Sie sind auf Seite 1von 2285
Emancipation Proclamation by kharizzmatik Direct Link: http://kharizzmatik-ep.blogspot.com/ I didn’t mark prologue as

Emancipation Proclamation by kharizzmatik

Direct Link: http://kharizzmatik-ep.blogspot.com/

I didn’t mark prologue as chapter one, so you have 79 chapters + prologue = 80 chapters, all posted + epilogue.

1

Table of contest:

Prologue: 5 Chapter 1: 9 Chapter 2: 20 Chapter 3: 32 Chapter 4: 42 Chapter 5: 52 Chapter 6: 62 Chapter 7: 71 Chapter 8: 85 Chapter 9: 94 Chapter 10: 110 Chapter 11: 123 Chapter 12: 139 Chapter 13: 150 Chapter 14: 164 Chapter 15: 175 Chapter 16: 189 Chapter 17: 200 Chapter 18: 208 Chapter 19: 223 Chapter 20: 239 Chapter 21: 260 Chapter 22: 281 Chapter 23: 296 Chapter 24: 316 Chapter 25: 345 Chapter 26: 371 Chapter 27: 399 Chapter 28: 422 Chapter 29: 449 Chapter 30: 487 Chapter 31: 514 Chapter 32: 546 Chapter 33: 575 Chapter 34: 607

Chapter 35: 635 Chapter 36: 681 Chapter 37: 714 Chapter 38: 745 Chapter 39: 775 Chapter 40: 812 Chapter 41: 841 Chapter 42: 871 Chapter 43: 904 Chapter 44: 938 Chapter 45: 972 Chapter 46: 1005 Chapter 47: 1056 Chapter 48: 1086 Chapter 49: 1123 Chapter 50: 1154 Chapter 51: 1182 Chapter 52: 1229 Chapter 53: 1261 Chapter 54: 1292 Chapter 55: 1325 Chapter 56: 1352 Chapter 57: 1376 Chapter 58: 1417 Chapter 59: 1443 Chapter 60: 1467 Chapter 61: 1491 Chapter 62: 1521 Chapter 63: 1550 Chapter 64: 1588 Chapter 65: 1628 Chapter 66: 1661 Chapter 67: 1685 Chapter 68: 1709 Chapter 69: 1735 Chapter 70: 1783 Chapter 71: 1825 Chapter 72: 1863

Chapter 73: 1901 Chapter 74: 1951 Chapter 75: 2003 Chapter 76: 2064 Chapter 77: 2112 Chapter 78: 2164 Chapter 79: 2212 Epilogue: 2279

Prologue

"This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it." - Abraham Lincoln

Sixteen years ago today a girl lay on the damp ground, in the middle of a dark small shabby barn that smelled faintly of hay and manure, and gave birth to a premature baby girl. She was desperately frightened, for herself and her baby. She endured the best she could, gritting her teeth and remaining silent despite the severe pain, pushing through it and welcoming the baby into the world all alone. She cut the umbilical cord with a pair of garden sheers and swaddled the baby girl with rags she found, doing the best she could to keep her warm. She knew it was too soon for her to be born, knew there was no way it had been 9 months already. The baby was tiny—she wasn’t sure how much she weighed but it couldn’t have been much more than 5 pounds. Her cry was weak, her body slightly blue, but she refused to give up on her daughter. She held that tiny baby all through the night, rocking her and shushing her, trying to feed her but having absolutely no clue how to get her to latch on to the breast.

The afterbirth frightened the girl, sending her into a panic attack. She had no clue what was going on, horrified at the thought of having twins. She still hadn’t figured out what she was going to do with the one she had as it was, had no idea how she was going to raise a child.

She was still a child herself, barely sixteen and utterly naïve. As she held that baby through the night, gazing down into her scrunched up face and stroking her tiny hand wrapped around one of her fingers, she imagined a world beyond the one she lived in. A world where her baby girl could flourish. Where she could go to school and have friends, a world where she could fall in love and marry. A world where her daughter could have her own house, her own career, her own family. A world where her daughter had choices, freedoms.

Because the girl had none. She was a slave, at the mercy of the people who

5

owned her. She was kidnapped as a baby, both of her parents murdered. The kidnappers knew they could get a pretty penny for her and auctioned her off to the highest bidder, not caring what they wanted her for or what would come of her.

She’d gotten lucky though, for the most part. She knew she could’ve ended up in a pedophile ring somewhere but she hadn’t. She was purchased as a present, a child for a woman who desperately wanted a daughter but couldn’t bear her own anymore. She’d already had a son, his birth traumatic and leaving her barren. They couldn’t legally adopt, as the husband had an extensive criminal record and they would’ve never been approved. So they bought on the black market.

It didn’t go over very well, the girls presence backfiring. Instead of filing the void the lady had, she merely reminded her of her inability to ever have her own daughter. She had been pushed aside, cast off. She carried their same last name but she was no more family to them than the next person. As soon as she was old enough to walk and talk, she was left to fend for herself and forced to help take care of their needs.

The family was powerful. She wasn’t entirely sure what they were involved in, but she knew it wasn’t good. They owned a few slaves, and over the years she’d seen more than one murdered at the family’s hand when they tried to flee. There was no escaping. You’d be found if you even attempted it, and you’d be killed in front of everyone to send a message to the others. They owned you.

She didn’t see their son much, as he was off in boarding school throughout the year and usually spent summers traveling with the family. She was always left behind while they vacationed, but never was she left alone. There was always someone watching her.

The fall the girl turned 15, the father fell ill. Their son came home to help his mother while his father was out of commission, so-to-speak. He was eighteen at the time and was volatile, but he wasn’t too harsh to her—he didn’t threaten her or beat her as he did the others, and he wasn’t demanding of her. He ignored her for the most part, barely even noticing she was alive. But after a few months it all shifted and he started sneaking into her room at night, laying with her and touching her, hovering over her and pushing himself into her.

6

She wasn’t educated but she knew the facts of life. When her period stopped coming, she knew what that meant. She wasn’t sure what to do, who to tell or what to say. She’d finally grown brave enough to confess to her mistress that a child was growing inside of her, when the son came home and announced to the family that he was to be married to a local girl from a well-off family.

She knew then that she couldn’t say anything. They were counting on the merging of the families for their livelihood and the fact that she was pregnant because of their son, despite the fact that she hadn’t instigated their contact, would be blamed solely on her. They’d blame her for ruining their future, for ruining their plans.

After awhile the father recovered and the son moved out, leaving her back to being overlooked. She kept her pregnancy a secret, hiding it the best she could. No one paid her much attention anyway--no one noticed.

So as she sat in that barn, rocking that tiny baby, she allowed herself to forget the way she lived. She allowed herself to dream of a better world for her child. She allowed herself to dream of her child having a future where she could shine.

She kept the baby hidden away for a few days, the baby surviving and surprisingly thriving given the conditions. But she couldn’t keep her a secret forever.

The mistress faintly heard the baby crying one evening and walked out to the barn, where she’d been hiding out with her. The mistress was shocked to say the least. The girl was so frightened, afraid they were going to sell the baby or even worse, end the baby’s life. She'd seen slaves get pregnant over the years, seen their pregnancies terminated and babies disappear. But the mistress surprised her. Because as the mistress gazed into the baby’s face, she saw her son’s features shining back at her. She knew the baby was her blood.

She wouldn’t accept the baby as family, refused to acknowledge it out loud, but she allowed her to keep her. And for sixteen years the girl did the best she could, been the best mother she could’ve been. She couldn’t escape the life she had been sold into, but she held hope that someday her daughter would find something better. And she did all she could to prepare her for a better life, despite the fact that she knew very little about the outside world herself.

7

The baby grew into a beautiful child. The slaves doted on her but the family ignored her for the most part. Occasionally they’d catch the mistress staring at her, smiling when she didn’t think anyone was watching. It gave the girl hope that maybe her child would be freed. They didn’t treat her like the others either, didn’t beat her or work her too hard. There was some kindness there, under the surface. Compassion for the bastard child their son created.

The summer before that child’s 12th birthday, however, everything changed. The mistress and master of the house got into a car accident, dying upon impact. Instead of being freed, as they all hoped, the son stepped in and took over. The son had turned into a harsh man, his hostility growing as he aged. He had not an ounce of kindness inside of him, no compassion what so ever.

He still had a soft spot for the girl he had impregnated, despite the fact that over a decade had gone by since they last had contact. After he took over he started sneaking into her room again at night and having his way with her. She never fought back, knowing fighting his advances would mean death. He owned her and she got off easier than most. All she truly had to endure was a few minutes of his panting sweaty form hovering over her at night—the others were beaten bloody.

The man wasn’t stupid, he knew the child was his daughter and he didn’t like it one bit. For four years the girl was abused and tortured, and her mother protected her the best she could while still protecting herself. She knew she’d be no help to her dead and had no choice but to sometimes sit back and allow her daughter to endure it.

The wife eventually figured it out, realized that the child slave was her husbands illegitimate daughter. The woman had been unable to carry a baby to term, all of her pregnancies ending in miscarriage. She was infuriated and wanted the child gone. She demanded her husband dispose of her.

That girl, who birthed that tiny baby alone in the barn, was my mother. And that baby, who survived despite the odds stacked against her, was me. My name is Isabella Swan, and today is my sixteenth birthday.

It would surprise people if they knew the world I was born into existed. Abraham Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, outlawing ownership of

8

other human beings, but it didn’t end there. People were still bought and sold, bound to servitude, stripped of all rights and privileges. I was born in 1989, well over a century after Lincoln abolished slavery. Slavery exists in every in corner of America, the slave trade in and out of the cities and suburbia kept secret. With enough money, you can buy anyone.

It’s the year 2005… and today I’m being sold.

Chapter 1 - Survival of the fittest

“Sleep is good, death is better; but of course, the best thing would to have never been born at all” - Heinrich Heine

IPOV

“You’ve gotta get up soon sweetheart,” my mother’s voice said softly beside me. I grumbled incoherently, keeping my eyes closed and turning over away from her. She sighed, reaching out and stroking my brown hair softly. She was quiet for a few moments and I could feel her hand trembling, her breathing shaky. She was taking this hard.

“Charles will be back soon,” she whispered, barely audible but I flinched as his name escaped her lips. “You know what will happen if you’re still in bed when he returns.”

“Maybe it’s for the best. Maybe he’ll kill me and get it over with,” I mumbled. My mom sobbed loudly upon my words, losing the composure she was fighting hard to keep. I sighed loudly and mumbled a quick apology, not wanting to upset her.

I pulled myself up into a sitting position and glanced over at her. She was sitting on the floor beside the mattress we slept on. Our room was a sectioned off loft on the top of a barn—the same barn I’d been born in—and was a few feet from the house. The room itself was about 6.5 feet high and about 10 feet by 10 feet. It was small, for sure, but there was a large window that took up nearly the entire wall that made it appear to be more open.

My moms face was swollen, her cheeks streaked with tears and eyes bloodshot. I

9

had to look away quickly, unable to bear it.

Charles Swan, the man whose blood pumped in my veins and whose DNA I shared, left two nights ago for a business trip to speak to a 'potential buyer'. He went away often for that reason, as he not only sold real estate as a front but he ran a significant identity theft and forgery ring, but I wasn’t fooled. I knew what he was off selling right now—Me. I’d overheard him and his wife discussing me a week ago. She told him she wanted me gone and I suspect she was insinuating he murder me, but he instead decided I’d be sold. He told her he could get a good bit of money for me and said he had someone in mind that was looking. He was due to return this morning.

I was frightened, there was no doubt about it. I had no idea what the future held, where I’d be sent to and what situation I’d be put into. I’d also never been away from my mother and that was what scared me the most.

I don’t have a lot of life experience. I can count the number of times I’d been off of the Swan family property in my entire life on my fingers. I’ve never had a chance to socialize and can probably name every person I’ve ever met off the top of my head. I’ve only ever met one person my age and that was a slave Charles bought last year. She had been here for a little over a week when she tried to escape. He caught her a mile down the road and dragged her back, pulling her into the house by her hair. He beat her to death right in front of me and left her lying on the floor for hours. I was forced to clean up the blood and bits of flesh embedded into the wooden floor after he finally removed her body. It was gruesome and made me vomit—I’d gotten a pretty bad beating for that.

And besides Charles and his father, I’d never actually spoken to another man before. I didn’t remember much of Charles’s father, he was rarely around, and Charles had always been cold toward me. All of the slaves here were female, and when visitors came we were kept locked away. Men frightened me--they were foreign, unknown. I'd gotten plenty of glimpses of other men, the ones paid to stand guard around the perimeter of the property, but I'd never had any interaction with them. The only ones who interacted with the guards were the one's who were stupid enough to try to flee. They weren't always out there and you couldn't always see them when they were, but you always knew there was a chance that you were being watched by someone in the shadows. It was like they were taunting us, letting us know that technically slipping away undetected was

10

possible, you just never knew when. It was gambling with your life and very few were willing to take that risk. The ones who did always failed.

“I’m up,” I muttered eventually. I climbed up from the mattress and walked over to the dresser, grabbing whatever was on top. All of my clothes were old and tattered, hand-me-downs that were my mothers when she grew up.

I put on a white shirt that was covered in stains and slipped on a pair of jeans. They were worn and faded, holes worn into both knees and the bottoms frayed. I didn’t have any shoes, hadn’t had any in years. My feet were rough, the skin thickened and tough from going barefoot. It didn’t bother me anymore, I could step on a nail and it probably wouldn’t even register.

My mom walked up behind me with a comb and started running it through my hair, trying to get the knots out. It was fruitless… It desperately needed a good washing. She gave up after a minute, grabbing a rubber band and pulling it back.

I heard the sound of a car coming up the driveway and my heart started racing. I

was frozen in spot, frightened. My mom dashed to the widow, glancing out. Her eyes were wide, her expression panicked. She knew just as well as I did that my time was running short—she knew where Charles had gone.

The car came to a stop in front of the house, the engine cutting off. I heard a car door slam shut and listened intently, waiting to hear any sign of someone being with him.

“He’s alone,” my mom said, sounding pleased. I exhaled loudly, realizing I had been holding my breath. She turned and smiled lightly at me, her expression relieved. She walked to me quickly, pulling me into a hug and squeezing tightly. “Maybe he changed his mind.”

I laughed bitterly. “Yeah, right.”

She sighed, pulling out of the hug and grabbing my hand. “Don’t give up hope Isabella,” she said sternly.

I nodded, more to appease her than anything. She didn’t need to know that I’d given up hope a long time ago when I realized that an entire world existed

11

beyond ours—a world I knew very little of.

We started for the door, wanting to get over to the house to greet Charles before he decided to come looking for us, when the sound of gravel crunching and the light purr of an engine registered with our ears, indicating a car was coming up the driveway. My head snapped toward my mom quickly, fear and panic written all over my face. Her expression matched mine.

“Isabella!!!” Charles yelled from the house. “Get your ass in here now!”

I was shaking lightly, more scared now than ever before. My mom tried to smile, obviously wanting to comfort me, but it came off looking like a grimace.

“Come on,” she said softly, leading me out of the room and down the stairs. We headed into the back of the house and Charles was standing in the foyer, gazing out the front door. He heard us coming and glanced in our direction.

“Did I call for you Renee?” he asked, his tone sharp. My mom froze in spot, glancing between Charles and I quickly.

“I just thought…” she started.

“You aren’t here to think. Get your ass upstairs to my room, we’ll deal with you later.”

My mom nodded and tried to let go of my hand, but I clutched onto it tightly. She sighed, using her other hand to pry my fingers away. “It’ll be okay sunshine, don’t worry. Just listen to Charles and be on your best behavior.”

I nodded and she leaned over to kiss my cheek lightly before retreating up the stairs. Charles shot me a pointed look and I walked the last few steps into the foyer. I stared down at the ground, shaking with fear and chewing on my bottom lip trying to keep my composure.

The front door opened and I heard a man speaking instantly. His voice was smooth and slightly soft, the exact opposite of Charles’s. I glanced up in their direction and nearly gasped at the sight of him. He was fairly tall, with bright blonde hair that was slicked back and sparkling blue eyes. He was wearing an

12

expensive looking suit and was talking into a cell phone. He was staring right at me and raised his eyebrows questioningly when he saw me looking at him. I felt fear shoot through me, afraid of what his reaction meant, unsure if he’d be upset that I had looked at him. Charles tended to punish us if he caught us staring at him. I blushed, embarrassed, and stared back down at the floor.

The man continued to talk on his phone—he was talking about some shipment coming in somewhere. He hadn’t spoken to either Charles or I, not even really acknowledging us. After a few minutes I peeked back up and saw Charles standing across the room, looking almost as nervous as me. My brow furrowed in confusion, as I’d never seen him like that before. Charles was always in control, never off his game. But now… now he looked rattled. He kept glancing over at the blonde haired man nervously, his eyes darting down toward the floor.

Even more fear rocked me as I realized that Charles was afraid of the man. It was written all over his face.

The blonde haired man finally told whomever he was speaking to that he had to go and snapped his phone shut.

All was completely silent then, the only sound I could hear was the blood pumping through my body furiously. I stood frozen in spot, afraid to move.

“She looks horrible,” the man said after a moment, his voice oozing disgust. My eyes widened, his words hurting. I’d had pretty much every insult imaginable thrown at me from Charles and his wife and I usually shrugged it off, but something about this virtual stranger cracked my tough exterior.

“I know she’s not the greatest looking girl…” Charles started, but the blonde haired man cut him off.

“I didn’t say she was ugly,” he said sharply. Charles stopped speaking abruptly. “But she does look horrible. You’ve got money, you can’t afford to dish out a few bucks on a decent outfit or a pair of shoes for the child? Christ, look how tore up her feet are!”

“I, uh… well…” Charles mumbled. I peeked up at saw the blonde haired man staring at me. My eyes met his and a slight smile crept onto his lips.

13

I looked back down after a second, eye contact with him being slightly uncomfortable. I wasn’t used to it, the scrutiny of his gaze causing me to fidget.

“How much?” he asked after a moment.

“Well I was hoping to get one for her,” Charles said. The blonde haired man laughed.

“One, eh? When’s the last time the girl had a good scrubbing?”

“750?” Charles asked, his voice hopeful. “I mean, she’s still a virgin.”

The blonde haired man was quiet. I didn’t dare look up but I could feel his gaze, could sense him staring at me. My heart was racing wildly at the mention of my virginity, fear rocking me. The only knowledge of sex I had is what the women around here mentioned. I’d seen Charles have sex with my mother before, have heard them more times than I could count, and I remember clearly her crying afterwards, completely disgusted. Sex in my eyes was nothing but a repulsive form of punishment.

I glanced up again eventually, the silence wearing me down. My eyes met his again and he raised his eyebrows questioningly, so I looked away quickly, chewing on my lip nervously.

“She can’t even keep eye contact with me. There’s no way that’ll fly at my house,” he said, finally breaking the silence.

“Girl,” Charles said sharply. My head shot up and I looked at the blonde haired man, making sure to make eye contact. The last thing I wanted to do was infuriate Charles, as a beating would make this day worse than it already was.

“Sorry Master Charles,” I said softly. The blonde-haired man smiled after a moment, cocking his head to the side and eyeing me up. He finally nodded.

“She’s got potential. I’ll give you 500.”

Charles frowned. “With her age and virginity, I could get a lot more for her from

14

the auction.” My eyes widened at the mention of the auction. I knew from the others that girls who were bought and sold at the action were typically turned into sex slaves and prostitutes, whereas people occasionally got lucky in private sales.

The blonde haired man smiled. “Possibly, but she isn’t worth that much for what I want her for. It’s evident she’s not used to being around people, you said she can’t even read or write.”

I finally broke eye contact at his mention of reading and writing, glancing back

down at the ground. Charles didn’t know, but I had learned the basics of both over the years. The other slaves taught me what they knew, which wasn’t much, and the rest I picked up on my own over time. Charles’s wife had a habit of watching TV with the closed captioning on, which helped a lot. I’d been blessed

with an amazing memory and it had all come pretty naturally to me. It was kept

a secret though, because an educated slave was typically viewed as a more dangerous slave.

“She’s a damn good worker, can cook and clean with the best of them.” Charles mumbled. “Obedient. Worth every penny of 750.”

“I can tell. Did you chip her?”

“No, never had a reason to. She’s been here since the day she was born, never showed any indication of thinking about leaving.”

My brow furrowed in confusion. Chipped?

“650, and that’s my final offer. I’ll have to have her chipped and it’s evident you have nothing for the child, so I’m going to have to shell out the money to get her set up properly.”

Charles was quiet for a moment. “You’ve got a deal,” he finally said.

I glanced up again and the blonde haired man smiled. “I’ll be back tomorrow with

the cash. Clean her up a bit for me, I’m not taking her anywhere with me looking like that.”

15

Charles nodded, reaching his hand out to shake the blonde haired guys’. He snapped open his cell phone and dialed a number, heading for the door. He paused in the doorway, turning back to look at me briefly.

“What’s your name, child?”

“Isabella,” I said softly, barely audible.

“Excuse me?” he said, raising his eyebrows expectantly. He hadn’t been able to hear me.

“My name’s Isabella, sir.”

He smiled and nodded. “Well, happy birthday Isabella.”

“Thank you, sir,” I said, slight taken back. He’d been the first one to wish me a happy birthday, my own mother not mentioning the fact that I turned sixteen today. But birthdays weren’t typically acknowledged for the most part, as there was nothing to celebrate. The older the slaves got, the less useful they were. At a certain point, they were deemed so useless that they were eradicated. My mother had always tried to shield me from that, not wanting me to know that slaves faced their own form of genocide.

He nodded and headed out to his car. I stood frozen in spot, not daring to move until Charles excused me. Charles stood at the door and watched as the car started up and the blonde haired man pulled out of the driveway. He sighed loudly and turned toward me. I glanced up at him and saw his expression was ruthless, his glare menacing.

He walked toward me quickly, closing the distance between us. I braced myself, unsure of what he was going to do, when his hand shot out and slapped me hard right across the face. My head jerked sideways and I brought my hand up to my cheek, stinging pain shooting through me. I tasted the bitter saltiness immediately, realizing I’d be chewing on my lip and pierced the skin with my teeth from the force of his hit. My eyes welled up with tears and I tried to look away and fight them back, not wanting him to see me cry. I sucked on my lip, nearly gagging on the disgusting blood taste but not wanting him to see it. The sight of blood tended to urge him on, like it taunted him to draw even more. He

16

grasped me by my chin roughly and pulled my face toward him, forcing me to look at him.

“That man is powerful, important. Don’t you embarrass me girl, you hear me?” he yelled, his face a mere few inches from mine. I could smell the stench of alcohol on his breath, feel the slight spray of saliva from his words.

“Yes, Master Charles,” I whispered, losing the fight and tears running down my cheek. He sighed, exasperatedly, and pushed me backwards. I stumbled but thankfully was able to stay upright.

“Go to the kitchen and help with lunch while I go deal with your mother,” he said. I nodded.

“Yes, sir.” I headed for the kitchen, where a slave named Clara already had lunch started. She glanced up at me when I entered and smiled sadly.

“You okay?” she asked softly. I nodded but didn’t say anything. The side of my face was throbbing, tears still running down my face.

I grabbed a spoon and went to the stove, stirring pasta that Clara already had boiling. I closed my eyes and sighed when I heard the familiar sound of thumping start from upstairs. Charles’s room was directly above the kitchen and we could hear the headboard of the bed hitting against the wall when he had his way with her. That was his way of punishing my mom; he usually never raised a hand to her, he degraded her in different ways.

They came down eventually, Charles heading to his office and my mom joining us in the kitchen. I could see the streaks on her face from where she had been crying, but she smiled at me trying to pretend nothing was wrong.

After we finished making lunch, my mom and I headed outside to the garden. We were only allowed to eat when invited to and that normally only happened once a day, usually at night. I got down on my hands and knees and started pulling weeds. We lived in Phoenix, Arizona, which happened to be one of the hottest and driest places in the country, so it didn’t take long before I was sweating profusely and my skin was turning pink from sun exposure.

17

Charles’s wife returned home and she headed into the house. She’d been staying gone a lot lately, which was quite a catch-22. It helped me, as she tended to single me out to torture purely for amusement, but my mom suffered more when Charles’s wife was gone. My mom said they used to appear to love each other, but their marriage had turned into one of convenience for the most part. I surely wasn’t an expert on relationships, but I do know that whatever type of bond they shared now wasn’t something I’d ever want to be a part of myself. It was unstable--they were always fighting and screaming and angry at each other. I imagined that couldn’t be love.

I wasn’t exactly knowledgeable about love though, either, so what did I know. I guess what I felt for my mom was a form of love and I liked to believe she loved me, but our situation didn’t exactly condone really deep connections. You had to detach yourself somewhat from everyone else to survive in this life. You never knew when someone close to you was going to be hurt right in front of you, or when their time would be up and they’d be killed. There was nothing you could do to stop it, as intervening would only land you the same fate as them. You had to look out for yourself first and foremost, no matter how much you wanted to care for others. I wasn’t sure I’d ever actually felt what love was really like and knew romantic love was completely out of the question. I had no desire to experience it anyway, no desire to allow myself to be vulnerable. Vulnerability was the quickest way to land yourself six feet under.

My mom tried to stand up for me, shield me from the bad as much as possible. I felt like a burden to her, often wondered if it would’ve been better had I never been born. I never said those things out loud, knowing she’d disagree and tell me how precious I was and how much I meant to her. A part of me wondered if maybe me being sent away was for the best. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and maybe I was being sent off to certain death, but at least my mother wouldn’t have to carry the weight of my existence on her shoulders anymore.

After a few minutes, Charles’s wife came back outside and waltzed out to the garden, glaring down at me. “I heard you were sold to the Cullen family today,” she said, her voice sounding smug. I glanced up at her and saw a sinister smile playing on her lips. “There’s no way you’re good enough for them.”

She laughed to herself, amused, and turned to walk back away. My heart was

18

pounding frantically and I glanced over at my mom, who was absent-mindedly pulling weeds and appeared to be shocked.

“Do you know who they are?” I asked after a few minutes. My mom sighed, stopping what she was doing and sitting up on her knees.

“I heard the name often growing up. Powerful family. Organized crime. They aren’t the type you cross, if you know what I mean.”

I nodded, realizing now why Charles had been so nervous in the blonde haired mans presence. He had seemed nice enough but there had been a confidence about him that was intimidating.

“You’ll be okay,” my mom said finally, going back to work. “You’re strong, always were. You’ll survive it. Honestly, anything has to be better than this place.”

We worked in silence after that, both of us lost in thought. The back door to the house opened eventually, Charles and his wife walking out. “Renee, bring Isabella into the house and get her cleaned up real good.”

My mom stood up and held her hand out to me. I took it and she hauled me up off the ground. We started toward the house slowly. I kept my head down, trying to avoid eye contact as we walked past Charles and his wife. Before we cleared them, however, Charles’s wife kicked her leg out, tripping me. I went flying, closing my eyes and throwing my hands out to brace myself for impact with the ground. I landed on my hands and knees, pain shooting through my limbs. I hauled myself up and saw that my hands were scuffed and littered with gravel. I glanced down and saw that my knees also had been scraped, a streak of blood running down my right leg and staining my pants.

“You got dirt on my shoes, slave,” Charles’s wife sneered, narrowing her eyes at me.

“Sorry, Mistress,” I said softly.

Charles’s wife snickered but Charles groaned. “Clean her cuts out good while you’re at it,” he said to my mom.

19

We headed up stairs to the bathroom reserved for the servants. My mom started filling the tub up with water while I stripped my clothes off. I slipped inside the tub, hissing as the steaming hot water made contact with my sensitive skin. The water caused my palms and knees to sting.

I dipped my head back and she grabbed the shampoo, pouring some into her

hand and lathering it up in my head. I closed my eyes and sighed contently, feeling her fingers massaging my scalp. I knew this was one of the last few moments I’d get with my mom and I was savoring every second of it. I had no idea where I was going or what I’d be doing, but I did know what I was leaving behind and that fact hurt.

Chapter 2 - Change is inevitable

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life. It goes on.” -- Robert Frost

IPOV

I hauled the large window open and sat on the windowsill, gazing out. I had on a

pair of plain black Capri’s that my mom had managed to scrounge up and a pink tank top that Charles had gotten from his wife’s closet, much to her dismay. He also purchased a pair of black flip-flops last night, not wanting me to be barefoot today. His wife hadn’t been very happy about that, despite the fact that he’d only apparently paid a dollar for them. I could hear them arguing over in the house

half the night over it.

Everyone else was outside working but I was forbidden from leaving the room in the barn, Charles not wanting me to get dirty. I was sweating, the humidity intolerable, and my mom said I had a slight bruise on my face from Charles hitting me yesterday. I hadn’t seen it myself, as I didn’t exactly have access to a mirror, so I wasn’t sure how bad it actually was. My mom tended to downplay those sorts of things. I also could feel the sunburn on my cheeks from working outside so much yesterday, and my palms and knees were scuffed up but besides that I was fairly well put together. My hair was clean, the knots all out, and it hung loosely down my back.

I was gazing down at my mom, who was working in the garden. She looked

20

exhausted, had been up all night with me sobbing and holding me tightly. It was our last night together and she didn’t want to waste a single moment of it.

