

Now Edward was seeing a small army of infants being chased by the three older vampires, and when caught – he swallowed, trying not to think of it.

"Tanya, Kate, and Irina were entirely oblivious until the day the Volturi came for them, their mother and her illegal creation already their prisoners. It was ignorance that saved Tanya's and her sisters' lives. Aro touched them and saw their total innocence, so they were not punished with their mother. None of them had ever seen the boy before, or dreamed of his existence, until the day they watched him burn in their mother's arms. I can only guess that their mother had kept her secret to protect them from this exact outcome. But why had she created him in the first place? Who was he, and what had he meant to her that would cause her to cross this most uncrossable of lines? Tanya and the others never received an answer to any of these questions. But they could not doubt their mother's guilt, and I don't think they've ever truly forgiven her."

"Hold on!" Edward whispered, finding his voice. "Tanya has sisters?"

"Yes, they live in Denali, along with two more vampires."

He nodded. "And what about… Aro touched them and saw something part? What's that?"

Carlisle's eyes widened. "That is his power. He can read minds by touching one's hand," he explained, grimacing.

"Sorry, but you said it."

"It's good you know. You have to be very careful-"

"Edward won't be around when they arrive!" Bella was in the doorway, glaring at Carlisle.

Edward was too shocked by her sudden appearance to be happy she was okay.

"Let me continue the story. You should stay here, too," he told her softly.

She slipped inside the room, closing the door and leaning against it, not meeting Edward's eyes.

"Even with Aro's perfect assurance that Tanya, Kate, and Irina were innocent, Caius wanted them to burn. Guilty by association. They were lucky that Aro felt like being merciful that day. Tanya and her sisters were pardoned, but left with unhealing hearts and a very healthy respect for the law."

"Burn?" Edward felt angry with Bella for not having told him any of this. If he thought back on their relationship, she had never said a thing about vampires until the Cullens had arrived into their lives. She had kept so much as a secret that what he knew from his books made little sense; since most of it was a lie.

"To destroy a vampire, you have to rip it to pieces and burn them," Carlisle explained patiently, shooting Bella a weird look.

She huffed at him, but didn't interject. She already had so much to explain to him once they were alone.

"This is it?" Edward asked when Carlisle didn't continue.

"Yes. Now, we have to see what we can do about our situation."

"Our?" Bella whispered, looking at him shocked.

"Yes, our. You are one of us now, Bella. I love you as my own."

"Really? Oh, Carlisle!" Bella sobbed dryly and launched at his neck, hugging him tightly. "I didn't mean any harm," she whispered, still clinging to him.

"Shall we go downstairs and explain everyone your story?" he asked softly.

"Yes, in a moment." She took a step back and glanced at Edward between her thick black lashes. Her eyes were almost butterscotch.

Carlisle let himself out of the room, leaving them alone. They had about three feet between them, but that didn't last for long because Bella started walking slowly, cautiously, toward Edward.

"Is it true?" he asked, searching her eyes, now that he could see them.

"How much do you hate me?"

"I can't hate you…"

"But?"

"Did you intend to create such… to create a child like that?" he asked.

She dropped her gaze. "I will explain everything when we get downstairs. I don't think I can do it twice." She looked back at him. "Edward, whatever you hear…that was the old me. A very old me. That person existed for about a year or two after Peter changed me."

"Just say yes or no," he insisted.

Bella watched him guarded then whispered so softly, he barely heard her. "Yes."

His heart stopped and somehow, he made it out of the study and down the stairs. Everyone was in the living room, waiting for them. Edward saw their blurry forms through his tears and just rushed out of the house.

The key was in the ignition of his car and he just twisted it then flew home.

Logically, he knew he should have stayed and listened to Bella's story. He knew she wouldn't have done such an atrocious thing if she could have helped it, but she had told him that she was young when it had happened. Whatever her excuse was – it wasn't good enough.

Chapter Text

Chapter 24: Royal visitors

This day was horrible. Bella hated it. She had put that awful time behind—that period of her past.

"Should we wait for him?" Carlisle asked once Bella made it downstairs.

"No, he is too upset to come back any time soon." She shook her head.

She knew Edward better than anyone; better than he knew himself.

"Then tell us the whole story," Carlisle continued.

"Yes, do tell us!" Rosalie sneered.

Bella had no idea why she was so upset. Not like she didn't have a reason to. Bella understood Tanya's reaction….but Rosalie's? Not so much.

"It was a year after I left Peter," Bella started explaining, looking down. She hated talking about that time. "I was in a small village, searching for food. Even then I was thinking twice before killing." She sighed.

"I'm sure!" Rosalie snorted.

Bella ignored her and continued her story. "I killed a couple of old people. Unlike any other time, I moved to the closest village I found. It had been a week since I'd last fed, so I was thirsty. One day, after a heavy rain, no one was leaving their house. I wanted to take my leave, changing my mind, but a woman opened the door and invited me inside out of the rain. I resisted. I swear!" She looked up at them pleadingly.

"I told her that I wasn't that far away from home. She had none of it. I finally followed her." Bella dropped her gaze again, and glared at her linked fingers in her lap. "She had a three year old girl; she was adorable. I loved her instantly. I never meant to hurt her-"

"I just heard you telling Edward that you meant it!" Rosalie snapped. She seemed to be the only one against her.

"Let me finish!" Bella hissed. "Her mother prepared lunch and I played with the food in my plate; making it look like I'd eaten something. She kept me in her house, insisting that I should leave in the morning. I agreed, stupidly. After a quiet dinner, which I declined, I was next to her while she washed the dishes." Bella gulped, cringing at the horrid memory. "She cut herself with a knife. Before I knew what I did, I had her in my arms, teeth in her throat…sucking her dry. When I looked up, I saw the little girl in the doorway of the kitchen. Our eyes locked and she looked amazed and shocked at me. I knew she would talk if I let her live. I knew I couldn't kill her. I had no idea what an immortal child was. I wanted to keep her. She was precious…" She explained in a small voice. "When I realized what she could do. How evil she could be…I tried to get away. She followed me everywhere. Almost every day she'd tell me 'I'm hungry, Miss' and I would glare at her. I couldn't be upset with her because as you said, Carlisle, you couldn't be mad with such a doll. She was the perfect child until she was hungry. And when she was hunting…God, that was messy."

"What happened? How did you get separated?" Jasper asked.

"We were in Wichita and we found a group of nomads. They were old, probably older than Carlisle, in human and vampire age. They were shocked, scared, amazed, horrified and in love with my little companion. Once it was time to leave, she told me she'd like to stay with them. I jumped to the opportunity to deposit of the little demon I was sorry for creating. She was eager to stay with them and they were eager to know more about her. I left in the middle of the night. Her small, crystalline voice still haunts me. I never knew what I had done or that I was forbidden to create such a thing."

They all looked at her contemplatively for a few quiet minutes, while Rosalie kept glaring.

"Someone needs to go to Edward and talk to him. Bella, it would be best if you stayed away for a while," Carlisle told her.

"I know," she mumbled.

"I'll do it," Rose announced. "Anything to be away from her." She pointed at Bella, throwing another glare her way.

Once she was gone, Carlisle and Jasper went to his study to make a plan; a way to escape what Bella had brought upon them. Esme and Alice went to start packing in case they had to leave.

Bella felt horrible.

Emmett sat next to her and wrapped his big arm around her shoulders.

"Rose is upset for another reason, besides the obvious one," he whispered.

"Huh?" She glanced at him, frowning.

"Her fiancé and his friends abused of her the night before the wedding. Carlisle found her barely alive and decided to give her another chance. Until she found me, she hated this world. She's always wanted a baby, a normal life."

"Emmett, do you think I would have done it, had I known what I was doing? Something told me to stop drinking at some point…and I did…and I was about to take off when the girl started screaming and thrashing around. It took me a few minutes to realize what was happening. I have never been so scared. Have you ever seen someone transform before your eyes?" She asked, searching his eyes.

"No. I can imagine it is not pretty." He let out a nervous chuckle.

"It's horrible. That's the main reason I keep denying Edward. At the same time, I know he won't listen to me." Bella sighed and bit her lip.

"We'll be okay, Ruby. You'll see." He hugged her to his chest and Bella allowed all the tension to dissolve. He tensed up a little when she let out a dry sob but tightened his arms around her.

Rosalie never returned. At least, Bella knew Edward was safe.

Carlisle had come up with a plan. Being old friends with Aro, he'd welcome him and ask cordial questions then plead him to listen to Bella's story. All this time, Edward would be away, and they all were to make personal efforts to stay away from him so the Volturi wouldn't smell him on them. It was one thing for them to smell of different human scents since they were attending school, and another thing to have one potent human smell around them.

Once the plan was thorough enough, Esme called Tanya to apologize for what had happened and to tell her that she was welcome to join their family at high school next time they moved away.

When it was school time the following day, Bella trudged her way to her cottage to change her clothes. She was happy to pass on the annoying contacts.

She was so grateful for meeting the Cullens – on so many levels that the upcoming events made her sick. They had been nothing but good toward Edward and her, and she was bringing the Volturi over them.

She drove her car to school, grateful Rosalie had managed to repair it. Everything seemed to revolve around them, lately.

Bella parked next to Edward's car. She knew she had to stay away, but she had to talk to him, to explain herself.

Alice fell in step with her and linked her arm around Bella's. "Let him believe whatever he wants. If Aro gets to him, he will have no idea why you or any of us didn't talk to him for the past week."

"No one will get to Edward," Bella hissed, narrowing her eyes at Alice. Bella wondered if he could spend the end of the week with the wolves.

"Bella! I have no idea what you are doing, but stop it! I have to see the future now, more than ever!"

"I was thinking of sending Edward to La Push."

"Ah, maybe Carlisle was right," she mused. "When the wolves are involved, I can't see."

"That sounds interesting," she said, sincerely.

"Promise you won't talk to him," Alice pleaded her as she dropped Bella to her first class.

Bella nodded and entered the classroom.

She found Edward at their desk, his head over his folded arms on the top of the desk. She sat down quietly and looked at him.

How upset was he? Would he ever forgive her? Could she not talk to him for four days?

Looking at him closer, she saw the dark circles under his eyes. He hadn't slept. His breathing was too even for him just to be sitting there, ignoring her.

He was sleeping.

When the teacher came in the room, she knew she had to wake him up.

"Edward," she whispered, touching his elbow.

His eyes snapped open then he sat up in his chair and rubbed them. He didn't look at her or acknowledge her for the rest of the class.

In the hallway, Bella walked a few steps behind him and went to her locker, which was pretty close to his. She saw Emmett going to his locker, which was right next to Edward's, and changed his books quickly. Edward tried to talk to him, but Emmett didn't answer. He only shook his head and Edward seemed to get it.

The rest of the morning passed in the same manner, she was glad to share the classes with some of the Cullens. She sat with Alice in History, leaving Edward alone behind them. She sat with Emmett in Spanish, leaving Edward alone on the other side of the class.

Once in the cafeteria, Alice and Jasper led the way to the last table, next to the back wall.

"You're doing great! But he'll talk to you in Bio. So be careful," Alice whispered as they took their seats.

Bella glanced toward Edward, who was sitting with Angela and Ben, shooting them confused glances.

"We have to give him something! I don't know him very well, but from what I saw…he's very hot-headed. He won't stay away and he knows when Aro's coming. He'll be there," Rose told them. She turned to Bella, narrowing her eyes. "Why haven't you talked to him about…our kind?" she hissed. "He doesn't know much."

"I tried to keep him separate from our nature, Rosalie, but I realized that I loved him too much to keep him away. Once this mess is over…" Bella sighed, stopping herself.

"He'd love it if we settled a date for the change," Rose added softly.

Before she could retort, Alice gasped softly, a huge smile spreading on her face as she gave Edward thumbs up across the room.

"I thought we weren't talking to him," Bella muttered, looking between them.

Edward was sporting the same grin and giving her the thumbs up right back.

"Do you see me talking to him?" Alice asked sarcastically.

"You're still communicating with him! What was that?" Bella demanded. "I'm not allowed to tal—communicate with him, and you are?"

"Oh, calm down. It's between us," she whispered, and winked to him over Bella's shoulder.

When she looked back at Edward, he was engrossed in a discussion with Ben. Only Angela was frowning, looking at Alice with a confused expression.

She wasn't the only confused one.

"What did you just see? Why are you smiling like that?" Bella groaned when Alice's grin widened.

"Not telling you!" she sang.

When the bell rang, Bella made her way to Biology and found the seat next to Angela empty. Mike hadn't been at school today. She could stay with her, just to keep up with the plan.

Edward's face fell comically when he saw her pass their usual desk and sit next to Angela. She was surprised to see Bella there, but didn't comment on it.

"Are you fighting?" she whispered, nodding to Edward.

"Not really."

"Oh, taking a break?" she deduced.

"Not really," Bella repeated.

Angela looked amused.

"It's a long story."

Angela let it slide, and they talked about what they were currently studying, not that she cared much about that.

The teacher made them pay attention to one of his experiments. It was the most boring thing ever—about a pea's life. Bella kept glancing at Edward; he was bent over his notebook, scribbling furiously. Was he taking notes?

Next class, P.E., flew by and when she walked to her car, she saw Edward there. He had a wiper blade lifted and of course, the alarm went off. Luckily, she was close by.

"Are you trying to steal my car?" she asked amused.

He jumped and turned to her, moving his hands behind his back. "I was just…eh, doesn't matter," he retracted, walking backwards, around the hood of her car to his.

"Did you need something?" Bella wondered. He was acting weird.

"No. Why do you ask?" He was trying to open the door of his car not looking at it.

"What are you hiding behind your back?"

His jaw clenched. After a few moments, he took a step toward Bella's car and leaned over the hood. "Here. Read this," he whispered and offered her a piece of paper.

Bella took it from his hand and unfolded it. It looked like a letter.

When she looked up at him again, she saw his car backing away. Bella looked down at the letter then hopped in her car, driving home. She couldn't wait to read it.

She sat on the couch, tucking her legs under her and opened the letter again. It wasn't very long and she couldn't stop to admire his neat writing.

Dear Bella,

I think I know why you (along with the Cullens) are keeping your distance. It took me a few hours to realize it, but by lunch, I'd figured it out. You could have told me it is for my own safety. I would have listened.

I made plans with Ben for Friday evening. We're going to Port Angeles – bowling. Very human, huh? So don't worry about the Italian vampires coming after me. My parents are going to Seattle for a dinner Dad is invited to, so they'll be safe.

Saturday, I plan to visit Jake. It's been a long time since I dropped by. Billy already invited my parents for dinner so we might be there.

I don't know which day they'll choose to come…that's why I made plans for both days. Considerate much? See, I can preserve myself. It's you, I can't stay away from.

When this is over, we need to talk. REALLY talk. There's so much to talk about, Bella.

If something happens…bad or good…please call me or…have someone call me. Please.

I love you. Always.

Edward

He was going to be okay. When the Volturi arrived, he'd be long gone. As for Bella, she tried not to think of the scenario in which something happened to her, or one of the Cullens. She couldn't even conceive that.

The thumbs up between him and Alice had probably been over the night in Port Angeles.

Bella hugged the paper to her chest, sniffing it in a pathetic way to smell his tantalizing scent.

The next few days passed quickly, with a few glances from Edward. When the last bell rang on Friday, Bella flew to her car. They had to regroup at the Cullens' house by three thirty. Alice had had a vision during lunch in which she saw them arriving after four.

As Bella jumped in her car, Emmett peeled out of his spot. She got caught up in a small jam. She couldn't just leave her car and run to their house. A car stopped next to hers and honked.

She turned around angry, only to see Edward, his passenger's window rolled down. She rolled her window down and looked at him expectantly.

"Be careful," he said softly.

Bella looked at Ben in the passenger seat, then back to Edward's worried green eyes. "I will. You too. I love you."

"I love you, too." He showed her his trademark crooked smile then rolled the window up.

After another long look at him, she drove off, since the road had cleared up.

Bella parked her car in the driveway and rushed inside the house. Emmett was talking strategies with Jasper, in case they needed to fight. She truly hoped it wouldn't get to that.

"What held you up?" Emmett asked, smirking.

"Just saying goodbye to Edward," she admitted. "He just left."

"Good. Alice said it will be fifteen minutes from now."

"Ten," she chimed up, descending. "Don't worry, Bella. Everything will go well."

"I truly hope so."

Bella was a mass of nerves when she smelt them. Seconds passed and there was a knock on the front door.

Carlisle glanced at his family then went to open the door. They were seated on various couches, chairs—or just standing, in Emmett's case.

Bella had never seen the three brothers, but she'd heard a lot about them. Seeing them made her freeze, chills running down her spine.

"Welcome, old friends," Carlisle said.

Jasper came next to Bella, putting a hand on her shoulder. It seemed his power couldn't do much. She was too wound up.

"It's good to see you again, Carlisle. I wish we were seeing each other under different circumstances," Aro spoke, his eyes springing from one family member to another until his burgundy gaze settled on Bella.

She felt the need to shift, squirm, under his intense gaze. He smiled and drifted toward her. Jasper squeezed her shoulder, dropping his hand.

"I understand you are the little one that caused all the trouble," Aro told her on an amused tone.

She looked at him frightened, then behind him, at his brothers and the other two guys with them.

"Aro, this is Bella, indeed. If you may be kind enough to listen to what she has to say, I'll be eternally grateful. She was young and untrained when it happened," Carlisle said softly.

"Who turned you, Isabella? You don't mind if I call you Isabella, do you?" Aro probed.

"N-no," she stammered. "It's okay." She wanted to gulp, but she didn't have anything to gulp since there was no venom gathered in her mouth.

He extended his hand, which had an odd yellowish look. Bella exchanged a look with Carlisle, who nodded to her. She raised her shaky hand and put it on his papery thin one. He wrapped his long fingers around hers, raising his hand to his mouth to kiss the back of it; all the while a sinister smile played on his lips.

Bella tried to tame her thoughts, knowing he could see everything and it wouldn't be smart if she offended him.

"So interesting." He dropped his hand, cocking his head to the side. "Do tell me how you do it."

"Do what," she blurted out, shocked.

"Keep your thoughts hidden from me," he replied.

"I beg your pardon?"

"I cannot read your mind. You have to tell me how you do that."

"I…don't…I mean…I've never…" She stopped blabbing. He couldn't read her mind! That was very good news. The best.

Caius moved closer. "Are we going to stand here all day? Listen to her or let Felix deal with her."

Bella shuddered and started talking faster than ever before. If she hadn't been a vampire, her words would have been unintelligible. Luckily, they were vampires as well and heard everything she had to say. She started with Peter changing her, she being angry, listening to Charlotte – saving her friend, in case they turned against her, by saying that few people were aware of immortal children – telling them what she had told the Cullens about how she had changed the little girl.

"You seem attached to her," Aro noted when she finished her part.

"Babies are usually adorable. Obviously, the little vampire was wonderful, the most handsome infant I've ever seen. What became of her?" Bella asked before she could keep her mouth shut.

"She was destroyed after I took as much information from her, as possible."

"When did that happen? From my knowledge, you act fast in such cases," Carlisle interjected, speaking the words Bella wanted to voice.

"Oh, I must have missed this little girl. About five decades ago I caught her."

"Why now? Why did you come after Bella, now?" Carlisle asked, fear evident in his eyes.

"I kept track of her, thinking there was a mistake. You know how rarely I pardon people. I was right to let it slide. She was young and not taught well." Aro looked at Bella. "I am here for another reason."

Edward's name ricocheted around in her head and she felt faint. No. He wouldn't get to Edward. He couldn't. He was safe in Port Angeles with Ben, playing bowling.

"What brings you here, then?" Emmett asked, stepping forward.

The huge, burly guard from behind Aro stepped forward too, growling.

"I don't think we've had the pleasure," Aro said in a sweet voice, smiling at Emmett.

"Emmett Cullen. Not a pleasure."

Carlisle decided to save Emmett's rude words by introducing the rest of the family. Once the pleasantries were made, Aro fixated Bella with his red eyes.

"I see you've recently changed your diet. Afraid your little pet was in pain?" he asked with a sneer.

"I've always wanted to do this. I just had no idea I could feed from animals. I would have stopped hurting humans a long time ago," she told him back, coldly.

Aro looked around, linking his fingers in front of him. "Why isn't your friend around? Are you two fighting?"

"You stay away from Edward!" she shouted, a snarl escaping her.

"Wonderful. So possessive." He smiled.

"There's a deep connection between them. And I feel only one side of it now," Marcus, the other leader of Volturi, talked for the first time.

"We're about to have the full impact soon," Caius added mockingly.

Bella's eyes widened and she felt like she'd been punched in her chest. She couldn't breathe, which was absurd. "No," she gasped. "No! You can't find Edward."

"I'm afraid we know where to find him. He'll join us shortly," Aro said jovially.

Chapter Text

Chapter 25: Deadline

Saying goodbye to Bella at school was the hardest thing Edward had ever done. He hadn't been this scared—not even when she went after the nomads.

The bowling alleys were packed and they decided to try the pool table while they waited for one of the alleys to be freed. Ben sensed he was worried about something, but didn't press for answers.

They had hit a couple of balls when someone appeared next to him. Edward glanced toward the person, and his cue froze midair. A small blonde girl stood at the end of their table. She was looking at him, even though he couldn't exactly tell because of the black shades over her eyes. He didn't have to be a genius to know what was going on. She looked out of place there in a long black dress, her skin as pale as Bella's.

She wouldn't try anything considering the place was packed. Edward looked toward the door and saw a huge guy around Emmett's size, guarding the doors. He was with her, Edward could just tell.

"Ben," he said faintly, his stomach turning around. "I don't feel so well…" He sounded like a pussy.

"Oh, I told you to eat at lunch."

"Yeah…sorry," Edward mumbled, eyeing the girl at the end of the table. She smiled wickedly.

"Go on then. Angie will be here in about an hour. Don't worry 'bout me."

"Are you sure?" Edward asked. He'd love the excuse to drive his friend home.

He nodded. "Go home. Feel better," he told him, clapping his back.

"Thanks. Bye," Edward said. He put the cue on the table and grabbed his jacket, making his way on wobbly legs out of the game house.

The girl fell in step with him, the big guy behind them. Her cold hand wrapped around his left wrist and squeezed it painfully hard. Edward bit his lip to keep from groaning in pain. Any harder and she'd snap his bone.

"Keys," the guy commanded.

Edward clumsily took them out of his pants, promptly dropping them. The guy picked them up mid-fall then went to the driver's seat. Edward sat in the backseat with the girl.

"Oh, calm down, we're not allowed to harm you," she explained, putting her shades on the top of her head. Her eyes were an angry red. "Demetri, faster."

"You know, Jane, you should have just taken your stupid twin with you," he hissed back.

Edward didn't feel better that he knew their names.

"How did you find me?" he asked. He thought Bella's plan was going to work. He had accepted not talking with any of the Cullens, nor Bella, just to keep himself safe. Turned out, he was never safe.

"Small talk?" Jane asked, turning her eyes to him.

Edward closed his eyes, cringing. He was afraid to look in her eyes. Something told him that she could hurt him if he looked there.

"Jane!" Demetri warned. "Careful! Aro wouldn't appreciate it."

"Oh, a little fun won't kill him. Open your eyes, little human," she cooed.

He tried to resist, but he knew it was futile to try to resist a vampire. His eyes opened and suddenly, he felt like he was stabbed from ten thousand directions at the same time. Edward curled up against the door, gritting his teeth, but quiet screams escaped his lips. The knives seemed to twist and the pain increased.

What was she doing to him?

"Stop," he moaned loudly. "Please!"

"Jane!" Demetri screamed.

The pain disappeared, and Edward was left panting and rubbing different parts of his body, as if he had truly been injured. He didn't look her way again, nor did he ask anything else.

When they arrived in front of the Cullens' house, Jane dragged him out. Edward stumbled over his feet, scared of what was going to happen. He heard her hissing something, too low and too fast for him to catch the words. Next second, Demetri had his arms around him and he was carrying Edward inside – Edward's back to Demetri's chest. Edward kicked his feet in the air, trying to escape the tight hold.

"Stay put, worm," he growled, tightening his hold on Edward.

"Ow!" He moaned. The guy was going to break something.

They entered the house and Edward withered violently in his arms.

"Let me go!" Edward yelled.

Suddenly, he was dropped unceremoniously and tumbled to the floor. He picked himself up, rubbing his elbows and ribs where he had been squeezed painfully hard.

He saw the dark haired guy from the painting in Carlisle's office – Aro Volturi. He was watching him entertained. Edward looked around and saw Bella held by her arms by a guy twice Emmett's size. She was trying to free herself as she looked at him with such terror that Edward wanted to make it better any way he could.

"Let her go! You're hurting her!" Edward demanded, raising his foot to make his way there. Not sure what he could do, but he had to stop him from hurting her.

He recoiled and slammed into Demetri when he took hold of his collar. "Not so fast, boy."

Edward fisted his hands at his sides and turned his glare toward Aro. "What the hell do you want from me?"

"I see why you love the boy," Aro murmured, looking at Bella.

"Don't touch him!" She snarled. "Don't you dare!"

"Well, Marcus, is it the same?" Aro turned to one of his brothers.

"It's stronger. I've never felt such intensity before." The one named Marcus answered in a thick voice.

Aro linked his hands and drifted closer to Edward. "Il tuo cantante. So rare. So precious."

Edward didn't understand a word. He should have opted for Italian as a foreign language.

He didn't ask—afraid Jane would try something again—but kept his glare steady on Aro's deep, clouded red eyes.

"May I?" Aro asked politely, raising his hand, palm up.

Edward swallowed thickly, his mouth suddenly dry. What should he keep away? Could he keep things away?

He slapped his right hand angrily on Aro's papery thin one. Maybe he'd disintegrate if he hit him harder.

The man barked a small laugh and Edward felt his blood run cold. He could hear him. Every freaking thought. Could he stop thinking? Could he lock all his precious thoughts somewhere in a trunk and keep them away from him?

Aro's smile seemed to disappear fast. What was he seeing? He raised his other hand too and patted the top of Edward's.

"Thank you, young one," he said kindly. He drifted behind him, and Edward turned his head to see what he was doing. He stopped in front of Jane. "I told you to bring him back unharmed."

There was a wail of agony. His eyes snapped to Bella just in time to see her freeing herself and lurching herself at Jane. He didn't catch her words, but he could bet they weren't pretty.

"Felix," Aro commanded and the guy previously holding Bella, took her away from Jane. Edward could tell Emmett wanted to do intervene, but Carlisle kept a hand on his arm.

Then Aro turned to Edward. "You'd be truly gifted, boy, if they decide to change you."

Edward met Alice's eyes and she shook her head sadly. What had happened while he wasn't there?

"I will forget all about the child, Isabella." Bella dropped her head upon hearing his words. "You need to decide. We don't have the whole day."

"It's settled," Edward blurted out, looking straight at Alice. She had seen his decision from a few days ago.

"Is that so?" Aro asked surprised as Bella raised her head and watched him worried.

"Yes. After I graduate; I don't want to worry my parents," he explained, cringing.

Open mouth – insert shoe. Why did he have to bring his parents into this?

"Oh, so considerate of you. And you love your parents?" he asked, approaching Edward.

"Yes, very much."

"If we catch wind that you are still a human by…let's say…September – a year from now – I'm afraid I'll have to remind you the hard way of your promise." He tried to look sad, but it didn't work. His malicious smile spoke volumes.

"I won't give you a reason to hurt them," Edward said vehemently.

Aro inclined his head. "Do I have your word, Edward?"

"I promise." He nodded quickly.

"A little reminder of what will happen to your parents if you go back on your word. Jane?" He asked quietly.

She appeared in front of Edward. He squeezed his eyes shut, preparing for the pain. There was a commotion and he cracked an eye open. Bella was in front of him, having escaped again.

"No!" Edward yelled, pushing on her shoulder. Of course, she wouldn't budge. It took him a second to realize that Jane was doing the same thing she had done in the car. It wasn't working. A few minutes passed in silence before Aro barked a loud laugh, making Edward jump, scared.

Jane pouted, throwing a venomous glare toward Bella. Edward expected Bella to raise her middle finger, but she didn't.

"Wonderful!" Aro clapped. "Are you sure you don't want to join us?"

"Positive," Bella hissed.

He shrugged. "If everything is settled, we shall go."

The blond brother, Caius, complained about leaving Edward alive, but Aro promised there would be consequences if he was still human after the deadline.

Edward was satisfied Aro had given him the summertime too. He could put his plan into action. He just needed Bella to cooperate.

The second they were out of the door, he was in Bella's arms – or she was in his arms. Edward wasn't sure who moved first. They were holding each other for dear life. He didn't care that his ribs still hurt from Demetri's restraint. He was simply happy to have her close again.

"Don't you ever stay away from me!" he exclaimed.

"I missed you so much!"

"I love you!"

"I'll always be around. I promise."

They seemed to be unable to keep from exclaiming. Bella titled her head and wrapped her arms loosely around his neck.

"Oh, Edward!"

He smiled and leaned down, capturing her soft lips into a deep kiss. She moaned, parting her lips, sending cool air into his mouth, making him shiver. She'd never done that before and it was so erotic. Edward wanted her to do it again. She backed up a little, pecking his lips. He heard her muttering "Okay" and he had no idea what she was talking about. Until he looked up and saw the room empty.

"They left the house to give us some privacy. We have to talk, Edward," she whispered seriously.

"I know. Can we do that later?" He really wanted to know the whole story behind the immortal child thing; he wanted to know what had happened while he was on his way there, they had to discuss his transformation, and last but not least, his proposal. He was apprehensive of her reaction to his news, his question.

They sat on the couch, not able to stay even inches away from the other, Edward took her in his arms, squeezing as hard as he could and hoping she'd feel it. Once they were both comfortable with the closeness, she started talking softly. He didn't interrupt her.

Edward had been so stupid to go away. He should have stayed and listened. Rosalie hadn't told him much when she had dropped by, but she explained why she was so upset. Her story had been horrible and he saw her differently after that. He felt like he could understand her more. She'd always displayed her affection to Emmett, and Edward never thought there was a deeper meaning to that than just to show others he was hers. Their connection ran deep, he could tell. He'd watched them together at school after her story of how she had become a vampire and the small touches and looks were the ones that gave her away. Rosalie adored Emmett, and he'd do anything for her.

Their love for each other wasn't that much different for what he felt for Bella.

Bella put her palm on his cheek, shaking him out of his thoughts. "Are you absolutely sure?" She was talking about his changing.

"Yes. I want to be with you. Forever," he whispered, looking in her now topaz eyes.

"You have no idea what that means to me. I've never dreamed of having a…"

"Mate?" he supplied.

"I thought I was going to offend you if I said it," she said honestly.

Edward grinned. "You wouldn't have. This year can't go fast enough."

"I think I'm having déjà vu." She giggled, putting her head on his shoulder. "Patience, Edward. In just a year, we'll have forever."

He tightened his arms around her and sighed in contentment. He knew he couldn't ask her the question. Not in that moment. It would have to wait for the right time.

"We'll have to leave shortly after graduation. We can't do it here. Not around the dogs," she said contemplatively.

"Oh! Jake!" Edward exclaimed. "I completely forgot. Should I still go tomorrow? Everything's okay now."

"Go and have fun. You don't have much time left with him. And…don't tell him. Not yet, at least," she whispered.

"Why not? We aren't going to do it here."

Bella looked up at him sadly. "I don't want you to fight with him over this. He'll try to change your mind."

"Nothing can change my mind. Nothing. You hear me?" Edward asked, peering down at her.

She smiled and pecked his lips. "How did they find you?"

He explained what had happened at the game house and on the way there. Bella told him about Jane's power then she told him that Aro couldn't read her mind and that's why Jane hadn't affected her.

"I'd like that," he mused.

"To hurt other people?" she shouted, outraged.

"No, silly! To read minds. Imagine all the things I could learn without having to ask idiotic questions just to get to the subject."

"That's how people communicate, Edward."

"Yeah, I know. I can only dream." He shrugged.

When the others returned, it was night. Carlisle came straight to Bella, smiling. Edward saw Alice bouncing on her heels and he knew that it had to be good. And it was great. Carlisle asked Bella to join the family—like move in with them. She was so touched that it took her a few minutes to form a word. When words failed her, she threw herself at Carlisle, hugging him.

They insisted Bella and Edward spend the night there, but Edward really wanted to go home. He needed to be away for a while. It had been too much, what had happened earlier, and the thought of nearly losing Bella or even dying…

He couldn't convince Esme that he'd eat when he got home so he had to stay for dinner. She was too much, too good. While he ate, Bella ran to her house to change her clothes.

Alice was at his side the second the door closed after Bella. She tapped her foot impatiently, waiting for Bella to be far away enough to start talking.

"I wanted to talk to you since I had the vision and I couldn't!" She pouted like a child denied their favorite dessert. "I have to tell you to be insistent. She won't accept it the first time."

"What?" Edward felt his heart stuttering.

"She will accept, eventually. You have to explain everything that's on your mind; every reason why you want this. Or she won't say 'yes'."

He nodded. "When's the best time?"

"Right now, I wouldn't even try. Let a few months pass. Collect your thoughts…and do it traditionally. Don't forget the century she's from." Alice winked.

He nodded and kissed her cheek. "Thanks, Alice."

"You're very welcome!" She turned to Esme, beaming. "I'm gonna have a new brother!"

"ALICE!" He groaned. "Can you keep it to yourself?"

"Oh, sorry."

Esme smiled at him, shaking her head. Alice keeping something to herself – those words didn't belong together.

When Edward arrived home, he went straight to have a shower then to bed. Bella was waiting patiently.

"You should call back your mother. She just called while you were in the shower," she explained.

"Now?" he moaned. He was too tired.

"Yes. She's not very happy I'm here."

"I thought she didn't have a problem with you being around," he grumbled taking his phone and pressing two—his speed dial for his mom.

"Hello?" The phone didn't even start ringing. Was she waiting with it by her ear?

"Mom? What is it?"

"Oh, I just wanted to know how you are."

"If you are upset because Bella's here…you should know that we worked on homework when we got here and we lost track of time. We're tired and she'll be sleeping in the guest bedroom," he explained, annoyed. Edward was tired and he wanted to sleep, not give excuses as to why his girlfriend was there.

He idly thought if Bella would be allowed in his room when he proposed? He grinned, just thinking of asking the question.

"Oh, okay. I thought it was a habit. When we aren't home, you're bringing her over," she told him, defensively.

"No, Mom. Really." Edward nearly snorted. If she only knew that Bella had been there for over a year, every night… well, with a few exceptions… He chuckled. "Can I go to bed, now?"

"Sure, honey. Good night. Tell Bella good night, too."

"Will do. Night."

After putting the phone on the nightstand, he wrapped the blanket around his body and draped an arm around Bella, closing his eyes.

"Sleep well," she whispered in his ear. He smiled, but was too tired to open his mouth and answer. He just snuggled closer to her and drifted away.

Chapter Text

Chapter 26: Dinner in La Push

Edward woke up with something tickling his nose; it was annoying. What was Bella doing?

"Unghhh." He swatted whatever it was. It was small and furry, probably her hair.

He heard a hiss in his ear and an itchy pain in his jaw.

"Ow!" He groaned, opening his eyes.

He came face to face with Ginger and when he touched his jaw, he felt something sticky. Shit.

Edward looked around, but didn't find Bella. Good, no need to make it worse.

"What's wrong with you?" He glared at the cat. He mewed and rubbed his head to Edward's chest. "Hungry," he wondered, wiping his chin. It hurt like a bitch. "Why would you hurt me, huh?"

Edward picked him up and went downstairs to put some milk in his bowl. They had been consuming a lot of milk since he appeared in their lives. The granules didn't seem to satisfy him.

After Edward prepared his breakfast, he went to the bathroom. He had an angry scratch against his jaw – four claw lines from his cheekbone to his chin. Stupid cat. When he returned to the kitchen, washed and dressed for the day, he found his parents there.

"Oh!" He shouted, surprised. He hadn't heard the door. Was he going deaf?

"Morning, honey! What happened to you?" His mom asked, worried.

Edward put a hand over his jaw. "Nothing."

"If you're going to get hurt every time we leave, we'll rethink leaving you alone in the first place." His dad chuckled.

"Ha ha! It's Ginger's fault."

They rolled their eyes as if they didn't believe. Didn't they? Who could have done that?

That's when he remembered about Bella spending the night. Was she upstairs? Had she left?

"I'll start breakfast," his mom said, going to the fridge.

"I want a huge coffee," his dad told her, making his way out of the kitchen. He patted his son's shoulder on his way.

"What happened?" They looked tired.

"The hotel room was next to someone that was throwing a party of sorts. We didn't sleep much," his mom explained. "Why don't you go wake Bella up?"

Edward gulped and turned around on his heel, in one smooth motion. He took the stairs two at a time, looked around, and was glad he didn't see his dad. He then slipped in the guest bedroom. To his surprise, Bella was in the bed, her hair sticking in every direction.

"Hey," he whispered.

She cracked an eye open and flung an arm over her head, making him laugh. "Let me sleep."

"Funny, I thought you couldn't sleep," he taunted, sitting on the edge of the bed. "I'm sure you know that my parents are home."

"Yeah, I'm aware." She turned her head to look at him. "Do you always talk to yourself?"

"What? I was talking to Ginger!"

"Was he in the bathroom with you?" she teased, raising on her elbows and looking at him through her thick eyelashes.

"I did? I wasn't aware of that." He felt a blush creeping up on his cheeks.

"I think it's adorable."

"Shut up," he complained, embarrassed. "Do something about your hair and come downstairs."

"I tried to muse it up to look like I'd been sleeping," she defended herself.

"It looks like a haystack!"

She gasped in mock shock. "How dare you! Yours looks like a nest in the morning so you're not one to talk."

"Ouch. How you wound me," he said dramatically, nudging her with his hip.

She cupped his cheeks and pressed her lips to his. "Do you think they'd mind if I come downstairs like this?" She whispered, leaning back and flinging the blanket off her body.

Edward's eyes widened when he saw her in just one of his old t-shirts and her panties. "You might give Dad a heart attack." His hand went to her leg and he forgot about his parents being around. Bella bit her lip and wrapped an arm around his waist, bringing him closer to her. Their mouths collided and his hands started roaming her bare legs. He'd missed her.

The door opened, and Edward jumped, fumbling with the blanket to drape it over her legs. His dad was smirking in the doorway.

"Breakfast is ready." He grinned and winked at him.

Edward glanced at Bella, her head was down and she looked embarrassed. When his dad left the room, she turned to him, pressing her face to his shirt, giggling madly.

"Oh, my! I tried to stop you, but my willpower dissipates when you're around," she whispered.

"Mine too," he admitted.

Once she was decent, they made their way downstairs, hand in hand. His father was drinking his coffee while his mom was still frying some bacon.

"Good morning, dear," she greeted Bella.

"Good morning," she answered, still moving her hand through her hair. She had managed to look like Medusa.

After breakfast, they went to his room, leaving the door wide open. Edward heard footsteps every now and then coming closer then disappearing. It was annoying. They decided to work on homework since he had lied to his mom about doing it yesterday.

When he reached for the Spanish essay, he glanced toward Bella who was writing slowly on her Calculus notebook. He looked toward the empty hallway then back at her.

"What's 'il tuo cantante'?" he whispered.

Bella looked up and bit her lip. "It's something in Italian." She refocused on her homework.

Edward wasn't stupid. He'd figured out that much. But it had to mean something important for that Marcus guy to point it out.

"Bella," he hissed. "No more dodging around. Just answer. Is it something bad?" he asked worried.

She giggled. "No, not bad. It means 'your singer'. Il is the article for masculine. Tuo is 'you', the possessive pronoun for masculine. Cantante means singer," she explained quietly, watching his reaction.

"What does that have to do with anything? I don't sing."

She laughed loudly, curling forward. She was having another hysterical moment. Edward waited until she was done laughing.

"It has a deeper meaning. It has to do with your blood."

Edward pursed his lips in an attempt to keep from bursting in laughter. "My blood sings?" He snorted.

"Exactly." She was serious. That made him start laughing. "They refer that way to the human whose blood calls to a specific vampire," she whispered, glancing toward the door. "That's why I am unable to be apart from you, that's why it was so difficult to drink from another."

"Oh. You knew?" He wondered.

"Yes. I didn't say anything, though. I was sure I'd scare you."

"When are you going to grasp that you can't get rid of me?" He groaned, exasperated.

"How would you have reacted if I told you that I felt like... I was anxious, terrified and panicked every second I was apart from you. Your blood kept and still keeps me so close to you. I happened to fall in love, too." She shrugged, smiling.

"What do you mean you 'happened to fall in love'?" He mock asked her. Maybe it was better when they weren't talking about this stuff.

"We can have a singer without being in love with him or her. Emmett had one and…as he bluntly put it, he sucked her dry."

Edward blinked, feeling his pulse racing. "I think I'm starting to grasp how difficult this is for you," he murmured.

"Dully noted." She smirked. "Do you need help with that?" She gestured to his Spanish essay.

"I'll try it on my own, thank you very much."

"Suit yourself." She poked her tongue out and returned to her Calculus.

They worked in silence for a few minutes. He kept searching in the dictionary for words, but when he had to put them on paper, they didn't look right. Spanish was an enigma for him. He wanted to do the homework alone, just this one time. But he was giving up fast.

"Ehhh…" He uttered, dumping the dictionary on the floor. "It's useless."

"Edward, all you have to do is translate that text. How hard can it be?" Bella asked impatiently.

"The tenses are all messed up."

She rolled her eyes before fixating them on his. "Say it."

"No way." He wasn't going to beg her to do it for him. He had some dignity left.

She shrugged noncommittally. "Admit it."

Edward clenched his jaw and glared at the thrown words on his paper.

"Say it. Loudly," she taunted.

"I might need help," he mumbled.

Bella leaned closer, cupping her ear, smirking. "Louder. I can't hear you."

Edward groaned. "Fine," he shouted. "I don't know how to do it," he yelled. "Happy?"

"Yep." She nodded, grinning.

There was a knock on the doorframe. He turned to see his dad on the threshold, looking amused at them.

"Your mother said you should get dressed. We're leaving in half an hour."

"Okay," Edward answered, pushing the books farther away on the bed.

"She told me to ask if you'd like to join us, Bella," he continued, sounding hopeful.

"Oh, I can't! I made plans with Alice," she said seriously. That could be true or not. Anyway, Ed didn't have to know it.

His dad stuck his hands in his pockets and shrugged. "Okay. Half an hour," he told his son pointedly and left, closing the door.

Edward wasn't going to shout after him that the door should be open. He was giving them privacy. And if Edward wasn't mistaken, he liked his Bella a tiny bit.

"What a disappointment," he said mockingly.

"Don't tell me!" Bella groaned. "You're jealous."

"It doesn't make me feel better if I admit it. He's still my dad, you know? It's disturbing," he muttered.

"Oh, come on! I find it funny!" Bella giggled and scooted closer. "I'll see you tonight. Have fun in La Push."

"Don't I get to drive you home?" Edward pouted.

"Alice will be here to collect me soon enough. She texted me around four in the morning, having some ingenious idea." She cringed. "Shopping."

"And you girls don't like shopping," he said, amused.

"I hate it. I'm not most girls."

Edward was pushing her buttons. Therefore, he decided to back up or she wouldn't be joining him later.

Bella went downstairs to allow him to get dressed alone, not like it mattered. When Edward got to the living room, Bella was on the couch, playing with Ginger, pulling at the end of a toy. The kitten hissed, trying to get the upper hand – or paw. He was so funny when he was playing. He'd turn on his back and cup the ball or whatever other toy Edward was using between his paws or with his small mouth.

Edward watched as he stuck his claws into the mouse-like toy in Bella's hand, and when she raised her hand, he remained suspended, straining his back, his tail high in the air. Edward chuckled attracting his attention. He mewed and jumped on the couch then down and came to him. Edward picked him up and he looked back at Bella then at him, as if telling him she had been annoying him.

"I have to say he is very amusing," Bella said lightly.

"Until he's hungry," he added, touching his jaw. He sat next to her and picked the toy mouse. Ginger leaped at it, narrowly missing his hand.

"You're predisposed to accidents. So don't blame the kitten."

"Look who's talking," he mocked her. "Miss 'Let's complicate my life next to a human.'"

She giggled. "Well, Mr. 'I run with the vampires' you've managed to hurt yourself a lot before you got Ginger."

He choked on his spit and burst in laughter. "That's priceless," he said between gasps of air.

The doorbell rang and he went to answer. They were about to leave, who was there?

Edward came face to face with Alice. She was rocking on her heels, hyper as ever.

"Hello, Edward," she greeted and kissed his cheek.

He blushed, not having anyone's attention besides Bella's and his mom's. "Err, hi."

"I'm here to kidnap Bella."

"It's not kidnapping if she's willing to go," he said amused.

"I'm not going willingly, trust me," Bella muttered from behind him. "And the term is loose. I'm no longer a kid. Why do they say kidnapping when there is no kid involved?"

"Kidnap, according to the dictionary, means to seize and detain unlawfully and usually without reason," Alice explained slowly.

Bella brought Edward's head down and kissed him, ignoring Alice. "I'll miss you."

"Me too," he whispered, pecking her mouth again. "Have fun?"

"I'll try. You take care."

He nodded and they left. Alice, skipping to a little yellow car that Edward didn't want to believe it was a Porsche, while Bella walked begrudgingly behind her.

"Ready?"

