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If Every Word I Ever Said Could Make You Laugh

(CH.1-24)

By:

carmelinagunn

DISCLAIMER:
A) I don’t own any of the characters in the story and I do
not own any rights what so ever to THE TWILIGHT
SAGA in any way shape or form.
B) I did not write this story and I am not claiming to have
written it. I just really loved this story and I felt that it
deserves to be read (I know that sounds pretty cheesy
but what every)
P.S This is a human fanfic for twilight just letting you
know.
And the story begins

Preface

BPOV

When you grow up you expect to love.

Everyone who grows up normally expects to love their family.


Then you expect to really love a few select friends as you grow
older and people fall away but few remain and stay true. You
expect to find true love someday, and you expect to cherish it
and hopefully be one of the lucky few that holds on to it with
the same person forever.

That's what I expected the general population to expect at


least.
When you are at the age I am at you expect your young adult
life to be filled with many things, young love included. For me,
for the past year at least, I was more interested in the journey
I was on than anything else.

When I began my one big life adventure to Los Angeles I knew


there would be a considerable amount of "finding myself"
happening. That's what going away to college is for, right?

I did not, however, expect to find myself in those I grew to


love, nor did I expect to lose myself in them just as deeply.

When it started I had no idea the best time of my life was


beginning nor did I have any idea what I was in for. Love, in
all of it's many invisible forms was about to make it's move. It
was sitting in the seats next to me. Walking down the streets I
knew so well. Riding in elevators and tracing the edges of my
life, just waiting.

Love is patient, indeed. Among many, many other things.

"Love is strange.
Love is beautiful.
Love is dangerous.
Love is never what you expect it to be.

Love is hopeless."

-Doomed Love by Virgil

Chapter 1 - Elevators are Matchmakers

I was driving to our new apartment with my two best friends-


slash-room mates when it happened.

I saw him walking down the street with ear buds in, scrolling
through his iPod, completely oblivious to the stares coming
from my car. He was undoubtedly the most beautiful boy, no
person, I had ever seen. And you see a lot of people in
Hollywood. A lot of good looking people, including the two in
the car with me at the time of my discovery of him.

But he was different that anyone I had ever seen before. He


looked more like a Greek God than anything, just walking
around casually in the City of Angels. He was tall with sharp
features and a very nice, lean build. His skin was quite pale in
an intriguing way. He had form fitting jeans and a dark gray V
neck sweater with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows. He had
a very focused look on his face as he studied the little screen
of the iPod in his hand, and it was the most amazing facial
expression I had ever seen.

The thing that really got me though, was the hair. Oh that
hair. It was the most amazing bronze color you can imagine
and it was sticking out in every direction, seeming to have a
mind of it's own. He casually ran a hand through it as he kept
focused and kept walking.

I just about killed us by swerving into the oncoming traffic in


the middle of the intersection we were driving through. I had
been staring for no more than ten seconds, but it was enough
to transfer any concentration I had from driving to him.

Thank God Rose was in the front seat to grab the wheel and
yell at me while Alice giggled in the backseat, muttering
something like "Wow Bella, drool much?". I blushed instantly,
as usual. I wasn't really the type to check people out so
blatantly, but I really had no choice in this case. It was like
time stood still as I stared at him. Threatening the lives of
myself and my two best friends-slash-room mates was
probably the only thing that was strong enough to take my
gaze away from that God of a man.

Wait? Where did these thoughts come from? Did I really just
think the line 'God of a man'?

Never before had I lusted over anyone like this, even in my


private thoughts. I shook my head and turned my attention
back to getting to our new apartment in one piece.
All three of us had been attending acting school for a full year
now and it was just before our 3rd semester was set to begin.
Since the entertainment world waits for no one it was pretty
usual for everyone to forgo summer break and just keep on
training. Rose and I had just picked up Alice from the airport
and we had only been apart for two weeks for the short break,
but it felt longer being without them, so the reunion was full of
blasting amazing party mix CD's and dancing in the car. Rose
and I had been in the apartment together for one night, but it
felt incomplete without Alice there as well, so we held off on
celebrating until she was back.

I moved to Los Angeles about a year ago from sunny Phoenix


so I didn't feel too far away from home. My family had also
spent some time in Riverside as I was growing up so California
wasn't a big deal to me when I moved. The largeness of Los
Angeles didn't effect me too much either - Phoenix can
definitely hold it's own.

My friends-slash-new roomies were farther away from their


families, however. Sometimes it amazed me at how I ended up
being so close with Alice and Rosalie because we had such
different lives before coming together at school. I had never
had two people challenge me or understand me more.

Rosalie Hale and I didn't connect right away even though we


were in the same class for the first two semesters (you stuck
with one group of people for every "subject" through an entire
year's worth of classes). It was mostly due to the fact that she
intimidated me initially. She is truly stunning. Blonde hair,
perfect body, and no hesitation to show it off. Merely stepping
into a room with her lowers your self esteem. She knows it
too, but she's never malicious about it. She uses her
confidence when she needs it, which I figure could help her get
far in life, if not at least in the entertainment world.

One day at the beginning of second semester I was walking to


my on campus bungalow (yes they seriously referred to them
as bungalows instead of dorms) and I passed Rose as she was
speaking to one of her faithful admirers who just so happened
to be the not-so-subtle dean of students. I passed them just
as he finished asking her if she had any plans for the evening.

I'm assuming she wanted to keep in the dean's good graces


without stepping into any uncomfortable invitations because
when she spotted me passing by she surprised me by saying,
"I don't know. Bella, what are we doing tonight?"

"Going on an adventure," I replied automatically.

I immediately heard the words echo back in my mind and


cringed to myself. I couldn't help but feel foolish.

I mean, really? An "adventure"? It sounded good to me, I


needed something to shake up my world a bit, but Rosalie Hale
and I on an "adventure"? We weren't even really friends
outside of the classroom and here I was saying things that me
appear to be mentally stuck at around twelve years old.

I knew I thought differently than everyone else around me,


sometimes I even suspected I was on a whole different level
as every one else, so I suppose I shouldn't have been
surprised I let something like that slip out.

"Excellent," I heard her confidentially reply behind me. I


smiled back at her over my shoulder as I made my way to my
bungalow. It was nice to know she would humor me.

I grabbed a book and decided on my regular routine of reading


on the couch before my other three bungalow-mates got home
and took over the living room like usual, forcing me into my
tiny, rather crowded, rather messy bedroom. Quiet times to
read were few and far between here, and I started missing my
favorite past time.

Not five minutes later there was knock on the bungalow door
and when I opened it there stood Rose announcing she was
ready for our adventure and she hoped I didn't mind that she
had brought along her own bungalow-mate, Alice Brandon.
Alice quickly informed Rose that she knew I wouldn't mind at
all, as if she could see what my reaction would be before I
even had time to have it.

I hadn't been around Alice much before, but she was someone
everyone knew about. She was in the musical theatre program
which was not the one Rose and I were in, so I would never
have a class with her. Alice and I did end up having many
interests in common, even if we executed our enthusiasm for
them very differently.

Alice is amazingly beautiful as well, but in a way you would


never expect or see on another human. She is unique with her
tiny pixie like stature and her short spiky black hair. She is
definitely someone you would tag as an original. He sense and
total interest in fashion (and the fashion of everyone around
her) is not something she hides, and I found myself constantly
being forced into every boutique she could find on Melrose
Blvd within the first hour of being around her, no matter how
much I protested. Her spirit is even more eccentric than her
look, and it pulls you into her just as efficiently.

There was no way I couldn't be friends with her after I met


her. Partly because I was constantly surprised by her
spontaneous nature and secretly hoped some of it could rub off
on me, but mostly because she decided to go on the
"adventure" to make new friends, and when Alice decides
something there is no denying her.

I don't even completely remember all of the details of the


adventure that started it all. I will always remember my initial
fear of boring the two gorgeous creatures that I was driving
around Hollywood with. I will always remember wondering
what appeal a plain girl like me could have to them, but not
caring after realizing I actually felt more at home with them
than I had with any other friends before.

I know we ended up at the Santa Monica beach after getting


lost somewhere on Sunset Blvd at one point... and I know that
after that night we were glued to each other. I had never had
girlfriends that felt so much like sisters. Since I am an only
child I soaked up the feeling of family that grew between us.
With me being the youngest of us I felt an odd sense of
protection in my acceptance by them, which sparked the small
incline my self esteem was starting to make.

So moving into an apartment off campus with them seemed


like the right choice to make at the dawn of our third
semester. I couldn't be more excited. It just felt so much more
adult, even though I was still only 19, with Alice and Rose both
only less than two years older than me.

We were finally independent college students that broke free


from the restrictions of on campus living. No curfew, no RA's,
no strange room mates... it was officially time to "shake it up"
as Alice had put it.

We pulled into our new parking garage and got out of my car,
me proudly showing off one of the two spots we had, even
though I was the only one of the three of us with a car. I
figured two parking spaces came with every apartment since
the big red jeep parked across the aisle from me took up two
spaces all by itself and no one seemed to have a problem with
it.

"You guys go ahead and go up to the apartment, I'll go check


the mail. My parents wanted to send money for our first
week's groceries as a moving in present," Rose told Alice and I
before walking towards the gate that led to the front of the
building.

"That was nice of them," I said to myself with a small laugh.


"We should be able to feed all of our neighbors for weeks
knowing the amount Rose will probably receive from her
parents."

Alice giggled but curtiously at my joke but wasn't as amused


as I was because she was used to the same treatment from
her own set of parents. Rose and Alice both come from pretty
"well off" families. Even though they were technically fending
for their own while at school their parents always sent very
generous gifts every few months.

Alice and I headed to the elevator to get from the underground


garage to our floor. She was practically dancing her way to hit
the "up" button and I was very nearly doing it with her, so
excited to show her our new home.

As the doors opened I noticed that the elevator was not vacant
like I always wish it to be. Instead it was occupied by two guys
around our age. Two extremely attractive guys. They didn't do
it for me like the God of a ma - I mean other highly attractive
guy I spotted walking down the street just a few minutes
ago... but had I not seen him I would have been stunned by
these two.

One was leaning on the far left wall of the elevator. He was
blonde and seemed to be pretty tall, even when leaning. He
didn't have a large build but he wasn't scrawny by any means.
He had pretty blue eyes and what could only be described as a
movie star face. The other was quite different, yet still
attractive. He was huge in a muscular way. You could tell that
even through his casual clothing. He had dark curly hair and a
presence about him that seemed inviting, despite the fact that
he looked like he could bench press my car.