I heard the car approaching and Renee’s head shot up as she froze. She glanced between up at me, looking panicked. I turned my head to look at the car, it was black with dark tinted windows, expensive looking. I watched as the blonde haired man stepped out of the drivers seat, closing the door behind him. He was on his cell phone again and paused, looking up at me in the window. Charles walked outside and greeted him but he ignored Charles, focusing his attention on me. He turned away after a moment, smiling.

They went inside the house and I sighed, running my fingers through my hair, nervously trying to make sure I was decent. They were in Charles’s office, their laughter ringing through the house and filtering out the open windows. My heart was pounding frantically and I felt slightly sick, light-headed and queasy. I hadn’t eaten in awhile, Charles refusing to feed any of us last night because he’d caught Clara sneaking a bite of food while cooking dinner. She’d only swiped a bit of sauce off of a spoon, claiming to ensure it was done properly and tasted good, but Charles didn’t care. Tasting anything without permission, regardless of how insignificant, was stealing in his eyes. He called us all out into the yard at dinnertime and tied her to the railing of the porch, forcing us to watched as he whipped her with a piece of cord. It was brutal, hearing her screams and watching her cry, being unable to do anything to help her.

Charles hollered for me from the house eventually and I stood up, taking a deep breath. I glanced around the room I’d shared with my mother my entire life, taking it all in one last time before heading out. I walked across the yard slowly, making sure not to fall as I was clumsy by nature and the last thing I needed was to embarrass myself already. When I reached the house I stepped inside and glanced up, making sure to make eye contact with the blonde-haired man. His smile fell immediately upon seeing me, and he groaned loudly.

“What the hell happened to her face?” he asked, his voice sharp and angry. My eyes widened, as did Charles’s.

“She’s clumsy, she fell,” Charles muttered quickly. The blonde-haired man sighed, shaking his head.

21

“Do you have any makeup? Your wife has to have foundation or something to cover up the bruise.”

“Uh, I’m not sure how my wife will feel about that, I mean her makeup cost a fortune, was special ordered and mixed,” Charles said.

“Well I can’t take her in public with a fucking handprint on her face, Charles,” the man spat. Charles recoiled from his hostility and nodded.

“Yeah, okay, hold on.” Charles retreated from the room quickly, heading past me up the stairs toward his room. I heard his wife’s voice after a moment, yelling— she definitely wasn’t happy about it. Charles yelled back at her and they started fighting loudly. I was used to their fighting by now and it surely wasn’t anything new that I was the source of conflict.

The man walked forward to me. He reached his hand out toward my face and I flinched instinctively. “I’m not going hit you, child,” he said softly. He ran his fingers lightly along the bruise, surveying my face. His touch was soft and surprised me—no one besides my mother had ever touched me so gently. “You’ll be alright, it should cover up nicely.”

A loud crashing sound came from upstairs, following by more screaming, and I

jumped. The blonde-haired man groaned loudly. “Such ingrates,” he muttered,

more to himself than anything. “But what do you expect from a man who would sell his own flesh-and-blood.”

I glanced at him with surprise and he smiled lightly. “Yeah, I’m not stupid. I know you’re his.”

A door slammed upstairs, echoing through the house and vibrating the walls. We

both flinched from the sound and he dropped his hand. Charles came downstairs scowling, holding a small bottle of liquid foundation in his hand. He paused in front of me, glancing between the bottle and me, unsure of what to do. I knew nothing of makeup and neither did he. The blonde-haired man cursed under his breath, snatching the bottle harshly from Charles’s hand and opening it. He tipped it and pored a bit out onto his finger, bringing it up and rubbing it into my cheek.

22

When he was satisfied with how I looked, he closed up the bottle and slipped it in his pants pocket. Charles looked at him incredulously and the man smirked. “Thank your wife for the makeup for me, will you? And be thankful I don’t take more than that. Everyone knows there’s consequences to delivering damaged goods, what were you thinking laying a hand on her after you had just sold her? Did you get a kick out of getting a last few licks in? Did you at least leave the child’s virginity intact?”

I glanced up and involuntarily smiled at Charles’s stunned expression. The man caught me and I stopped instantly, afraid of coming off as smug or defiant, but he didn’t react. Charles would’ve beaten me to a pulp if he ever caught me reacting that way.

“Yes, she’s still pure, I’m absolutely positive she’s never whored around. I’d never touch her in that way and I’m the only male she’s been around.”

The man froze, eyeing Charles skeptically. “Ever?” he asked, slightly hesitant with disbelief. Charles nodded.

“Besides my father when she was a small child and now you, she’s never spoken to or even been in the same room with another man.”

The man pinched the bride of his nose, groaning. “No wonder she’s so apprehensive.” He chuckled after a moment before laughing loudly. “Oh, this is going to be fun. Real fun.”

Things grew quiet, Charles looking slightly scared and the man seemingly slightly frustrated but borderline amused about something. I was a bit shocked and frightened by the man’s reaction; he wasn’t making much sense to me. What was so funny about me not having experience with males? And the fact that his words were dripping with sarcasm concerned me. “Pleasure doing business with you, Swan,” he said after a moment.

“You too Mr. Cullen, sir,” Charles mumbled back. The man turned and glanced at me, raising his eyebrows expectantly.

“Is there anything you’d like to take with you?” I shook my head no as I didn’t have any personal possessions. “Okay, I guess we’ll go then.”

23

He held his hand out to me and I furrowed my brow, confused, unsure of what he wanted. He sighed loudly, snatching a hold of my hand and pulling me toward the door. The man paused and pulled my hand up, looking at the fresh scrape on my palm. He turned and glared at Charles briefly, shaking his head. His expression was hostile, his eyes narrowed, and I felt my heart start racing. It was clear this man could be terrifying when he wanted to be. I turned and gave one last glance at Charles before being pulled outside.

He led me toward the car and without thinking I froze, stopping abruptly as my gaze fell upon my mother standing in the garden. She was staring right at me, her expression horrified. We both knew it was coming, we both knew I was leaving and had come to grips with it in our own ways, but watching it happen was something entirely different. Harder than I imagined it would ever be.

The man felt my resistance, refusal to take another step, and glanced around with confusion trying to figure out why I’d stopped. His eyes fell upon my mom and he sighed. “Is that your mother?” he asked. I nodded and felt the tears welling up in my eyes. He exhaled loudly, something between a huff and a sigh, seeming frustrated but not entirely angry. “You can have a moment to say goodbye.”

My head snapped in his direction, shocked. “You mean it?” I asked cautiously, trying to keep my hope at bay. I didn’t know this man, didn’t know if it were some type of trick to test me.

His expression mirrored his frustration. “I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it,” he said pointedly. He nodded in her direction. “We have things to do, I don’t have all day. Go.”

He dropped my hand and I glanced over at my mom. I started sprinting in her direction, kicking off the flip-flops along the way. I leapt at her and she caught me, both of us stumbling backwards. She hugged me tightly. “My baby girl,” she sobbed.

The tears fell from my eyes and I squeezed her tightly. “I’ll miss you mom.”

“I’ll miss you too. And don’t you give up hope, Isabella. Promise me. You’re

24

destined for more.” I nodded, unable to speak through my now heavy sobbing. She pulled away after a moment, reaching out and brushing my tears away from my cheeks.

“I didn’t ruin my makeup, did I?” I asked her cautiously; afraid the hard work to cover my bruise had been wiped away. She smiled and shook her head.

I glanced behind me, noticing the man glancing at his watch with an annoyed

expression on his face. My mom sighed. “You need to get going,” she said. I nodded, leaning over and kissing her cheek quickly. I turned and started back toward the car, picking up my shoes along the way and slipping them back on while staring down at the ground. Walking away from her was the hardest thing I’d ever done. My mom was the only true constant in my life and I knew, walking away from her, I’d likely never see her again.

I reached the car and he opened the passenger door for me. I slipped inside and

grabbed the seat belt, putting it on. I’d only ridden in a car a handful of times and felt slightly out of place. He climbed into the drivers seat and buckled up, starting the car up and pulling away. I stared out the side window crying quietly, trying to fight back the tears but they continued to spill over. There was soft classical music playing on the car stereo, thankfully loud enough to drown out my shaky breathing.

“I’m not sure if you’re aware, but my name is Dr. Carlisle Cullen,” he said after a moment, breaking the silence. I glanced at him quickly with confusion, slightly caught off guard by the title. He smiled lightly. “Yes, I assure you I am indeed a real doctor.”

I nodded once, acknowledging I’d heard him. “Sorry, sir, I didn’t mean to seem

like I didn’t believe you. I just thought…” I trailed off, stopping myself before I

said too much.

He smiled, seemingly slightly amused but there was a subtle seriousness in his

eyes. I thought I’d learned how to read people pretty good over the years, a trick you have to pick up to keep yourself out of the line of fire when you live the life I do, but I was having a hard time grasping his moods. He wasn’t reacting the way

I was used to people reacting, his expressions conflicting. “I imagine that’s not

the part of my life people would inform you of. No, nothing scandalous or exciting

25

about practicing medicine, right?” he asked.

“Right,” I said softly, chewing on my bottom lip nervously, unsure if he was being playful or if he were annoyed at the insinuation of his other lifestyle. I winced as my teeth dug into the sore spot that had been busted open the day before.

“So what do you know about my family?”

I shrugged. “Not much. Just that your family may have ties to… organized crime,”

I said hesitantly, unsure of how much I was allowed to know. Charles always shielded us from his work, anytime someone questioned or hinted about his illegal involvements he’d punish them severely.

He nodded and thankfully didn’t lash out or appear upset--he seemed to be thinking about something. “Do you know what it means to be tied to organized crime?” he asked after a moment.

“Not exactly,” I said. “Is it like in the movie ‘The Untouchables’?”

He looked at me with a look of disbelief before breaking out into hysterical laughter, catching me off guard. He composed himself after a moment, wiping his eyes, which had started watering.

“I suppose you could say that. I wasn’t aware you were a fan of such movies,” he said, glancing over at me.

My eyes widened, and I felt dread creeping up into me. We hadn’t actually been allowed to watch TV and I wasn’t sure if he was aware of that. I just practically confessed to having seen at least some of the movie “The Untouchables”, which would indicate I’d been disobedient.

“Master Charles was a big fan of it sir, watched it often. It was just a movie so I wasn’t sure how off-base it was.”

He smiled. “It’s fairly accurate, I suppose. It is a story based on my organization, after all.”

I nodded, outwardly remaining calm but that fact frightening me a bit. I hadn’t

26

seen the entire thing, of course, but it was chocked full of dangerous men and violence. He was quiet for a moment before sighing. “Look, we’re going to get

this out into the open now. I’m going to tell you what I feel you should know, and

if you have any questions you’re free to ask them. There’s one thing you’ll learn

quickly in my house, and that’s that we’re open people. We don’t hide or keep secrets inside the walls of the Cullen property, never have and we’re not going to start now. You’ll hear and see things that you probably shouldn’t, but the fact

remains that you will. By the time we reach my house I want you to be well aware of what is and is not expected of you. I anticipate a certain adjustment period but I want things to go as smoothly as possible from the start.”

I nodded in understanding. He paused for a moment and seemed to be thinking,

judging by his expression. “First and foremost, I expect allegiance. Anything less than complete loyalty and you’ll be deemed a traitor and face the consequences, and in case you’re unaware the punishment for treason in my world is death. You’ll see that I run my household differently from others and your life is going to be nothing like it was with your father. You will have a certain amount of freedom within my house and your life with us will grant you some sense of normalcy, but don’t let it fool you Isabella. I own you. If you defy me, or act out beyond what I think is normal behavior, you will be punished. But I will not routinely beat you just for the sake of doing it, as I think that’s despicable. I am not a child abuser, my own children can attest to that.”

I was looking at him with a bit of surprise, his words sinking in. It was hard to

reconcile it all or understand exactly what it was he was telling me. I’d only ever

lived one way, and had no idea what he meant by having certain freedoms or normalcy. I had no idea what normal was.

He was looking at me expectantly, obviously wanting me to say something in response. I was unsure of what to say or how to react so I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind. “You have children?”

He nodded. “I do. Three teenage boys. Two eighteen year olds and a seventeen year old.”

“Twins?’ I asked curiously. He shook his head.

“The eldest was adopted when he was almost a year old. The other two were

27

born back-to-back. We basically went from childless to having three boys within one year.” I felt a dread creep through me at the prospect of being in close proximity with three boys close to my age. I was barely comfortable enough around Dr. Cullen to even speak—how was I going to deal with three males my own age? I had no idea what to expect with them, how to act around them.

He noticed my worried expression and smiled lightly. “Yes, I know. You’ve never been around men, much less teenage boys. You’re in for quite a shock.” He laughed to himself, shaking his head. “Don’t worry though, my sons know what is expected of them and will act appropriate enough. They can be rambunctious at

times but I like to think they’re decent boys for the most part. They’ll never raise

a hand to you, as they’ve been raised to respect women. They’ll also never force

themselves upon you for the same reason. You may find them to be a bit flirtatious but I assure you, they’re relatively harmless. You may actually grow to

enjoy their company.”

I nodded, unsure as to whether or not that could ever be a possibility but not

disagreeing with him. I didn’t know him well enough to know if he was lying but I was quite relieved to hear that there apparently weren’t any plans of abusing me.

“So what is expected of me?” I asked cautiously.

He sighed. “Quite a few years back I relocated my family to Washington from Chicago, for safety purposes. I’m still very much involved in the business in Chicago; I’m a Consigliere, or advisor of sorts within the organization. My family’s been held in high regard within the order for a very long time and it’s ingrained in me, but I maintain another life in Washington where I indeed do practice medicine. I’m able to handle a lot of my other affairs from afar, but it takes a lot of time out of my life and I often have no choice but to travel to Chicago and take care of things in person.”

He glanced at me, I assume to gauge whether or not I was keeping up and how I was taking the information. I had no idea what it all had to do with me but I nodded in acknowledgment so he knew I was listening.

“Because of my work, I have very little time for other things. My household still needs ran and maintained, and that’s where you come in. I’d usually go for someone older, but my boys are grown now and can take care of themselves for

28

the most part so they don’t need anyone to look after them. I figured it might work out better now if I brought someone closer to their own age into the household.”

“So basically cooking and cleaning?” I asked. He nodded.

“For the most part, yes. I don’t expect you to wait on us hand-and-foot, though. The boys are free to keep their rooms as they want. The most you’ll have to do for them is likely laundry, as I’m quite sure none of them know or even care to know how to operate a washer or dryer. If they do request you to do something in their bedroom, than you are expected to do so, but it’s not often that’ll happen. The older two are good at pulling their own weight and the youngest is a bit finicky with his stuff, so I’m not sure he’ll ever invite you inside his bedroom much less ask you to touch his belongings. And unless they invite you in their rooms, you aren’t to enter them under any circumstances, do you understand?”

“Yes, sir,” I said softly.

“Basically, as long as the main parts of the house are kept up with and we have clean clothes to wear there won’t be any problems. As far as cooking goes, you’re responsible for dinner being ready around 7pm every night. Breakfast and lunch we’re typically either not home or we fend for ourselves, but if one of us asks that you make us something of course you should do so.”

I nodded. It seemed relatively easy so far, I didn’t quite grasp why he’d need to stoop so low as to purchase a slave.

“And your wife, sir? Where is she?” I asked, noticing he hadn’t mentioned his boys’ mother. His expression shifted, as he visibly grew upset. He didn’t respond or even turn to me and acknowledge what I’d said, instead glaring straight ahead at the road. I could tell I hit a nerve by bringing up a sensitive subject.

I gazed out the side window, thinking. I was trying to come to grips with everything, trying to understand what my purpose was.

“Do you have another question, Isabella?” Dr. Cullen asked after awhile, seeing the slightly confused look on my face. I looked over at him and saw he was watching me expectantly.

29

“I guess I’m just curious why you bought me, sir.”

He smiled lightly. “Why you in particular, or why did I buy someone period?”

“Both, I guess. I mean I do wonder why me but I just don’t see why you had to buy a slave. Couldn’t you just hire a cook and maid? At least you wouldn’t be breaking the law that way.”

He laughed loudly, startling me. “Dear, nothing about my life is legal, which is exactly why legal help is impossible. Have you already forgotten the part where I said there were no secrets inside our property? I can’t simply hire someone and hope they don’t see anything, or if they do they keep their mouth shut. No, I need to know my secrets are safe.”

“That makes sense, I guess,” I said.

He smiled and drove in silence for a while. “As for why you,” he said eventually. “Well… maybe I’ll explain that to you another day.”

After being in the car for about 20 minutes he pulled into a parking lot of a large building and shut the car off. I glanced over and saw a green, blue, and white sign. I couldn’t read the entire thing but I made out the part that declared it was

a ‘Medical Center’.

Dr. Cullen turned to me, his expression serious. “I expect you to be on your best

behavior inside of here. I’ll try to make this as comfortable as possible for you, as

I know you’ve likely never been to a hospital or had an exam before, but until you get chipped I can’t let you out of my sight. Do you understand?”

“Chipped?” I asked hesitantly, not at all understanding what he was talking about.

He pinched the bridge of his nose and appeared frustrated. “It’s a small microchip, do you know what one of those is?” I shook my head no cautiously. “GPS?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. I shook my head no again. “It’s hard to explain, you’ll just have to see for yourself,” he said with a shrug.

30

He stepped out of the car quickly and I unbuckled my seatbelt. He walked around and opened the passenger door, holding his hand out to me again. I took it this time, timidly. He helped me out of the car and closed the door, turning and leading me toward the building. He let go of my hand as we walked inside and he walked slowly down the wide brightly lit hallway, making sure I was beside him the entire time. He stopped at a door at the end of the hallway and knocked.

A dark skinned man opened the door quickly, smiling widely as his eyes fell upon Dr. Cullen, showing off a large gap between his front teeth. He moved to the side, waving his hand to motion us inside. Dr. Cullen stepped past him and I followed. The other man closed the door behind us, locking it. My heart started racing at the sound of the lock clicking.

“Just in time,” he said in a thick Middle Eastern accent. “So, this is her,” he said, turning to me. His eyes roamed up and down my body slowly, making me uncomfortable. I wrapped my arms around my chest, feeling slightly exposed.

“Yes,” Dr. Cullen said simply.

The man walked across the room and opened up a drawer, rifling through it. He pulled out a small box and a white packet containing a syringe. He opened the box and pulled something out so small that I couldn’t really see it, but it sat on the tip of his finger. He glanced up at me and smiled. “Come and sit,” he said, motioning toward a chair beside him. I looked at Dr. Cullen and he nodded, so I took the few steps forward and sat down nervously.

The man opened the syringe and smiled down at me. “Lean your head forward toward your knees,” he said. I did as he said and felt his hand grab the hemline of my shirt and pull it up to expose my back. My heart started racing fast and I panicked, jumping up quickly. The man grabbed a hold of my shoulder, gripping me tightly and threw me back down into the chair. He grabbed the back of my head and forced it down roughly. I cried out and Dr. Cullen groaned.

“Be careful with her, Ishmel,” he said. The man let go of my head immediately. Dr Cullen stood in front of me and brought his hand out, laying it gently on the back of my head—not enough to force me down, but enough pressure to keep me in my position. My shirt was pulled back up again, exposing my back. I felt something cold being rubbed between my shoulders and then a sharp sticking

31

pain. I cried out again and Dr. Cullen sighed. He moved his hand, stroking my hair lightly.

After a second the pain subsided and my shirt was pulled back down. Dr. Cullen let go of me and took a few steps back. I sat upright in the chair but didn’t dare get up. I gazed down at the floor and could feel a tear stream down my cheek.

Dr. Cullen thanked the man and he left the room, shutting the door behind him. Dr. Cullen was quiet and stood in place. After a moment I couldn’t take it anymore and glanced up. He was staring at me intently.

“Are you okay?” he asked. I nodded hesitantly. “I was going to have a full exam done today but I can already tell that wouldn’t go over very well. So I guess it can wait a few days, I’ll just have to do it myself when we get home.”

Chapter 3 - Home Sweet Home

“You come into the world with nothing, and the purpose of your life is to make something out of nothing” -- Henry Louis Mencken

IPOV

Dr. Cullen drove in silence. He hadn’t said much of anything at all since leaving the medical center. I wasn’t sure if this was his usual demeanor or if I’d upset him when I panicked. He hadn’t explained exactly what they’d done to me but I had a pretty good idea that I’d been chipped, whatever that meant. That made me nervous, the talk of microchips and GPS. It couldn't be good, that I was sure of.

His phone rang and he picked it up, glancing at the screen. He sighed exaggeratedly, seeming frustrated, and flipped it open. “Dr. Snow, what do I owe the honor?” he said in an oddly chipper voice that didn't match his expression. I could hear a male voice respond on the line but couldn’t make out what was being said.

“What?! Where is he?!”

32

Dr. Cullen huffed after a moment, thanking the doctor and hanging up. He pushed a few buttons on his phone and put it back up to his ear, listening to it ring.

A voice picked up followed by a beep and Dr. Cullen groaned. “Edward Anthony you have exactly 20 minutes to call me back or the car is gone,” he said sharply. He snapped his phone closed and sighed.

Dr. Cullen was quiet again, an uncomfortable silence lingering in the car. After a moment my stomach growled loudly and I blushed, embarrassed.

Dr. Cullen glanced at the time. “Did you miss breakfast this morning?” he asked.

“Charles doesn’t allow breakfast, sir.”

I glanced over and caught him rolling his eyes. “It’s no wonder you all were so skinny. When’s the last time you ate?”

“The night before last,” I said. Dr. Cullen’s head snapped in my direction and he looked at me incredulously.

“Christ, you need a cheeseburger,” he muttered. I smiled lightly.

He drove for another minute or so before slamming on the brakes and swinging a quick right into a parking lot. I glanced up and saw the golden arch and my eyes widened. I wasn’t completely ignorant to the outside world. Just because I didn’t personally experience things didn’t mean I didn’t know about their existence. I occasionally got my hands on newspapers and magazines and skimmed through them when no one was around, since they didn’t know I could read. I watched my fair share of television over the years also. I never got to sit down and indulge, but I could sneak peeks when no one was paying me any attention and I’d listen to it from another room when Charles or his wife were watching. So just because I was technically a slave from the day I was born, hidden from the outside word, didn’t mean I wasn’t aware of what McDonalds was.

“Have you ever had fast food?” he asked as he pulled up to the drive-thru. I shook my head no and he sighed. “What do you want?”

33

“Uh, whatever you want to get,” I said, slightly stunned that he was not only buying me something to eat but that he was asking me what I wanted. That was definitely a first.

“Just pick out what you want,” he said, shrugging. I glanced over at the menu, slightly overwhelmed.

“Chicken Nuggets, I guess?” He nodded, ordering a McNugget combo with a coke. He paid for it with a silver credit card and handed me the bag of food.

“You can eat in the car,” he said. I smiled and thanked him but he waved me off like it was no big deal. I was taken back by it all. To him it seemed like nothing special but it meant a lot to me. Such a simple gesture but I’d never had someone be so nice to me.

I ate slowly in silence, savoring every bite despite the fact that I was famished. I

enjoyed the bubbliness of the soda also, having never had it before. Charles always forbid us from anything but water and the occasional glass of milk or fruit juice if he deemed it necessary.

Dr. Cullen’s phone rang eventually and he picked it up. He shook his head and flipped it open. “That was 27 minutes, Edward.”

There was silence as Dr. Cullen listened to the person on the phone. He stopped at a red light and reached up to pinch the bridge of his nose, closing his eyes. “It’s only been two weeks, son. Two weeks back in Forks and you can’t stay out of trouble. Maybe public high school isn’t for you, maybe you should go back to Grand River Academy.”

I nearly laughed out loud as I heard the person on the phone scream “NO” but I kept my composure, not wanting to seem like I was eavesdropping. I gathered that Edward was one of Dr. Cullen’s sons.

The light changed and Dr. Cullen still had his eyes closed. “Sir, the light’s green,”

I said hesitantly, unsure how he was going to take me interrupting. His eyes

popped open and he glanced at me, smilingly lightly while hitting the gas.

“Yes, that’s her,” he said, glancing over to me briefly. “But quit changing the

34

subject. I’ll be home in a few hours and we’ll discuss it then.”

Dr. Cullen shut his phone and shook his head. “Have I mentioned that my youngest son has a knack for getting into trouble? He looks exactly like his mother but I swear he’s a clone of me at his age. He’s already following directly in my footsteps.”

“And he’s the finicky one?” I asked.

Dr. Cullen smiled. “Isabella, do you even know what finicky means?”

I smiled sheepishly, blushing from embarrassment. “No, sir.”

He laughed. “Picky. Particular. Fussy. Big ol’ pain in my ass.”

I laughed loudly, stopping myself abruptly and covering my mouth with my hand.

I looked at him with wide eyes. “Sorry,” I mumbled.

He smiled. “No need to apologize. Laughing’s good, you should do it more often.”

I nodded, smiling. We finished the drive in silence, neither of us saying another

word until he pulled into the airport. I was slightly afraid of flying, having never

even considered the option of me ever getting on an airplane, but I kept quiet.

Dr. Cullen reached into the backseat and grabbed a bag. He pulled an orange pill bottle out and opened it, pulling out a tiny white pill and handing it to me. I looked at him questioningly.

“It’s Ativan, for anxiety. It’ll ward off a panic attack.”

I nodded and took the pill from him cautiously. There was a voice inside of me

screaming not to trust him, as anyone who purchased another human being as if they were a possession shouldn’t ever be trusted. But there was a part of me that

was slightly comforted by Dr. Cullen, as irrational as that may have been. Even though he was hard to read and often seemed annoyed and frustrated by me, he had been surprisingly kind overall. He was staring at me expectantly so I popped it in my mouth, swallowing it.

35

I followed Dr. Cullen inside the airport, staying close by his side at all times as he returned the rental car and started checking us in for a flight to Seattle. I followed him through security, following his cues as I was completely out of my element. My fear was surging and I was shaking lightly, having never been around so many people before. It was nerve racking.

Dr. Cullen pulled out an ID card, handing it to me. I glanced down at it and saw it had my picture on it. All of it was right except for my birthday, which was off by two years.

We took a seat, having another few minutes until the plane boarded. I was gazing down at the ID card, a little confused, and Dr. Cullen glanced over at me.

“Happy 18th birthday,” he said. I looked at him and cocked an eyebrow. He smiled. “I can’t have a minor working in my home, child labor laws and all that. Merely for precaution.” I nodded, a little surprised he’d go so far. I was used to being hidden, no one ever knowing I existed.

I felt the drug kicking in after a moment, a light relaxing feeling overcoming me.

I was immensely grateful, my fear dissipating.

A lady came over the intercom, announcing our plane was boarding. Dr. Cullen

purchased first class seats, refusing to fly coach himself and refusing to let me out of his sight. I panicked a bit at take off and when we hit a bit of turbulence at the beginning, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I drifted off to sleep halfway through the flight, utterly exhausted from not having slept the night before.

The flight itself was only about 3 hours long. We landed close to 5pm and Dr.

Cullen nudged me awake. I followed him off the plane and out of the airport, into

a parking lot. He led me to a Black Mercedes with dark tinted windows, unlocking the passenger door and ushering me inside.

He drove to the waterfront and we boarded a ferry around 5:30. I was excited but tried to contain it—I’d never been on the water before and it was utterly beautiful. The trip on the ferry took about an hour, and we slipped back in the car to head back on the road.

It seemed like we’d been driving forever when Dr. Cullen finally slowed and pulled

36

off the main road, onto an overgrown path. It appeared to be in the middle of nowhere, no other houses nearby. It was dark now and I glanced at the clock on the dash. 9:20 pm.

The weather here was shocking. I was used to the hot dry air in Phoenix but the air here was cool and damp. Everything in Phoenix was open and brown; everything here was green and shrouded with overgrowth.

He drove down the narrow path for a few minutes, nothing around us but trees, before coming to a clearing. My eyes widened and I gasped as the house came into sight.

It was massive. I always thought Charles had a big house but this one was over twice the size of his. The house itself appeared to have been here for a long time but was in amazing condition. It was white, three stories high with a large porch wrapping around the first floor. The clearing the house stood on had a few large trees scattered around, I imagine shading the house during the daylight.

Dr. Cullen led me to the front door and opened it, motioning for me to step inside. I did so timidly, feeling completely out of place. The house was graceful, classic—I felt like me just being here degraded it.

I stepped into a large room, large enough that it could’ve originally been several rooms, and glanced around. Everything was different shades of white, making it seem open and airy. The entire back wall was glass and I could see out into the backyard, faintly making out the trees in the dark.

I glanced beside me, to the left, and saw a platform with a piano sitting on it. Behind the piano was a door that led to the kitchen, from what I could tell. There was a living area ahead to the left, I could see the couch. To the right was a massive staircase with some rooms behind it, but I couldn’t tell what they were.

Dr. Cullen closed and locked the front door and pressed a few buttons on a massive keypad on the wall. He walked past me and entered what I believed to be the kitchen and I heard some cabinets banging around. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do, if I was supposed to follow him. He hadn’t said anything, though, so I stayed in place, staring down at the ground.