He jumped, and turned to find his dad at the bottom of the stairs. "Yeah. We can go."

"Was that your friend?" he asked, steering him to their car. It would be the first time in a long time since he went somewhere with them – as a family. Besides that time at the hospital, which didn't count.

"Yeah, that was Alice. She's taking Bella shopping."

"I'm glad she has friends, you know? Your mother and I were quite worried…"

"Dad, she's a big girl."

"Edward, she's alone, having only an idiotic uncle that doesn't even visit. I'd love to meet that man. Who does this shit? She's not even eighteen, is she?"

"I…think so?" he answered, but it sounded like a question. He had no idea when her birthday was so he had no idea what age she was supposed to be. He couldn't very well tell him she was nineteen.

Edward got inside the car, waiting for his mom. His dad kept voicing his concern about Bella.

"Dad, she's fine. I swear. The Cullens are great guys, and Carlisle and Esme are like parents to her. Since they have so many kids adopted, they love her. And she has me," he added hastily.

His dad turned toward him, one brow up. "When we come back, we're going to have a talk, son. This is your last year in high school. You have to think of college and if you are serious about Bella, then you have to think about a good job-"

"You talk as if I'd have to support her too. I will – but Dad, this is the twenty-first century."

He looked hard at his son, and Edward gulped, feeling very small under his gaze. He couldn't have this conversation with him. Not when he knew that college wasn't even an option.

Elizabeth came out of the house and got in the car, effectively cutting off the tension. His dad turned back to the windscreen, and Edward breathed in relief.

They arrived fast since it was only a fifteen minute drive and when his dad cut off the engine, Edward jumped out of the car before he could start talking again. He went to the door and before he could knock, Billy opened it, smiling brightly.

"Hello, Edward. Long time, no see."

"Hi. Yeah…I've been busy," he muttered.

He chuckled. "Jake's in his room."

He nodded and went to Jake's room, down the narrow hallway. He raised his hand to knock when he heard a loud groan.

"Are you insane? I don't need a tie!" Jake yelled.

Edward laughed and knocked.

The door wrenched open and he ran straight into Leah. She huffed and dodged him, disappearing from the room. Edward furrowed his brows and looked after her then at Jake.

He was fiddling with the purple tie in his hands, his cheeks pink.

"Don't tell me…" Edward trialed off unable to believe it.

"You know, too? Who the hell told you? How the fuck does every one know?" He groaned and fell on his bed.

"No one had to tell me anything. It's in the way you act," he said.

Jake looked up surprised. "I think we're talking about different things."

"I was talking about you and Le...ah," Edward said unsure, suddenly.

He barked a loud laugh. "Me and that bitch? Honestly Edward!"

"Then what…? Or who?" he asked, confused.

"I met her in Seattle, last weekend. And everyone knows!"

"Really?"

"And you have some explanation to do. Everyone knows because of you!"

"Why is it always my fault?" Edward groaned.

"Because apparently you attract vampires around you! Who were the ones that dropped by yesterday?" he asked, upset.

Edward felt like being punched in the gut. "You weren't going to interfere!"

"If the situation called…"

"Did they see you?" he asked quickly, closing the door.

"No. Why? Who were they?" he asked, watching his friend's actions confused.

Edward went to sit next to him on the bed. "Their leaders, Volturi. Have you heard of them?"

"Yeah…but…" He shook his head. "Fuck me, Masen! Do you have honey on you?"

"Quit it! It's a long story, but we're fine."

"You'll tell us when we eat."

"Us?" He wondered.

"Yes, our small family reunion turned out into something huge. We're dining at Leah's. Sue heard about it."

"Oh, great. Mom would have kittens."

He laughed, agreeing. "Dad wants to drive with your parents."

"I was about to suggest to drive with you. Dad's getting ideas I don't even wanna think about."

He stood and went to the door. Jake followed.

"Like what?"

"College," Edward muttered, realizing a second too late that he was entering dangerous waters.

"What's that bad abo-…Hell no!" He thundered, making him jump. "Tell me you aren't planning on….going stony!" He changed his words when he saw his parents in the small kitchen waiting for them.

"Later," he told Jake, glaring.

They went to his car; Leah was already waiting by it. Edward knew he couldn't and wouldn't escape their claws. Jake let Ed drive ahead of them and after a little while, with enough distance between the cars, he stopped the car and turned to his friend.

"Talk."

Edward considered ducking out of the car, but that was impossible since the front seat had to be pulled forward so he could leave. Reluctantly, he told them, in a few words, what had happened.

"And before either of you have anything to say against this – don't. It's my decision. Not Bella's. Not any of the Cullens'. Mine," he pointed out.

"I was going to say that I knew it would get here," Leah said softly, not meeting his eyes.

"Jake?" Edward asked. He was awfully quiet.

"What? Do you want my blessing?" he barked, turning around and driving off.

Edward sighed and looked out the window. Bella had been right – he shouldn't have dropped the bomb. Not yet. Was he ever going to get a moment of peace in his life?

He saw they weren't going toward Leah's house. "Where…"

Leah patted his knee. "We're getting his girlfriend."

Jake cringer, shooting her a glare.

"From Seattle?" he asked, surprised.

"She's from here, but he happened to meet her there," she explained.

Two minutes passed and Jake pulled up in front of a little house. "Wait here," he muttered and went to the front door.

"You should sit in the front seat. And don't judge. We'll explain everything to you. There are some wolf things…that you don't know, yet."

"Wouldn't Jake like his girlfriend up there?" Edward asked.

"No. Trust me. He'll want her bundled up in the back seat. He may even make you drive just to be sure she's safe, so he could sit in the back with her," Leah said, giggling.

Edward frowned, looking toward the house. A middle aged woman was at the door, smiling and talking with him. Leah laughed louder, so Edward guessed she wasn't the one. Between the doorframe and the woman, a small girl around five years old, squeezed herself out and jumped in Jake's arms.

His eyes widened and he felt his stomach revolting. "What is he playing at?" Edward hissed.

"Didn't I just tell you not to judge?" Leah moaned. "Keep your mouth shut."

Jake came to the car with the girl clinging to his neck and talking his ear off. He slipped inside the car and turned to them. Edward should have moved in the front seat when he had the opportunity.

"Would you two keep an eye on her?" Jake asked softly.

He wasn't the Jake Edward knew. Everything about him was changed in between going to collect the child and returning to the car. The anger from a few minutes ago was gone. The roughness in his voice was gone.

The little girl sat between Leah and Edward. "Hi!" she said brightly, waving to him.

He had never liked kids, but she didn't look like the other kids. She was one of a kind.

"Hey," he said back nervously.

Jake started driving, but his eyes stayed mostly on the rear view mirror glued to the little girl.

When they arrived at the Clearwater house, they went straight to Leah's room where Seth was waiting impatiently.

"Finally! Oh, I see the monster's here." He chuckled.

Jake sat on the chair with the girl on his lap. "I guess, we should introduce you two. Edward, this is Renesmee. Nessie, for short."

"Like the Loch Ness monster," she chirped with glee.

"Uhh… nice to meet you," he said. "So what's this all about?"

"She's my imprint. Did I mention to you how when we find the one, everything changes? We're not aging so until she's old enough, I'll wait," Jake explained. "And those idiots know my little secret because well…when we're in our wolf forms, we can read each others' thoughts."

"Cool." It was the smartest thing Edward could come up with. He had no idea what else to say.

Good for you? You're a perv? Why can everyone read minds?

"That means you have…imprints, too?" He looked expectantly at Seth and Leah.

"No," she answered, looking down.

Seth shook his head. "Wish I found her."

"I need help in the kitchen!" Sue shouted from outside the door, knocking.

Seth and Jake left the room, taking Nessie with them. What a weird name for a kid.

Edward looked at Leah, and asked her the question that was eating at him. "Am I your imprint?"

She cracked a smiled that didn't reach her eyes. "If you were, you wouldn't plan on dying."

"I'm not going to… That's how you'll see it?"

"Yes. I am sorry, but that's the truth," she whispered.

"Have you had an imprint?" he insisted.

"Edward… two years ago, I was with Sam, remember?" He nodded. "Well, he met Emily…she's his imprint. You realize how difficult this is for me? I've always secretly wanted you then I found Sam just to lose him to my second cousin and then…when I tried it with you…"

"You were too late," he finished for her.

They looked at each other for a few minutes. He mulled on what he had just found out. He had no idea why she had broken things off with Sam.

"Do you think…" His voice cracked and he simply closed his mouth.

She understood him, though. "Sometimes, I wonder if it would have worked for us…if she wouldn't have appeared in your life."

"And you think it would have?" he questioned.

"I'm sure. It would have been as easy as breathing. You've seen Sam and Emily, surely. And now, you can see it from another perspective. Look at Jake and Nessie."

"It doesn't work," he muttered, meeting her dark gaze.

She sighed. "I am not trying to make you see who it's better to be with. You've already chosen. What about your parents, though?"

"I'll have to come up with something good." He shrugged.

She scooted closer to him and hugged him tightly. "I'll miss you. Just you. My best friend Edward," she whispered.

He hugged her back. "It doesn't have to be like that."

"I'm sorry, Edward. It just won't work another way."

"I guess…I'll miss you too, Leah."

"When," she breathed, putting her cheek to his shoulder. He knew she was crying and he tried to make it better, but he was just going to hurt her further with his answer.

"June." He hoped it would be done around his birthday, as soon as the school year ended.

She sniffed and pulled away, wiping her tears. "In the meanwhile, don't be a stranger. I don't even care that you reek of vampire."

He chuckled and took her in his arms again. "And you have to promise to find someone nice to imprint on."

"We'll see about that."

Chapter Text

Chapter 27: Mother love

Alice dragged Bella inside yet another store. Bella wondered if her plan to feign sore feet would work.

"It wouldn't work." She winked over her shoulder, keeping a strong hold on Bella's wrist.

Bella rolled her eyes, scowling at the back of the pixie's head. They had been in every single store from two malls. This was the third mall. Bella wished to be human and have Alice stop, complaining about being tired, being hungry, or having sore feet.

"You know the saying 'shop till you drop'?" Alice asked, picking a blouse and inspecting it.

"Yeah. Are you trying to see if it works for vampires?" Bella groaned, standing by her side motionless.

"It doesn't work for us! That's what I love the most about our nature. We can go on and on and on. Forever. Literally."

"Lucky me," Bella muttered, closing her eyes and taking a huge calming breath.

"What else would you do? Honestly now? Watch TV? It's just dumb stuff. Play games? Emmett is five years old, not me. Decorate the house? That's for old people, but don't tell Esme I said it."

Bella opened her eyes and stared at her, growing angry. "Well, I'd read a good book. Or have a talk with someone. Even play stupid games as you put it. Anything, but this! Alice, I hate shopping and if you drag me into another store…" she threatened.

"We're going in two more stores. One has a cute dress you'll like. And the other one is a bookstore," she said, grinning. "I'll buy this. It's modern." She looked at the blouse in her hands.

Bella learned that you didn't have to try on anything when you shopped with Alice. She'd tell you if it fit or not, or if you'd wear it or the item would lie for years in your closet. Lovely.

True to her word, next store, Bella found an amazing cotton dress and when Alice told her which one would fit, she bought it. The bookstore was payback. Bella stayed there for two hours. She thought her friend would have an aneurysm.

"He'll love it!" Alice squealed, skipping to Bella's side.

Bella smiled apologetically at the old lady next to them and turned to Alice.

"What? And keep you voice down," she muttered.

"Edward. He'd love it."

"He'd love what?" she asked confused. She was currently inspecting a copy of Wuthering Heights. She liked the cover picture. "Edward hates this book." Bella waved the hand that was holding the book in front of Alice's eyes.

"Oh, you haven't seen it yet," she mumbled, looking at Bella sheepishly.

"What will I buy him? Or consider buying?" she asked.

"You'll see," she said mysteriously.

Bella put the book down and went in search for something that would catch her eye and she'd think suitable for Edward. What could it be? Maybe a 'Learn Spanish without a teacher' thing? He seriously needed that.

She had made it to the back of the store when her eyes fell on the collection. Her eyes widened. Was this what Alice talked about? Bella sought her eyes on the other side of the store, and Alice winked in response. Bella approached the shelf and admired the collection. It was beautiful. The red velvet covers, the soft golden writing upon them and the thick case that held them.

"Christmas present," Alice said softly, joining her.

"Would he appreciate it? He doesn't like presents."

"It's for Christmas, Bella! He has to accept it."

"Where would I hide this?" She wondered aloud.

"My room." Alice beamed. "Just buy it. He'll love it."

Bella sighed and took a book from the collection, looking through it. It was beautiful. She knew he'd appreciate the gesture and probably even find it funny or cliché. She put the book back and picked a case from the back. An untouched one.

It was the complete collection of The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. Bella felt as if she was attracting unwanted attention upon herself as she carried the supposedly heavy thing to the checkout. She put it softly on the desk and the boy behind it, jumped. He eyed the huge case and then looked at her.

"Hi," he greeted.

"Hi." She smiled.

"Is this all?" he asked.

"Yeah."

"Do you need someone to carry it for you?"

Bella narrowed her eyes at him. "No, just ring it up."

Alice came behind her and waited quietly, smiling knowingly. Stupid pixie.

"Bye," the boy said after her when she picked the books and left. She didn't respond.

"Ah, don't be like this. He was acting like any boy would," Alice giggled. "Rose gives her number to those guys then makes Emmett answer the phone or if they invite her out, she has Emmett with her. It's so funny to watch!"

"There's a minor difference. Emmett's a vampire. Edward's human."

"Not for long."

Yeah, because her life needed that sort of complication – overprotective, newborn Edward. Bella shuddered. He'd kill anyone who looked at her, let alone speak to her inappropriately.

When they arrived back at the Cullens', it was past six in the evening. She sent Edward a text, asking where he was.

Still here. Bonfire…it's quite entertaining. I'll tell you later why.

Bella was really curious. She told him to send her a text when he was home. He answered that he would. She had a feeling that it would be after nine or even later.

Emmett managed to engage her in some video game and when her phone buzzed, she let it buzz, knowing Edward was home. She'd go to him as soon as she was done. It kept ringing, though.

"Answer him!" Emmett groaned, focused on the game.

"And lose? No way," she muttered.

"Rose!" he shouted. "Can you answer Ruby's phone?"

"I'm not your maid," she snapped, but did look at the phone. "There's a missed call from Edward and there's one from Alice, too." She'd left earlier with Jasper, to hunt. Or be alone with him since they had just hunted.

"Probably telling me that games are silly." Bella remembered their conversation from the mall.

The phone buzzed again and she nodded to Rose, to answer.

"Finally!" Bella heard Edward groan.

"Sorry to disappoint. It's Rose. Your girl is hogging my husband."

She made it sound dirty and Emmett, the ever-perceptive idiot, waggled his eyebrows at Bella. She made sure to bump into his car, just to irk him.

"Oh, that sounds…fabulous," Edward muttered. "Can you come pick me up? My parents left earlier, but I stayed, talked with Jake."

"I'm not going anywhere near the dogs!" Rose wailed scandalized.

"Jake said he'd drive me to the treaty line, wherever that is. Come on, Rose. Or tell Bella to do it if she's not too busy."

Bella's car crossed the finish line before Emmett's. "Got ya!"

"I hate you," he mumbled.

Bella snatched her phone from Rosalie's hand before she could answer. "Hey, sweetie. I'm coming after you. Just ask Jake where the line is so I know where to stop."

"Oh, you're talking to me?" he asked annoyed.

"Sorry. I had no idea how important it was. I thought you were home."

"Great. Hold on." There was some moving around and he probably covered the speaker, but she still heard him talking to Jacob. "Yeah, it's where the La Push sign is," Edward told her after a few minutes.

"Okay. See you in a bit."

Bella went home and picked up her car. She drove a little too fast to the meeting point. There was a small car parked on the side of the road, lights off. When she parked in front of the sign, they flashed the lights twice. She saw Edward getting out and saying goodbye then he rushed to her car, jumping inside.

"Hi," he whispered, leaning over the console and kissing her cheeks.

"Hello." Bella pushed his shoulder gently. "You stink."

"Tell me something new, although you usually tell me how good I smell."

She rolled her eyes and turned on the car. "Your place?"

"Let's see if they didn't lock me out," he chuckled.

"Did you do something to have them lock you out?"

"Nope."

"That's what he said." She laughed at how innocent he tried to be.

"If you must know, Dad started the whole thing. He and Mom are worried about you being alone, they're glad you made new friends. You know? The Cullens. And then, I told him you had me too. And all hell broke loose. Sort of," he babbled. She allowed him to talk, curious of where he was headed with this. "Dad told me to think of college and a job, to take care of you as if we were from the eighteenth century when only men worked! I escaped that conversation when Mom came in the car. He said we'd talk about it later, when we got home. He didn't wait that long, though."

"Wait, you had that conversation in the car?" She asked amused.

"Keep up!" He groaned, impatiently. "And we were having fun at this late lunch or early dinner…whatever, when Leah mentioned college. I wanted to stab her in the eye with my fork. Of course, Dad went 'Oh, I'm trying to make Edward see how important college is. Especially now that he has two to care for.' Stupid, eh? To make it worse, guess what happened?" He moaned, gripping his hair.

"No idea," she said in a small voice, parking in front of his house.

"Sue tried to jump on the most plausible conclusion from hearing that. Plausible for humans that don't know you're a vampire – for my parents." He cringed. "She asked if…you were…expecting," he finished in a soft voice, turning red. "I was seconds away from going to drown in the ocean."

"I'm glad you didn't." Bella took his hand and squeezed it. "I hope you didn't let your mom believe the lie this time."

"I denied it, of course. She still started screaming. Then Dad joined, telling me that college was a must, especially now. Leah kept whispering she was sorry for starting the whole thing, but I didn't believe her since she kept snickering."

"How did it end?"

"With me offering Jake that I help him with the tea party for Nessie. Oh, you don't know!" He shouted, his eyes alight. "You have to hear this, Bella. Jake imprinted on a five year old. She's cute and I'm not a kid fan, but…she's so…adorable. Of course, he isn't going to do anything until she's older. I found it gross until I saw him with her. He's like a big brother and best friend. He adores her!"

Bella's heart twisted in pain. He had no idea what he was losing. He had no idea that he wanted this, but she saw it on his face. He liked the idea of a kid. He was too young to fully understand what he was missing on.

"That sounds wonderful." She saw his father waiting in the kitchen. Pacing. "You have to go inside. Your dad's waiting for you."

"Do I have to? Is he upset?"

"I can't read minds, but I'm sure he isn't very happy."

There was something that flashed in his eyes, it looked almost like hope. "Are you going to wait in my room?"

"You know the answer."

"Okay, I'll see you in the morning. Ginger will keep me warm." He pouted and took the seat belt off.

"He would. I wouldn't. I never could." She cupped his cheeks in her palms, looking at him seriously. "Try not to fight with your parents. If you need me: call. I'll answer."

"Pinky swear?" he murmured, catching her pinky in his.

She curled it around his, laughing. "Pinky swear." She kissed his soft, warm, plush lips. "Love you."

"Love you more." He let go of her finger and left the car. Bella watched apprehensively after him.

She revved the engine, turning the car slowly. She had to leave. She couldn't stay and listen on such an important conversation.

"What's this, son? Is it true? How come Sue knows and we don't?" Ed asked gravely, making Bella park the car just out of sight.

"Shit! D-dad…it's not…" Edward stammered.

"It's not?"

"Have you been snooping in my room?" Edward groaned.

"I had to check my emails and I forgot my charger at work. My laptop was dead."

"Just my fucking luck," Edward muttered. His father heard him.

"Watch your mouth! I'm your father!"

"Dad, Sue wasn't right. I told you." There was a pregnant pause. Bella saw them moving around in the dark kitchen. "Bella can't ever be pregnant."

Her breath caught. What was he going to tell him? Would he believe?

"You seemed to have discussed that in length. How and why does a teenager know that?!" Ed shouted. She saw him raising his hands in the air. That was a gesture Edward did when he was annoyed.

"She…didn't explain much…" Let's see what lie he concocts. "It's girl stuff and she didn't go too deep into it. She said it was hurting her bad once… you know, her tummy …and the doctor told her she can never have kids when she went to control." It seemed plausible. The broken voice Edward used, almost got to her if she hadn't known better.

"Oh. I had no idea, son," Ed said softly and fell into a chair.

"Yeah well, it's not something I wanted to tell you."

"So the condoms weren't necessary?" Bella could see his dad smirking and she was sure Edward blushed an adorable shade of red.

"Not really."

"Still," Ed said confidently after two minutes of silence. "You need to think of college. And may I ask why you were looking at-"

There was a loud bang and a curse from Edward. If she didn't know him better she'd say it was an accident. But it wasn't. He knew she was listening and he didn't want her to know about whatever his father was talking about.

"Are you okay, kid?" Ed asked, rushing on the other side of the kitchen.

"Yeah. I told Mom to put this stupid thing on the counter after she fed Ginger."

"You fed him last, honey," Elizabeth's voice said from the doorway.

"Oh, my bad," Edward muttered. "I'll go to bed. You can tell Mom what I told you."

They said goodnight and when she heard Edward's feet on the stairs, she restarted the engine, hoping his parents didn't hear it.

"Eavesdropping, stalking, stupid vampire." Bella heard him mumbling to himself.

Bella laughed loudly, driving home. She couldn't stay away so she ran back to him. The window was locked. She dangled on the edge of the windowsill, touching the glass softly.

Edward waved merrily, snuggling better under the blanket. She jumped on the ground and took her phone out.

Idiot. She sent it and waited for a response. He didn't disappoint, even though it took him a few minutes to answer. When she flipped the phone open, she saw a text from Rose.

He says he's not talking to you. What have you done? - Rosalie

Was he for real? Communicating through Rose? Smooth, Edward. Smooth.

Bella had to talk to him, and she couldn't wait until dawn. It was a bit too late to come knocking on the door, but his parents were awake. She could simply break his window and let herself in, but then he'd be cold all night. She decided on another text.

We need to talk. Don't act like a five year old, Edward. She pressed send and waited.

She heard him chuckling and writing a reply, hopefully directed to her.

No such luck. One minute later, she got another text from Rosalie. She had forwarded his text and added her thoughts on this silly exchange.

>Rose, please tell Bella to just go. I'm not telling her anything.< Now, what I think you should do is leave. He isn't talking to you as you can see. Can't you wait till morning? I'm busy here. – Rosalie

Bella rolled her eyes, looking up toward his room and glaring. What was he hiding from her? It was unlike him to hide stuff from her. She sent him another text.

I'll see you on Monday. Stop disturbing Rose…she's BUSY. I hope you know what that means. Good night.

"Duly noted." She heard him mumbling. Bella returned to her little cottage.

She spent Sunday talking to Jasper since he was interested in contacting Peter. She wondered how Peter would feel when he heard about her diet. Would he and Charlotte do this too, or would they remain faithful to human blood?

At seven in morning, on Monday, her phone buzzed while she was packing for school.

"Hello?" Bella answered distracted, without checking the screen. She had just left their house, what could it be?

There was no answer but she heard shallow breathing from the other side. She just knew it was Edward. He was probably sorry for shutting her out.

"Edward?" she asked, dropping the bag and focusing on the conversation.

"I'm really sorry, Bella," he whispered. "Truly. Can I come get you?"

"Of course. Outside the forest, please."

"Okay. I will be there." He didn't hang up. "See you soon."

Before she could answer, the dial tone came in her ear. He was acting very strange.

They met at their spot. He was already waiting there, outside his car, hands deep in his pockets, head bowed. Bella stopped in front of him and wrapped her arms around his waist. All the tension seemed to leave his body as he sagged against her. His arms wrapped around her shoulders and his head burrowed in her hair.

"I love you," Edward murmured softly.

"I love you too," she replied anxiously. "What's going on?"

"Don't ask me about what Dad wanted to say. I know you were listening. It's a secret…it's for you."

"I hate secrets, I'm sure I made you aware of that," she said.

"This is a very important secret for me. Please. And can you…stop eavesdropping?" He shot her his crooked smile. "You will ruin my surprise."

"Okay, okay. Pinky swear and scout honor and all that jazz," she told him amused, tipping her head back so she could see his raw green eyes.

"Good." He bent his head and kissed her.

When they separated, he opened the door for her, leaning against it. "Oh, and you have an explanation to make. Why did I have to find from Alice that your birthday is approaching?"

"That's kinda hypocritical, my love. You announced yours to me a day before. How do you know I wasn't planning on telling you?" Bella asked, watching his eyes widening. "Besides, birthdays mean nothing to me. I don't age." She slid inside the car.

Edward scowled and shut the door closed, jogged around the car and came behind the wheel.

"I may understand why you thought my birthday was important. I want to do something nice for you. Please, Bella."

"You'll need a big cake for so many candles." She snorted.

He grinned and took her hand. That was a silent agreement.

She rolled her eyes and put his hand back on the steering wheel. "In the meanwhile, try not to wrap the car around a tree."

He shot her an amused look and swerved the car to the side of the road, making her shriek and lunge for the steering wheel. When he started laughing, she realized it was only an inoffensive joke. She growled loudly.

"I have a variety of mushy green tree trunks to choose from," Edward said joyfully.

"Edward! Stop with those stupid jokes. Are you trying to kill me again?"

"Oh, come on, live a little!" He swerved the car again, laughing.

"I swear, I'll tell your mother," she hissed. That stopped him and he drove under the speed limit, keeping the car straight until they reached the empty spot next to Emmett's Jeep.

They met with them at the back of the cars. Emmett wrapped his arm around Edward's neck, dragging him closer.

"Edward, my man! How are you?"

"Get your fucking hands off me!" Edward protested, squirming.

"Missing Tanya? Such a pity she couldn't join us for the whole year," he continued as if he hadn't heard Edward talk. Then he turned to glare at Bella. "Only Ruby's fault. You and your stupid past."

"Yes, Mr. Topaz, I'm very sorry for sending her away," she snapped, pushing his arm off Edward's shoulders. "And stop hurting him. You can't keep your weight to yourself."

Concern crossed his face. "Oh, shit! Did I hurt you?" he asked Edward, peering at the nape of his neck.

"I'm fine! I just told you to stop touching me."

"Someone woke up with the face to the bed sheet?" Alice teased, joining the conversation.

"That would be Bella, though the waking up part is arguable." Edward winked.

She huffed and wrenched the back door open, snatched her bag and strode toward the school. He was in an awfully good mood today. And she was bursting of curiosity about that secret. She had to ask Alice, she'd tell her. Hopefully.

After the first horrible week, the second week of senior year was relatively uneventful. No vampires trying to seduce her boyfriend, no vampire trying to kill her or Edward, no threats. One would say it was a dull life. But then there were the little tidbits that kept Bella on her toes.

Like on Tuesday when she had to stay with the girls on the other side of the gym while the boys played basketball. She couldn't very well materialize next to Edward and save him from the ball. Instead, she braced herself for his ambrosia to engulf her when the ball crashed into his face. He didn't talk to her for three hours straight, blaming her for not saving him. It had been quite funny to watch his tantrum, but it still hurt her every time he winced. At least it wasn't anything major, just a bleeding nose.

Then on Wednesday at lunch, he was discussing something with Alice through a paper so Bella wouldn't hear. He read over Alice's shoulder and he didn't like what was there so he snatched the paper from her hand. It resulted in a minor paper cut. His eyes widened and he was looking somewhat afraid between Jasper and Bella. To Jasper's and her amusement, he stuck his finger in his mouth, making a face then shooting her a grin.

Friday, it was her fault. They were going up to his room when she decided to have some fun.

"I've been thinking about what I want for my birthday," she said seriously.

"Really?" he asked shocked, glancing at her, and balancing precociously his lunch on the tray.

"Yes." She grinned. "I want you on a plate with a candle on top."

Bella must have been too serious because he whipped his head around to watch her shocked, managing to stumble. She caught him on time, before he joined his meal on the stairs.

"I told you to stop joking! You have horrid sense of humor."

She smiled sheepishly and helped him collect the broken glass and plate while he cleaned the food.

Later that evening, his mother cornered her in the kitchen.

"Edward told me you don't like cake!" It sounded like an accusation.

"Uhh, that's right. I have this…rash after I eat it," she blurted out. It wasn't her finest moment because Elizabeth saw right through her.

"Bella, honey, if you don't want a big thing then just say so."

"I really don't want it. It's enough to know Alice is going overboard."

She smiled kindly and patted her cheek. "I know, dear. I've wanted to do this for at least a member of family since I missed Edward's birthday."

Bella's breath hitched and her eyes widened. Member of family? Bella? She was so touched; she could barely find her limbs, and wrapped her arms around Edward's mom's body. A dry sob escaped her mouth.

She rubbed a hand over Bella's back. If she noticed her coldness, she didn't mention it. Bella couldn't separate. "There, there, sweetie."

"That's the kindest thing anyone said to me in a very long time," she whispered against her neck. She couldn't back away. Elizabeth would see there were no tears on her face.

"It's only normal, don't you think? You two are quite serious," she commented.

"Yes, we are. I love him so much," Bella answered, putting her head against Elizabeth's shoulder. It was a little difficult to be so close to her blood, but it didn't hold a candle to her son's tantalizing one.

"So does he, Bella. I never thought I'd see my son so enamored at such a young age."

Bella smiled and moved her hand over her eyes as if to brush the non-existent tears away. "I never thought I'd find love." That was true. It was nice to tell her something that was really true.

Elizabeth moved her at arm length and watched her seriously. "If you need to discuss anything, I'm here. You know that, right, Bella," she whispered, caressing her cheek.

Bella bit her lip, feeling like a Japanese cartoon character which's lip trembles and eyes water when it's about to burst in tears.

"I know. Thank you, Elizabeth."

She clasped Bella close again and Bella resumed her position with her head in the crook of Elizabeth's neck, scarcely breathing. There was a dim memory, flitting at the back of her mind. She was remembering how it was to be hugged by her mother. That's how it felt in Elizabeth's arms.

"Shh," she murmured, stroking her hair. Bella must have sobbed at the old memory.

"Mom did you happen to see Bell… Ahh! Oh! Err, I…" Edward was in the kitchen, but Bella found it difficult to move away.

It was the first time in over a century when she felt a mother's love. Was it possible to be jealous of Edward?

"Are you feeling better, sweetie?" Elizabeth asked her softly.

Bella nodded, moving out of her warm embrace. "Thank you." It was the most she could say. What else could she tell her after that?

"You can stay here if you want. I'll even allow you to stay with Edward tonight," she told her with a smile.

Bella turned to look at Elizabeth's son, who was gaping at them, his green eyes moving from Bella's face to his mother's face.

"Thank you," Bella repeated. "I'll be upstairs," she told Edward as she passed him on the way out of the kitchen. He blinked, looking dazed.

Chapter Text

Chapter 28: Birthday surprises

"Take care of her, Edward. She's a keeper." Bella heard Elizabeth whispering.

"Yeah, of course." Edward was still confused.

"She's so precious. If I hear that you've hurt her, I don't care how old you are, I'll slap you."

"Mom, really! I wouldn't hurt Bella. What brought this on?"

"Just us talking," she answered mysteriously.

"Okay, I swear it, Mom." They were quiet for a few minutes. "Ermm, are you sure about Bella staying with me-"

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Bella thought to himself.

"Just say thank you and go to your room."

He chuckled, and Bella heard a kissing sound. "Thank you, Mom."

She burrowed her face deeper into the pillow, wishing she could stop sobbing. It was amazing to know someone cared for you when they didn't have any connection to you. With Edward, it was different, because they were together. His parents, especially his mother, and the Cullens didn't have a reason why they should be so good to her, though, they were. Bella finally felt like she belonged somewhere.

"Jeez, what really happened in there?" Edward asked softly, sitting next to her on the bed.

She shook her head, taking a deep breath and releasing the pillow from her hands. She looked up at him, and he started laughing. She hadn't expected that reaction.

"You killed my pillow! And you have…feathers in your mouth."

Bella looked at the shredded pillow then touched her lips and a giggle escaped her. "Oops."

"Yeah, sure. You owe me a pillow." Edward chuckled.

Bella spat the feathers from her mouth and another giggle escaped her. She hadn't realized she was biting his pillow as she listened to their conversation.

Edward insisted that he had to stay awake until midnight to wish her 'Happy Birthday' properly. By eleven thirty, he was yawning every three seconds.

"Just go to sleep. I'll be here in the morning since I'm allowed to stay," Bella said seriously.

"No, no," he protested, yawning. "I want to…" Another huge yawn. "…it's part of the surprise."

"If you yawn one more time, I fear you'll swallow me," she teased.

He cracked a smile, clapping his hand over his mouth as he yawned again. "What time is it? Don't lie," he whispered as if reading her mind.

"Fifteen more minutes," she announced to him.

He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and padded to his desk, opening a locked drawer. "Keep your eyes closed."

She closed them dutifully, pressing her lips together. She heard a loud mewl and a louder curse from Edward. She teased, ready to check if Edward was alright.

"Don't open them," he hissed. "I'm okay, just stumbled over Ginger. He should be sleeping at this hour not inspecting my room."

"You should be sleeping too," Bella said reproachfully.

"You'll like it." He sat next to her and she heard him yawning again. It was getting old.

"Is it midnight already? I want you to sleep," she said impatiently.

"Hold on," he muttered and banged around, dropping something to the ground with another curse. "Almost there. Two more minutes."

An eternity, she thought to herself.

"No, go away. Sleep, we're not playing at this hour." It took Bella a second to realize he was talking to the cat. "I said no, Ging-…ouch!" He moaned. "I guess you can open them," he murmured. "Ow!" He groaned.

The kitten had managed to scratch him again. "Mmm… Is you bleeding my birthday present?" she asked amused, eyeing the claw marks on his wrist.

He met her eyes and poked his tongue out. "Actually, I have this for you. Only, Ginger decided it was fun to sharpen his claws on my hand. Again." He offered her a neatly wrapped present, then took a tissue and dabbed his wrist.

"Did you wrap this?" she asked surprised, remembering the ball of wrapper from Prom that held her bracelet.

Edward's face caught fire and he averted his eyes. "Rose helped."

"You seem to get along with her very well," Bella observed, picking up the present.

He shrugged, turning redder. She focused on unwrapping the rectangular box. When the wrapper was pushed aside, she felt her breath hitch. It was impossible. Her eyes met his green ones, and found them looking anxiously at her.

"How…?" She was speechless.

"I time traveled," he said mockingly.

"No seriously. It must have cost…Edward…how…why?" She stared at the book in her lap, feeling tears gathering in her eyes again.

"I pulled in some strings… And do you even have to ask why?!"

"Edward, seriously!" The cost of the book was more than his parents earned in a year, clearly.

"Can't you just say thank you?" He groaned, taking her hand in his and rubbing his thumb over her palm. "Oh, happy birthday, Bella."

She put the ancient book softly next to her and wrapped her arms around his neck. "I love you so much. You shouldn't have done this."

"You want to know the truth? Carlisle overheard me talking to Rose about your birthday… You know his vast book collection… He had no idea where this one was, but Rose helped me and we searched book by book until we found it. That's what I was doing Wednesday when you went hunting with Jasper."

She pulled back and looked at him amazed. "You really went through that for me?"

"Why not? Bella, I love you more than anything. You mean the world for me." He grinned and kissed her soundly. "You should thank Carlisle, too. And you know what? I respected the unspoken rule about not spending money." Edward beamed.

Bella kissed him back, daringly opening her mouth just a little. Of course, he moaned loudly, crushing her to his chest. His yawn broke the kiss, making her giggle. He smirked and pecked her nose. "June can't come soon enough."

"Patience. You'll want this time, believe me."

"Lie down with me. Since you destroyed my pillow, I have to use you as my own personal pillow."

She put the original signed copy of Wuthering Heights on his nightstand, still in shock at his little stunt then lay down, taking him with her. He snuggled under the blanket and nuzzled her breast with his nose. She wound her fingers in his soft bronze hair, tightening her other arm around him. Bella wondered if he truly grasped how much she loved him. She was rewarded with a quite loud snore, which made her smile. She kissed his forehead then pressed her cheek to the top of his head and closed her eyes.

It was uncomfortable at best to stay there, but she knew that after everything they'd gone through, she would never hurt him willingly. And for some reason, he had enough confidence in her to sleep so close to her, when he was the most vulnerable.

She heard Ginger moving around the room then jumping on the bed and coming to lounge between her hip and the wall. He stretched, his claws escaping the soft pads and scarping against her pants then he relaxed and closed his eyes, going to sleep too. He must be taking after Edward, no sense of self-preservation. But who could hurt such a small, cute and inoffensive creature? Just like no one could hurt someone as wonderful as Edward.

Edward moved on top of her during the night, nearly killing the cat with his knee. Thankfully, Bella saved the small soul on time. He wasn't quite happy to be woken up at three in the morning. He moved next to her head and started purring before going back to sleep.

Edward kept mumbling her name along with 'not waiting' and some things about forever she didn't understand. They still had to talk about that. She had to prepare him for what was to come.

After an alarm went off in his parents' room, she knew it was six. She still couldn't believe his mother was waking up so early on a weekend day just to make him muffins. For a second, she felt a wave of panic knowing she'd have to eat whatever she threw at her. Bella couldn't refuse since it was her birthday.

What better way to spend it than puke out the food? She thought with an eye roll.

Footsteps came closer to Edward's door and she quickly tugged the blanket over them better, and closed her eyes. Would his mom wake him up since he was literally on top of her? Please no. He needs sleep, she prayed quietly.

The door opened and Bella heard a soft gasp then a quiet chuckle. Surely, they were a sight for the sore eyes. Elizabeth came closer and Bella felt Edward sliding to her right side, in his original position. He grumbled, hugging her tighter. She fought a smile as his mother giggled softly.

It was interesting to feign sleep and be aware of so many things. Something small climbed on her shoulder then went to her chest where Edward's head had been. Ginger. He purred and let out a loud mewl.

"Shh, let the kids sleep."

He mewled again. It was a weird sensation to have him walking over her. Bella wondered if it would have tickled, were she human. Edward groaned and flung his arm in the air, resulting in a hiss from the cat. What have you done now, Edward? She wondered quietly. No wonder the poor cat scratched him every given chance.

Elizabeth snorted and probably picked him up because Bella heard him purring again and he was no longer on her chest. "I'm sure he didn't mean it. Let's go eat, huh?" He mewled quietly in response.

The second, the door closed behind them, Bella turned her head to the left, away from Edward and started laughing. She tried to be quiet, but the sounds didn't seem to stay inside.

"Bella," he moaned, rolling on his other side.

"Sorry," she whispered, pressing her palm to her mouth.

He groaned loudly, but fell back asleep quickly. After about half an hour, Bella gave up staying there and decided to join Elizabeth in the kitchen.

"Good morning, Bella. And happy birthday!" She sang and came to her, kissing her cheeks.

"Morning, thanks," she mumbled, trying to resemble a human in the morning. She'd seen Edward too many times to do something wrong.

Two hours later, his heartbeat increased as he woke up.

They were talking over a cup of tea. It was nice to have a mother figure in her life. Bella had chosen, ingeniously, to stand by the sink, so she could empty bits of her mug's contents in there.

Five minutes had passed since she heard Edward stir when he appeared in kitchen's doorway. She had the mug to her lips pretending to sip – she actually took a healthy gulp that left through her nose when she saw him.

They should have cleaned the feathers before he went to bed.

Edward met her eyes then he frowned at his mother, who was fighting a giggle fit. "Hey. What's so funny," he whispered in a hoarse voice.

Elizabeth and Bella were trying to keep the laughter inside, but it was difficult. Edward's head resembled a chicken coop.

"Y-you…the feathers!" Bella managed to get out.

His eyes widened and he raised a tentative hand to his hair then patted it and cringed. "Crap." His eyes narrowed at her. "It's only your fault! You destroyed my pillow!"

She raised her hands in defense, splashing tea over her face.

"Can I ask what that pillow did wrong?" Elizabeth asked amused.

"Ask Bella," Edward grumbled, running a hand through his hand only to get it stuck in there. "I'm going to shower."

"Try not to clog th…" Bella didn't finish the threat before Edward was next to her, her mug of tea in his hand, turned upside down over her head. She looked at him shocked, her mouth hanging open.

There was mischief in his eyes as he smirked. "Now you need a shower too."

Bella's eyes jumped to his mother, knowing she wouldn't agree to that. To her surprise, Elizabeth was shaking her head amused at her boy's antics.

"I trust you to just wash. And I'm sure Edward will need help with those…feathers," she said softly.

"Thanks, Mom." Edward took Bella's hand and dragged her after him. "You've been a bad girl, Missy," he muttered to her on the stairs.

Bella moved a tea-drenched bang of hair off her face and elbowed him in the ribs, as gently as she could.

"Oh dear!" They ran into Ed who was descending. He was laughing so hard at the sight in front of him that there were tears in his eyes.

"Laugh away, old man," Edward grumbled.

His parents were too open about this. Their relationship hadn't been a huge problem, but she knew that a week ago, they wouldn't have approved of her sleeping in Edward's bed or showering with him. What had changed? Was it Edward's lie about her not getting pregnant? Or was there something else? She thought back on her conversation with Elizabeth and how she called her a member of the family.

"Have you mastered a way to wash with clothes on?" Edward asked, snapping her out of her thoughts.

"Stealing my words," she teased and grabbed the hem of her shirt, raised it over her head.

It took Bella over half an hour to clean Edward's hair of the feathers, and she worked vampire speed.

"It's so not fair! Why don't you have them too?" He protested as she tugged at his hair a little too harshly, trying to pluck a stuck feather.

"I had my head away from the ruined pillow," she announced to him. "Sorry," she whispered as she tugged again. He winced, but didn't say anything.

He was sitting on the edge of the tub and she was standing between his legs, plucking small, white feathers when he started laughing.

"What's so funny?" She wondered, turning his head to the side so she could get better access.

"I'm just thinking of what a difference a few words can make. If I hadn't told my parents something, we wouldn't be here."

"Something?" She huffed. "Are you ever going to let me on that secret?"

"When the right time comes," he answered seriously and pressed his cheek to her breast. "Are you nearly finished?"

"Yep. This is the last one," she told him, plucking the last feather. "Now, let's wash your hair. Stand up."

"Are you sure that is a good idea? You're too small."

"You're right. Sit down in the tub," Bella said, crouching behind him as he listened.

He allowed her to wash his body and in return, she let him wash her, although she rarely needed to wash.

Once clean, she was wearing one of his t-shirts and a pair of sweatpants that she had to roll the elastic band a few times to make them fit. Bella knotted the t-shirt to her side so she wouldn't look like a homeless person.

"Done? I'm hungry," he whispered after he finished brushing his teeth.

"Go and eat, I have to dry my hair."

"Do you have to?" He whined.

She pushed him away from the sink and turned the blow dryer on, glaring at him through the mirror.

"God forbid you getting a cold," he muttered.

"I can hear you," she said loudly so he could hear over the wail of the blow dryer. His green eyes widened and after a sheepish smile, he left the room. "Coward," she shouted.

"I wished you wouldn't hear everything," he muttered from the hallway.

Bella laughed, focusing on her hair. Sometimes, she wished she didn't have such good hearing, too.

When she joined them for breakfast, Elizabeth started fussing around her. Bella kept insisting that she didn't need anything. It was enough that she was eating a blasted muffin. When she finally managed to finish it, she wanted nothing more than to have it out of her system.

"Oh, do take another! I'm sure Edward wouldn't mind, would you?" Ed asked, eyeing his son.

"I think you stole enough. Besides, Bella doesn't like the muffins."

"I can whip something-" Elizabeth jumped up.

"No, please," Bella groaned. "Please, it's okay. I don't really eat…in the morning," she added hastily. Or ever.

"Oh, of course. Edward, you make sure to bring her back for dinner. I'll make something nice."

Bella looked scared at Edward, hoping he'd come up with a good excuse. That's when her phone buzzed on the table, making her jump. Bella grabbed it and answered quietly.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Bella! I hope you haven't forgotten about our girls' night," Alice chirped.

"Thank you," she whispered fast, just for her. "Oh, Alice, I nearly forgot about the girls' night. You really don't have to…" she said on a normal tone.

"Yes, you have to! You're just complicating your existence!"

"Okay, thank you," she said.

"We're waiting, by the way."

"We'll be there shortly," Bella told her, shooting Edward a smile. He had relaxed since he realized Alice had saved her from more food.

"Oh, Edward is spending the night here. Bye!" She hung up before Bella could say 'bye.'

"Umm." Bella looked at Elizabeth and smiled apologetically. "I'm so sorry, I completely forgot about Alice's girls' night. Do you mind terribly?"

"It's all right, Bella. Have fun!"

"No drinking," Ed added with a smirk.

"No, of course." Only blood. Does that count? "And… do you mind if Edward spends the night with the guys?"

"No, God knows he needs to have some fun from time to time." Edward blushed, glaring at his mother.

Once Edward had his things packed in his schoolbag, they took his car to the Cullens' house.

"Do you have any idea what should I expect?" Bella wondered, glancing at him.

"Honestly, I have no idea. Alice kept it to herself." He was a very good liar. His heart didn't even skip a beat.

"Great," she mumbled. "Why don't you…stop here? I have to get something from home. You can go ahead," she whispered.

That muffin felt like lead in her stomach.

"I'm really sorry Mom made you eat that." He understood why she wanted him to stop the car. Sometimes, she wondered if he could read her mind.

Bella kissed his cheek and left the car. She saw him driving to their driveway while she made her way deeper into the woods. After she took care of the atrocious human food, she went to her cottage and dressed in the cotton dress she had bought with Alice.