I inwardly groaned at the possibilities of this situation


becoming awkward. At least Rose wasn't around. She'd
probably start flirting and then I would feel even worse as I
watched her work her magic with ease, like I had so many
times before, while I just sat back and observed with envy. I
could never be like that. Flirting was a foreign concept to me.

Rose actually tried educating me about the "art of seduction"


once, but I was so uncomfortable even just practicing her
methods that she let it go. I didn't blame her. The only
progress we made after thirty minutes of my lesson was my
face blushing about eight different shades of red when she
asked me to lean on the counter in a 'strategic way" so as to
"accentuate my Ladies".
Alice hasn't ceased referring to my chest as my "Ladies" ever
since. She even went on to name her own Mary-Kate and
Ashley. Thanks to her every time a Full House rerun comes on
my cheeks heat up.

We stepped onto the elevator and I was so wrapped up in


remaining invisible I forgot to concentrate on walking and I
tripped, dodging Alice and stumbling right in front of the giant
muscular guy before rebalancing myself.

I heard Alice quietly chuckle at me as I shuffled over to her,


not looking up to acknowledge my clumsiness in front of the
attractive man strangers. I leaned against the wall next to her,
averting my eyes to the ceiling. I cursed the klutz that I was
and tried to will the elevator go faster.

"Awe, look Jasper, you guys are matching!" I heard a deep


voice boom all of a sudden.

I looked up and directly across from me I saw the hoodie that I


was wearing staring back at me on the body of the blonde guy,
apparently now to be referred to as Jasper. I became
uncomfortable when my eyes automatically met his as we both
looked up to validate the statement. I quickly felt more at ease
when Jasper smirked at me though. Something about that one
look from him calmed me down and I instantly liked him for it.
The big one who spoke and Alice both started laughing
together.

"Yes Emmett, I can see that, thank you," Jasper said in a


serious tone but still with the smirk on his face. His eyes
traveled from (newly named) Emmett, to me, then quickly
back to Emmett with an annoyed yet amused expression. I
couldn't help but join in the laughter, Emmett's booming laugh
was quite contagious.

"Well you could have included me. Or picked something that's


at least in fashion right now," Alice chuckled. She's always
bugged me about this old hoodie but I've never been one to
ditch my comfortable clothes. She playfully shot me an
accusatory glare and I noticed Jasper sneak a glance at her
and widen his smile before looking back at the ground.

"So you guys like music?" Emmett asked. It was an odd


question I thought. I mean, who doesn't like music? But I
knew he was referring to a certain type, seeing as how half of
us had clothing with the same theme.

Alice's little bell of a voice rang out, "we most certainly do!
We're going to see that band in a few weeks actually. In Long
Beach."

"That's awesome!" Emmett replied with just as much


enthusiasm. "We play music. Me and my little bro Jasper here,
and our other little brother Edward. If you guys like them then
guys you'll probably like what we play."

Boys… in a band? Where do I sign up?

Holy crow, where were all these thoughts coming from today?
Maybe Rose and Alice were rubbing off on me after all… even if
only my inner monologue was getting more bold.

"Are you playing a show soon or something?" I asked.

Jasper chimed in, "well, we don't have anything scheduled


anytime soon, but we can bring a CD by sometime. It's only a
demo but you'll get the idea of what we sound like. Then if you
like it you can come see us play when we get something
booked." He shrugged in a casual way and threw us a friendly
look. This guy was too good at making me feel comfortable
when I'm usually so uptight around strangers.

"Awesome!" Alice beamed at him. I had never seen her look at


anyone that way before, I could tell she was truly excited
about our new prospective, attractive friends.

"Great, what apartment are you guys in?" Emmett asked


loudly. "Not to sound creepy or anything by asking that... I
know we just met you and all, but - I mean we aren't like
going to come over and rape you -"

"Emmett what the heck man?" Jasper said as he stood up


straight (he was really tall though Emmett had a few inches on
him) and swatted Emmett's arm. "Why would you even say
that to them?"

"Say what? Rape? Dude, I said we wouldn't rape them, that's


not bad. Right?" He looked over at us in a completely
harmless, confused way.

I seriously could not stop laughing at the innocent face he had


on while Jasper went back to leaning against the wall and
started shaking his head at his brother.

"Right..." I laughed out for Emmett's benefit.

Just then the elevator dinged and opened to our floor. As we


started to step out turned to the boys.

"So, we are in apartment 112 whenever you get that CD


ready," I said as I smiled sincerely, hoping they really were
interested in sharing their music. I walked out with Alice
trailing behind me as she waved and cheerily said, "bye
guys!".

After turning down the hall I immediately turned to look back


at Alice to discuss the encounter we had just had in the
elevator, but before I could say anything I noticed two
smirking brothers following right behind us. Alice and I kept
glancing back at them as we made our way down the hall. No
one said anything as they continued to follow a few feet behind
us, and when we got to our door I put the key in and opened
it, still without mentioning that they were ending up to be
slightly creepy.

Alice and I stepped inside our apartment and we


simultaneously turned to confront them on why they were
following us. Before either of us could say anything Jasper
pulled a key out of his pocket and held it up in front of usas
they sauntered right past our door.

He smoothly said, "110".

I thought I caught him wink at Alice as well, but I was caught


up in Emmett's goofy grin so I couldn't be sure. We continued
to stand there until the boys turned a corner in the hallway
and the sound of their key unlocking their door was heard.

I closed the door and turned to Alice.

"110?" I asked out loud, to clarify. "As in, they live in


apartment 110? Right down the hall?"

We fell to the floor laughing and smiling at our new situation.


Alice finally sat up and took in our new apartment with one
sweeping gaze.

After giving a small nod of approval she turned to me and said,


"I bet you this is going to be a pretty great year."

I nodded back vigorously. God knows I did not have any


intention of betting against Alice.

Chapter 2- Your Note

By the time Rose got up to our apartment we had gotten off


the floor and Alice was starting to unpack/rearrange
everything Rose and I tried to organize the night before.

"What?" She asked when we smirked at each other as she


started to push a bookshelf to the other side of the wall it was
on.

"Nothing," I replied, "It's just that we stopped unpacking after


we got here yesterday when we realized the first thing you
would do is change everything we did".

She stuck her tongue out at us like a 2 year old and just kept
on pushing. She was tiny but she was not weak by any means.
After a few hours of unpacking and handing Alice decorations
everything was looking great except for one long, white blind
from our sliding glass window that kept falling down. Alice had
climbed up on a chair countless times to snap it back on, but
we had actually found something more stubborn than Alice!
She would snap the blind back into place, jump off the chair,
turn to do something else, and the blind would defiantly break
free and drop to the ground making a taunting "fshhhh" sound
from scraping the glass on the way down. For ten minutes it
went on like that: snap, jump, "fshhh", snap, jump, "fshhh"...

"We need more light in here anyway!" she half screamed as


she threw the blind into the corner and stomped off the chair.

To help calm Alice we decided a sensible form of shopping was


in order. We left to get some groceries so we could have a
home cooked meal for our first night in. I was a decent cook so
I knew this would be happening often, which I was very
excited for.

We got in my car and were driving out of the garage when I


asked Rose, "So how much did your parents send? We need to
know what we have to work with."

She pulled the check out of her purse and showed it to me.

"No way!" I yelled. "Rose! No way. What do they expect us to


do? Open a restaurant?"

Rose and Alice were both laughing at me at this point. "Calm


down Bella, geeze, they sent a little extra so we could enjoy
our first semester back without having to worry about
annoying things like jobs. You know, so we can focus on our
'craft' ". She laughed harder as she made quotes with her
fingers on that last word.

"The mall is going to be very pleased with my focus in the next


few months, I'll tell you that!" Alice said as she high fived Rose
and then reached to me for the same response.
I was still slightly in shock. "Seriously? I mean, this isn't
exactly normal you guys. I don't just expect other people's
families to take care of me while I sit around and pretend I
have a "craft" to focus on... aren't we supposed to experience
the struggling artist thing in order to really appreciate our time
here?" Not that "struggling artist" sounded appealing to me,
but I was slightly uncomfortable accepting other people's
money I hadn't earned.

"You're acting like Rose's parents set up a charity for us, they
are just giving us a house warming present! Please don't ruin
this Bella, we only get to be in this situation once. Let
someone give something to you without feeling guilty for once,
plea-ee-ee-se..." Alice drug out that last word and lifted her
palm higher in the air with a pout on her face. She knows what
the pout does to me.

Rosalie's parents had been very easy to get a long with, and
they had said I would be considered a second daughter had I
ever made it out to visit Rose...

"Fine!" I cheered as I slapped Alice's hand and pushed a little


harder on the gas to the store.

We were laughing ecstatically as we made our way up the 3


flights of stairs it took to get to our floor. Apparently the
elevator is not too reliable, and if it is at the top of the building
you will be waiting for a considerable amount of time before it
slugs it's way back down to the parking garage.

It was Alice's idea to take the stairs. We were strong,


independent women after all. Too bad she hadn't taken into
account that my clumsiness couldn't handle me balancing
myself most the time, let alone me with way too many
groceries in my hands.

Needless to say I tripped and fell and allowed a gallon of milk


to break through a bag, careen down the stairs, hit Rose right
in the ankle causing her to lunge forward, protruding a bag of
chips that Alice then managed to step on, which caused a
popping sound and a release of air that also sent many chips
flying directly at me where I was still on the ground recovering
from my fall that started everything.

When we made it to the apartment Rose was still picking chips


out of my hair as Alice and I were holding our sides trying to
contain our breathing and our bags of food. We stumbled in so
quickly and closed the door none of saw the silver disk just to
the left of our door frame until a few moments later.

"What's this?" Rose asked picking it up and examining it.

"Oh my gosh!" Alice squealed, "No way! Bella they really did it!
I'd almost forgotten! Not that I could ever really forget that
face, I mean my God, did you see those blue eyes-"

"What are you talking about? What is she talking about?" Rose
looked from Alice to me as Alice grabbed the CD out of her
hand and ran to unpack her stereo and set it up.

"Oh, well when you were getting the mail today Alice and I
met some guys on the elevator. I was apparently having spirit
week and was wearing the same hoodie as one of them so we
all started talking and they told us they were in a band and we
should hear their music. Clearly they weren't lying because I'm
guessing that's the CD they said they would bring over."

"Wait wait wait. You are telling me you met guys on the
elevator and you haven't said anything to me until now?" Rose
tightened her eyes at me.

Uh oh.