37

I heard movement after a moment, someone coming down the stairs. I peeked up and my eyes widened as I saw the massive form. He had short dark hair, slightly curly. He had bigger muscles than I’d ever seen on a person before and was at least 6 foot tall. He looked young, his facial features still slightly soft, but his body was intimidating. My eyes shot back down at the floor, my heart racing. He paused at the bottom step and I could sense him watching me.

“Hey, son,” Dr. Cullen’s voice rang out. I looked over and saw him standing in the doorway from the kitchen, looking at the boy who had just walked down the stairs. He was holding a sandwich and I got nervous, unsure if I should’ve done that for him.

“I could’ve made you something to eat, sir,” I said softly, my voice cracking from anxiety.

“Nonsense, child, I’m perfectly capable of throwing together a sandwich,” he said with a smile. I nodded and turned my head to look back down at the ground. He sighed and walked over to me, stopping in front of me. He reached his hand out and gripped my chin, pulling my head up to look at him. “Relax,” he said softly, giving me a small smile. I returned the smile but it did nothing to calm my nerves.

I heard someone else coming down the stairs and Dr. Cullen let go of me, moving away from in front of me. I glanced over and saw a tall boy with slightly tanned skin and curly blonde hair.

“Isabella, this is my middle son, Jasper,” Dr. Cullen said, motioning toward the blonde.

“Hello Isabella,” Jasper said politely, smiling.

“Hello, Jasper, sir,” I said.

“And this is my oldest son Emmett,” Dr. Cullen said, motioning toward the large dark haired boy. I glanced over at him and he smiled, nodding.

“Hi,” he said. I smiled.

38

“Hello, sir.”

He laughed loudly, startling me. “Oh, no that won’t do. I can’t be much older than you. Sir is completely unnecessary.”

“Sorry,” I said softly, smiling lightly.

Dr. Cullen laughed, amused at something. I looked over and saw him shaking his head. He cleared his throat after a moment. “Where’s Edward?” he asked.

Emmett rolled his eyes. “In his room.”

“Is he alone?” Dr. Cullen asked, his voice hesitant as if he really didn’t want to know the answer to the question. Emmett shrugged.

Dr. Cullen shook his head. He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed a number. “Get your ass into my office within the next five minutes,” he said quickly before hanging up. He smiled at me. “You must be hungry, Isabella. Why don’t you go into the kitchen and make yourself a sandwich. After you eat Jasper can show you to your room. I’ll have some clothes purchased for you tomorrow, but I’ll try to scrounge something up for you to sleep in tonight.”

I nodded and hesitated, but turned to walk away. I paused as I stepped inside the massive kitchen, taking it all in. The countertops were marble, most everything dark and metal—the exact opposite of the rest of the house.

Someone brushed past me and I flinched away from the unexpected contact. I glanced up to see Emmett looking at me questioningly, obviously skeptical of my reaction. Jasper walked in behind him and smiled lightly at me.

“Hungry?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. I nodded and he opened the fridge door, glancing around. Emmett grabbed a loaf of bread from the counter top and undid the twisty tie while Jasper pulled out some ham and slices of cheese.

“Uh, I can do that,” I said, breaking my stance and heading toward them. Jasper’s hand shot out toward me and I froze abruptly, instinctively recoiling backwards, bracing for him to hit me. He furrowed his brow and my eyes widened when I realized he’d only raised his hand to wave me off.

39

“I wasn’t going to hit you,” he said incredulously.

“Sorry, I’m just used to… it.” I said, my voice soft. He sighed.

“I can imagine,” he muttered. He grabbed some bread Emmett held out to him and made a sandwich quickly. He pulled off a paper towel and handed it to me along with the sandwich.

I took it hesitantly. “Thank you, sir.”

“You’re welcome.” I stood there and ate my sandwich quietly. Emmett made himself one and left, heading back upstairs. Jasper put everything away and cleaned up, turning to face me when he was done.

He was silent, his expression curious. His gaze was making me nervous and my hands started to shake. He sighed after a moment and turned around, facing away from me.

“Jasper, sir?” I said when I finished my sandwich. “Where’s the trash can?”

He smiled and opened up a cabinet beside him, where the trash can sat. I walked forward and threw my paper towel away.

“Come on, I’ll give you the tour,” he said. He pointed out the dining room adjacent to the kitchen. We walked back out into the big room and I followed him toward the living area, where he pointed out the TV and stereo system and gaming systems and computers. I smiled politely, not really understanding why he was bothering but it was nice of him anyway. He pointed out the bathroom and laundry room under the staircase, and another room, which he indicated was locked constantly and only Dr. Cullen entered.

We started walking for the stairs and Jasper hesitated. “Piano, which you might want to stay away from. If Edward catches you touching it he’d probably break your fingers.”

His voice was serious and I felt a small surge of fear at his words. I had yet to meet Edward, but I gathered he was the most troublesome of the Cullen kids and

40

from what others said he’d likely be the least friendly.

We headed up the wide staircase to the second floor and into a paneled hallway. He pointed out him and Emmett’s rooms at the front and then toward the back he pointed out Dr. Cullen’s room and his office.

We turned to head for the stairs again when a voice suddenly shouted a string of profanities from the vicinity of Dr. Cullen’s office. I froze, my eyes wide with surprise. Jasper laughed, shaking his head.

“That would be Edward. He takes some getting used to.”

Jasper led me to the third floor, coming out into another long paneled hallway. The front was an immense room that Jasper stated was the library. We walked to the back and Jasper paused.

“This is Edwards room,” he said, pointing to the one on the right. “And this will be yours,” he said, pointing to the one on the left. “Each room has it’s own bathroom.”

I nodded, thanking him softly. He smiled and opened up the bedroom door, waving me inside. I stepped in cautiously and Jasper flicked on the light. My eyes widened in surprise at the enormity of the room. It was fully furnished, a massive bed with a mahogany headboard and tan comforter on it was sitting in the back of the room with a matching mahogany dresser and vanity with a large mirror. The room had plush white carpeting, the walls a soft tan color. There was a tan leather couch near the front of the room with a small mahogany table in front of it. I glanced around and my eyes fell upon the flat screen TV that hung on the wall. I gaped at it for a moment, blinking rapidly and shaking my head.

“Are you sure I’m supposed to sleep in here? I mean, there has to be a mistake.”

He laughed lightly. “No, no mistake. Definitely your room. Make yourself comfortable, I’ll see about your clothes to sleep in.”

Jasper turned and walked out, shutting the door behind him. I stayed frozen in spot, glancing around, taking everything in. To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I was completely taken back, out of my element.

41

After a few minutes of complete silence, a door slammed across the hall, startling me. I jumped and yelped, grabbing my chest as my heart started racing. Soft knocks came on my door and it was pushed open slowly. I turned around to see Dr. Cullen in the doorway. He smiled and held out some clothes.

“They’ll be big on you but it’s the best we can come up with right now.”

“Thank you,” I said, taking the clothes from him. He nodded and turned to walk away but hesitated.

“This is your home now too, Isabella. I hope that you’ll grow to be comfortable here. Just remember everything I’ve told you and you shouldn’t have any problems. But if any should arise, don’t hesitate to come to me with them. Okay?”

“Okay,” I said softly.

Chapter 4 - A whole new World

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." -- Anais Nin

IPOV

I started hyperventilating the moment Dr. Cullen closed the door to my bedroom, leaving me on my own for the rest of the evening. My knees were wobbly and I walked slowly over to the tan couch, collapsing on it. I felt so foolish, falling apart as I was, but I couldn’t help it. I wasn’t frightened per say, wasn’t panicking from fear. I was just utterly overwhelmed and confused, unsure of the turn my life was taking. Everything was happening so fast, nothing making sense. I wasn’t used to change, everything was so new to me I didn’t know how to take it all.

After I calmed down enough to function, I stood up and stripped my clothes off quickly. I picked up the clothes Dr. Cullen had brought me and unfolded them. I pulled on the pair of red and black flannel pants, rolling them up at the waist a

42

few times to make them fit slightly better. They still swallowed my small frame, dragging the ground. I grabbed the shirt and eyed it hesitantly. It said Forks High School on the front with a picture of a football. On the back were the letters ‘C-U- L-L-E-N’, which looked to me to likely be their last name, along with the number 21. I slipped it on, it falling nearly to my knees.

I walked over to the door leading to my bathroom and pushed it open. I turned

on the light and gasped. The bathroom was massive, white tile and a huge garden tub in the corner. There was also a shower with frosted glass doors and a large sink with a big mirror above it. It was stunning, to say the least.

I found towels and washcloths in a cabinet near the toilet and grabbed one of

each. The towel was fluffy and soft, smelling faintly like flowers from the detergent used on it. I walked over to the sink and washed my face, getting all of the makeup off that Dr. Cullen had put on me that had yet to wear off. I dried it off and glanced up in the mirror, frowning. Dr. Cullen was right--you could clearly make out the faint handprint shape in the bruise. It wasn’t as bad as I originally suspected though, I’d had a lot worse. Ever since Charles’s wife figured out my paternity she took a liking to marking up my face. I’d been beaten so hard before that my entire face was swollen and I was barely able to see out of either of my eyes. My nose had been broken once during a beating but I was never given medical attention for it. Charles never got us medical attention for anything; he always said if something happened to one of us that wouldn’t heal on it’s own he’d do us a favor and put us out of our misery. My nose had a bump to it and was slightly crooked now, but it wasn’t too horrible. I’d been relatively lucky when it came to permanent damage; besides the slight disfigured nose all I had were scars. I’d watched other women lose teeth and break serious bones that never reformed properly, slightly disabling them. One girl was blinded in one eye from a kick to the face. This bruise--this was nothing. It would fade and with it, the memory. Bruises were easily forgotten.

I turned off the light and walked back into the bedroom. I walked over to the

door to turn off the light and paused. I could faintly hear music coming from across the hall. I couldn’t make out what it was but it sounded slightly like soft rock. It wasn’t as if I’d be able to recognize an artist or song name away—I’d never been exposed to much music besides what Charles or his wife occasionally played or what I heard coming from the television in passing. Whatever it was sounded soothing though, mellow.

43

I turned the light off and walked over to the bed, pulling the comforter down and climbing in. The mattress was so soft it nearly swallowed my form in it. The sheets were silky and smooth, the comforter soft and fluffy. I wrapped myself up in the comforter tightly, sighing contently as my head sunk into the pillow. I couldn’t remember ever being so comfortable before, feeling so… safe.

It was startling. Despite my utter exhaustion I couldn’t seem to fall asleep, couldn’t shut my mind off. I was trying to come to terms with everything, trying to sort things out.

I wasn’t fooling myself--I knew what I was. Despite the comfortable bed and the spacious bedroom, I was still nothing but a slave. My life was in their hands for them to do with me what they wanted. Just because they seemed more humane than what I’d grown used to, didn’t mean things couldn’t shift quickly. I wouldn’t be complacent, wouldn’t let my guard down. I knew my place in the world, you could dress it up all you wanted but it didn’t change the basic facts. I was property, someone owned me.

I’d witnessed Dr. Cullen’s temper at Charles’s house, had seen how afraid of Dr. Cullen Charles had been. I imagine there had to have been some sort of history there, but nothing I’d be aware of. Dr. Cullen seemed to be relatively calm and easy-going on the surface but I wouldn’t fool myself into thinking he couldn’t be aggressive. I’d secretly seen “The Untouchables” more than once—I knew for a fact men like him were indeed dangerous. There was something boiling under the surface of that calm front, something volatile, and it wasn’t something I ever wanted unleashed upon me. Charles had been easy to anger, he’d flip out quickly and take his aggression out on you but it was always bearable. I had a feeling Dr. Cullen was the type of man who rarely snapped, but when he did you didn’t walk away from it.

His sons surprised me. Emmett was intimidating; there was no doubt about it. Being in a room with him I felt insignificant because of his size. It instinctively ignited fear. He seemed nice though, with a happy and carefree nature. His looks and personality were definitely at odds with each other—it would take me awhile to get over the natural aversion to him. There was something about Jasper that was slightly calming, relaxing. He was sweet and had a politeness about him. He’d stunned me by treating me as if I were an equal. He’d even made me a

44

sandwich. He served me--the servant. It was baffling. I had to wonder at first if he knew what I was, but Dr. Cullen had assured me there were no secrets in his house.

I had yet to meet the youngest, Edward, and if I were being honest I’d have to

say I was apprehensive about it. I was a bit worried about how he was going to act, how he’d treat me. The impression I’d gotten so far was that he was slightly

uptight about things and possibly a troublemaker. He surely had a foul mouth and wasn’t afraid to speak his mind to his dad so I wasn’t sure there’d be any reason for him to not lash out at me. Dr. Cullen said he was a lot like him, though, so that gave me a bit of hope. Dr. Cullen wasn’t outright mean, at least.

I tossed and turned all night, drifting off to sleep eventually but waking abruptly a short time later, looking around confused by my surroundings. When I’d realize where I was I’d drift off to sleep again, only for the pattern to continue. At one point I glanced over to the clock and saw that it was a few minutes past 5am. Charles always demanded that we get up at 5am to start our day and if he found out we didn’t get up in time he’d punish us. We got away with sleeping in when he was gone—those were always our favorite days, when we could sleep until noon and no one would say anything. The people who watched us when Charles was out never said a word to him about it.

I was kicking myself for not asking Dr. Cullen what time I was expected to get up

in the mornings. I lay there for a few minutes, glaring at the alarm clock, before sighing and getting up. There was no way I’d be able to fall asleep now.

I made my bed quickly and walked across the room, quietly opening my door.

The floor was dark and quiet, the music I’d heard earlier gone. I pulled my door shut and quietly made my way down the hall, wrapping my arms around my chest. I was nervous and anxious, a bit unsure of what to do. I couldn’t just lie around though--I had to do something.

I walked down the steps slowly and cautiously in the dark, silently praying I

didn’t trip and tumble. The last thing I needed was to fall down a flight of stairs and wake up the entire house. The second floor was dark also but I could faintly hear the sound of water running in one of the rooms. I continued down the stairs carefully, pausing when I got to the foyer.

45

The bottom floor was dark, except for a subtle glow coming from the kitchen. I walked slowly toward it and heard the sound of stuff shifting, a cabinet closing. I walked past the piano and looked up when I reached the doorway to the kitchen, stopping abruptly, my eyes widening at the sight in front of me.

Someone was standing in the kitchen, pouring a glass of orange juice. I didn’t recognize him but knew immediately it had to be Edward. The moment my eyes landed on him something sparked inside of me, something baffling and unexpected. I was stunned and frozen in place, unable to think or act.

The kitchen was dark but I could clearly see him in the glow of the refrigerator. He was tall and lean, but his body was well formed. He didn’t have a shirt on and his back was turned to me. I could see a fairly large tattoo on the center of his upper back, it was circular and looked to be like a symbol of some sort with an animal and a hand and some clovers. The word “Cullen” was written in it, which pretty much confirmed to me that the word was indeed their last name. I could make out the well-defined muscles in his back and arms, and his slightly broad shoulders. I could see the beginning of a tattoo on his upper left arm but couldn’t make out what it was. His skin was pale and almost glowed in the lighting. His hair was a bronze-tinted color and was an utter mess, sticking up in every direction imaginable. He turned slightly, so his side was to me, and I could easily see his stomach was toned. His green flannel pants were lying low on his hips, exposing his prominent hipbones and the top of a pair of black boxers. I saw the side view of his face and his features were sharp and angular. His messy hair fell forward, stray pieces falling slightly into his eyes.

He was absolutely nothing like I expect. I expected him to be harsh looking, intimidating. The person standing in front of me was mesmerizing. I’d never been attracted to someone before, never thought I would be, but the boy standing in front of me sparked a small part of me I didn’t know existed. The part that was still, after everything, an average 16-year old girl who knew gorgeous when she saw it.

It was utterly ridiculous and stupid, and I tried to push it away as fast as it came. He was a spoiled rich kid and I was his slave, brought in to take care of the chores for him. It was ridiculous to crush on him or be attracted to him, nothing could or would ever come of it. I felt dirty just looking at him, feeling those butterflies at the sight of him. The feelings I had were disgusting, repulsive.

46

I

exhaled sharply, my chest hurting. I hadn’t realized I’d been holding my breath.

Edward heard it and jumped, startled. His head snapped in my direction, his eyes wide with surprise. He accidentally dropped his drink, the glass hitting the floor and orange juice flying everywhere.

“Fuck!” he yelled, jumping backwards but unable to miss the spray of orange juice that splashed his pants. My eyes widened in shock as he froze in spot, staring down at his now soaked pants legs with disbelief. His gaze lifted slowly up to me and he cocked an eyebrow, his face shifting through numerous different emotions. Disbelief. Shock. Confusion.

I had been frozen in spot, gaping at him, but the moment his face clouded with

anger my system was shocked back into rhythm. I sprinted forward, grabbing the roll of paper towels. I practically threw myself at his feet at the same time he grabbed a towel from the counter and bent down to wipe himself off. We collided, our heads smacking into each other with enough force to knock him backwards. “Shit!” he yelled.

An intense sharp pain shot through my head, my eyes immediately welling up with tears as I winced. I clutched my forehead and glanced up to see Edward sitting on his behind, rubbing his forehead. His face was scrunched up and his eyes were narrowed at me. I noticed a small bandage on the side of his forehead, near his left eye. My eyes widened in shock as I realized I’d smacked into him where he’d already been injured.

“Must you fucking sneak up on people? Christ, you’re worse than a goddamn cat! Do I need to buy you a bell?!” he spat, still rubbing his head. Fear shot through me, and my hands started shaking.

“I am so sorry sir,” I said, my voice trembling. I let go of my head and reached forward, grabbing the towel he had dropped and started cleaning up the orange juice from the floor. My vision was blurred with tears and I silent cursed myself as I felt one slip down my cheek. This was bad, very bad. My first morning here and I already injured someone and made a mess.

I yelped with shock and fright when his hand grabbed a hold of my wrist tightly,

stilling my movements. It was like a jolt of electricity shot through me and I

47

gasped. I glanced up at him wide-eyed, my body trembling with fear. His eyes were narrowed and his gaze was intense as he studied my face.

“What’s wrong with you?” he asked, his voice low. I hesitated a moment, unsure of what to say. I had no idea what he wanted to hear but I had to do something, say something, to try to fix this.

“It was an accident sir, I assure you nothing like it will ever happen again. Please don’t punish me,” I said softly, the tone of my voice pleading for him to understand. He cocked at eyebrow at me and didn’t let go of my wrists, just stared at me. It was unnerving and I looked away, glaring at the ground, trying to prepare myself for whatever was to come next.

“Why the hell would I punish you?” he asked after a moment, his voice laced with confusion. I glanced up, surprised by his tone, and saw that his expression was also one of bewilderment.

“Uh, well, I…” I stammered. I tried to get my thoughts in order but the intensity of his stare had me flustered, embarrassed. I opened my mouth to speak again when the overhead light flicked on suddenly, causing both of us to wince and close our eyes.

“Damnit, Edward, let the girl go,” Dr. Cullen’s voice said, startling me. My head shot up and I opened my eyes to see him standing over us, a scowl on his face. Edward glared up at his father and then glanced at me, his eyes eventually falling to my wrist that he was still clutching tightly. He let go immediately, pulling his hand away and standing up.

“Sorry,” he muttered, running a hand through his hair.

“What happened?” Dr. Cullen asked sharply, motioning toward the mess on the floor.

“It won’t happen again, sir, I’m sorry,” I said, as Edward simultaneously muttered, “I spilled it, she scared me.”

I glanced up at him with confusion and Dr. Cullen groaned. “Go get ready for school, Edward,” he said.

48

“But…” Edward started, but Dr. Cullen’s hand shot up quickly to silence him. The movement startled me and I flinched, which earned me looks from the both of them.

Non me ne frega un cazzo,”* Dr. Cullen said, the words spoken with an accent in

a language I’d never heard before. He shook his head with frustration. “Just go, I don’t have time for you this morning.”

“Fine, what the fuck ever,” he said angrily, shooting me a quickly glance as he brushed past me storming out the door.

I started cleaning the spilled juice up again and Dr. Cullen sighed. He squatted

down and grabbed the roll of paper towels, pulling a few off and laying them on part of the spill to soak it up. His cologne filtered to my nose as he neared me, the scent an intoxicating mixture of woods and musk and fruit that had a calming effect about it. He smelled nothing like Charles, who usually smelled nauseatingly like a mixture of sweat and pine trees.

“What did I tell you, dolore nel culo,” he said. I glanced at him and saw a light smile on his lips as he shook his head. He saw my questioning look and laughed. “It’s Italian, means pain in the ass.”

“Do you all speak Italian sir?” I asked.

He nodded. “Yes, we’re all fluent. It was the language of choice for the most part in Chicago. My organization is Italian and we have some Italian heritage. We don’t speak it often anymore so don’t worry. Usually it only comes spilling out when one of us is frustrated. Edward’s probably the exception though, as he’s quite fond of some of the more colorful Italian words.” He rolled his eyes but I could see the twinkle in them as he spoke of Edward. It was evident he was fond of his son, regardless of whether or not he was troublesome. “Speaking of Edward, he’s not usually so hostile, he’s just a bit pissed off at me right now.”

I nodded, unsure of why he was telling me so much and surprised he seemed to

be making excuses for his son’s behavior. No one had ever tried to explain their behavior to me; masters were allowed to act how they wanted toward us,

regardless of why.

49

“I can get this sir,” I said suddenly, afraid he’d get some of the juice on his suit. It was quite fancy and I could tell it must’ve cost a fortune.

“I know you can Isabella,” he said firmly, but didn’t get up. He grabbed some more paper towels and started wiping at the floor. “Why are you up so early anyway? I figured you’d sleep half the day at least to recover from yesterday’s excitement.”

“I didn’t know what time I was supposed to get up every day,” I said, slightly confused. “So I just got up the usual time Master Charles always made us get up.”

Dr. Cullen sighed, standing up and throwing the paper towels in the trashcan. “You get up whenever you get up. I won’t blame you if you sleep in occasionally as long as you do what you’re supposed to do. The boys leave for school around 7:30, if they need anything from you and you’re still asleep, they’ll wake you.”

“Okay,” I said softly. I stood up and glanced around, holding the juice-soaked towel. Dr. Cullen smiled.

“There’s a hamper in the laundry room for you to throw that in. Make sure you mop this floor after the boys leave for school and make sure the rest of the house is in order. There isn’t much food in the house but help yourself to whatever. I’ll bring something home for dinner tonight so you don’t have to worry about cooking until tomorrow. Today you really should just acquaint yourself with the house and get comfortable, okay?”

I smiled and nodded. “Yes, sir.”

I walked out of the kitchen and into the laundry room, tossing the towel into a wicker hamper sitting in the corner. I walked back out and saw Emmett and Jasper start coming down the stairs. I turned from them to walk back in the kitchen and heard some racket. I turned back around and saw Edward flying down the steps, grabbing a hold of Emmett and jumping on his back. Emmett tried to wrestle him away, shouting, but Edward just laughed and clung to him. I stopped abruptly, the sound of Edward’s laugh causing a smile to involuntarily curve my mouth. It was so light and carefree, melodic. They were all laughing

50

now—it was such a happy sight, one I’d never seen before.

They reached the bottom of the steps and Edward let go of Emmett, jumping away as Emmett tried to punch him. Edward chuckled and ran his hand through his damp hair, which was still sticking up every which way but it was clear he’d just washed it, as it was a shade darker from the wetness, almost brown. He glanced up in my direction, his piercing green eyes meeting mine. A lop-sided grin overcame his face as he eyed me. I felt the blood rush to my cheeks as I blushed deeply, looking away instantly. My heart started racing and I felt tingling shoot through me as he walked past me, his arm brushing up against me. He hesitated briefly, his steps faltering as our skin connected. I glanced up at him and saw he was looking at me with surprise. His expression faded nearly instantly though and he walked down the hallway toward the living area. I heard a TV come on quickly.

“Ah, good you’re up,” Dr. Cullen said. I turned and took a few steps into the kitchen, pausing in the doorway. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do, if I were even supposed to be here or if it was considered eavesdropping. “Do you think Alice or Rosalie would be willing to stop by a store for me after school today and grab a few things for Isabella? I’d do it myself after work but I don’t know anything about what girls wear and would feel a bit perverted buying underwear and bras for a teenage girl.”

The boys laughed but I just ducked my head, slightly embarrassed.

“You know Alice won’t pass up a chance to shop, especially on someone else’s dime,” Jasper said, laughing. I glanced up and saw Dr. Cullen nodding.

“Go ahead and give her your amex, tell her to drop the stuff off as soon as she can. Isabella, what size pants do you wear?”

I hesitated, trying to remember. “Four’s, sir,” I said, fairly confidant that was right.

“Shoes?” he asked.

I just stared at him, not entirely sure as the only shoes I’d worn in years is the flip flops I just got the day before. I shrugged slowly, eyeing him cautiously.

51

“It’s okay. Tell Alice to get pants in fours and tops in small. I’ll guess around an 8 in shoes, if it’s wrong and they don’t fit we’ll return them. And please tell her to be practical, because I imagine Isabella won’t be too content wandering around the house in miniskirts and halter tops.” My eyes widened in surprise, fear at even the thought of that running through me.

Emmett laughed. “I dunno dad, mini skirts might be nice,” he said as he glanced at me, winking. I blushed and my gaze fell to the floor immediately. He was being playful, I knew that, but it was slightly uncomfortable. I wasn’t used to such attention. They all laughed but Dr. Cullen thankfully didn’t let the subject linger.

“Behave boy, or I’ll tell Rosalie,” Dr. Cullen said. Jasper laughed and pushed his brother playfully. “Anyway, I need one of you to take Isabella to the grocery store after school also, she’ll do the cooking so she does the shopping.”

My head shot up and I looked at Dr. Cullen with shock. He wanted me to go grocery shopping?! I’d never been in a store in my life.

“I’ll do it,” a voice said behind me. I jumped, startled, and swung around to see Edward standing there. He was grinning; his eyebrow’s raised as he looked at his father.

Dr. Cullen sighed. “You don’t have practice today?” he asked. Edward walked by me into the kitchen, opening a cabinet and pulling out a bowl.

“Nope, we have Wednesdays off,” he said with a shrug. “The guys are doing weight training after school but I had no plans of joining them anyway.”

“Alright, get her after school,” Dr. Cullen said to Edward. Edward nodded, shooting me a quick glance. He had a mischievous smirk on his face that sent a shiver down my spine.

I wasn’t sure what to think of Edward Cullen, but one thing was for sure. He was definitely going to complicate my life.

A/N: *non me ne frega un cazzo = I don't give a damn.

52

Chapter 5 - A trouble with trouble

Temper gets you in trouble. Pride keeps you there. -- Unknown

EPOV

“Fuck you, you pathetic son of a bitch!!” I screamed, kicking my legs frantically, trying to break away from the arms wrapped around me. I felt the warm trickle streaming down the side of my face, a slight throb coming from my eyebrow area. I was going to murder that prick.

Someone grabbed a hold of him, lugging him off the ground. He shook them off and spit onto the grass, blood running down from the side of his mouth. I busted his mouth good, he’s lucky I didn’t knock his fucking teeth out.

“You’re such an asshole,” he spat. I thrust myself forward; trying to get to him but they were holding me back with too much force.

“ENOUGH!” Couch Clapp bellowed, coming in between us. “Everyone on the ground, on your backs now!”

A chorus of groans rung out, numerous dirty looks being shot in my direction.

Someone shoved me roughly and I swung around quickly, shoving them back. I didn’t start the shit, they didn’t need to be blaming me.

“I said on the ground, Cullen!” Coach Clapp yelled.

I rolled my eyes, frustrated, and laid back on the ground. He blew his whistle and we raised our legs a few inches in the air, holding the position. I’d take hundreds of push-ups and running miles over these ridiculous leg raises any day—this shit hurt.

“10 minutes--hold it!” Everyone groaned again, a few loud curses ringing out. “You guys can thank Cullen and Newton for it.”

One of these days I was going to seriously beat the shit out of Mike Newton. He was such a cocky prick; someone needed to deflate that ego of his. I’ve been

53

back in Forks for two weeks now and I’ve done everything I could to stay out of trouble, but it seems like there’s some conspiracy out there to fuck with my life.

Last year I spent the first semester at Forks High School. I was only a sophomore but gained recognition by making the varsity football team as starting Quarterback. I was always popular, considering I’m rich and good looking, and the Cullen name alone tends to bring a certain amount of respect in even a town this small. But it seems like since making varsity quarterback it’s tripled. The girls are all over me and because of that pussies like Mike Newton envy me.

It went to my head a bit last year--I can’t deny that. I got myself into a situation that damn near landed me in a juvenile detention center. I got lucky and Dad pulled some strings to get me out of it. He wasn’t exactly forgiving though, considering his reputation had taken a hit with some of his patients, and shipped me off to a private boarding school across the country for the rest of the school year. An all-male boarding school, I should add. That shit was torture, didn’t get a single piece of ass the entire time I was there. He even paid for me to stay there the whole summer. Man, did that piss me off. My brothers got to go to Hawaii and lounge on the beach with a bunch of bikini-clad bitches and I’m stuck in a small ass dorm room with some virginal geek who wacked off to fucking comic book characters. The moment I got on that plane back to Forks I swore I was going to keep myself straight and not let shit get to my head.