When Bella arrived at the white house, Alice welcomed her with a huge smile and hug. "Happy birthday, Bella!"

"Thank you, Alice," she answered, hugging her back. She couldn't believe how fast they had become friends.

"Come." She took Bella's hand, and dragged her inside. It reminded her of the first time she'd been here. This time, when she entered the living room, there was no fear. Rose came to her and hugged her, whispering 'Happy birthday' in her ear, then everyone came to hug her. Even Emmett called her Bella, which was a special moment in time thing.

Bella took a seat on the couch, next to Edward who immediately wrapped her in his warm embrace. She breathed in his scent, putting her head on his shoulder. There was a small fight between Alice and Emmett of who got to give her a present first that was won, easily, by Alice.

"This is all I was allowed to do. I had another idea, but I could see myself mixing up the glasses."

"What glasses?" Bella asked, confused, taking the wrapped box from her hands.

Rose snorted. "She had the magnificent idea of killing small animals and putting blood in glasses. One of them would have had cherry juice for Edward. She had about a thousand visions and in every one, you ended up drinking the juice and Edward the blood."

Bella laughed as Edward made a face. "Thanks for not doing that," he said relieved.

Bella opened the box in her hands and closed it quickly so no one would see the contents. Alice smirked and tapped her forehead. She felt like she'd burst from embarrassment. The lingerie in there was so sexy, so indecent. She'd never wear something like that.

Emmett was next and he put the small box in her lap. "From Rosie and me."

"Thank you, guys," Bella whispered, opening it. There was a set of earrings, necklace and bracelet with small ruby stones. What other stone, of course! Bella grinned, showing them that she truly appreciated it.

Jasper gave her a book about vampire wars since she had pestered him with questions about his past. She giggled and he smiled, winking.

Bella had no idea what to expect from Esme and Carlisle. "Come with me. You have to see it," Esme said softly, coming closer.

Bella followed her upstairs to the third floor. No one lived there of what she knew. Everyone was behind them, on various states of giddiness. Poor Jasper.

Esme opened a door to the left and stepped aside. "Your room."

Bella looked inside dumbstruck until her words sank in. "My room?" she echoed.

"Yes, sweetie. You're one of us, now." Carlisle wrapped his arm around her shoulders.

"How can I thank you enough?" Bella whispered, deeply moved by their gesture.

"Bella, can you tone it down a little? I think I'm going to cry," Jasper said from behind.

Bella turned to him, smiling shyly and shrugging. "You would if you were me. So many things happened yesterday and today… I really don't understand why you all love me so much, but I'm grateful to have met you."

"I told you that everyone loves you," Edward whispered, coming to her and slipping his arms around her waist. "There isn't a person that couldn't love you."

"I can think of a few," she muttered, earning a general laugh.

Chapter Text

Chapter 29: Chew and spit - not swallow

Edward stayed with Bella in her new room as the others went downstairs, giving them privacy. She was walking around the room, touching various empty shelves, and every once in a while, she would glance at the huge bed by the window.

"Do you like it?" he asked nervously.

"Don't tell me you have something to do with this," she exclaimed, whirling around to watch him amazed.

He was an amazing actor, better than she'd ever given him credit.

"Ehh, maybe a little," he mumbled, scratching the nape of his neck. "I helped them pick the bed."

She laughed, letting her head fall back. "Of course, you did. We need something good."

He felt a blush creeping up in his cheeks. "It's iron…Emmett told me it is very sturdy, whatever that means."

"It means it can survive longer than a wooden bed." She grinned and walked there, sitting down. "It's soft," she whispered and touched a hand to the silky duvet.

Edward joined her and stood in front of her, swallowing convulsively. He wanted to do it now, but he knew he couldn't. He wished he could just ask, to be sure she would agree. Edward watched Bella for a few minutes, wondering if it truly was a good idea to bring that up now. Alice didn't come to stop him so that must have been a good sign.

He cupped Bella's cold cheeks in his hands and turned her face to him, of course with her help. She watched him curiously. He traced a finger over her brows, down her nose to her full lips.

"I miss your red eyes," he blurted out.

What the hell, Masen? I miss your red eyes!

He cringed and tried to rectify his bluntness. "I mean, I love them golden, I know what sacrifices you make to stay close to me," he whispered.

Bella giggled and wrapped her arms around his waist, bringing him closer. "You want the truth? I kind of miss them too," she said gently.

"Really?"

"Yes, but I've grown to love the topaz color. It means you are safe."

He smiled and lowered his head to kiss her. She titled back her head to give him better access to her mouth.

Say it. What's there to lose? Come on, just say it.

He couldn't encourage himself enough. He left his lips against hers as he took a breath, filled with her dazzling scent. "Marry me," he whispered.

His subconscious slapped him quite hard.

Bella leaned back and watched him shocked. Her golden eyes were round and there was shock written all over her face. "Wh…what?"

Edward shook his head, unable to repeat himself. Not when he wasn't prepared. Alice had told him to take care of everything before he did it. He had to document himself about how men proposed in her time.

"Sorry. It just…slipped," he explained ashamed.

She was searching his face for something and he had no idea what she could see there. "We're going to talk about this."

Of course, we would! "Not now," he pleaded her.

"No," she confirmed and brought his head to hers again in a deep kiss.

He felt like a fool. Why in the hell did he have to say that? He didn't even have the ring!

Bella leaned back on the bed, bringing him with her. They just kissed for a long time. Edward preferred it to talking about his idiotic question.

"We should go downstairs. Emmett says you're hogging me," Bella whispered, running her hands through his hair.

"Okay." Edward nodded, got out of the bed and took her hand.

"Eager to share me?" she teased.

He turned red and averted his gaze.

"We're going to be alone tonight, I'm sure you realize that. We're going to talk more," she said, staring right into his eyes making his breath hitch.

"Yeah," he agreed.

Spending time with the Cullens was always an adventure, especially when Emmett was challenged to different tasks. After about an hour of talking, Carlisle and Esme were the first to leave. Edward didn't understand why they would do that – any of them – because they had Bella's cottage to be alone if they wanted.

It was great to have Alice around. She went to call for pizza even though Edward insisted he wasn't hungry. By the time the pizza arrived, he was about to eat his own nails.

They were playing 'Truth or Dare,' a dangerous game to play around vampires. Emmett kept asking him how he could eat something as gross as pizza when it finally got to him.

The bottle spun and its neck pointed to Emmett. "So?" Edward challenged.

"Dare – haven't you learned?" he asked, rolling his eyes.

"I dare you to eat a slice of pizza," Edward snapped, pushing the box to him.

Emmett made a gagging sound and Edward was sure he saw a little green tinting his cheeks.

"You can't be serious!"

"Oh, yes!" Alice squealed, leaning into Jasper as she started giggling madly.

"Consider it payback for everything you did to him," Bella taunted, pushing the box right in front of Emmett. "Eat."

"Is no one on my side?" Emmett whined. "Babe?" He looked at Rose pleadingly.

"You're on your own, honey." She shrugged, flipping her hair over her back, feigning disinterest, but Edward saw her eyeing the pizza with a disgusted look.

"You're sooo dead, Masen. Just you wait," Emmett threatened, taking a slice of pizza in his hand, cringing.

Edward grinned; knowing that whatever he'd make him do couldn't be that horrible. They started chanting for him to eat. He took a tentative bite and chewed then gagged and swallowed. He rolled the rest of the slice and stuffed it into his mouth then swallowed.

They watched with bated breath the effect. Emmett looked ill. Edward didn't see him getting up, he just saw the spot empty and heard the front door as it shut behind Emmett.

"Maybe he'd learn to swallow – no pun intended – his pride and just refuse some challenges," Rose said softly, getting up. "I'm going to see if he's all right."

"Good job, Edward!" Bella cheered, raising her palm to him. Edward slapped his palm against hers, laughing.

"Since when do vampires high five?" he asked amused.

"You should have seen me high five Leah after killing James and Victoria."

Edward laughed and wrapped his arm around her neck, kissing her temple.

Alice opened her mouth, but before she could voice whatever she wanted to say, Edward was standing without his accord. He felt a little choked as his collar was too tight around his neck. He didn't need to see who was trying to suffocate him – Edward knew it was Emmett. Emmett started shaking him.

"Truth or dare?" he snarled.

"Guess?" Edward moaned, sticking a finger between the collar and his neck.

"Emmett…" Bella warned.

"Eat dirt," he spat into his face, dropping him to the floor.

Edward thought it was meant as an insult. He didn't think much of it, being happy he had been released.

"Are you deaf?" Emmett grunted.

Edward looked up at him. "You can't be serious," he shouted.

"Oh, I'll be damned! You made me eat that pizza shit…you eat the equivalent of it in your world."

"Don't hurt yourself with such big words." Edward chuckled.

Emmett grabbed his elbow and dragged him outside, pushing him down the three stairs. "Eat it!"

"Bullshit!"

"If you wish…" He teased, but his tone was all too serious.

"Emmett, seriously," Edward pleaded.

"Do you need help?" He bent and grabbed a chunk of dirt from the ground.

"Okay! We had fun, but you are going too far!" Bella appeared next to them. "Emmett, you don't know what can happen. You're all better now."

"A little bit. Just to be even. Come on, Jade!" He taunted, his eyes never leaving Edward's.

"Are you ever going to drop it?" Edward moaned, eyeing the black dirt on Emmett's palm.

"Imagine that soon you'll be Ruby the Second." He winked.

"Oh, fuck it!" Edward shouted. "Do you swear to drop those nicknames if I do it?"

He looked at Edward for a minute then nodded. "Just a little," he whispered, putting his palm under Edward's nose.

It smelled like dirt, probably with some chemicals in it for Esme's flowers. Edward was going to make himself sick before he even tasted it. He had once eaten dirt, but he was little, and kids like to taste all kinds of weird shit. Dirt was off the list, it was yucky. He bet it hadn't changed. He pinched some between his thumb and forefinger and brought it to his lips.

"Don't to it, Edward!" Bella insisted, grasping his wrist.

"It's a dare, Bella. It could have been worse," Edward told her. Before she could stop him, he bent his head and took the muck in his mouth. It was crunchy and slightly wet. He swallowed a few times, getting rid of the horrid taste.

Emmett's eyes were wide and settled on Edward. "You've got to be kidding me. You can spit it now," he said seriously.

"Spit what?" Edward asked, wiping a hand over his lips.

"What you have in your mouth."

"I swallowed it," Edward said. Wasn't I supposed to swallow?

That's when he realized it.

Emmett hadn't swallowed the slice of pizza!

He had ran away to spit it out.

Edward narrowed his eyes on him and Emmett backed away, raising his hands in defeat.

"I had no idea you'd swallow," Emmett apologized.

"At least, I didn't put more in my mouth," Edward muttered.

"God, I swear, I had no idea you'd do it."

Edward turned to Bella who was watching him incredulously. "Remember what I told you some time ago? First thing I do when I'm a vampire, is kick Emmett's ass? Now, it's kill him!" He growled.

"How did it taste?" Emmett dared to ask.

Edward whirled around, advancing to him. "Like shit!" He shouted, slamming his palms against Emmett's chest. "How I wish I could hit you, you moron!"

"I'm really sorry, Eddie."

"Do not ever call me Eddie," he screamed, fisting his hands, willing himself not to hit him because he'd be the one ending up hurt.

"Whoa! Okay, okay! Calm down. It was all in good fun," Emmett said seriously.

"So sorry for him," Rose said, appeared next to Emmett. "Let's go before he hurts himself." She took Emmett's hand and dragged him away. Alice and Jasper joined them, waving good-bye.

Edward was still seething, glaring after Emmett's departing form. Bella put her hand on small of his back.

"Calm down, love."

"Calm down?!" he asked incredulously. "He made me eat dirt! Fucking dirt!"

He saw Jasper looking back toward them, but Bella waved him off. Edward was glad of that. He didn't need superficial calming down. He took a deep breath, trying to think of something else.

"Let's go inside. You'll forget about this in no time," Bella said softly, trying to steer him inside.

Edward kicked at the ground at his feet, muttering profanities under his breath, allowing her to pull him inside the house.

"Do you have anger issues?" She teased after closing the door.

"You can't agree with what he did! You told him it wasn't okay!"

"Edward, you're overreacting. Besides, I trusted you not to swallow that thing," she added with an amused tone.

"You have too much faith in me." He sighed and went to a couch, flopping down. "Can you find some water?"

"Do you think if I give you a seed you'll make a flower?" She laughed.

"Bella!" He groaned, trying to keep up his angry façade and failing miserably.

"Water, got it." She winked and disappeared.

Edward finished the pizza and a bottle of water as they watched a movie on the TV. As always, when he watched a movie with Bella, he never paid attention to the screen. She was far more interesting and the lights being out, outside already dark, charged the atmosphere between them.

She laughed at something the characters did and he glanced toward the screen, trying to see what made her laugh so beautifully. Her head turned to him and her hand squeezed his.

"You're doing it again."

"Doing what?" he asked self-consciously.

"What could be so fascinating about my face? This movie is extremely ridiculous and funny, at the same time."

He shrugged, not really caring for the movie. "Haven't I told you that you're more interesting than anything else?"

"Oh, Edward. Soon, you'll see there are more important things than me," she said softly, looking into his eyes.

He felt his heart beating faster. They were talking about June, or after June. "Like what? You'll always be the most important thing to me." He traced a finger over her cheek.

"Like…blood," she whispered the word. "In the first year, I won't hold your interest. You'll see."

"I can't fathom that," he said truthfully.

She cupped his cheek, slowly moved her hand to his ear, and finally grasped his hair, bringing his face closer to hers. "Can we talk about your question?"

Edward swallowed and felt his face turning red. "It was stupid. I didn't mean to just blurt that out."

"But did you mean it?" Bella asked, her eyes searching his. Edward dropped his eyes, unable to look in her amber pools. "Edward?"

"I did, okay," he murmured, biting on the inside of his cheek.

"This is the secret you've been keeping from me?"

"Why do you have to be so perceptive?" He groaned, closing his eyes. "I ruined the moment, didn't I?"

"Don't you want to know my answer?"

His head snapped up to look at her. "Alice said you'd say no."

She giggled. "Sometimes…" She kissed her right cheek. "Alice is incredibly…" She kissed his left cheek. "Wrong," she kissed his lips.

Edward gasped and leaned back. "What?" He blinked. Her face had a bluish hue from the television.

"It's not yes, but it's not no either." She smirked and kissed his nose.

"You're killing me here," he moaned and pressed his forehead to hers. "Would you allow me to do it again? The right way."

"I'm counting on that."

She didn't give him a chance to answer, not that he knew what to say to that, her lips crashed onto his, effectively cutting the conversation short. He ended up on top of her, kissing her more daringly than usual and to his surprise, she allowed him.

"Upstairs," Bella whispered against his lips.

They switched the TV off and rushed up the stairs. Once in her new room, Edward jumped on top of the bed, bouncing. She laughed and joined him, more gently.

"It's been some time," he mumbled, snatching his shirt out then focusing on his belt.

"Why are you in such a hurry? I've missed you too, but we have the whole night," she reminded him.

"I missed you so much." He raised and claimed her lips back in a kiss.

When he was only in boxers, he turned his attention to her dress. Edward couldn't find a zipper. It was frustrating and he started tugging at the straps.

"Hey, easy, tiger!" Her slender fingers went to her side and pushed down the zipper he had missed.

He took the dress off her and moaned at the sight. Bella…naked. "Did you… This whole time… Oh, you have no idea how much I love you," he admitted, cupping her breasts.

Bella shuddered, something she rarely did. Every time she did it, he knew he'd done something very good. He put his lips to her nipple and sucked, amazed how her cold, hard skin puckered under his lips. It was like brining a statue back to life with his touch. She cradled his head close to her breast, not willing to let him go. Edward wasn't dreaming of departing from her sweet skin.

"Edward," she breathed, running a hand down his back, making his balls tighten. If she kept touching him like that, he was going to come.

He switched his attention to her other neglected breast as her hands dropped to his ass and squeezed. Edward groaned, biting down by reflex. The effect was immediate. She ripped off his boxers and he was on his back with her on top of him. It was rare when she was in charge, afraid to lose control and hurt him. They always went at his pace. It seemed that today, she was in charge.

"Oh!" Edward shouted more in surprise more than anything else when she lowered on his hard dick. After all those times they made love, it was still difficult to acclimate with her cold skin, especially the ice coldness down there. If normal girls were burning, Bella was turning into an iceberg. It always took him about a minute to get used to that, but contrary to what a cold shower would do, her cold skin wrapped around his dick had the reversed effect.

She started moving, balancing her weight on her hands, on either side of his head. With every push, her breasts came dangerously close to his face and he couldn't help but catch one nipple between his lips. Her hips moved faster as he tried to match her rhythm and failed. The fire in the pit of his stomach was slowly consuming him and Edward was seconds away from exploding. He wanted to keep it up for longer, but he knew he'd be okay in under ten minutes so he let go. He allowed her frantic movements to bring them to release.

"Okay?" she whispered, flipping next to him.

"Yeah," he mumbled, catching his breath.

Bella rolled closer to him and flung a leg over his, snuggling into his side. "You should sleep."

"No way. Not yet." Edward pressed his lips to her forehead. He laughed when he let out a yawn.

"Well a part of you is definitely awake," she whispered, kissing his chest. Her hand ghosted over his abdomen making his muscles constrict and dick harden almost on command. As her hand traveled down to cup him, his own hand was exploring her back until he touched her delicious ass.

"Edward," Bella moaned, pressing herself closer.

Edward grabbed a hold of one of her cheeks and squeezed as hard as he could. He earned a loud groan from Bella.

"You have no idea how good that feels. Every touch is so powerful, it's amplified by my nature."

"Really?" he asked surprised.

"The smallest touch feels a thousand times better than you'd believe."

"I can't wait to experience that," he admitted, grinning at her. She smiled back but it didn't quite reach her eyes. He wasn't going to ruin the mood by asking her what she was thinking.

Edward turned on his side, keeping his arms around her, her leg hitched over his waist. They were impossibly close this way.

"Do you want to try it like this?" He couldn't believe what had just left his mouth, and to his great surprise, he didn't even blush.

Bella's golden eyes met his, looking just as surprised as him, but she nodded. He felt her small hand grasping his dick and guiding it to her entrance. Edward raised a little to help her, and when he was slipping inside, it felt like heaven and hell combined. He never thought it could feel so good.

"Are you developing a heart condition?" she teased, bringing him inside her, balls deep.

He only managed to groan and clasp her to his chest as he started rocking his hips. He felt her breath speeding against his shoulder. Every little touch felt amplified like this. Was this how she was feeling when he touched her?

"Ah…Ahhh…OHHH!" Edward moaned, gritting his teeth and willing himself to keep going.

"Do you trust me?" Bella panted against his neck.

"Im…pli…cit…ly," he said brokenly.

Her cold hand sneaked between them and wrapped around the base of his dick. The sensation of coming diminished, but it felt like he'd combust. They moved against one another, only the slapping of their skin and their breaths in the air. Her ice walls squeezed him and he yelled, finding himself unable to come. Her hand. Edward realized why she was squeezing the base of his dick, but all he wanted was to release in that moment.

"Let…go," he grumbled, slamming his hips harder into her, trying to finish. The second her hand let go, he exploded. It felt like he lost contact with the world for a second.

When he came around, Bella's hand was stroking his cheek and hair as her eyes bore into his.

"Hi," she murmured, kissing his lips.

"Hi," he breathed and it sounded like he had a bad case of asthma.

"That was beyond words. And…I'm afraid I kind of broke the present."

"Huh?" Edward mumbled, blinking, trying to stay focused on her.

"The bed kind of lost the fight."

"You… What?" he asked, suddenly alert.

Bella giggled and nodded with her chin above his head. He peeked there, afraid of what he'd see. The soft rose motif was twisted and there was a huge gap in it.

"I sort of held onto it, afraid I'd hurt you. With good reason, too."

"I'll consider more durable presents," he said half asleep.

"Yeah, something like the Duracell bunny," Bella whispered.

"You want the Duracell bunny?" he asked, not really understanding.

"Why don't you sleep? It's too late for you and you are tired." She kissed his neck and he didn't need any more encouragement. Edward closed his eyes and fell asleep immediately.

Chapter Text

Chapter 30: Marriage proposals

It seemed that life returned to normal after Bella's birthday – the normal before the Cullens arrived in their lives. Bella had informed Edward the morning after her birthday that he had to buy her a Duracell bunny, and he didn't understand her. That was until she explained the conversation she had had with his comatose self. Edward promised to do it if he found one, just for fun.

Edward tried not to speak to Emmett for a whole week, but within the hour of his resolution, they were back to their old fun and games. Stupid vampires.

It was almost Halloween, and Edward had spent every day around Bella. There was never a spare moment to search for old proposal traditions, and Christmas was approaching soon, too. He hoped to do it then, as it would allow them time to decide if they'd actually get married before or after the change. Edward dreamed of getting married before, just to make his parents happy. Could he even visit them after his change? Would he ever be able to visit them?

His friends were letting more and more out about newborn behavior. Edward thought they said such terrible things just to scare him, or make him change his mind, but when Carlisle had joined one of the conversations, he knew they were telling the truth.

Bella had told him the truth. He would only think of blood for at least a year, before he could focus on other desires. Edward couldn't fathom that, when now, all he could think of was Bella. They were making preparations to leave before September or October. To move to Alaska, to their friends, just to keep him away from people. Jasper promised to be his teacher since he was used to living amongst newborns.

The door of Edward's room opened quite abruptly, making him jump in his chair. He minimized the Internet page quickly, not sure who was there. It turned out it was only his mom.

"Sorry, honey. I have to run to work."

"Okay, Mom." He nodded.

"I've left food in the fridge in case I don't make it back by lunchtime," she said.

"Okay, Mom," he repeated. "I'm a big boy. I can take care of myself."

She smiled and came to kiss him. "Goodbye."

"Bye."

Edward waited until she pulled the car out of her spot to return to his chase of information about Bella's time period. He found an interesting link and clicked on it. They didn't marry out of love, not often. It was usually about money. When isn't it about money? He wondered, idly. Women had to stay home and raise the man's children. Not even the contemporary housewives could be compared with how women were treated then.

What was Bella going to do when they married? They couldn't have kids to keep her entertained. He frowned, reconsidering the entire thing. What was she doing when they weren't together? Why didn't he know such trivial things? How would the marriage affect her? Was she so used to the actual times that she wouldn't think of the past?

Argh! Where was Alice when he needed her? Edward let his head bang against the desk. Why was this so complicated? It should have been a four-worded question and a one-word answer.

A line on the screen caught his eye. Many marriages occurred as a result of a young man writing his future bride's father indicating his intentions, line of work, and bank contents.

Did he have to do that to Carlisle? Or could he just talk to him? Or maybe, he should talk to Peter? He changed her, he was like her father, right?

It was also acceptable for a gentleman to ask a friend to propose the match to the lady or her father. If the gentleman knew that his advances were accepted, he could write a letter asking the young lady herself or ask her in person. If a gentleman was not sure, he was to write a letter to her father and pray that her father liked him.

So, everything revolved around the bride's father. See, Masen? They would have scalped you if you were in that time and had blurted out the words like you did! His subconscious mocked him. If Edward had been in that time and had done that, Bella would have probably swooned or fainted or whatever term they used.

Edward laughed at his ridiculous thoughts.

Rings were used during some proposals, simple bands were common and only very wealthy gentlemen gave rings with diamonds. The ring was a sentimental token of a gentleman's affection, intended to only be special to the lady, not necessarily valuable.

Not valuable? Well, he was going to do that according to his time. Bella deserved the best, not a token or a surprise from a food bag.

There were exceptions from "How to Do it" by John H. Tingley. He skimmed through them.

"Take pity on a forlorn bachelor," says another, in a manner that may be either jest or earnest, "marry me at once, and put me out of my misery."

"With all my heart, whenever you are ready," replies the laughing fair.

Really? I mean, seriously! "Forlorn?" Edward snorted. He'd twist his tongue saying that word, not like he was considering ever using it. Maybe as a joke. He grinned, imagining their faces.

He eagerly returned to reading silly declarations from the eighteen hundreds.

One timid gentleman asks, "Have you any objection to change your name?" and follows this up with another, which clenches its significance, "How would mine suit you?"

Oh, yes! Edward could see himself doing this…then bursting in laughter. His chuckles died as he read the last entry on the website. 'To the Father of the Lady.' He swallowed and started reading the letter. He felt like he was doing something taboo.

To the Father of the Lady, Saturday, Oct. 23d, 18-.

Respected Sir, - I have ventured to hope that you will call all your friendly feelings to my assistance in considering a proposal I am about to lay before you, in which my happiness is much concerned.

For a long time past , your daughter, Jane, has held a strong hold over my affections, and I have reason to believe that I am not indiffer ent to her. My position is such as to warrant my belief that I could support her in the style of comfort which she so well deserves, and which it has been your constant aim to provide for your children. As regards my character and disposition, I trust they are sufficiently well known to you to give you confidence in the prospect of your child's happiness.

I have not, however, ventured on any express declaration of my feelings without first consulting you on the subject, as I feel persuaded that the straightforward course is always the best, and that a parent's sanction will never be wanting, when the circumstances of the case justify its being accorded.

Anxiously awaiting the result of your consideration on this important and interesting subject,

I remain, sir,

Your most faithful and obedient servant,

Henry Barclay.

To Charles Grover, Esq.

No. – Bleecker St., New York.

Edward's mouth was awfully dry, all of a sudden. He could see himself writing this thing to an unknown person – Bella's real father. Although some things were just plain stupid, others hit a little too close to home.

Was this a sign? Today was October 23rd. Many years later, yes, but was this a sign? And if it was, what kind of sign was it?

That man could support his wife. Edward didn't even have an inkling about what the real world was.

Suddenly, he felt very small and stupid. Was it a smart thing to propose now? Maybe in a few years, after the change, after he did something in life…

No. The decision was made. He wanted to have Bella as his wife before he turned into a vampire. Maybe it was the insecurity speaking, afraid he'd lose her. Since he heard what a newborn could do, he wanted her to be his even more. She wouldn't leave him that way. Who heard about vampires divorcing?

Edward looked at other websites. There was the thing from 'Sense and Sensibility' when the girl gives the guy she loves a ring made of hair. He hadn't thought about that. Edward turned the computer down and went to his bookcase. He picked his mom's old volume of Jane Austen's novels and went to 'Sense and Sensibility.' He'd only once read it, and it was because he had to write an essay for English class. He couldn't believe he was reading pussy books just to find out about marriage in that time.

When his stomach growled, he realized it was three in the afternoon. He couldn't lay the book down, so he took it with him. Edward was getting to a good part and he was seeing everything in a different light. He was enjoying it.

He heated up the food, barely glancing at what he was doing since his eyes were glued to the page he was reading. He heard a bang and he saw something like sparks coming from behind the microwave oven's door. He froze and threw the book away, opening the door.

Shit. What was going on? There was an odd smell coming from inside. He unplugged it, afraid it would burst in flames. Edward took the pot from inside and nearly emptied the contest on the floor. It was burning hot.

That's when he remembered a fuzzy memory of his mom telling him not to put metal in the microwave oven.

"Oops," he whispered to no one in particular. He hoped he hadn't broken the microwave oven.

Someone knocked on the door, taking him out of his small panic attack. Edward went to open it and found Jake there.

"Hey!" He greeted his friend enthusiastically. They shook hands.

"Hi." Edward's fingers were stinging from touching the pot. Shit, why did he never listen to what he was told?

"Everything okay?" Jake asked.

"I hope so. I was heating up my lunch…"

"And…?" He smirked, coming inside and closing the door.

"I put the metal pot in the microwave. It's stupid, I know. I was otherwise occupied." He felt like he was starting to talk like the characters in the book.

Jake gave him a weird look, but didn't comment.

"Hungry?" Edward asked.

"I'm always hungry."

Edward shook his head and went to get two plates. "What brings you here?"

"We haven't talked in some time." He shrugged. Yeah right. There was more to that. "Besides…" Here we go. "I was wondering if you ever had anything on Charles Dickens."

He burst in laughter. "Sorry, man, I don't have anything on Dickens. I'm not into that kind of stuff."

He groaned exasperatedly. "Like, an essay!"

"I'm not sure, probably. Why?" he asked, putting the plates on the table along with forks and napkins. "What to drink?"

"Juice, whatever," he mumbled. "Our teacher is the stupidest out there," he continued, sitting down.

"Why? What did he do?" Edward sat down and spied his book at the other end of the table. Hopefully, Jake wouldn't see it or comment.

"He told us to read a few of his books and make an opinion on the writer. Like it's so easy! Why couldn't we just read about Dickens?"

"Can't help you there. Our teachers are smarter than that," he said jokingly. "But I have an essay, I think an-"

The front door banged to the wall and next second, Rose was in the kitchen's doorway.

Edward looked at her shocked, trying to settle his heart. "What the hell, Rose?"

She glanced at Jacob and scrunched her nose then focused on Edward. "If you must know… I was next to Alice when she had this interesting vision of you setting the house on fire then… you disappeared. I decided to come and see what happened. We didn't want to panic Bella."

"Oh, really?" Edward asked surprised. "So it's a good thing I unplugged it."

"Wait, you put that in the microwave?!" Jake shouted, pointing to the green pot.

Edward nodded, unable to find his voice since he was trying not to laugh. Rose groaned and came to him, slapping the back of his head.

"Ow!" He moaned.

"That's for scaring us to death!"

"Pity, you're already dead, Blondie," Jake quipped up.

"What did you say, dog?" she hissed, whirling to him.

"Good thing you don't sneeze or you'd lose your brain," he goofed.

"Jake!" Edward shouted, jumping in between them. "Look, Rose, I'm okay. Go back," he told her, still keeping a hand on each of their shoulders.

"If something happens, you're on your own. Alice can't see when he's around," she explained.

"So I've heard. I'll be fine."

She nodded and relaxed a little, walking to the door then turned back. "Oh, and don't put metal things in the microwave oven. Even I know that!"

Edward groaned and went to her, pushing her out of the house. Thankfully, she cooperated. "Can you not mention this to Bella?"

"I'll try. You be careful. I'm serious when I say we're all worried about you when Alice can't see."

"I'll be okay, Rose."

She nodded and patted his cheek then disappeared. He went back to the kitchen, returning to his meal.

"What?" Edward asked when Jake kept staring at him.

"You're so…you act so normal around them…and she's nice to you," he muttered.

"Of course, she's nice to me! I don't insult her! What was that, anyway?" he asked, annoyed.

"I couldn't help myself. I don't know any blondes and I have some good jokes."

"Keep them to yourself."

They ate in relative silence, Jake told him that something was going wrong with his car, and Edward immediately told him that he was busy with school work, just to escape being locked up in his garage. Then Jake told him about Nessie, and his demeanor changed again. Did I do the same thing when I spoke about Bella?

"But she's a kid!" Edward insisted when Jake talked about his afternoons with her.

"Call it paternal instinct, I dunno. I just know how to be around her," he said, shrugging.

"Can you not put the word parental in the same sentence with yourself and that little girl? It sounds weird," he muttered.

"You have to read that for school?" he asked, eyeing the book.

Edward felt his ears turning red. He put the fork down and swallowed his bite. "Not exactly."

He frowned. "You're reading chick flicks? Oh no! I know! You want to understand your leech better."

"I wou… What? How did you know?" he asked, confused.

"I was joking!" They stared at each other for a few minutes. "Holy shit! Leah was really right. You want to…"

"Yes, Jacob. I want to be like Bella. Around June, after graduation," he added. "And…" Edward stopped talking, not sure his friend would understand his wish.

"What else? Isn't it enough you want to…kill yourself?" He groaned, narrowing his eyes.

Edward ground his teeth and took a big breath, trying to calm down. "I want to…marry Bella."

Jake choked on his bite and started thumping his chest until the piece of lasagna was out of his throat. "Now, you are joking."

"Do you see me smiling or laughing?"

"Do you really…want this? To marry her, I mean," he said.

"Yeah. I've been looking at traditions…how people proposed in that time…" Edward shrugged, feeling his face turning red.

"Aww!"

Edward kicked him under the table. After a moment, they started laughing.

"Okay, okay. Now, can you help me with Dickens?"

Edward dumped the dishes in the sink and went upstairs to search for his English essays. When he was halfway through the papers on his desk, he realized it could be in his laptop. He wasn't even sure that there was such a stupid essay amongst his.

Jake must have really wanted it because he helped him look for it. The laptop was the last resort. Edward found two on Dickens but neither were what he wanted.

"You can email them to me, anyway. Maybe they'll help," Jake said, defeated.

"I'm really sorry," Edward said.

They were cleaning the mess on the floor when Edward heard footsteps on the stairs. He had a doorbell! Why was no one using it?

"Knock, knock," Bella said from the doorway.

"Hey," he greeted her, stacking a pile of papers, carefully. He didn't need a paper cut.

"You!" Jake shouted and jumped up. "You can help," he continued, almost giddy.

"Sorry?" Bella asked confused, raising an eyebrow at Edward. He shook his head, rolling his eyes.

Jake proceeded to tell her what he needed and begged her to help him. Edward used to live for the day to see him beg. Bella said she'd help him if she got something in return. He shrugged, not knowing what to answer and she said that they didn't have a deal.

"Oh come on, please! What should I do?"

"Read at least one of the books. So you'll have an idea why I wrote some of the things," she answered.

"Okay. Anything. When can you do it?" he asked eagerly. "I need it in two weeks."

"I'll hand it to you after you read one book."

"Sounds good. Thanks."

After he left, Edward went to the kitchen to grab his book. "That was sneaky of you."

She pressed her palms against his cheeks, staring into his eyes. "What have you done today?"

He glanced at the pot then at her golden eyes. Had Alice told her? Or Rose? They promised.

"Edward? Is there something you want to tell me?"

"Fine!" He moaned loudly. "I nearly set the microwave on fire!"

She froze. She wasn't expecting that. Shit. Shit. Shit!

"You…what? Did something happen?" she asked panicked.

"Didn't Alice or Rose…tell you?" he asked, meekly. Crap. He was in deep shit.

"No. I was simply curious…but it looks like you had a busy day," she said softly, on a guarded voice.

"Nothing actually happened. I unplugged it before something went wrong," he explained.

"I see," she murmured and narrowed her eyes. "Were you planning on telling me?"

"Nope?" It sounded like a question. He hated being questioned.

The front door opened, and he hadn't been happier when his mom interrupted their time. She stepped into the kitchen, taking off her scarf.

"Oh, hey kids!" she called.

"Hi, Mom," he whispered. "Let go," he muttered to Bella. His cheeks were going numb.

She smirked and dropped her hands, going to Elizabeth and kissing her cheek. "Hello, Lizzie."

Strange things happened after Bella's birthday. His mom never gave him the impression that she liked Bella that much, but apparently, whatever they talked about that day, set off a tight friendship. Edward was glad Billy or Harry hadn't mentioned a thing to her about Bella's nature. Let her think whatever she wanted.

"I'll be in my room," he said, although he wasn't sure he was heard by either of them. He grabbed the book and went upstairs, closing the door behind him.

He found Ginger on his bed. When he saw his owner, he mewed and Edward play with him, not that he was going to deny him. By the time the cat grew tired of jumping for the toy mouse in Edward's hand, he was donning another scar. He had to learn to play nicely.

Bella found him reading. If she was shocked to see his choice, she didn't comment on it, just snuggled next to him and sighed in content.

"I've been thinking," he started in a low whisper.

"Yes?" She looked up at him from her place on his chest.

"If I was to live in your time…" He looked at the book then at her. "Would you have…given me a ring of your hair?" He blurted out, losing his nerve.

She giggled, putting her hand over her mouth. "You're so silly sometimes, Edward. I probably would have, considering I love you and in that time, well, once you loved someone you had to marry, not just wait and make sure they were the one."

"I should have done something, too? Like read you poems?" he asked, curiously.

"There was that, the walks, I don't know. I don't really remember things. There wasn't much to do in that time." Bella shrugged.

"How did you meet your… the boys?"

"The suitors? Well, my father dealt with that."

Suitors, right. He always forgot that word. "What if you liked someone? Would you go and talk with him or-"

Bella gasped and looked at him shocked. "I oughten't do that! It would have been a shame."

"So if you liked a boy…you just waited and wished he'd court you?" he wondered, feeling sick. Such stupid times.

"Of course, Edward. If you remember, I let you make the first step."

"No shit? You stalked me for months, coming in my room at night… Let me guess, that was you waiting for me to make the first step?" he asked, laughing.

She giggled, flicking the lobe of his ear. "You know what I mean."

"Actually, I don't," he said honestly.

"You wanted to apologize for bumping into me then you asked me about my Christmas then you asked me to join you at lunch…" Bella counted the times, grinning.

"Oh, right!" Edward remembered. "That was one hell of a bump! I had a huge bruise on my shoulder," he told her, laughing.

Her smile dropped. He regretted saying anything. "I always hate it when I hurt you," she murmured, leaning to kiss him. "You really shocked me that day…when you offered me your muffins."

"Well, I had the theory about you, but wasn't entirely sure. It was worth a try."

"What if I had eaten one?" she questioned.

"I would have probably dropped my theories." He smirked. "And when I'd have seen you throwing it up, I'd have thought you were anorexic."

They burst into laughter. "Better anorexic than a vampire," she whispered once she calmed down.

"I'd rather take vampire than a disease," he said seriously.

She grew serious and rolled on her side. "How is Jacob taking the news?"

"Good." He shrugged. "But worse than Leah, I guess."

"I expected her to take it the worst."

"Me too, but she knew it would come to that. I just have to keep my promise and visit them as often as I can before summer," he explained.

"That's fair. You'll get sick of us for the rest of the eternity, so you really should spend those months with her and Jacob." Was Bella really encouraging him to spend time with Leah?

"I think it's the other way round. You'll get sick of me."

"Never," she whispered, cupping his cheek.

Edward returned to reading, and she kept her head on his chest, trailing her fingers over his arm. He was understanding Colonel Brandon; he used to find it weird how the older man was pinning after the young lady.

"Was this usual?" he whispered, peering down at Bella. "An older guy asking for such a young girl?"

"Bad memories seem to have stuck with me," she started. "Yes, it was possible. My father introduced me one night to several men, some were a few years younger than him. So yes, it wasn't uncommon. It was all about the money, name and reputation," she added softly.

So I've read. He sighed and hugged her tightly. "Look how that turned out!" he exclaimed. "You ended up with a younger guy. In every sense of the word."

"You know, you're right. You're a minor," she said amused.

"And you're an old lady!" He mock-accused her.

She gasped and put her hand to her chest. "How you wound me, my love."

There was a knock on his door. "Dinner!" His mom said from the other side.

"Coming," he shouted.

"Oh, such dirty words, young one."

"Bella!" He groaned loudly. "You spend too much time around Emmett."

She smirked and pecked his lips. "I'm not staying for dinner. I'll be with the Cullens, learning new dirty jokes from Emmett." She winked and jumped out of the bed.

"Great. Are you coming…" He huffed when she giggled. "Are you visiting me later?" He rectified through gritted teeth.

"Sure."

They walked downstairs hand in hand. His mom was disappointed that Bella wouldn't be joining them, but she understood she had previous plans.

"I'll be coming later…with you," Bella whispered in his ear, at the front door.

Edward felt the stirrings of arousal coursing through his body, at her words. "I'll be waiting for you to keep that promise."

Chapter Text

Chapter 31: The ring

Halloween. Edward had never been a great fan of this holiday. He wanted to spend it inside, handing out candies, not outside and begging for them. Besides, he was too old for that shit. But no, not Emmett!

Somehow, Emmett dragged him into that sort of fuckery. Only him, unfortunately. They were supposed to be vampires. That was extremely original. Edward was tripping over the stupid cloak and the plastic fangs were cutting at the corners of his mouth.

Emmett was dangling the pumpkin in his hand as he knocked on Ben's door. Edward wanted to hide. When the door opened, and his friend burst out in laughter. Edward groaned and closed his eyes.

"Hello!" Ben greeted them amused.

"Candies or we'll bite!" Emmett growled, opening the cap of the pumpkin.

"Isn't it Trick or Treat?" Ben asked confused, fishing for some candies.

Edward rolled his eyes. "Emmett wants to be original," he muttered.

That comment earned a huge grin from Emmett. "Of course. I'm always original."

After getting candies from Ben, they went to another few houses. Edward mostly tried to stay hidden behind Emmett. He had no shame by doing this, but that didn't mean Edward had to enjoy it.

"Two more to go," Emmett encouraged him when Edward wondered if they could just go back to his house. They were in Emmett's Jeep, going dangerously close to Edward's house. He couldn't be serious!

"No way! Please, Emmett!" His parents knew he hated this holiday and besides, they thought he was with the Cullens at their house, not out with Emmett.

"Let's go! If you're lucky, she'll give you a muffin," he joked.

"I'd rather wait here," Edward told him, refusing to get out of the car. Emmett took him out of the car and put him down only when they were in front of the house door. Emmett put the pumpkin in Edward's hands and knocked on the door.

Ed opened the door and took a step back, surprised, then barked a loud laugh. Edward tried to grin through the evil fangs, but it didn't work.

"Candies or I'll bite," he said as cheerfully as he could.

Edward was making a shit long list for things to do after his change. How many times could he kill Emmett? He'd reached thirty, a few moments ago.

"I think I'll prefer the bite," his dad chuckled. "Liz, come here," he called over his shoulder.

"No," Edward moaned. Apparently, it was too low for hisad to hear, but Emmett snickered.

"Emmett Cullen," he introduced himself to Edward's dad. Huh. Edward had no idea they hadn't officially met, although Emmett had been in his house a few times.

"Call me Ed," his dad said, shaking Emmett's hand.

His mom appeared with a bag full of candies. She stopped in her tracks when she saw her son, dropping the candies. Edward was sure Emmett could have caught the bag, but he didn't, watching them spread on the floor with a pout.

"Let me grab the camera!" She said joyfully.

Was no one on his side?

After a few pictures and a few candies and muffins, which made the embarrassment worth it, they left.

"Now, what?" Edward asked, spitting the fangs out and biting on a muffin.

"We're going home. I bet Esme doesn't have candies. No one ventures that deep into the woods."

"Are you going to bite her?" he asked, amused.

"I don't wish to die."

Edward frowned. "Why would you die?"

Emmett shook his head.

"Oh, come on. You can't say that and leave me hanging!" Edward groaned, finishing the muffin.

Emmett stopped the car on the side of the road. "Don't tell Ruby about this. She'd kill me if she knew I told you this."

"Okay."

"When you bite another vampire…there are a few meanings," he started explaining. "You bite to feed if we're talking about a human, to defend yourself from others – like Jasper had, you know – and well, you bite to mark your territory. It's not exactly like that, but during the fucking…if the one you are with is your mate…you tend to bite them."

"And why would you die if you bit Esme?" Edward insisted, ignoring Emmett's crass way of explaining things.

"Carlisle is Esme's mate…I'm sure he bit her at one point or another. If another one goes and bites the other's mate…it's war. I'd say it's worse than killing one's mate." He was dead serious. "This is another thing I admire about your Bella."

"Yeah, she's pretty damn good, isn't she?" He grinned proudly.

"She's second after Carlisle at controlling the natural urges."

"Okay. No biting anyone. I got that," Edward said, nodding.

"You can bite Bella. I advise you do that after the change or you'd have to explain your dentist why you broke all your teeth at once," he joked and started driving again.

Edward turned red, more at the idea of biting Bella than the embarrassment of losing teeth. He could imagine sinking his teeth in her slender neck. He could almost feel the texture of her flesh…

"Masen! Stop lusting after my future sister!"

Edward scowled at him, folding his arms over his chest.

"By the way. When are you planning on asking her?" he asked curiously.

"Christmas. I still have to find a ring…to ask Carlisle…to make it right."

"Whoa! Why would you ask Carlisle?"

"He's like her father of sorts, right?" Edward asked, shrugging.

"That's kinda…old fashioned."

"Emmett, I want to do it right. I still regret blurting it out on her birthday."

He chuckled. "Jazz and I had to literally hold Alice down to keep her from coming upstairs to kill you!"

To Emmett's chagrin, Alice had seen his little stunt and Esme had lots of candies. The rest of the night, Edward ate only candies, ending up on a sugar high, unable to sleep.

The next day, Bella and Alice went hunting right after school let out. Edward knew he couldn't wait until his dad got home so he went to his office. He was too hyped up about setting his plan in motion.

"Are you okay?" Hid dad asked worried when Edward stepped into his office.

"Yeah. I just need…some help," Edward started.

"Couldn't it wait until I got home?"

"No. Are you busy?" He sat down on the chair across from his dad.

"It's a slow day. What can I do for you?" he asked, leaning back in his chair, folding his hands in front of him on the desk.

"Remember how we talked about…Bella? How I want to…marry her," he whispered, feeling his ears turning red.

"Yes." His dad nodded, raising an eyebrow.

"I want to ask her on Christmas."

His father choked on his spit. "Aren't you a little young for this, Edward?"

"Dad, you saw the web page! You knew I'd do it!" He groaned, upset he wasn't taken seriously.

"Yes, but I never thought…so soon… Are you sure?"

"I haven't been more sure of anything in my life."

"Listen to yourself! Edward, you don't know a thing about life! Why the rush?" He insisted, looking at his son in a way only a parent could look.