"Well yeah, but we were so excited about everything I guess it


slipped both our minds -"

"Slipped your minds? These aren't just boys Bella, these are
musicians". With the word "musicians" she made a grand hand
gesture to emphasize to me the importance of it.
I sighed. "I know Rose. I'm sorry. How can I make it up to
you?" You don't mess around with Rose when it comes to
guys. Granted she could get anyone she wanted, but if she
knew she wasn't getting to pick from the whole litter, watch
out...

"You can come spy on them with me so I can asses the


situation for myself - without complaining! Now." As she said
this she grabbed my arm and yanked me out the door and into
the hallway.

"Where are they?"

"Um, 110." I whispered. I was nervous. No way was I used to


spying on boys, but Rose was stronger than me and I knew I
pretty much had no choice. It was a little exciting too... if it
wasn't so creepy.

"Good. Follow me."

She let me through the hall to the big windows that faced into
the courtyard. Since we were on the first floor of actual
apartments (the lobby was technically the first floor of the
building) we had a courtyard that all the balconies of the
apartments faced into. This meant that each apartment had
it's own walled in patio area but all the patios were connected
by a bigger cement courtyard area, so all the patios were
practically connected as well.

We were in the little courtyard, the boys' apartment was in the


larger one on the other side of the hall, so we krept over there
to peak through the window into their courtyard.

From where we were you could see into about 2 1/2 different
living rooms through the big sliding glass doors, one directly in
front of us and 2 to either side. As we crouched down I
couldn't stop giggling. Rose was trying very hard to shush me
and I got her elbow in my side many times, but I couldn't help
it. Maybe it's a new nervous habit I was forming.
Slowly my giggles grew contagious and just as Rose started to
silently crack up I gasped. I saw the Greek God from the street
walk through the living room of the apartment we could see
directly into. He was just talking on a cell phone, but instantly
I forgot how to breathe.

"No way" I whispered. But he was already out of sight.

"What?" Rose stifled another giggle then took in the serious


look on my face. "Bella? What?"

When I couldn't reply she turned serious and looked in the


direction I was starting. All of a sudden Emmett walked by, in
the same living room, going the other direction.

"Oh I see..." Rose whispered and an evil grin spread on her


face. "That better be one of them."

"Um... yeah... Emmett I think... yeah... we have to go now


Rose..." I crawled the length of the window until I knew I was
clear then dashed across the hall and back into the safety of
our apartment.

Rose was in right after me, the smile still lingering on her face
and we both sat down on the floor next to Alice who was
struggling with the stereo and all it's many wires, the CD right
next to her on the floor.

"Alice let me do that, I'm better with mechanical stuff than you
are" Rose stated as she took Alice's place. "Plus I think Bella is
still in awe from that piece of man we spied on in the
courtyard" she laughed.

"Oh Bella, you found them?" Alice sang as she clapped her
hands excitedly. "Did you see Jasper?" I shook my head. "Oh,
well Emmett then?" I nodded yes. "Yay! Why do you look so
shocked then? Was he in his underwear or something?" she
laughed.
"No! Alice!..." she had managed to break my spell and make
me chuckle a little bit. "I think I know who their brother is.
Um, Edward?" I asked, wondering if she remembered Emmett
mention that name on the elevator. She nodded that she did.
"Well, you remember that guy we saw when I couldn't stop
staring and I almost swerved into oncoming traffic?"

"No way!"

"You saw him?" Rose asked just realizing what I saw that
made me gasp.

"I think so." I said. Then it hit me. That perfect looking boy
was not only living down the hall from me, he was the brother
of people I had met earlier, and actually managed to be
comfortable with in a short amount of time. I could feel the
smile spreading across my face as looked at Alice and she
smiled back.

"You know what this means, right? No matter what God awful
sound that CD produces when we put it in we have to support
that band."

"Alice, that's absurd. I mean, support is good, but I'm going to


be fake. Can't we be friends with them no matter what it
sounds like?"

"Bella you don't become friends with people who literally make
you stop breathing. Why do you think Rose has about, um,
zero best friends that are guys?"

I heard Rose mumble a "right?" before I decided I didn't care


what they said, friends were better than anything. No matter
how gorgeous they are.

Without turning around Rose barked, "Anyway, it's not really


lying if you have good intentions Bella! It's strategic placement
of over exaggerated kindness. Like for a surprise party. Good
lies. And hopefully, in the end, if you keep the secret long
enough you get a surprise at the end of this too". She winked
at me as she turned around to set the stereo on the table.
"This lecture may all be in vain though. They could rock. Let's
find out, shall we?"

She popped the CD in and pressed play.

We had been listening to the same 4 songs for about a day


and 1/2 now. Thank God they were good. I just knew it would
make me feel better later, not having to avoid the subject
should they ever ask what we thought. I was a horrible liar as
it was.

It was hardly a concern, however, having not run into any of


them in the hallway on the way to or from our first day of
classes. We were all easing into our new routine and I was
forcing myself into believing some group of brothers weren't
going to bring excitement to our lives we had first imagined.
"Boys shouldn't define us like that anyway" Rose had declared.

Still, they had seemed like pretty fun people. Well Jasper and
Emmett anyway. Edward, which I had taken the liberty of
calling the perfect one after putting two and two together, was
still a mystery to me. But even if he spoke Chinese and did
nothing but sit in the middle of the room I was sure I would
have enjoyed his company. What is wrong with me? I do not
usually think of people in this way. He's not a "piece of man"
as Rose had called Emmett during our spy mission. There had
to be more. Not that I would really be able to find out.

It was fine though, we were having fun still setting up and


Alice was planning our first shopping extravaganza for our "3rd
Semester" looks.

We came back from classes a few days later and Alice had a
very pleased look on her face as she skipped out of her
bedroom and came to greet Rose and I. We were in the same
class again, so we would be arriving and departing together
regularly.
"We got a present!" She said as she pushed a neon green
square shaped paper towards us. I picked it up.

Ladies of 112-

This is our flier for our next show. We told you we'd inform
you when one was booked.
You said you'd be there.
So be there.

-The boys in 110

I turned it over to examine the details and saw it was for 2


weeks from Saturday.

"Nice" Rose said as she put her bag down and went into the
kitchen.

"How did you get this Alice?" I asked, flipping it over and
reading the note again.

"It was under our door when I got home, which was only about
10 minutes ago actually. We are so going, right? I mean, we
have to. They clearly want us to. It's going to be so much fun!
So different from hanging out in the cafe like normal
weekends, thank God!"

Rose walked back over to us and grabbed the flier, hanging it


up on our corkboard by the door "Yeah we're going, it would
be rude not to. You aren't going to back out are you Bell? I
don't want another episode like the other night during our spy
mission."

"No I'm totally fine with going. I love live music, you guys
know that. I'm not going to be afraid of new people anymore,
I've decided."

"Oh really? When?" Rose scoffed.

"Well, just now. In fact, we should probably let them know we


accept the invite. Rose said we don't want to be rude, right?" I
picked up a pen and grabbed a piece of paper lying on the
counter.

"No let me!" I handed the pen and paper to Alice and let her
scribble a note on the paper. When she was satisfied she
handed it to me and Rose.

Boys of 110 -

Thanks for the "formal" invite to the show.


We are honourable women, so of course we will be there if we
said we would.
Just don't suck too bad.
See you in 2 weeks.

-The Ladies of 112

"Nice" is all Rose said again as Alice and I plotted going over
there right away to deliver the note.

"We'll just slide it under the door and knock. It's totally middle
school, and it'll be funny, come on!"

Alice immediately put on the pout, even though she didn't


even have to this time. I agreed right away, sticking to my
new plan of not being scared of new people. I tried to push out
of my mind the fact that one of these new people was the
most amazing person I had ever laid eyes on... but that was
beside the point.

Rose waved nonchalantly at us as we dashed out into the


hallway, immediately engulfed in giggles towards the "110"
looming ahead, the little piece of paper propelling our every
move.

Chapter 3 - Up on the Roof

We didn't know what we had unleashed. A simple act of


passing notes under the door turned into a giant game of tag.
Yes, tag.
After Alice and I had stealthily slid our first note under the
door, knocked, then crawled our way back to our apartment - I
fell trying to round the corner and pulled her down with me
when she tried to help me up. We were laughing so hard we
gave up trying to walk after a few seconds, and crawled back
to our apartment just to get out of the hallway before
someone came out and caught us - we had expected some
witty reply back the next day.

What we got was another note and this time it was directly
from Jasper who we assumed must have been home alone.
There was nothing out of the ordinary except at the bottom it
said "P.S. Tag."

"Oh we are so taking this to a whole new level" Alice said as


she read the last line. Alice always refuses to be shown up.

We ended up at the Giant Dollar, the first dollar store we could


find. Not because we needed the bargain, we could fund a
small country thanks to the Hales, but because the quality of
the dollar store items were perfect for a wacked out game of
phantom tag. The Giant Dollar was perfect. The outside of the
building was actually painted like a giant dollar bill. We got
some markers and glitter pens, some shoe polish, sidewalk
chalk, and colored sharpies- basically anything that could be
used for marking up flat surfaces. But we got extremely
distracted when Alice found the birthday section. Her birthday
was only a few days away, and she decided our apartment
should showcase that whether or not we had a "real" party for
her. The concert supposed to be in place of an actual party for
her.

When we got home we decided to get creative, which is when


the game of tag got stepped up.

In the spirit of being as random as possible we took the extra


blind we had and our new sharpies and decided we were too
advanced for mere paper correspondence anymore. We were
making them a present of sorts. Plus getting the rogue blind
out of our apartment was probably good for Alice.
Since they were musicians the only logical way to express our
feelings was through a song. I knew the perfect one.

"The Underwear Song! We can definitely get their attenion with


the greatest compostition of Bryan Adams" I proudly
announced. "I Want To Be Your Underwear" was one of our
favorite dance party songs. The 3 of us had our private dance
parties often. The only requirements were loud music and the
most entertaining dance moves you could come up with. We
even had a warning in our living room: "Warning: Dance
parties break out frequently in this area". It was one of the few
things we took very seriously.