But it’s a lot harder said than done. Because the girls are all over me still and the little shits like Newton are still jealous and trying to goad me. And I don’t take well to disrespect.

“Alright, girls,” Coach Clapp said, blowing his whistle to signal 10 minutes was up. There was a collective sigh and thump as we all dropped our legs. We climbed to our feet and I stretched my back, as it was hurting from lying on the hard ground.

“Newton, Cullen, suicides. On the line now. The rest of you can go.”

I cursed, irritated. My legs were already sore as we’d been out here for hours. It was a Tuesday and we didn’t have school today because of some teacher workshop bullshit, but Coach Clapp insisted on practice bright and early this morning anyway.

54

I

glared at Newton as I walked to the line. He’d been taunting me the past few

days, pissed off because he was trying to get with Jessica Stanley and she wasn’t paying him a bit of attention because she was hung up on my dick. I didn’t care for the girl, in fact she was entirely too sleazy for my tastes, but she was constantly offering herself up to me, practically begging to blow me, and what teenage guy wouldn’t jump on that? She wasn’t that great of a lay honestly, the

head was mediocre at best, but I’m not exactly going to be picky. A nut is a nut.

Coach Clapp blew his whistle and we started running suicides. Newton was the kicker and slow as shit so I blew him out of the water. His legs gave out on the middle of a run and he fell to the ground. Coach Clapp blew his whistle, exasperated, and I stopped abruptly. I felt the bile rising up immediately and tried to hold it back but it was fruitless. I bent over and tried to take deep breaths but ended up vomiting.

“I don’t want to ever see you two fighting on my football field again, you hear me? Hug and make up and get over this crap,” Coach Clapp said. I looked at him incredulously but he looked to be serious.

I groaned and walked over to Newton, giving him a half-assed one-armed hug

that turned into a punch to the back, nearly knocking the wind out of him. “Frocio,” I said coldly, pushing off of him and making him stumble. He shot me a mean look, narrowing his eyes, but I just chuckled. I’d been calling him that shit for years and he’d yet to figure out I was calling him gay.

“Both of you go to the hospital and get those pretty faces of yours look at, you’re both going to need stitches,” Coach Clapp said.

I nodded and headed out to the parking lot, hopping into my Volvo. I loved my

car, had finally talked dad into buying it for me when I got back. It was a C70 hardtop convertible. I drove over to the hospital and got rushed through, bypassing having to wait since my dad was practically the only person to keep this shitty hospital afloat. I got a few stitches on my forehead but it wasn’t too bad, I’ve had worse. I was walking out of the hospital and passed Newton, who was just now being seen, and he deliberately bumped into me. I turned around and shoved him, sending him stumbling. Security came, hearing the altercation, but stopped abruptly when they realized it was me.

55

I barely even made it out to the parking lot before my cell phone was ringing with my dad calling. I groaned and silenced it, not in the mood to try to explain. I knew someone from the hospital would call him to fucking gossip.

I drove home and made a sandwich, heading up to my bedroom. I turned on

some TV and ate, just enjoying being able to sit down and rest my legs. My phone rang again and I picked it up, seeing it was Jessica Stanley. I hesitated with my finger over the button, contemplating answering to see if I could talk her into driving out here and sucking me off, but decided to ignore it. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with her babbling, talking to me like I gave a shit about her life. I wasn’t her boyfriend, I couldn’t care less about chatting or hearing the ridiculous gossip the bitches at Forks High spread.

I called my voice mail and listened to dad’s message. I glanced at the clock when

I heard him threaten to take the Volvo back if I didn’t return his call in 20 minutes and groaned. It had nearly been a half hour.

I called him back right away, trying to be all nice and shit and kept my

composure until he threatened to pull me out of Forks and send me back to the boarding school.

I was pacing around the room frantically, trying to explain to dad how that was a

ridiculous notion, when the faint female voice filtered through. It was sweet and sounded so young and innocent but seductive at the same time. I asked if that was the female he’d gone to pick up and he said it was but abruptly ended the conversation, not wanting to discuss it then.

I wasn’t stupid or naïve. My brothers and I are well aware of our father’s lifestyle; we’ve known about it our entire life. They never kept it from us or lied about it but at the same time they didn’t exactly glorify it either. He always tried not to involve us but it was inevitable sometimes, as we knew we lived differently. It doesn’t matter how much you try to guard your family from the violence, being in the mob has a way of placing everyone you know in danger.

I knew he had his hands in the drug trade and the sale of illegal weapons. I knew he had blood on his hands--that he’d helped arrange assassinations and kidnappings and even carried some out himself. He’d been involved in extortion

56

and money laundering, had offshore accounts overloaded with money to avoid paying taxes. I don’t know if there’s a single law my father hasn’t broken. He was a cheat and a thief and a murderer, there was no way to sugar coat that. People respected him and feared him, not only because of the last name but because of the way he carried himself. He was calm and collect--the silent but deadly type.

And I knew exactly why he’d gone to Phoenix. I knew about the slave trade that still existed in America. It wasn’t the first time my father had paid money for ownership over another human being. We’d had two since we moved to Washington when I was 8. The first one was an older lady with gray hair we called Nona, he brought her in to take care of the house and help us out since we were still so young. She lasted damn near a decade with us, passed away of a heart attack a few months ago. She was a nice lady, never had any complaints about her. She was quite grandmotherly. We grew fond of her and I liked to think the feeling was mutual, despite the fact that she lacked free will. People tended to resent you when you took their freedoms away, but she didn’t seem too put off about it. Dad had her body cremated and we scattered her ashes out by the river, as she used to love going out there. After Nona died he went and brought a woman named Janet in. Janet was in her early 40s, a petite woman with blonde curly hair. I hated her from the day I met her, she always gave me snide looks that made me want to beat the shit out of her. I’d never touch her, of course… my mom raised me better than that. But it didn’t mean I didn’t desperately wish I could. She didn’t last very long, despite the fact that I suspect dad was getting his rocks off with her. He eventually caught her in rooms she shouldn’t be in, touching things she shouldn’t have been touching. He was a laid back person, didn’t have many rules, but the ones he did you had to follow. He didn’t have a high tolerance for blatant disregard of his orders. If Carlisle Cullen told you to jump, you better fucking jump.

My brother Emmett and I accepted our dads life, embraced it almost. We knew our place. Emmett had no desire to join it himself, but he didn’t frown upon it. I, myself, had a feeling I was heading that way. I knew the members of the organization in Chicago looked at me like I was a mafia prince, a potential up- and-comer. They said I had the disposition for it, whatever that meant, and hoped I’d find my way there when I got a bit older. I accepted that as a possibility, almost took pride in it. Jasper, on the other hand, wasn’t as happy about it all. He avoided most conversations about that aspect of the Cullen life. Hated the guns and drugs we were exposed to, hated the violence. Emmett and I

57

had tough skin but Jasper was sensitive. Out of all of us, he’s the most like mom.

I look exactly like her, but Jasper has her soul. Mom knew dad’s life and

overlooked it because she loved him so much. But she, too, was sensitive. She never condoned slavery or servitude, just as Jasper doesn’t. He’s completely disgusted by it. It’s shitty, I agree, but I could see the logic in it. If you want loyalty and silence, sometimes you have to buy it.

And I knew Jasper was going to be more upset than ever now, because that sweet innocent voice on the phone belonged to a girl, not a woman. Dad never said anything so we just automatically assumed he’d bring home some older lady like previously, but it was clear he wasn’t. She was young.

I spent the day locked in my room, not in the mood to socialize knowing that I

was going to get my ass railed on when dad got home. I took a nap and fiddled around with my guitar. I eventually did call Jessica Stanley and listened to her bullshit for a few minutes but hung up when she said she didn’t have a ride to my place. There was no way I was going to go pick her up.

Eventually dad got home. I don’t know if he was too damn lazy to walk up the stairs to my room or if he thought maybe I had company but he called my cell phone and told me to get down to his office. He railed on me, just as I suspected he would, and threatened sending me off to school and taking my car again. He didn’t really give a shit about me busting Newton in the mouth but he wasn’t too happy about me acting up in his place of work. He grounded me for the upcoming weekend, which really pissed me off since we had a home game on Friday night and that meant one hell of an after party. I had been thoroughly looking forward to some shots of Patron, a few hits from the bong, and a nice hard fucking.

I spent the rest of the night in my room. I couldn’t sleep because I was so pissed off and eventually gave up and hauled my ass downstairs. I was standing in the kitchen, pouring some orange juice, when a noise startled me. It was like someone gasping for air, and the house was so quiet it damn near echoed through the place. I turned in the direction of the noise and was completely stunned by the sight in front of me that I dropped my fucking drink.

I was shocked and confused at first before the anger set in. I was standing in

front of a girl, soaked with fucking orange juice, and all I could do was gape at

her. Could I be any more fucking stupid?

58

I

could barely make her out across the room because it was so dark, but her eyes

were clear as day. They were wide and expressive; she looked like a deer caught in some headlights. I finally snapped out of it and made a move to clean up the orange juice but evidently the girl was trained to do that shit, because she practically bumrushed me to clean it up herself. I head butted her and winced, as it hurt like hell. And in true Edward Cullen fashion, my natural response to the

pain is to lash out.

Evidently I scared her because she refused to make eye contact with me and she was trembling. I reached out and grabbed her wrist to stop her from fucking cleaning up, as she was being ridiculous and sketchy and I didn’t like it. It felt like she shocked me when I grabbed her, like a small jolt of static electricity coursed through me. She finally looked up at me and when her eyes met mine I was completely stunned.

Her cheeks were red and chapped from the sun, a big ass bruise on the side of

her face that looked like it came from someone’s hand. Her eyes were full of fear,

a tear running down her cheek. She was troubled and frightened, that much was

clear. She’d had it rough. And she was young, oh so fucking young. She couldn’t have been any older than me, as her face was still rounded slightly from youth. There was still that innocence in her face, despite the abuse and wariness that was evident.

But that wasn’t the most stunning part. What nearly took my breath away was that underneath it all she was beautiful. I’ve had my fair share of hot girls, sexy and erotic in their tight ass clothes. And the girl in front of me wasn’t like them at all. She didn’t look like a runway model, didn’t ooze sex appeal. She was just… beautiful.

I asked her what her problem was, and it was a stupid fucking question because I was obviously part of it. But I just wanted to know her story, how the hell someone like her could end up in the situation she was in.

And then she practically begged me not to punish her. She looked at me, fucking afraid that I was going to beat her because of my mistake. I looked at her incredulously, wondering what in the hell this girl had experienced to be so afraid of me. She couldn’t even keep eye contact with me for Christ sakes.

59

Of course, as if the situation isn’t messed up enough, dad walks in on us, sitting on the floor in a puddle of orange juice with me physically restraining the girl. I honestly hadn’t even realized I still had a hold of her. He got all snippy with me, cursing at me in Italian. He told me to leave, obviously still not happy with me.

I went upstairs and stripped out of my clothes, hopping in the shower. I washed

the stickiness off my legs from where the juice soaked through and washed my hair, not bothering with much else. My dick was hard and I wrapped my hand around it, stroking a few times, but couldn’t seem to get into it. I kept thinking about the fucking girl downstairs and how she was left to clean up my mess and how wrong that was, which was completely ridiculous because that’s the whole reason she was here.

I gave up on getting off, resigned to the fact that I’d probably have to grab one of

the girls at school and sneak off to get it taken care of. I shut the water off and

climbed out, drying off. I grabbed a pair of silk boxers and some faded jeans and slipped them on. I threw on a white t-shirt and grabbed one of my long sleeved button up shirts, pulling it on and rolling the sleeves up.

I didn’t bother with my hair because it was useless—the shit had a mind of it’s own. I ran my hands through it a few times but that was the extent of it. The girls seemed to love it though, so what the hell.

I headed down the stairs and spotted my brothers. I didn’t see those fuckers at

all yesterday. We all used to be really close, but when I went away to boarding school things seemed to shift. They got steady girlfriends and settled down, and I came back pretty much the same person I left as. I like Alice and Rose, I’ve known them both since we moved here in elementary school and they’re cool girls, but I’m not exactly used to my brothers being so attached. I left and we were friends, all of us just chilling out together, and I came back to being the fucking fifth wheel. It’s cool though, I’m happy for them all, but that doesn’t mean I want to be around that shit constantly. I’m not one for all that lovey- dovey cuddling bullshit. I’ve not looking to drown in love, am perfectly content swimming in lust.

I flew down the steps quickly and leapt up onto Emmett’s back—I owed that

shithead from body slamming me a few days ago. I almost knocked him down the

60

steps as he wasn’t braced for me and he tried to throw me off. I jumped off when we hit the bottom and he tried to punch me but I evaded him, laughing. I turned to say something to him, to taunt him a bit because Emmett’s fun when you get him going, and my eyes fell upon the girl.

She was watching us and smiling. I couldn’t help but smile at the sight of her, the look of pure wonder on her face. She blushed when I smiled and dropped her eyes immediately, unable to keep eye contact again. I was seriously going to have to change that, as that shit wasn’t going to fly around here.

I walked past her, my arm brushing up against hers. The hairs on my arm

bristled as tingling shot through me. It startled me a bit and I hesitated, confused. It was odd, the same feeling that shot through me when I grabbed her wrist. I was like nothing I’d ever felt before, like her skin held an electric current

that entered my system whenever I came in contact with her. She glanced up at me, a look of confusion on her face and I felt like a fucking idiot just standing there staring at her so I turned and headed for the TV.

I turned on the weather channel, which was pointless considering it’s a rare day

when it doesn’t rain at some point, but I couldn’t focus on the TV. I headed back toward the kitchen and heard them laughing, Dad threatening to tell Rose something. I paused behind the girl, as she was standing right in the doorway and staring at the ground. I heard Dad say something about taking Isabella to the grocery store and I didn’t even give it a second thought, the words came out of my mouth before they even truly registered with my brain.

“I’ll do it,” I said.

She swung around, startled, and glanced at me. I walked past her and grabbed a bowl to get some cereal. I assured dad that I didn’t have practice, thank fucking God considering my legs were still sore, and he agreed. I was slightly surprised, considering I was technically grounded and I wasn’t exactly his most favorite person right now.

I glanced at her and noticed she had a look of shock on her face. Her name was

echoing through my mind: It was the first time I’d heard it, never even thought before as to what the hell her name was. But it was fitting. Isabella. Bella.

Beautiful.

61

And that she was. I had no idea what it was about this girl that had me so captivated, but she was definitely going to fucking complicate my life.

Chapter 6 - Predictable

Human identity is the most fragile thing that we have, and it's often only found in moments of truth. -- Alan Rudolph

EPOV

I was slouched down on the couch with my feet kicked up on the coffee table, munching on a bowl of Lucky Charms. I only really liked the marshmallows, as I found the brown pieces to be entirely too bland, but it was the only thing we had in the house to eat for breakfast and I was starving. I knew Emmett was silently cursing me, I could see the glares he was casting me from across the room, since I used up the last of the milk and he had to eat his cereal dry. You snooze you lose, fucker. I beat him to it.

Jasper walked in the room and plopped down on the couch beside me, shifting my cushion and nearly spilling my cereal. I glared at him and cocked an eyebrow but he just shrugged me off. Emmett huffed and got up, storming out of the room and into the kitchen. I heard the cabinet door slam as he threw his Lucky Charms away, giving up on it, and the racket as he threw his bowl in the sink. I chuckled, taking another bite of my cereal.

“She’s too young,” Jasper said quietly after a moment. I didn’t look at him, didn’t need to ask who he was talking about because I already knew. I knew Isabella’s age was really going to bother Jasper and I hated to admit it, even to myself, but it was slightly bothersome to me also.

“How old is she, anyway,” I asked nonchalantly, knowing if anyone knew it would be him. Jasper frowned.

“He bought her the day she turned sixteen,” he said, his voice full of discontent. I sighed, nodding. I knew she was younger than me.

Emmett came back in the room with a sandwich and we laughed at him. I finished eating and took my bowl back to the kitchen, sitting it in the sink, and

62

glanced at my watch.

I headed for the stairs and walked up them quickly. I threw open my bedroom

door and glanced around, looking for my book bag. My room was a fucking mess and in dire need of cleaning but I haven’t had the energy to do. I finally located it

in the corner and grabbed my books off my desk. I gave one last glance around, making sure I had everything, and started for the door.

The door across the hall opened unexpectedly and Isabella stepped out. Her eyes widened as she glanced at me, an expression of shock on her face. Her eyes scanned around me, obviously taking in the small glimpses of my bedroom that she could see. I almost felt embarrassed but I pushed that shit aside quickly.

“I know, it’s a fucking mess,” I said, chuckling. She blushed and averted her eyes away, looking down at the floor again.

“Sorry, sir,” she said softly. “I didn’t mean to look.”

I groaned. “You don’t have to apologize. The door was open, it would be sort of impossible not to look.”

She glanced up and smiled lightly, nodding once. I stared into her eyes for a moment and she surprised me when she didn’t drop her gaze. It was oddly intense and a tad bit uncomfortable, neither of us speaking or moving, but I couldn’t seem to look away.

My phone rang suddenly, startling me. I jumped and cursed, reaching into my pocket and pulling it out. I glanced at the screen and groaned. I looked up and my brow furrowed when I noticed Isabella was gone.

I turned back to the phone and answered it hesitantly. “What do you want

Jessica?” I asked with a sigh. I slung my book bag over my shoulder and shut my bedroom door, heading for the stairs.

“Good morning to you, too, Edward,” she said.

“Yeah, good morning,” I mumbled. “What do you want?”

63

She sighed exaggeratedly and I rolled my eyes. “Can you give me a ride to school?” she asked, her voice slightly whiney. I cringed.

“Sorry babe, no can do,” I said quickly. “I gotta go, I’ll see you later.”

I hung up and slipped the phone back in my pocket, knowing she would be pissed

but frankly not giving a shit. She knew better than to call me for a ride, did I look

like a taxi service?

I hit the bottom of the stairs and paused. I took a few steps toward the living

area and saw my brothers still sitting on the couch. “You fuckers want a ride?” I asked.

Jasper glanced at me and then looked at his watch. His eyes went wide. “Crap, when did it get so late?”

I shrugged. They both stood up and we headed toward the door. They bickered

over who got to ride shotgun, Jasper finally conceding when Emmett put him in a headlock. I climbed in the driver’s seat and started the car up while my brothers

got in.

I plugged my IPod in the dock and classical music started up right away. Emmett groaned, reaching for the stereo.

“Must you always listen to this pussy shit?” he asked in frustration. I reached out and smacked his hand, hard, and he shot me a dirty look but proceeded to change the song anyway. He settled on some hip-hop, a Lil Kim song.

“Mozart was a fucking genius,” I said. Emmett rolled his eyes.

“Yeah well so is Lil’ Kim,” he muttered. Jasper and I both laughed.

I had to stop for gas on the way to school and made Jasper get out and pump it,

because I hated pumping gas. I pulled into my usual spot the parking lot at school and opened my door, while a car swung into the spot beside me suddenly, nearly clipping my door. I jumped out with irritation and saw that it was Lauren Mallory’s hideous little Honda. It was black and would be a decent car if she hadn’t plastered pink glittery decals all over the windows and hung those Mardi

64

Gras beads and a hot pink lei from the rearview mirror. That bitch had never been to Hawaii and sure as shit never went to Mardi Gras, so it was completely ridiculous. I guess she thought they were cool or whatever, but it just made her look like a faker to me. I noticed Jessica was in the passenger seat and groaned.

“Hey Edward,” Lauren said all flirtatious-like when she climbed out, making a point to lick her lips as she spoke. Lauren had always been just as loose as Jessica but at least she understood her place and didn’t try to sugarcoat what it is we had. She knew it was just sex. We’d only been together a few times before and hadn’t had much interaction since I got back. She, too, had apparently decided to try her hand at being faithful and committed to one person.

“Lauren,” I said in greeting, smirking. Jessica hopped out of the passenger seat and smiled at me.

“You look good today,” Jessica said.

“Don’t I look good every day?” I asked, cocking an eyebrow at her. She giggled and nodded.

Tyler Crowley walked up and wrapped his arm around Lauren’s waist, nodding at me in acknowledgement. I nodded back. He was a nice guy, maybe a little too much into Lauren but I couldn’t fault him, she was a decent lay after all. I was surprised when I found out they were dating, as I clearly remembered the days of football last year, sitting in the locker room and him laughing as a bunch of us shared tales of escapades in the sack with Lauren.

I took a few steps forward, closing the distance between Jessica and I. “You know what would look really good this morning?” I asked softly, turning on the charm.

“What?” she asked, all breathy-like, already hot and bothered.

Bocchino,” I said, brushing my finger across her lips. She always melted when I spoke Italian to her, not giving a shit what I was saying. Just asking for a fucking blowjob like I just did sounded romantic to her. “That mouth on me.” She parted her lips and brought my pointer finger into her mouth, sucking on it. I groaned and went to speak, but was cut off abruptly but a loud smack and a sharp pain shooting through the back of my head. I pulled my hand away from Jessica and

65

clutched the back of my head, swinging around.

“What the fuck?!” I yelled.

“You’re such a whore,” Rosalie’s cold voice said, her eyes narrowed at me. I smiled lightly, still rubbing the back of my head. I should’ve known it was her, Rosalie was the only one with the balls to do such a thing.

“Morning, Rose,” I said. Emmett walked up laughing, draping his arm around Rose’s shoulder. Jasper and Alice came up behind them, smiling and holding hands.

‘Why are you still here?” Rose asked while raising an eyebrow, her voice sharp and bitter. She was gazing over my shoulder, where Jessica still stood.

“I’ll see you later, Edward,” Jessica muttered, walking away. I rolled my eyes at Rose but couldn’t help but smirk. It was quite amusing how afraid of Rosalie Hale all the girls were. Alice was the only female friend she had, as Alice was the only one with enough guts to ever stand up to her.

“You just scared away my morning head,” I said, leaning in the car and grabbing my book bag. I locked and shut the door and turned back to them.

“There are plenty of other females around here who are more than willing, I don’t know why you’re constantly messing around with Stanley. She’s nasty.”

I shrugged. “She’s the easiest to coax into a janitor’s closet.”

My brothers laughed, but Rose didn’t find it as humorous. “I swear, you’re never going to get a decent girl with that attitude,” she said, shaking her head.

Before I had a chance to speak up and reiterate the fact that I had no desire to settle down with anyone, Alice chimed in. “We should leave Edward alone. If he wants to waste his time on someone like Jessica Stanley, than that’s his business.”

I looked at her, slightly surprised, as she was usually the first to bring up my lack of commitment. She smiled lightly, shrugging at my questioning look. I returned

66

her smile, not understanding the sudden shift in her attitude but appreciating it, none-the-less.

“Whatever,” Rose grumbled, annoyed.

“Dad got back last night,” Emmett said suddenly, shooting me a quick glance as he tried to divert the attention off of me. I appreciated it. It seemed like an everyday thing now, one of them getting on me about my so-called promiscuity. So what if I enjoyed getting off?

“Really?” Rose asked nonchalantly, not even pretending to care.

“Yeah, that reminds me,” Jasper said. “Alice what are you doing after school?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know, why?”

“Dad wants to know if you’ll go to the store and pick up some clothes and stuff for the new girl he brought home,” Jasper said, already reaching into his pocket to pull out his wallet. He knew there’s no way she’d say no. We each had our own therapeutic devices, mine being music. Shopping was Alice’s. It calmed her, helped her think, which never made any sense to me as malls stressed me the fuck out. But whatever, that was Alice--quirky.

Alice’s eyes widened. “Of course!” she said enthusiastically, holding her hand out and taking the credit card from him.

“So he got a new one?” Rose asked quietly. Rose and Alice were the only people outside of the family that were clued in on the true nature of the people brought into our home. Everyone else figured they were just live-in housekeepers or whatever that we hired, but Rose and Alice knew they weren’t there voluntarily. They were like family to us anyway, we trusted them.

We all nodded and she laughed. “He’s not going to start fucking this one too, is he?”

Emmett and I laughed—they also suspected Dad had something sexual going on with the last lady. Jasper didn’t find it very funny, though.

67

“Considering she’s younger than us, I’d surely hope not,” he said dryly. We all shut up instantly and Rose turned to gape at him.

“How old is she?” she asked incredulously.

Jasper laughed bitterly. “Barely sixteen.”

Alice was looking up at her boyfriend, frowning, obviously in tune to how he felt about that. They were complete opposites in how they looked and acted, but at the same time they were a lot alike in thought. Rose narrowed her eyes slightly, scowling.

“He brought a teenage girl in with a house full of teenage boys? How fucking stupid is he?” she asked, obviously fuming.

I rolled my eyes and Emmett sighed. “Don’t be ridiculous, Rose, it’s not that big of a deal.” She raised her eyebrows at him.

“Not a big deal? A teenage girl living in the same house as Mr. I’ll-Fuck- Whatever's-Most-Convenient?” she said, motioning toward me. I groaned, shaking my head.

“Give me a fucking break, Rose. You’ve known me since elementary school; you should know me better than that.”

The bell rang and Rose stormed off immediately. Emmett sighed, frowning. I

shook my head and gave him a sympathetic smile. Rose could be a handful. I had

a feeling she was actually upset about the idea of a young female living in the house with her boyfriend. Rose was drop dead gorgeous and knew it, but she could be jealous as shit sometimes.

Emmett chased after her and I ran my fingers through my hair, turning to head into the building. I heard Jasper whisper Isabella’s name to Alice and considered lingering around to hear what he had to say, but decided against it. I wanted to get to first period and see if maybe I could still talk Jessica into sneaking off with me.

But of course, that didn’t fly. I slid into the desk next to Jessica and leaned over,

68

whispering about skipping. But she just stared straight ahead, a ridiculous pout on her face, all pissed off that I’d let Rose talk to her the way she did. As if I had any fucking control over Rosalie Hale.

The first few class periods dragged by slowly. School always came easily to me, I wasn’t exactly a whiz kid or anything but I’d been blessed with dad’s amazing memory. If I weren’t such a slack ass when it came to homework and assignments I’d be at the top of the class. I still had a decent GPA, around a 4.0, but with my AP classes it could be a lot higher.

Lunch rolled around and I moseyed into the cafeteria, plopping down in the small plastic chair at our usual table in the corner. I’ve sat in the same chair everyday since I was a freshman, no one else daring to sit in it. Most people around here feared us because of the gossip and rumors that went around about my family’s ties to the Mob. Cullen’s have been linked to organized crime since the days of Al Capone and prohibition and a lot of the kids shrugged it off as coincidence, seeing how my dad came off as being just the hometown doctor, but they didn’t fuck with us anyway just in case. There were still those select few, like Mike Newton, who were too stupid to get it in their heads to watch themselves around us. And that irked me to no end… If there was anything I hated, it was disrespect.

But that’s what got me into trouble last year, and I had no intention of letting it lead me down that path again. I was doing my best to ignore the people like Newton, but it was a lot easier said than done. I wanted nothing more than to walk across the cafeteria and yank him out of his chair and beat him to a pulp in front of everyone, to show all of them that you don’t cross me. No one had commented on the bandage on my head today from the stitches and I was grateful for that, as if someone did it would likely set me off and I’d end up going after revenge without even thinking.

Alice and Jasper walked in the cafeteria, holding hands as usual. Jasper leaned down and kissed her softly and it was slightly awkward looking because of how tall he was compared to her, but that was them and they didn’t give a shit. Jasper headed over to the lunch line to grab some food for Alice, as he usually did, and Alice walked over toward the table where I was sitting.

My brothers used to be spontaneous and rash, but apparently I missed a lot when I was gone for those months because I came home to the most predictable

69

fuckers on the planet. I can guarantee Jasper will eat a slice of cheese pizza and Alice will have a salad and they’ll share a fucking coke, because it’s exactly what they’ve done every day for two weeks. Rose and Emmett aren’t much better… and they wonder why I have no plans on getting a girlfriend. That shit has to be boring.

“Hey Edward,” Alice said, sitting down across from me and smiling.

“Hey short stuff, I almost didn’t see you there,” I said with a smirk. She narrowed her eyes playfully and stuck out her tongue. I was always picking on the fact that she was vertically challenged, as she barely stood 5 feet tall if even that.

“You see if I ever stand up for you again,” she mumbled. I laughed.

“Yeah I’m kinda surprised you did. I mean shit Alice, you’re usually worse than the rest of them with wanting me to settle down.”

Alice smiled. “Yeah, I realized there’s no point in trying to talk to you about it, you’re too hard headed. You’ll figure it out soon enough on your own,” she said.

I rolled my eyes. “Don’t hold your breath, Alice,” I mumbled. Jasper walked up and sat the tray in front of Alice. Cheese Pizza, Salad, and a fucking coke—what did I tell you?

“What shouldn’t she hold her breath for?” he asked, plopping down in the chair beside Alice. Emmett and Rose walked up with their food, sitting down beside me.

“I told Edward he’d decide to settle down with a girl soon enough,” Alice said, taking a bite of her salad. My brothers glanced at her and mumbled something under their breath.

“I pity the girl who’s stupid enough to actually date him,” Rose said, laughing. I turned and glared at her.