Edward squirmed. He couldn't give him the real answer. "Umm, we want to move in together after high school," he blurted out.

"And?"

"It would be…improper." Edward wanted to slap himself.

His dad chuckled. "People live like that all the time nowadays."

"Dad! Please, I need your help." Edward didn't need his dad making fun of him.

"Let's say I support your insane idea. What can I do?"

Edward grinned, restraining himself from jumping over the desk and hugging him. "I need access to my college funds."

His dad's smile fell and his eyes widened. "You're really serious!" he exclaimed.

Edward raised his hands in the air, in frustration. "Of course, I am! What have I been telling you? I want to marry Bella," he shouted.

"What about college?"

"Don't worry about it. I will find a way around…"

"Your mother would be-" He was interrupted by his phone ringing. "Hello?" He met Edward's eyes, smiling. "He's here with me. Do you want to speak to him? Okay. I love you, too, Liz."

Edward had forgotten to tell his mom he might be home late, but why was she home so early, anyway?

"Why aren't you answering your mother?"

"My phone's in the car," Edward mumbled.

"I'll wrap it around your neck one day. That's why we bought you one, to have it with you, not leave it who knows where!"

"Yes, Dad."

"Back to your request. Did you find…a ring?"

Edward shook his head. "They're so expensive… I know that…"

"Edward." His dad came next to Edward and put a hand on his shoulder. "Go home and tell your mother what you just told me."

"Promise you'll find a good place to bury my body?" Edward teased, making him chuckle.

"I'm serious. She won't kill you."

"If you say so…"

"Trust me, son. She'll help."

Edward got up and they hugged before he left, feeling worse than when he had come. When Edward arrived home, his mom took him in her arms, hugging him so tightly, he thought she'd suffocate him.

"Don't you ever scare me like that again, Edward!"

"But I didn't do anything," he protested.

She smoothed his hair and kissed his cheeks. "Why did you go to your father's office?"

"Let's sit down. I want to…tell you something."

"Oh, dear! What happened, honey? Are you okay? Is it Bella? Is…"

"MOM!" He shouted, grabbing her shoulders. "It's nothing bad. Well, I guess that depends on how you look at it, actually." He shrugged.

They sat down on the couch and she took his hands in hers. "I can take it. Tell me," she whispered.

"Dad might have told you about my intention to propose to Bella," he started the speech.

"Yes, I was so glad to hear that." She brought him close to her and kissed his forehead. "My little boy is growing up."

"I've been growing up for some time. You chose not to see it," he mumbled.

She laughed softly, putting her head on his shoulder. "What can I do for you, Edward?"

Was that the question of the day?

"Well, Dad told me to come to you when I told him I need help with the ring."

"I know just the right ring," she told him, raising and looking happy. "I've been waiting for you to come to me. I know Bella is the one for you."

"Course she is! I can't see myself loving anyone else," he said earnestly.

"Come with me." She took his hand, leading him up the stairs.

They went to her room and she sat him on the bed, as she went to a drawer, searching for something. When she returned with an elegant jewelry box, Edward gasped.

"Wh- what is that?" He'd never seen it before.

"It's my jewelry box. I keep all sort of sentimental things in here," she whispered, sitting down and opening the box.

Edward felt like he'd grown another pair of eyes at what he saw inside. There were so many rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, an old comb, and a few other things he had no idea what they were, probably broaches. But what got his attention was a ring.

"You can touch it," she said gently, snapping him out of my daze.

"Is it… Are those diamonds?" He asked in a thick voice.

"Yes, they are. This was Ed's mom's engagement ring. She wanted you to have it when the time was right. I remember asking her how I would know when you were with the right girl. She told me that I'd just know."

"Wait!" He gasped. "You want me to…give this to Bella?" He asked incredulously, feeling his heart slamming against his ribcage like a hummingbird.

"Indeed, sweetheart. I know she's the one for you. I can see how happy she makes you, and if being apart from her did what I saw in April then I don't ever want to see you two apart."

"M…om," he whispered, feeling a sob trying to make its way out.

"Remember how you asked me when I was in Chicago to help you with something for Bella's bracelet?"

"Yeah…"

"And you took a little heart from that box I told you about?" She continued with a smirk on her lips.

"Holy shit! Was that a diamond?" He gasped in shock.

"Watch that mouth of yours or I'll reconsider this," she said sternly.

"Sorry," he mumbled, making a show of zipping his lips and throwing the key away, making her laugh. Edward was still in shock at the news. He had no idea Bella was wearing a diamond heart from him. He thought it was only a stone that looked like a diamond.

He looked down at the ring and picked it up between his fingers, inspecting it closely. It was breathtaking. It was everything Bella would like – an old-fashioned ring. They would have to fight about the stones, but he knew he'd win. The oval base adorned little diamonds around the larger diamond.

"Can there…be some other stone?" he asked. "Not a diamond?"

His mom's eyes widened. "What are you saying? You don't like it?"

Edward chuckled. "No, Mom! I love it, really! It's awesome! Just…I think there are too many diamonds for Bella's liking."

She looked contemplatively for a few minutes then nodded. "I'm sure I know what you are saying. What stone would you like?"

"Topaz." It left his mouth before he could keep it in. He had never heard of a ring with a topaz stone. Was that even possible?

"I'll see what I can do. We can go to a store to have it worked. When do you want to ask her?"

"On Christmas," he answered, waiting for her shocked expression. It never came.

"I was expecting you to do it sooner. We can work with it until Christmas. It will look beautiful," she told him proudly. "Oh, Edward! I'm losing you, aren't I?"

Edward's hands started to shake and he wrapped her in his arms, not wanting her to see his tears. A mother always knows. How did she know this?

"I…love you, Mom," he murmured in her hair, unsure if she heard him.

She cried harder against his shoulder. "I love you, too, Edward."

He saw somewhere in between her hair that the clock was approaching five and Bella had promised to come around five.

He leaned back, still squeezing his mom's hand. "Not a word to Bella, please. And to make it safer, don't talk about it with Dad while she's here. You don't know what she hears," he said seriously.

"Okay. I can see how much you want to keep it a secret. I'll find a good jeweler and tell you, okay? Just think of a new design."

"I will. Thanks, Mom." He kissed her cheek. She patted his cheek softly just as the doorbell buzzed. She zipped her lips as he had done earlier, and he laughed.

Edward rushed down the stairs and wrenched the door open, meeting Bella. She had a huge grin on her face and he was sure he had one too. He hugged her, inhaling her otherworldly scent.

"I missed you so much," he murmured.

"I missed you too, Edward."

.

.

.

November seemed to fly by and when Thanksgiving arrived, Edward started panicking. About a week ago, he had come up with a nice design – thanks to Rose and Alice helping – he was horrible at drawing. Luckily, Alice had seen what he wanted and she described it to Rose, and so they started drawing the ring. When it was done, it looked exactly like what he wanted. Now, it was at the jeweler.

Edward tried to dodge out of spending Thanksgiving with family, but just to make him stay home and be with Jake and Leah again, Bella took an extended hunting trip with the Cullens. She had promised to keep her phone close in case there were any incidents, making him scowl at her. She very well knew, no one would fight with anyone. Edward had made peace with Leah a long time ago.

They had a nice holiday, and unlike Easter; there was truly a holiday air around. When his friends arrived, Edward found himself locked in the kitchen with Jake and Leah, bombarded with questions. Apparently, everyone besides his mom and the Cullens thought he was joking about marrying Bella. That annoyed him somehow. He could never joke about something so serious!

"So…when are you going to do it? Before or after?" Leah asked.

"What?" He frowned.

"When are you…getting…you know…When are you tying the knot? Before or after you… become like them?" Leah stumbled over her words.

"Oh!" Edward breathed then shrugged. "I have no idea. Let me propose first. After she accepts…I'll tell you." He hoped Alice was wrong and that he didn't have to beg Bella a few times before she accepted.

"Kids! I need to use the kitchen!" His mom demanded from the other side of the door.

"We're not done with ya, Masen," Jacob grunted, punching his shoulder.

"I wouldn't believe otherwise," Edward replied, unlocking the door.

His mom breezed past them, muttering about how busy she was. Sue followed suit, smiling at Edward. He turned to Leah.

"You didn't," he whisper-shouted.

"What's wrong in that? And if you want to know, it slipped."

"Slipped, my ass!" Jake muttered. "I told her about what we talked about that day and she all but shouted it."

Leah huffed and went to the living room, leaving them in the hallway snickering. That didn't last long because Elizabeth and Sue thought they were up to something and put food plates in their arms.

Edward was dreading the 'grateful for things' part. His mom always loved to do that part during desert. He had to prepare himself for whatever he'd hear or even for what he'd say. Honestly, he had no idea what to say that he was grateful for.

The brunch went on quietly, with their dads shouting at the television, or more accurately, at the players from the other side of the screen. When the last bit of the meal was over, Edward wondered what was going to happen next.

When his mother brought the cheesecake, he was still thinking of a good thing to say that he was grateful for. He couldn't very well say one of the cliché things, like Bella, or his parents, or his friends. He wanted to say something that truly had a deeper meaning than that. It could be the last time he'd be around all these people, he realized.

As everyone took their turn, Edward had finally made up his mind. All he wished was that no one would question him. His parents said that, of course, they were grateful for having their son, just like Billy, and Leah and Seth's parents said about their kids. Jake was grateful for his car and Nessie, seemingly unable to decide which one was the first – they all knew that Nessie was the most important, but no one commented, Seth said something about good friends, Leah said something similar to her brother, all the while looking at Edward, and so it became his turn. Why was he the last one? He thought to himself.

"Eh, I…am grateful for…Alice," he mumbled, watching the piece of cake in front of him.

"Don't you mean Bella?" His mom wondered, confused.

Edward wanted to glare at her, but he just shrugged, keeping his eyes on the cake in front of me.

"Can I ask why?"

Why wasn't she letting it go? "Alice helped me…a lot," he explained, not really wanting to go into the depths of her help. She was a lifesaver – quite literally sometimes.

Chapter Text

Chapter 32: Ruined moment

"It's going to be fun!" Alice squealed, buzzing around. "Give me that box from over there, please," she said from the ladder she was on top of, decorating the tree.

Bella had never made a fuss over Christmas, but apparently when you lived with the Cullens, you had to celebrate it.

She handed Alice the box of red balls and Alice immediately started putting them up on the tree. Once she was finally done, she got the great idea of making Bella put the top.

"No way!" Bella protested, taking a step back. She was still taking it all in – how they treated her as a member of the family, how she had her own room – but she was sure that once they left Forks, they wouldn't take her with them.

"Put this on the top of the tree or I'm going to hurt you! How can you think such things!?" Alice screeched.

"It's only normal…"

Before Bella could protest some more, she was on Emmett's shoulders with the star in her hand. She put it in its place carefully then jumped down.

"Thank you," she whispered.

"That's more like it," Alice said and went to hug her friend.

When Bella left to get Edward for their weekend together with the Cullens, she looked for the first time at the house. The houses in those movies where the neighbors were in a competition, weren't as sparkly as the Cullens' house. She still found it funny how Emmett tried to make Esme cave at having a live reindeer in front of the house. Luckily, she said no.

As Bella pulled up in front of Edward's house, she felt nerves creeping up inside her. She had no idea why she was so nervous; it wasn't like they hadn't spent time alone or anything. She knocked on the front door and Ed answered, ushering her inside, sporting a huge smile. The house smelled like Christmas and she felt a pang of guilt for taking Edward away from this – since it was his last opportunity to spend Christmas with his parents.

"Hello, Bella," Ed greeted, hugging her.

She'd grown used to those hugs since the whole family seemed very fond of such embraces.

"Hello," she whispered back. She wasn't sure if she should fidget or just stand there, waiting for Edward.

"Come on in. Liz and Edward are last minute shopping. They should be back anytime," he said, gesturing to the living room.

Was she that nervous that she missed two more heart beats? Especially Edward's heartbeat and scent.

Ed offered her eggnog, but she declined, then he offered her cake, she refused again. She felt awful for refusing him.

Half an hour later, Bella heard the purr of Edward's car outside.

"I wish I'd be there to see-"

"Mom! What did I tell you about not talking about this?" Bella heard the panic in his voice.

"But honey, Bella is inside the house," she protested. Bella was truly curious about what she had wanted to say.

"Yes, but still," Edward insisted.

The doors of his car opened then slammed shut and their footsteps came to the door.

"We're home!" Elizabeth said loudly, as if they hadn't heard the door.

Bella was the first to make it to the hallway. Edward had kept her away for a few days for unknown reasons. He hadn't taken his winter coat off, nor his hat and scarf. He grinned and came to hug her, kissing her cheek.

"Hey, love."

"Hi," she murmured, quickly pressing her lips to his.

"Off you go! And have a very good Christmas!" Elizabeth said amused, jokingly pushing them out.

"Wait! I need to grab my bag," Edward said softly. He had his bag by the front door. Bella had missed it when she came inside – she had missed a lot of things.

After saying goodbye to his parents, they went to Bella's car and she drove to the Cullens' house.

Being late at night, they didn't stay downstairs for too long. Bella knew Edward had to sleep.

When he didn't change in his pajamas, she questioned him.

"I'd like to take a shower, first," he answered, taking things out of his backpack.

"Do you need company?" she whispered seductively, wrapping her arms around him.

"I thought you didn't need to wash."

"I don't." She hoped he got the hint.

"Then why would you… Oh, eh, I'm beat, Bella. I'm really sorry."

Bella felt her smile drop. She thought he had missed her, but it looked like he'd better wash quickly then go to sleep. "Okay," she mumbled, taking her arms from around his waist.

She felt rejected. He just took his stuff and went to the bathroom, locking himself in there.

"He's tired, Bella," Alice said, appearing in the doorway of her room.

"But… Alice, you have no idea how I felt when…"

"You have to understand him. He's been busy the past few days."

Bella nodded, and changed in one of his t-shirts. She knew he liked to see her wearing his clothes in bed. Alice left after reminding her one more time that Edward needed sleep. Bella knew that, but who could blame her for missing her boyfriend?

Ten minutes later, he stepped out of the bathroom, dressed in his flannel pajamas. He gave her a crooked smile and got in the bed under the blanket.

"It's a bit cold here, isn't it?" he whispered.

"I wouldn't know." She shrugged.

His green eyes grew large when he heard her cold tone. "Are you upset I didn't allow you to join me?" he asked skeptically.

"Very perceptive, Mr. Masen."

"Bella, honestly! It's not like I haven't said no to you before!" They looked at each other, both realizing that had never happened before. She had said no a couple of times, not him. Never him. Edward dropped his eyes and sighed annoyed, rolling on his side, with his back at her.

"Oh, you're not talking to me, now?" she asked, surprised. He didn't answer. "Edward…look, I understand, I guess…"

"No, you don't," he shouted, turning to her, his eyes red-rimmed and full of tears. "I have done this for you. For your present. Please, Bella." He sniffed, slapping his hands over his eyes, brushing a tear away. "I thought you'd understand. But no, apparently, a few days away and… Is it that horrible of me to be tired? To be human?" he yelled.

Bella blanched. "Why are you so upset?" she whispered.

"Because you don't understand anything! I can't believe we're fighting right now," he groaned, putting his head in his hands. "Not now, please," he murmured.

She crawled to him and wrapped his body in the blanket then took him in her arms, rocking them. "Shh. I'm really sorry, Edward."

He relaxed gradually until his breathing evened and she knew he was asleep.

Sometime, in the early morning, he started shivering and she grabbed another blanket, wrapping it around him before leaving his side. She took part of the blame because she was cold.

Bella went to the kitchen to prepare him breakfast. She met Alice there and she didn't look happy.

"You had to upset him, didn't you?" she hissed.

"Merry Christmas to you, too," Bella mumbled.

"He had worked so hard for this and you are ungrateful! How can you do this, Bella?"

"Do what? You're both talking in riddles."

"You'll see soon. If he still wants to do it. I wouldn't if I were him, especially after what you did last night." She shook her head. After a few moments, Alice came closer and hugged her. "Merry Christmas." She kissed her cheek and disappeared.

Bella looked after her shocked. What in the hell is going on here?

After looking at the clock, Bella decided to make him a few muffins as an apology. She didn't find raspberries in the freezer, so she used some chocolate chips Esme had brought a while ago.

When Edward woke up, they were in the living room, watching TV and talking quietly. Alice had forgiven her and managed to make Bella wear a dress, she thought it would look good. She'd never thought much of clothes. They covered her body and just that. Apparently, that wasn't Alice's case. It was funny to see everyone dressed up; even Emmett was wearing a dress shirt and a tie.

Edward reached us and Bella saw he was washed, shaved and dressed sharply. He must have planned this. He came to Bella and sat down, not taking his eyes off her.

"I'm really sorry about last night," he whispered and rested his hand, palm up, on her lap. She linked their fingers and squeezed gently.

"I'm sorry, too."

"Oh, Bella," he groaned softly and hugged her, burrowing his face in her neck. "I thought I ruined this," he mumbled.

She couldn't wait to see what all the fuss was about. He was worried about this; Alice was excited, and so was Emmett; Esme and Carlisle looked like two proud parents since she saw them a few hours ago.

"Can we start unwrapping the presents?" Emmett asked impatiently.

"You'd think he's four," Edward muttered, leaning away.

"I heard you, Masen!"

"Oh, I'm scared!" Edward said mockingly.

Emmett growled loudly. "Just you wait. When you'll be like us, I won't let it go so easily."

"You'll have to take it outside," Alice quipped from under the tree where she was looking for her presents.

"Why? It's so much fun in the house!" Emmett protested.

"You'll always destroy something. Esme wouldn't be pleased," she answered. "Here, this is for you." She handed a small box to Emmett.

Esme watched amused the whole interaction. Knowing Edward's temperament, there would be many fights between him and Emmett.

"What's this, Alice? Do I look like I need a present so small?" he inquired.

She huffed, tapping her foot, waiting for him to open the box. It looked like their tradition was boring – opening present by present, in front of the one that got it for you, but then again…they didn't need a festive dinner or anything. They had all day.

"Where did you get this?" Emmett asked, shock evident in his voice.

"I knew you needed it. Here it is." She beamed at him.

It looked like a car part. They didn't name it, and Bella didn't ask.

It seemed like whatever you wanted, Alice would get you.

Next, she handed Rose her box, which held a new pair of shoes. Bella had never seen Rosalie smiling so much. For Jasper she got a pair of cowboy boots, making everyone laugh. Everyone was embarrassed for five full minutes, until he got a hold on his emotions. Esme and Carlisle got plane tickets.

"Oh, I see, you want to send the parents away!" Carlisle joked.

"You caught me," Alice giggled, winking.

Alice hadn't told Bella what she got Edward, and Bella was curious. Alice had the advantage to know exactly what he wanted. Being next to him, Bella was leaning against his shoulder to see better what was under his wrapping paper. He shot her a dirty look and turned around.

"Hey!" She moaned in protest, making everyone laugh.

She heard him gasp. It was a big box. Bella was really curious.

"I know you always wanted to start a collection…well, for now they're toys. In time, they could be real," Alice said softly. "Merry Christmas."

Edward put the box down and caught Alice in a tight hug, or it looked like one, at least.

Both Emmett and Bella peered in the box on the floor. There were at least a dozen cars for a collection. She hadn't known he wanted this. Why hadn't he mentioned this to her?

Alice turned to Bella, smiling. "As for you…. I already gave you my present. It's the dress."

Bella looked down at her dress and smiled. "Thanks."

The others started sharing their presents, but it seemed that nothing held Edward's attention, apart from the cars. When it was finally Bella's turn, she got a little nervous. She didn't know them very well, and she hoped they'd like what she got them.

Bella bought Carlisle a medicine book, which he greatly appreciated. For the girls she got designer clothes, Jasper was a little though but in the end, she bought him a collector handgun from the Civil War. He was stunned. For Emmett, she bought a nice sticker for his car and a new video game. When she gave Edward his present – Bella had wrapped two days ago very carefully – he looked surprised. Didn't he expect something from her?

Once the wrapping paper was ripped, and he saw what lay under it, his eyes widened. "Holy shit!" he exclaimed loudly, looking between the books and her. "Seriously?"

She shrugged, smiling. "Don't you like it?"

"Are you kidding me? It's perfect! I love you so much, Bella." He leaned to hug her, kissing the spot behind her ear.

"You're welcome." She kissed the spot where his jaw met his neck, taking a small whiff of his scent.

When he leaned back, he cleared his throat, looking at Carlisle. "Can you go next?"

"Sure," he agreed.

Why were they torturing me? It looked like everyone was in on the secret except for her.

Carlisle and Esme managed to bring tears to her eyes with their gift. They handed both Edward and her leather bracelets with the family crest on them. Bella's was a slim band with a small crest in the middle and Edward's was large. They were speechless.

"You'll join our family soon," Carlisle explained.

"Thank you," she said truly moved by their gesture.

"It's not like you aren't already our daughter, Bella. In a few short months, Edward is going to join us, too. We don't want you to feel left out. We already love you both as ours," Esme told them, smiling kindly.

Edward went to hug her, probably realizing for the first time what was going to happen after his change. She wouldn't know. He never thought or did what she expected him.

"My turn," he said cheerfully, but Bella could hear the nervousness in his voice.

There were small gifts for everyone, except her. He left her the last, coming to her slowly. Bella saw his hands shaking. What was going on? Was he okay?

His blood pressure was alarmingly high, as was his heartbeat. She exchanged a look with Carlisle, who seemed unfazed. Before she could voice her concern, Edward stopped in front of her. He gulped loudly and lowered to the floor between her legs.

When she saw the way he was sitting – kneeling, she understood everything – the hiding, the time apart, the secretiveness.

"No way!" She cried out, her eyes growing wide. She'd never expected him to do this. When he had asked on her birthday, she thought he was just kidding around and she jokingly said he should try again.

Everyone was watching her worried. She finally dragged her eyes to Edward's emerald ones and her heart broke when she saw them full of tears, and was that rejection?

"I…Edward…I'm just surprised," she whispered.

He closed his eyes and bowed his head, his raised knee falling to the floor. Crap. Bella had just ruined his moment. She watched a tears rolling down his left cheek, then another one, and another until he was full sobbing. "I'm so stupid," he mumbled.

From the corner of her eye, she saw everyone leaving them alone. Bella slid down the couch, kneeling in front of him. She had to make this right.

She cupped his chin and raised his head. "Edward, love, you have to understand…I never expected to find love, much less someone who'd want to…be with me like this," she started.

"I thought you knew this was going to happen. I should have known this would go down when we fought last night. I'm such an idiot."

"Stop insulting yourself," she hissed lowly. "I am the stupid one for ruining your surprise." She caressed his wet cheek.

He took a deep breath and opened his eyes. She wished they were still closed. She had never seen him so hurt. Ever.

"I'm extremely sorry for opening my mouth," Bella whispered, cupping both his cheeks and pressing her forehead to his.

"I thought you wanted this, too. You said I can try again."

"I thought you were joking! We're back to square one. I've never received such attention from anyone, so I'm not used to it. Especially…to be proposed to," she giggled nervously.

Edward cracked a small smile and brushed his hand under his nose. "Can I try…again? Now that you are prepared?" he asked hopefully.

"No, Edward. Not like this. Look at yourself! You're such a mess." She kissed his lips once. "Surprise me."

"Today?" he insisted, searching her eyes.

"Today, tomorrow…we have an eternity, after all." She grinned.

"Not me. Not yet," he muttered, chuckling.

"Oh, silly boy!" Bella crushed him to her chest. "So am I forgiven for ruining your moment?"

"You'll have to grovel."

She mock gasped. "I have chocolate chip muffins," she said off-handedly.

"You do?" His eyes lit up. "I knew there was a reason I loved you."

"I'll have to be inventive to keep you by my side once you're like us. Muffins won't hold your interest."

"You can make bloody muffins. They may taste good, who knows?" He joked, sniffing.

They laughed, and she shook her head at his silliness. Bella took his hand and led him to the kitchen, to the muffins.

"Mmmm, smells amazing," he moaned, inhaling deeply.

She elbowed him in the ribs. "You do too."

"Let me enjoy my meal then maybe you can have a little."

"Don't tempt me! Besides, Carlisle may physically hurt me for even thinking about that," she said seriously.

"Now, I understand why it was hard to part from him. You weren't making it easy for her either, son," Carlisle said amused, joining them in the kitchen.

Edward shrugged and bit down on a muffin, groaning. "Delicious."

She knew he was thinking of the muffin analogy to his blood. He wasn't going to make this easy for her. At least, he wasn't truly upset for ruining his moment.

"Mouthwatering," she told him, leaning into him, making him choke up. Pay back is a bitch.

Carlisle looked confused between them, but didn't comment. He just whispered for her to hear. "He has my approval." That wiped the smile off her face.

Bella looked at Edward who was attacking another muffin, and sighed sadly. He had thought of everything. What have I done? She couldn't wait for the next time he asked, she was going to say yes. Without a doubt. There was no need to freak out. It was just Edward, and she loved him more than anything else in the world. Besides, what difference did a ring make?

Chapter Text

Chapter 33: Proposing

After the wonderful morning, Rosalie insisted they should watch a Christmas movie. That turned out in a huge fight between everyone. Rosalie and Alice wanted to watch A Wonderful Life, while Emmett, and possibly Edward, though he didn't voice it, wanted to see Home Alone, Jasper surprised them by wanting to see How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Since everyone said their opinion, Esme voiced hers, wanting to watch A Christmas Carol then Bella quipped up about Frosty the Snowman.

"Enough!" Carlisle shouted over everyone's chatter. "I am the head of this…family – I can't even call you that right now." Everyone looked away, keeping their mouths shut. "I get to decide." No one contradicted him.

They ended up watching The Chipmunks. Edward was laughing harder than anyone when he heard his movie choice. Who thought Carlisle would like a kid movie? Maybe it was revenge for their childish behavior.

Once the movie started, Edward could barely concentrate. He was having a bad day as the little chipmunks were squeaking. A horrible day. His mind went back to a few hours ago when he thought his heart would break in two when he had heard Bella saying 'No way.'

Why, oh why, is Alice always right? Edward was envisioning Bella saying 'yes' in the back of his mind, a radiant smile on her face, but as always not every dream becomes reality. Reality is cruel.

He sighed and lowered further into the couch, glancing at Bella who was captivated by the movie. He watched her hand that was resting between them and grasped it in his, making her jump. Edward smirked, happy he could surprise her from time to time. She didn't turn to him, but moved a little closer. He put her hand on his lap and traced invisible shapes on it.

Edward thought back when he wrote the letter to Carlisle. That had been the hardest thing he had ever done. After crumbling paper after paper, he had taken a break and about an hour later, the letter was written. He'd told Carlisle things he had read in the old letters on the Internet, things about himself he was sure Carlisle didn't know, things he planned to do.

.

.

.

Edward knocked on the door of Carlisle's study, feeling his heart in his throat.

"Come in, Edward," he called from inside.

Edward was a little surprised he knew it was him until he realized his beating heart was giving him away. Dang.

"Hel…ello," he stuttered, closing the door behind him.

Carlisle's head snapped up and he watched Edward surprised. "Are you alright?"

"I have…ummm…we need to talk," he told him, gulping. It felt like the letter was burning in his jeans pocket.

"Sit down. Are you sure you are well?" he asked concerned.

"Positive." Edward nodded, his voice shaking badly.

"I'm listening to you," Carlisle said, linking his fingers on top of the desk.

Edward fished for the piece of paper and put it on the desk in front of him, keeping his palm on it. Carlisle watched it curiously. "You're the only one I can ask this. I could just ask her, but she would appreciate this. I think." He shrugged.

"Edward?"

Edward bit his lip and swallowed. "You're sort of like Bella's father. I know this is the right way to do it so I'd like you to look over this." He pushed the letter toward Carlisle's hands.

"My decision won't stop you from doing what you want, I hope."

He looked away. "I'd appreciate to have your approval," he mumbled.

Carlisle smiled genuinely. "Before I read this, just so you know, Edward, I'm sure her father, bless him, would approve of you."

"You think?" Edward asked surprised and with some hope in his voice.

"I'm sure. You're a decent young man and everything a father would like for his daughter." Carlisle leaned back, opening the letter.

Was that true? Would her real father approve? Edward imagined himself again in that time, pacing in front of an office while her father read his letter. He'd be sweating probably, wishing her father found him worthy for his daughter. Carlisle had already given his blessing, well not in so many words, but still.

"This is impressive."

Edward's eyes shot to his golden ones. "What is it?" He frowned.

"You put a lot of thought in this. Do you have a ring?" He wondered, folding the letter and placing it on the desk.

"It's at the jeweler. I'm making it look better."

Carlisle smiled, nodding. "Do you really want to hear it from me?" he asked amused when Edward kept staring at him. He nodded. "You have my blessing, Edward."

Edward exhaled a breath he didn't know he was holding. "Thank you, Carlisle."

Carlisle rounded his desk and Edward got up, nearly falling. He chuckled and caught him in a hug. "Don't be so nervous. It's not like I will stay in between you two. When I see love, I know it comes from the depths of the heart and soul."

"It means a lot to me that you read the letter," Edward told him, taking a step back.

.

.

.

Edward snapped back from the memory when he heard Bella laughing at what was on the television. Alvin was being Alvin. He grinned and decided to focus on the movie. She had told him to surprise her. That's what he'd do.

Alice had promised she would talk to Rose and work on the wedding preparations. He just had to get Bella to say 'yes' which turned out to be extremely difficult.

After the movie was over, Emmett brought out the second part, but Edward didn't feel like hearing more squeaks. Besides, he was hungry and he had just realized he needed to call his parents and tell them 'Happy Christmas' like a good son that he was supposed to be.

"I'll be right back," he whispered to Bella.

She shot him a worried look. "Are you hungry?"

"A bit. I'll be fine." He kissed her cheek and got up. Edward didn't realize Emmett was sprawled on the floor and he stumbled over his legs, falling on top of him.

"Hey!" Emmett shouted. "Stop molesting me, your girl's over there!" He pointed behind him.

Edward got up, grumbling and kicked his side then hopped to the kitchen on one foot, cursing him and stroking his big toe.

"That's what you deserve if you hit a vampire!" Emmett shouted after Edward.

"Go to hell," Edward grumbled, not even realizing he allowed the words out of his mouth.

"Sorry to disappoint, I'm already there. Contrary to common belief it's quite nice."

Edward let out a frustrated sound and gripped the wooden ladle in his hand. He had to stay calm. Emmett was always getting to him. Edward focused on the food in front of him.

"No witty come back?" Emmett mocked from the other room.

Edward stomped out of the kitchen and went back to Emmett's side, hitting him with the ladle, which after two hits gave away and broke in half, resulting in a splinter in Edward's finger.

"Ow," he mumbled, letting the broken ladle drop on Emmett's head as he clutched his finger. He stomped back to the kitchen, trying to take out the offending splint.

"Let me help," Bella whispered from behind him, scaring him shitless.

Edward jumped and whirled around, clutching at his heart. She gave him a small smile, extending her hand. He put his in hers, but then he saw the needle in her other hand.

"No!" He whimpered, panicked. He hated needles.

"I'm just taking it out." Bella smiled.

"No! Get that away from me." He snatched his hand back, cradling it to his chest.

"You're acting like a little kid," she said, rolling her eyes.

"Bella, you can take it out without the needle!" Edward protested.

"No, I can't. You won't even feel it."

Edward shook his head, his hair falling in his eyes. "Please, no." He was aware everyone could hear his tantrum, but he had to keep the needle away.

"I'll stop if it hurts."

Before he could protest again, she grasped his hand, immobilized his middle finger and approached the needle. Edward squeezed his eyes, clenching his muscles.

"Relax, it would hurt otherwise," she whispered.

"Why don't you stick a needle in your finger and try to relax?" He shot back.

"It won't go in," she giggled.

"Argh!" He yelped when the needle prickled his skin. He didn't look, knowing he might get sick.

"Oh, it's a big one," she murmured.

"I know," Edward said through greeted teeth. At the same time, he heard Emmett from the other room. "That's what she said!"

Bella ignored him, and Edward was too wound up to mind him. "I'll have it out soon. Just relax."

"I can't freaking relax when you have that in me!"

"Here it comes…"

"OUCH!"

"It's out!" Bella exclaimed.

A tickle of blood oozed from where the needle had been and before he knew what happened, he saw a flash of Bella's hair then and felt something cold on his finger. A second later, she was straight, beaming, licking her lips. She had just licked him.

"Is it a boy or a girl?" Emmett asked obnoxiously from the doorway. "You sounded like you were giving birth."

"It's only your fault!" Edward hissed.

Jasper had to intervene to calm the spirits, taking Emmett back with him once they were all calm and peaceful. Bella heated some food for Edward while he called his mom.

"Are you having a good Christmas?" she asked for the third time.

"Yes, Mom. I told you," he insisted. Why did she have to sense that something wasn't right?

"You haven't mentioned…anything."

"I…chickened out," he mumbled shooting Bella a grin when she cocked her eyebrow.

"You're not ready." She had thought that he was more than ready, but he didn't point that out. "I'm sure she'll love the ring."

"Mooom. How was your Christmas?" he asked, steering her away from the subject.

"The first quiet Christmas in seventeen years," she answered amused.

"Now I know why you used to send me to bed at six in the evening," he grumbled.

She laughed. "You have two presents from your friends."

"What? Who?" he asked, surprised.

"Jake dropped by earlier," she explained.

"Oh, crap! I forgot. I have to call him too."

She laughed again. "What would you do without me?"

"My room will be full post it notes," he joked.

Edward heard a rustle from the other side. "Sorry, Edward. I have to go help your father. He decided to prepare our lunch and I really don't want a trip to ER on Christmas."

"Do I have to send Carlisle over, just in case?" he asked amused.

She giggled. "That would be wise. Have a good day."

"Thanks, Mom. Bye."

Edward called Jake, and they talked for a few minutes before he finally focused on his food. Bella sat next to him despite his complaints.

"You really don't have to stay here," he insisted between bites.

"Where would I go? I know the movie and besides, you're far more interesting."

"I'm sure. It's fascinating to watch me eat," he grumbled.

"I'm only returning the favor if I can say that," Bella answered, smiling. He looked at her confused. "You watched me feed, I'm watching you feed."

Edward snorted. "You feeding is far more interesting than me eating this." He pointed to the steak. "I'd love to see you…hunt."

"After you're changed."

"Why?" He fought the urge to pout.

"Because I could turn on you. I don't want to hurt you anymore."

He sighed and focused on cutting the steak.

In the late afternoon, Bella wanted to take a walk outside and he seized up the opportunity. He bundled up since it was snowing and the degrees were dangerously low – no need to get sick.

He took her hand and they left the house, but not before he caught Alice's wink. He swallowed thickly and led the way through the trees. They didn't talk, but he didn't mind. It wasn't uncomfortable – actually, it was wonderful.

Bella stopped walking and lay down. "Sit with me."

He thought about it for a second then complied. Damn with the cold I'll get!

"You're really quiet," she whispered, putting her head on his shoulder. "It's only my fault."

"Don't say that," he insisted. "I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm so freaking nervous. I don't know how to do it…"

"Just do it," she said softly, taking his hand. It was almost warm and that meant one thing – he should have worn gloves.

"I can't just do it, Bella. I planned the perfect way to ask you and…I simply can't do it how I wanted."

"I don't need anything grand. I should have answered you the first time you asked me on my birthday."

"Now, I have the ring. Then I wasn't even sure what I was doing," he admitted.

She giggled, squeezing his hand. "When you say planning, what do you mean?"

"Uhh… I sort of…asked Carlisle first…through a letter," Edward mumbled, embarrassed.

"You what?" she asked shocked. "That's something a man would have done…" She trailed off. Her hand went to her mouth as she watched him with wide eyes. "Oh, Edward! You shouldn't have!"

"Already did." He grinned, shrugging. "Hardest thing I've done in my life."

"I'm sure." She kissed his cheek.

He watched her amber eyes for a few minutes then tucked a strand of brown hair behind her ear. "I love you so much, Bella."

"I love you, as well." She smiled and leaned in his hand, closing her eyes. He gathered all his courage and stuck his hand in his jeans pocket for the ring as he leaned to kiss her. It was a small kiss, filled with all his love for her. When he leaned back, taking a gulp of the cold air combined with her sweet scent, he was ready.

Edward took her hand that was resting on her lap and opened her palm, putting the velvet box there. He was going to say a string of cliché things and he couldn't give a fuck.

"Bella, firstly, you know how much I love you and that I'll do anything for you. I'll literally give my life for you, and I will in a few months. I can't wait to start forever with you." He took another breath, his mouth going dry. "Will you marry me? I promise to love you for the rest of eternity."

Her breath hitched although she didn't need to breathe. "Yes," Bella answered softly but surely.

Edward tried to open the velvet box and managed to knock it into the snow, making her laugh. He picked it up and finally opened it. Her eyes widened and became shiny.

"Oh."

"You like it?" he asked, nervously.

"Is it a rhetorical question?" Bella murmured, never taking her eyes off the ring. "What stone is…this?" she whispered, touching the topaz stone.

He felt his face turning red, and averted his eyes. "It's…topaz," he mumbled, wishing she didn't hear it. "I know it's stupid," he added.

"It's very thoughtful. I might have hurt you if there was a big diamond," she teased.

Edward beamed, glad he knew her so well. "Can I…" He gestured to her left hand. "You know…put it on?"

She smiled and offered her left hand. It was that moment when he realized what he was doing. Edward had just asked Bella to marry him and she said yes. She was going to be his wife.

He picked the ring between shaky fingers and slipped it on her ring finger. Then he took her face in his hands and smashed his lips to hers, kissing her as daringly as possible. Edward wished she'd open her mouth. The moment was broken by a small annoying pixie jumping on top of them, squealing.

.

.

.

The next morning, they decided to visit his parents. Edward could finally introduce her as his fiancée.

When he turned onto his street, Bella made a face and put her hand over her nose, shooting him a smile. He had guests. Great.

"Oh, come on!" He protested. "How bad can they smell?"

"You will know soon enough," she answered, dropping her hand from her face.

"I thought we wouldn't be here when…you know?"

"Oh right. Too bad. We can visit in case you really want to know how they smell. I told you with what you should compare it – wet dog smell." She made another face.

He chuckled and parked behind Jake's car. "Yeah, dogs stink when they're wet." Edward nodded.

"How do you know that? You have a cat," she said confused.

Edward glanced at her. "Ben has a dog." He shuddered. "When he comes inside after being in the rain…" He made a gagging sound. "Yeah, I understand you."

Bella laughed and got out of the car. He met her on her side and took her hand. "Ready?"

"Yeah. Let's do this."

Edward entered without knocking since it is his house. He could hear Jake's loud and obnoxious voice over his dad's as they talked about something. He looked at Bella and rolled his eyes.

"I'm home!" He shouted and earned a slap from Bella. "What?" He feigned innocence.

"You know what. They already know you're home," she whispered.

Elizabeth appeared from the kitchen and hugged him tightly. "I thought you weren't coming back until after New Year." She kissed her son's cheeks then turned to Bella. She took her hands and regarded her for a moment then hugged her tightly. Bella shot him a smile over his mom's shoulder.

Edward went into the living room and saw his dad with Jake on the couch watching a game of basketball. He was sure it was a rerun.

"I see how it is. You're adopting him," Edward grumbled, plopping on the armchair.

"I won't hold my breath. I don't know which one of you is worse," his mom said from the doorway.

Edward caught Jake's eye and chuckled. "I'm good," he said grinning, looking over at his mom.

"Sure you are. When you want to be, you're the ideal child."

His dad caught his eye and raised an eyebrow. Edward nodded, feeling his face and neck going red. He beamed, proud of his son.

Bella helped his mom bring hot cocoa to the living room then sat on Edward's lap since his mom strategically occupied the other armchair and his dad stretched on the couch, not that Bella would have sat next to Jacob.

All subjects they talked about ended up in discussing Bella's ring or if they had set a date.

Last night, after they had gone back to the house, Edward told Bella about his plan. She was happy Alice and Rose had agreed to help with the wedding, but the couple got to decide what they wanted to wear, who to invite and where to go on the honeymoon. Edward was going to take over the last part, although he hadn't even thought about it before. In his mind, there was a little wedding in Forks and then they were leaving somewhere far away so he could change. There was no honeymoon in the equation, and he had voiced his thoughts the previous night. Bella agreed with him that they wouldn't need one. Everyone else insisted they should have one for at least one weekend somewhere. It was customary to have a honeymoon.

"I can help you with the dress," Elizabeth said conversantly.

"Hello! I'm your son… standing right here," Edward pointed out.

She waved him off. "You talk to your father about your tux." Then she refocused on Bella. "Whenever you're ready, come to me," she told her.

"Thank you. It means a lot," Bella murmured.

"Did you set a date?" Jake asked, his eyes were a little narrowed. He wasn't really asking about the wedding.

"Probably in June, after my birthday." Edward shrugged.

"I see." He looked away, his leg bouncing.

"Would you bring more hot cocoa, honey?" His mom broke the tension.

Edward immediately got up, leaving Bella in his place and went to grab the pot with hot cocoa from the counter. Before he could leave the kitchen, he saw Jake had followed.

"Look, I don't even know what to tell you," he started.

"Then don't say anything."

"I can tell you that I'm happy," he went on. "Because, I really am. You're my best friend and I can see that you're happy. Just…" Here it goes. "…are you definitely sure you want this?"

"Jacob," he hissed. "We've been over this a thousand times. I'll do anything just to be beside Bella. Forever."

Jake dropped his eyes. "At least, promise me one thing."

"What?" Edward snapped, losing his patience.

"Don't do it here. Some of us aren't as understanding as Leah or me."

"Meaning Sam and Paul?" he asked.

"Yeah, Jared too." He nodded.

"We aren't going to do that here. Don't worry. We're just getting married in Forks," Edward explained.

They went back to the living room and Edward found Ginger snuggled on Bella's lap, purring as she stroked his little head, which shot up when Edward approached. He put the pot on the table and his mom promptly took it, filling the cups. Ginger leaped in his extended palms. Edward hugged him close to his shoulder, and perched on the arm of the armchair.

"He missed you," his dad said. "I found him sleeping in your bed. Yesterday he mewled for about an hour, looking at your bed."

"You can take him with us," Bella whispered, putting her hand on his knee.

Edward looked down in the blue eyes of the cat and nodded. "Yeah, I will." For a wild second, he thought Ginger grinned. It must have been his imagination.

The cat jumped off his lap and ran up the stairs. Edward looked after him confused. A few minutes later, he came back with his toy mouse in his mouth. It was his way of 'packing' for an overnight sleep. They all laughed at the silly kitten.

Chapter Text

Chapter 34: Fighting

Spring came faster than Edward thought. He was counting down the months, and soon he'd count down the weeks, then days till his change.

The first month of the new school semester earned them more stares, especially upon Bella. People didn't believe when they explained that the ring on her finger was indeed an engagement ring. As it sank in, it got better and worse at the same time. Some were jealous and had horrible comments for them, while some – Angela and Ben – were supportive.

"There's a storm later. Do you want to join us?" Emmett asked Edward at lunch, on a late March day. He knew Emmett was talking about baseball, and he knew Edward liked to play with them.

"Probably not. I want to study for History class. We have a test on Monday."

"You do know it's only Wednesday, right?" he mocked.

"Not all of us are geniuses," Edward grumbled.

"I'm not a genius. I just have a photographic memory." He winked.

Edward gritted his teeth, and focused on his Biology papers. There was a pop quiz coming.

"You're not joining us," Alice whined, putting her tray on the table as she took a seat next to Bella, opposite Edward.

He glanced at her, frowning. She tapped her head and he rolled his eyes, refocusing on the Biology notes.

"It's not difficult, stop fussing. I'll help you, I promised," Bella whispered.

"Why aren't you joining us?" Alice insisted.

"You know the answer. I want to study."

She sighed and dropped it.

"It's not that I don't want to, Alice," Edward groaned. "You know that I like baseball."

She shot him a blinding smile and leaned over the table, hugging him. "Sorry, I guess I'm too insistent sometimes." She sat back in her chair.

"You think?" He raised an eyebrow, amused. She huffed.

When Biology finally came, Edward realized that he didn't remember much from the notes. The quiz was easy though, and with everything he knew, and Bella's help, he managed to finish it with lighting speed.

"Are you going to play with them?" he whispered, as the teacher walked between the rows, making sure those that were working on their quizzes weren't cheating.

"Probably not. I'd rather stay with you and finish some homework."

Edward grinned and took her hand, linking their fingers. "Good. That means more free time at night."

"You're such a teenager sometimes." She shook her head, giggling.

"Me? Never," he said in mock irritation.

"You two, keep quiet if you finished," the teacher told them.

Edward bit his lip to keep from chuckling. Bella nudged his leg, narrowing her eyes.

When they finally left school, they went to Edward's house. He went to change out of his clothes and wash his hands as Bella heated up food. They had fallen in this pattern since the second semester started. It felt like they were doing this for years, not mere months.

Returning to the kitchen, he found Bella next to the counter with an envelope in her hands.

"What's that?" he whispered, stopping behind her and slipping his arms around her waist.

"You tell me." Her tone was clipped.

"Hey. I didn't do anything."

"I thought you didn't want to go to college," she retorted, whirling around in his arms.

"I don't." He frowned at the envelope. What is that? "A college…? What the hell?"

"You don't remember writing a letter like this?" She scoffed.

"Bella, I swear to you, I never did it."