The Underwear Song (our name for it) is such a great song,
and I know Emmett at least would appreciate it. Kind of
suggestive, but on the humorous side, it should definitely liven
things up. It was decided and we went to work on it. At the top
we wrote:

To: The boys in 110


Our feelings for you can only be expressed through the art of
music
Our own words are no longer enough
Love: The ladies in 112

Then it went into the lyrics:

I wanna be your t-shirt when it's wet - I wanna be the shower


when you sweat
I gotta be the tattoo on your skin - yeah lemme be your bed
baby - when you climb in
I wanna be the sheets when you sleep - let me be the secrets
that you keep
I gotta be the spoon - ta stir your cream
I wanna be the one that really makes you scream

I wanna be - your lipstick when ya lick it


I wanna be - your high heels when ya kick it
I wanna be - your sweet love babe - ya when you make it
from your feet up to your hair - more than anything I swear
I wanna be - your underwear

I wanna be the itch that you scratch - wanna be the chair


when you relax
I gotta be your razor when you shave
I wanna be the habit that really makes you crave

I wanna be - your hot tub - when you're dippin'


I wanna be - your bathrobe - when you're drippin'
I wanna be - your cocktail baby - when you're sippin'
I just wanna be right there - more than anything I swear
I wanna be - your underwear

I wanna be your sleeping bag - baby slip inside


Let me be your motorcycle n' take you for a ride - alright

I wanna be - your hot sauce - ya when you're cookin'


I wanna be - your sunglasses - hey good lookin'
I wanna be - wanna be the one - you're stick your hook in
I just wanna be right there - more than anything I swear
Oh ya I wanna be - your underwear

And at the very bottom in glitter pen it said:

Actually after reconsidering we'd rather just stay friends. But


TAG anyway!

We taped it to their door and ran back to our apartment,


wondering what the reaction will be. It seemed a bit childish
but it was fun and that's why I think I was comfortable with it.
It was odd actually, how comfortable it seemed to be teasing
people we hardly knew.

All I know is that in the back of my mind I couldn't help but


picture the perfect face of Edward as he and his brothers took
in our newest tag with the bold lyrics. He didn't even know us
at all yet. God help them have the same sense of humor as us
so Emmett doesn't get any ideas about us being psycho and
plotting to rape him...
The next day we came home from a dinner out and there was
a giant golden fan resting on our door with a note that said
"Stay cool ladies - TAG" taped to it. It was hideous. It was
shaped like one of those wooden or paper fold out fans that
usual have some floral design on them, and right in the middle
of it was the face of a clock, upside down and not working at
all. It was almost as wide as the door, and it was clearly dug
out of a dumpster. We cracked up and took it inside, where
Alice actually found a place for it to hang in the living room.

That night inspiration stuck. Shoe polish. Sliding glass doors.


Courtyards.

"Brilliant!" Rose proclaimed as we all went to put on our


darkest colored clothes. This was a night mission.

"Honestly Bella, sneaking into their patio in the middle of the


night and "tagging" their sliding glass door? I raised you well"
Alice said as she hugged me. Which was quite comical seeing
as how she was so much smaller than me and commenting on
raising me.

I had to admit it was a fun plan. This way when they opened
their blinds in the morning they would instantly see the
retaliation written out in shoe polish. They probably expected
us to tag before the night was over too, so we also had
suspense on our side since they wouldn't be getting this until
morning.

At around 1am we decided to attack. We crawled on our bellies


into the large courtyard, each with a bottle of polish in our
hands, and sat with our backs to their patio wall so we could
gain composure from the giggle fest I had started. I seriously
needed to control this new habit. After Rose peeked over she
confirmed that all the lights were off except for one bedroom
to the left, and the blinds were closed.

"So one of them must still be up" I threw out there.


"Yeah but that makes it more exciting! The thrill of getting
caught!" Alice whispered back.

I was starting to giggle again but I stifled it as Rose motioned


to start climbing over the wall.

It didn't take much because the patio walls are only about 3
1/2 feet high. Even Alice didn't have trouble. We had to write
backwards so they could read it when the blinds were opened
in the morning. I wrote "TAG" as big as possible in the middle
of the glass. Rose wrote "bitches" right under it, and Alice
signed it "(heart) 112". We took in our masterpiece for a
second before turning to leave.

Of course there was a longboard on the patio that I hadn't


spotted before, and of course I fell over it when I turned to
climb out of the patio. I fell, it rolled and hit the small table
they had out there, crashing and causing 3 empty soda cans to
roll and fall to the ground and bounce a bit, making a loud
clanking noise that echoed off the concrete courtyard.

Lights flew on in the bedroom window to the right of the living


room and blinds pulled back instantly from both bedroom
windows.

"GO!" Rose yelled and as fast as we could I got up and we all


jumped over the wall and ran to the nearest door to the
hallway laughing the whole time now that we had almost been
caught and no longer needed to be quiet.

We laid in the hallway and peeked through the window to see


the lights go on in the living room. We decided to get into the
apartment now that they were clearly up to prepare for any
retaliation we might receive that night.

Before I left I snuck one more glance towards the apartment


and saw a perfect face scanning the courtyard from the
bedroom window to the left. I smiled and then followed the
girls into our apartment.
We stayed in our living room that night, vowing not to sleep
(we all had one fairly easy class on Friday) so we could protect
our home from the boys' revenge. It was not a comfortable
night as we only had a bowl chair and an inflatable mini couch
as our furniture. It was cute for an apartment, but it was not
the best sleeping arrangement.

We awoke sore the next morning, and slightly disappointed at


the lack of any sort of tag from our enemies.

On our way to school we laughed at our situation last night


and my inability to do anything with stealth. We all only had
one class so we met up in the cafe on campus before heading
home.

We were caught up with some guys from school, Jacob, Sam,


and Embry, 3 guys we had hung out with a bunch the first
year of school but hadn't seen much since we'd been back. We
decided to have a small get together for Alice's birthday the
next night.

It was going to be nice to hang out with people from school


now that we could be off campus, and who knows who else a
little get together might attract? We didn't speak that last part
out loud, but I'm almost sure I wasn't the only one who
thought it.

We were just lounging in the apartment that evening,


discussing what the best way to spend Friday night would be,
when there was a knock on the door. Rose got up to get it, we
had no peep hole for some reason, and when she opened the
door I nearly fell out of the inflatable chair when I heard the
unmistakable booming "Ladies!"

Alice and I shot up and saw Emmett hugging a stunned Rose


and walking into our apartment. He came right up to me and
grabbed me, just like we had been greeting each other this
way for years, squeezing with all his might.
"Emmett...can't...breathe..." I managed to get out and he
headed over to Alice who squealed when he scooped her up
too.

Jasper walked in and didn't assault anyone but he casually sat


in the bowl chair and locked eyes with Alice before scanning
the room and saying "Nice place ladies."

Emmett flung himself into our inflatable chair, and when it


made a very humorous noise he started laughing and declared
that chair "his new spot".

"It's just so comfortable! Mmm. It's like my new lover I love it


so much" he said as he flipped over, his front area now
assaulting our chair. "I shall call her Rrr…um, Ruth!"

"Ruth?" I asked. It certainly sounded like he was going to say


a different name.

"Yes Ruth. No one understands our love!" he sent us all into


fits of laugher as he began caressing the chair and whispering
sweet nothings into "Ruth's" ear. Emmett was quickly
becoming one of the most interesting and hilarious people I
had ever met. It what I would have wanted a big brother to be
like, had I ever had one.

I was still very caught up in the change of events though. No


notes. No creative forms of communication. I half expected
one of them to get up, push one of us, yell "tag" and run out
of the room because that was the only form of consistency we
had had in this friendship so far.

I laughed at that mental image as Rose said "So, welcome to


our place, and also to Ruth… but why are you guys here
exactly?" She smiled when she said it but you could see how
confused she was.

"Well there's a party on the roof tonight and the 3 of us are


going so we decided to invite you ladies as well. The guys in
115 are throwing it and said to invite any neighbors we saw."
Emmett smiled back sincerely as he started using Ruth as
nothing more than a chair again and we all looked at each
other as we considered the invite.

"That sounds fun enough!" Alice beamed to which Jasper


replied "Great! They said it starts around 7 and they are going
to grill and stuff so you don't need to bring anything but
yourselves."

"I heard they have a pool up there, have you guys seen it?"
Emmett looked too excited when he said this.

"Emmett's been dying to go swimming" Jasper explained.

"Um no, we haven't been up there yet. But the spa on the roof
was one of the selling points for us on this building," I said.

It was almost true. We were actually supposed to live about 3


blocks away closer to school but the landlord there was shady
and it fell through at the last minute. We had gotten this
apartment literally the day before we left for break and we
were lucky they had immediate availability.

When we were turning in our signed lease Alice pointed out


"Look, it says there's a pool and spa on the roof! This place is
way better than the one we almost got, I can tell already".

I just nodded but never really cared. I was never one for any
activity that had to do with bathing suits, I didn't even own
one at the moment, but I thought of Emmett in a pool and I
just knew it would be entertaining.

"So where's your brother?" Rose asked "Aren't there supposed


to be 3 of you?"

"He's on the phone. He wanted to come over and meet you


girls finally but the conversation turned pretty serious so we
left him behind."
I was starting to think Edward didn't really exist. I couldn't
help it, "He'll be on the roof tonight though, right? I mean at
the party?"

Emmett and Jasper both started laughing and Emmett said


"Oh yeah he's going to be there. He wants to meet you guys
real bad and find out who blew your cover on your little secret
mission the other night. It scared the crap out of him and he
wants to personally thank them for nearly breaking his
longboard."

I instantly blushed and looked to the floor. I could feel Rose


and Alice holding in a laugh as they looked at me.

"I didn't nearly break the longboard! It's meant to roll isn't it?"
I defended myself

"Not directly into a table and a wall" Jasper chuckled.

"It should be taken better care of anyway!" I was laughing at


this point now, trying to push away the thought of Edward
being upset with me before even meeting me.

"Or maybe people should learn not to trespass?" Jasper threw


out that comment, causing us all to laugh and scoff and then
he got up and walked to the door, Emmett following his lead.

"So be on the roof at 7, ok guys?" Emmett checked before


leaving. We nodded and as they walked down the hall we could
still hear his loud voice as he spoke to Jasper "I really can't
wait for the pool dude, I miss swimming. Do you think I'll be
the only one to go in? Maybe we can convince the girls, I'd
love to see..."

And then Rose shut the door and said "Well I guess we have
plans tonight?"

"Yeah, and you maybe you can have a midnight swim with
your "piece of man" and then come have a 3-way with Ruth"
Alice laughed as she went into her room.
"Maybe" Rose replied with a smile. "But the important thing is
Bella finally gets to talk to her Edward."

"Whoa Rosalie! My Edward? I'm pretty sure that's an


inappropriate title for someone I've never met." I kind of
laughed but those words made me nervous. At least I wasn't
giggling.

"Whatever Bella, I'm just following your lead here. That's all
you've been saying in your sleep ever since you saw him when
we were spying."

Crap.

"Well I had no idea I was doing it and now I'll probably stop
because it makes no sense and I swear if you bring this up
tonight Rose I will kill you!"