“Why?” I asked defensively, as I surely wasn’t that bad. “I’m rich, I’ve got clout. I’m smart, talented, I’ve got a sense of humor, and I’m fucking hott. Any bitch would be lucky to be with me.”

70

They all rolled their eyes and Rose groaned. “That’s exactly why. You’re a spoiled conceited prick.”

I laughed bitterly, rocking my chair back on its hind legs. “So says the vainest bitch alive.”

Rose narrowed her eyes at me and stood up quickly, her chair being pushed back roughly, the metal legs scraping against the floor and causing us all to wince. She turned and stormed out of the room, banging the door loudly and drawing the attention of everyone in the cafeteria. Emmett glared at me and stood up, grabbing his and Rose’s tray and tossing the food in the trash. He followed her out without saying a word.

What did I tell you—predictable. Rose throws a tantrum and storms off when someone says or does something she doesn’t like, and Emmett follows her like a puppy.

Jasper sat quietly, gnawing on his pizza in silence. Alice sighed, dropping her fork. “You shouldn’t doubt me. And just so you know, it doesn’t matter how good looking or funny or talented you are, no girl with even an ounce of self-respect likes being called the ‘b’ word by a guy. So maybe if you toned that down, you’d get a decent girl to take an interest in the charming parts of you. Because you can be charming Edward, and you are a good catch, but you’re wasting it all on the hoochies around this place.”

She stood up and grabbed her salad, walking over and tossing it in the trash. Jasper got up quickly. He shook his head sadly at me. “If mom could see you now,” he muttered, walking away.

I sighed, running my hand through my hair. Dad always said my greatest talent was pissing people off.

Chapter 7 - Things Aren't Always What They Seem

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” -- Robert McCloskey

71

IPOV The moment I heard the door click shut and the car outside start up, I breathed an audible sigh of relief.

It had been a long morning already, and quite strange to say the least. After Edward had offered to take me grocery shopping and Dr. Cullen was satisfied that things were settled on that front, he got ready to leave for the hospital. On the way out he asked me to change the sheets on his bed, as he apparently wanted them changed every Wednesday, and informed me that the makeup he’d taken from Charles’s house was in his bathroom. He told me to do my best to cover up the bruise before I went into public with Edward since this was a small town. He didn’t want anyone getting the wrong idea, as the people here apparently liked to gossip and would jump to conclusions.

After Dr. Cullen left, the boys started scrounging up something to eat for breakfast. Dr. Cullen had said breakfast was an every man for themselves type deal and I didn’t have to cook unless it was requested of me, but I felt bad just standing there watching them. They didn’t actually have anything for me to cook, though, so I couldn’t exactly offer my services. I was feeling inadequate and out of place so I’d gone upstairs to my room and decided to take a shower. He hadn’t said anything about baths or showers, but I presumed from his outrage at my appearance at Charles’s house that he preferred me to be clean constantly. I was so used to having every tiny detail of my life controlled upfront that I was having a hard time dealing with trying to figure things out for myself. I knew I should’ve gotten clarification but I was so afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing that I couldn’t seem to form any questions. In my world, nothing should ever be assumed and I knew that, I just couldn’t seem to get my brain to work properly while in their presence.

There was shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom already, along with some bar soap. They were all tiny sample sizes but they worked well enough.

I climbed out, feeling fresher than I’d felt in a long time. I was used to breaking into a sweat the moment I stepped out of the water in Phoenix because of the heat and humidity and our living conditions, never truly staying fresh. The air in the Cullen house was regulated and seemed to hover somewhere between comfortable and slightly too cool.

72

I

glanced around, noticing there weren’t any combs or brushes around. I ran my

fingers through my hair to get the knots out, not bothering with it otherwise. The mirrors were all fogged up from the steam from the hot shower I took and I was actually quite grateful for it, as I had no desire to see myself. I knew I had scars all over my body from punishments over the years and avoided looking at them at all costs. They made me feel disgusting, unworthy.

I didn’t have any new clothes so I slipped on my black capri’s from the day

before. I didn’t want to wear the pink tank top, as it was slightly uncomfortable, so I pulled the football shirt back on. I hoped they didn’t mind.

I opened the door, deciding to head down to Dr. Cullen’s room to find the

makeup, and froze abruptly when I noticed the door across from me was wide open. Edward was standing right inside the room and seemed to be frozen in spot also. I glanced around, slightly shocked as I’d never seen a room so utterly disorganized and chaotic before. He let out a slightly nervous sounding laugh and rattled something off about his bedroom being a mess and I realized he’d caught me gaping at it. I looked away quickly and apologized, remembering clearly that the boys’ rooms were off limits. He told me not to apologize and made it out to be no big deal, which surprised me considering both Jasper and Dr. Cullen had alluded to the fact that Edward was kind of particular when it came to his possessions.

I glanced up, smiling lightly that he was being so understanding. Our eyes met

and I stared into his, in something of a trance. Something about his eyes was hypnotic, the emerald green was intense and smoldering and I couldn’t seem to tear my gaze away. They were so expressive and it was as if they were calling out to me, beckoning me. My pulse started racing and it was slightly uncomfortable, as eye contact usually was for me, but no matter how much I tried I couldn’t break the connection. He wasn’t moving or speaking and I was panicking internally at that fact, as I couldn’t really gauge his mood or disposition and that was slightly distressing. Dr. Cullen had said Edward was a lot like him and I was starting to see it, as they both were mysterious and I couldn’t really read them.

Edward’s phone rang and we both jumped. He cursed and looked away finally, reaching into his pocket. I exhaled sharply, realizing I hadn’t been breathing, and once I took a deep breath my head started to clear and I took the opportunity to

73

escape the situation. It had me slightly freaked out, as I’d never experienced something like it before. It was like I was under some type of spell and didn’t have control over myself.

I practically ran down the stairs, heading straight for what Jasper had told me

was Dr. Cullen’s room. I slipped inside quickly, shutting the door quietly. I leaned back against the door and took a few deep breaths to calm myself.

I stood there quietly, straining my ears to listen for sounds in the house. I heard

Edward coming down the stairs, talking to someone. He bypassed the second floor and I could hear his voice filter upstairs as he hit the bottom floor, but couldn’t make out any words. I opened Dr. Cullen’s bedroom and walked quietly to the top of the stairs, listening. I saw all three boys heading for the front door, none of them glancing up in my direction. I stood there, watching and listening as

they disappeared out the front, the door clicking behind them as the car started up and pulled away from the house.

It was then that I breathed the sigh of relief… but my contentment didn’t last long.

It was quiet, almost too quiet. I was used to noise constantly, as there were always people nearby when I was in Phoenix. The silence was deafening.

I’d never been left on my own like this before. Even though I was technically alone I suspected I was still being watched somehow, possibly because of whatever it was they did to me at the medical center. Chipped, as Dr. Cullen had called it. It all made me nervous and I suddenly was hyperaware of everything.

I stood there for a moment, contemplating what to do, before slowly making my

way downstairs. Dr. Cullen had told me to acquaint myself with the house so I

assumed that was as good of a place to start as any.

I spent about an hour going through the house and opening cabinets and

drawers, getting an idea of where everything was. I located all of the cleaning supplies in a closet in the laundry room. On the second floor I found another closet, which was full of sheets and blankets and pillowcases. I stayed out of the boys’ bedrooms and didn’t go into the room on the first floor that Jasper had told me to stay away from. I also made sure to bypass the piano completely, not

74

wanting any fingers broken.

After that I scrubbed the kitchen floor, as it was slightly sticky from the orange juice that had been spilt. I washed the dishes from the boys’ breakfast, drying them and putting them away. They had a dishwasher but frankly I had no idea how to use one, as Charles made us wash everything by hand, so I decided it was just easier to wash them myself instead of risking breaking an appliance. I wiped down all of the counters lastly.

The rest of the downstairs was fairly clean. I dusted the electronics in the living area and grabbed the clear bottle with “Window Cleaner – USE ONLY THIS” written on it in black letters, cleaning the large windows that covered nearly the entire back wall. I had to use a chair to reach the top of them and nearly fell out of it, but thankfully was able to catch myself.

I went into the bathroom and scrubbed the toilet and sink. I used Windex on the mirror and then mopped the white tile floor.

After that was done, I headed for the second floor. I went into Dr. Cullen’s room and stripped his bed. I went into the hallway and opened the linen closet, pulling out a black and white sheet set and a comforter that looked to be similar to the ones I’d removed. I made the bed the way Charles had liked it done, not knowing how Dr. Cullen preferred it. But Charles had been very peculiar about how his bed was made so it was at least something I’d perfected over the years.

I took the dirty linens downstairs to the laundry room. Their washer and dryer were similar to Charles’s so I knew how to operate them. I threw them in the oversized washer and started it up.

I grabbed some supplies and headed back upstairs. I went into Dr. Cullen’s

bathroom and scrubbed out his bathtub and shower, which had a bit of grime in it and looked as if it hadn’t been cleaned in awhile. I scrubbed the toilet and sink next, making them sparkle as much as possible. I used Windex on his bathroom

mirror, sweeping and mopping the floor lastly.

I went back into his bedroom and dusted off and polished his wooden furniture. I used the cleaner on his windows lastly before heading back out.

75

I

went up to the third floor and went into the library, gasping at the enormity of

it. There had to have been hundreds of books, shelf upon shelf of them. There was a desk and some chairs sitting around, as well as a small table. I dusted the room as best as I could.

I returned the supplies back downstairs and grabbed the Dyson vacuum. I

plugged it in and started it up, vacuuming the carpeted areas of the living room and dining area. After that was done I lugged it up the stairs, breaking into a sweat for the first time since arriving at the Cullen house as it weighed at least 20 pounds and my body was frail. I vacuumed the hallway and Dr. Cullen’s bedroom, before lugging it up to the third floor and vacuuming the hallway. I vacuumed the library last, before hauling the Dyson back down to the first floor and returning it to the closet in the laundry room.

The washer had finished so I took the linens out and put them in the dryer, starting it up. I grabbed the mop and went out to the foyer, mopping the wooden floor. I considered moving the piano bench and mopping under the piano but eventually decided it would be best to not even go near it.

After the floor was dry, I headed back into the laundry room and returned all of the supplies, straightening the room up. The dryer buzzed and I pulled the fresh warm linens out, inhaling the slightly flowery clean smell. I folded them up and walked back to the second floor, placing them in the linen closet.

I walked back into Dr. Cullen’s room, glancing at his clock. It was a few minutes

past 3 pm. I wasn’t sure what time Edward would return home from school, but I was starting to panic knowing it wouldn’t be too much longer. After the odd encounter this morning, I was slightly apprehensive about being in his presence again.

I grabbed the bottle of makeup from Dr. Cullen’s bathroom counter and headed

up toward my room. I considered taking another shower, knowing I was slightly sweaty from working, but figured it was just a waste of time considering I didn’t

have any clean clothes to put on. I walked in my bathroom and glared at my reflection in the mirror, frowning. The bruise was somewhat fading to a greenish color around the edges and looked slightly disgusting against my flushed cheeks.

I washed my face, to cool my skin off, and dried it. I opened the bottle of

foundation and poured some on my finger. I rubbed it over the bruise, trying my

76

best to blend it in but it looked slightly splotchy to me, as I had no idea what I was doing.

I finally gave up with a groan, deciding it was good enough, and closed the bottle up. I washed my hands slid on my black flip-flops before heading downstairs. It was around 3:30 now and my nerves were increasing with each passing moment.

I walked into the kitchen and pulled out a glass, pouring some water into it from

the tap. I gulped it down, slightly parched. I felt slightly more comfortable in the house after spending all day here but I hadn’t been comfortable enough to help

myself to anything in the kitchen.

I washed the glass out and was putting it away when I heard the crunch of gravel

outside as a car pulled up. I pushed the curtain aside slightly and glanced out the

window. The car was sleek and silver with dark tinted windows and shiny silver rims. It looked to be either brand new or else very well taken care of.

The driver’s side door opened and Edward stepped out. My eyes widened and my breath hitched at the sight of him. The sun was shining brightly, causing his hair to look slightly more golden than it was. He had pale skin that practically glowed as it reflected the sunlight, and he was wearing a pair of black sunglasses. Even the small white bandage on the corner of his forehead seemed to add character. He paused before closing his door, running his fingers through his hair and making it even more chaotic than it had been.

I let go of the curtain and stepped aside when he looked up at the house, not

wanting him to think I was watching him or anything. I heard the front door open and close softly. There was a slightly loud thump that echoed through the silent house and then a loud sigh.

I stood frozen in spot, staring down at the ground as I heard footsteps. My heart was racing as they grew closer to me. The footsteps stopped abruptly and I glanced up to see him standing in the doorway. His eyebrow was raised and he was staring at me questioningly.

I glanced back down at the ground, trying to avoid eye contact so not to have a

repeat of this morning. He was quiet for a moment before clearing his throat.

77

“You like my shirt?” he asked. I glanced up at him quickly, noticing his expression hadn’t shifted from the questioning look. I looked down at the shirt, realizing that he was the evidently the Cullen who wore the number 21 and played football at Forks High School.

“I’m sorry sir, I have nothing else to wear right now. I assure you I’ll return it to you as soon as possibly in the same condition it was lent to me,” I rattled off quickly.

I looked up at him and he smiled. “No need to apologize,” he said with a shrug. “Keep it as long as you want, it looks good on you.”

My eyes widened and I looked away from him quickly. I silently cursed when I felt the blood rush to my cheeks. I have no idea what he meant by that but the words made me nervous.

“Forget I just said that,” he muttered, sighing. I glanced up and saw he was pinching the bridge of his nose, looking frustrated. I smiled involuntarily—he was definitely exactly like his father in mannerisms. He glanced over at me and I dropped my smile quickly, diverting my eyes away again. “Come on, let’s go get this shit over with.”

He sighed and turned, walking away. I followed behind him quietly and heard him mumbling to himself. I couldn’t make out most of it, but my heart dropped when I heard ‘so fucking stupid’. Was he talking about me? Did he really think I was stupid?

He hit the front door and pulled it open, turning around. He jumped, startled, when he noticed I was right behind him. “Fuck, girl!” he yelled loudly, grabbing his chest. “You need to learn how to make some damn noise so people know you’re there. That sneaking around shit isn’t going to fly.”

“Sorry sir,” I mumbled quickly, feeling the tears welling up in my eyes. “I didn’t mean to surprise you, I was just taught to be as silent as possible at all times.”

“Yeah, well, you need trained differently or you’re going to give me a fucking heart attack,” he said. I nodded, unsure of what to say, and he groaned, shaking his head. He turned and walked out the door and I followed him out, pausing on

78

the porch. I heard him mutter ‘so fucking stupid’ again as he closed and locked up the house.

He practically ran off the porch, shaking his head and muttering stuff I couldn’t make out. He headed straight around the car for the driver’s side but paused abruptly, groaning once again. He turned around and walked to the passenger door, opening it and motioning for me to get inside. I thanked him softly, climbing into the car. He didn’t respond but nodded once in acknowledgment. He shut the door and headed for the driver’s side.

The inside of the car was flawless and made me nervous. It was all black leather, the scent of it fairly strong. There wasn’t any dirt anywhere in it that I could see, everything still shiny and polished. I wasn’t exactly surprised, however, considering he was supposedly finicky.

He slid into the driver’s seat and started the car up. I put my seatbelt on and glanced over at him, noticing he was frowning and his posture was slightly tense. He put the car in gear and started driving right away, not bothering with his seat belt. I gripped the seat tightly as he accelerated quickly, sending gravel and dirt flying. He barely slowed as he whipped down the driveway and out onto the road, his tires squealing.

I was frightened--I won’t deny it. He was quite nonchalant at driving, fiddling with his radio the entire time and scanning through songs instead of paying attention to the road. He didn’t speak at all, didn’t even glance in my direction. It was like I wasn’t even in the car with him.

He drove for a few minutes before entering the town limits. He finally stopped when he got to a store, parking toward the back of the parking lot. He took up a few spots, parking the car at an angle and ignoring the painted lines. It was slightly confusing.

He turned the engine off and sighed, pulling the key out. He stepped out and shut his door quickly. I hesitated briefly. Before I could reach for the door handle, however, he was at my side and opening my door.

I climbed out and he shut the door behind me. He paused, glancing at me briefly for the first time since we got into his car, before turning and heading for the

79

store. I followed behind him, trying to make some noise so not to upset him further with my silence but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

We reached the building and the door slid open automatically on it’s own. We walked inside and he headed toward a row of carts.

He paused and turned to look at me expectantly. I froze, slightly panicked. His brow furrowed as he took in my expression and he hesitated, before grabbing a cart and pulling it out.

“Have you ever grocery shopped on your own?” he asked quietly after a second, glancing at me from the corner of his eye. I shook my head.

“No. I’ve never actually been inside a store before.”

He froze, his head snapping in my direction quickly. He stared at me incredulously. “Never?” he asked.

I shook my head. “Never. I wasn’t allowed to,” I said quietly. He sighed and shook his head, seemingly frustrated.

“Well, I can’t say I’ve ever actually grocery shopped either,” he said with a shrug. I looked at him with surprise and he smiled lightly.

“Really?” I asked, smiling back.

He nodded, chuckling softly. “Yeah, really. I mean, I’ve ran into a store and bought something specific I was sent for, but I’ve never actually gone food shopping on my own. Thankfully, it’s not my responsibility,” he said.

My smile fell. Grocery shopping, according to Dr. Cullen, would be up to me to handle. I wasn’t exactly sure how that was going to work out, but I knew that Edward was here, having to do my work for me, and that wasn’t right.

“Sorry,” I said softly, glaring at the ground. He sighed.

“Don’t apologize, I volunteered. We’ll figure this shit out together.”

80

He paused when we hit the produce section, glancing around. He had a slightly confused look on his face. He turned to me and cocked an eyebrow after a second. “I have another confession,” he whispered, leaning slightly toward me.

“What’s that?” I asked with my brow furrowed.

“I can’t say I’ve ever actually cooked either, so I have no idea what half this shit is or what it’s for,” he said, picking up a stalk of Brussels sprouts and eyeing it skeptically. I couldn’t help the giggle that escaped me at the sight of his expression. He turned his head and smiled at me. “Seriously, though, what the fuck is this?” he asked, holding it up.

“Brussels sprouts,” I said. He looked shocked and glanced at the stalk he was holding.

“Definitely not buying them,” he muttered, practically throwing it back down. I laughed, a little louder than I expected to, and brought my hand up to cover my mouth. He chuckled. “You’ve got a nice laugh,” he said after a moment. I glanced at him and smiled.

“Thank you,” I said softly. He nodded, but otherwise didn’t respond. We stood there, staring at each other for a moment before he cleared his throat and averted his eyes, running his hand through his hair again.

“Let’s get this over with,” he mumbled.

I nodded, feeling slightly uncomfortable. There was a tension there now, I didn’t quite understand it but I could feel it. “What do you generally eat, so I know what types of things to cook?”

He laughed dryly. “Emmett will eat anything. Hell, he’d probably eat Brussels sprouts. Jasper and dad aren’t very hard to please, they’ll at least give anything you make a try.”

“And you?” I asked, noticing he hadn’t mentioned himself. He sighed and shrugged. “Finicky,” I muttered to myself, enjoying the new word Dr. Cullen had taught me, realizing that Edward wasn’t just particular about his possessions. He was all around picky.

81

He looked at me incredulously. “What did you just call me?” he asked.

My eyes widened when it dawned on me that I’d just said it to his face. He was looking at me expectantly, obviously not going to let me get away with avoiding it. I sighed. “Finicky,” I said softly.

He shook his head. “My dad taught you that shit, didn’t he? He’s been telling me for years that I was a finicky fucker.”

I smiled lightly, relieved that he wasn’t upset. Less than 48 hours ago if I’d have muttered the word finicky to my owner, even if he hadn’t know what it meant, I would’ve been punished severely.

“Yes, your dad did mention it,” I said. “I truly meant no disrespect.”

He nodded. “I know. But whatever, let’s shop. We look like idiots just standing here beside these fucking sprouts,” he mumbled. I smiled and nodded.

Edward grabbed little green bags and I started tossing fruits and vegetables that

I thought would be useful in them. We started going down the aisles next and I

grabbed what I recognized as having used before. Luckily I’d spent so much time in the kitchen at Charles’s house that I recognized the packaging and didn’t have to deal with the fact that I was supposedly illiterate. Clara had taught me how to cook so it was quite ingrained in me.

Edward assured me that I should get everything that caught my eye and not worry about how much I spent or how packed full the cart was. He said he had no

desire to return to a grocery store again for a while and I returned the sentiment.

I grabbed all of the essentials for meals and Edward grabbed their favorite

convenience foods, like cereals, and junk food, like chips and ice cream and soda.

I was clueless when it came to those things.

We headed to the front with an overflowing cart and Edward started tossing the stuff up on the conveyer belt. I noticed the girl working was staring at Edward, her eyes wide and a big smile on her face. It was so odd, she stared at him as if he was an idol or something, and she wasn’t even trying to hide the fact that she was gaping at him. Edward seemed to not notice her, though.

82

As soon as the manager spotted Edward he came over to us. “Mr. Cullen, nice to see you,” he said, reaching his hand out toward Edward. Edward nodded and took his hand, shaking it nonchalantly.

The manager started bagging our groceries and placing them in our cart. I stood back and watched it all with amazement, the cashier and manager both gaping at Edward and him seemingly oblivious to it all. The manager seemed to want to impress Edward, as Edward’s presence seemed to make him slightly nervous and maybe a bit afraid and was watching him to make sure he wasn’t upset. It was so odd, and I had to wonder if maybe the people in town knew about the other aspect of their life, or at least suspected it. I also had to wonder if Edward was just unobservant, or if he was just so used to the treatment that he didn’t bat an eyelash about it anymore. It wasn’t normal though, that much I was sure of. I had a feeling the teenage girl behind the register was staring at him for reasons different than the manager, though. I had a sneaking suspicious that she had a crush.

I was so fascinated by the workers that Edward seemed to fade into the

background, until his hand abruptly shot in my direction. I flinched instinctively and he froze, narrowing his eyes at me. He reached past me slowly and grabbed

a candy bar off of the rack beside me. He threw it up on the conveyor belt without taking his eyes off of me.

I looked away, unsure of why he was looking at me the way he was. I couldn’t

figure out if he were upset or not. I could still feel his gaze on me and it was

making me nervous.

“Your total is $247.63,” the girl at the register said after a moment. My eyes widened in surprise at the cost and I glanced up at Edward, but it didn’t seem to faze him. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet, opening it and pulling out a silver card. He finally turned and looked away from me, swiping his card quickly. The girl handed him a slip of paper after a second and I glanced over, watching as he signed his name on it. His writing was quite stunning and I realized exactly how juvenile my own writing was. I imagine my script looked something like a little kids’ would look.

He handed it back to her, looking at her for the first time and she smiled brightly

83

at him. He smirked at her, his grin lop-sided and charming. My heart started racing at the sight of it and judging by the girls face, hers did too. I tried to push my heart fluttering aside, mentally screaming at myself that I was being ridiculous. It was dangerous. I was softening, getting vulnerable simply because he was attractive, and that was going to get me killed if I kept it up. Less than 24 hours and he was already unraveling me.

The girl pulled off his receipt and grabbed an extra piece of paper, jotting something down on it. She handed them both to Edward and he nodded at her before turning away. We headed out of the store and the girl narrowed her eyes at me, glancing down at my shirt. I realized I was wearing Edward’s clothes in public and she must’ve known that, because her expression was jealous and hostile. I sighed and averted my eyes from her, staring at the ground as we left.

We got to the car and Edward started it up. He pressed a button and the top of the car started moving, startling me. I watched in awe as it folded down, disappearing as it turned into a convertible. Edward saw my stunned expression and chuckled. He started grabbing bags and tossing them in the back. I quickly started helping him, and when we were through I slipped into the passenger seat while Edward returned the cart.

He returned after a moment and climbed in, starting to drive away immediately. He pulled out his candy bar, a yellow triangular box with big red letters on the side, opening it carefully and pulling back the foil. He broke off two triangles off nonchalantly and held it out to me.

My eyes widened and I gaped at him. When I didn’t take it after a second he glanced over at me, cocking an eyebrow at me questioningly.

“Don’t like chocolate?” he asked.

“Uh… I’ve, uh, never had it,” I mumbled.

He looked at me with shock. “Christ, girl, take it,” he said, thrusting the piece of chocolate in my face. I laughed lightly and took it, nibbling on it. I smiled widely at the rich taste with the tiny crunchy bits and what tasted like honey, and moaned at how amazing it was. I was slightly embarrassed at my reaction and blushed deeply immediately. Edward merely laughed, nodding.

84

“Yeah, I know… fucking amazing.”

Chapter 8 - First time for everything

"Character is that sum total of moments we can't explain." -- George Saunders

EPOV

My day had gone to hell quite fast, and as much as I wanted to blame my brothers or their girlfriends for it, the fact was that it was entirely my own fault.

I tried to ignore Jasper’s words as he left the cafeteria. It was such a simple statement, but so fucking loaded it was ridiculous. I was actually quite shocked he had the nerve to say such a thing to my face, as they all knew how temperamental I was and how the mention of her affected me.

‘If mom could see you now…’

I knew she’d be disappointed, probably pretty disgusted actually. She’d always tried to make sure the life Dad led didn’t get to our heads and that we were raised to be gentlemen and above all respect women, and I knew I was failing at all of that. I could be an ass, I can’t deny that, and I was hot-headed and rude. I was the complete opposite when I was younger, so gullible and sweet and desperate for love and affection. I remember once, I couldn’t have been any older than six or so, Emmett learned the word ‘bitch’ from one of his friends and thought it would be funny to come home and teach it to little gullible Edward. I was so desperate for him to like me and accept me that I would’ve done anything he asked me to. I was a scrawny little shit and Emmett was always so big that he was like my protector. So when he asked me to walk into the kitchen, where mom was, and say the word ‘bitch’ I was quick to jump to it.

Of course, it fucking made her cry and I felt like shit afterwards, not understanding because Emmett didn’t even tell me what the damn word meant. If she knew I used that word regularly now to describe the collective female population, she’d be thoroughly disappointed.

But you know, she wasn’t here and hadn’t been for a long time. She was a gentle

85

person, sensitive and compassionate. She hadn’t been cut out for dad’s life, didn’t approve but she loved him so she overlooked it. She was desperate for us boys to be different, for us not to adopt the lifestyle. She had highest hopes for me, the youngest and most like her when I was little. She coddled me, maybe too much-- she always used to talk about her sweet little Edward and how great he would be someday.

Yeah, if she could see me now she’d probably wish I had never been born. I’ve grown up to be the exact thing she was so desperate to avoid for her kids. I had the mob mentality, the ‘no one matters but me’ attitude. That sweet compassionate boy that was desperate for love and affection died a long fucking time ago. I pushed people away and pissed them off and used them and frankly didn’t care. But no one truly understands what it is I’ve gone through, what I’ve seen and had to live knowing. If they had the same images and sounds embedded in their brain as I did, maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to judge or condemn me.

So I got up from the table in the cafeteria and walked out, going through the rest of the school day trying to forget about her again but I couldn’t. It kept weighing on my mind and that was pissing me off. In gym class last period Jessica even changed her mind and agreed to sneak off with me but I couldn’t keep it up because I couldn’t focus.

Emmett went to Rose’s after school and Jasper had some club meeting so I drove home by myself. I was starting to regret offering to take Isabella to the grocery store because of the mood I was in. Something about her put me on edge and I couldn’t seem to think straight around her. I was already distracted today because of Jasper and the last thing I needed to do was say something stupid to her. She was already sketchy enough as it was.

I pulled up at the house and climbed out, hesitating. I saw the curtain flutter in the kitchen and realized she’d seen me. I headed into the house, throwing my book bag on the floor and walking into the kitchen. I stopped in the doorway and looked at her. She was standing against the counter, not moving and staring at the ground. She looked scared as shit and I stared at her for a moment, realizing she was wearing one of my football shirts. I remembered dad coming in my room last night and grabbing something from my dresser but I was too pissed off at the time to give it much thought. I realized now that he’d been getting her something

86

to wear. It was big but it seemed to fit her somehow, like she belonged in the shirt or something. It was an odd feeling but it kind of felt right, like she was supposed to have it.

She wasn’t even looking at me and it was uncomfortable, so I nervously spat something off about her wearing my shirt. She, of course, apologized and said something about returning it to me but I really didn’t give a shit about the shirt. I told her to keep it since it looked good on her.

The moment she looked away and her face turned red, I realized exactly what I’d said. It sounded like I was fucking hitting on her. She was uncomfortable enough already; you could see it plain as day in her posture and expression that she felt out of place. The last thing she needed was my asshole self acting all hormonal.

I was frustrated and told her to forget it, which is as close to an apology as I can conjure up. I glanced over and saw that she was smiling but the moment I looked at her, her expression went blank again and she looked away.

I told her to come on so we could get the grocery shopping over with before I

said or did anything else stupid. I was railing on myself for being such a damn idiot and didn’t even hear her behind me, so she succeeded in scaring me again when I turned around. And of course, exactly like the first time, I lashed out at her about it before I could even realize what I was doing. She apologized, saying she was told to always be quiet, and to make matters even worse I yelled that she needed to be trained differently. Trained… like a fucking dog. How much more of a jackass could I be, really?