He took the envelope from her and looked at it, nearly dropping it. "Holy crow!" Oxford, England, United Kingdom. Europe. What the fuck? He'd never applied. He opened it hastily and skimmed over its contents. It was a freaking acceptance letter.

"No fucking way!"

"You act as if you didn't know-"

"Bella! For the last time. I didn't apply to anything. All I want to do next year is…restrain from becoming a mass murderer." He shot her a weak smile. "I promise I didn't send this."

"Then who, pray tell did it? Must have been Ginger," she said sarcastically, still not believing him. He was too shocked to argue with her.

They dropped the subject as he grabbed his plate. Edward didn't tell his parents about the mysterious letter.

The middle of April brought another mystery letter – this time from Dartmouth. Those stupid letters were coming from Ivy League colleges.

Edward decided to tell his parents at dinner. His mom had just sat in her chair after putting food in their plates. He cleared his throat. His dad looked at him curiously.

"I…there's something weird happening," Edward mumbled.

"Is there something wrong?" he asked worried.

"A while ago…I got this letter…from a college. Today, I got another one…" His voice wavered with every word when he saw a smile forming on his lips, and growing. "What have you done, Dad?"

"I took matters in my own hands, son. You are going to marry Bella and you don't want to go to college! How will you support your family? We'll help you, you know that. But son-"

"Dad! Stop f… interfering!" He shouted, catching himself in time before he said a bad word in front of his parents.

"What colleges? What is he talking about, Ed?"

Holy crap. He did this behind his mom's back. He was in trouble. Edward had her on his side.

"I applied for him at a few colleges. He has very good grades."

She freaking smiled. "About time you took an initiative. Very good. Now, you just have to choose, honey," she told her son.

Apparently, she was on her husband's side. Just Edward's fucking luck.

"Mom, Dad…I am not going to college. I thought I made myself clear," he insisted.

"Nonsense," his dad said vehemently. "This autumn, you'll be freshman in college."

"What about Bella? We're getting married," he snapped, slamming his fork on the plate, making a chunk of fish fly to the floor. Ginger will have a feast.

"Don't raise your voice at me!" he yelled, turning red.

"Then stop making me do things I don't want to! Why did you apply in my name!? Do you know that I fought with Bella because of your stupid letters?" he yelled back.

"That's it, isn't it? She doesn't want you to go to college?" His dad asked, incredulously.

"We'll both go. In a few years," he explained. Not like you'll understand what we're doing once we leave town. He wanted to add, but refrained.

"How will you provide? How will you live? Off the back of the Cullens?"

Edward planted his hands on the edge of the table and pushed his chair back, scarping the legs against the tile.

"We just want to be together. Alone. For one year or so. Is it so fucking bad?" he yelled.

"Mind your language and tone," his dad warned. "And I have the same question. What are you going to do during this rebellious year? How will you live?"

"ARGH!" Edward stormed out of the kitchen, up the stairs and slammed the door of his room. "It's not like you can fucking understand," he grumbled, kicking his backpack.

He sat on the edge of the bed, putting his head in his hands. He had no idea what to tell them. "I don't need to go to college. I'll be busy lusting for blood," he said to myself. Yeah, that sounds great.

"Who needs college when you're a vampire?"

"You see…I can't go to college because…I'll be a vampire. Yeah, no joking."

Edward laughed, falling back on the bed. For the first time, he wanted more than ever to tell his parents the truth. He wanted them to understand why he wouldn't go to college and that he'd have literally forever for college.

He wished one of the Cullens was around, but they all were hunting, along with Bella. He needed to talk to someone – someone that understood him.

He shot up, knowing just the right person. Edward grabbed his phone and car keys then rushed downstairs. Just as he reached the front door, his mom called his name. He turned around and went to the kitchen, looking down, embarrassed from his outburst.

"Where are you going?" she asked softly.

"Out. I'll be back before ten." It was brusque, but he was still upset.

"We're going to talk about this when you come back so don't stay out too late," she said. "Your father is really upset."

"I'll be back around nine, okay?" he asked. She nodded. With the corner of his eye, he saw Ginger eating his piece of fish and smiled, letting himself out of the house.

The drive to La Push was refreshing. He parked close to the First Beach and went near a driftwood, sitting down and looking at the ocean. He put the phone to his ear after dialing the number.

"Hello?"

"Hi, Lee," he whispered.

"Edward! What…what is it?" she asked confused. He hadn't called her Lee since they broke up.

"Uhh, can you…come down to the First Beach? Our spot?"

"I'll be right there."

Edward hung up and lay on the sand, looking up at the first stars. It had been so easy to keep the secret. Why was it so hard, suddenly?

Every time he thought of June, he started panicking. He didn't want to make his parents think something bad had happened to him, because that's what they'd know. Carlisle had told him that they had to lie to them – tell them he had an accident either on the honeymoon or on the way to Alaska. Edward wanted them to know he was still alive. He wanted to visit them when he was strong enough to be around humans again. He wanted them to know that vampires weren't really a myth.

Leah's head appeared above his. She looked worried.

"Lay here," he said, patting the spot next to him.

"What's wrong, Edward?"

He sighed, turning his head to look at her. "Is it hard to keep the secret?"

"What secret?"

"About what you are, about vampires…about myths that aren't myths." He shrugged, searching her black eyes.

"Sometimes….it's overwhelming. I can't wait to go to college in the fall. I'll be away from this place."

"Here it comes. That awful word – college," he grumbled. "Wait!" His eyes widened. "You're nineteen!"

"Yeah. Why?"

"See? Perfectly normal not to go to college after you finish high school!"

"Oh, you're fighting with your parents again?" She was a clever girl.

"Dad went and applied in my name for a few Ivy League schools. Surprise of all surprises…I'm accepted."

"You don't want to go," she murmured, shifting closer.

"Of course not! Well, maybe…in a few years. Not now, anyway."

"Of course." She smiled, taking his hand. "You're busy becoming a cold one."

"Leah," Edward groaned.

She giggled. "I don't know how much colder you can get, though. You're already freezing."

"You're too hot," he mumbled.

"Thank you," she said, laughing.

"Shut up!" He nudged her shoulder.

They sat in silence for a few minutes. His left hand was sweating. She was too freaking warm.

"I want to tell…"

"You have to keep the secret."

They talked at the same time. She just placated his thought.

Leah shot up then leaned over him, her hair tickling his neck. "You can't give away the secret! Not when their leaders are watching you. Edward, don't be stupid."

Edward looked away. "It's so…hard sometimes," he mumbled.

"You have two more months, not even that. Don't do anything stupid in the meanwhile."

He propped himself on his elbow, bringing their faces inches apart. He'd never seen her looking so serious.

"Promise me, Edward."

"Okay, okay." He averted his eyes.

"No, don't do this. Look at me and promise me, Edward." She took his face in her hands. "Please."

He looked into her eyes and sighed in defeat. "I won't tell them. It was a stupid, errant thought that gave me…hope. I want to keep contact…I don't want to hurt them! I don't want them to think I'm dead when I'll be alive," he babbled.

"It's for the best. Surely, you know that," she whispered, leaning down and putting her head on his shoulder, letting her weight drape on the left side of his body.

He let himself doze off, thinking of the upcoming talk with his parents. He was pulled out of a weird dream where he was telling his parents why his eyes were red by vibrations near his hip. There was something heavy on his chest and he was really sweating.

Edward realized his phone was ringing and the heavy thing was Leah. She shifted and snuggled better. He snatched the phone from his pocket, and looked surprised at the sun that was rising from the ocean. What is going on here?

"Hello?" he answered groggily.

"You're alive!" Bella shouted in his ear.

"What? Why wouldn't I be?" Edward wondered.

Leah moaned, turning over and falling face first in the sand. She shouted and sat up, spitting sand. He chuckled.

"Who's there with you?" Bella asked.

Edward ignored her question. "Is it morning?" he asked, rubbing at his eyes.

"Yes, it is. I'm here with your parents. They called me, worried when you didn't make it back by midnight. They thought you were with me."

"Oh, I fell asleep," he said, mostly to himself.

Leah rolled her neck making it pop. "Ouch." Her hand shot up to the nape of her neck. Edward snickered, but regretted it when he moved in a sitting position. Every muscle in his body ached.

"Edward, where are you, love?"

"The beach," he mumbled, rubbing his lower back. Who would have thought the sand could be hard?

"That explains why Alice didn't see you. Here, your mom wants to talk to you."

Before he could say no, he heard his mom's worried voice in his ear. "Edward! You have no idea how worried I was! You said nine last night and it's seven in the morning!"

"Mooom. I lost track of time, sorry."

"Sorry? I thought you… I thought I lost you!" She cried. "After our fight, I was certain you left."

"Where would I go?" Edward asked, glaring at the sun. How could he have fallen asleep? "Look, I'll be home shortly, okay?"

"Okay, we're going to talk."

"Yes, Mom. Tell Bella I'll be there soon."

They hung up and Edward flopped on his back, groaning. "We fell asleep."

"No kidding?" Leah said mockingly. "I have fifty missed calls from Mom, Seth and Jake."

"I'm sure I have some too," he mumbled. He looked at his phone. "Yep. Fifty five." He grinned. "Mom, Dad, Bella, Alice, Rose…holy shit! I know how to worry everyone."

She giggled and grabbed his elbow raising him up. "Let's get you home."

"Hey! Be careful. Don't break my arm," he protested, rubbing his elbow.

She rolled her eyes and dragged him to his car. "Drive me home."

"Why, of course! When you ask so nicely…"

"It was a demand," she said, snatching the door open and slamming it shut behind her.

Edward got behind the wheel, bringing sand inside. It would be a pain in the ass to clean it. "Be careful with her."

"With who?" Leah asked surprised.

"My car. Don't hurt her."

"Just drive me home, car lover." She suddenly started laughing hard. He glanced at her worried. Had she lost her mind? "You kind of love inanimate objects."

"Leah! Are you ever going to drop it?"

"It wasn't meant as an insult, I promise. It's quite funny."

"If you say one more bad word against Bella, I swear to you, I will never talk to you again, Leah," he threatened.

"Sorry, gee. You're cranky in the morning."

He parked in front of her house. Sue shot out of the house like a bat out of hell and snatched Leah out of the car, scolding her. She shook her forefinger at Edward in warning and he raised his hands in defense.

"I'm really sorry, Sue. We fell asleep," he said, leaning over the console and to the open passenger door.

"We talked on the beach," Leah told her, shooting him a death glare.

"I have to go. My parents are worried," he said, closing the door. She nodded and waved him off, pushing Leah toward the house.

Edward felt bad that Sue thought they had done something they didn't, but who wouldn't think of that when they both went missing last night? Holy shit. Bella is going to be upset, he realized.

Once home, he didn't even have time to twist the key to kill the engine before his door was open and Bella was hugging him. It was brief, though. She stepped back and a small snarl escaped her.

Uh-huh. Here it comes.

"You've been with her," she shouted incredulously.

"Yeah." He went with the truth.

"You're not even denying it!"

"I won't deny it. I know what happened and I'm sorry I fell asleep." He stepped out of the car. "I had to get out of the house and talk with someone that understands me," he explained, stepping closer to Bella.

"Why didn't you call me? Or one of the Cullens?"

"You were all hunting. I didn't want to…interrupt."

She shook her head. "Okay. So you went to Leah," she hissed. "What happened next?"

"We met on the beach and talked….and somehow…we fell asleep," he mumbled, dropping his eyes.

"Somehow? Do you expect me to believe you?" Bella inquired.

"Nothing happened."

The front door opened and his mom stepped out. Bella chose to ignore that.

"Can I trust her?" Bella asked.

Edward hoped his mom couldn't hear them yet. "You can trust me, sweetheart."

"It doesn't work. You can't sweet talk your way out of this one."

"Bella, trust me. We just talked," he insisted.

"You stink. It's like you hugged her or something."

"We sort of did," he admitted.

Bella's topaz eyes flashed.

"I'm allowed to hug my friends," he snapped.

"Not the ones that want you as more than friends!"

"I only want you! Leah's just a friend!"

She sighed loudly. "I wish I could trust her, but you can never trust a dog."

"Will you quit with the insults?" Edward shouted, getting really angry. Was it that difficult to talk about the other one without saying something bad?

"Are you on her side?" Bella growled.

"I'm on no one's side! I'm fucking neutral in all this mess! I'm the air between oil and water."

She opened her mouth to say something else, but he'd had it. He took the steps separating them and slammed his mouth on hers. She didn't respond immediately, but after a few seconds her fingers knotted in his hair, and his back hit the side of the car. They were a frenzy, tangling limbs, lips and moans. Something cold touched his lips and Edward opened them. A groan escaped him when he realized her tongue was in his mouth. He grabbed her shoulders and with her help, pressed her back to his car, switching their positions. He was getting worked up and he didn't give a shit. If she'd let him, he'd have her right there.

The kiss was like a piece of heaven. Something he'd always wanted coming true. They were really kissing.

"Edward Anthony Masen! I'm still upset!" He heard his mother screaming. Best way to kill the mood.

Edward separated from Bella, but not too much. He leaned his forehead to her cold one and breathed in their combined scents.

"I love you," he murmured before pressing his lips back to Bella's.

"As I love you," she replied, taking her hand from his back pocket. "Is this sand?" She wondered as they made their way to the house.

His ears turned red. "I told you we fell asleep on the beach."

"When you say beach…"

"I say exactly that. Sand under my ass, ocean to the side and moon above…or Leah." His eyes widened. "Not like that," he added quickly.

She giggled and grabbed him behind the neck, lowering his head to kiss her. "I'm sorry I acted like that. I was so worried."

"I understand. Just…save me in case they want to kill me," he whispered in her ear as they approached his fuming mom.

"Always."

Chapter Text

Chapter 35: Cockblocking cat

Bella was talking with Alice when her phone rang. Considering it was after midnight, she knew it was Edward. But why was he calling? He knew she was hunting.

Before she answered, Bella spared a glance to the caller ID. It was a number she didn't know.

"Hello?" She answered uncertainly.

"Bella, I hope I didn't wake you up, sweetie." Elizabeth.

Something was wrong with Edward. Bella shot up and whispered to Alice that she had to go.

"Hello, Lizzie. What happened?" she asked, barely keeping the concern from her voice to show as she ran through the forest.

"Is Edward with you?"

"No…" She arrived at her cottage and slid in her car. She didn't want to explain the running part. "Isn't he home?"

Elizabeth took a shuddering breath. "I was hoping he was with you."

"I'll be right there. I'm sure he's okay," Bella assured her.

After hours of waiting, calling, worrying, he finally answered Bella's phone call. He sounded as if she had woken him up. Where was he?

When he arrived at his house, Bella knew she should have allowed his mother to chide him, but she was the first out of the house, probably moving too fast. She was shouting, but she couldn't even control her voice. He had been with Leah and he wasn't even trying to deny it. Bella trusted him implicitly. It was the mutt she didn't trust.

The kiss that sort of cut their fight short was better than anything else. Bella knew she had to prove him how much she trusted him, how much she loved him, how worried she'd been. So she kissed him like never before. Bella was going to regret it if her sharp teeth grazed his skin.

Elizabeth reminded Edward that she was upset from several feet away. Bella wanted to leave and allow his parents to talk to him, but she knew he needed her there for moral support. If he had called her last night, she would have come and nothing like this would have happened.

Bella had never seen Ed angry, but he was red and a vein was pulsing against his forehead when they got inside. Both his parents were both shouting and when they were done scolding Edward about last night, they started to talk about college – what had started the whole mess.

Suddenly, Edward sprang up. "If you went to college right after high school – well done!" He applauded, his eyes blazing. "I want a year off, a break from studying and all that crap!"

Ed emitted a sound close to a growl. "Do enlighten me how are you going to live? Because, son, I surely won't help. Not when you decide to rebel on us!"

"I don't need your help! And wasn't it last night when you said you'll help me?" Edward snapped.

"Not when you are throwing your life away," his dad muttered. His eyes locked on Bella's. "What about you, Bella?"

She opened her mouth, but she had no idea what to tell him so she closed it back.

He'll have time for college?

Edward wouldn't be able to go to college because he might kill his classmates?

They couldn't explain it.

Bella understood Edward. And just like him, she wanted to tell them. She wanted them to understand.

"We'll find jobs. Something small until next fall," she whispered, finally.

"Hmph!" Ed slumped back on his armchair. "Are you even mature enough to marry?" he asked after a few minutes.

"DAD!" Edward shouted, turning his hands into fists at his sides. "I can make my own decisions!"

"Can you? Do you realize that you aren't even eighteen? Your mother and I have a say in everything you do."

"Not for long," Edward muttered under his breath.

Bella leaned forward and caught his hand, tugging him back to the couch. He obeyed and sat down, heaving a sigh.

Elizabeth came to sit on his other side. "I'm not saying you aren't ready to start a new chapter of your life." Edward snorted and Bella squeezed his hand to keep him focused on his mother. "But, honey, your father is right. I'm sure you'll like to live alone with Bella. What job can do that? You're both just out of high school."

"Mom, would you stop worrying? We'll be fine!" He groaned, his shoulder slumped. He was losing the fight.

"I can't stop worrying, sweetie. You're my baby boy." She caressed his cheek with tenderness. Bella looked away. Ed caught her eye and whatever he saw in her eyes made him sigh in resignation. He glanced at his wife and son then back at Bella.

"Fine! Fine! Be as it may!" He got up and went to the kitchen.

Edward turned his red face to Bella so fast she thought he'd get a crick, his green eyes wide. She shrugged, smiling. She had no idea what she did, but somehow, she made his father cave.

His stomach decided it was time to be fed and growled loudly. Edward's already red face turned even redder, his eyes closing as he cringed.

"Oh, goodness! You must be starving. You didn't eat anything last night!" His mother fretted.

"Wonder why." Bella heard Edward mumbling.

"I'll go start breakfast. You must be hungry, too." She looked at Bella.

She shook her head. "No, thank you."

"Oh, don't be like this, sweetie. I'll make you both some omelet." She disappeared from the room before Bella could protest.

"Can you eat two omelets?" she whispered.

"I'd eat an elephant."

"I haven't tried it," she said, giggling.

His eyes met hers, surprised. Then they both started laughing.

"Sooo," he mumbled once they stopped laughing. "Last night… I'm really sorry."

She patted his knee. "It's okay. I overreacted a bit."

"Just a bit?" he asked incredulously.

Bella shoved his shoulder lightly. "Don't be difficult."

.

.

.

As the end of April approached, Alice and Elizabeth started fussing around them about the weeding. Bella granted them total control, in the end. They knew what they were doing, they were both married. Edward and Bella only had to work over the guest list.

Dress fitting – that was torturous. Alice designed the dress, and Elizabeth knew a tailor and so the dress was made. It was perfect – just like the one she would have worn in her time. Words escaped Bella when she first saw the drawing. Alice took it the worst way and said she'd rectify it, already mumbling about what she should add or cut. Bella was flying her hands around, trying to make a sound and tell her how much she loved it. Finally, she managed to snap her out of it when she grasped Alice's shoulders and hugged her tightly, kissing her soundly. Edward had taken that moment to check on them. His eyes darkened when he saw their position.

"Should I worry?" he had asked, shifting slightly.

Bella shook her head, still unable to talk. Alice snapped out of her shock and wiped her lips, glaring.

"Get out of here, kid! You aren't allowed to see the dress!" She had screeched, looking at Edward.

He had looked between them and shrugged then backed away with his hands up. Alice had made Bella promise she'd never kiss her again. Bella agreed, knowing it had been the only way to make her see how she felt for the dress.

The tailor was a woman around Elizabeth's age. She was very careful, but unfortunately, her finger slipped. Bella saw the movement, but didn't make the connection right away. She was busy arguing with Alice about flowers.

"Oh, goodness! Did I hurt you, sweetheart?"

Bella's eyes widened and she glanced at her through the mirror. "Uh, no. I'm good."

It was awkward. The lady looked weird at her perfect skin then shrugged. It should have been bloody. A phone rang somewhere and she excused herself.

Alice quickly changed the sewing pin that should have hurt Bella. It was bent.

.

.

.

"How did it go?" Edward asked. They met at the only café Forks had after her dress fitting.

"Good?" Bella shrugged.

"I'm sure it was better than my day," he grumbled, touching a finger to the hot mug in front of him. "I had to listen to everyone whine about something. If it was possible, I'd have gone tux fitting alone."

"What happened?" she asked, curiously. She put a hand over his bouncing knee.

"Where should I start?" He groaned, exasperated. "Emmett kept saying 'ouch' every ten seconds, Jasper was trying to lighten the mood – so much that I ended up rolling around from laughing, Jake was being the dumbass you know he is."

"Sounds…"

"Best time ever, huh?" Edward nudged her with his shoulder. He'd end up with a bruise if he did it again. "Were the bridesmaids behaving?"

Bella shot him an equally exasperated look. "It will take me all day and night to tell you," She laughed.

He chuckled and sighed heavily. "Give me one good reason why we aren't wasting gas for a trip to Vegas," he said seriously, sipping from his cappuccino.

"You want your parents to be there, Edward."

"I'm starting to regret the whole thing. We could send them pictures?"

"Don't forget that we have to live with Alice for the rest of forever. She'd never forgive us if we eloped."

His forehead banged against the table. "Fuck." She heard him swearing under his breath.

"Change of subject," Bella declared. He didn't move. "Do you want to go to the movies?"

"Not today. Not this week," he corrected himself.

"Why not? There's an interesting one."

"Some of us are still human," Edward hissed. His cheeks turned red when a middle aged man turned his head to them. Thankfully, he lost interest quickly. "I wonder what he's thinking," Edward mused.

"Probably that we're weird teenagers." She shrugged. "You want to start studying this week?"

"Yes, Bella. June is around the corner. If I could, I'd altogether skip finals."

"You'll find it easy, soon enough," she reassured him as he took a sip from his drink.

They lapsed in comfortable silence. Edward's gaze was trained on his mug and Bella's on his face. Suddenly, he looked up.

"Want to start that list?" He offered off-handedly. "Guest list. Wedding," he added when she kept staring at him.

"Oh, sure." Bella nodded.

Bella asked the waitress for a pen and she gave them one, along with a look that said 'the bookstore is around the corner.' She took a napkin and tested the pen on the edge. It worked.

"So?" Bella looked up at Edward, expectantly.

"What? Me?" he asked, shocked.

"Well, you were here before," she pointed out. "You had years to make friends. I know who I invite."

"Ben," he mumbled under his breath.

Bella wrote the name and waited for the next, pen in the air. Nothing followed. She glanced at Edward, and he was concentrating on the contents of his mug.

"I'm not a social person, okay," he hissed, not looking at her.

"I think I know that. What about we invite our class mates?"

"You said you wanted something small. Ben and Angela won't come alone. They'll bring their families. Already too many people."

Bella added Angela's name to the list and made an accolade over their names, adding plus family.

"La Push friends?" she asked.

"Implicitly. Jake's Dad and Leah's family," Edward told her as if it was obvious.

"Besides our bridesmaid and best man's families," she mocked him, poking him with the pen.

"Ow," he said half-heartedly, rubbing his bicep absently. "Sam? Quil? Embry? I don't know, Bella."

"Okay. La Push gang. If they're comfortable around us." She scribbled away as he looked out the window.

"Is it so sad that I won't miss anyone besides my parents and a few others?" His tone was detached.

"I have no idea how many friends a seventeen year old should have."

"I'm serious."

"So am I," she insisted. Bella wished she could help him. In any way.

Bella added Peter and Charlotte to the list, but she'd have to think about it. And she'd have to ask the Cullens about their friends in Denali.

On their way to Edward's house he told her about Easter plans, starting defensively.

"You don't have to come, but Mom sort of… she made me beg you to come for Easter this year." His whole face and neck were red.

"Would she believe if you tell her I already made plans with the Cullens?"

"Why don't you tell her that? I'm sick of being the messenger… She should have told you this, but no, she thinks I can manipulate you into coming," he muttered.

"Well, you could if you wanted. I can't say no to you."

His lips twitched up. "And if I don't want you to come?" He challenged.

"I'd demand an answer as of why."

He parked the car in front of his house. "It's enough you stay for dinner sometimes. I don't want you there, where you'd obviously be uncomfortable. Food, dogs…"

Bella laughed at his concern. "I'm getting used to the dog stench since I have to endure a few hours every few days around Leah."

"Suit yourself." He shrugged, walking to the front door.

Bella giggled, following him and wrapping an arm around his waist. "It will be okay, I'm sure. I want to spend time with your family."

He snorted, unlocking the door. "Of course you do! It's like you're her daughter not me!"

"Are you a girl?" she teased, toeing off her shoes.

"You know what I mean. Did she tell you she wasn't coming back home?" he asked, just realizing he unlocked the door.

"You're so distracted," Bella mock chided him, pushing his back against the wall. Edward groaned when his head collided with the wall.

"Are you trying to kill me?"

"Not yet."

He rolled his eyes and wrapped his arms around her, tilting his head to kiss Bella. They switched positions, and he was humping her stomach, moaning, when the front door opened. Bella opened her eyes in time to see the newspaper hitting the back of his head as Elizabeth came inside.

"What is it with everyone today?" Edward mumbled, rubbing the nape of his neck.

"You can have more dessert, dear," his mom told Bella. She tried hard not to laugh at Edward's expression.

"Thank you." Bella grinned.

"Anytime, sweetie. Just tell me if he molests you again."

"I'm going to need a stack of blank papers." Bella molded her voice to sound honest and innocent.

"Hey!" Edward shouted, glaring at the two of them. "What am I, chopped meat?"

"Did you hear anything?" Elizabeth asked Bella, ignoring her son. He turned red, annoyed.

"Must have been Ginger," Bella said thoughtfully.

"Bella," he exclaimed, his voice rising so high, birds understood him better.

"Definitely the cat," she said, her voice muffled by his hand that suddenly came over her mouth.

Elizabeth whacked the newspaper over his ass. "Do something productive, Edward. Clean your room."

"It's clean," he complained, still glaring at Bella.

Soon enough, he was exiled to his room while Bella was in the kitchen, helping Elizabeth with dinner.

"Did you two get lost on the way back home?" she asked knowingly. Bella was happy she couldn't blush. Besides, wasn't she the one coming after them?

"We stopped at the café. Wrote the guest list." Bella beamed.

She stopped cutting the carrot on the chopping board, her eyes tearing up. "Oh, Bella! It's real, isn't it? You're going to steal him away?"

Bella looked down at the chicken leg in her hand. If Elizabeth only knew how true her words were. She didn't have the heart to promise her she'd see him again. It was a lie. A huge, fat lie.

"Stay fucking put!" Bella heard Edward grumble from upstairs. There was a loud thump. It couldn't have been the cat.

"Go, see if he's still alive," Elizabeth told her softly, shaking her head.

Bella washed her hands and on her way out of the kitchen, but she stopped in the doorway. Elizabeth looked at her curiously.

"You're still going to be his mother. He'll still love you. No matter what."

A tear slipped from her eye. "I know, Bella. And I trust you to take care of him."

Bella smiled and nodded.

"Stupid! Idiotic thing!" Edward's outburst made Bella really curious. What was he doing?

Bella slipped away and rushed up the stairs when Elizabeth couldn't see her. She opened his door and found a bunch of useless crap in the middle of his room. He was cleaning his desk. Bella closed the door behind her, as softly as she could so not to disturb him and then jumped on top of the desk.

"Shit!" His heart took off.

"What? You cleaned the desk. I thought it was for me," she said innocently.

His green eyes darkened and he came to stand between her legs. "Missed you." His nose nudged her earlobe as he breathed there. His hands trailed up and down her thighs and since she was on the edge of the desk, his bulge was rubbing against the spot between her legs.

"What about cleaning the room?" Bella whispered, running her hands through his hair.

"Fuck it."

"What got you angry earlier?" she asked, moving her hands over his shirt and stopping at his belt.

"That stupid cat thought I was playing and started moving stuff around my desk until the books fell. On my foot." That must have been the thump. "And then I decided to clean it. And the door of the desk won't stay closed without stuff inside."

Bella kissed him, shutting him up. He was happy to kiss her back. She was aware of the door being unlocked and his mother downstairs.

Edward took Bella's shirt off and threw it behind him. His head went down to say 'hello' to her breasts. That could take a while. He loved them and surely, they loved him right back for the attention. Bella worked on his belt, taking it out of the loops and throwing it away. A loud and long mewl followed the thump of the belt buckle hitting something.

"Holy shit!" Bella moaned, panicked. "Wait. I think I hit the cat."

Edward groaned and turned around. Sure enough, Ginger was licking his back, his small tail twitching angrily. Bella jumped off the desk and went to him. He tried to claw her finger off. When he saw that nothing happened, he hissed, trying to scare her.

"Don't be silly." Bella picked him up, inspecting his back carefully. There was a scratch surely, but not deep enough to draw blood. She felt awful for not being careful.

"Are you done coddling the cat?"

"Edward, I really hurt him," she hissed at him. "Can you think with your big head for just a second?"

"I am." He smirked.

"Figures. That's why you say such stupid things. The head on your shoulders is smaller than the dick's head."

He laughed, but sobered up quickly when he saw she wasn't amused. "Is he really injured?" he asked worried, coming closer.

Ginger realized she was sorry for hurting him and was now nestled in her palm, still licking the wound. Edward leaned closer, putting his finger on the small wound, and earned a claw on his cheek.

Bella slapped him lightly. "Do you realize it hurts him?"

"But I wanted to see…"

"How would you feel if I stuck my finger in your cheek now?" She challenged him, stroking the cat's head.

"Point taken," Edward mumbled. "I just wanted to see how hurt he was."

"Let's take him to the doctor. You aren't a vet."

Edward picked up his belt and Ginger cowered in Bella's hand. Crap. The poor thing was really shaken. Once Edward was dressed, she thrust the cat in his hands and put her shirt on. She picked up the carrying cage and put Ginger there.

They explained to Elizabeth that Ginger was in the wrong place at the wrong time while they were cleaning. She didn't believe them considering they looked like they had been making out. Edward's hair was sticking in every direction and his lips were swollen.

The drive to the clinic was full of Edward muttering about the cockblocking cat.

Chapter Text

Chapter 36: Honeymoon plans and cake tasting

It was the first time Edward went to the vet with Ginger. His mom was the one taking him for shots or whatever he needed. Edward just had an animal, not the problems that came along with it. He should start being careful, because he wanted to take him when he left. Edward hadn't told anyone his decision. He was still thinking if it was a good idea.

The doctor told them that Ginger was okay, but he'd have a bruise and he'd be tender in that spot for a few days. Edward felt bad for being upset with him, but if he hadn't been in the room, he'd probably be with Bella on his desk, right now. The doctor gave them a soothing gel to rub in the cat's skin every night until the check-up in a few days.

After leaving the vet clinic, Elizabeth called to tell Edward to buy gravy for the chicken. Bella didn't want to come inside the store with him, telling him that they couldn't leave the cat alone. He rolled his eyes and went to get the gravy and be done with it.

He was getting tired. The day had been horrible. Tux fitting for over four hours, then trying to clean the room and failing – Edward still had to pick up the mess in the middle of his room – and now, he had to shop.

When they arrived home, Edward took Bella to his room to help him finish cleaning. She told him to sit down and let her do it. In less than ten minutes, the room was spotless and the desk looked better than ever.

"Thanks," he muttered.

"Are you tired?"

"Yeah. I think I'll go to bed after dinner."

"I could go and come back later… but if you wa-"

"Go," he said knowing that if she stayed, his mom would keep her for dinner. Edward felt her cold lips on his forehead then heard the door closing. Ginger jumped on the bed and curled next to his owner. Edward didn't want to fall asleep, but the cat's purring lulled him off anyway.

He woke up to his shoulder shaking and when he cracked an eye open, he saw his mom through bleary eyes.

"Yeah," he mumbled.

"Dinner is ready. Do you want some or would you like to go back to sleep?"

"I'll eat something. Give me a minute."

She smiled and kissed his head then got up and left.

Edward went to the bathroom to splash water over his face to stay awake. When he arrived in the kitchen, he knew why he had woken up. It smelled amazing and his stomach tightened in anticipation. He could almost taste the chicken.

"How did tux fitting go?" His dad asked, cutting his chicken leg.

"Good. It was tiring," Edward admitted, not bothering to cut the leg. He simply bit into it. It always tasted better like this.

"Edward! Use your fork and knife," his mom scolded.

He used the fork for the mashed potatoes, but didn't let go of the chicken leg.

"Did you have a fight with Bella?" His dad gave him an amused look, pointing to his son's cheek.

"That was Ginger." Not like it was below Bella to draw blood, but she wouldn't hurt him like that.

"Oh, the poor thing stayed on the couch the whole afternoon, not moving. What did you do to him?" His mom demanded.

"I told you. We didn't see him and… I chucked something away…."

"How about you go with the truth?" His dad smirked, probably getting off on his son's embarrassment.

Edward's face turned red and he dropped the chicken leg on his plate. How could he tell them what really happened? He didn't even want to add Bella to the mix, because it was she who hurt him.

"There's a scratch on his back. Was it a pencil or something?" His mom asked.

"Buckle," Edward mumbled, not rising his eyes from the plate.

"What was that?" His dad asked, having fun with seeing him embarrassed.

"You heard him, Ed. I don't even want to know what a belt was doing near him," she declared.

"He was cleaning his closet." His dad laughed.

Were they really trying to turn him into a lobster? Edward was close to exploding from embarrassment.

His mom put her hand over his, patting the skin softly. "You'll have to go cake tasting. I can't help you there. What you two like, we'll buy."

Edward's eyes widened and he looked up at her. He had forgotten all about that. "When?"

"This Friday." Luckily, they had a small break from school.

He nodded, returning to his food. He had lost all the enthusiasm. The bride and groom usually ate cake. Holy shit. They couldn't get out of that part, and he didn't want Bella to put an ounce of human food in her mouth at the wedding.

"Have you thought about where you want to go on the honeymoon?"

"Dad, we haven't even set a date for the wedding!" Edward groaned.

"I knew where I was going take your mother on our honeymoon at the end of our first date," he announced proudly.

"Good for you." Maybe, he'd try the zoo. Surely, Bella would love that. He snorted at his stupid thought.

"The beach is always a safe place," his mom said, smiling.

"She doesn't really like it," Edward lied. Actually, she loved the sun from what he had seen the last few times she'd been under the sun. The thing was that she would attract attention with the sparkles. He chuckled, shaking his head.

"You have to think of her favorite thing then…take her there," his dad explained.

He nodded, having no idea where to take her. He'd have to ask Emmett or Jasper where they took their wives.

After eating, Edward went back to his room and changed in his pajamas before he saw the special gel on the nightstand. He cracked the door open and shouted the cat's name. It took less than a minute for him to come, looking expectant.

Edward scooped him up and closed the door then went to his bed, laying Ginger's small body on his legs. "It may hurt a little," he told the cat as he uncapped the gel.

The second Edward touched his finger to the cat's back, Ginger leaped from his lap and took residence under his desk, mewing that he was upset. When Edward approached him, he hissed loudly. He didn't put it past him to claw his eyes out.

"Come on, it won't hurt that bad. I promise."

The cat glared. Try as he might coaxing him to step from under the desk, he didn't move. Edward gave up and left the gel on his desk, wiping his fingers on a tissue before going to bed.

When he woke up, it was pouring outside. He could hear the drops on the roof and on his window. Fantastic. He had promised Jake he'd drop by, but there was no such luck with this weather.

"Are you awake this time?" He heard Bella asking.

"Yeah? Was I awake before?"

"Uh, I'm not so sure. With all the talking, I'm not sure when you're awake or not."

"What did I say, now?" He groaned, propping himself on his elbows and looking around. She was on the rocking chair with a book in her hands and Ginger on her lap. He looked asleep. Bella smirked, and Edward could tell she had a field night.

"You should pay for the free show, you know," he muttered before she could talk.

She laughed loudly. "Well, I'll keep that in mind. You were trying to convince someone that I hate the sun then you were angry with Ginger for unknown reasons and about an hour ago you said you wanted banana muffins – that was so funny, I was sure I'd wake you up with my laughing."

Edward shoved his head into the pillow. "I hate you," he mumbled.

"I love you, too." Bella touched his shoulder, her hair falling over Edward's head.

"Did you put gel on Ginger's back? It doesn't look good."

"I couldn't," he groaned, turning around to face her.

"How hard can it be, Edward?"

"Why don't you try it? He wouldn't stay put! And I like my eyes where they are."

Bella giggled and leaned to kiss him. "You're such a kid sometimes."

He really didn't feel like retorting, especially when she was kissing him like that. Her fingers cupped the hair behind his ears, as her mouth was very insistent over his. He tried to kiss her as some time ago and she moved away an inch, shaking her head.

Bella straddled his lap as they kept kissing, Edward's hands going under her blouse. He loved her skin. It was smooth and cold and just perfect. His fingers slipped under the waistband of her jeans and he cupped her ass, squeezing lightly. Bella moaned, bucking her hips.

"Are we alone?" he asked between kisses and squeezes.

"Yeah." She started working on the zipper of her jeans and he kicked off his sleep pants. The shirts joined the pants on the floor.

They rolled around until Edward was on top. After entering her slowly, he grasped the headboard, waiting to accommodate with her ice cold skin. It was easier every time. Bella moved her fingertips on his back until she stopped at his ass. There was mischief in her eyes. Soon, he realized what she wanted. Her small hand slapped his left ass cheek. Edward collapsed on top of her, groaning. The sting felt good.

"Oh, do you like to be spanked?" she asked curiously.

"More," he moaned, not recognizing his voice.

"I don't want to hurt you and I know you won't stop me."

"Please. Please, Bella."

He started moving inside her while her hand kept touching his cheeks lightly. He'd never thought about this, but it was too good. The stinging was amazing. Edward knew that he wouldn't last if they kept it up, but he didn't want her to stop either. It looked like she was turned on by what she was doing because her walls started gripping his erection tighter and tighter with every spank. Suddenly, both her hands landed on his ass and he groaned, burying himself deep inside her as he came hard. Edward was aware of all his body shaking as he came, but he didn't care. That was the best time he'd had with Bella so far.

"Hey," she whispered in his ear. "Are you okay?"

"Mmmm."

"Good, I thought I'd have to start thinking of what to do with your corpse."

Edward slapped her shoulder half-heartedly. He was far too content to move. Her fingers raked through his hair and he dozed off because next time he opened my eyes, he was alone in bed and there was a note on the nightstand.

It was from Bella, telling him that she had to run out and to call her if he needed anything.

He flopped on his back, putting an arm over his eyes, ready to go back to sleep when he heard the doorbell.

No one else was home. The bell rang again. It was Jake probably, considering he hadn't called to tell him he wasn't going.

"Coming," Edward shouted, getting out of the bed. He tugged back on his pajama pants then went to open the door.

It turned out it was Leah, along with a thousand papers and post it notes. She rushed past him inside, grumbling about him being slow. There was water dripping from her hair. She looked like a drowned rat.

"Hello to you, too," he mumbled, closing the door with his foot. "Can I go back to sleep now?"

"Sleep?" She screeched. "It's noon! There's so much to do!"

"What are you talking about?" He groaned.

"While Bella was trying her dress on yesterday, your mom gave everyone tasks." She beamed.

"And I got stuck with you. Joy." Edward concluded.

She slapped his shoulder, rolling her eyes. "Where do you want to do this? Kitchen or living room?"

She was freaking serious! "Kitchen. I need food and probably coffee."

She spread all her papers on the kitchen table, looking through them, muttering. He brought her a towel for her hair then heated up a cup of coffee and made himself a nice sandwich, jumping on the counter.

"I'm all ears," he declared.

She jumped, startled, as if forgetting he was there. "Good. Good. So, here's the thing." She glanced at him then back in her papers, moving the towel between her black locks. "I am here to help you decide what you want to do on your bachelor party, where you want to go on the honeymoon an-"

"Shouldn't the best man do this?" he asked, confused.

"Don't be difficult. You can talk with a boy about it, but it's better if a girl organizes this."

"Do you mind if I call Emmett or Jasper? Because I have no idea what I'm doing," he told her.

She shrugged, sitting on a chair and scribbling something. Edward went to his room and grabbed the phone. He called Emmett, telling him to come over.

When he returned to the kitchen, he saw Leah petting Ginger.

"What's wrong with him? He looks a little scared," she said.

"Well…there was a little incident yesterday," he explained.

"What did you do to him?"

"Nothing! Bella threw my belt away and…it hit him." It felt good to actually say the truth.

The front door banged to the wall and Ginger jumped a mile, making them laugh. "That's Emmett," Edward said to no one in particular.

He appeared in the kitchen, shooting Leah a scowl then looking at Edward. "I'm here."

"I can hear that," he muttered. "It looks like Mom gave Leah the power to take over the bachelor party."

"And honeymoon," she added, scowling in Emmett's direction.

"But the party is something the guys do. You go help Bella."

Edward shot her a look that meant "See?", she didn't budge.

So they settled to work on the bachelor party. Emmett came up with idiotic ideas like clubs and striptease.

"What? When I get married, Jazz and Carlisle are taking me hunting! Humans like to party," he defended himself.

"You marry just once," Leah told him from the other side of the kitchen. It was funny how they stayed so far apart from each other.

"Actually, I've gotten married seven times and counting. All the times with Rose."

She rolled her eyes then turned to Edward. "So? A club?"

"How about just a night out…anywhere!" He shrugged. "Or nothing at all."

"We're going to find the perfect place. I'll talk with Jasper and come back to you. As for the honeymoon, talk with Esme."

"Why?" Edward asked, surprised.

"She has a present for you." Emmett smirked.

.

.

.

Friday found Bella and Edward in a bakery in Port Angeles. He was dreading this. They were escorted to a room that held several plates on a long table. The seller told them to taste and then seek her out and tell her which one they wanted. Edward felt better when they were alone again.

Bella inspected the cakes before turning to Edward with a plate in her hand, beaming. "Come here."

"You aren't going to eat, are you?" he asked, shocked.

"No, you are going to eat." She held the fork up to his mouth. He realized she wanted him to eat from her. It felt really intimate. He closed his lips around the fork taking the bite in his mouth.

The cake was smooth and flavored. It tasted delicious. "Is it with fruits?" He wondered, looking on the description from the table.

"Yeah. Wild berries," Bella answered, smiling.

He thought he tasted raspberry but it could have been his imagination. "Can I say we get this one without tasting all of them?"

"No. Here, what about the chocolate one?" she asked, offering him some.

"Chocolate cake." He shrugged. "It's common. I want something else, don't you think it will be better?"

"I don't care, and I promise the others won't care either. This is your field."

Edward groaned, as she took another plate from the table. This piece was pink.

"No way!" He shouted, probably too loudly. "I'm not eating anything pink."

Bella laughed, putting the plate back. She kept offering him different cakes, but he was still thinking of the first one. She seemed to realize that too because she stopped feeding him, going back to that one.

"Are you sure about this?" She scooped another forkful of cake and smelled it.

Edward chuckled, leaning forward to steal the food from the fork. Oh, God. It tasted amazing. They'd need a big one because he might eat alone half of it.

Bella wiped the corner of his mouth with her thumb. "Quit moaning, they'll think we're up to no good."

"I wish you could see how good it tastes," he said, licking his lips and taking the plate from her hands.

"You can't eat it all."

"Says who?" He challenged, polishing the plate. "She'll know what we liked."

After talking with the seller about the cake – it was going to be a three-story tall – they said goodbye and went to his car.

"While you were getting dressed, I talked with your mom," Bella whispered, taking Edward's hand.

"Yeah?"

"She told me that I can sleep over tonight because I have to be there for the Easter brunch."

"So now she pulled the 'you have to' card, because you're part of the family?"

Bella nodded. "But I don't mind. I told you, it will be okay."

"As long as you don't eat…"

"I won't. I promise."

Chapter Text

Chapter 37: Finishing high school

Easter brunch wasn't scary. What was scaring Bella was the bachelorette party, the bridal shower, and all the other things Alice and Elizabeth were throwing at her. She didn't need anything like this. What part of a small wedding didn't they get?

"Damn it!" She heard Edward swearing from upstairs. He was supposed to be getting dressed. Bella was zooming between the kitchen and living room, helping Elizabeth.

"I'm going to grab my shoes," she told Elizabeth, finding an escape.

"Yeah, go, sweetie. Everyone should be here any moment," she said from the kitchen.

Bella wanted to see what was taking Edward so long and she had to be away from the atrocious food smell. She slipped inside his room and found him at the mirror, fighting with his tie.

"Come here, silly boy."

"Why do I need it? Tell me, again! Why?" He groaned, shuffling toward her.

"Sit on the bed, you're too tall. Take it as practice for the wedding," she whispered, kissing his nose. "What did you do here?" There were at least three tight knots.

He gave her a pointed look that made her laugh. "It's nothing funny! Did you hear Dad? He was just here, telling me that he knew how to make a Winchester tie knot when he was ten."

"Windsor!" Bella corrected him, giggling.

"Whatever!" He sighed, exasperated.

Bella managed to untie his weird knots then knotted it correctly. It wasn't that hard. This was one of the few memories she had from before. She remembered how her father taught her to knot his tie. She used to love to do it.

"Done," she announced him.

"That was quick." Edward got up and went to inspect his tie in the mirror. "How did you do it? Is there anything you don't know how to do?"

Bella met his eyes in the mirror. "Of course, there are things I don't know how to do!"

"Like what?" He smirked, the challenge clear in his voice.

"Like…I don't know! You'll be the first to know when I come across something I have no idea what to do with."

"I won't hold my breath," he muttered, returning his attention to the tie.