"Sure, sure whatever Bell, I wouldn't do that to you. I just


thought it was amusing. Anyway, Alice is ready for you, so you
better get going." As she said this she pointed behind me and I
saw Alice in the doorway of her bedroom. She pointed to me
and then to inside her room which meant that is where I was
supposed to go. She wanted to help me "get ready" no doubt
for the roof party.

I learned a long time ago not to fight them when they decided
to play Bella Barbie. I had finally convinced Alice to let me
wear my own wardrobe to school but anytime we did anything
that involved the public she felt the need to "help" me.

I sighed and walked in to my own personal salon. I actually did


need something to keep my mind off of speaking to Edward
later that night. Over thinking was never good. Calling
someone "yours" before you even met them was even worse. I
was doomed.

With Alice and Rose's amazing skills we were all ready for the
roof party about 10 minutes early. So there was really only
one thing left to do before we were completely ready to go.
"Dance party!" Alice announced as she turned up "Billy Jean".
Michael Jackson was a very popular dance party kickoff choice.

It was one of our better dance parties and we were only 1/2
way through the song. Alice was on one of the 3 chairs we had
for our small table and I was teaching Rose how to throw the
shimmy. It's very true I cannot dance. That was the beauty of
the dance parties, it wasn't real dancing. Any move that was
entertaining was allowed, so I was completely comfortable
with my two best friends who would also be making foold of
themselves. Thus the
"Shimmy Throw." It's a very complicated move. You have to
have the timing down perfectly. Rose a quick learner so before
I knew it we were throwing the shimmy around to all 3 of us,
our shoulders shaking wildly with every catch only to thrust
our bodies forward towards the next girl that was to "catch"
the shimmy.

Eventually we were all on chairs singing and kicking and


shaking and shimmying to every Michael Jackson song Alice's
stereo threw at us. The time passsed so quickly during dance
parties. We didn't even notice 2 figures climbing through the
always open windows into our courtyart and over our patio
wall.

"Bella I do have to say, no one can throw a shimmy quite as


accurately as you!" Rose was laughing as I tossed another one
to her.

"Well thank you. I should do the Shimmy Throw the best, I


invented it!" I was very pleased something I created was so
popular among my perfect best friends. It wasn't much, but if
my shimmy throwing abilities acutally topped theirs, I would
take it.

It wasn't until the most beautiful voice I had ever heard came
through the screen door, "Jasper, I thought you said the party
was on the roof?" It was immediately followed by the most
musical laugh had ever heard. I turned and there was Edward
standing on our patio looking more like a Greek God than
should be possible. He ran a hand through his impossibly mesy
hair and I just about fell off the chair. Suddenly the only thing
I wanted most in the world was to run my own hand through
that perfect bronze hair. What the heck was this boy doing to
me?

"Ah!" Alice yelled half in excitement half in shock as she


jumoed down and turned off Michael.

Rose and I quickly jumped off our chairs as all 5 of us


awkwardly look at each other, the boys trying very obviously
to hold in laughter but soon no one could hold it in and we all
cracked up.

"No, by all means, keep going. We didn't know we were


interrupting" Jasper said as he walked right the screen door in
and sat back down in the bowl chair.

"Seriously this has got to be better than whatever is going to


go on up there" Edward said as he followed Jasper in and
leaned against the wall next to the sliding glass door. He
looked straight at me and said "I wouldn't mind a lesson in
the, what did you call it, 'Shimmy Toss'?"

I wasn't really breathing due to the fact that he was smiling


the most stunning crooked smile at me and I could finally see
his piercing green eyes clearly for the first time. Somehow I
managed to find my voice and said "Um, Throw... It's more of
a throw than a toss."

"Oh, right." He laughed. Something I said made him laugh!


Why did that excite me? Because his laugh was literally the
best sound I had ever heard. I vowed to hear that sound as
much as possible.

"So are we going up there or not? You guys shut this one down
so we might as well see what we can do for the thing on the
roof, right?" Rose said, moving things along.
"I don't know. What do you think Eddie? The roof doesn't seem
as appealing to me anymore..." Jasper tilted his head back and
smirked at his brother but Edward just said "Don't call me
Eddie please..." and then Alice pulled Jasper out of the chair
and said "Oh no, we are done for the night. The roof has more
to offer anyway. Free food and a pool!"

"Yes ma'am" Jasper simply said as he allowed Alice to drag


him to our front door.

As we all followed behind I thought of something when Alice


said pool... "Hey guys, where's Emmett? Don't tell me he's
already in the pool?"

Edward laughed (yes!) and replied, "No, no, he's meeting us


up there. He was held up at the apartment, but he should be
done soon."

I just nodded and shuffled out the door in front of him. We


were the last out and sure enough when e cleared the doorway
I turned to close the door and tripped on my own two feet and
instantly prepared myself for the impact of the ground.

Only it never came.

Two arms caught me and I was leaning against his body. I


heard a small beautiful laugh and then really close to my ear.
"Well now I know who to punish."

Chapter 4 - Dead Ends and Girlfriends

I just nodded and shuffled out the door in front of him. We


were the last out and sure enough when he cleared the
doorway I turned to close the door and tripped on my own two
feet and instantly prepared myself for the impact of the
ground.

Only it never came.


Two arms caught me and I was leaning against his body. I
heard a small beautiful laugh and then really close to my ear.
"Well now I know who to punish."

Excuse me?

"Um, excuse me?" Remember to breathe. Remember to


breathe. Remember to breathe.

It was truly hard to keep breathing all of a sudden but he


quickly set me back on my own two feet and chuckled as I
closed the door. I could feel that my face had gone at least 3
shades darker.

"Well, I just figured if you could lose your balance by merely


turning around to shut a door you had to be the one that put
my longboard in danger."

Oh. Right. That. "Oh, well that's very perceptive of you. But do
you really think that out of everything involved that night
you're really worring about the right thing here? I mean the
skateboard should be used to danger by now-" but I didn't get
to finish because he had put one finger up to my mouth to
shush me. It worked. He also had a very serious face as he
said:

"First of all it is not a skateboard it is a longboard. But no, I


suppose I'm not placing my worry correctly, I'm sorry." I
smiled under his finger but then he continued, "I should really
be more concerned about our poor sliding glass door you
vandalized." He still had a very serious expression.

I sighed over dramatically, "Yeah, clearly all the inadimate


objects void of feeling are very deserving of your concern.
Thanks." He finally laughed and dropped his hand and we
started walking towards the elevator.

"By the way I didn't hurt myself at all or think about suing you
for placing that skateboard in a very hazardous place..."
"Longboard Bella."

I couldn't believe how beautiful he made my name sound.

"Does it really matter that much Edward?" I instantly loved


saying his name. Thank God I didn't slip and say "my" Edward
now that Rose informed me of my little sleeping habit.

He put his arm around me leaned down and said quietly "Oh I
can see I have many things to teach you."

It was a very good thing we approached the others at that


point because I don't think I could have provided any sort of
response with the sound of his voice in my ear and the
proximity of his body to mine. It was so stunning, yet so
comfortable at the same time.

We had to wait for the elevator for a pretty long time, as


usual. I think it got stuck half way down from the top floor
since a good amount of people were taking it up and down
from the party. At least 5 minutes must have passed and both
Edward and Jasper left saying something about going to check
on Emmett.

It wasn't ever uncomfortable just standing around with them


though. Just like with the notes and the all the surprise visits it
was unnaturally comfortable actually. In no time at all it felt
like we had been hanging out our whole lives.

Eventually we heard people coming down the hall and all 3


boys were laughing as they walked into the elevator room to
wait with us. Emmet had on bright orange swim trunks with
bright blue hawaiian flowers on them and he was carrying a
bright pink blow up raft and a "Friends" towel. You know, the
TV show.

"You really weren't lying about swimming." I stated with an


amused expression.
"Oh Bella, I never lie about serious things," he smiled at me.
"You're not planning on going in?" He directed the question
only at Rose. Surprise surprise.

"Um, not really, no." She smiled but was still taking in how
prepared he was for his pool time. She looked amused and
slighly impressed.

"I bet I can get you in. All of you!" Emmett said as he looked
at all us girls.

"Yes, your pink, manly raft is quite tempting but I'm pretty
sure I'm not going to change my mind tonight. Night
swimming isn't really my thing." Rose stroked the raft playfully
as she said that making us all laugh.

"Believe me, the raft is not what he was going to use to get
you in" Edward said.

We all looked at Emmett and he wiggled his eyebrows and


flexed an arm at us.

"You wouldn't!" I yelled and hid behind Edward who was the
closest to me. I really do hate swimming.

"Ha! The most hesitant goes in first!" Emmett yelled and


lunged at me.

I know we weren't anywhere near a body of water but I had no


doubt in my mind Emmett would carry me all the way up to
the pool if he had to. I screamed and slipped past Edwards
back over towards the elevator putting Rose, Alice, Jasper and
Edward between me and Emmett. The elevator doors finally
opened but the others were no help as they instantly got out
of Emmett's way.

"Help me!" I yelled as I ran to the furthest corner of the


elevator. It took Edward, Jasper and Alice all fully emerged in
laughter to attempt to help me.
Emmett reached me and was starting to pick me up when
Jasper grabbed the raft out of Emmett's grip and threw it at
Alice who began beating him with it. Edward and Jasper were
both on either side of Emmett trying their best to unwrap his
arms from around me but it was just resulting in him getting
me a few inches off the ground and then me being pulled back
down. It didn't help that we were all in histerics at this point,
and we probably weren't helping the condition of the poor
elevator much.

But after about a minute I was instantly released and Emmett


yelled "No!"

I heard Alice gasp "Oh my!' and then burst into giggles as
Edward and Jasper backed off and started laughing even
harder.

I had fallen on the ground and was recovering from laugher


when I looked up to Emmett shooting a very shocked
expression at Rose and holding his shorts to his waist.

"What? Bella needed help and the 3 of you weren't getting


very far so I intervened."

"You pants me! A girl pants me!" Emmett said still schocked
but the corners of his mouth were definitely rising.

"Anything for a friend" she said and she high fived me.

"Or a free show?" Emmet said suggestively as he raised his


eyebrows and winked at Rose then raised his hand at his
brothers for a high five as well.

"No dude" Jasper said keeping his hand at his side and still
chuckling at Emmett being pants by a girl.

Edward just shook his head in shame then held out his hand to
me to help me up.
I had never been so grateful to be on the gound as I took his
hand and stood up. It was so warm and fit mine so perfectly, I
had let go immediatly in fear of holding on too long and then
never being able to let go.

"So... are you guys going up or what?"

I looked towards the door and saw a group of 4 people waiting


to get on the elevator. From the looks on their faces they had
been standing there watching our little battle for a few minutes
now but none of us had noticed.