I was so pissed off and busy bitching myself out that I almost forgot my

manners, almost didn’t even open the door for her. I didn’t understand it; I’d never treated any of the other women like this. It wasn’t their fault they were here and I always tried to make it as easy as possible on them.

I was distracted the entire drive and tried not to look at her. Something about her got me flustered and I needed to figure it out and fix it, because we seriously couldn’t continue on with the tension or I’d snap.

We got to the grocery store and I parked the car sideways so no one could park anywhere near me. It probably pissed people off, me making up half a dozen

87

fucking parking spots, but no one ever said shit to me about it. We walked inside and Isabella looked as if she were about to have a nervous breakdown. She confessed that she’d never been inside of a store before and I was shocked. Who the fuck had never been inside a store before? I tried to take away some of her panic and lighten the mood a bit. I frankly didn’t know what I was doing, never had to buy shit to make meals because I’m not trusted in the food department since I practically like nothing. I actually got her to laugh and was stunned at how young and carefree she looked and sounded at that moment. I complimented her on her laugh and she smiled. It was a kind of sweet moment and we stared at each other for a bit until it got weird and I had to look away before I did something stupid. She was getting under my skin and that was making me uncomfortable.

I knew nothing about the girl besides the fact that she was 16 and her name was Isabella. She’d barely even spoken to me besides to apologize for things she shouldn’t have to apologize for. For all I knew she could be dumb as a doorknob and lack any amount of personality. The two people Dad brought home prior to her had both been uneducated, completely illiterate and I ventured to guess she likely was also, which was pretty fucking sad.

I was shocked when she muttered that I was finicky. My dad was the only one I knew of that used that word, so I knew immediately where she’d gotten it from. I was curious what all Dad had said to her about me, how much she knew, but the middle of the store wasn’t the time or place to ask about it. I ventured to guess she didn’t know too much, since she had been brave enough to call me such a word to my face.

We went through the store fairly quickly. I noticed she barely even looked at the packages she threw in the cart. I handled the non-meal stuff to make it easier on her until she got an idea of our eating habits and preferences.

After we were finished shopping, we went up to the register and I put everything up to be scanned. The manager came over to greet me, which wasn’t anything unusual. People tended to cater to me, for one reason or another. Some did it because my dad was the beloved doctor who pretty much saved the hospital, or because they had an idea of what the family business really was. Others did it because they were sports lovers and the varsity quarterback was always looked at like a God.

88

I

reached past Isabella to grab a Toblerone bar, because I was such a glutton

when it came to them, and she flinched away from me. I looked at her with shock, surprised she’d think I’d hit for no reason, especially in the middle of a damn store. She looked ashamed afterwards for her reaction, which was just baffling. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what she’d been through to be so sketchy. I turned to pay and noticed the girl at the register was smiling at me all flirty-like. I knew who she was, she was cute and I heard around that she was still a virgin. She would’ve been fun to talk into bed, and the sex would’ve been nice since she was so petite and would be tight, but it wouldn’t have been worth the potential consequences. Her dad was a cop and the last thing I needed was a guy with a badge and a gun holding a vendetta against me for deflowering and breaking his little girl’s heart. My dad would kick my ass for that. But I turned on the charm anyway, just because I could. She slipped me her phone number with

the receipt and I put it in my pocket, making a mental note to throw it away later.

I put the top down on the car, which seemed to awe Isabella. Her expressions

were quite endearing and I couldn’t help but laugh. After we got the groceries in

the car and I returned the cart, I hopped in the car and pulled out my candy bar.

I realized I’d been an ass and didn’t buy her one so I broke off a piece and

handed it to her. She looked at me like I were crazy and I wondered immediately

if I’d fucked up again somehow. But then she told me she’d never had chocolate

and that just stunned me. Who the hell hasn’t had chocolate before? She took it hesitantly and took a bite and the expression on her face was completely stunning. She looked captivated and completely content, all over a bite of a candy bar.

And then she moaned. She fucking moaned. And it wasn’t a soft dainty moan, it was one of those guttural fuck-me-silly moans. It went straight to my cock and I hardened instantly. I laughed and said something about the chocolate being good, trying to ignore the bulge in my pants. Where had it been earlier in the day when I needed it?

The ride home was quiet. I put on some Debussy and hummed along to it. Isabella had her head leaned back and her eyes closed, the wind blowing in her face. I kept glancing over at her, as it was quite a sight. She had a smile on her lips—something about her being happy made me smile. I had a feeling she had

89

more demons haunting her than me.

I pulled up in front of the house and groaned when I spotted the little red

convertible parked out front, indicating Emmett was home and had Rose with him. Isabella’s eyes popped open and widened at the sight of the car, panic

evident on her face. I sighed and ran my hand through my hair.

“It’s just Emmett’s girlfriend. She can be a bitch though, so just ignore her.”

She nodded but the panic didn’t leave. I climbed out and walked over to her side, opening her door for her. I started grabbing bags, as did she, and we took them into the house and dropped them on the kitchen floor. I went back out and grabbed the last of the bags, putting the hardtop back on in case it rained. I brought the bags in and sat them down, sighing.

There was no sign of either Emmett or Rose downstairs so I figured they were up in Emmett’s room. “Do you think you can handle putting this shit away on your own?” I asked. Isabella glanced at me and nodded, turning her head away from me quickly. I sighed again, running my hand through my hair. It was a nervous habit I couldn’t seem to break. “All right. Just put all the plastic bags together and put them inside of one of the bags and sit them beside the trashcan. My dad likes to recycle and shit.”

She nodded with her back still turned to me. I hesitated before turning and heading for the stairs. I started up the steps slowly, listening. I could hear voices coming from Emmett’s room and wanted to make sure they weren’t fucking before I went barging in.

I heard Jasper laugh from inside when I approached the door. I knocked twice

loudly and threw the door open immediately. They yelled and jumped, startled, and I started laughing. Emmett started coughing instantly, a big huff of smoke coming out of him. The room was hazy and the stench of marijuana was strong. I inhaled deeply, taking in the earthy smell and some of the smoke lingering in the

air.

“You fuckers really should learn to lock a door,” I said, still laughing. I closed the door behind me and clicked the lock. Emmett held out the blunt to me as soon as

I approached and I took it.

90

Rose rolled her eyes. “Who’s going to walk in on us?”

“You never know,” I said with a shrug, bringing the blunt to my lips and taking a long hit of it. I loved the smell of marijuana and the taste of the strawberry rolling paper. I held it in my lungs and handed the blunt to Jasper.

“How’d grocery shopping go?” Emmett asked. I glanced over at him and saw he was smirking. His eyes were glassy and red—he was high as hell.

“I survived,” I said, finally exhaling. I coughed lightly because of the burning sensation in my lungs and felt the warmth rushing through me already, my body relaxing. “The cashier gave me her phone number.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out the small slip of paper, tossing it on Emmett’s bed beside him.

Emmett laughed and Rose rolled her eyes, reaching over and taking the blunt from Jasper. “Whoever she is, she’s gotta be better than Stanley,” she said.

I shook my head. “She’s that new cops kid. I have no plans of going to jail over a piece of ass.” I plopped down beside Jasper, sighing. “So what are you guys doing? Other than killing brain cells?”

Rose smirked, passing the blunt back to Emmett. “We were taking bets.”

My eyebrows raised and I smiled. They were always betting on ridiculous shit. I swear my brothers had a gambling addiction. “So, what are we betting on?”

“Who makes Isabella cry first,” Jasper said, shaking his head. I rolled my eyes.

“And who bet what?” I asked as Emmett handed me the blunt. I took a hit and Rose smiled.

“Emmett said it would be Carlisle,” she said. My eyes widened slightly in surprise. I automatically figured everyone would finger me.

“Why Dad?" I asked, bringing the blunt up to my lips and taking a long drag, holding it in as I handed it back to Jasper.

91

“Dad can be scary, man. You know that. I’m used to him and he still sometimes gives those looks that make me want to run the hell away from him and hide. I figure she’ll fuck something up before long and he’ll snap at her.”

I nodded, as it was plausible. “And who did Jasper say?” I asked, exhaling the smoke from my lungs slowly.

“I said Emmett because of his size. You should’ve seen the look on her face when dad introduced her to Emmett, she was scared,” Jasper said. I looked over at him and he was frowning.

“And you Rose?” I asked. She smirked, reaching over and taking the blunt from Jasper.

“You, of course,” she said, taking a hit.

I nodded, figuring as much. “So how much is on the line?”

Rose handed the blunt to Emmett. “We each put $200 up,” she said with a shrug.

I nodded again.

I ran my fingers through my hair and stood up. I got slightly dizzy and blinked a few times to clear my vision. I grabbed the blunt from Emmett and smirked.

“Well, I’d say both of you fuckers owe Rose $200, because the bitch has already won,” I said, taking a hit. Their heads snapped in my direction as they all gaped at me.

“When did you make her cry?” Jasper asked, his brow furrowed. He looked mad— even though he went in on the bet, he still didn’t like the idea of anyone winning it, because winning would mean that someone upset the defenseless girl downstairs.

“The first time I spoke to her, early this morning. She scared the shit out of me and I yelled at her,” I said with a shrug. “I didn’t mean to but you know me, I react.”

I took a long hit, holding it in, and handed the blunt to Jasper. I turned and

92

headed for the door, unlocking it and leaving the room quickly before any of them could comment on what I’d said.

I went down the stairs and hit the foyer the same time Isabella was coming out of the kitchen. She froze when she saw me and I exhaled finally, the smoke leaving my lungs. I coughed and Isabella’s eyes narrowed slightly at me.

“You get it all?” I asked, wanting to make sure she’d gotten all of the groceries put up. I never gave a shit before, I’m probably the least helpful person in the house, but there was a part of me that felt slightly protective over the girl and wanted to ensure that she stayed out of trouble. I knew Emmett was right—I may have made her cry first, but it wasn’t that far of a stretch to imagine she’d fuck up before long and incur dad’s wrath.

“Yes sir,” she said softly, gazing at me.

We stood there silently, staring at each other. I felt the urge to say something to her but I had no idea what to say or do, so I just stood there and stared.

She finally averted her eyes after a few moments, looking down at the ground. She walked past me and headed up the stairs quickly, not giving me another glance.

I looked at my watched and sighed. It was 5:30. I walked over and grabbed my

book bag, which was still lying beside the door, and headed up the stairs to my room. I grabbed my European History book out and plopped down on the leather couch in my room, flipping through the pages until I found the section on the Medici Family during the Renaissance in Italy. I tried to read some, knowing I had an essay due in a few days, but I couldn’t focus. After reading the same paragraph about a dozen times and still not really retaining it, I threw the book down in frustration. I lay back on the couch, closing my eyes.

When I opened my eyes, the room was slightly darker and the sun was setting. I sat up quickly, blinking rapidly and glancing at my watch, knowing I’d fallen asleep. It was a few minutes before 7pm.

I stood up and stretched my back out, running my fingers through my hair. I

headed out of the room and down the stairs slowly. I heard the TV on in the living

93

room when I hit the bottom floor and headed in that direction.

Jasper was sitting on the couch, watching Jeopardy. Emmett was across the room, sitting in a chair, talking on his cell phone. I plopped down on the edge of the couch and sighed, glancing at the TV.

Jasper was rattling off answers to every question, most of them wrong but he didn’t care. He loved this fucking show. I sat back and watched with amusement, chuckling at him when he got frustrated.

My eyes widened when a picture of a Brussels Sprout stalk popped up on the screen and Alex Trebek said, “Each of the plants seen here yields dozens of these veggies.” Jasper’s brow furrowed and he mumbled “peas”, which made no sense.

“It’s fucking Brussels sprouts,” I said. Jasper’s head snapped in my direction and he narrowed his eyes when the guy on TV confirmed it was indeed Brussels sprouts.

The front door opened, diverting the attention off of me. Emmett jumped up immediately and ran for the front door as Dad walked into the house, snatching some bags from him. Dad laughed and shook his head. Emmett took the bags to the table as dad headed into the living room. He glanced around the area briefly, sighing, before his eyes fell upon where Jasper and I sat on the couch.

“Will one of you go upstairs and ask Isabella if she’s hungry?”

Chapter 9 - Learning to grow in rows

"A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows." -- Doug Larson

IPOV

I lay across my bed, staring up at the ceiling lost in thought. Everything was still so new and so strange to me. Today had been odd and I was starting to grasp what Dr. Cullen had explained to me about life in his house, how it would give me a sense of normalcy and certain freedoms. I’d been left to my own devices pretty much the entire day, allowed to work and do things at my own pace at whatever

94

time I wanted to. It was so strange, after spending the last sixteen years having everything mapped out for me. I felt out of sorts, conflicted at the way they treated me. I didn’t feel like a slave in their presence—they made me almost feel welcome here. And as nice as it was not to be treated harshly every minute of the day, I wasn’t sure exactly how I liked it all. It was too new, too foreign. I’ve never experienced change before and it was completely overwhelming.

On top of that, there was Edward. He had a temper and yelled and used foul language a lot, and more than once already it’s been directed at me. But even in the midst of it he wasn’t entirely mean. He spoke to everyone else the same way he spoke to me, and almost treated me like an equal.

The ride home from the grocery store had been bizarre. I laid my head back against the seat and closed my eyes, the warm wind blowing against my face. I could still taste the sweetness from the chocolate on my lips. My lungs were breathing in a mixture of Edward’s cologne, which was intoxicating and clouded my senses, and the scent of the greenery outside that lingered in the air. There was classical music playing on the radio—I didn’t know what it was, but the melody was beautiful and haunting. And as if that weren’t enough, Edward was humming along to it, entirely in tune. The sounds coming from him were soft and sweet, and it sent tingles down my spine. I had been so content and happy at that moment, hearing and feeling and smelling and tasting things that were so new to me.

It all came crashing down when we reached the house and I opened my eyes. Reality came back in full force, and the entirety of it was even harder after forgetting it all for a moment. I panicked and looked at Edward. I felt a surge of longing and desire, my entire self begging for that feeling back that I’d just lost.

That frightened me, I didn’t like it one bit. I always wished to experience the outside world, if only for a moment, but now that I had I wished it never had happened. Because for the first time since I was young, I felt hope. I felt happiness. And I couldn’t allow that, because when it all came to an end, as it inevitably would, it would destroy me. I couldn’t let my guard down--I needed to be strong.

And I blamed Edward for breaking me so much already. I don’t know what kind of hold he had over me to make me so easily forget my place in the world, but I

95

didn’t like it. He was dangerous, likely the most dangerous person I’d ever met. Others could beat me and punish me all day long, and they’d leave me battered and bruised but they’d never break me. Edward, with just a smile, already had my walls crumbling.

I needed to stay away from him; I couldn’t let him bring me down. I needed to

remember who I was, why I was here, because forgetting would be my downfall.

I was thankful when he left me on my own to put away the groceries. I’d gotten a

good idea of where everything went so it wasn’t that difficult. As soon as I was

finished I glanced around to make sure everything was in place before rushing out, intending to go hide away in my bedroom. But, of course, the way my luck was I didn’t escape unnoticed.

Edward was standing at the bottom of the steps. Immediately upon seeing him those feelings stirred inside of me. I didn’t understand it, it didn’t make sense. I didn’t even know the boy, not really. Everything I knew of him was bad and I shouldn’t think fondly of him. He was an overall difficult person, a complete complication, but just the sight of him made everything seem so simple. I stared at him for a moment, and he exhaled some smoke, which surprised me as he was too young for such a bad habit, and then he spoke to me. I forced myself to respond, pushing aside the conflicting feelings inside of me. He made me almost feel safe… and I wasn’t safe. Least of all with him.

I rushed out of there and locked myself in my room. I heard Edward come

upstairs and into his room, and then some time later leave again. Even when he was out of my line of sight I still had a hard time pushing him from my mind. I longed to know him, to hear his voice and feel those feelings he stirred inside of me. But I couldn’t let myself. I had to stay away from him.

So I lay across my bed, staring at the ceiling, trying to sort it all through. I couldn’t be too hard avoiding Edward. I’d hear him when he came and went from his room, of course, but I didn’t necessarily have to have personal contact with him. He was gone all day and I could get all of my work done then and just hide out when he was home. It would probably make the rest of them happy also, not having to see me and remember I existed. As long as they were fed and everything clean, they didn’t actually have to see me, right?

96

There was a soft knock on my door, startling me. I hadn’t heard anyone come up the stairs. I felt panic shoot through me as I lifted myself up off the bed. I walked over slowly and grabbed the doorknob, taking a deep breath before pulling it open.

Jasper stood in the hallway and smiled lightly at me. I returned the smile out of politeness, although deep inside I was freaking out a bit, wondering what he wanted. A master coming calling was never really a good thing. Being ignored, in my world, was ideal.

“Do you want to come down and eat with us?” he asked. My eyes widened in surprise when I realized he was here to invite me to dinner. I glanced behind me at the clock and saw that it was nearly 7:30. Dr. Cullen had told me that dinner was around 7 every night, so I assumed that meant he was home from work with the food.

I started to panic then. I always had to greet Charles when he arrived home—did they expect the same here? Jasper must’ve seen the fear on my face because he sighed loudly, frowning.

“You don’t have to, you know,” he said softly. “It’s okay if you don’t want to come down.”

I looked at him questioningly and he smiled again. I nodded.

“Thank you, sir,” I said, feeling a slight bit of relief. He seemed sincere. “Please tell Dr. Cullen I said thank you for offering, also,” I added, hoping he’d pass the message on and Dr. Cullen would be as understanding. Even if he weren’t, though, I could take the punishment. Physical punishment wouldn’t be so bad right now, might even help me remember my place. I was famished but I couldn’t face Edward, not yet, not until I got a grip on myself. Jasper nodded.

“I will.” He hesitated but turned to leave after a second. I shut the door softly and went back over, lying on my bed.

About an hour later I heard footsteps coming up the stairs and braced myself. There was another knock on my door, this one slightly louder. I pulled myself up and walked over, pulling the door open.

97

My eyes widened in shock at the sight in front of me. It was a teenage girl, with short black hair spiked out to the side. She was tiny, smaller than me, and was dressed up in fancy clothes with makeup and jewelry on. She smiled a wide happy smile at me.

“Hey Isabella!!” she said, her voice loud and chipper. I just gaped at her in shock, utterly confused.

“Uh… hello,” I said.

She laughed. “My name’s Alice. I’ve been friend’s with the Cullen’s since we were young. Jasper’s my boyfriend.”

I nodded, remembering hearing about her. She was the one Dr. Cullen sent to shop for clothes for me.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Alice,” I said softly. I wasn’t sure how to greet her.

Her smile grew. “You’re so polite!” she said. I watched with shock as she walked past me and into my bedroom, glancing around. I went to close the door when I heard more footsteps on the stairs. I looked out and saw Jasper and Edward coming up the stairs, carrying a bunch of bags. I stepped aside as they walked in the room, dropping them on the floor. My eyes widened as I saw how many of them there were. They couldn’t all be for me.

“Thank you boys,” Alice said. They both grumbled a welcome and walked out. Edward went across the hall to his room and Jasper headed back down the stairs. I shut my door and turned to face Alice. She was eyeing me suspiciously. “Did you go out in public wearing that today?” she asked, motioning toward my clothes.

“Yes, ma’am,” I said softly. She looked at me with confusion and started laughing.

“Please, never ever call me ma’am again,” she said. “Alice will do perfectly fine. And I bet you were the envy of the girls in town, wearing Edward’s football shirt.”

98

smiled. “We only saw one girl, but I doubt she had cause to envy someone like me.”

I

Alice shook her head. “The girls in this town are nutts over that boy. You wearing his clothes is cause enough for their jealousy to spike. Plus, they have no idea who you are. All they’ll ever know is you work for the Cullen family and live in their mansion. Rose and I are the only people who know the truth,” she said.

I nodded, glaring down at the ground. I wasn’t sure how to feel about people not

knowing what I was, but at the same time I didn’t know how to feel about the girl

in front of me knowing.

“Anyway,” she said after a moment. “I got everything you’ll need for now. You’re a pretty girl, I can tell just looking at you that everything will fit and look great.”

“Thank you, Alice.”

She smiled. “You’re welcome,” she said. She turned and headed for the door, pulling it open. She paused and turned to face me. We stood there for a moment, in silence, before she rushed forward quickly and wrapped her arms around me. My eyes widened in surprise as she squeezed me tightly.

“You looked like you could use a hug,” she said as she pulled away, smiling. “And don’t worry Isabella, everything will be fine. We’re going to be great friends.”

She turned and walked out of the room without another word, heading for the stairs. I closed the door and sighed. Friends?!

I walked over and plopped down on the couch in my room, and started pulling

stuff out of bags. I gaped at the clothes with disbelief, as I was stunned at the massive amounts of them. There were dozens of shirts, at least ten pairs of jeans, a few other types of pants, along with some shorts and capri’s. There were even a couple skirts and dresses, which completely baffled me, as I had no idea

what I’d need them for. There were countless undergarments, a few of which I’d never imagine wearing, as the fabric on them was barely existent. There were a

couple pairs of shoes also, some casual and others dressy. There were also about

a dozen different pajama sets, and a bag full of fruity smelling toiletries, like shampoo and deodorant and body wash and even some perfume.

99

didn’t bother pulling tags off; I just started hanging them in the closet as they were. I put everything else in the dresser, and pushed the empty bags aside.

I

After everything was put up, I grabbed the bag of toiletries and a set of pajamas and headed for the bathroom. I stripped and hopped in the shower. The shampoo and body wash smelled strongly of strawberries and was completely heavenly. I stayed under the spray of water for a long time before finally shutting it off and stepping out.

I threw on the pajamas, which were a pair of hot pink and black striped pants

and a matching black tank top. I glanced around, noticing I still didn’t have a brush, but thankfully Alice had bought some ponytail holders so I just threw it

back.

I stepped out and headed for the bed when a soft knock rang out on my door. I

sighed, closing my eyes. I was exhausted and really just wanted to get some sleep. I walked hesitantly over to the door and opened it. Dr. Cullen was standing in the hallway and smiled lightly when he saw me.

“May I come in?” he asked. My eyes widened in surprise at his question. It was his house, why was he asking me if he could enter a room?

“Of course,” I said, stepping aside. He walked inside and looked around.

“So the clothes fit?” he asked, raising an eyebrow and glancing at what I was wearing. I nodded.

“I haven’t tried them all on but it appears so, sir,” I said. He nodded.

“Yeah, Alice is usually spot on with those things. She’s a like a daughter to me. You’ll like her.”

I smiled lightly. “She seemed nice.”

He smiled. “Yeah, she is. Her best friend, Rosalie, is like a daughter to me also. She isn’t quite as cheerful, though.”

100

nodded. “I’ve heard,” I mumbled, remembering what Edward had said about her in the car.

I

He smiled and raised an eyebrow at me questioningly. “Really? Who was it that warned you of Rosalie?”

“Edward, sir. He said she was a…,” I hesitated, remembering he’d called her a bad name. I didn’t know if I should repeat such a thing to Dr. Cullen, didn’t want cause any trouble.

He saw my expression and laughed. “I’m going to venture a guess and say Edward called her a bitch, correct?” I smiled and nodded. He shook his head, still laughing. “That sounds like Edward. Speaking of which, did everything go well today? I know Edward can come off as a bit abrasive.”

“Edward was nice, very helpful,” I said. Dr. Cullen looked surprised.

“Wow, that’s not something I hear very often,” he said, chuckling. “Anyway I came up here to compliment you on the job you did today. One day here and the house looks better than it has in a long time. I seriously can’t remember the last time the windows weren’t grimy. And in case you’re wondering, all of the windows in the house are bulletproof, which is why they require the special cleaner.”

I nodded in understanding. “Thank you for the compliment sir, it was my pleasure.”

He sighed. “I very highly doubt that. You don’t have to lie to me to please me, you can speak freely as long as you aren’t disrespectful about it.”

“I’d never disrespect you, sir,” I said quickly.

“Never say never, Isabella. Disrespect comes in many forms and sometimes we do it without even realizing it.”

I looked at him with confusion, as his words were slightly cryptic. He smiled

lightly and shook his head. “We don’t have to get into that right now, as it’s

getting late. Have a good night, Isabella.”

101

“Good night to you also sir,” I said. Dr. Cullen headed for the door, pausing and turning his head to glance at me.

“One more thing. You don’t have to eat with us if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, but I do have to request that you please make sure you eat at some point. The last thing I need is you collapsing from starvation. I put your dinner in the fridge for you.”

“Yes, sir,” I said. He nodded and walked out, descending the stairs quickly. I stood there for a few moments, conflicted, before heading out and slipping downstairs. There were muffled sounds coming from all of the bedrooms, where I assumed the boys were. I went straight into the kitchen and opened the fridge, noticing the Styrofoam container.

I pulled it out and opened it up. It was Japanese food from what I could tell. I’d

never eaten it before myself, but I had experience cooking it. I popped the container in the microwave and grabbed a glass from the cabinet, pouring some water into it from the tap. When the food was warm I grabbed it and headed to the dining area. I put my food and glass on the table and sat down. I ate quietly and kept the light off, not wanting to draw any attention to myself.

After I finished eating, I threw the container away and washed my glass out and put it away. I cleaned the kitchen area up a bit, from where the Cullen’s had ate dinner, and then headed upstairs. I slipped into my bedroom quietly and headed into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I was a bit apprehensive about the toothpaste Alice had bought, as I’d never actually used commercial toothpaste before. Charles refused to purchase it for us but my mom always managed to throw together enough salt and baking soda to make a mixture that would suffice so my teeth were always kept clean. The taste of the toothpaste was strong and nearly made me gag.

I slipped into bed after that and quickly drifted off to sleep. I slept deeply, waking up only when the sound of a door slamming vibrated through my room. I sat up abruptly, confused, and glanced at the clock. It was almost 8am.

I jumped up and practically sprinted down the steps, getting a quick glimpse of the back of Edward as he ran out the front door. I made my way down to the

102

foyer and glanced out the front window. Edward jumped into his car quickly and started it up, spinning tires as he flew out of the driveway. He was in a rush, and

I assumed he was likely running late for school as he was leaving 30 minutes later than he had the day before.

I went upstairs and got dressed, throwing on a pair of light colored jeans and a

blue V-neck shirt. They fit perfectly and I smiled to myself, thankful for the odd

girl who bought me so many clothes. I spent the day cleaning again, scouring every room I was allowed to enter. Everything was still practically spotless from the day before, but I cleaned it again anyway. I needed something to keep me busy.

At around 3:30 I heard a car approaching outside. I walked into the kitchen and spotted the large red jeep pulling up. It had been parked beside the house the entire time I’d been here but I got slightly nervous, not knowing who it belonged to as the windows were dark.

I stood there, silent and frozen in place, and after a minute the front door

opened. I heard both Jasper and Emmett’s voices immediately. They walked past the kitchen, glancing in the room. Jasper smiled at me while Emmett nodded in greeting as they headed for the living area. I heard the TV turn on.

I didn’t know what to do. I considered fleeing up to my room because I felt stupid just standing there, but that felt disobedient for some reason. I was antsy and needed something to occupy my time, because when I wasn’t busy my mind was wandering. That wasn’t good, because my thoughts kept drifting to Edward. After a moment I sighed and walked out of the kitchen. I walked into the living area and paused, chewing on my bottom lip. They both glanced up at me questioningly and it made me nervous.

“Can I do something for you guys?” I asked.

“We’re cool, you can relax,” Emmett said shrugging. I sighed.

“Please? There has to be something, anything I can do,” I practically implored. Jasper’s brow furrowed and Emmett laughed.

“Shit, you don’t have to beg,” Emmett said. “I mean, I could always eat a

103

sandwich.”

I smiled, relieved to have something to do. It was utterly ridiculous. You’d think I would appreciate and savor having so much down time but it was maddening to me. “What kind of sandwich would you like?”

He looked at me with shock, evidently surprised that I was actually going to do it. “Hell, I don’t know. Just peanut butter and jelly will do,” he said. I nodded, turning and heading for the kitchen quickly. I grabbed the stuff and made a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich, placing it on a plate and grabbing a paper towel. I walked back into the living room and held it out to him.

He took it and smiled. I returned his smile as he took a bite. “Would you like something to drink?” I asked. He nodded.

“Yeah a coke if you don’t mind,” he said. I nodded.

“Of course not,” I said. I went and grabbed a coke from the fridge, taking it back to him. I headed back into the kitchen and washed the knife I used and wiped down the counter. I heard a loud sigh behind me and turned around to see Jasper staring at me, frowning.

“Do you need something sir?” I asked. He sighed again.

“You’re going to spoil him,” he said, nodding behind him in the direction of the living area. “You really don’t have to do all that, we can take care of ourselves.”

“I know, I didn’t mean to imply you couldn’t, sir,” I said. “I just prefer to stay busy. I’m used to constantly having things to do and don’t know what to do with myself without work. It makes me uneasy.”

I bit my lip nervously again, shocked that I’d just rattled that off, but something about Jasper made me comfortable enough to express myself. He smiled sadly.

“I’m sure I’ve got some laundry,” he said, shrugging. I smiled lightly. “Come on, let’s go get it.”