"You want to learn?" She offered, going to stand behind him.

"I guess I should learn." He shrugged.

"Give me another tie," she instructed.

He went to his closet and came up with a dark blue silk tie then brought a chair in front of the mirror, sitting down. Bella sat on his lap, facing the mirror with her back pressed to his chest. She put the tie around her neck.

"The wide side on the right and about twelve inches below the narrow end," she started.

"I was wrong from the start," he said to himself. "I made them equal."

"It's okay. You're learning now." She focused back on the tie. "Cross the wide end over the narrow and bring it up through the loop."

"That's the easy part."

She elbowed him in the stomach. "Bring the wide end down, around behind the narrow, and up on your right," she continued. She felt like an instruction book. "Push this end down through the loop then pull it tight."

His hands joined hers over the silk tie. His green eyes looked darker than usual, his arousal potent in the air.

"Turn the wide end and pass it across the narrow one. Pull the end up through the loop." He tickled her nose with the wide end. "Edward, pay attention."

"You're distracting," he murmured in her ear.

"Slip the wide end through the knot in the front. Then tighten."

His hands tightened the knot around her neck then he turned his head so he could kiss her. Was this turning him on? Bella shifted so she could wrap her arms around his neck. That's when she felt his hardness pressing against her hip. He was overly enthusiastic, like always.

The doorbell ringing loudly made them jump apart. For a moment, she had forgotten where they were. He looked just as dazed as she felt.

She rose and went to grab her shoes – the reason she had come up to Edward's room.

Downstairs, they greeted everyone then moved to the living room. She sat next to Edward, transferring some of her food on his plate when no one was looking.

"Stop it," he hissed by the end of the second course. He was slumped in his chair, his hands joined on his stomach. "I can't even think of food."

She tried not to laugh, but it was hard. A small giggle escaped her, and she earned what should have been called a glare, but it was just an exhausted look.

Leah was attached to her notebook and despite her mother and Elizabeth's pleadings; she kept asking things about the wedding. No one should have given her chores.

"Did you go cake tasting?" she asked, suddenly.

Edward groaned, closing his eyes. Maybe she had fed him too much, after all. He shouldn't have eaten it all.

"Yes," Bella answered her, putting her hand on Edward's thigh.

"And? What did you choose?"

Bella bit her lip, still worried Edward might get sick. "Berry cake, I think."

"Sounds good," Jacob interjected. "Did you taste it, too?"

She shot the adults a look – they weren't paying attention. "No," she mouthed.

A few minutes later, Elizabeth decided to bring dessert. Edward looked in pain only hearing about it. The choice was pound cake and ice cream.

Jacob wolfed his part in a few minutes. That's when Bella saw the opportunity.

"Want more?" she asked, already pushing her part to him.

"You don't have to ask, blo… Bella."

She shook her head at his almost-slip.

Not so lady-like, Leah stole Edward's pound cake when he didn't make a move to eat it. He looked happy with just his ice cream, which he was moving in the cup with the teaspoon.

After all the food was cleared off the table, Bella helped Elizabeth with the coffee. Jacob apologized that he had to leave, having promised Renesmee's mother to be there for the afternoon, and Leah said she was busy with who knows what chores for the wedding. She took Seth with her, who hadn't even talked for the few hours they had been at the table. He had gotten a small cold and was acting as if the end of the world had come. Edward and Bella ended up going up to his room where he sprawled on the bed, moaning.

"I think I put ten pounds on, maybe more."

"You should have told me you couldn't eat it," she admonished him gently, sitting next to him. "What can I do?"

"Stop moving," he murmured.

She went to his rocking chair and plopped down, snagging the book from the floor. She had been reading from that book for over a week.

All too soon, he started snoring, and she knew he would be out for a few hours. Bella focused on Gatsby's story. There had been a few years since she last read it.

After about an hour, Jake's dad, along with Leah and Seth's parents, left. Five minutes later, Elizabeth came into her son's room, stopping shortly when she saw him sleeping. She glanced at Bella, smiling.

"He's not much fun when he's tired, eh?"

Bella returned her smile, not telling her he didn't feel well because of her stuffing him at the table.

"It's okay. I'm entertaining myself with old Gatsby, here." She nodded to the book.

"That's a good book. I remember enjoying it," she said, softly.

"Yeah, that's why I'm reading it again," Bella whispered. "Do you need help in the kitchen?"

She looked like she didn't want to disturb her. "If you can part from the book? I really love all my china. If I ask Ed, he'll most likely break some."

"So Edward takes after him?" Bella asked, following her out of the room after throwing a soft blanket over her boyfriend. Fiancé, Bella reminded herself.

When she didn't answer immediately, Bella looked at her worried. Elizabeth was watching her with compassion and tears in her eyes. "You're so good to him, with him. I haven't seen many people acting like this. Especially, at such a young age."

"I love him," Bella said honestly.

"Oh, I know that. And he loves you more than I thought possible." Elizabeth touched Bella's cheek. "I think it's a Masen thing. When they fall in love…you can't change their minds."

Bella grinned, hugging her. She returned the hug.

"And I love you for caring for my son. I know he'll be well taken care of when you two marry." They separated and started walking down the stairs. "Despite the fact that you are so stubborn to not go to college," she added, shaking her head.

"You understand why we don't, though?"

"Somewhat."

They had reached the kitchen when she stopped again. She looked around for her husband and when she did not see him, she turned to Bella.

"I trust you, Bella."

Bella felt her face freezing. She should have paid attention to what they had talked downstairs. Had Jake's dad said something? Because Elizabeth just sounded like she knew more than she let on.

"Thank you." It was all she could come up with.

The tension seemed to leave when Ed appeared with a stack of china coffee plates from the living room, precariously balanced on his hand. Bella saved them just in time they started trembling. She heard Elizabeth breathing a sigh of relief. She winked at Bella when she walked to the kitchen.

.

.

.

May came and went too fast for Bella's liking. Edward wasn't much fun when he was studious. She ended up locked out too many nights because she was "a distraction" and he "had to study."

They spent every afternoon after school in his room, learning – more exactly, Bella was explaining stuff – then not very graciously, she was pushed out the door or window, depending on which she had come in. The weekends were a bit more relaxed, though they focused on the wedding.

The only time he allowed Bella touch him for more than five minutes was on a Friday night when his parents were held up at work. Edward had a headache and after trying to focus on his Calculus and failing, he gave up. They had kissed before he chucked a box of condoms at her, smirking. She knew what he wanted. She didn't say no because even going down on him meant that she was touching him in some way. His plan had been much more complex. He had begged her to let him go down on her at the same time. When she finally caved, he was naked, smiling hugely.

After putting a few condoms on his shaft and straddling his head, Bella started licking him. His tongue on her folds felt better than she remembered. It didn't take long for either of them since they hadn't done more than a few kisses for over three weeks.

On the last weekend of May, Bella dragged him out of the house, but not before he managed to hide his Biology textbook under his shirt.

"We aren't staying long, okay?" he asked, keeping a hand over his stomach where his book was 'hidden'.

"You need some fun, Edward! Don't tell me you don't need a break!"

They were in her car, on their way to the Cullens. They had bugged her to bring Edward over. She couldn't wait to share the new, nerdy Edward with them.

"But Bella! It's the first time I'll graduate!" He widened his eyes.

"Wanna bet you won't remember a thing after your change?"

"I don't care! I want to get good grades now."

It was futile to fight with him. Bella started questioning him on biology facts since it was his choice for that day. He grinned and answered lazily. He knew everything by heart, but insisted to go deeply.

"Biggest bone in human body?" She asked the last question as she parked in front of the Cullens' house.

"Tibia." He beamed.

Bella wanted to let it slide, but that was wrong. If she told him that, she wouldn't get him out of the book.

"Try again," she whispered, getting out.

Bella went to his side and opened the door. He stepped out, frowning.

"This one. Isn't it called tibia?" He touched his femur.

"That's the one, but it's not called tibia. This is the tibia." She knelt and touched his shin bone.

"Fuck. It's all messed up in my head. It starts with F, right?"

She inclined her head, steering him inside the house.

With the corner of her eye, Bella saw as he reached for his book, but snatched it from his belt before he had time to blink.

"Hey!" He cried out.

"Nu-huh! You know the answer. Just think about it for a second."

"Wishbone!" He shouted victoriously as they stepped inside. A second ago he said it started with F.

Bella burst in laughter, leaning against the wall for support. Everyone in the house was laughing. She started fanning herself with his book, although she didn't need it – probably a human trait she had carried with her.

"Gimme the book!" Edward moaned. "Argh! Stop laughing! All of you!"

Emmett appeared from the living room. "Wish…bone! He's so funny!"

"Okay, I was wrong! I realize it now. Only birds have that, okay! I'm only human, cut me some slack!"

"Wishbone starts with F in Latin. It's called furcula," Carlisle said, descending, smiling.

"FEMUR!" Edward yelled victoriously.

"Finally!" Bella groaned, slapping his textbook to his chest.

Once everyone was calm, with the occasional chuckle upon remembering Edward's serious answer about the wishbone, they sat in the living room, catching up.

"Are you hungry, honey?" Esme asked worried after a few hours.

"Not really," Edward answered. He had eaten too many muffins in the morning.

"Maybe some fruit? I bought some for you."

Bella saw his cheeks turning red as he nodded shyly. She was going to miss the red splotches on his cheeks. She leaned over and pressed her lips to his flamed skin.

"What was that for?" he asked, glancing at her.

"Can't I kiss you?" she asked back. "You're just adorable."

"Yeah, because every guy wants to be called adorable," he muttered.

"Our little human," Emmett interjected.

Before Edward could answer back or attempt to wrestle with Emmett, Esme appeared with a bowl full of fruits. She put them in front of Edward, along with a plate and a knife.

He picked up a nectarine and started cutting it just as Emmett barked a loud laugh. Everyone turned to him.

"Figure he'll eat nectarines!"

No one laughed.

"Oh, come on! Don't you get it?" He coaxed. "Neck." He pointed to his neck. "Tarine…?"

Edward squeezed the fruit in his hand, glaring at Emmett and muttering under his breath about revenge.

"Let me help," Bella whispered, extricating what was left of the fruit and finishing cutting it.

Emmett kept joking about Edward's food until Edward put the bowl over his head, stomping to the door. Bella rushed after him.

Edward refused to go near Emmett again unless it was necessary. He went as far as to cut him off the best men list. Of course, Edward's actions amused Emmett to no end.

.

.

.

Before Bella knew it, the end of the school was there. They went to prom, took the exams, smiled when they grabbed the diplomas on graduation day – Edward even tried to mask a few tears by burying his face in her hair, hugging her. She knew why he was crying. Unlike the rest of the students, he wouldn't miss high school, he would miss his parents, his friends…his human life. There was a big party at Mike's house and everyone was invited. The Cullens kindly declined, but Bella more or less carried Edward there. He had to experience as much as human life offered him.

By the end of that week they would be married. And knowing him, the honeymoon would be a night in her cottage then he'd want to be changed.

The party proved to be a wrong idea, although it was funny to see Edward drunk. He kept his arms around Bella's neck and kept kissing her nose and missing it horribly. They danced, and he even attempted to karaoke.

The mic wasn't on and he kept shaking it. Someone shouted to him to turn it on, but Edward was too drunk to understand what was happening. He started hitting the mic over his palm then against his temple. As everyone laughed, Bella went to him before he could harm himself and helped him with his little problem. He beamed at her then suddenly turned green. Everyone realized what was about to happen and moved aside as he threw up.

Bella had to call Emmett to help her get him home since she was supposed to be a small girl. Elizabeth wasn't as upset as Bella thought she'd be when she first saw her inebriated son. After the initial shock wore off, she called for her husband. Nevertheless, the three of them had too much fun with drunken Edward that night. He didn't want to sleep it off so they sat in the living room as he talked and talked and talked…and snuggled and kissed Bella. A lot. He was a cuddly and very talkative drunk. Ed got it all on a camera. They were going to laugh their asses off over the years.

Chapter Text

Chapter 38: Changes

It was the big day. It was Saturday, June 11th, 2011. Edward was getting married.

He was sure he wouldn't be that guy – the one that gets scared his fiancée would leave him, or gets nervous about one thing or another.

He was exactly that guy.

Leah was trying to tame his hair since his own mom deserted him for Bella. You'd think she was her daughter. He was stuck with Leah and the guys.

"You're kinda green. If you are going to throw up again, give me a little heads up first," she hissed.

"I have nothing left to throw up," Edward mumbled, straightening his tie. Bella's lesson had gone out the window. He had to thank Jasper for the Windsor knot.

Carlisle let himself in Edward's room. "Here, son. It will settle your stomach."

Edward gulped the pill gratefully, washing it with the water he had brought.

"Are you ready? We have to leave," he said.

"Yeah. Give up, Leah!" He groaned, pushing her hands away. "My hair has never stayed flat! You aren't going to make it obey now."

"I could try."

"Stop! I'm nervous enough as it is!"

She gave up. Edward looked one more time at himself in the mirror. He could rival Carlisle's pale skin if he got any whiter.

Edward drove his car to their house where the wedding was being held. His dad stayed co-pilot since Edward never allowed anyone else to drive his car. Carlisle's pill made sure he wouldn't throw up again, because he felt like it when he stepped out of the car, at their house.

A small ball of red hit him and squeezed him tightly. Edward was going to have a huge bruise on his chest.

"Nice to see you too, Alice," he whispered.

"You look handsome."

"Thanks." He didn't even blush. All his blood had left his body long ago.

"Are you feeling well?" She whispered, concerned.

"Yeah." Edward nodded. "How's Bella?"

"Warming her cold feet," she joked.

He rolled his eyes and started to the makeshift aisle.

"Wait up!" Alice shouted, catching up with him. Edward turned to her, wondering what she wanted. She reached up, levering herself on his elbow and kissing his cheeks. "You needed some color."

Edward rubbed his cheeks and sure enough there was the gooey red lipstick.

After going to the front of the rows of chairs, he slumped into one, running a hand through his hair. Too late, he realize that he messed it again. Fuck, if I care.

Edward hated Emmett, Jasper, Jake and Ben for the previous night. With all his heart. He wanted to kill them. He could start with Ben then after a few weeks, he would continue with the others.

After the graduation party episode, Edward should have learned his lesson. Apparently, not so much. The previous night, they had ended up at Ben's house since his folks were out of town. Emmett and Jasper brought the booze. Edward had tried to deny them…and caved when Emmett made a stupid joke. That was all it took.

He had a shit long list of reasons why he had to kill him after the change.

After three or five or seven shots of whiskey…Jake decided to drink beer. Edward took one to knock against his and ended up drinking it. And another one and so on. Until he blacked out and woke up in his bed smelling of alcohol, vomit and sweat.

Thank the Lord it was his father who found him there. He was amused. And when he told Edward what day it was, Edward rushed to the bathroom and promptly emptied his stomach. Repetitively. In between praying to the toilet gods, he showered, brushed his teeth – almost five times – and munched on some bread at his dad's insistence. Needless to say, it ended up in the toilet.

"Tough night?" Emmett asked, sitting next to him.

"I fucking hate you!" Edward snapped. "It's not that I will remember much, but I'd like to remember something about today," he hissed.

"I had no idea you couldn't hold your alcohol like a man!"

"Uh…five days ago…graduation party?" He hinted.

Emmett rolled his eyes. "Are you man enough to marry little Ruby?"

"I bet I could hold up blood better, Topaz," he snapped, a little too loud. A few heads turned to them.

When they saw it was the groom…they came over and started talking. Edward's head was pounding.

He was grateful they had to repeat the vows after the priest – Angela's father, and not memorize their own vows. He doubted he could function normally.

When he saw his mom exiting the house, he made his way there, glad to be out of his former class mates' claws. Leave Emmett deal with them.

"Mom!" Edward said loudly and hugged her.

"How was your night, sweetheart?"

"Uhh nice," he mumbled, scratching the back of his head. "Umm how…"

"She's as nervous as you are," she whispered, kissing his cheeks.

"How did you know what I wanted to ask?"

"You're my son. I know what you need. And right now, I think you need to talk to me."

"Yes." He felt a lump forming in his throat. He wasn't going to start crying.

They started walking toward the small river that was behind the house, taking his dad with them when they passed him. Edward was a nervous wreck. He had no idea what he was going to tell them.

"Edward?" His mom prompted him, slightly worried.

"I'm…going to…miss you," he whispered, blinking rapidly to get rid of the tears.

"We'll miss you too. We'll see you when you get back," his dad said, putting his arm around his son.

"Where are you taking her?" she asked softly.

"Some place Esme told me about. A private island," Edward explained as quietly as possible. He couldn't have Bella hearing it. "It's just for a week or so."

"Sounds very romantic."

He nodded, leaning into his dad's side. For a second, he almost told them that that was probably the last time they were going to be together, but he didn't. He let his mom hug him from the other side, and just basked in the moment.

There was a flash of light and when Edward raised his head, he saw Emmett with a camera. He was gone the next second, smirking.

"Thanks," he said under his breath, knowing he'd hear. Edward was going to treasure that picture.

All too soon, Carlisle came for him, telling him he had to take his place. Edward stood next to Jake, waiting for Bella to come out of the house, his friend leaned closer.

"I really don't want it to end like this. Promise me, we'll stay in touch."

Edward glanced at him, surprised. "If you want."

"I won't age until Nessie's legal." He winked. "By the way, you're my best man."

"Sure," he agreed.

"She's coming out," Jasper whispered, leaning over Jake.

Edward's head snapped up and his breath caught in his throat. She was…mesmerizing. It looked like she was floating as she walked to him, holding onto Carlisle's arm. Bella's smile was infectious and soon, Edward was sporting it too.

Alice and Rose were at her side, Leah was holding the train, and Emmett was behind with the rings. Edward barely focused on them, though. He had never seen Bella looking so beautiful. He almost wished it was sunny. But the wedding was at twilight so there wouldn't be any accidental blinding sparkles.

When Bella stopped next to him, it took all his strength not to lean down and kiss her. He kept grinning, though. He couldn't have wiped it off, not even if someone pointed a gun at his head. Or more dramatically, told him that the Volturi were after him.

The ceremony was a blur of repetitions and some kneeling then they put the rings on and he had a little trouble, but in the end, it was all well. And finally, his favorite part: he could kiss his new wife.

Edward took her face in his hands and lowered his head, pressing their lips together. The electricity seemed to crackle between them. One kiss wasn't enough and soon, they started making out until someone or several people cleared their throats. Edward didn't even blush as he turned to face everyone, keeping an arm around her small waist.

Then they had to shake hands, kiss cheeks and exchange a few words with every guest. The last to congratulate them was the Denali clan. Edward didn't have good memories about them, and Bella sensed that. She tightened her arm around his waist.

He tried to remember their names, but as soon as they wished them well, they said their names. Tanya, Kate, Irina, Carmen and Eleazar.

Bella had invited her friends, Peter and Charlotte too. They were currently catching up with Jasper.

The reception went by smoothly and Edward couldn't help himself but smash some cake on Bella's face. She threw him a glare and mock-slapped him with a handful of cake. Emmett boomed about that being their first married fight.

Edward loved the taking the garter off her leg part. He didn't want to get out from under her dress. She was wearing blue underwear and he knew he had to have her for himself for a little while. When Edward finally emerged from under her skirt with the garter between his teeth, he glanced toward the boys and visualized his target then jerked his head, opening his mouth, letting the garter fly. If only, he had been a vampire…the garter would have actually landed on Jake. But he was human, and it hit his dad in the face with a loud slap.

"Guess it's time for the Silver Wedding?" He joked.

Bella's aim was better than his. Her bouquet went straight to Angela's unexpectant arms. She squealed and Ben turned red.

After so many dances Edward thought his feet would bleed, his mom stole him for a dance with her. Again, he bathed in every second with her. He told her that he loved her, more times in that five minutes than he had told her all his life.

Then Alice announced to everyone it was time for the newlyweds to change clothes and leave. Once wearing comfortable jeans, shirt and Converse, Edward gave Emmett the luggage to load into his car's trunk.

When Bella and he left the house, they had to pass through a rice shower. By the time Edward made it to the passenger's door and opened it for her, he had rice in his eyes, mouth, ears, and stuck on the back of his neck. Edward kissed her again before closing her door. As he walked to his door, he caught his dad's eye and saw him wiping a tear. Edward was fighting his own.

He started the car and did his best not to look in the rearview mirror. Once on the asphalt, the cans tied to the rear were getting on his nerves.

"It's traditional," Bella repeated as he swore yet again.

"It's my car!" He complained, and pulled over. After depositing of the mean cans, he could drive calmly to Seattle's airport.

"And you're not telling me where we are going?" she asked.

"Nope." Edward shot her a smirk.

Bella, the ever mischievous creature she was, started stroking his arm, his thighs.

"It's not working," he announced to her in a stupid breathy voice.

"Are you sure?"

His breath hitched when she brushed his dick. "Positive."

It would be almost two days until they got to the island. He officially owed Esme a lot for offering her island. Who the fuck gives their beloved an island? Should he start thinking like that now that they were part of the family?

Just like Alice had told him why she didn't have any pictures or trinkets from places she had visited.

"Why buy a small Eiffel Tower when I can hop on a plane and see the real thing?"

Simple as that. As if.

They had a layover in Huston then finally landed on Rio's airport from where they took a cab to the docks. Edward had the route memorized. Carlisle had told him the boat had a GPS and autopilot and he just had to start it. Simple as that. Again.

After so many hours of close to no sleep, he nearly fell in the ocean as he stepped onto the boat. Before he could turn and help Bella, she was on the boat with the luggage, rolling her eyes.

"This is getting more and more interesting," she murmured as Edward fished for Carlisle's instructions from his pocket.

"What? Sorry, I'm really tired," he explained.

"Are we going to Africa?"

"No." He laughed, twisting the key and pushing buttons. It roared to life and after making sure the GPS and autopilot were working, he slumped on the chair, pulling Bella on his lap.

She started kissing his neck, wounding her fingers in his hair. Edward groaned, bucking his hips into her. It had been her stupid idea not to have sex until the wedding night. And considering he had been busy studying for the finals, the only release he had was sometime in May when they had tried to sixty-nine. FuckIt's been too long since I've had her. The few other times he'd jerked off while he was alone weren't as satisfying.

Before he knew what was happening, he was inside her, thrusting awkwardly from the angle they were going at. They were moaning and Edward didn't give a shit that anyone could hear or see them. They were dressed and it was dark outside. Besides, he couldn't see other boats out on the ocean.

He didn't remember ever having sex dressed, but it was hot. When he came, his whole body jerked and shook then he fell to the floor of the boat. They stayed there, embracing, with him still buried inside her until the boat hit land. He peeked out and saw it had taken them to the right place. He recognized it from the picture. Although it was pitch dark, he could see the white house between the trees.

"Tell me we aren't here so I can…you know…bite you…"

Edward whirled around, gaping at Bella. "NO!" He gasped, shocked. "We'll just be…here. For a week or so."

"Good, because I would have turned around if you wanted me to change you unassisted."

"I wouldn't dream of that," he promised.

When they went inside the house, Edward made love with Bella again even though he was too tired to move. She stayed on top.

.

.

.

For the following week, they explored the island, and stayed on the beach a lot. Edward even tanned. He couldn't stop himself from calling his mom and announcing her proudly that he was brown instead of red as he always ended up after staying under the sun. She laughed and told him to send her a picture. Bella was all too happy to take pictures. He sent his mom the picture with a few hours delay because his beautiful wife was a teasing nymph.

It never grew old to call her wife or Mrs. Masen. Never. And he loved it when she called him husband.

She was cooking for him, bringing him cold liquids when they were on the beach, making sure he stayed hydrated. She loved to put sun block lotion on his body. They discovered she had a foot fetish since he was the most ticklish there; she spent minutes to caressing his feet softly as not to tease him. Unless she was in a playful mood.

On their last night on the island, there was a heavy storm that locked them in the house since three in the afternoon. They watched a few movies, Edward ate some delicious pasta then they spent the night in the big white, fluffy bed. When they weren't making love, they were talking. After telling her that he would be able to be a true husband – like in her days – manipulative, hard, unyielding, she started a pillow fight. By the end of the struggle, they owed Carlisle and Esme some pillows. Edward was flopped on his back, coughing and spitting out feathers, which cracked her up. That was until he made her attack him and moved aside. She went head first in the headboard. It was his turn to laugh.

"I really wish you were less breakable."

"Hold on to that thought." He winked. "We're going home tomorrow."

"And after you stay with your parents for at least another week, we're headed to Alaska," she reminded him. Edward was going to celebrate his eighteenth birthday with his parents. It was in two days.

The way back was always shorter. Edward's car was where he had left it, a few streets away from SeaTac Airport. After loading the luggage in the trunk, they started the way back to Forks.

"Look at this!" Bella exclaimed, amused.

He glanced in her direction. She was holding something invisible to him between her thumb and forefinger.

"What's that?"

"Rice!"

"Alice is cleaning my car. It was her idea."

"It's tradition."

"Plus," he added, as if Bella hadn't talked. "She just had to write on my back window. I can't see through that shit!"

Bella started cleaning the rice from the car even though Edward told her to stop it. He needed her eyes too. He was too tired from barely sleeping over the past few days…the past week. It had been a marathon of making love.

Since he was driving a Volvo he decided to test the safety thing and let it stop itself if there was something to happen. Bella tsk-ed, but kept plucking rice.

Edward was so tired that focusing on the road made him see only straight ahead, following the white line. Somehow, he pulled on the wheel without realizing and started going toward the forest. Luckily Bella was a vampire.

"Let me drive, you're tired."

"No!" He insisted.

Edward floored the acceleration just to get home quickly and sleep. But not before he showed off his new tan. He was proud of it.

He decided to find some hard rock music. He had to stay awake.

"Watch out!" Bella shouted.

His eyes went to the road in time to see the large truck coming to them, full speed. They both tugged at the steering wheel…but it was too late. First Edward heard the metal on metal sound then he jerked ahead. His breath cut by the safe belt and steering wheel. He felt his face itching and realized the windscreen had broken. He was covered in glass.

"Edward! Edward!" Bella moaned, her voice sounded frantic.

"I'm okay," he whispered.

"No…please." She cried out. Her arms came around him. She was looking at something to his left.

It was then that he realized the car was perpendicular on the road and another car was coming full speed toward…his side. Edward fought with his safety belt and winced. Every muscle hurt.

"Save me," he told Bella, urgently.

"I can't!" She sounded broken.

"Of course, you can!"

"The truck driver is calling 911. I love you."

"No. Bella! That car!" He jerked his head to it. It was closer. "That car will kill me!"

"I can't do anything. They'll find it funny. I promise to see you very soon."

His eyes widened. She couldn't let him die! "No! My paren-"

Edward felt horrible pain flaring into his left side then everything went black. It could have been less than a second because when he opened his eyes, he saw Bella watching him worried.

"I'm okay?" He asked, uncertainly, trying to raise his right hand to her face. He couldn't feel it. What the hell?

She kissed his forehead. He looked around and noticed they were flying. Why wasn't anything hurting? That only meant that something was incredibly wrong.

"Bella, love?"

"I'll get you home. I have to do it now."

"What's…wrong? I can take it. You're going to change me anyway."

"Your spine, that's why you can't feel anything."

"Fuck." He squeezed his eyes.

They stayed quiet for a few minutes as she ran. It was weird not to feel the jostle – not to feel anything.

"Damn!" He groaned.

"Do you feel any pain?" She asked, anxiously.

"Ah, no. It's just…"

"Yes?" She prompted, peering down. "Don't tell me you are upset because of the car."

His face fell further. "Actually, I was upset because no one was going to see my new tan."

"Only you, Edward. Only you. But don't worry, the Cullens will see it."

He grinned and closed his eyes again.

Chapter Text

Chapter 39: Dying

When the other car hit Edward's car, she scooped Edward up and rushed out. His car was a wreck. No one could tell if there were any victims, hopefully.

She couldn't believe how stupid she had been. She should have insisted to drive. She should have moved faster.

Of one thing Bella was sure; Edward wasn't in pain because he couldn't feel his body. When he opened his eyes and she filled him in with the news, she thought he'd be upset, but he surprised her again. He was disappointed that no one was going to see his tan. Only Edward would be worried about that in a moment like this.

When Bella arrived at the Cullens' house, Alice and Rose were waiting outside, wearing identical worried expression.

"How is he?" Alice asked, scared, advancing to them.

Bella looked down at him. Edward had passed out. "I have to do it. Where is Carlisle?"

"Hunting. His phone is off," Rosalie whispered.

"Speaking of off phones… Why in the hell were your phones off?" Alice yelled.

"We forgot to turn them back on after the flight. I didn't even think about it."

They went inside. Alice took Bella to a room she had never been in – Carlisle's laboratory. She had no idea he had something like this in his house.

When she put Edward on the table, he came around. He looked like he was in pain, which was impossible.

"What is it?" She whispered, leaning closer, stroking his hair.

"I…love them. Tell them that. Please."

"I will," she promised.

Bella heard Emmett yelling into a phone, from the living room. She realized he was talking with someone from La Push. Crap. She hadn't thought of the dogs. She had to save Edward. She could smell blood inside his body. He had internal hemorrhage.

"And…" Edward rasped.

"Shh. Stop talking." Bella kissed his lips once. "Shh."

"I want…you said…it hurts…"

"It does. It will," she said sadly.

"Morphine," he mumbled, coughing.

His heart started beating more weakly. She had to do it.

No Carlisle.

No dog approval.

Everything be damned.

"Rose," Bella whispered. Her voice trembled horribly. She couldn't lose Edward.

Rose appeared at her side. Edward smiled slowly when he saw her.

"Can you find a shot of morphine?" Bella asked.

"But-"

"NOW," she snarled as Edward spat blood while coughing. "Stay with me, sweetie." She touched his face, where he could feel it.

"I'm dizzy," he mumbled.

Bella pressed her cheek to his forehead, and then she smelled it. Blood in his head. Fuck. She was losing him. Just then Rosalie appeared with the morphine and injected it in his vein.

"I love you. I'll see you soon," Bella whispered.

"Loh…" He tried to say it back, but his eyes rolled in the back of his head.

Bella moved her head to his neck and did what she had wanted to do since she'd met him. She bit, sinking her teeth in his soft skin, feeling his warm blood in her mouth, sliding down her throat and soothing the ache. Bella licked the wound closed and moved to his wrists.

"His heart, too," Rose whispered.

"What?" She asked, looking heartbroken at her husband.

"Carlisle did it for Emmett. He was too mangled by the bear that had attacked him. The venom will work faster."

Bella didn't think twice. She just ripped the bloodied t-shirt and bit over his heart. Then she sank to the floor and started sobbing. Rose sat next down, hugging her tightly.

Edward's heart started beating a little stronger and she started feeling better. He was going to be okay. That's when the complication appeared, in the form of a werewolf.

The door of the makeshift laboratory opened and Leah barged inside. She was livid. Her eyes found Edward and she froze. In the spar of three seconds, she seemed to forget why she was in the room. Her face softened and big tears started rolling down her cheeks.

"What happened?" she whispered, hiccupping.

Bella tried to explain as best as she could, but ended up choking on words when she got to the second collision. By the time she finished the story, Leah understood why she had to do it.

"I'm really sorry for breaking the treaty," Bella mumbled.

"I guess I understand why you did it." She wiped her tears away and went closer to Edward. "Should you...clean those wounds?"

"I don't think it's necessary."

"Please…" She whispered, pleadingly.

They started cleaning his face off shattered glass as Rosalie left the room to try calling Carlisle again. Bella had never thought she'd tolerate Leah so much. She never mentioned it if she saw some grimace on Edward's face. Even though that grimace was proof that the venom was working. But why wasn't he yelling in pain?

After they cleaned him and changed his clothes, Carlisle came inside the room, looking shaken. He clasped Bella in arms, hugging her tightly. Then he turned to Leah.

"You didn't see them. They are both dead."

Bella's dead heart broke into a thousand pieces.

"I'm going to the hospital to see what I can do. Esme…is calling his parents."

"Holy shit," Bella whispered, bending over Edward's body. His heart kept beating steadily.

"You did a great job, Bella. I'm proud of you."

"I didn't think for a second to drain him."

"Of course you didn't, child. You had to save him."

Leah left, going to announce everyone in La Push of the tragedy.

"One thing we'll have to do, though," Carlisle told her right before heading out.

"Yes?" Bella looked up from her spot, draped across Edward's chest.

"We'll have to bury you. Both of you."

"Aren't we supposed to be mangled…"

"Trust me to do this. For Elizabeth and Edward Senior."

She nodded and wished she could cry.

"In three days, when his transformation is over, we are doing it. It will be a closed casket."

"Carlisle, you can't…you have to let Elizabeth choose."

He nodded and left. She stayed on top of Edward for the following days. Every family member came and went, but she never move.

There were almost thirteen more hours until the end of the third day when his heart started beating frantically.

"No, Edward." Bella panicked. "No. You were doing so well."

Alice came in the room. "It's almost done."

"But it's only been two and a half days," she insisted.

"With the amount of venom in his system he could have turned in one day," she whispered.

Bella sat up, straddling his waist, touching his face, his shoulders, and his arms. After two more wild beats, his heart stopped. Bella held her breath, stilling her hands.

"Get off him. Now," Alice told her in a panicked voice.

Bella had time to take one leg off when she found herself slamming into the wall across the room. All his six foot two inches frame stood rigid at the foot of the table, growling loudly. At her.

"Edward? It's me," she whispered.

Recognition flashed in his eyes and faster than she was used to see him moving, he was in front of her, hugging her and kissing her face.

"Careful, Edward. Ow." Her ribs were protesting.

He took a step back, watching her worried. He was absolutely breathtaking. It had to be a closed casket. No one would believe that a dead person could look so gorgeous. His red eyes sparkled in the neon light, the bronze streaks on his hair were more accentuated and he looked fit.

"Bella," he whispered. His voice was soft, having a velvety touch, making her dizzy.

She advanced slowly and caught his cheeks in her hands then kissed him. She let her tongue caress his, making him moan and wrap his arms around her, more carefully this time.

When they separated, Edward was sporting a huge grin. Everyone had come in the room. Carlisle suggested they go hunting, earning a growl of approval from Edward. Bella was sure his throat was in flames.

"I have a question first," Edward whispered, squeezing her hand in his.

"Yes?" Carlisle asked promptly, frowning.

"Why am I hearing voices in my head?"

Everyone turned to stare at him. Could vampire turn insane? Was it her fault?

"What are you hearing?" Carlisle asked worried.

Edward frowned. "Well…Rosalie is wondering if I am insane. Alice is not happy about what I'm wearing. Emmett is wondering when he can challenge me to a rematch of arm wrestling…" He stopped talking when they gaped at him.

Could he…?

No, that was impossible.

He could read minds.

"Yes, I think I can hear your thoughts," he told Jasper, smirking.

Half a second later, he turned to Bella, grinning. His grin started falling as he frowned. Edward leaned closer. "What are you doing?"

"What?" Bella asked, surprised.

"I can't hear you," he whined.

"Remember that Aro couldn't read her mind, either?" Carlisle asked.

"Great!" Edward snorted.

"Let's go hunting. You'll explore your power later."

The hunting trip was long. He tried to copy her, but ended up in a worse state than Bella had been after her first hunt with the Cullens. His pants were ripped, his shirt was somewhere on the forest's ground and all this after a wrestling with a mountain lion. They moved on to deer after that, but it was tricky since he smelled of blood and herbivores didn't like that.

Everyone had a good laugh when they returned to the house. After Edward showered and changed his clothes, they held a family meeting where they informed him of the decision. Edward said that he knew about it – he had heard them talking. The two of them had to hold their breaths for a few hours then at night, after the burial, Carlisle would come and take them from the coffins.

That night, Bella took Edward to her little cottage and held him as he sobbed dryly.

"Do you know….anything about them?" he whispered.

"I haven't heard anything. Should I go check on them? You aren't allowed to come."

"Yes, please."

She took him back to the main house because he was still a newborn and someone had to watch him.

.

.

.

At the Masens' house, the sight was…beyond heart-breaking. Bella's heart had broken when she thought Edward was going to die, but what she was seeing was beyond words.

Edward's parents were in the kitchen despite being almost three in morning. Ed was barely visible through the mountain of baked goods. Elizabeth was crying while making muffins. Bella wanted to go and tell her that they were okay, that her son wasn't technically dead.

"Lizzy, stop. For real," Ed said exhausted, going behind her.

She collapsed in his arms and started sobbing. "My little boy."

"Shh, sweetheart." He wasn't good at consoling her. Tears were rolling down his cheeks freely.

"He was only seventeen. Seventeen, Edw…" She hiccupped, started crying harder. She couldn't even say her husband's name. "And that poor girl. She was like my daughter."

"Lizzy. Let's go to bed."

"I can't sleep."

"I know, my love. We'll just lie down."

When Bella returned to the Cullens, she didn't have the heart to tell Edward what she had seen. It was a miracle that he couldn't read her thoughts. She just told him that they were grieving. That was an understatement.

The next few hours passed quickly. They had to lie in coffins. Edward had promised to hold his breath and not move a muscle. There were so many horrible scenarios. Alice saw at least a dozen ways he would kill everyone.

The worst part was that Edward's parents were due to the house any moment. And Elizabeth wanted to see them. Bella wished they could share a coffin so she could relax him and squeeze his hand.

Alice and Rosalie took care of them, trying to make them look dead. Bella was sure Edward couldn't pass as dead. He was too beautiful.

When his parents' car turned on the road coming to the house, he shot up. "I can't do this."

"Lay back down before you give them a heart attack," Rosalie scolded him.

"I can't! They smell so good." Then he slapped his forehead. "I can't believe I'm thinking about…my parents like that."

"Edward. Stop breathing," Bella hissed, not moving from her spot. She heard him lying back down.

"Clasp your hands over your chest," Alice groaned.

Edward hissed making everyone laugh. Bella reminded him it was time to stop breathing and moving when his parents knocked on the door.

"He nodded," Rose whispered to her, earning a loud hiss from Edward.

It would have been funny if it weren't for the people that were going to come so close to danger, for his parents that were too hurt to function normally.

Carlisle greeted them at the door and showed them inside, telling them that only yesterday was he able to bring the kids home and that they looked better than expected. Esme whispered her condolences, while Elizabeth sniffed loudly.

They approached the table where their coffins were laying. Elizabeth's breath hitched and Bella was sure they didn't look as bad as she had thought.

"They look asleep," she murmured.

"Don't breathe, don't breathe. Don't move. Let her touch you," Bella heard Carlisle whispering hurriedly. Elizabeth was touching Edward.

Everything was so quiet, spare the two heartbeats. Bella could hear the animals in the forest and the cars on the main road – not like she wouldn't have otherwise.

Suddenly, something warm touched her, and she almost jumped a mile. It was so inconvenient not to breathe. Why had one warned her?

After an excruciatingly long hour, she and Edward were locked in the coffins and carried to the cemetery.

"How are you?" Bella whispered, watching the splinters in top of the coffin.

"It's tolerable. I am so sorry for causing them so much pain," Edward answered softly.

"I know."

They were moved again. They could hear people crying and whispering then a priest held the ceremony.

"I was thinking," Edward whispered.

"Yes?"

"Actually, Mom intends to spend the night here. How is Carlisle going to dig us up if she will be here?"

"Don't worry about that," Carlisle answered, amused.

After a loud thud from Edward's side, Bella got a little worried. "Are you okay?"

"Yes," he breathed. He sounded choked, like he was trying not to cry.

No one had to tell her what the thud had been. His mother falling over his coffin and grieving him.

Some time later, they were lowered in the grave and the tomb stone was pushed above.

"And now we wait." He laughed, but it wasn't his laugh. It sounded hysterical.

A few people, along with his parents lingered, but in the end only Ed and Elizabeth remained by their head. Bella tried to distract Edward from his mother's wails, but she couldn't do much.

After what felt like hours, he groaned loudly. "I can't sit here and hear her cry! Their thoughts…"

"And what do you propose?" she asked.

He sighed heavily. "We should have told them the truth. A long time ago. When we were fighting about the college."

"And the Volturi would have come and ended everything before it even began," Bella said sarcastically.

"Volturi shmolturi," Edward grumbled. "Can you distract me?" he asked on a strained voice.

"What do you want to do when we leave Forks?"

"Master killing a mountain lion without looking like a war hero afterwards."

Bella laughed. "Anything else?"

"Kick Emmett's ass at arm wrestling."

"You have to be careful. You're too strong, you could break his hand."

"Great! We'll be even."

They stayed quiet for a few minutes. Bella could only imagine how horrible it was for Edward to hear what his parents were thinking.

"Oh, Bella?"

"Yes, Edward?"

"Can we take Ginger with us?"

"As long as you promise not to eat him."

He snorted. "It's a cat!"

"So?"

"I won't hurt my cat, Bella."

They kept talking. His parents left, eventually, and before they knew it, Carlisle took them out of the coffins.

"Take him hunting. I'll see you home," he whispered after arranging the stone back.

Bella and Edward stood, shoulder to shoulder, watching the headstone.

Those we love don't go away, they walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near, so loved, so missed, so very dear. In loving memory of our son, daughter, and friends. We love and miss you dearly.

Isabella Marie Masen 13 September 1993 – 19 June 2011

Edward Anthony Masen 20 June 1994 – 19 June 2011

He sighed and grabbed Bella's wrist, running away. He was so fast she had trouble keeping up.

"Edward…"

He stopped eventually and threw himself down, curling into himself and started sobbing. Was he regretting his decision? Bella knelt next to him and stroked his hair before curling around him. They stayed like that until he relaxed his muscles and his body stopped shaking with dry sobs.

"You should have snatched me out of the car! I don't care what people would have thought!" He turned to her, his red eyes blazing. "It's your fault we're…dead!"

Bella gasped. His words hurt her more than anything.

"I wanted to keep in touch with them for another ten years at least! I hate you so much right now! I can find my own way back alone."

"Edward, don't be ridiculous! I can't leave you alone."

"Ridiculous?" He snorted, the anger in his eyes turning into fire. "Me going home alone isn't ridiculous. What is ridiculous is that my poor parents are crying over me, and I can't do a damn thing!"

"But you're a newborn!" She insisted.

He growled loudly when she tried to approach him. Bella stopped moving. Then he was gone. She ran after him, keeping a safe distance between them.

What had she done?

It wasn't her fault. She couldn't let herself think that.

It was too late when she realized where Edward had led them. He was about to step out of the woods near his house.

Bella caught his elbow, but his newborn strength threw her in the nearest tree when he jerked his arm.

"Edward! NO!"

"I'm done listening to you, Bella! I'm going to tell them the fucking truth! I'll deal with the Volturi and whoever is against this."

"Don't be stupid," she hissed, pushing him back into the forest. "Think about it! THINK, Edward!"

He narrowed his red eyes at her. His anger was palpable.

"They would think they lost their minds. You could give them a heart attack."

"Bella…" He sighed, his shoulders sagging. "Jake told me once that his dad slipped a few things."

"That's what I thought," she mumbled.

He eyed her curiously.

"Your mother…she told me something some time ago. It sounded as if she knew what was going on."

"Yeah. They'll understand," he pleaded. "Please, Bella. Let's do this together."

Bella wanted to run it by Alice and be sure his parents wouldn't think they were ghosts or that they were insane. As if summoned, Alice came to a screeching halt next to them.

"So?" Edward asked her, not surprised by her appearance.

She nodded slowly. "Just be careful and patient. And you, mister, keep your distance. I already saw fifty scenarios of you draining your mother."

"I will," he promised solemnly. He shuddered delicately, keeping his eyes on Alice, most likely seeing it all in her mind.

After she left, they remained rooted to the ground, at the edge of the forest. Bella caught his face in her hands. "Are you sure, Edward?"

He pressed his forehead onto hers. "I'm so sorry for what I said earlier. I don't know what got over me."

"Newborn hormones," she whispered, giggling.

"Not funny. I love you, Mrs. Masen."

"As I love you, Mr. Masen."

Hand in hand, they left the forest and walked to the front door. Bella was going to make the biggest mistake of her existence, but she wasn't alone in this. Edward and she were walking head first toward their deaths. The Volturi would hear about this, and they had already forgiven them. Twice. Three is a lucky number. Who knows? Maybe they'd close their eyes again.

Edward knocked on the door, gulping loudly.

Chapter Text

Chapter 40: Learning

Despite everyone's fear that Edward would kill his parents, he couldn't even think about the tantalizing blood around him. All he could hear was his mother's thoughts. She wished it had been her. She wished they hadn't fought so much about college when now it was silly, all things considered. She wished they were still alive.

After burning for two days and a half, Edward thought he had paid for every mistake he had done in his human life. Apparently not. He had to endure his mom's agonizing thoughts. His dad wasn't thinking much, just of how young they had been and that it wasn't normal for a parent to bury their child.

Once they had been out of the coffins, Edward broke down and then snapped at Bella, regretting his words as soon as they were out of his mouth. He knew what he had to do. And for some miraculous reason, Alice told him to do it.

That was how Bella and he ended up on the porch of his house, knocking on the front door. It was late, Edward was aware of that. But he could hear that his parents were awake.

Who can it be at this hour? His mom wondered as she shuffled toward the door. Pain laced her thoughts.

The locks turned and the door opened. Her eyes widened and her hands went to her mouth then to her heart.

"Liz? Who is it?" His dad asked, coming downstairs.

His mom was watching them in disbelief. When his dad joined her, he gasped loudly and rubbed his eyes.