"Oh yeah sorry," Alice said and she pressed the button for the
top floor and we all smushed into the elevator so that 10 of us
and Emmett's very necessary, very pink raft could fit.

I wasn't sure we were going to make it up but as the the doors


closed and I realized how close I had to be to Edward so that
everyone could fit I almost started praying for it to stall. He
smelled so good. I could have stayed there all night.

I was breathing in the scent of him when I felt Edward lean


down and whisper in my ear, "I'm sorry I couldn't save you. I
know what it's like, being attacked by that bear" he chuckled
and I concentrated really hard on remaining upright.

"It's ok," I whispered back, "but if we get up there and he goes


at it again I'm holding you responsible for hiding me for the
rest of the night. It can be your way of apologizing to me for
putting my feelings behind those of longboards and windows."

"No problem." He smiled at me. "But I'm pretty sure you aren't
his main target anyway, if you know what I mean" and he
nodded his head over to the other side of the elevator where
Emmett was practically leaning on Rose, trying to persuade
her to admit she didn't pants him solely for my benefit.

The roof party was pretty full when we got up there, but not
uncomfortably so. The roof had an amazing view of the whole
city since our aparment building was only one block up from
Hollywood Blvd and about five away from Hollywood and
Highland, one of the last remaining "nice" parts of Hollywood.
The only bad part about the roof party was watching Emmett's
face fall as he saw the pool for what it really was.

"You couldn't even lay your raft down all the way in that"
Jasper said as we gazed down at the 4' x 2' body of water.

"Maybe it's supposed to be the spa?" Edward chimed in

"Um, no... guys I think that's supposed to be the spa..." I said


as I directed everyone's attention to the left. There was a
circular concrete hole in the ground with a ledge that looked
big enough for people to sit on which went around theedge of
the hole. There were little holes all around the inside that
looked like the remainders of jets, and there was one of those
floaty chlorine devices just sitting at the bottom. It was all
painted a light blue. At least that's what it looked like from the
patches of the bottom you could actually see under all the dirt
and debri that had collected in it.

"Awe man" Emmett moaned as he let his raft fall to the floor.

Everyone else was silently laughing, but soon we all left the
sad sight and moved on to the rest of the party where we
mingled a bit but mainly stayed together in the group of 6,
getting to know each other better, already feeling more
comfortable with eachother than anyone else.

We decided to leave around 10pm when things died down and


we all headed back down to our floor in the elevator which was
currently behaving.

I had controlled my emotions around Edward all night, but I


couldn't help but feel drawn to him. Looking at him in the eye
(which were more like the most amazing pair of emeralds I
had every seen) and laughing with him was the best feeling I
had ever had. It would probably be closley followed by running
my fingers through is hair...but that was not something I
should be thinking about.
At least I could hold his gaze and hear his laughter while
maintaining regular breathing habits now. If I was going to be
spending any amount of time with him I knew I would have to
learn to control myself to maintain a friendship.

As we got to our door the boys were quick to say goodbye.


There were hugs all around and then they shot down the hall
and around the corner into their apartment. Feeling slightly
disappointed at the breif goodbye the girls and I entered our
apartment and sarted discussing the finer points of our new
friends.

"I've never met anyone I've connected with that quickly!" Alice
was explaining. "Jasper I think more so than the other 2, but
really all of them on some level. It's kind of weird."

"You know, I was thinking that too." Rose admitted. "And it's
fun being around people other than the ones we've been going
to school with for a so long. That's what we were looking for,
right? And who knew they would be so freaking cute as well"
She smiled at the last part.

I had to agree. The change was nice. I sat down in Ruth (that's
what our blow up chair was now, we had all taken to calling it
that already) and played all my favorite moments of the night
over in my head when I looked up to turn on the TV and I
stopped mid gaze.

There, on the TV was a piece of paper taped to the screen that


said "TAG".

Then I heard Alice scream.

"NO WAY! No. Way." She came running out of her room and
yelled at us " Ugh, they got the TV too? Go look in your
bathroom... go now!"

Rose and I got up to go look. We shared the larger room and


bathroom .Since Alice had so many clothes and accessories it
was easier for her to have her own space.
Alice was right behind us as we turned on the light and there,
written on our mirror in shaving cream, was "TAG, TAG, TAG,
TAG, TAG" over and over again all over the mirror. We couldn't
even see ourselves.

"They got me too! They did my full length! They also left this"
She lifted up an empty can of shaving cream like it was solid
evidence of a haneous crime.

We were so impressed and pissed off at the same time at how


easily they got us back and managed not to get caught, unlike
us. We walked into the living room and Rose ripped the note
off the TV and stared at it.

"I didn't know they had it in them" she mumbled and started
laughing.

"But when could they have done it? We were all together at
the party." Alice asked.

"I don't know. I shut the door after everyone was out of the
apartment, I know I was the last one out." I said.

"It was when we were waiting for the elevator" Rose sighed as
she hung up the "TAG" from the TV on the cork board next to
the very first note we received from them, as if to remind us
never to let something like that happen again. "Remember
when Edward and Jasper when to check on Emmett? Guess
what they were really doing."

"Oh man! I'm sorry you guys. Since we were going to stay in
the building I didn't really think about locking the door," Yeah,
that was a better excuse than "Edward was touching me so I
forgot how to breathe or think."
"I will really work on getting in that habit." I did kind of have
problem forgetting. You never needed to lock up the
bungalows after all.

Alice scoffed at me,"Bella, we finally meet some great friends,


who just so happen to be boys..."
"Freaking cute boys!" Rose called from the bathroom.

"Ok, freaking cute boys, and now you want to get into the
habit of locking the door? I don't think so." We both started
laughing and I nodded that I understood.

We decided to put on some PJs and then go over to return the


evidence to the culprits. What were we going to do with a
shaving cream bottle?

We knocked on the door but no one opened it, instead


someone yelled "It's open!"

"Good to know" Rose mumbled as we all walked in to


apartment 110 for the first time.

It was very clearly a guy's apartment. The set up was almost


identical to ours, just reversed. The the was kitchen
immediately to the right of the door and the living room was
connected to it but there was one large counter that acted like
a divider of the two rooms. The two bedrooms were on either
side of the living room/kitchen area.

From what we saw on the night of our secret tag mission


Edward had the smaller room on the right to himself and
Emmett and Jasper shared the larger room and bathroom just
like Rose and I. They had a small entertainment system in the
far left corner with a structure on top of hit holding 2 more
longboards. I silently noted the 3rd empty slot and reminded
myself to mention that to Mr Longboard sometime. There was
also one large and hideous gray couch. It was definitely a
hand-me-down but it looked very cushy and comfortable.
There were 2 acoustic guitars leaning against a wall and they
had one very large "Friends" poster on the wall (it was actually
just Joey and it was a mock add he did on one of the episodes
for ladies to be aware of getting "VD"). Friends was also
playing on the TV as we walked in, so I was starting to notice a
theme.
Edawrd was in the kitchen apparently making brownies, Jasper
was on the couch looking very close to sleep, and Emmett was
laying on the ground with a small blanket laughing his head off
at the TV show.

"Well this is a pleasant surprise" Edward said with a smirk as


we all walked in.

""Ladies! Come in and watch Friends with us! We are watching


Season 3 right now. Have you seen it?" Emmett always
seemed to be excited.

"The whole season?" Alice asked

Jasper sat up and rubbed his eyes, "Oh yeah, Emmett loves
Friends. He owns every season." He pointed to the
entertainment center as he said that and sure enough there
was a huge stack of Friends DVD boxes.

"Cool." I said with a hint of sarcasm. Don't get me wrong, I


love that show too, but it was just another fun thing about
Emmett that sort of took you off guard initially.

"Seriously, come in and watch it with us!" Emmett said as he


made a beconing motion with his hand.

In a cold voice Rose responded, "we would love to, really, but
we actually didn't come over to socialize- we just thought one
of you might be needing this.." and she set the shaving cream
down on the counter with a loud clank.

"Emmett I told you to hide all the evidence" Jasper said in a


overly dramatic scolding tone while getting up and walking
over to where we were by the kitchen.

Emmett hung his head in shame and we all started laughing


and slipped into small talk about all the tagging and how they
planned their big move that evening. We decided to call it
truce since we actually were on speaking terms now.
Unfortunately we didn't get brownies for few hours because
Edward had to make a new batch after we got there. The first
batch ended up all over their kitchen after we had given in and
sat down to watch some Friends with a very insistent Emmett
who had grown impatient of waiting for his snack.

I was sitting next to him on the floor and he was leaning


against Rose's legs because she was on the couch with Alice
and Jasper next to her. Edward was still in the kitchen when
someone on TV mentioned something about food and Emmett
got impatient. We were quickly learning that food was another
subject Emmett considered very serious.

"These things take time Emmett. I do not mess around with


brownies. You have to wait for perfection sometimes." Edward
said with a smug smile.

"He really takes his brownies seriously, huh?" I mumbled to


Emmett who just nodded and rolled his eyes.

"I tried to get him to just let me eat the batter out of the bowl,
but apparently his precious recepie deserves to 'reach it's full
cooking potential' It's probably because it's the only thing he
knows how to make!" Emmett mocked Edward under his
breath in a very whiny high pitched voice that sounded nothing
like the velvet it really was, but make me giggle none the less.

"He really get's paranoid about unimportant things sometimes,


doesn't he?" I asked purposefully loud enough for Edward to
hear.

"Stop discussing me like I can't hear you, you two" Edward


leaned over the counter and glared at us and flung the spatula
to emphasize his point causing a glob of batter to land right on
Emmet's head.

"Uh oh." Jasper sighed and he threw a blanket over him and
Alice, "This isn't going to end well."
Alice was giggling and Rose was wiping the batter of Emmett's
head as he turned to stand up and walk into the kitchen.
Edward never broke his stare with his brother, but he
immediately started backing into the corner of the kitchen,
spatula and batter bowl raised in defense.

"Now Emmett Cullen, you don't want to do anything that would


put your precious brownies in danger, would you?" He said
with his stunning crooked grin. I would have melted but it
definitely had no effect on Emmett.

"The brownies aren't my target dear brother" Emmett laughed


and he flung himself at Edward.

It was hard to tell how it all escalated from there. Before I


knew it Rose had some of the dark brown batter on her white
tank top, and that was that. She actually hopped over the
counter to help Emmett, who accidentially attacked her when
she jumped in front of Edward, causing them all to turn on
each other. Alice and Jasper were still cowering under the
blanket laughing as Rose yelled at me to come help her. I dove
right into the fight, grabbing any handful of batter I could get
and smearing it on anyone that was close enough.