I followed Jasper out of the kitchen and upstairs. He opened his bedroom door

104

and went inside, and I stopped in the doorway. He turned and glanced at me questioningly. “Dr. Cullen told me never to enter your rooms unless you otherwise tell me to,” I said.

He laughed. “Feel free to come in my room anytime you want. I’ve learned to lock my door when I’m busy because Edward has a habit of barging in, so if it’s open you’re free to enter. That rule’s really only in place because of Edward and it’s really only for your own sake, because I promise you don’t want to ever enter his room unless he asks you to.”

I nodded and took a few steps forward. I reached for the handle of Jasper's hamper and his arm shot out to stop me. I recoiled backwards instinctively once again, and he froze in spot.

“Sorry,” I said quickly, apologizing for how I just acted. He sighed.

“It’s okay. I’d ask why you react that way but I’m not so sure I want to know. You do know I’m not going to hit you, right?”

“Yes, sir,” I said. He smiled and grabbed the hamper, ushering me out of the room. We went downstairs to the laundry room and I sorted his clothes out, starting a load. He thanked me and I waved him off, slightly uncomfortable that he was showing so much gratitude. I’d been thanked more times in the past day than ever before.

After Jasper’s clothes were washing I headed upstairs to my room. I cleaned up my room a bit before heading back down. I washed Emmett’s plate and put Jasper’s clothes in the dryer, starting his second load.

I started searching the cabinets then, knowing I had to cook dinner but having no clue as to what to make. I sighed and headed into the living room.

Jasper and Emmett glanced up at me when I entered. “Any suggestions on dinner?” I asked. Emmett laughed and Jasper smiled, shaking his head.

“I’ll eat anything,” Emmett said. Jasper nodded, rolling his eyes.

“Just make something easy that you’re good at,” Jasper suggested. I nodded,

105

turning back for the kitchen. They hadn’t been much help at all.

I pulled a pack of chicken from the freezer, throwing it in the microwave and

defrosting it. The dryer buzzed and I folded up Jasper's clothes, putting his second load in.

I cooked Fettuccini Alfredo with chicken and mushrooms. I threw together a salad and made homemade breadsticks to top it off. The food finished at about 6:45 and I kept it warming as I went to fold up the rest of Jasper’s clothes.

The front door opened when I was in the laundry room and I looked out to see Dr. Cullen walk in. He paused inside the doorway and smiled. “It smells terrific in here!” he exclaimed. I smiled.

“Thank you, sir. It’s ready, just sitting on the stove warming.”

He smiled. “Great. Go ahead and sit it all on the table, Edward will be home from football practice in a few minutes and we’ll eat.”

I nodded, my smile falling at the mention of Edward. I was still apprehensive about being near him again. Dr. Cullen noticed my expression and sighed.

“You can go to your bedroom if you prefer. Just make yourself a plate to save for later.”

I nodded. “Thank you, sir.” I walked past him and set the table, placing the food

in the center so they could serve themselves. After that was finished I grabbed Jasper’s hamper and headed toward the stairs with it. I made it to the second floor when the front door swung open.

The smooth velvety voice hit me instantly and I froze in spot, closing my eyes.

Scopata, what’s that’s smell?!”

I smiled involuntarily before resuming walking. I hesitated outside of Jasper’s

room before pushing the door open and walking inside. He’d told me I could enter and I was taking his word on him that it wasn’t a trick. I hung up his clothes in

the closet and put the rest of his clothes away in his dresser, returning the

106

hamper to the spot we’d gotten it from. After that was finished, I went up to my room and shut myself inside.

I stayed there until after I heard Edward come upstairs and go into his room. It

was ridiculous and maybe immature, but it felt like the best thing to do given the

situation. I needed to keep my distance from him. I snuck downstairs after everyone was asleep and ate my dinner in the silent dark dining room, and did up the dishes before returning back to my room.

The next morning I stayed in my room until after the boys left for school. I cleaned the house again, although it was already nearly spotless. Dr. Cullen had left me a note in his room, asking me to do the laundry he had set aside. Most of Dr. Cullen’s clothes were dry-cleaned, so it was a fairly easy task but I was grateful for the busy work. Jasper and Emmett returned home from school around 3:30 again, and the routine from the day before continued except I made both boys sandwiches this time and Emmett fetched his laundry for me.

Dr. Cullen returned home early, shortly after 5. I was in the kitchen, glancing through the cabinets, trying to decide what to make for dinner. He walked into the kitchen and smiled.

“I completely forgot to tell you. You get the night off from cooking,” he said.

I looked at him with surprise. “Okay,” I said, closing the cabinet and turning from it.

“Edward has a game so the boys won’t be home. I have a flight to catch tonight and will be gone for the weekend on business.”

I nodded. “Are you sure you don’t want me to make you something to eat before you leave?” I asked. He smiled.

“I’m positive. You just relax for the night, make some popcorn and watch a movie or something.”

I looked at him with shock, taken back by his suggestion, but just nodded. He

reached his hand out to me and I flinched away, but it didn’t stop him from grasping my shoulder. He squeezed lightly and smiled. “I have to go pack and

107

head out. You have a good weekend, Isabella.”

“You too, sir. Thank you,” I said. He nodded and turned to exit the room.

I hesitated briefly before heading up to my bedroom. I drew a bubble bath and

stripped, climbing into it. I must’ve fallen asleep, because my eyes popped open suddenly and a chill shot through me from the freezing cold water. I shivered and

climbed out, noticing my body was completely pruned up. I dried off and threw on some clothes before heading downstairs.

It was getting dark out already, the sun setting. I glanced at the clock, shocked that it was already 8pm. The house was dark and quiet. I went into the kitchen and made myself a quick sandwich, eating it before heading back upstairs. I grabbed the remote off of one of the mahogany tables in my room and attempted to turn the TV on, but I couldn’t get it past a blue screen. I gave up after a few minutes, resigned to the fact that I’d have to ask someone how to operate it.

I wandered the house for a few minutes, hesitating and contemplating. I ended

up in the library and found some plain white paper and pencils in a desk. I grabbed some and went back to my bedroom, lying down on my bed and doodling. I may be uneducated but that didn’t mean I lacked all talent. I was good at drawing, even with very little practice. It came natural to me. It was one of the things that kept me sane at Charles’s. I’d sneak paper and pencils, but afterwards would have to destroy all evidence of my drawing to stay out of trouble. I usually folded them up and stuck them in my pocket, burning them to ash the first chance I got.

I sketched out a picture of my mothers face, feeling slightly homesick. It was

utterly ridiculous, to long to be back in the place I was so badly brutalized, but I really missed my mom. I had no pictures of her and was desperately afraid I was going to forget what she looked like, that her memory was going to start fading. I missed her company already, missed having someone to talk to, someone who could understand and sympathize. They treat me nicely here, but I’d never felt so

alone in my life. It was depressing.

Some time later I heard footsteps on the stairs. I froze as they paused outside my door. My heart started racing, the silence deafening. I was waiting for them to move again or knock or something. Knowing they were just standing there was

108

making me anxious. I felt like an eternity, but eventually I heard their footsteps again and the door across the hall open and close. Music came on almost immediately. I glanced at the clock. It was almost 11:30pm.

I eventually drifted off to sleep. I woke up the next morning and slowly made my

way downstairs for something to drink, nearly running straight into Jasper as he came out of the kitchen. I asked him if I could do anything for him and he

informed me that he’d be in and out all weekend and that Emmett was gone to his girlfriends for the day. Edward was apparently grounded for some reason, according to Jasper, so unless he needed something I pretty much was on my own. I smiled and thanked him, but inside I was devastated at the thought of having nothing to do.

Before Jasper left to go to his girlfriends, he came up to my room to show me how to work the TV. He didn’t look at me like I was an idiot or treat me as if I were stupid, which I was grateful for. Jasper truly was a nice person, as far as I could tell. I tried to follow his instructions but ended up messing it up all over again and we both laughed, but he didn’t do it in a mocking way. I appreciated it. While he was helping me I heard the door across the hall slam loudly, so hard it vibrated my walls. Jasper sighed and shook his head but otherwise didn’t comment.

I stayed in my room pretty much all day, flipping through channels and glued to

the TV with amazement. I didn’t see Edward at all, but I could hear him and was hyper-aware of his proximity to me.

At around 11:30 that evening, my stomach growled. I hadn’t eaten anything all day so I pulled myself up from the bed and headed downstairs quietly. I heard

the TV on when I hit the foyer and saw the soft glow from the living area. I took

a few steps in that direction and spotted Jasper sitting on the couch. He looked up at me and smiled.

“Have a seat,” he said, patting the cushion beside him. I looked at him with disbelief, a little stunned that he was inviting me to join him.

“Let me grab something to eat first,” I said hesitantly. “Would you like

something?”

109

He nodded. “As long as you’re making yourself a sandwich, you can make me one too.”

I smiled and headed into the kitchen, throwing together two ham and cheese sandwiches quickly. I put them on plates and grabbed paper towels, heading back into the living area. I sat down on the couch beside Jasper and we ate, watching TV. He was watching some comedy program and before long we were both laughing. The front door opened eventually as Emmett arrived home from his girlfriend’s house. He headed straight for the kitchen and a few minutes later emerged with a bowl of cereal. He smiled at me and sat down in a chair across the room.

“Leave it to Jasper to get her to finally fucking hang out and laugh,” Emmett said after a few minutes. I blushed and they both laughed. It was quite relaxed and I felt welcome, it was startling.

After a while the velvety voice registered with my ears and I froze mid-laugh. I glanced up and saw Edward standing a few feet away from us. I hadn’t even heard him approaching. I tensed up immediately, suddenly self-conscious and hyper-aware of everything again. He sat down on the arm of the couch beside Jasper and was laughing, joking around with his brothers. They were talking about his football game, which he’d apparently won. I sat there for a few minutes before it got to be too much for me. I stood up and said a quick good night, leaving the room without giving any of them any time to really register what I was doing and respond.

Scopata = Fuck

Chapter 10 - Boys will be boys

“Boys will be boys. And even that wouldn't matter if only we could prevent girls from being girls.” -- Anne Frank

EPOV

She was avoiding me, I was certain of it now. When she declined eating dinner with us that first night, I chalked it up to her needing to adjust to life here. She continued to decline dinner with us and I figured maybe she just needed to get

110

comfortable being around us, that maybe she was just shy when it came to eating. It was stupid but I knew some girls were like that, all self-conscious and afraid to eat in front of guys. Whatever, I figured she was just like them and preferred to eat alone. Hell, I even though maybe it was just the simple fact that we were males that made her stick to herself.

But then I caught her eating in front of my brothers. I heard her laughing with them; saw her hanging out with them. She even seemed slightly more relaxed around my father, who paid over half a million dollars to own her for Christ sakes. But she refused to even look at me or be in the same room as me. I couldn’t figure it out, was I that fucking bad? I knew I had a foul mouth and could be rash but I’d gone out of my way to be nice to her, could she not see that? What was her problem with me?

If I entered the room she was in, she’d leave. She’d practically sprint away before I could even fucking say hello. She hid out in her room, out of sight most of the time when I was home. It didn’t make any fucking sense. I mean, had I said something or done something? She’d been fucking fine at the grocery store, seemed so relaxed and almost happy. She’d smiled at me and even fucking laughed. But it seemed like every since we got home, she’s been playing some backward twisted game of hide and seek, where she hid and hoped like hell I didn’t try to seek her out.

The day of my football game, which was almost two weeks ago now, I’d come home slightly depressed. I was stoked that we’d won but the fact that everyone was out partying, getting drunk and high and getting laid while I was grounded to the house had me down. And I knew damn well dad would be checking the security cameras to make sure my ass came home as punishment for the hospital incident. I knew Isabella was in her room and I contemplated knocking on her door, just wanting some damn company so I didn’t lose my mind, but decided against it. I didn’t want to invade her space or anything. Her room was hers. It was the only thing she could truly call her space and I would be a jackass to breech that and practically force her to invite me to hang out. Because I knew if I asked, she wouldn’t tell me no. That’s how she was trained, that much was clear. Whether or not she wanted my company, she’d endure it because she’d feel like she had to. And I didn’t want her to have to do that shit. I figured she’d open up and hang out whenever she was ready to.

111

But then the next fucking afternoon I hear her and Jasper in her room, laughing. He was in her space and she was fucking happy about it. It was irrational of me but I felt this odd surge of anger about it. I should’ve been glad that the poor girl seemed happy about something, as she obviously has had a hard life, but I couldn’t be. I was pissed about it, pissed because it wasn’t me. And that was ridiculous but I couldn’t help it.

And then she avoids me all day and I’m bored stiff. I take a long nap because there’s nothing else to do, and when I wake up and head downstairs I find her laughing and hanging out with my brothers. The moment she sees me she gets all uncomfortable and leaves.

The past two weeks haven’t been much better. She evades me, has barely spoken five words to me and I doubt even looked me in the eye at all. It was starting to piss me off, because I was starting to feel tense in my own house. I was trying to wait it out, hoping if I used a little patience she’d relax, but it wasn’t working. I finally hit my breaking point when Jasper just fucking knocked on my door after leaving Isabella’s room and asked me for my laundry so Isabella could do it tomorrow. My brother was playing the role of messenger. She was using a fucking middleman to avoid interacting with me at all.

I needed to know why, and we needed to fix whatever it was, because we couldn’t keep this shit up. Usually I’d be happy not to have to deal with people, but something about this girl got under my skin. I couldn’t just let it go.

I lay on my bed for a while, unable to sleep. The entire situation was fucking with my mind and had been since the moment I laid eyes on her in the kitchen. I was in a bad mood and everyone could tell. I knew my teammates were pissed, because I was taking my aggression out on them during practice. What I really wanted was to just hit someone, anyone, just draw some fucking blood. But I couldn’t, because my car likely wouldn’t survive another round of punishment so close to the last one.

And it wasn’t helping matters that I hadn’t gotten off in over two weeks, unless you count that aggressive jack off session in the shower the other day that was more about releasing some frustration than getting pleasure. It wasn’t from lack of trying, though. I was having performance issues and that was pissing me off further.

112

I

hauled myself up in bed and glanced at the clock. It was only a little after 9pm.

I got up and sighed, running my fingers through my hair in frustration. I walked

over and opened my door, stepping out into the hallway. I listened intently and faintly heard the TV on in Isabella’s room. I hesitated, contemplating if this was a

good idea or not, but finally said to hell with it. I wasn’t going to get any sleep until I got this shit sorted out, so I lifted my hand and knocked.

I didn’t hear any movement inside the room after a moment, so I knocked again,

this time slightly louder. When there was no movement again, I started getting

aggravated. Was she seriously going to sit in there and avoid me, hope I went

away?

I knocked one more time, pausing. When there wasn’t any movement again I said fuck it and turned the knob.

I actually expected the door to be locked, so I was surprised when the knob

turned smoothly and the door opened. I pushed it open slowly and peeked inside, freezing instantly.

Isabella was lying sideways across her bed, on her stomach. She had on a pair of black shorts, which were entirely too short, and a black tank top. It was startling how much skin she was showing, as I’d never seen so much of her before, and I groaned softly to myself in frustration as my dick hardened. Now it wanted to cooperate with me.

She was sleeping. Her eyes were closed and I could see the rise and fall of her body as she breathed. There was a small smile on her lips and I wondered immediately what she could be dreaming of to make her look so content. I tried to push that thought away quickly, as it was fucking ridiculous for me to give a shit about what someone was dreaming. The girl wouldn’t even come near me, why did I care?

The black clothes made her skin appear paler than it was. She looked so fragile, like a porcelain doll almost. I hesitated, sighing, before closing the door softly behind me. I took a few quiet steps toward her, pausing beside her bed.

The marks on her skin that she came here with were finally gone, but I could

113

clearly see her pale skin was covered in small scars. There were so many of them that it was obvious she’d been beaten routinely for God knows how long.

I noticed she was lying slightly on top of a white piece of paper. My brow

furrowed in confusion, wondering what it could be. I already felt horrible enough,

being in her space like this without her permission, but my curiosity was peeked.

I reached down and grabbed a hold of it, slowly pulling on it. She shifted her

body, rolling over onto her back when she felt the movement of the paper. I froze, wide-eyed, waiting for her to open up her eyes and catch me. Last thing I fucking needed was to be caught standing in her room staring at her. Not only would it scare her, but also Dad would have my ass for it.

She stayed asleep though and I inhaled deeply at the sight of her. Her shirt was so low cut that I could see the tops of her breasts and bra. I diverted my eyes quickly, feeling like a fucking pervert, and my gaze fell to her stomach. Her shirt was pulled up some, exposing her belly button. I felt the hard-on in my pants growing even more and groaned.

I looked away from her quickly and grabbed the paper beside her. I picked it up and turned it over, my eyes widening.

It was a drawing. Not some fucking doodle or stick figure shit that I’d create, either. It was good. I stared at it in shock, completely stunned that she was so fucking talented. I mean, who knew the girl who couldn’t write her name was an artist? It was a picture of a woman; I’d guess her to be maybe middle aged. I recognized some of her features as also belonging to Isabella, as that’s how good the drawing was, and realized that it must be her mother.

And I instantly felt bad. I’m mad at her and was on the verge of cursing her out for making me feel uncomfortable, when the girl locks herself in her room to draw pictures of her mom. She was still a kid and thrust into this house with a bunch of people she doesn’t know, obviously missing her mother. Me, of all people, knows what it feels like to wallow in the sadness of losing a mom. Was that the fucking problem, that I hadn’t been sympathetic?

I sighed and lay the picture back down beside her. I glanced down at her face

and noticed her smile had grown. I smiled involuntarily at the sight of her looking

so happy, feeling like a jackass for being so selfish and getting upset that Jasper

114

made her laugh. What the hell had gotten into me?

I reached out and brushed a few strands of wayward hair from her face, freezing

afterwards. I hadn’t realized what I was doing. I sighed and turned, needing to get the hell out of the room before I did something stupid to wake her up.

I headed for the door, shaking my head at my stupidity, when her innocent breathy voice hit my ears.

“Edward,” she said softly. I froze mid-step, my dick hardening even more at the sound of my name coming from her lips. It was the first time I’d ever heard her say it and it sent the blood rushing through me, a strange fucking tingling sensation in my chest. I cursed under my breath at the fact that she fucking caught me in her room, and turned around slowly.

My brow furrowed in confusion when I saw her eyes were still closed. Her chest was rising and falling steadily, the smile still on her lips. A strong stunning feeling shot through me when I realized she was still asleep. She talked in her sleep, and said my name.

Was she dreaming about me?

I stared at her wide-eyed for a moment, confusion and shock ricocheting through

me. Another strong sensation boiled up and I blinked a few times, rapidly. I felt happy, hopeful. What the fuck was I hoping for?

I tried to push that aside quickly, squelch it before I had to seriously consider

what the hell it meant. I turned and bolted out of her room quickly, as quietly as

I could.

I lay down in bed, tossing and turning. I couldn’t fall asleep because I couldn’t

shut my brain off, couldn’t stop wondering what he sparked her to say my name in her sleep. She hadn’t seemed upset, she actually looked really fucking happy,

which didn’t make any sense at all considering she wouldn’t even come near me.

I mean, was she happy that she was pissing me off, was she enjoying fucking with me?

The hard-on in my pants was throbbing and uncomfortable so after a few minutes

115

of shifting around, trying to ignore it, I sighed, resigned. I pulled my pants down slightly and pulled it out, stroking it slowly. It didn’t take long before the tension built and I could feel my release coming. I gritted my teeth and closed my eyes as the pleasure rocked through me and I exploded, hard. I couldn’t stop the loud grunt that escaped my throat and felt my body relax immensely. I slowed my movements and sighed, finally stopping. I had it all over the fucking hand and stomach so I climbed out of bed and headed into the bathroom, washing the sticky substance off. My eyes were heavy now with exhaustion and I flopped back into bed, passing out almost immediately. It was exactly what I fucking needed.

I woke up the next morning earlier than usual, feeling well-rested. I climbed out

of bed and sighed as thoughts of Isabella came to me. I definitely needed to get the girl out of my system.

I hopped in the shower and washed up, throwing some clothes on afterwards. My

stitches had come out but there was still a slight scar over my eye, which if I had

to be honest made me look a bit like a bad ass. I had a few scars, most of which had crazy stories behind them, but I wasn’t happy that this one had come from Mike Newton.

I gathered up my dirty clothes and threw them in my hamper, opening my

bedroom door. I hesitated but sat the hamper outside of Isabella’s door. If she needed to go through Jasper for now to deal with me, than I’d deal with it. But it

wouldn’t last long, she was going to speak to me. I was determined. I felt a bit freaked out that she was about to wash my underwear but there was really no way around it, because I surely wouldn’t be washing them myself considering I didn’t know the first thing about doing laundry.

I headed downstairs and grabbed a bowl of cereal, flopping down on the couch. I

turned on MTV and watched a few music videos to pass the time. My brothers joined me after a few minutes and we sat around chatting and eating breakfast.

After a while a car horn sounded out front and Emmett hopped up, telling us it was Rose and he’d see us later. I glanced at my watch and saw he was leaving early, which told me they were planning to get their rocks off somewhere before school. Rose had a car fetish, enjoyed screwing in the car.

Una scopata veloce,” I muttered to Jasper, telling him Rose and Emmett were

116

going to have a quickie. Jasper laughed, shaking his head, and Emmett turned his head to glare at me, sticking up his middle finger. I just smirked—he just confirmed it.

Jasper and I sat around and watched TV quietly for a few minutes before he sighed. “Alice wants me to invite Isabella to the football game tomorrow night,” he said. I glanced over at him and raised my eyebrows, slightly surprised. I knew she wasn’t used to being around teenagers so I didn’t know how she’d take to coming to a stadium packed full of them.

“Are you going to?” I asked.

He sighed again. “I was going to, but I wanted to make sure you were okay with it first.”

My brow furrowed in confusion. “Why wouldn’t I be?” I asked.

He shrugged. “I dunno, you’re the one that plays and I didn’t want to throw you off your game by bringing her.”

I shook my head. “Why would her being there throw me off my game?” I asked with confusion. He sighed.

“I dunno, really, but it’s clear the two of you don’t get along. Being within twenty feet of each other makes both of you tense up. I mean, hell, she’s been stressing over doing your laundry for a few days now because she knew you needed it done but she was too damn afraid to even ask you. I finally got tired of the shit and did it myself.”

I sighed. ”She could’ve fucking asked me, I wouldn’t have snapped at her. I don’t know what her deal is but I haven’t done anything to her. I thought we got along fine at the grocery store but ever since then she’s avoided me like I’m diseased or something. It’s wearing on my nerves.”

He shook his head. “I don’t think you realize how abrasive you can come off as. You don’t even have to say a word, just your stance and the way you look at people can be intimidating. You’re a lot like dad in that way. Tale il padre, tale il figlio,” he muttered—Like father, like son.

117

I sighed and nodded. There wasn’t really anything I could do about that, it was just the way I was. It wasn’t as if I tried to be that way, it was done subconsciously. I glanced at my watch and saw it was 7:30 and got up. “Come on, fucker, let’s get to school and get this day over with,” I mumbled.

Jasper had his own car but wasn’t fond of driving, so he always caught a ride with someone. We climbed into the Volvo and I flipped through my Ipod, finding my classical music play list. I listened to pretty much every type of music but I needed something to calm my nerves today. I hadn’t been playing the piano much lately as I’ve been in somewhat of a standstill musically and have entirely too busy to try to concentrate on it.

We arrived at school and Alice met us at the car. Jasper leaned down and kissed her quickly as soon as he saw her. She smiled and turned to face me, raising her eyebrows. “Why the long face?” she asked.

I shrugged. Jasper shook his head. “Him and Isabella aren’t getting along very well,” he said. I rolled my eyes.

“It’s not that we aren’t getting along, it’s just that she fucking runs from me whenever I come near her.”

Alice shook her head. “Isabella’s a sweet girl, if you’d relax she’d come around.”

I rolled my eyes again. “Alice you’ve spoken to her once, her first day there.

She’s locked herself in her room whenever you’ve come by since then. You aren’t exactly an expert on the subject,” I muttered. Isabella had successfully evaded Alice also, but I had a feeling it had more to do with the fact that Alice had only been to the house when Rose was there. Everyone liked Alice, but everyone avoided Rose.

Alice smiled. “You always doubt me, Edward. Regardless of everything, she’s still just an average teenage girl. We’re not that complicated to figure out if you pay attention.”

I laughed. “If you say so, short stuff. Y’all bitches are confusing.”

118

She rolled her eyes. “What did I say about the ‘b’ word, Edward? Geez, are you ever going to learn?”

I shrugged and smirked, turning and walked away from her. My smile fell the

moment my back was turned. I was tense again and aggravated. I walked by Lauren, who smiled seductively at me. I hesitated before stopping and cocking an eyebrow at her. She was wearing a short skirt and a tight ass black shirt that

showed entirely too much cleavage. I felt the stir in my pants and smirked.

“You wanna?” I asked, not having to elaborate. I hadn’t fucked around with Lauren for a while, trying to respect the whole Tyler thing, but I needed a release and I hadn’t been able to keep it up with Jessica. She smiled and shrugged. “Come on,” I said, winking at her. I turned and headed back toward the car, glancing behind me to see her following like I knew she would.

I hopped into the driver’s seat and spotted Alice and Jasper staring at me, both

frowning. I avoided them, though, not wanting to deal with it. Lauren climbed into the passenger seat. I started the car up and swung it in reverse, flying out of the parking lot.

“You wanna just do it in the car?” she asked. I looked at her incredulously.

“Hell no, we’re not defiling the leather seats. This baby is a ‘no fucking zone’.”

She smiled. “Your house then?”

I tensed up immediately. My house? That’s usually where I took girls when we

skipped but Isabella was there now. Could I seriously take a girl back there right

now, knowing she was there? “No, we’re not going the whole way there,” I said.

As soon as I hit an unpopulated area, I pulled over and drove slowly into the woods. As soon as we were out of view from the road I stopped the car. “Here?” she asked, furrowing her brow. I rolled my eyes.

“Oh don’t be picky, you want this shit as bad as me. Where doesn’t matter as much as what,” I said. I reached over and opened the glove compartment, pulling out a condom. I got out of the car and she shrugged, climbing out. I walked around to the front of the car and she joined me. She leaned up to kiss me and I

119

turned my head so her lips grazed my cheek. She knew better than that shit, I didn’t kiss on the mouth. It was too intimate. I haven’t kissed on the lips since I was a kid.

“You wait, one day you’ll kiss me,” she said. I smirked and shook my head, unbuttoning and unzipping my pants while pulling my dick out. I tore the condom wrapper with my teeth and slipped it on, almost an expert at the shit by now. I turned her around quickly so she was facing away from me and pushed her down on the hood of the car. I pulled her skirt up and pushed her thong down and thrust inside of her without delay. She cried out and I groaned at the sensation.

“Don’t hold your breath waiting for that kiss,” I whispered, leaning down with my lips right beside her ear. She shiver and I smirked. I always knew how to get her going.

I pounded into her, taking no mercy on her. Lauren was kinky and liked it rough,

which was good for me because that’s exactly what I needed. I didn’t do well with the whole taking it slow thing. I needed in and out, not at all giving a shit about foreplay. Making love was for people in love and that surely wasn’t me.

I felt her body tensing up, her cries growing louder. I leaned forward and sunk

my teeth into her shoulder blade and she screamed, exploding into orgasm. I licked the spot I’d bitten and blew on it softly the moment her orgasm subsided

and her body exploded again instantly, her knees buckling as she screamed my name. I grabbed her hips to hold her up and felt my own release coming. I gritted my teeth and grunted as I came.

I pulled out of her immediately, pulling the condom off and throwing it on the

ground. Lauren laid her head on the hood of my car, peeking around to watch me. “That’s littering,” she said, pointing at the condom on the ground. I shook my head, shrugging.

“That’s indecent exposure,” I said, reaching over and slapping her still exposed ass. She yelped and stood up, giggling while she pulled her skirt back down. I zipped and buttoned my pants back up and glanced at my watch. “Come on, we’ll make it in time for second period.”

She pouted at the mention of going back to school but didn’t say anything. We

120

got into the car and drove back to Forks High. I parked and we climbed out just as the bell for the end of first period sounded.

I walked up behind Lauren and ran my hand up her thigh, grazing it across her

soaked thong. “Thanks babe,” I said softly, whispering in her ear. She shivered

again and I chuckled, pulling my hand away and heading toward the building. I passed Alice and smiled at her, but she just rolled her eyes. I laughed.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully. The guys were relieved at football practice that I seemed more relaxed. Tyler was cold toward me but I blew him off, not letting it bother me. I imagine he must’ve found out about my morning escapade with Lauren and was upset about it. I didn’t know what it was he thought they had, but evidently she wasn’t on the same page as him if she’d run off with me so quickly. He couldn’t blame me for that shit, that was his and hers problem to sort out.

I drove home after practice and went into the house in just enough time to see Isabella heading up the stairs. I sighed and shook my head.

I washed my hands and headed into the dining area, where dinner was waiting. I

flopped down and dad did the blessing. I always found it ironic that he insisted on saying a prayer every night at dinner. I mean, hell, I don’t think asking God to bless us or our food was worth the breath it took to say the words, considering he

murdered without remorse, but whatever.