I need sleep. Maybe I'm going insane.

Edward bit his tongue. He waited for one of them to say something; anything.

"It's really true?" His mom whispered so softly Edward wouldn't have heard if not for his super hearing.

"Yes, it is," Bella answered on the same tone.

His dad swayed and Edward reacted on instict and caught him before he hit the floor. Shit. He was insane for doing this to them. Bella had been right. His mom knew something. It was like she had almost expected them to come.

Edward helped his dad on the couch while Bella fetched a glass of water. He stood anxiously, gulping venom through his flaming throat. He wasn't going to hurt them.

After about five excruciating minutes, his dad came around. His heart started beating erratically when he saw his son again.

"Edward?"

Edward tried to smile a little. "It's me." He nodded.

"It's not possible. Liz, what's going on?" He turned to his wife, who was watching her son through teary eyes.

Edward glanced at Bella, and she nodded. He ran a hand through his hair.

"What has Billy told you?" he whispered.

"Years ago, I heard him talking about one of their legends. I didn't believe him immediately," his mom started explaining. "I remembered the story when I came home the day you two made up, last year."

"We weren't doing anything then," Bella announced to her.

"Hold on! Will someone fill me in? And may I ask why your eyes are red, Edward?" His dad asked, frowning.

Didn't he figure it out? Edward wasn't about to admit he was a vampire.

"Have you heard about the cold ones?" His mom turned to her husband.

"No." Why do I feel so out of loop? What the hell is happening? We buried them hours ago!

Edward exchanged a look with Bella. Was it a good idea, after all? She nodded and went to sit next to Ed.

"We're just going to say it. I hope we won't cause you any distress," she said softly.

"Why…?"

Bella looked Edward's dad the eye and said it. She was so much stronger than Edward. "There's no easy way to say it. We're vampires."

His mom sucked in a breath. It was probably worse to hear it. She turned to Edward, and he averted his eyes. A few moments later, his sad started laughing. He didn't believe it.

I had a nightmare and just woke up. The kids are fine. Although they think they're vampires.

"Can we prove it?" Edward whispered to Bella.

"No funny business," she warned.

He rolled his eyes and looked around for something that could be destroyed that they wouldn't miss. His gaze fell on one of his first toys – a wooden car. What the hell was it doing on the mantle place?

"If you don't believe us, I'll show you," Edward said, going to the toy and picking it up.

His mom's eyes welled up with tears. She'd brought it out as a reminder of him. He turned the car in his hands a few times. He had flashes of that day he had helped his dad make it. His mom was thinking of the same thing, her thoughts clearer than his.

Ed was watching him intrigued. He couldn't understand what was wrong with his son's eyes.

Edward should have thought of that. He should have used Bella's old method – contacts.

As his fist closed around the car, it started cracking and with one not very hard squeeze, the car split in little pieces that became dust as he kept squeezing. He threw the dust in the fireplace as not to put it on the carpet. His mom was anal about cleaning.

They were watching him shocked. They both believed them. Bella came to Edward, wrapping her arms around him.

"How is it possible?" His dad asked in disbelief.

"I was one before Edward," Bella answered. "It was the only way to save him."

"So there had been an accident," his mom interjected.

"Yeah… I was tired. I should have let Bella drive." Edward sighed, trying to distract himself from the potent blood coming from their direction.

Bella started explaining to them in a few words about her life and finished with how Edward turned into a vampire. Being able to read their minds was beneficial. As the explanation went on, they started believing more and more and thought they were insane less and less.

"Well, what can I say?" His dad chuckled nervously at the end of Bella's story. "I was just joking when I told you that you'll marry a vampire; you and your obsession."

Edward joined him in laughter before focusing on his mom. She got up from the couch, ready to come to him.

"NO," he said, panicked. She froze. "I can't… I'm sorry."

"You'll have to keep this a secret," Bella told them. "No one, under any circumstances, is to know that vampires exist or that we are alive."

"What about earlier?" she asked, frowning. "In the coffin…"

Edward kept his smile hidden. "We did a pretty good job, eh?"

Bella slapped him upside down the head.

"What?" he asked, surprised.

"You didn't change at all." His mom laughed shakily.

Edward shrugged, looking sheepish. He turned his attention to his dad when he heard his thoughts. Edward couldn't help but laugh. He was upset Edward had destroyed the car. He had worked a whole weekend to make it.

"Sorry about the car," Edward whispered.

He glanced up, shocked. "I didn't say anything."

Bella raised her hand to slap him again. Edward dodged her before she could hit him again.

"Sometimes… we can have powers," he started saying. "I can read minds." He beamed.

"You always had a tendency to read people." His mom nodded, acknowledging the information.

They were taking it too well, but then again, Edward hadn't even blinked when Bella admitted she was a vampire. He had suspected her for some time, just like his mom had suspected something. His dad seemed quite okay with this new situation as well.

"And the Cullens?" His mom asked after a few minutes of thinking.

Edward exchanged a look with Bella before she answered. "Yes, they're like us."

"We should have realized it. You never ate when you stayed over and Lord knows how many times Edward ate two helpings," his dad said with a chuckle.

"You saw that?" Edward asked, surprised.

"I'm not blind, kid. I just thought Bella didn't eat much. You know how kids are these days."

His mom started thinking if they were indeed leaving or were they going to stay longer in town. She wanted to talk for longer. Edward was reaching his limit and he knew he had to leave. He had to hunt.

"We're staying until the weekend, I think. I'll have to ask Carlisle, though," Bella said, sensing Edward's problem. "We'll leave now, let you sleep. We're really sorry for hurting and scaring you."

"A small part of me hoped some miracle happened and that you were alive. But when I saw you this morning…."

"Mom, we're okay," he whispered. "I really…have to go," he continued, making his way to the door.

Bella explained that he was uncomfortable, letting them think whatever they wanted of that. They understood why he had to leave. Edward promised to visit them again then took Bella's hand and went toward the woods.

"This was the stupidest thing I've done in my existence!" Bella exclaimed when they were a few miles away.

"For everything is a start."

"You knew I couldn't say no to you!"

He grinned and kissed her cheek. "Hungry?"

"Thirsty." She corrected, rolling her eyes.

"I wish I could offer you my wrist."

"And for you?" She smirked. "Let's find some deer. And please, snap the neck before drinking."

"Got it." He thought about it for a little while then turned to Bella. "Race you!"

Edward started running, still looking behind. She wasn't moving. Her eyes were wide and she was watching something in front of him. He turned around right in time to see a bear.

His feet froze and he almost turned around, ready to run the other way when he realized the bear should have been scared of him. Not the other way round.

"No, Edward!" Bella cried out.

It was too late. Edward had jumped on the furry animal. The bear wrapped his long, strong arms around him, but he was stronger.

Edward hissed, and the bear dropped him, growling, sitting on his back legs. Edward went behind him before he could see him moving and snapped his huge neck. When the bear fell, it was like a small earthquake. Bella appeared at him side, slapping him upside the head.

"Show off."

Edward smirked and sank his teeth in the jugular. The warm blood flew nicely down his throat, soothing the ache he had felt all through the meeting with his parents.

Bella knelt on the other side of the bear and helped herself. Edward surprised himself when he hissed violently at her. She looked at him panicked.

He wanted to share. Why was he acting like this? Why couldn't he get control over his new body? He had very nearly attacked her when he first woke up.

She returned her attention to the other side of the bear's neck, but cautiously. Edward tried to suppress a growl. Was it a good idea to fight against his own body when he was so young? He was afraid to just suddenly snap at her without even meaning to hurt her.

When the bear was drained of blood, Bella hid him under a part of the ground Edward had ripped. He was afraid of even going near her. She didn't seem to realize he had no control over himself, and approached him, taking his hand and walking in the direction of the Cullen home.

"What happened earlier?" He finally asked.

"With the bear?"

"Yes. I swear, I didn't mean it."

"I shouldn't have done it. It's my fault." Figures, she'd blame herself. "Usually, mates allow each other to drink from the same prey. I guess, you are too young to think more of me than a threat to your food."

"What the hell?" Edward shouted, whirling around so fast, he stopped an inch from her face. "I always care about you, Isabella."

She sighed, shaking her head. "Have you forgotten everything we told you? It's possible, you know. I could tell you again."

"I realize that for some time…blood will be my first priority…and I hate it! But I will never harm you! I fucking love you!"

"I love you too," she whispered, stroking his cheek.

They walked in silence the rest of the way home. Alice was excited about some present that had arrived. It was for them so she hadn't opened it.

"Don't you have anything better to do? Why must you meddle?" Edward hissed as they went inside.

I'm sorry. I'm just excited, she answered in her mind. Besides, I already know what is in there. She winked and skipped up the stairs.

"Why were you so rude?" Bella asked, confused.

"Rude?" he asked, surprised. What was wrong with him? "There's a packet for us on the bed in your room."

"Our room," she corrected him, and led the way there.

Bella unwrapped the present and gasped loudly upon seeing the contents. Edward went behind her to peek at it. There was a delicate necklace on the bed and…there was a letter in her hands. Edward read over her shoulder.

My dear friends, Isabella and Edward,

I hope you had a wonderful wedding and even better honeymoon. It's unfortunate to hear about the accident.

But I am pleased to hear you kept your promise. How does the new life become you, young Edward?

I want to extend this letter as an invitation for you to join us. I am sure you are both generously gifted. I am still intrigued by your muteness, Isabella.

Hoping to hear from you soon,

Your faithful friend,

Aro Volturi

"Shit," Edward said under his breath.

Bella scowled at the red jewels on the bed. They looked like rubies. Lots of them. "Do you want to reply to him?"

"And decline?"

"Of course! I hope he hasn't heard yet about our visit to your parents."

"You can write the reply," he muttered. "I'm sure you know what to write. I'm going to talk with Carlisle."

Edward didn't wait for her to answer, simply leaving the room. As much as he had wanted this life, it suddenly didn't look good at all. He was snapping at the people he loved, he was thinking only of blood and nothing else. He was a monster.

He stopped in front of Carlisle's office door and thought if it was a good idea to ask him about all this. Could he really help?

Come in when you are ready, Edward, he thought, focused on a medical journal.

About a minute later Edward opened the door and stepped inside.

"I hope I'm not interrupting you," Edward started.

"Nonsense, son. Come, sit down." He waved to the chair in front of his desk.

Edward sat down slowly, trying not to destroy the chair. "Everything is…different." That was an understatement.

He chuckled softly. Edward, it takes some getting used to. As everything else.

"I was never…violent or hurtful before."

Ah, that is your body adapting to this change. Do you remember the time you were fourteen or fifteen?

"A little," he admitted.

Your body was transforming then, as it is now. You were leaving your childhood behind and going to the teenagehood. Being a teenager is the hardest part of the life stage. The hormones are running wild while the body is turning the person into a true man or woman.

It felt like they were having an anatomy lesson. Edward nodded. "But I never…" He trailed off, remembering some vague memories about the tantrums he used to throw.

Carlisle nodded knowingly. You will see, Edward. As time goes by, you will get better. What triggered this conversation? The letter from Aro?

"Uh…no," he mumbled. "I almost turned on Bella while we were hunting."

His eyes widened. "How is that possible?" Carlisle exclaimed.

"She drank from my food."

"Ah, Bella. You should have known better," he said in an almost chiding tone.

"I didn't even think about it," she replied from their room. "I realized my mistake when he hissed at me."

Did you touch her at all? Carlisle asked, silently.

"Are you insane?" Edward shouted, jumping up. Carlisle didn't answer, just allowed his body to relax and when Edward was calm enough, he sat back down. "Sorry, but no! Jesus, Carlisle! I love Bella."

Edward, do you realize that now you have to share everything you like and love, including Bella, with your thirst? Let me make you understand, he continued when Edward opened his mouth to protest.

"Okay," Edward whispered, slumping into the chair.

When you were hungry – really hungry – as a human. Did you allow anyone else to share your food?

Edward thought how he used to be, even toward his father, when he tried to steal some muffins. "I guess I see your point."

Good. Now amplify that sensation by one hundred, one thousand. That's how you felt when Bella drank from the same animal as you. You felt threatened. She was stealing your precious food.

"But it was plenty. I took down a bear and I didn't even think of hurting her…I just hissed. I was surprised by my own body's reaction."

You can't control nature. Like you couldn't control falling in love with Bella.

Edward was starting to understand how it worked. How he worked. There was just one thing he had to do – he had to learn discipline over his body. He was its master, not the other way round.

"Thank you, Carlisle. The discussion was…fulfilling."

He smiled. You're welcome, son. Feel free to knock on my door with any questions. You must have many.

"Just a billion, but they can wait." Edward chuckled.

He left, feeling a lot better. When he reached the living room, he found Rosalie at the piano.

An idea came to him and Edward joined her on the bench. She looked surprised to see him there. Maybe he had moved too fast?

"Edward!"

"Hi." He grinned. "Would you like to…teach me?" He nodded to the piano, not taking his eyes off hers.

"The pleasure is mine. You know the basics, right?"

"Yeah, I know how to play Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

She laughed, shaking her head. "By the end of our lessons, you will be able to play Moonlight Sonata."

Chapter Text

Chapter 41: Newborn behavior

Five days had passed since Edward's transformation.

Five days of hell.

Five days of not even thinking about Bella romantically.

Five days of taking over Rosalie's piano.

Five days of bloodlust.

"I think you owe me a rematch," Emmett said, coming behind him. He put a hand on Edward's shoulder. "Come on," he insisted.

Edward indulged him, hoping to take his mind off of his horrid thoughts.

They went outside, sitting next to the very same boulder as the last time. Edward put his elbow on it, managing to bury it into the rock. He shifted it so Emmett wouldn't say he was cheating. He knew him too well.

He's so stupid. He doesn't realize Edward is stronger than him, Rosalie thought, amused. She smiled when she caught Edward's eye, realizing he had heard her.

Edward winked, returning his attention to her husband. "Let's see what you can do, Emmett."

"Hold on. I'm thinking of a good bet."

"What about the same as last time?"

"Oh, but I stopped calling you two names a long time ago."

"Stop interrupting us," Bella informed him.

"Yes. It's not like I tried to be alone with Bella much, but when we found a few minutes alone, you happen to interrupt us," Edward hissed.

He smirked. "Fine. If I win…I'll move into your room."

"I'm not into threesomes," Edward announced to him. That earned laughter from everyone and a light scolding from Esme.

Emmett took his hand. It didn't hurt as much as he remembered. It didn't hurt at all. Edward squeezed it back, earning a hiss of pain from him. Oh, this was going to be fun!

"On three," Edward said, smirking. "One…two…three!"

Before Emmett could flex his muscles, Edward felt his muscles stretching and pulling under his skin as he slammed Emmett's arm to the boulder.

"Ow!" He shouted, snatching his hand back. The boulder had split in half.

"Oops?" Edward was not really sorry.

Bella sneaked her arms around his waist, leaving a sound kiss on his jaw. He looked at her grinning before he kissed her lips. Edward wished he could want her as he had wanted her during the honeymoon, a week ago. Maybe a part of his brain knew something was going to happen and that was why he had enjoyed every minute of their honeymoon.

"Stop brooding," she whispered. "I am not leaving. This will disappear."

"What if it doesn't? What if it will always be the blood before you?" he asked, voicing his worst fears.

"If you think about it, in my case it was the blood first before I started talking to you."

"You're not helping me," he groaned.

"Do you want to try it with me?" She asked after a few seconds.

"Try what?" He was confused.

"Yes!" Alice squealed, seeing Edward winning the arm-wrestling match with Bella.

"The boulder is broken," he pointed out. He didn't want to hurt her.

"There's another one behind the house," Alice told them, smirking.

Bella took his hand and walked behind the house with everyone else in tow. Edward heard Emmett betting on Bella with Jasper. He was just going to lose.

They knelt on either side of the boulder. This one looked more like a table, having a flat surface. Edward put his elbow gently on the surface and curled his fingers in the air, waiting for Bella to press her palm against his. She had other ideas.

Her fingers moved slowly from his elbow to his wrist causing him to shiver in pleasure. Edward was surprised to be able to feel the first sparks of arousal coursing through his new body. It was so different. She touched the same path again. This time he closed his eyes in pleasure, basking in the feeling while it lasted. Suddenly her small palm touched his as she twined their hands.

"Ready?" she whispered.

Edward was thoroughly dazzled by her touch. He nodded, not sure if he could talk.

"One…Two…Three."

Edward strained his muscles, not allowing her to move his hand. Bella frowned, pushing against his hand with all her might. When he thought she was going to give up, she leaned forward, watching him square in the eye. Then she pressed her lips to his, prying them open with her tongue. Edward gave her access since his body seemed to be in tune with his mind and heart for once.

His hand hit the boulder as Bella wrenched her lips from his, grinning cunningly.

"You're such a tease," he hissed, narrowing his eyes at her.

"I never said I play fair."

"I'm a rich man!" Emmett shouted. "I had faith in Ruby!"

"That means you lost," Edward said at the same time as Bella.

"But…Bella won."

"Yes, I'm no longer Ruby. I passed the title to Edward." She winked, pinching Emmett's cheek.

Edward returned his eyes to her golden ones. "You cheated! I demand a rematch!"

"Edward, you have to get used to it. Vampires like to cheat a little," Esme said softly.

"Since we cheated death and all that shit," Emmett explained theatrically.

Edward rolled his eyes, getting up and going back to the piano. He didn't make it very far.

Help Bella pack the things in her house and then go over to your house and pack whatever you want, Alice told him silently.

Edward turned around, grabbed Bella's unsuspecting hand and dragged her to her house.

There wasn't much to pack in her cottage and it was done in under an hour.

"Sit down," she demanded when he suggested they go to his house.

Edward sat on the couch, remembering some dim human memories of them there – playing cards, kissing, learning about her for the first time, their disastrous first time.

"You're going to stop this, right now!"

"Stop what?" Edward asked, confused.

"This!" Her arms raised then fell to her side with a little thud. "I was there too. Everyone's been where you are now. Why don't you talk to Emmett about this? You're in the same situation…almost. Rose was a vampire before him."

"In Emmett's case, he didn't know what he was losing, what he was missing out on. I know what we had last week, Bella!" He shouted. "I couldn't keep my hands to myself on our honeymoon! Honeymoon," he snorted, rolling his eyes. "I think it ended the second we left the island."

She sighed heavily. "I know how you feel. Do you realize that it will always be like this, don't you? I explained this before. You said you wanted it. You never fully understood the extent of what this life meant." She looked at him gravely. "Being a vampire isn't unicorns and rainbows, Edward. It's gruesome. I told you before."

"I was willing to take this risk…to become a slave to blood just to be with you! I thought- I hoped that I'd be able to go back to what we had before my transformation."

"And we will. Give it some time." Bella twined their fingers, bringing them to her lips. "Think about how humans have to grow up to have their first kiss. A newborn is thinking only of food, right?"

Edward nodded, for the first time comparing this to human life. It was the same, although it was so, so different. He brought their hands to his lips, kissing her knuckles.

"I love you, Bella."

"I love you, too, Edward."

They moved her packed things from the cottage to her room in the main house before going hunting. Edward had to take all the precautions if he wanted to hug his parents one last time.

When they knocked on his parents' door, it was a little after seven. The sun was low and behind the heavy clouds. He couldn't wait to go somewhere in the sun. He was curious about how he looked. Would he find his skin as fascinating as he had found Bella's?

His father answered the door, deep in discussion on the cordless phone. His eyes widened.

I almost forgot how beautiful they are, he thought before meeting his son's eyes. You didn't hear that!

Edward tried not to show any reaction, but he was too funny.

"Come in," he mouthed. "Yes, Monday. First thing in the morning," he grumbled into the phone. The man on the other end was damn insistent about talking to his lawyer sooner than Monday. "Look, Chris! I have a family! I had…" He gulped loudly, closing the front door after them. "I just lost my son," he whispered. The other man started apologizing.

Edward led Bella to the living room where he slumped on the couch. Bella rubbed his hand, trying to relax him.

"Will it always be so hard to be around humans?"

"No. Besides, you're doing better than expected. You weren't supposed to be around humans for at least one year," she whispered. She was proud of him.

Edward grinned; glad he was skipping some newborn steps – not the ones he wanted, apparently.

"Hello, my dears," his mom said from the doorway. "I have something for you." Can I come closer?

Was everyone going to ask one thing verbally and something else in their mind?

"I guess." He shrugged. "And hello."

She beamed and approached them slowly. Was she afraid? God, Edward hoped she wasn't. He wanted to hug her later.

She stopped in front of him and dropped something on his lap. That's when Edward focused on the scents and sounds around him. Ginger's small heart was thumping loudly as he stood on his knees, his back arched, all his hair standing up. Edward reached a hand to touch him only to have the cat drop on the floor and go back to his mom.

"What the…? He was used to Bella."

"Maybe she didn't want to eat him," she teased. She freaking joked about his diet.

"MOM!" Edward shouted scandalized. As open as they were about this, he didn't want to talk to her about his diet.

"What? Am I wrong?"

"Yes! I don't want to…hurt the cat. For the last time!" Edward groaned.

Why was everyone under the impression that he would hurt Ginger? First, he was his pet, and second, he was a small kitten – well not so small since he had grown up quite a bit since the last time he had seen him.

"What brings you here so late?" His dad asked, finally joining them.

"We want to pack. We're leaving tomorrow," Bella explained.

"Oh…so soon," his mom murmured, sitting next to her son without even realizing it.

It was now or never. Edward took a huge breath that burned down his throat then stopped breathing. He wrapped his arms around her, putting his head on her shoulder.

She froze. Is he comfortable? What is he doing?

"'Mkay," he mumbled.

Just then did she relax, hugging him back. It felt surreal to be back in her arms. Why was he so against hugs and kisses when he was human? He had never felt better than now. She was calming him. Her heart was thumping wetly against his cheek, but he didn't give it much thought.

Her fingers started moving through his hair slowly, as she used to do when he was little, before he fell asleep. A lump formed in Edward's throat and his eyes stung. He wanted to cry.

He heard Bella getting up and leaving the room, but he didn't move. He wanted to remember this moment for the rest of eternity.

"Can I join you?" His dad asked in a thick voice.

Edward nodded. He was determined to say goodbye to both of them, like a normal person.

His dad sat on the spot Bella had vacated and wrapped his arms around both of them. It was excruciating to be between them, encased in their warm, pulsing bodies, but Edward kept the monster at bay. He had to.

Bella's laughter snapped his concentration. As soon as he took a whiff of their scents, Edward realized he had to move. He escaped from the embrace and was on the other side of the room before they realized he wasn't between them anymore. He wanted to be upset with Bella for interrupting his time with them, but it was for the best.

His mom was the first to realize she was only hugging her husband. Then she looked around and found him in the doorway.

"I'm going to help Bella," Edward said lamely and rushed up the stairs.

The window of his room was opened widely, letting clean air inside.

"Thank you," he whispered.

"Oh, Edward! You have to see this!" She giggled.

She was on his bed, sitting Indian style, looking through a thick baby blue book. He'd know the cover from a thousand miles away. His photo album. Since he was born. Fuck.

Edward snatched it from her hands, closing it and throwing it on the other side of the room.

"You were a cute baby."

"Shut up!" He groaned, opening his closet and grabbing the suitcase. As he started throwing clothes in it, Bella pushed him away, rolling her eyes.

"You're such a boy, honestly!"

Edward allowed her to fold the clothes and make sure they fit in the suitcase. He sat on the floor, taking apart the small cat house. Only Alice would buy a house for a cat.

"Edward!" Bella gasped. "I always wondered where those went."

He peeked at her and his eyes widened when he saw what she was holding. Shit. Edward was sure if he were human, he'd be beet red. "You….they were in my bed…one morning…"

"And you decided to steal my panties?"

"I borrowed them," he announced to her, regaining some confidence.

"Without my consent. You do realize you have had them for over a year?"

"Yes? Your point?" He asked, returning his attention to the house.

"What did you do with them? I've been with you every night!" she exclaimed.

"Wouldn't you like to know," he teased.

"I'm serious, Masen!"

Edward went to her and grabbed the panties. They were red lace boy shorts. He remembered how divine she'd looked in them. After stuffing them in his pants pocket, he kissed her nose, going back to packing the demolished cat house.

"And Bella?" he said, nonchalantly. She was watching him incredulously.

"Yeah?" she breathed.

"Some nights…you were hunting." He let the words hang in the air, letting her understand what he'd done before adding, "Besides…in May after studying for hours and you weren't here…"

"I wonder why I wasn't here," she said sarcastically.

Edward shrugged noncommittally before going downstairs to grab a plastic bag for the sand. He tried to remember where his mom kept them, but try as he might, he couldn't remember.

"What are you looking for?" His mom asked from the kitchen's doorway. "Let me help you before you destroy my kitchen."

He chuckled. "A plastic bag."

She looked confused but reached for the upper cabinet and opened the door, taking a paper bag from there.

"For the sand," he explained.

"Oh, you're taking the cat?"

That was the first time Edward realized she would like to keep him. His hand dropped before he could take the bag from her. He should have asked her.

"Oh, no! Take him, honey. He's yours." She looked sad. Ginger would be the last connection to him.

"I'll come back after him. In a few years."

"Edward, you listen to me! Ginger is yours. I'm sure he'd love to go with you," she said softly.

After the cat's earlier actions, Edward was sure he'd love to stay with his parents. "It will give me an excuse to visit," he said off-handedly.

Her eyes welled up with tears and she hugged him before Edward could stop her. He panicked, not sure how to react. It was too much.

"Mom," he warned her, extricating himself from her embrace. "Sorry."

"No, no. I'm sorry."

Why? I'm the monster, he thought mournfully. "I'm going to help Bella finish. Oh, and what is the photo album doing in my room?"

"I looked over it when I thought…when Esme called and told us…" She trailed off.

He touched her arm on his way out the kitchen. Bella was finished with the closet when Edward slipped inside his old room.

"What else?" She asked as if she hadn't heard the exchange from downstairs.

"Non-school books from my desk. I'm going to empty the nightstand drawers."

"I'm so sorry," she whispered after a few moments. A small choked sound escaped her lips.

Edward put the drawer on his bed and went to her. She was hunched over his desk, trying not to cry. He hugged her to his chest. "Why?" he murmured in her hair.

"Isn't it obvious, Edward? I destroyed your family! I always feared that this would happen when you were like me."

"I repaired my family with the decision to let them know I wasn't actually dead. Besides, you are my family now, Mrs. Masen."

Bella turned in his arms and clutched to the front of his shirt. "That means you aren't upset with me for changing you without your permission?"

"Bella," he snorted. "You had my permission since I realized this was the inevitable next step in our relationship!"

She smiled, snuggling closer. He raised her chin and dropped his head to kiss her.

"Tonight, when we go back, I want to be with you."

"I would like that," she murmured against his lips. "Now, let me snoop through your things." She gave him a playful shove, turning around.

Edward slapped her ass earning a gasp and a pencil to the side of his head. It broke on contact. He chuckled, turning upside down the drawer and emptying it on the bed.

"Holy shit! It looks like a trash can exploded in here."

She laughed. "Is there something you haven't told me?"

Edward glanced over his shoulder to see a stack of wallpapers from the bottom of his desk. He had forgotten about them.

"They've been there for at least four years, Bella."

"Seriously? You haven't cleaned in four years?"

"Mom cleaned it," he explained, feeling weird for admitting that his mother was cleaning his room.

"Poor Elizabeth. But the posters are quite beautiful."

"Bella, cut it out! They're just actresses!"

"Do you want them?"

"Yes."

Edward started sorting through the mess of his first drawer. Pens, bits of paper, a bracelet of shells. He stopped at that, admiring it. He had forgotten about it, like he had forgotten about many things. It was from two years ago when Leah had the idea of making friendship bracelets. Edward was the only boy who managed to make one. Jake had broken every shell when pushing it on the wire and Seth had cut his fingers, so Edward ended up exchanging his with Leah's.

"That's beautiful," Bella whispered from under his arm where she had poked her head a second ago.

"Yes, it is. Leah made it. Mine looked horrible, I'm glad she ended up with it."

"You exchanged shell bracelets?" she asked, laughing.

"I was the only boy to be able to make one, thank you very much."

"Oh, handyman."

He dug his fingers in her sides. "I'll show you handyman, you little tease."

She shrieked, trying to escape. He was stronger, something he loved about being a newborn. Probably the only thing he loved about it.

He heard his dad approaching his bedroom, wondering what they were doing. Edward let go of Bella, but not before he gave her a kiss. He realized he could think of other things if he was fed properly.

"What are you doing to the poor girl?" His dad asked from the doorway.

Bella was rubbing her left side, glaring at Edward playfully. Had he hurt her? It was possible since he didn't know how much pressure to apply.

"We were cleaning."

He rolled his eyes. "Do you need another pair of hands?"

"You don't have to…" Edward started saying.

"Nonsense. I'd love to help you pack."

"So we'll finish faster and you'll send us out the door and go to sleep?" He joked.

"You guessed."

His mom joined them when she came looking for her husband, a few minutes later. Edward was glad she and Bella were on the other side of the room.

Besides useless crap, Edward had empty condom wrappers in his drawer and empty boxes of condoms. He hoped his dad wouldn't mention them, but Murphy's Law took actions.

"I thought you didn't need them." Trust him to remember their conversation of so long ago about Bella not being able to have children. "Well, now I understand why she can't get pregnant."

"Dad," he hissed, glancing over his shoulder. Bella was in deep conversation with his mom about the pictures on his desk. "Isn't it like an unwritten law that a parent and a kid shouldn't talk about that shit?"

"But I'm just curious."

She used them for blowing me. How do you like that for an answer? "Some things are better left unsaid," Edward muttered.

He laughed, clapping his son on the back before wincing. Edward wasn't happy he got hurt, but he couldn't help but smirk. "See what happens if you don't mind your own business?"

They continued working in silence until he became aware of where his mom and Bella had disappeared. They were downstairs, looking over the baby photos.

"Why is Mom still keeping those embarrassing photos?" he whispered to his dad.

"She was waiting for your wife to see them."

"It would have been nice to break the tradition."

"You don't have many indecent pictures," he said seriously. "My parents used to let me run naked around the house when I was little. I used to pose. So young and stupid," he said under his breath. "Your mom nearly peed herself when she saw them. I had to be near her and endure it all while your grandma showed her every photograph, explaining it. It took an entire day."

"Ouch."

"Yeah, you can say it again."

"Thank you, MOM!" Edward shouted so she could hear him.

Whatever for? She wondered silently.

"I'm going to join them. Coming?" He asked his dad. They were done sorting through his stuff.

When Edward reached the living room, he perched on the armrest of the couch. "For not taking embarrassing photos of me," he answered. Then his eyes fell on the one Bella was looking at.

His toddler self was in dirt outside, surrounded by plastic toys…and he was fascinated by his…cock.

"I take it back," Edward mumbled, cringing as they started laughing.

Chapter Text

Chapter 42: Leaving

The pictures Elizabeth showed Bella were hilarious. She never thought Edward was such a cute baby. Bella had only seen a few pictures in his room, but these pictures were too funny.

Elizabeth had a light smile all the time she talked about every picture. There was pure adoration in her eyes and Bella could see memories flying behind her eyes.

"This is his first day home," she whispered, stroking a picture. Edward was so small Bella barely realized it was him. He was in Ed's arms, in the hallway, looking amazed around him. His eyes were the same shocking green as she knew them.

"His eyes never changed," Bella mused.

"Yes, although we'd been warned countless times that they would darken." She nodded, turning the page. She explained every picture. When Bella arrived to a compromising one, Edward appeared next to her, sitting on the armrest of the couch.

"For not taking embarrassing photos of me," he said softly, looking at him mother. Bella already hated his power. He liked to answer unasked – out loud – questions. Then he saw the picture she was looking at. "I take it back," he mumbled.

He was just adorable – about three years old – sitting in the dirt in front of his house, naked and surrounded by toys. But they didn't hold her Edward's interest – he had another toy of his own. His little penis. He looked fascinated by it.

Before Bella could admire the picture more, Edward turned the page, clearing his throat, shooting her a venomous look.

"Oh, come on, you were a cute child."

"I really wish I could see pictures of when you were little," he muttered.

"I have a few. I promise to share them on the first occasion," she told him. His eyes lit up and he nodded quickly.

They turned their attention back to the album on her lap. Every picture spoke a little story and Elizabeth loved to tell it. Sometimes Ed helped her, and only if Edward liked it, he decided to say his part.

They got to a section where he was a little older, surely at elementary school. He was on the beach with three other kids.

"Do you recognize them?" he whispered, moving one finger in circles on her back.

"Should I?"

He chuckled. "They're Jake, Leah and Seth."

"No way!" Bella exclaimed, looking more attentively at the picture.

She recognized them from the next picture. They were playing something in the water. Leah was on Edward's shoulders and Seth was on Jake's, grinning and about to throw the ball at his sister.

Edward laughed. "She never caught that ball. I saw a crab and panicked and lost my footing. We fell quite badly," he whispered.

"Yeah, Harry banned him from La Push for a month. He nearly killed Leah."

"It's not my fault she didn't know how to swim!" Edward defended himself.

"You were banned?" Bella asked, choking up. She couldn't stop laughing.

He narrowed his eyes at her. "Yeah." He pouted.

"How did you get back in their good graces?" she wondered, still stifling her giggles.

Ed chuckled, making Bella turn her attention to him. "In that month came Edward's birthday. So of course, they were here. We trusted the kids to play nicely so we allowed them to play in the back yard."

"That has a bad ending," Bella deduced.

Edward shoved her with his shoulder, probably happy he could do it for a first. She shoved right back.

"It was dusk when Seth and Jacob came to us, panicked. They rushed into a confusing explanation about playing hide and seek and counting until fifty and forgetting numbers so they had to start again… until I asked where Edward and Leah were." Elizabeth laughed at the memory, shaking her head. "That triggered more talking at the same time until Jake covered Seth's mouth and told us that they hid in the forest. It was off limits and Edward knew it."

"I swear I didn't want to go far," Edward mumbled.

"Anyway, when we finally realized that they were probably lost and it was getting dark…we grabbed flashlights and started our search. And searched and searched and found nothing. It was impossible for them to go further than where we were," she said, looking amused at Edward.

"Let me guess, they were in the house already?" Bella asked.

"Oh, that's what I had hoped when we returned home. But they weren't," she said softly.

"Before we could call the police, the phone rang and Benjamin, Ben's grandfather, who owned an ice cream parlor called to announce us that he had something that was ours," Ed laughed. "We pilled in our cars and went there. They were so cute, we couldn't even be mad at them."

Edward looked smug. "I found the way out on my own, but not the right way out," he added sheepishly. "When we crossed the street, I even held her hand and then Benjamin saw us and invited us inside."

"So many bad things could have happened," Bella said in a scolding tone.

"Oh, trust me, Bella. I gave him a lecture I'm sure he never forgot after his stunt," Elizabeth told her. She turned the page. "Here. Look at them."

They had an ice cream cone in hand and smudges of chocolate all over their faces, grinning at the camera. Edward looked proud of himself, while Leah looked a little scared.

"You were like the wannabe bad boy?" Bella teased.

He scoffed. "I was just trying to have fun."

"But your idea of fun was different from the explanation in the dictionary," Ed interjected.

There were many pictures of Edward with his friends, some of him in his room or outside – unaware he was being photographed, and they finally arrived at the ones his mother had taken of the two over the past year. Bella was glad they didn't ask why she showed.

A picture was of them on the couch, working on homework – or Bella was trying to do so while Edward was busy sticking his finger in her ear. Bella had been so annoyed that day. He chuckled from beside her before leaning and kissing her ear. "Sorry," he murmured. She grabbed his hand and squeezed it.

The next photo was of them in the kitchen. She didn't know they were having an audience. Bella was heating up his food and he was staying behind her, squeezing her in his arms, dry humping her actually, whispering dirty things in her ear. She prayed his parents hadn't seen the humping part. When the flash of light had caught their attention, they looked shocked and Edward's face was red.

A few photos later, there was senior prom day. They had worn the same clothes as the previous year – Bella didn't care about what Jessica thought. Or Alice, for that matter. She nearly had a coronary when she heard Bella had worn the dress before. They were at the foot of the stairs in the picture. Edward had an arm around Bella and her head was tucked under his chin. Her eyes were a vivid amber color.

"I have something else. It's yours," Ed said, coming with his laptop and putting it on the coffee table. Bella knew what came next, but Edward didn't. The short movie from the party after graduation.

Edward looked confusedly at the laptop and then at his father. Bella hoped he was concealing his thoughts. The surprise wouldn't be the same if he leaked something. When Ed pressed play on the movie, Edward gasped loudly.

"When did you do that?"

"Graduation party. You were so cute," Bella whispered.

"Please, do not ever allow Emmett to see it. Never," he begged.

Movie Edward giggled and kissed Bella's cheek soundly. "I love you." Then he tugged on his mother, kissing her too then his father, declaring his love for them. Lastly, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, he snatched Ginger off the floor making the cat mewl loudly, probably scared. He kissed his head. "And I love you, too."

"Oh my God!" He groaned from beside her. "Where was the camera?"

"On the mantle place."

He muttered something about being punk'd by his own family before they focused back on the movie where he was telling them about what animals he liked and didn't like.

"Yes," he said seriously. "Snails are really scary. I mean, seriously, four eyes? Carrying their house?" He shuddered. "And bats, no offense, Bella, but they are horrible."

Bella laughed remembering how hard it was too keep a straight face at that moment.

Movie Edward turned to his mother. "Can we buy another parakeet? I swear I won't kill it."

"Afraid we can't, sweetie. You won't, but Ginger will love to have a taste," Elizabeth told him.

"Oh, bummer! Stupid cat! You have your own food!"

Bella pressed her face in his shirt trying in vain to stop laughing. She could feel embarrassment and mortification rolling in waves off of Edward. He stayed still as a statue next to her, gaping at his movie self.

Movie Edward turned his attention to Bella. After countless kisses and silly words, he became rather serious. Bella remembered fearing he was going to throw up.

"Next time we go to our medh-ow," he hiccupped, his nose burning bright red. "We're going to swim butt-naked."

Bella nodded, agreeing to every crazy idea he had, knowing he wasn't going to remember anything in morning. She had been right.

"Jesus! Can we stop this thing?" He moaned.

Ed handed Bella a CD. "It has this movie on it and pictures." His voice was thick with emotion. This was really goodbye.

"I'm so going to piss," movie Edward said from the laptop. He got up and went straight into the doorframe. Bella moved fast to get to him, but no one really paid attention.

Edward snapped the laptop closed. "We are trying to say goodbye, not embarrass me to death!"

"Oh, but you were so amusing, sweetheart," Elizabeth told him.

"I'm glad I amused you, Mom."

And that was all it took for her to come to him and hug him tightly. Bella rubbed his back, whispering – too low for his parents to hear – that he was doing wonderfully. After they said their final goodbyes, Edward grabbed the suitcases and went to the door.

He had just opened the door when Ginger rushed to Edward, rubbing his little head on his shin, mewling loudly. It broke Bella's heart to see the small furball crying.

"Oh, take him with you!" Elizabeth decided when she saw the exchange.

Edward rushed upstairs and returned with Ginger's things in under a minute. "Thank you," he whispered before leaning toward his mom. Bella grasped the back of his shirt, worried.

He groaned, shaking her off him and kissing his mother on the cheek. "I'm going to miss you." He looked at his father. "Both of you."

"We'll miss you too, but the distance is bearable. We will talk over the phone. We know you aren't…dead," she whispered, stroking his cheek.

"Technically, I'm dead," he said dead-panned.

"Come on, jerk. We have to load our cars!" Bella groaned loudly.

"Bye," he whispered again before picking up the suitcases again.

"Goodbye," Bella told them both, hugging them. "I promise to take care of him."

"Goodbye," they said, staying in the doorway of their house as they walked toward the forest. Before they disappeared into the woods, Edward glanced behind one more time, smiling before continuing the walk.

"Are you okay?" she asked, sensing he was on sensory overload.

"This can't be the last time I see them."

"If you want, we can come back in a few years. But we have to be sneaky. Everyone knows we're dead."

"I'd like that very much."

When they arrived in front of the Cullens' house, every car was in the driveway and it was a flurry of activity around there.

"I nearly called you. We're going to be late!" Alice moaned.

"Late where?" Bella asked.

"We'll catch the bad traffic," she went on, whining.

"What are you doing with the cat? Light snack for the road?" Emmett asked, carrying his box with video games.

It was the wrong thing to say to Edward, especially in his fragile state of mind. He jumped on Emmett's back, wrapping his arms around his neck. Emmett shouted in surprise before turning on Edward. They fell to the ground with a loud crash and started wrestling around.

"Are they going to be okay?" Bella asked Alice.

"Yeah." She rolled her eyes, going to the Jeep.

"Boys!" Esme yelled. They froze mid-punch. "Is everything loaded in the cars?"

Emmett shot up, picking his box and zooming to his car. Edward picked the suitcases and turned around slamming into Bella before apologizing, flustered, rushing to his car. She stared after him amazed by what had just happened.

"That's how you should handle men if you don't want trouble," Esme told her. "God knows for how long Emmett has waited for someone to pick on."

"He's found his match in Edward," Bella replied amused when her suddenly neurotic husband appeared next to her, scooping Ginger from her hands, kissing his head soundly before carrying him to his car.

"I hope you're putting him in the cage!" Bella called after him.

"Naturally."

An hour later, they said goodbye to the white house in the forest and to her cottage. After having to play rock, paper, scissors with her kid a.k.a. Edward, he was to drive for the first half of the way to Alaska. They were on the main road of Forks when he took a wrong turn.

"What are you doing?" Bella asked, worried.

"You'll see," he whispered. He stopped the car at the sign that read Welcome to La Push.

"Edward, they don't know…"

"I'm sure Leah told them."

"How do you know that she was there?"

"I could hear you all the time. And besides, I could hear her thoughts." He dialed a number on his phone, waiting. Meanwhile, Bella texted Alice to tell her that they had a little delay. She understood.

"Hello?" Jacob answered the phone tentatively. Poor kid. The dead was calling him.

"Hi, Jake," Edward said softly, tracing the steering wheel.

"Holy fuck! You are alive!"

"Sort of," he mumbled. "Listen…can you come to the sign that reads La Push?"

"Sure thing. When?"

"Now? And bring Lee with you."

Lee? Bella glanced at him, surprised. Who was Lee?

They stepped out of the car, waiting for his friends. She didn't ask about Lee, having a nagging feeling that she already knew who she was. And Bella was right. Not ten minutes later, Jacob and Leah appeared in a small red car.

They walked warily to them until they stopped mere feet away.

"Sheesh," Edward hissed. "You were right," he told Bella, scrunching his nose up.

"Edward!" Jacob exclaimed shocked. "I can't believe it!" He turned to Leah. "You knew this? You don't look one bit surprised!" He accused her.

"I'm sorry. I promised not to let anything out."

"I knew that on her part, the funeral was a bluff, but you too? Seriously, Masen! I fucking cried!"

"I'm sorry, Jake," Edward mumbled.

After several minutes of silence and extreme tension, Bella cleared her throat. "We're leaving town."

"A bit too late. You already broke the treaty!"

"You aren't going to give me that, mutt!" Bella snapped. "I had to save him!"

"You think this is saved? For me, he would have been better six feet under."

"Fuck off, Black!" Edward snapped. "I thought you were okay with this whole thing. You promised me. Do you share his feelings about this?" He snapped at Leah.

"No," she said quickly. "I remember understanding you."

Edward nodded, accepting that. "I really don't want to leave like this. Can we make a compromise or something, Jake? You're my best buddy. Or were."

"Still am, fucker. A couple of weeks ago you promised to return the favor and be the best man at my wedding."

Edward chuckled. "Yep. Cross my heart, swear to die."

"You're so full of it, Masen!" Jacob groaned, taking a tentative step toward the vampires. "Let's try shaking hands, huh?"

Bella watched, worried, aware Edward was a newborn and could hurt him without meaning. It lasted a second. Their palms touched and they hissed, snatching their hands back then laughed loudly.

"We'll keep in touch. Promise," Edward told them, rubbing his hand to his pant leg. "I don't know, Leah…."

Her eyes widened, and Bella slapped her forehead.

"Show off," she muttered under her breath.

Edward smirked. "I can hear your thoughts," he said, making it sound creepy. Bella wanted to slap him.

"Oh," Leah breathed. "But I'd like to try."

"I won't be held responsible if you get hurt."

"Okay, I won't do it," she decided. "We'll talk."

"We will," Edward agreed, waving to them and walking to his side of the car. Bella was inside when she heard Edward gasp and saw him turn around right in time for Leah to jump on him. As if in slow motion, he wrapped her in his arms, both of them shuddering. She hated seeing him restraining himself just to hug her, but she understood. Or so she thought.

"I love you," she whispered into his neck, crying.

Bella didn't want to hear his reply, but of course she did. "I'll always love you, Lee. Take care of Jake. And keep your promise."

She smiled, nodding. "I will." She kissed his cheek before jumping from his arms.

When he was inside the car, he was awfully quiet. After turning the car around, his eyes were on the rear-view mirror looking at his friends.

"Is it always so hard to leave a place?" he asked, finally tearing his eyes off the mirror.

"I wouldn't know," she said in a clipped voice. "I don't get attached to humans."

Edward snorted. "Uh…ex-human right here," he said lightly, pointing to his chest.

Bella couldn't stay mad at him. Not when he was acting all cute. "Ex-human?" She giggled.