"Ok enough!" Alice was laughing as she yelled at us, and her
and Jasper were on the other side of the kitchen counter with
the pull out spray hose from the sink pointed at those of us in
the kitchen.

"We were very excited about brownies, and now thanks to all
of you Alice and I here are still very unfulfilled in the brownie
department." Jasper stated, still wrapped in the blanket he had
been cowering under.

Emmett, Rose, Edward and I all looked at eachother and it was


the first time I had really taken in our appearance. We were
completely covered in brown smudges with white powder
sprinkled all over our faces and clothes since someone, I never
caught who, had decided to involve the flour after the batter
ran out.
It really didnt take a lot of thought. Emmett just yelled "They
were supposed to be my brownies!" and all four of us in the
kitchen started chucking flour at Alice and Jasper who didn't
hesitate to unleash the water on us.

We were all exhausted about an hour later after cleaning up


and very politely helping Edward mix a new batch of brownies.
We were all still covered in batter and flour, some of us still
damp from the water attack, but the kitchen was clean and as
Edward finally pulled the finished product out of the oven and
we each took one (ok, Emmett grabbed 3) and everyone
toasted to "A New Era of Peace" as Jasper put it.

We left soon after and invited the guys over to Alice's party
the next evening on our way out the door. I had started to
think that nothing we did could be fun without them anymore.
They said they had band practice that would last until about 10
or 11, but they would stop by after that. It was good enough,
and we went back to our apartment to shower and get in bed,
all 3 of us with pretty large smiles on our faces.

The next day was Alice's birthday. We only had the small party
planned with a few friends from school, and of course the
promise of the Cullen brothers after their practice. But you
would not have known that when you walked into our living
room.

Alice normally wakes up early and has no problem doing so. It


is one of the many things that we handle very differently. Rose
and I woke up around 10am and as we stumbled out into the
living room I was taken back by the amout of color that
greeted me. She had gone all out in classic Alice fashion.

There were 5 different colored streamers strung all across our


ceiling along with matching balloons scattered all over the
floor. There were 3 different "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" signs, and
also one "FELIZ CUMPLEANOS". Apparently one language
wasn't enough to capture the essence of Alice's day of birth.
She had a box of Funfetti cake mix on our kitchen counter and
immediately pointed to the cake box and then to me with her
precious pout on her face, implying she wanted me to make it
for her. Apparently this was our new way of communicating.

"Thank you Bella!" she said when she hugged me from behind
as I walked over and started opening the box and taking out a
bix mixing bowl.

The morning passsed quickly and we got a call from Jacob and
the boys at school saying they would be over around 7 which
worked well for us. Around 3 Rose went to run some errands
and Alice and I were lounging around watching TV when she
had a craving.

"I want guacamole."

"Yeah, that does sound good." I agreed.

"Let's make some! I know you make it really good Bell, I've
had it before. We need it for the party!"

"Ok, but it will be the only food we have besides the cake, we
didn't really buy any party appropriate food you know."

"That's fine, we can just ahve a Guacamole Party!"

"Alright, it's your birthday. A Guacamole Party it is!" We had


discovered a long time ago that if you put "party" behind
something it instantly sounded a lot more intriguing.

The party started out fun enough. We did indeed have enough
guacamole to feed a small army, which I figured Emmett
would take care of in a matter of minutes after viewing his
eating habits with the brownies.

Jacob, Sam, and Embry arrived around 7:30 along with two
girls Leah and Emily who also went to school with us. We had
all hung out a few times first and second semester, and Rose
and I had our new class with Jacob and Sam so it was pretty
comfortable and fun.

Too bad I felt all 3 of us watching the clock, waiting for 10 or


11 to roll around.

"We have to get back by 11" Jacob announced clearly


disappointed as he and I were sitting on Ruth. They all still
lived in the bungalows on campus.

"Really? Even though it's Saturday? That doesn't make sense."


Rose scoffed.

"Yeah they are really starting to get lame this semester" Jake
said then he nudged me, "You guys are really lucky you got
out when you did. It must be nice."

"It is." I agreed. "It's never too late you know, you guys
should really try to get off campus somewhere before we
graduate."

"We actually started looking for a place on Monday after they


announced the new weekend curfew rule" Sam said. "I mean,
it wasn't too bad before that, but now it's like worse than living
at home. Do you guys know of any openings here? This place
isn't too bad, right?"

We told them we hadn't noticed anything, but they should


check with the office sometime because it was pretty
affordable and close to school and they could move in
immediately if something was available.

10:30 rolled around and the boys still hadn't shown up after
practice. All of our school guests decided they should head
back. We said goodbye and thanked them for hanging out. It
really was nice talking about the past year at school and all the
new kids and how going to school through the summer didn't
seem that bad.
When the clock hit 11:30 you could feel the mood in the room
drop. We had all really been looking forward to hanging out
with the Cullen boys again. It just always turned out to be so
comfortable and fun. We were all still in the living room and
we decided to wait until midnight before we called it quits and
went to bed.

About 5 minutes later Emmett's booming laugh could be heard


reverberating through our courtyard and our screen door was
being thown open. At the same moment our door, which was
faithfully unlocked, flew open as well revealing the other two
brothers.

"Well it's about time!" Alice scolded them as she got up and hit
Emmett in the arm.

"Hey!" Emmett yelled and rubbed his arm, like Alice could
actually do any damage to him.

"Sorry we are late ladies, practice ran a little long. Some of us


can't agree on thing I was there to calm them down, or else
they may still be in that room fighting." Jasper stated as he
gave an annoyed look to his brothers and then smiled at Alice
and said "Happy Birhday."

"Thank you, but it still wasn't nice to keep me waiting. The


polite thing to do is to call and inform people when you are
going to be late. That way they don't think they are getting
stood up!" She pouted agian and playfully folded her arms.

"And how were we supposed to do that with no means of


getting a hold of you?" Edward asked from the kitchen were he
was just casually loooking around in our fridge like he was at
home.

"Like this." Alice pulled our her cell phone, looked Jasper in the
eye and said "Number?"
"Um..." Jasper looked a bit surprised but told her his number.
She called his phone and when she was satisfied with the
amount of rings she heard she smiled and put her own away.

"There, now you have no excuses." She was so much more


bold than I was.

"I still think they should be punished" Rose announced coming


out of Alices bedroom with something in her hands.

"What's that?" I asked.

"I think that's our punishment" Edward said suddenly right


behind me as he took a sip from the soda he had just taken
out of our fridge and then offered me some. I lifted my
eyebrows whith a questioning look at him offering me some of
my own soda and he just smiled a very smug smile back at
me.

"Mhm" Rose agreed with Edward. Then she opened the bag,
took out a bright pink plastic sparkely princess crown and
reached up to place it right on top of Emmett's head. She then
handed him a very nice pink sparkely fairy wand. He actually
took it, appraised it, looked at Rose with an amused
expression, and then smiled and said "Pink's always been my
color."

Jasper and Emmett were laughing as Alice and I took out a


green set and a blue set and got them in their princess garb as
well.

It wasn't much of a punishment seeing as how they oddly


enjoyed wearing them, but we were all cracking up as Alice
shot picture after picture of them in the get ups, each picture
getting more absurd.

Eventually Emmet was laying across Ruth with the guacamole


in his arms, eating it in every single picture. Edward and
Jasper were above him in any and all precarious positions they
could make with their wands, which made me blush repeatedly
throughout the photo shoot from the kitchen were I was trying
to hide it as best I could.

When it was over Alice said "You guys are just fabulous,
really!" and went to put her camera back in her room giggling
the whole way.

"Those should be great blackmail when your band makes it


big" I laughed as everyone got comfortable around the room
and Edward came over to retreive his soda from me.

"You would never!" he said in mock horror. But it was hard to


take him seriously, as they all still had their crowns on.

"No. But it will be excellent material in 10 years for your VH1


Behind the Music special. You know, the segment about how
living in Hollywood really did change you." We all laughed at
that.

The night progressed very comfortably after that. Emmett and


Rose ended up on the floor leaning against the counter just
talking and laughing at permiscous comments they were
making to each other. Jasper, Alice, Edward and I were all
sitting on the floor together in the middle of the room making
jokes and just having fun. Edward had placed his green crown
on me and Jasper had left his blue one on the table next to the
now empty guacamole bowl. Apprently Emmett had picked it
up, because he now had on the pink one and the blue one.

Eventually Alice and Jasper decided to go up to the roof the


get a change of scenery but Edward and I declined because he
had been engrossed in our CD collection and was still flipping
though our CD book, constantly switching things out and
making us all listen to the songs he picked.

Emmett and Rose fell asleep next to eachother and it was


amazing how quiet it got without Emmett's loud voice and
Rose's giggles no longer in the background.
Edward finally settled on one CD and put the rest away,
focusing all his attention on me. We were still discussing the
band he had decided on, the same band Jasper and I sported
on our matching hoodies actually, when I got a text.

Movie tomorrow night, my treat as usual.


Let me know if you can make it.
Sam and I can get 6 people in!
-Jacob

"Who texts you so late?" Edward asked looking at the clock.

"Oh no one, it's just friends from school. Two boys we know
work at the movie theatre and can get people in for free so
they usually let us know in case we want to go. It's pretty nice
actually."

"Oh that is nice" he smiled. "Are either of these two boys


special?" When he said special he gave me and extra curious
look.

"Oh no, nothing like that!" I laughed. "We all get close at
school but there's no one like that for me. Not at school
especially." and then I kind of giggled. This subject was
starting to make me uncomfortable considering I was sitting
two feet away from the only boy who had done more than that
for me the first day I ever saw him.

"Oh, that's nice though. It's good to have good friends that
don't have that to get in the way of anything." I thought that
statement made me sad beause for the first time in my life I
was thinking friendship might be the one in the way... but then
he said "I know my girlfriend and I were friends for a long time
before we got together."

Oh.

"Oh?" I managed to get out before my mouth went dry.

Breathe Bella. Breathe.


But it wasn't working. I tried to put a pleasant smile on my
face as I felt my insides collapse. I knew I had been living in a
fantasy world with my thoughts of Edward. I mean, we clearly
had a good connection. Once I got comfortable enough to act
normal around him I was actually starting to think something
could happen. That was clearly not correct though.

Of course he had a girl friend. Of course. How could he not?


Look at him! I fell head over heels from just the sight of him,
and getting to know him had only made it worse.

I instantly put up walls and decided that it wasn't important. I


would deal with my anguish later, by myself. I could not ruin
the relationship I had started with him over my stupid
misplaced feelings. So I forced a smile and asked about her.