Dinner was fantastic, as always. Isabella was an amazing cook. Two weeks and she’d yet to make anything I didn’t like, and I was picky as hell. Dad and my brothers were pleased also, which was saying a lot considering I don’t think there was ever a time when one of the other ladies cooked that one of us didn’t have to make a sandwich afterwards because we couldn’t choke down dinner.

Halfway through the meal dad cleared him throat. “That was nice of you to invite Isabella to the football game Friday, Jasper,” he said. Jasper nodded.

“I figured she could use some time away from here. She hasn’t actually stepped foot outside the house since she went to the grocery store,” he said.

Dad froze, his fork midway to his mouth. I looked at Jasper incredulously. “She

121

hasn’t gone outside at all?!” I asked.

Jasper shook his head. “She wasn’t aware that she was allowed to. No one exactly explained that to her. She didn’t even know she was allowed to watch the TV in her bedroom until Dad told her to watch a movie.”

I shook my head and Dad groaned. “I should’ve known, considering where she came from,” he muttered to himself.

“Where did she come from?” I asked out of curiosity. Dad shook his head.

“Not my story to share, that’s up to Isabella to tell you,” he said. I laughed dryly, as if she’d tell me when she wouldn’t even fucking look at me, and turned to Jasper. He shrugged, the expression on his face making it obvious he had no idea of the answer.

“I’ll talk to her. I’ve been planning to take her for some exams anyway, and I’d rather get it all done before she goes out socializing at Forks High,” Dad said after a moment.

“So she’s going to the game?” I asked.

Jasper nodded. “She said yes,” he said.

I was silent for a moment. “Did she say yes because she wants to, or did she say

yes because she doesn’t think she’s allowed to say no?” I asked. I glanced around

the table and saw that none of them knew the answer to that. I sighed. “That’s what I thought.”

After dinner I headed up to my bedroom and paused in the hallway. My hamper was sitting in front of my door, full of clean folded clothes. Isabella was standing beside it, staring down at the ground and chewing on her bottom lip. She looked scared as shit and I felt a jolt of sadness rip through me. She didn’t need to be so fucking nervous around me.

I sighed and started toward her. Her head shot up and she made eye contact with

me for the first time in nearly two weeks. “I, uh…” she started. I paused, waiting

patiently for her to finish. “I, uh, was going to put them away, but uh… I’m not

122

allowed, and uh, I didn’t know what you’d want, so uh…”

I groaned and she stopped talking immediately, looking at the ground again. “You

want to put my laundry away,” I said, more of a statement than a question. She was standing here, forced to talk to me, because she didn’t want to appear to be neglecting her work, but it was clear she wasn’t exactly comfortable doing so. I knew she would’ve been happy to sneak in and put it away and sneak back out

undetected, but because I’d snapped at the other women for entering my room dad enforces the “don’t enter without permission” rule so she couldn’t.

“Yes, sir,” she mumbled. I nodded, staring at her for a moment, conflicted. I could very easily alleviate her discomfort and tell her I can do it myself, which I completely could. I wasn’t that damn incompetent. Or I could tell her to go ahead and do it. It would require her going in my room, which a disaster but she knew that already. I didn’t let people in my room often, as I wasn’t entirely comfortable having people around my belongings. I was odd like that; I guess I was finicky when it came to my shit but whatever. We’d both be slightly uncomfortable but she couldn’t exactly evade me in my own fucking room. The only time girls were invited inside was when I was getting some, and afterwards I’d let them linger for a bit so I didn’t look like a total asshole, but the moment they started looking or touching stuff they got kicked out.

I felt bad for her discomfort but when it came down to it, I was selfish. I wanted what I wanted, and right now that was for her to acknowledge me.

“Fine,” I said. She looked up at me and furrowed her brow, shocked at my response. I guess she thought I’d relieve her of the duty. I cocked an eyebrow at her.

“Okay,” she mumbled.

I pushed open my door and stepped aside, waving her in. “Well, come on in.”

Chapter 11 - Understanding

No man understands a deep book until he has seen and lived at least part of its contents -- Ezra Pound

123

IPOV

It wasn’t working.

The past two weeks I’ve been avoiding Edward. I’ve barely looked at him or spoken to him. I kept my distance and tried not to linger in his presence. I was hoping that staying away from him would somehow make this uncomfortable tension between us disappear, make these strange feelings I had whenever he was close by stop.

But like I said, it wasn’t working. The sensations were only growing, my

attraction to him only increasing. It was ridiculous and I didn’t like it one bit, but

I couldn’t stop it.

I didn’t understand it at all, didn’t understand my reaction to him. I didn’t get

why my chest felt like it would burst when he spoke, why my skin got the prickly

sensation when he came near me, why I felt dizzy when I heard his laugh. I

didn’t understand why I involuntarily smiled when someone mentioned him, why

I was constantly aware of where he was, why my heart started pounding so hard

when I heard his car pulling up in front of the house. It didn’t make sense that he was always on my mind, and that thoughts of him made tingling shoot through me, causing parts of me awaken that had always been dormant, giving me feelings and desires I’d never felt before. He made me nervous and anxious, made me feel like a million butterflies were fluttering inside of me, and it didn’t make sense because I’d only felt so queasy before out of fear. And I didn’t fear him, he didn’t frighten me. The only thing that frightened me were the feelings he inspired inside of me, because I had no idea what they all meant.

I barely even knew him. In fact, I’d made a point to not get to know him. But

none of it worked or made a difference, because the feelings came anyway. I couldn’t even escape them in my sleep, as he started creeping into my dreams. I

constantly saw his face, heard his laughter and voice.

I didn’t know what to do anymore. I evaded him so much I didn’t even know how

to stop. He had to have known by now, had to have figured it out. I wasn’t exactly sneaky about it and I knew Jasper was aware of the fact that I avoided his brother, so I realized Edward had to have noticed. But I had no way of

explaining it, no way to make him understand why.

124

The worst part was that I had no one to talk to about it, no one to help me understand or to give me advice. The past two weeks I’ve gotten to know the other Cullen boys as well as to be expected, and Dr. Cullen had been right—I’d grown to actually enjoy Jasper and Emmett’s company. Jasper especially, as he was quite understanding and sympathetic. He never asked me questions or pushed me for explanations on why I did the things I did or said the things I said. He was just simply accepting and I appreciated it. I could easily tell why him and that girl Alice dated, as they seemed to have personalities that complimented each other.

Speaking of Alice, she’d been to the house a few times over the weeks but I avoided her. I liked her, but I didn’t know how to act around her. She’d hugged me and said we’d be friends and that was just so strange to me, unexpected. She hadn’t been here without coming with Emmett’s girlfriend Rosalie, and I was doing whatever I could to stay away from her. Both Edward and Dr. Cullen had pretty much informed me that she wasn’t nice and I didn’t need a confrontation. I was afraid of her and had yet to even speak to her.

Last night Jasper had come into my room to drop off a package that Alice had given him for me. It wasn’t the first time, as she’d sent packages with him a few times over the past two weeks. He said they were things she forgot to get, such a lotions and a robe and a brush. I was grateful for it all but it was so overwhelming. It didn’t feel like it was worth it for them to be spending so much money on me. He came inside and sat down on my couch and had asked me if I’d done Edwards laundry yet. I’d mentioned in passing that I needed to see if Edward needed laundry done, as I’d done everyone else’s at least twice already and had yet to wash a single article of clothing from Edward. I told him no, I hadn’t asked him yet and Jasper nodded. He sat quietly for a few moments before he sighed and asked me if Edward had done anything to me.

The question had caught me off guard and I assured Jasper that Edward hadn’t harmed me in any manner, but he didn’t seem to buy it. When he left I heard him knock on Edwards door and that scared me a bit.

I fell asleep last night, clutching the drawing of my mom I had done. I really wished she were around, that I could talk to her. She’d be able to help me understand the feelings I were having, even if she’d never experienced them

125

herself. My mom always had a way of making me feel better, even if she didn’t have a solution to my problems. I dreamt of Edward again and woke up with that prickly feeling dancing across my skin.

When I got up and opened my door, I froze in spot. Edward’s laundry was sitting in the hallway. I realized that’s why Jasper had gone to Edward’s room last night and felt horrible instantly. They were entirely too nice to me here and I was just waiting for it all to come crashing down, and me neglecting the small amount of work I did have was a sure way to create that downfall. It was completely wrong for Jasper to have to intervene for me to do my work; I couldn’t let that happen anymore. I couldn’t let my childish feelings cloud my better judgment. I needed to stay on my game.

I spent the day cleaning as usual and did Edward’s laundry, taking extra care with it because I knew he was picky about things. I took it upstairs and sat it in the hallway outside of his bedroom, unsure of what to do with it. I always put everyone else’s laundry away, as they’d all given me permission to enter their room for that reason, but the subject had never been addressed with Edward and there was no way I was just going to walk in.

The day went by fast. Dr. Cullen arrived home and I was putting the food on the table when Jasper walked in the room.

“Isabella?” he said. I glanced up at him and smiled.

“Yes, Jasper?” I asked. Jasper had made me swear not to call him sir anymore.

“Do you want to go to Edward’s football game with us tomorrow night?” he asked.

I stopped what I was doing and looked at him with disbelief. He was inviting me to go out with them somewhere socially? I stared at him for a moment before glancing over at Dr. Cullen. He was watching me with interest and smiled, nodding. I wasn’t sure if that meant I was allowed to say yes if I wanted to, or if he was telling me I was supposed to say yes, but regardless I knew I couldn’t say no. It wouldn’t be right.

“Yes,” I said softly. Jasper smiled and nodded. I finished putting the food out,

126

suddenly completely nervous, and headed for the stairs quickly. I heard Edward’s car pull up outside and the front door open. I could sense his gaze on me as I hit the second floor but I didn’t dare turn around and look.

I waited in my room until I heard Edward start up the stairs from the second

floor. I took a deep breath to prepare myself and stepped out into the hallway. I had to at least offer to finish his laundry, since I hadn’t been brave enough to ask

for it to begin with.

I looked up when he reached the floor and our eyes met. It was the first time I’d looked into them in nearly two weeks and they were just as stunning as I remembered them being. He paused in front of me and I started stammering, my words not really making much sense because I was so nervous. It was the first time I’d addressed him in a while. He figured out what I wanted and I expected him to wave me off, but he didn’t. I was shocked when he instead opened up the door to his room and motioned for me to go inside.

I felt sick, the butterflies twirling around inside of me. I took a few steps into his room, pausing right inside the door. Edward grabbed his hamper and pulled it inside, sitting it right beside the door. He was standing right behind me, so close that my skin was tingling. I could smell him and it was intoxicating, completely clouding my thoughts. I inhaled sharply when I heard the click of the door behind us, shutting us in the room together.

I tried to push the nervousness aside, ignore the fact that his proximity and smell

was making me light-headed, as I was determined to get this done quickly. I swung around to face the hamper and my vision hazed over from the abrupt movement. I nearly lost my balance but Edward grabbed a hold of me quickly, keeping me upright. Electricity shot through me at his touch and I gasped. I instinctively tried to pull from his touch, flinching at the unexpected contact, and Edward let go of me.

“Are you okay?” he asked, his eyebrows raised. He looked genuinely concerned for me, and it made me feel even worse about the entire situation. It wasn’t his fault I was having such ridiculous and immature feelings and it was wrong of me to take it out on him.

“Yes, sir,” I said softly, taking a deep breath. I turned from him and walked over

127

to his hamper, starting to pull out his clothes. He had a lot of them, as he hadn’t had laundry done in quite a while.

Edward brushed past me and walked over to a desk sitting across the room. He pulled the chair out and sat down in it, slouching down. Edward had horrible posture. I tried to keep from looking at him but I could sense his eyes on me. It was making me even more nervous and my hands were shaking. I didn’t want to mess up or do anything to upset him.

It was quiet for a moment before he sighed. “Can I ask you something?” he asked.

I hesitated. “Of course, sir,” I said after a moment.

He didn’t say anything at first, just sat watching me. It finally got to be too much and I stopped what I was doing, glancing in his direction. He smirked when I looked at him but didn’t speak.

“Did you have a question, sir?” I asked.

He nodded. “I actually have a few. You don’t mind, do you?”

I shook my head. “You can ask me anything, sir.” I regretted the words the

minute I spoke them, dreading him asking me something embarrassing. I turned from him and started hanging more clothes up, waiting for him to start his questions.

“What’s your full name?” he asked.

“Isabella Marie Swan,” I said, slightly surprised by his question.

“Where were you born?”

I sighed. “Phoenix, Arizona.”

“I bet it’s not easy adjusting to the dreary weather here when you come from such a hot dry place.”

128

smiled lightly. “Yes, it takes some getting used to.” I glanced over and saw him nod.

I

“Did you live there your whole life?”

I nodded. “Up until two weeks ago, yes.”

“Do you miss it?” I froze, slightly stunned by his question. I didn’t know how to answer it. Am I supposed to say no because saying yes would be rude? Would he be offended if I said yes? Could I really say I missed Phoenix, without explaining everything to him so he’d understand it was nothing against them or nothing positive about Charles, but that it was about my feelings? “The truth,” he said, reading my expression.

“Depends on what you mean by ‘it’,” I said hesitantly. I glanced over to gauge his reaction and saw him eyeing me with interest.

“Explain it to me,” he said. I closed my eyes and sighed.

“I don’t miss my owners,” I said. No one else had asked me to talk about this and

I didn’t feel very comfortable, hashing it out for the first time with the one person who I tensed up around as it was.

“They beat you,” he said, his tone telling me it was a statement and not a question. I looked over and saw he was frowning and looked angry. I nodded.

“Yes, sir, that’s correct.”

“So how can you miss any of it, then? You obviously didn’t have a good life there

if you were abused.”

I sighed, unsure of how to explain it to him. “There are different degrees of

good,” I said hesitantly. “I may have had it rough there because I was physically

abused, but what I did have was a support system, people who endured what I endured and understood the life I had. In that sense, I did have a good life in Phoenix.”

I glanced over at him and saw his eyes were narrowed slightly. He didn’t look

129

mad at what I’d said, more like he was contemplating something.

“And what about life here? Is it a different degree of good?”

I nodded. “Of course. I have food to eat and clothes to wear and my masters treat me humanely. The people in my world strive for this type of life, one where you don’t have to live in constant fear of paying for other peoples mistakes with your life.”

“And in Phoenix you did? Fear that you’d be killed for no reason?” he asked. I glanced at him and saw he looked genuinely interested.

“There’s always a reason, sir. Just not always one that you created.” It was odd how easy it was, saying these things to him. The nervousness was still there, my heart was still racing, but I wasn’t entirely uncomfortable. Talking to him came more naturally than I thought it would, and I felt ridiculous for my recent behavior. I’d only made things worse.

“That’s why you asked me not to punish you when I spilled my orange juice. You’re used to being blamed for everything, even if you it wasn’t your fault.”

I nodded. “That was my fault, though, sir. I frightened you and I shouldn’t have.”

He scoffed. “You can’t blame yourself for that. I was being a pussy.”

“So I wasn’t the only one acting like a cat in that situation?” I said instantly, not even giving myself time to think about what I was saying. He had yelled at me and told me I needed a bell because I was worse than a cat.

He laughed loudly. “Figlio di a femmina, did you just crack a joke?” I smiled at the sound of his laughter. It was so carefree and melodic. I had no idea what the first part of his sentence meant, but a part of me acknowledged the fact that I probably didn’t want to know.

“Can I ask you another serious question?” he asked after a moment.

“Of course.”

130

“Do you fear for your life here?” he asked, his voice low and demanding. I glanced up and saw his expression matched his tone. It was almost frightening how he shifted from laughing to looking strict so quickly.

I hesitated, but decided to tell the truth. I’d yet to lie to him and I didn’t want to start now. “I always fear for my life, it would be stupid of me not to. Just because you won’t punish me for someone else’s mistakes doesn’t mean I won’t someday pay for my own. No one is perfect, I’m bound to do or say something wrong at some point, and I’m well aware of the potential consequences. My life doesn’t belong to me, it never has. Right now it belongs to you and your family and it’s yours to take away as you see fit.”

He didn’t respond and I didn’t look at him. I continued putting away his clothes in silence, unsure of his feelings about what I’d said. He cleared his throat after a moment and I tensed up slightly out of instinct.

“What’s your favorite color?” he asked suddenly.

“Green,” I said immediately, not even thinking about it. I felt the blush creep up into my cheeks and turned my head so he couldn’t see it. I know it came out because it was the color of his eyes and I didn’t want to have to explain that.

I finished his clothes quickly and sat the hamper aside. I regained my composure and the blush left so I turned back to him. He was staring at me intensely, his expression unreadable.

“Do you need anything else?” I asked.

He nodded. I stood there and stared at him for a moment, waiting for him to elaborate but he didn’t.

“What do you need?” I asked finally, unable to take the tension building in the room.

“I need to know why you hate me.”

My eyes widened and I blinked a few times, confused. He thought I hated him? “What do you mean?”

131

He sighed, running his hand through his hair. It was sticking up all over the place and he was just making it worse. “I mean, you fucking run from me, you won’t look at me or talk to me. The only reason you’re doing it now is because you don’t think you have any other choice because you have to put my laundry away.

I mean, fuck, I could do that shit myself but the only way I can get you to stay in the same goddamn room with me is to give you work to do. You have no problem hanging out with my brothers so why the fucking problem with me? Am I that fucking horrible?”

I just stared at him in shock as he rambled it all out in frustration. I was slightly stunned and couldn’t get my lips to move to form words.

“And Christ, now I’m sitting here yelling at you again and cursing, like that’s going to fucking fix anything,” he muttered, shaking his head. “Is that what’s wrong? Is it my temper? Do I scare you?” I shook my head hesitantly. He groaned. “Then what?”

I sighed. “I don’t hate you. I just…” I started, unsure of how to explain it.

“Just what?” he asked.

“I just don’t understand you,” I said softly. He sighed and opened his mouth to respond but was cut off by his phone ringing. He groaned loudly and picked it up, glancing at it. He looked up at me and sighed.

“Have a good night, sir,” I said, turning and heading for the door.

“Isabella,” he called out, his phone still ringing. I turned my head to look at him. He was frowning. “I think you’ll find that we’re a lot more alike than you think, if you give us the chance to even get to know each other.”

He turned his back to me and answered his phone with a low “what’s up”. I opened up the door and headed out quickly, shutting it softly behind me.

I went into my room and shut the door, heading straight for the bathroom. I took

a long hot shower to relax myself. The conversation with Edward felt kind of surreal and I was trying to sort it all out in my head.

132

After my shower I threw on a pair of the pajama short sets that Alice got me. They were quickly becoming my favorite things. I lay down in bed but couldn’t seem to shut my brain off, so I grabbed paper and pencil and started drawing.

I drew Edward. His face was etched in my memory, every last detail of it. The

exact shape of his jaw, the curve of his lips, the arch of his eyebrows, the angle of his nose. I remembered every single detail of his eyes, every fleck of gold inside of them, the way the emerald green sparkled. His chaotic hair, the way it sometimes dipped into his eyes. He had some light freckles on his nose and the top of his cheeks from the sun, and a small scar on the right side of his bottom lip that were all barely visible unless you really looked.

After it was finished, I held it up and looked at it. It was decent, but something was off about it. Maybe it was the fact that there was no color to his eyes, or maybe he just had the type of gorgeousness that couldn’t be translated onto paper. Whatever it was, it didn’t feel right and it frustrated me. I balled the drawing up quickly and tossed it across the room toward the trashcan. My aim sucked and it landed on the floor near the door, but I just groaned and said the heck with it. I lay there for a while longer before drifting off to sleep. I found I was comforted by sleeping with the light on, I didn’t feel as alone.

I woke up in the morning and climbed out of bed. I threw on a pair of jeans and a

pink t-shirt before heading downstairs. I froze halfway down the stairs when I heard the TV playing in the living area. It was after 8am and everyone should’ve been gone by now.

I quietly made my way to the foyer, walking slowly toward the living area. Dr.

Cullen was sitting on the couch with his feet propped up on the table in front of him, a laptop on his lap. He was dressed slightly more casual than usual but it was still dressy to my standards. He was wearing a pair of reading glasses, which sort of startled me, as I hadn’t ever seen them before. He glanced up at me and smiled as I approached.

“Good morning,” he said warmly. Dr. Cullen and I didn’t have much interaction, as he was always very busy, but the times we did we got along.

“Good morning to you too, Master Cullen,” I mumbled, slightly confused by why

133

he was home. In two weeks he’d never had a day where he just stayed home.

He smiled. “Calling me master is completely unnecessary. I know in your eyes that is technically what I am but I’d rather you not address me that way. It makes me feel as if you place me on the same level as your father and I like to think of myself as a better man than that.”

I nodded. “Sorry, sir.”

“No need to apologize. You can just call me Carlisle, or if you’re uncomfortable with that Dr. Cullen will work.”

“Okay,” I said, slightly shocked he’d request me to call him by his first name. “And you are a better man than my father, sir,” I added quickly, not wanting him to think I thought badly of him. He’d been kind to me.

He smiled. “Thank you. Only the truly egotistically would enjoy being called Master by an innocent 16-year old girl. And I have to include my son Edward in that, but for other reasons. He’d probably enjoy it immensely in the typical teenage boy way. They’re quite hormonal at his age,” he said playfully. I smiled, nodding.

“Can I get something for you, sir?” I asked. He shook his head.

“I was actually waiting for you to get up, as we have plans. I’ve been putting it off but we need to get your exams done today.”

My eyes widened in fear. I hadn’t forgotten him telling me back in Phoenix that I’d be having exams done, but I was slightly apprehensive about what it meant. Part of me had hoped he’d changed his mind.

“Don’t worry, it won’t be unbearable and they won’t take very long,” he said. I nodded, sighing. Dr. Cullen closed his laptop and sat it beside him on the couch. He stood up and stretched his back. He headed for the door and I followed him. He motioned for me to go outside while he hit some buttons on the keypad and walked out, locking the door behind him. He opened the door to his black car for me and I slipped into the passenger seat. He climbed in and started the car up.

134

He drove in silence. The ride felt like it took forever but in actuality it was only slightly over an hour. He pulled up in front of a large building and I could read the word “Clinic” on the side of it. He parked the car and turned to me, smiling softly.

“This is the town of Port Angeles. I have a friend here who is well aware of the situation and who will use the utmost discretion. I could easily do all of this myself, but I imagine you’d feel more comfortable if I didn’t.”

“What will they be doing?” I asked hesitantly. He sighed.

“A basic physical to begin with, some blood work to make sure you’re healthy. He’ll also be doing a pap smear, do you know what one of those is?”

I shook my head. “No, sir.” He sighed again, pinching the bridge of his nose. I suddenly got scared, knowing it couldn’t be good if he were frustrated about it.

“He’s going to swab between your legs and run some tests, which is why you’d be uncomfortable with me doing it. I’m going to be putting you on birth control so it’s necessary.”

“Birth control?!” I nearly yelled, my hands flying up to cover my mouth instantly, shocked at my own behavior. He didn’t get mad at my outburst, thankfully.

“I’m not insinuating anything, Isabella. Your virginity is yours to do with as you wish, no one will ever take that freedom from you. I believe rape and sexual assault is the most vicious crime there is and don’t condone it at all, and if anyone ever takes advantage of you in that way rest assured they’ll face consequences. I mean that. But I don’t take chances and one thing I can’t risk is an unplanned unwanted pregnancy. It’s always better safe than sorry, so I need to be ensured that if you do end up engaging in sexual activity with anyone it won’t result in a child being born. Do you understand?”

I stared at him with shock. “Okay,” I said, stunned and not knowing how else to respond. He nodded and opened his door, stepping out. He walked over to my side and opened my door, ushering me out. I followed him inside the building, my body slightly trembling, as I was nervous and afraid.

We headed straight back to a room with a brown cushioned table in it. A moment

135

later an older man with gray hair walked in, closing the door behind him. He greeted Dr. Cullen warmly and smiled at me.

“I’m surprised to see you again so soon, Carlisle. I’m assuming it didn’t work out last time?” he asked, immediately opening a drawer and pulling stuff out. Dr. Cullen laughed bitterly.

“Not at all, it was an utter disaster. I’m quite positive I’ve found a winner this time thought,” he said, glancing at me with a smile. I realized immediately that they were talking about another slave, apparently whomever he’d had before me. I instantly wondered what happened to her but pushed the thought aside quickly, knowing I honestly didn’t want to know the answer.

The man nodded. “Good. We can go ahead and get started. I’ll draw the blood first and personally run it down to the lab. While there you can take her vitals and statistics and get her ready for the pap.”

Dr. Cullen nodded, turning to me. “Have a seat,” he said, patting the large brown cushioned table. I climbed up on it nervously, my legs not reaching the ground. The other man approached me and grabbed my arm, tying something around my arm. He handed me a rubber ball and told me to squeeze. I obliged and winced as he stuck a needle in my arm without much warning.

I sat there still for a few minutes while he filled up a few vials with blood. He undid the tie and released the needle from my arm, placing a band-aid over it. He left the room with the blood without saying anything.

Dr. Cullen wheeled a little machine over and wrapped something around my arm. He pressed a button on the machine and the thing around my arm started to inflate until it was tight and slight uncomfortable. It finally released and the machine beeped. He placed something on my finger and held it there for a moment until the machine beeped again. He finally grabbed a thermometer and told me to stick it under my tongue. I held it there for a moment until the machine beeped again and he took it back.

He motioned for me to stand up and I did. I followed him across the room and stepped onto a scale. He moved the dial until he located my weight and he sighed.

136

“You’re skinny, you should eat more,” he mumbled. I smiled at his tone. He whipped up a metal ruler quickly, so quick it startled me and I flinched. He slowed his movements on purpose after that, which made me feel bad.

After that was done he had me step off and sighed. “You’re going to have to take off all of your clothes. There’s a towel over there you can wrap around yourself. I won’t leave the room but I assure you I won’t look.” I stared at him, fear coursing through me and he sighed. “Just do it so we can get it over with. It’s going to happen, whether you’re cooperative or not, and I’d rather it be on good terms and not from me having to physically force you.”

I nodded hesitantly. Dr. Cullen walked over to the window and looked out. I grabbed the towel and stripped off my clothes, holding it around me. I climbed up on the brown table, trembling from fear. The door opened after a moment and I yelped, startled. Dr. Cullen turned around and glanced at me quickly before turning to the other doctor.

“Are we ready?” he asked Dr. Cullen. Dr. Cullen nodded.

“Isabella, lay back and scoot your bottom to the end of the table. Place your feet in the stir-ups, or the foot rests, whatever you want to call them. And try to relax,” he said coolly. I obliged, despite my fear, not wanting to upset Dr. Cullen. He turned around and was facing away from me again. “You’re going to feel something cold down there and then feel some pressure. It’ll be uncomfortable and may be slightly painful, but it’ll be over quickly. Do you understand?”

“Yes sir,” I said softly, closing my eyes. I felt coldness instantly and winced, softly crying out from the slight pain and something penetrated me. It was definitely uncomfortable and I started to feel sick. I squeezed my eyes tightly and felt a tear slip through, falling down my nose.

“All done,” the man said, and I felt the pressure dissipate instantly. I kept my eyes closed and jumped when I felt hands on my breasts. “I’m just checking for abnormalities,” he said. I didn’t respond, just tensed up until I felt his hands leave me. “She appears perfect as far as I can tell. I know you likely don’t care but she’d definitely never had any type of sexual contact.”

137

I felt a hand on my head and opened my eyes. My vision was blurry from tears but I could see Dr. Cullen beside me. He was stroking my hair softly, looking at the man. “Good. I want the depo provera shot, and if you can bring me a cotton swap.”

The other man nodded. “DNA sample?” he asked. Dr. Cullen nodded.

The man left the room immediately and Dr. Cullen sighed. “You can get dressed,” he said. He walked across the room and glanced out the window. I stood up, holding onto the table as my legs were shaky, and grabbed my clothes. I dressed quickly and quietly.

The man returned after a few minutes with a needle and a cotton swab. Dr. Cullen turned around and grabbed the swab. “Unbutton your pants for a moment,” the man said. I obliged and he pulled them down slightly in the back. He stuck the needle into my rear end and I yelped. The pain only lasted a second before he pulled my pants back up. “I’m all done.”

I nodded and redid my pants. I was uncomfortable and overwhelmed and felt tears running down my cheeks. Dr. Cullen asked me to open my mouth and I obliged, not wanting to upset him. I knew what DNA was for the most part but had no idea why he wanted a sample. He scraped the swap along my cheek and smiled, sealing it in a clear plastic bag. “Can you run it for me?” he asked the man.

“Of course,” he said. Dr. Cullen handed it to him and shook the man’s hand before he departed.

“No more poking and prodding,” Dr. Cullen said, smiling at me. He reached his hand out and I recoiled backward, causing him to groan with irritation. It didn’t stop him, however. His hand came up and brushed along my cheeks, wiping my tears away. “Are you hungry? Shall we go grab some lunch?”

Figlio di a femmina = son of a bitch

138

Chapter 12 - The problem with peoples

“The problem with people is that they're only human.