He nodded enthusiastically. "It was that or trophy-human."

"That doesn't quite work because it hints that you were still human-"

"Which I'm obviously not."

"Shut up!" Bella groaned. "I'm curious though," she started casually.

"Yeah?" He glanced at her, raising an eyebrow.

"What the hell just happened there with Leah?"

"Fuck if I know! But it felt so damn good." His eyes widened. "Not like that. You know, it was nice to see I could hug her despite the fact that we're natural enemies now. I knew that not even nature could come in between our friendship."

"Why didn't you try that theory with Jacob, as well?"

"Are you jealous, Mrs. Masen?"

"Ah, why must you use that name?"

"It's your name now."

"You know what I mean. Are you always going to dazzle your way out of fights?"

"Do I dazzle you?" he asked, confused.

"Frequently."

"Fantastic." He tore his eyes from the road again and bore his red eyes into her golden ones. "Do I dazzle you now?"

She turned his head to the road with her palm. "Watch the road before you wrap us around a tree," she chided him.

"I have a variety of mushy green tree trunk from where to choose."

"Edward Masen!"

"Shutting up."

"Finally."

Chapter Text

Chapter 43: Going to Alaska

Being a vampire had its perks. You could drive for hours without getting tired. If only the car would cooperate, that is. They were on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere without gas.

Bella was having too much fun with the inconvenient situation. Edward was shouting in the phone to robots, the only things answering at two in the morning. Until he swallowed his pride and dialed Emmett's number.

"Yo, Eddie!"

"Fuck you!" Edward absolutely hated being called that.

Bella snatched the phone from Edward's hand. "Emmett, we have a situation."

Edward rolled his eyes at her. Such an interesting situation.

"What can I do for you, Rub…Amber?"

"We're out of gas, Topaz."

"Ouch. Where are you?" He sounded concerned. Was he actually going to come back and help?

Bella rattled off directions as Edward started pacing. He heard Emmett saying that he'd be with them soon. Not one minute before Bella hung up, the phone rang again.

"Yeah?" Bella answered, sitting on top of the hood.

"Tell Edward no. You'll get caught," Alice chirped.

"No to what?" Edward asked loudly. It was annoying not to know what people were thinking. His vampire power was the gift that came with this life.

"You'll know soon enough. Gotta go!"

They looked at each other for a few moments then shrugged. Edward looked around, wondering how was it possible to end up without gas in the middle of nowhere. Weren't vampires supposed to know everything?

Bella ran a hand over his chest, fisting her fingers in his shirt and tugging him closer. Their lips met as Edward leaned her backwards onto the car. For the first time since he had become a vampire, he felt that pull toward her. The pull he always had when he was human. Maybe he was getting over the blood-lust part.

Oh, great. Must they fuck on the car?

Edward's head snapped up and he saw Emmett stepping out of his Jeep, a few feet away. How did he miss the engine of his car?

"Sorry," Edward mumbled, realizing what Alice had meant by getting caught.

"Yeah, it's cool. You're seventeen, after all." He thrust the gas can at him.

"Aren't you jealous?" Edward challenged. "You wish you had my libido."

"All you will do for the next few months is lust for blood. Unless you're a zoophile."

"Emmett, must you hurt him?" Bella snapped.

Edward preoccupied himself with putting gas in the tank. Emmett was right, of course. Edward had liked kissing Bella a moment ago, but it was nothing compared to what he had once felt. A worrying thought occurred to him. Will she stick around if I don't satisfy her?

"Thank you, Emmett," Edward said once he was done.

"You're welcome. Try to fill the tank on your next stop."

"Why did you turn around?" He blurted out before he could stop the words.

"We're Cullens, Edward. We stick together." He walked back to his car.

Another thing to prove Edward wasn't like them. He wasn't even a Cullen in every sense of the word.

"If you're going to brood, let me drive," Bella joked. She was surprised when he went to the passenger seat and slumped in there. "Hey, what happened? You were in high spirits when we left."

"That was about sixteen hours ago, Bella."

"Edward, I'm serious. What's eating at you? I don't like to see you like this."

"I'm scared," he admitted, picking at a hole in his jeans.

Bella raised his head and whatever she saw in his eyes made her hug him fiercely, soothing him with soft words. In her embrace, Edward let everything out. He talked for about an hour about all his insecurities since he'd become a vampire. She listened patiently, answering in kind and trying to make him feel better. She convinced him that she wasn't going anywhere and that marriage wasn't only about sex. He knew as much, but he felt it as his duty to make her feel good. She argued with him, promising that she was content with what they had.

After crossing the Welcome to Alaska sign, Edward's phone started ringing. He picked it up knowing Alice would keep calling if he sent it to voicemail.

"Hey, we're at the first shoulder off the road. Stop by. Carlisle is thinking of a little hunting trip before continuing the journey."

"Okay, I think I see you."

"You won't miss it. Besides, the cars are right there."

They hung up, and Edward returned his eyes to the window, watching the scenery flying by.

"Would you cheer up if I let you drive to Denali?" Bella whispered. "You can even choose the music."

He sighed, glancing at her. "That would be lovely."

She growled loudly, parking violently next to Carlisle's Mercedes. "You're so infuriating sometimes. That would be lovely," she mocked. "Really, Edward!"

"Should I have said 'cool' or 'awesome'?"

"I'm not talking to you until you decide to get your head out of your ass. We've all been in your position! We know how you feel! Do I have to remind you about the way I woke up?"

He looked down, ashamed. He was making a fuss out of nothing. He had wanted this life. He knew what came with it, the implications. He had to suck it up. One year of abstinence hadn't killed anyone, right?

The hunt was short indeed. The men took a route, leaving the ladies on their own. Emmett took Edward away from the others after they drank their fill. He sat his new brother down on a fallen tree.

"Listen to me. In all seriousness, Edward, I know exactly how you feel."

"You do?"

"Yeah." When Rosie saved me from the bear, I thought I had died and was seeing an angel, but then…I was changing and burning…I thought I was in hell. And waking up to find out what had happened and how she saved me… I was indebted, he told him silently.

"And?"

"She was beautiful – the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. It was a challenge for about a year to choose what I loved the most. There was Rosalie and there was the blood. When I thought my lust for blood had subsided somewhat, I came across my singer."

"And you ate her," Edward stated, knowing the story from Bella.

"Yes. Rosie stopped talking to me for months. But then we made up. That's not what I wanted to tell you." He paused a little, gathering his thoughts. You love our little Bella and that won't change. Ever. She knows that. You know that. Simple as that. And being a newborn doesn't mean you won't do the deed. Your head will be more on blood than Bella. Just that.

"Really?" he asked, surprised. "You mean I would actually feel something-"

"You won't stop feeling stuff for Bella. You will still love her. Still lust after her. Still want to fuck her. Got it? I don't know what preconceived idea you had about this. I hope we're clear now."

"Wow. I just thought…doesn't matter. I even feel stupid for thinking that in the first place."

He laughed and slapped Edward's back. "Race you back."

Edward shot up as soon as the words were out of Emmett's mouth. Edward left Emmett behind and when he reached the parking lot, Bella punched Jasper's shoulder, beaming at him.

"Told you he's fast!"

"Never bet against me, sweetie," Alice chirped, kissing Jasper's scowling mouth.

Once back in the car, Edward was behind the wheel, feeling better than he'd felt since the change.

"How much?" Edward asked, putting a CD with classical music since Bella allowed him to take over.

"How much what?" she asked surprised.

"How much did you win?"

"Oh. Fifty bucks. I'll buy you something nice, on them." She winked.

"I don't need anything," he said, embarrassed.

"I was thinking about some new music or movies. Are you sure you don't want anything?"

He nodded. "Positive."

They lapsed into silence. Edward was mulling over what Emmett had told him. He wanted to get to Denali and test the theory. He wished Emmett was right. Edward missed touching Bella, being with her – in her. He kept having flashbacks from their honeymoon.

Walking on the beach, stealing kisses, and any time the need to get lost in each other arose they just attacked the other. He was the one attacking most times – especially when he was seeing her sparkling. That seemed to arouse him.

Then there were those late mornings when Edward didn't feel like leaving the bed and they just sat intertwined, talking, kissing, or playing chess. She managed to win once, but she had to cheat. Edward bit his lip, remembering how good her small foot had felt pressed against his erection.

He squirmed in his seat. It was the first hard-on since he had turned into a vampire. That ought to be something.

Bella's pearly giggles turned his attention to her. "What?" He questioned, hoping she hadn't realized what was going on.

"Is driving my car turning you on?"

There goes my hope. "Fuck. I was just…thinking of something."

"Now, you sound like a ninety-year-old."

"Actually, I sound my age," he said playfully. "Seventeen-year-old boys are allowed to get spontaneous erections."

"Is this going to happen a lot? I'll always be willing to help." She winked, leaning into him. "I could help you now," she purred into his ear.

"Bella," he breathed. Her hand cupped him through his jeans. "Please."

She kissed behind his ear before sucking on his earlobe. "Tell me."

"What?"

"The memory that triggered this," she murmured, rubbing the heel of her palm against his dick.

Edward gulped, focusing on the road. It wasn't a good moment to swerve the car. "Our honeymoon."

"I was thinking about that too," she said quietly. "What part?"

"The late mornings… That day you won our chess game."

"Oh, you liked that, didn't you?" she teased.

"A lot," he answered honestly.

Bella lowered the fly of his jeans, taking him out of the confines of the boxers. Edward groaned, startled by the sensations coursing through his body at her touch. His stomach muscles started tightening and the telltale signs of heading to the inevitable release started taking over his body. It was as if he awoke for the first time, his skin was on fire. Was this how she had felt when he touched her?

Edward was so focused on the road that when something warm wrapped around his dick, he looked down. Bella's chestnut brown hair greeted him from his lap. Holy fuck. She was giving him head without the restriction of ten condoms. And it felt divine. She licked him then started sucking vigorously. Edward was sure his eyes had crossed. Without even meaning, he pressed the gas pedal to the floor making the car fly down the empty highway. If she continued like that, he'd have to pull over. They needed the car to get there, besides Ginger was still alive. All rational thoughts left him when he felt the head of his dick hitting the back of her throat. Then she swallowed and he was done. Through his haze, he heard a loud snap, but he didn't focus on his surroundings until a car honked loudly. Edward righted their car right in time before pulling over.

He turned his eyes to Bella who had righted herself in her seat and was watching him smugly. "How did it feel?"

"A hundred times better," Edward said sincerely. "Umm…you have…" He pointed to her chin, trying not to laugh. She looked beautiful with his cum on the corner of her mouth. It sparkled in the dim morning light.

Bella let down the visor mirror and giggled. "Oops."

"Come here." He grabbed her waist, pulling her close then started kissing her. Edward didn't give a damn that he could taste himself on her lips. Emmett had been right. He still loved her and he wanted to prove how much he loved her, that he still felt attracted to her.

A car passed them. It wasn't until the thoughts that greeted him that Edward realized who was in there.

Five more hours. Can you hold on for five hours? Carlisle wondered amused.

Ah, I was wondering when you'd realize that the blood is not that important, Esme thought. But do wait a few more hours, honey.

"We should wait," Edward mumbled, taking his lips off Bella's.

"What happened now?" She groaned.

"Uhh…Carlisle and Esme just passed us," he told her embarrassed.

"Oh, dear! Did they see anything?"

"Probably. They wanted to make sure we waited until we got to the new house."

After rearranging their clothes, Edward turned toward the steering wheel. A part of the circle was missing. He frowned, inspecting it. This must have been the snap he heard.

"Did you see this?" Edward asked, chuckling.

"Yeah. How could I know you'd destroy my car? I wouldn't have helped you if I knew."

"It looks like a Formula One steering wheel." He laughed.

"You owe me a steering wheel, Edward."

"Since I wrecked my car, this is our car. Being married means to share everything."

"I'll share my anger if you want," she muttered. "I know you don't like my car. You tried to destroy it a long time ago."

"I didn't mean to!" Edward defended himself, pulling on the highway again. "We can ask at the first gas station. While I fill the tank with gas, you can ask if they have car parts."

"Aren't you acting like a loving husband?" She asked sarcastically.

"I'm keeping you away from the awful gas smell."

She snorted. "Besides, can you imagine how it would look if I buy a steering wheel?"

Edward laughed, shrugging.

It turned out that they didn't have steering wheels in the gas station and Edward had to drive with the ripped one to Denali.

They all met at the edge of a road that winded through the forest and then followed Carlisle's car. Edward was right behind Carlisle, and Emmett was behind him with Alice on tail.

"Change the gear."

"There's no need," Edward muttered.

"Edward, I know more about driving than you. If the engine stops, you're going to run into Emmett," Bella insisted.

He didn't listen. The next curb he took, Edward changed the gear, but it was too late. "Shit." The ground being wet made him slid even easier toward Emmett. The engine died as he kept tugging at the hand brake. Emmett must have heard them arguing because he overtook them, but that made them go straight into Alice's car with a loud crash.

"EDWARD!" She screeched. You were supposed to listen to Bella.

"I'm sorry," he groaned. Then he felt a slap on the back of his head. Edward turned to Bella who looked furious.

"Are you ever going to listen to me?"

"I was sure I was doing it right."

"Whoever gave you a license must have been drunk."

"Hey! I'm a decent driver," he argued back.

Alice rapped on the window. Edward opened the door, stepping out, running a hand through his hair after glancing at the cars. They weren't totally destroyed.

"You're lucky my engine is in the back," she hissed.

"Then what's the big fuss?" he muttered, bending to look at the protection bar of Bella's car. It was twisted.

"You made a huge dent in my baby! And there's blue paint over the front!"

"Alice, there's nothing we can't repair with our hands," Jasper said softly, stepping out of the car and coming toward them. Don't mind her. She just hates that you ran into us, he added in his head.

Edward nodded, still trying to understand how they could repair the dents with bare hands. That's when he saw their trunk popping open and Jasper touching under it a little, making it look good as new. The only problem was the blue smudge on the front bar.

Edward crouched beside Bella's car and took Jasper's lead, but his fingers went straight through the bar. When he heard Bella laughing, he saw her in front of him, hands on hips.

"Let Rose do it when we get there. We have a few more minutes until we arrive."

"You can drive," he told her, going to the passenger seat.

"Oh, you did the damage and now-"

"Look, I'm sorry. I promise to listen from now on." Edward had said that to himself for a long time. He should take his own advice and swallow his pride and just listen to others.

When the forest finally ended, they were in front of a huge gray house. It looked like a palace. It had many steps to the front door and the house itself was a monstrosity. It hit him hard and fast. They were going to live with the other vampires.

"Ready?" Bella whispered, touching his knee.

"As ready as ever."

The Denali clan was outside, greeting their family.

Ah, I thought I lost my new family members, Carlisle thought amused.

"We got held up," Edward explained.

Alice snorted, wrapping her arms around one of the sisters. Edward had to learn their names because he'd forgotten them. He just remembered Tanya.

"Was there a problem?" Tanya asked, coming toward them. Damn, he turned out a fine sight.

Edward could tell Bella wasn't her greatest fan because she dodged her and went to one of her sisters. That left Tanya to hug him. He still remembered how she had made him feel in school. He was uncomfortable to be around her.

"What have you done to the car?" Rose asked, horrified.

Edward wrenched from Tanya's hold, glad to have an excuse. He went to Rose, scratching the back of his head. "Well I sort of slid…"

She turned to him, growling. "I just repaired Bella's car!"

"I know! Jeez, I'm sorry."

You should take your cat out of the car, Edward, Alice announced. I'm sure he's sick of being locked up in that cage.

"I really didn't mean it," he told Rose, opening the back door of the car and then opening the cage. Ginger jumped in his hands, mewling loudly. Edward kept him in his arms, not sure where he'd go if he put him down.

"Oh, isn't he a cutie?" One of the sisters glided to him and stroked the cat's little head. "I'm Kate," she whispered.

Edward grinned, showing her he was glad she introduced herself. Ginger didn't seem to like the attention. He turned to her, claws out, ready to scratch her – only he couldn't.

"Sorry. I don't think he likes strangers," he apologized, hugging him to his chest. Ginger relaxed, starting to purr softly.

Kate showed them to their room. Edward carried the luggage after handing Bella the cat. The room was beautiful. He felt like he was into a classic movie with this atmosphere around.

As soon as they were alone, Bella dropped Ginger on the floor and started moving around the room, unpacking. Edward didn't feel like unpacking. He just wanted to continue what they had left off in the car. He plopped on the bed and sighed.

"Come here," he whispered.

"I'm kind of busy. You should help me," she said, grabbing clothes and putting them in the closet.

Damn, stupid clothes. Edward sprang up from the bed and crossed the room to her side in less than a second. His arms went around her slim waist, and he turned her around. Her hands came to his chest with a loud smack, her head titled back, eyes wide.

"What are you doing?"

"Hmm, I'm going to show my wife how much I love her," he whispered, picking her up and walking to the bed.

Chapter Text

Chapter 44: Family

It had been seven years since Edward's change. Seven excruciatingly long years. Nothing had changed, and yet everything changed.

Edward had been wrong when he thought that anything could take his mind off blood. He'd been intimate with Bella only three times after his change. That time they had arrived at the house in Alaska, once when they were hunting and once on a stormy night when they were alone.

He had thrown himself into playing the piano. Carlisle had gone as far as to buy his own piano so he wouldn't disturb Rosalie or whoever wanted to amuse themselves. Edward had his own room. Just him and the piano, along with a growing stack of music sheets. Soon after running out of pieces to play, he started composing. That had made him feel better. He was doing something productive.

Everything went well; he was going the right way. He was becoming closer to the other vampires. He was spending more time with Bella. Until one night, when he decided to go hunting alone.

Edward was calculating the best angle to attack an elk when a whiff of the most powerful blood he had smelled hit his nostrils. Before he knew it, he was flying toward the new smell. He was curious about what it belonged to.

Some white-furred animal he hadn't encountered yet?

Some animal that only lived in Alaska?

Edward stopped mere feet away from his prey. He was in shock – frozen. There was a human. A young man who looked lost. Edward could feel the human's increasing fear, his heartbeats loud in his ears. Edward watched him worried. The monster within Edward coaxed him to step closer, to taste him. He didn't want to disappoint Bella, or Carlisle, or anyone else for that matter.

Then Edward saw a lynx. He was approaching the human, and Edward couldn't waste that blood. No way. He hissed loudly making them both turn toward him.

The human sighed in relief, while the lynx hissed back but backed a few steps. It was dark so Edward didn't fear approaching the human – he couldn't see his eyes, which had lightened in the past year. After a growl toward the feline, he was alone with his new prey. The man started rambling, happy to see another person.

Oh, I'm happy to see you, too, Edward thought amused.

Then Edward sent him into the nearest tree, lifting his chin so he could see his neck better, his vein. He was salivating. The man realized the danger and tried to escape earning an evil laugh from Edward. He had no idea he had it in him to go through with it. For a second, Edward was sure he wouldn't be able to do it, but then he realized if he allowed the human to leave, he'd talk. Edward had to kill him. His end of the bargain sounded delicious.

Sinking his teeth in the human's neck was so easy, and then his blood washed over him. Edward felt so alive, like never before. That's when he realized he had been denied to eat what was best.

Also, that was the last night he had seen Bella and the other Cullens.

After a long fight when he'd returned to the house, Edward simply left. He couldn't stay around Carlisle or Esme who were disappointed. He couldn't stay around Jasper's compassion or around Bella's worried and agonized looks. He simply took off after telling them he needed some air.

That had been six years ago. Living like this was making his conscience run wild. Edward kept telling himself to try doing it like the Cullens again, but the blood of animals held no interest. Not when he could have any human he wanted. Drinking only from homeless people didn't make him feel any better. They were still innocent people – more than the usual suspects were, so he tried finding bad people. It wasn't easy but the first time he saw a man hitting a woman, Edward knew he was going to end up dried in his arms. After waiting for a few hours, the lady left his side and the man was all his.

Keeping a low profile was easy. Edward wasn't killing more than one person in one city so that seemed to work.

Until his feet carried him back to the Olympic Peninsula – to Forks, more exactly. Time seemed relative. If it weren't for the occasional paper, Edward wouldn't have known the year.

With the hood covering his face, he walked through the drizzle. He stopped in front of his dad's office only to find there a new bakery. What had happened to the advocacy office?

Going down the street he grew up on, approaching the house brought new feelings to surface – remorse, fear, despair, some happiness and great sadness.

There were so many questions running through his mind.

Were they still alive?

Did they know what he had done?

How would they react upon his sudden arrival?

How would he react when he smelled them?

Edward was determined to return to Bella, to go back to drinking from animals. Killing people wasn't for him; though six years of doing so, would make someone think otherwise.

Lost in his thoughts, he arrived in front of his childhood home. Remembering their scents, Edward knew they were in there. They were alone.

His mom was busy in the kitchen, worried about the food in the oven. So mundane. So human. So normal.

His dad was in the living room, muttering to himself about his wife making him set up the table.

Was there a holiday?

Looking around at the snow-filled ground, Edward realized it was Christmas. Or New Year. He had no idea.

Now, that he focused on other smells, he could smell gingerbread, pine tree, and were there raspberry muffins? For the first time in seven years, he wished to eat human food.

He knocked.

Oh, no! It's too early. It can't be them, his mom thought worried. "Ed, get that, honey!"

Ah, of course. The kids promised to be here to help, he thought, grumbling some more.

What kids? Edward wondered, surprised. What did I miss?

The door opened and Edward's eyes widened. Seven years meant a lot for a human. His dad had gray hair, was wearing glasses and his face was wrinkled.

"No carols," he said, shaking his head. "The Johnsons would love some, though," he whispered conspiratorially, pointing to a house down the street.

Edward laughed. He couldn't help himself. His dad hadn't changed. "I know you hate carols, Dad," he said softly.

"Edward!" He shouted then looked around worried as if he had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "Come in." He ushered his son inside. "Liz! You wouldn't believe who dropped by!"

His mom came out of the kitchen wondering who could be so important to take her away from the turkey. The dishcloth fell from her hands when she saw him.

"Edward, sweetheart!" She flung herself at his neck.

"No!" Edward yelled, moving away quickly. "No. No."

"Oh, goodness. I'm so sorry. I've just missed you so much."

Her once long hair was shoulder length and was mostly gray like her husband's. Edward looked between them, worried. He wanted more than anything to hug them. If he wanted to go back to the Cullens, he had to get over his blood lust, so he opened his arms and nodded. His mom walked tentatively toward him and nestled in his arms. They hugged until she shivered.

"Sorry," Edward apologized, stepping aside. "I'm cold."

"Oh, I've missed you so much. Where's Bella?"

No one had told them what he had done. Why did he have to be the one to give them such news?

"I haven't seen her in some time," he admitted to his worn-out boots.

As if pointing to his clothing, his dad took in what he was wearing. "You look like a homeless person, kid."

Edward ran both hands through his hair, fisting his hands in his locks making the hood fall. They simultaneously gasped.

He looks just like the last time I saw him.

He's just as young as seven years ago.

"I don't age," he reminded them.

It took them a minute to remember he could read their minds. They rolled their eyes at him.

"You haven't answered," she said. Edward picked the dishcloth in a flash when he read her mind – she had thought about retrieving it. She narrowed her eyes at him, but smiled. "So? Where's your lovely Bella? Is she visiting that relative of hers?"

"Does that relative really exist?" His dad added.

"He's just a good friend. She had to lie," he answered, dodging the main question.

Did something happen? Are you two fighting? His mom asked silently.

"No, Mom. Nothing like that. It's all me."

"What did you do?" His dad asked, upset.

"I might frighten you. It's best if I don't tell you."

They let it slide, still skeptical about what he had done that could be so terrible. His mom kept wishing Bella would miraculously appear. Edward went to help his dad set the table, and kept hinting at who was visiting.

"Oh, you'll see."

How was it possible for a human to keep his thoughts hidden? He started singing carols – of all things – in his head. Edward abandoned him, going to the kitchen.

The muffins seemed to call for him. His old love was luring him closer.

"Is it wise?" His mom asked when she saw his destination.

"I don't care. I want to see what happens."

They didn't smell as appealing as they once had, but he still bit into one. Edward munched on it before swallowing. It tasted horrid. The dirt he had eaten on Emmett's dare had been a thousand times tastier. And the piece of muffin seemed to press heavily into his stomach. He had to get it out.

"I think I'm sick," he muttered.

"It's not your customary diet," she said, laughing.

"I'm going to throw up." He rushed out of the house, to the side, where he heaved until the entire muffin was out.

His scalp prickled when he felt someone behind me. They smelled really good. They were probably the guests.

"Awe you okay, mistew?" A child's voice asked.

Edward whirled around, frowning at the small girl. She was probably three years old.

"Yeah. Yes, I'm okay. Are you lost?" he asked.

"Nope! We came to visit our famiwy fends," she told him proudly.

"Oh, then go inside. You don't want to get a cold," he urged her.

"Youw wude! I'm Antonewa."

"It's nice to meet you, Antonella." What freak of parents gave you that name? Poor girl. Was it a good idea to tell her his name? "I'm Ed…ehh leaving."

Before he could turn to leave, ready to wait until the guests had left to say goodbye to his parents, someone called the little girl.

"Ella!"

Her head snapped up. "I haf to go." She rushed to a man, jumping into his arms. Edward knew him from somewhere. After a moment of analyzing his profile, he was shocked to realize that he had Seth in front of him.

Edward thought him smarter than that; naming his poor daughter with such an atrocious name. He was happy to have Anthony for his middle name, and few people to know about its existence.

Edward turned around, ready to try hunting some animal to prove himself he was worthy of returning to Bella, when someone got his attention.

"Who do you think you are talking to my daughter?"

He was about to meet Seth's wife. Crap. Luckily, they were still out of the porch's light and she couldn't see his eyes. They were black with hunger, anyway.

Edward jumped back, involuntarily, when he turned and saw the person in front of him. She did the same thing.

"Edward?!" she shouted.

"Leah?" he asked in disbelief. "You smell good." He slapped his mouth.

She giggled. "It wore off since you left town so long ago. Jake's the only one still feeling…under the weather."

"I see."

"Is it really you?" she asked.

"Yeah. So…your daughter?"

She blushed, looking away. "I thought you were some creepy stalker. She has a tendency to talk to strangers."

"I'm glad you took my advice and found someone for you."

That was the wrong thing to say, apparently. He wrapped his arms around her when she swayed. Soon, Leah was crying in his dirty sweater.

"Is he a soldier?" He attempted the light the mood. It made her cry harder.

"After you left…I was ready to go to college, you know?" she whispered. He nodded. "Well…the guys threw me a party at Paul's place."

"Paul?" he asked, surprised.

"Shh. It's sort of taboo. Seth is ready to kill him every time they pass each other on the street."

"What happened? Did he try something?"

"No. I guess I've sort of liked him, and well, one thing led to another…and we slept together after everyone left. I had felt guilty for the mess and wanted to stay back and help him clean. We did clean the house, but only the next day around afternoon time."

"And you got pregnant."

"Stop jumping to conclusions! Ella is almost four years old! We were together and happy for a long time. A very long time. He was ecstatic when I found out I was pregnant. Then…about four months later…" she sobbed, clutching to Edward's shirt. "Rebecca, one of Jake's sisters, visited. The elders said it was imprinting. I didn't care. All I cared was that I was left alone with a baby and a broken heart."

"Oh, Leah," he murmured. "I can't believe… Are you still alone?"

"No, Edward. Men line up at my door wanting to play house!"

"I'm so sorry," he whispered, kissing her forehead.

"I kept thinking if it woul-" Edward pressed a finger over her lips.

"I don't want to hear 'what if', I'm sick of it as it is."

"Oh?"

"Yeah. If it makes you feel any better…I haven't been well either."

She frowned, realizing many things at the same time. No Bella around, his hollow eyes, the dark shadows under them, and his clothes. What happened to him?

"Where to start?" He laughed humorlessly. "It wasn't going very well…you know…I was so into blood despite what everyone was telling me. Nothing held my interest but blood. Not even Bella," he admitted. "One time I was hunting alone, I happened across a lost guy…"

"No!" She gasped, watching him horrified.

"It's getting worse."

Her hands went to her mouth. "What have you done, Edward?"

"Everything Carlisle taught me not to do. But I'm going back. I can't live like this anymore. It's not me. I can't kill people – bad or not."

How long…? She wondered.

"About six years."

She frowned a little, and then remembered that he could read minds. He would lie if he said he didn't like answering unasked things.

"MOOOM! UNCLE ED SAYS DINNER'S WEADY!"

"Damn, she has lungs," Edward chuckled.

"Don't remind me." She turned toward the house then back to him, abruptly. "Your parents!"

"They know. Relax."

"Seth doesn't," she hissed.

"I'd love to spend the holiday with you and them," Edward said, guiding her to the front door with a hand on her back.

"Edward, seriously."

"I'm serious. Seth can take it. He's a big boy."

"I'm not allowing your thirsty ass around my daughter!"

"If I go hunting…would you allow me around her?"

Fifteen minutes and two deer later, Edward knocked on the door again.

It was Seth who opened it. "Holy fuck!" He shouted, stumbling backwards.

After explaining everything, Edward was sitting on the couch, holding his breath to avoid smelling the atrocious food. Antonella took residence close to him, her plate in his lap. She kept talking as he fed her, every time Leah glared toward him. He tended to miss bites being captivated by her little stories.

Edward almost felt human having them around. And having his close friends and his parents around made him miss Bella even more. Living without her had been excruciating, like ripping toenails off a human, but he knew he couldn't go back to her. Edward was sure she wouldn't take him back if he was doing everything Carlisle had told him not to do. Even though, she would have probably been the only one to understand what was going on with him – she had drunk from humans for almost a hundred years. Edward hadn't thought less of her when she had told him that, when she was drinking from him. He had really screwed up their relationship.

Edward had left.

What decent person does that kind of thing?

Fuck, he was a scumbag.

"Awe you okay?" Antonella asked worried. He looks so sad.

He hadn't realized he groaned loudly. "Yeah, great."

"Awe you going to visit?" Maybe we could cheer him up.

"Ella!" Leah hissed. I'm so sorry, she can be annoying when she wants something.

"It's okay," he whispered. He turned to the kid. "Well, I don't know if I can visit, but you'll be the first to know that when I do."

She grinned, nodding happily. "You can meet Nessie!"

"Oh, how is she?" Edward looked up to his friends.

"She's twelve now and starting to feel things, you know…Jake's ecstatic," Seth explained. "You should see him before you leave."

"I plan on leaving really soon. Do tell him I miss him. I will come back in a few years. Does he still want me to be best man?" he asked, chuckling.

"He, what?" Seth thundered. "No way! That fucker!"

Two sets of arms hit Seth at the same time – Edward's mom and Leah. Antonella sprung up and rushed to him, hand extended.

"Fuck," Seth muttered under his breath.

"Five!" She told him loudly.

They were giving her money for each bad word. Well, that girl was going to be rich by the time she hit ten years old. Living around Seth and Jake… she could have anything she wanted on her own money.

"Make it ten," Edward told him.

That earned him a dirty look from Seth, and more scolding from Leah.

Edward had to admit that seeing them – all of them – had made him melancholic. He needed his new family. His wife.

When the affair was finally over, gifts were exchanged – Edward had snuck up to his room, grabbed a worn-out teddy bear and gave it to Leah's daughter. Antonella was fast asleep on the couch, hugging the toy. Edward was glad for the presence of mind to leave his toys home when he'd left all those years ago.

Saying goodbye to his parents was easy because this time he was sure he'd return. Seth coaxed him into going with them to La Push. Edward was wary of going anywhere near La Push. Seth promised no one would hurt him.

"Didn't you say that Jake was still a werewolf?"

"We'll tell him who you are if he doesn't realize. But first, you're going to change out of those dirty clothes."

Half an hour later, Edward was cleaner than he had been in some good years, wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt from Seth. He had gone to get Jake despite the late hour in the night, and Edward was left alone with the girls.

He was standing in the doorway of the little girl's room while Leah was putting her to bed.

"Can I ask what happened with your parents?" Edward whispered when she came to him, leaving the door open.

"They moved in with Billy."

"And Jake?"

"He's living with us, or he should be…but he's always at Renesmee's house."

"One more question."

"You're worse than Ella." She rolled her eyes. "Ask me."

They sat on the couch in the living room.

"Why the horrid name, Leah?"

She gasped. "Edward! I like that name!"

"Don't I know? I still remember when you went through that phase…calling me Anthony." He shuddered.

"That's why I named her Antonella. After you. I had to cling to some good memories…"

"Does she know the situation?"

"Not yet, but I will tell her when she's older. And Paul is visiting and paying for stuff."

"God, he smells worse," Edward groaned when he smelled Seth and Jake outside the front door.

Leah laughed, shaking her head. He didn't have time to answer.

Do they even realize that a leech is here? Jake was thinking.

He barged inside and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw his best friend. His eyes wide and boring into Edward's.

"Masen! Damn, you stink."

"Merry Christmas, ya' filthy animal!" Edward chuckled.

"Quoting from movies?" he teased.

Edward shrugged, smiling. "It's good to see you, Jacob."

"Yeah, good to see you too."

After a few more hours, Edward said goodbye and took the shortest route to Denali. Being around his friends and family made him realize he was incomplete without Bella. He had been so focused on his blood lust that only when he wasn't hunting or thinking of it, he was thinking of Bella. That had been the trick – think of blood and not of Bella.

But he couldn't do it anymore. He wanted her back in his life. If she wanted him back. He needed her. He craved her touch.

Chapter Text

Chapter 45: Reuniting

Arriving at the Denali clan took Edward fewer hours than the last time, but he was running and pushing his legs to run faster and faster.

The house was the same. Tanya opened the door when he knocked. She looked surprised.

Edward couldn't pick her thoughts because she was thinking of a thousand things at the same time.

Going inside, he found out that the Cullens and Bella had left about a year after his departure. The stories they had about their departure were heartbreaking. Edward wanted to turn back time.

They told Edward about no one being able to get Bella to move for months. She had stayed on the bed, unmoving, unblinking for a couple of months. She had hoped he was returning. Everyone had hoped that.

Alice had seen him returning so many times that in the end, she pushed the visions away, realizing they were all false alarms. It reminded him of the story with the boy who cried wolf.

"Where are they?" Edward asked between sobs.

"Somewhere in Montana. Clyde Park. It's close to Yellowstone and they have a variety of…game."

He nodded. "How do I get there?"

After listening to their instructions and thanking them a thousand times, he took off.

When the sign of Clyde Park greeted him, Edward couldn't help but chuckle. It had fewer people than Forks. He hadn't thought that was possible. Only 310 inhabitants.

Taking the route through the forest that Kate had told him about, Edward arrived in front of the house.

Best time to be home alone. When some errant vampire decides to drop by, Emmett thought grumpily. And I was really going to help little Amber with her room, oh well. Might as well send the fucker away.

Couldn't Emmett smell that it was Edward? He hadn't changed his scent over the years. He remembered Emmett's scent. It was the same. But Emmett was his usual unobservant self.

Edward leaned against the pole on the porch, waiting for Emmett to open the door and shout in surprise like everyone else had in the past few days.

"Where are you going, traitor?" Emmett asked, confused.

Then Edward heard a small heartbeat and the small door in the front door opened. Something furry jumped on him, catching himself on his claws to Edward's shirt. Ginger.

He hugged his cat tightly. He mewed, licking Edward's chin, smelling him, rubbing his head against him. Ginger had grown so much, Edward barely recognized him.

The door finally opened and Emmett stopped abruptly there. It can't be… But it's him. Then he realized Edward could hear him.

Emmett tackled him down. Ginger escaped unscathed.

You deserve a good beating, kid!

"Hello, Emmett," he greeted quietly.

They got up, wiping their clothes off snow. "Missed you, you know?"

"Oh, I know. I can't say how sorry I am for doing what I did," Edward said, looking down.

"Wait until Bella gets back!"

"Where is she?" he asked, picking Ginger up again.

"Out with the girls."

"Hunting?" he asked.

He boomed a laugh. "She wished. No, they dragged her shopping."

"Ouch." They stayed quiet for a moment. "How is she?"

"The truth? She is not well at all. But she's not letting it show. She's…living, but she's not really there."

"I'm such an idiot. I haven't been any better, but…I thought everyone would hate me. And well, you weren't making it any easier. Everyone pitied me, was disappointed and expected such a thing to happen…so I left."

Emmett hugged him again, telling him that he was glad he'd decided to return.

After going inside, Emmett dragged him into setting up Bella's room. It looked like a war zone.

"Yeah…I told her that well…you were obviously not coming back any time soon…and she should carry her ass down the stairs for Christmas….she jumped on me and…this happened. Esme told me to make it look as new by the time they get back."

"Sounds like you," Edward chuckled.

Soon, Carlisle arrived home from his shift at the hospital, and Edward wasn't sure how to feel. He was like a father figure.

He came upstairs and hugged Edward without a word. Then he slapped him, quite hard. "That's for hurting our little Bella. But I'm glad you are back."

That slap had been everything Edward needed to make him truly realize what he had done.

"Yes, I'm back. I'm truly sorry for everything, but that won't make it better."

"Bella should be back in a few hours. Do you want us to leave you two alone?"

"I want to see you all. Then I will talk to Bella. I promise."

Jasper had walked in minutes after Carlisle, and they moved to the living room. Edward told them in a few words what had he done and how sorry he was for everything.

"I feared you'd rebel. Everything that was happening pointed to that," Carlisle said, thoughtfully.

"I tried to stop what I was doing. I tried to come back so many times…"

"Yeah, Alice got so many visions of you returning."

"I bet she saw me coming this time, too."

"I wouldn't know," Jasper said, shrugging. "She gave up telling us because Bella would get her hopes up and nothing was happening."

That made Edward feel even worse. "Do you think…" He started then stopped. There was no need to ask it. He was certain Bella was never going to forgive him.

"What is it?" Carlisle asked, worried.

Jasper was the one to answer. "She may need time. But she will forgive you. Bella loves you too much to throw you to the curb."

"Although you deserve it," Emmett added quietly.

Edward hung his head, wondering if Bella could indeed forgive him. He was going to find out sooner than he was prepared because two cars parked in the driveway.

Ginger started moving his tail, slapping Edward's thigh rhythmically. He was happy they were back.

The girls were wondering who was visiting. How could they not recognize him? Did newborns smell different from grown-up vampires?

"Bella? Come on. We're home, you kept whining for hours to get home," Rose urged her.

Edward could see her through Rose's eyes. They were in front of the house, and Bella was looking toward the living room window with disbelief written all over her face. Then she moved.

He heard the front door slamming to the wall and Bella appeared in the living room's doorway.

"What's got into her?" Alice asked, following her.

Bella had recognized him, unlike everyone else.

Edward got up, forgetting about the cat that luckily fell on his four legs, hissing annoyed at his owner. It had nine lives. Edward carefully stepped over him and approached Bella.

The other women were inside the house, too, in his line of vision, looking shocked. But he didn't pay them much attention. Bella was his destination.

He stopped in front of her, unsure what to do.

Should I talk?

Should I fall on my knees and beg for forgiveness?

Should I just wait until she came to her senses and started hitting me?

The bags fell from her hands before she attacked. For a fraction of second, Edward was about to get defensive but he realized she was just hugging him. Her legs were tightly wrapped around his waist and her arms around his neck, her fingers wound in his hair as she sobbed. He returned the hug as fiercely as he could, without hurting her.

When she moved a little, just enough so she could cup his cheeks in her palms and look into his eyes. Edward was glad for drinking from animals in the last couple of times. They weren't golden yet, but they weren't red either.

"Edward," she whispered.

"Bella." He brought her close to him again, hugging her tightly.

She fit perfectly against his body. Edward had missed her so much – her warm body, her scent, her voice, her face, everything about her.

Suddenly, she gasped, clutching to his neck tighter. A second later someone slapped the nape of his neck, hard.

"You bastard!" Rose screeched. "Get off him, woman! I want to kill him!"

Edward let Bella down gently before turning to Rose. She was angry, really angry. She had every right to be angry.

"How could you do this to her! To us! She loves you, you imbecile!"

He averted his eyes, feeling something like bile rising in his throat. Could he throw up? He wasn't sure.

Bella's small hands rubbed his back. He didn't deserve her. She was far too good to him. Edward glanced down at her and his dead heart broke into a thousand pieces. She looked horrible. He had done this to her.

"Let's go, talk," she murmured.

Edward nodded, twining their hands, allowing her to lead the way. They were at the front door when Ginger came between his legs, mewing.

"No, you stay here. I'll come back," he whispered, patting his head.

He seemed to understand because he disappeared to the left, probably the kitchen.

Edward couldn't bear the silence they were walking in, but he decided to wait on Bella. She should talk first. Maybe she wanted to get far away so no one would hear her screaming, or his screams when she was killing him.

They walked for miles when she finally stopped. "It looks like the little meadow from Forks," she said, looking around.

Edward took a look around them and nodded. From his fleeting look, he could see a small stream a few feet away and a few fallen trees. They sat on one of those trees.

"Why did you leave? Why did you come back? Why now? Are you staying? Damn it, Edward!"

"I was afraid you'd hate the monster I had become. I realized I couldn't live without my heart. I've wanted to come back for a while and after the past few days, I decided it was time to finally return. Yes, I'm staying. You have my promise on that one. I'll write it in blood," he answered every question.

He got a small smile from her with his last statement. Exactly what he wanted.

"What happened in the past few days?" Bella asked softly, taking his hand between hers.

"I went home," Edward admitted. "It was Christmas."

"Really? Did your parents…Are they well?"

"Yes, thank you." He smiled. "They're perfect. They had guests, like usual."

"It's good they kept in touch with everyone," Bella whispered.

"Just Seth and Leah were over. And a small addition," he said, chuckling.

"Did they find someone…"

"It's a long story, but Leah has a daughter," he explained. "She's so little, really adorable."

Bella searched her eyes for something, he couldn't tell for what. Edward groaned, not used to being unable to read minds. Her smile widened.

"I'd like to try something. Eleazar taught me, and promised it will work."

"Who's Eleazar?" Edward asked, confused. He didn't know any Eleazar.

"How did you know we were here, in Montana?"

Edward frowned at the change of subject. "Who is Eleazar, Bella?"

She laughed, throwing her head back. "Still hot-headed, I see. If you stopped by our friends in Denali, I'm sure you met him. He is Carmen's mate."

"Oh, the guys weren't there. They didn't mention anything."

"Oh." She shrugged.

"So what did he teach you?" he asked, squeezing her hand.

"Don't move. Let me concentrate."

Edward nodded. She closed her eyes, the skin between her brows plucking as she started smiling. Oh, how he missed her.

I missed you more than you'll ever know.

Edward's eyes widened. He had heard her and she hadn't opened her mouth.

I love you, Edward. My beloved husband.

"Holy fuck! I can hear you!" He shouted, jumping up.

"Now, you did it!" She groaned, rolling her eyes.

He wrapped her in my arms, twirling her around. "I love you, too! I missed you too. Always."

Edward told her about every place he'd been, what he'd done, and she didn't judge him for a moment. Because she reminded him that she had been like that once, and she knew how he had felt after drinking from that first human. If he had stayed, she would have helped him. He'd been impossibly reckless to just leave like that.

"Oh, and I've been to Europe," he added off-handedly.

She nodded, opening her mouth to ask something, but then she registered what he had said. Her face was a mask of shock.

"How could you stay in a plane full of people? And…where did you get the money?"

"About the money…I'm not really proud of myself, but I used to grab the wallets of my victims…as for the trip there…I knew I couldn't stay for hours in a crammed place with a hundred humans so I remembered Carlisle's story."

"What story?"

"Didn't he tell you too about the time he swam from England to France?"

"Oh, yes, but you…had to swim the whole Atlantic Ocean," she pointed out.

"I don't get tired." Edward smirked. "And…I gave some sharks pay back for killing people."

Bella giggled, leaning into him and kissing his cheek. "I was sure you'd be changed when you returned to me, but you're the same teenager I knew."

"Uhh…seventeen forever," he said playfully, pointing to himself.

The mood seemed to shift as her lips pressed against his. The electricity crackled around them and Edward's heart almost beat again. He'd missed her touch more than anything else.

"Tell me," she whispered against his lips. "Tell me what you did in Europe."

"Argh. Do I have to?"

"Were you a bad boy?" she teased.

"I tried to be good," he murmured, nudging her cheek with his nose. "In Germany, I tried for the first time to drink again from animals. It worked, but at night…I stepped wrong again."

"I'm not judging. I know how it is to be young and taste human blood. Edward, if I were you…well, I don't think I would have been able to abstain for as long as you had."

"I didn't know the alternative until I tasted it."

"You smelled your parents! I wouldn't have been able to abstain."

"You'd have hurt your parents?" he asked, shocked.

She laughed. "You're bizarrely moral for a vampire, sweetie."

"But…well, what was your conscience going to say?"

"We're supposed to be cold, hard, unyielding creatures not caring, compassionate, lovable."

"I've met my fair share of vampires and I can tell you that only a few of them are like you just described them. I wasn't aware of how many were out there," he added quietly. "I thought that once I was in Europe I wouldn't see one for a long time."

"And when was the first encounter?" Bella asked, amused.

"Well, there was this girl, Maggie, helping me out of the water when I arrived in England. I was too shocked to climb on the land."

Bella laughed. "I tried telling you that we're not many, but we are out there."

"Yes, well…" Edward sighed. "This Maggie and her friend, Siobhan, showed me all the United Kingdom. And talking, I realiz