Edward quickly pulled out his phone and showed me a picture


of her. She was strawberry blonde. Of course.
My dull brown hair could not compare to that, I knew it. And
her eyes were not brown like mine, they were closer to a
golden color. I had never seen anything like it before. She was
gorgeous just like him, and it all made sense.

"Her name is Tanya. I've known her for a few years now. Her
family and my family are pretty close. She's back home of
course, but we keep in contact pretty well. She actually got me
this phone before I left, so that it wouldn't be expensive to call
her." He shut the phone but kept it in his hands.

I instantly had about 10 visions of ways I could destroy that


phone immediate. I forced myself to ignore them though.

Good thing I was trained in acting..."That's really sad you had


to leave her. Where is home for you guys anyway?" Changing
the subject might help.

"Oh it's a small town. You've probably never even heard of it.
Forks, Washington?"

"Nope. Never heard of it."


"Didn't think so" he laughed. The sound made me elated and
devestated at the same time.

We sat there and just continued the converstaion. We got off


the subject of Tanya and it was too easy for me to quickly
forget she existed. I had never had such a great conversation
with anyone in my entire life.

He told me about his parents, his mother Esme and his father
Carlisle. "Such interesting names" I said. He laughed and said
they got that a lot. I told him of my parents in Phoenix and
how I missed my mother because I was considerably closer to
her but all in all it wasn't too hard to be away from them.

We talked about their band and our school, our beliefs and
hopes and dreams. We laughed a lot and I even started crying
when I told him about my nana who I was very close to that
passed away the previous year. He hugged me and said it was
really great I had that relationship with her and I should focus
on being greatful for the time I had with her. I instantly felt
better and I knew that I had to take his words and apply it to
my situation with him as well. At least I got to be close to him
as a friend. I would force that to be enough, because it was
already everything.

It wasn't until Alice came back in and informed us it was 6:30


in the morning did we realize the sun was coming up. She told
us Jasper had decided to go back to their apartment and sleep
and Edward got up and left to do the same.

Alice went to her room mumbling "good night, happy birthday


to me..." as she stepped over Emmett and Rose still sound
asleep on the floor.

Edward walked out of the apartment but before I could close


the door he said "Wait" and grabbed my phone that was still in
my hand. He dialed a number, hit send, and let it ring. I
noticed his own phone light up in his hand and I asked, "What
are you doing?"
He hung up and handed my phone back to me. "There. Now
we have backup if we are ever running late again. I can't allow
Jasper to have all the responsibility. We don't want to risk
being rude." He winked at me and gave me a quick hug and
disappeared down the hall.

I closed the door and sighed. I smiled to myself and allowed


one tear to fall before I wiped it away and realized I didn't
know if the happy feeling or the emptly feeling in my stomach
was stronger.

Chatper 6 - California Girls

EPOV

I just can't believe it is 6:30 in the morning already. I could


have stayed up with Bella for hours upon hours. I smiled when
I realized that's exactly what I did. Los Angeles had become a
little more bearable.

Ah there goes my phone, ringing.

Again.

Honestly, it is 6:30 in the morning.

"Hello."

Chapter 7 - Forever

We were all in fantastic moods the next day. The boys would
be home that night and we wouldn't have to distract ourselves
any longer. I even felt better about my breakdown. I wasn't
convinced it would be the last one I had, but having Edward as
a close friend and having the love and support of everyone
else was making my life the best it had ever been.

I was hanging out with Jake and Sam in the cafe at school
when my phone started ringing.
"Edward Cullen" was right there in the middle of the screen
with a picture I had taken of him in the stupid green princess
crown in the background. I hadn't spoken to him again since
the other day, but we had been texting the whole time. It was
nothing compared to hearing his voice but the fact that we
kept in touch was enough for me.

I was smiling like and idiot when I remembered I had to


actually answer the phone.

"Eddie!" I teased when I answered and I blushed a bit as I


realized I had not hid the excitement in my voice.

"Don't call me that please." he replied with a sigh. I could hear


the smile again though.

"Why not? Don't you like it? It's kind of hip, right? Eddie! You
don't hear Edward too much these days, you should really
keep up with the rest of us." I was smiling as I pictured him
roll his eyes at my playfull rant.

"Is that why you refuse to be called Isabella? Because Bella is


more "hip"? If you insist on Eddie then I may just have to
retaliate with Isabella. It really is fun to say. Isabella. Isabella.
Issssss...a-bella." Then he laughed.

"Ok stop! I'll drop "Eddie". Don't be hip if you don't want to.
Just don't be surprised if I ignore you in public sometimes. I
don't want to be known as the girl with the totally out of date
friend."

Yeah, like I could ever really ignore Edward or not be anything


but amazed that he would go out in public with me. "Isabella is
what my dad used to call me when I was little and I was in
trouble. It just brings back bad memories I guess. What about
you Edward. Why won't you embrace Eddie?"

"I suppose I just like my actual name better. The guys tease
me and call me Eddie every so often because that's what
Tanya started calling me after we started dating. She's the
only one that I let call me that. And only because she won't
not."

My stomach had started to hurt at the mention of Tanya and I


didn't like the way our play full argument had gone so I
ignored it and moved on, vowing never to say the word
"Eddie" again, even in jest.

"So what's up? Are you home yet?"

"No actually that's why I called you. I have to go soon, I just


stepped out to call quickly because we found out we have a lot
of stuff to get wrapped up today but we will be home tonight,
it will just be really late. Can we wake you up when we get
back so you guys can hear the new CD? Only if you want. We
weren't sure if you would mind."

Yeah, like we would mind.

"That should be fine. We want to hear what you've been up to


and tomorrow's Saturday so just come on over."

"Ok great! Well I have to go but I will definitely see you later
Bella. Bye." Then he hung up and I turned back to Jake and
Sam but I wasn't really listening to them anymore as I just
started watching the seconds tick by on the clock on the wall.

At around midnight we were losing steam. The dance party we


had out of excitement took a lot of energy out of all three of us
and Alice's movie collection wasn't looking like it was going to
help. Nothing sounded appealing. We were all sitting on her
bed staring at the large collection of DVDs she had for about
45 minutes. No one picked anything and no one wanted to fall
asleep. We were each convinced they would be back any
minute. Falling asleep would be pointless.

"BED PARTY!" is what I woke up to.

Rosalie screamed as my whole world shook and I felt


something huge land next to me. I opened my eyes all the way
right before something not as huge but still schocking landed
on my other side. I looked over and I had to hold back a
scream of my own when two green eyes connected with mine
just inches away.

"You're back!" I yelled and ripped my eyes away from his just
so I could let them wander down to his stunning crooked smile
I loved so much.

"We're back!" Jasper responded over enthusiastically as he got


up and started jumping on the bed at Alice's feet making
everyone laugh. Alice threw pillows at him and looked more
like a giddy school girl than I ever imagined she could.

While I was laughing I realized what had happened. Apparently


Rose, Alice and I had indeed fallen asleep on Alice's bed
together waiting for the boys to come home. I didn't even
remember laying down but I was in the middle of them with
my head on a pillow so I assumed we had given in and
situated ourselves.

I laughed harder to myself when I closed my eyes and


imagined the boys walking in to that sight. We were still fully
dressed and it was pretty obvious we had been waiting. We
had actually taken on the habit of never locking the door and it
definitely paid off.

"Well, let's hear it!" Rose said from under Emmett who was
protecting her from Alice and Jasper's pillow war that had
started. Alice didn't have the best aim and her pillow's were
now strewn all across her room.

We decided to go to their place to listen to it so they could


unpack at the same time. All us girls sat on the couch and
Jasper took out the CD and put it in their stereo on the
entertainment center. When the first track started it was
impressive with the very first note. It sounded much better
from the demo they had given to us and the songs had new
life. You could see how proud they were as they all listened
and Emmett even sang along to most of the songs, even
though he never sang on the recording.

We gave hugs all around when it ended and we praised them


for doing such a great job. It was extremely exciting for them
and I was proud to be friends with people who were so
talented.

We replayed the CD again and turned it down a bit as


everyone dispersed around the apartment. Edward took his
bag and went into his room to unpack as did Jasper. Emmett
just threw his into his and Jasper's room and then went into
the kitchen and pulled macaroni and cheese in a tupperware
out of the fridge and began eating it, still singing to all the
songs between mouthfulls.

We were teasing him about how gross it was he was eating


almost week old cold macaroni when Jasper yelled from the
bedroom - "At least you don't share a room with him! Come
look at what I have to live with."

We all got up from the couch as Emmett said "What?" with and
innocent look macaroni in his mouth and he followed behind us
into their room.

It was the same as mine and Rosalie's room but instead of


actual beds they had 2 air mattresses on the floor. Boys.

Half of the room was pretty clean and that's the side Jasper
was on with his bag open on the air mattress closest to the
door.

And then there was the other side of the room. The mattress-
bed was unmade which wasn't a big deal, I often failed to
perform that task as well. But there were piles of clothes and
there were shoes and a few books and magazines, a Starbucks
hat and apron, loose change, and even a baseball mit covering
the floor on Emmett's half of the room.
Right next to the bed was what Jasper had called us in to see:
there were four or five empty tupperware bowls with utensils
still in them just laying next to the mattress. They were all
empty, but clearly not clean.

"I get hungry in bed," Emmett defended himself as we all


laughed and Jasper just rolled his eyes.

"Hey Jasper do you still have my phone charger?" Edward


suddenly yelled from his room causing me to stop laughing but
smile inside instead at the sound of his voice. I am so pathetic
now.

"Yeah" Jasper yelled back and pulled it out of his bag.

"I'll take it to him." I said trying to sound casual and helpful. I


really just wanted an excuse to go into Edward's room and I
figured the girls at least knew that. I still hoped I played it off.

"Ok thanks," Jasper handed me the charger without really


looking at me and I made sure not to look at anyone directly
as I walked out of the room and practically ran over to
Edward's.

He was just coming out of his room probably to get the


charger from Jasper himself and when I got to the doorway we
practically ran right into each other.

I had gotten used to being close to him without feeling like I


was going to faint but the unexpected closeness took me by
surprise and I lost my balance and started to fall backwards in
true Bella fashion. It wouldn't have been too bad because the
couch would have broken some of my fall but Edward just
reached out and grabbed my shoulders and steadied me.

"You really do have a problem with that don't you?" He


chuckled at me and kept his hands on my shoulders. I focused
on speaking.

"Clearly." One syllable words were easy.


He laughed again, "Well that's definitely going to be a problem
when I teach you to longboard, but I have confidence I am
efficient enough as a teacher and I can keep you safe from
yourself."

He is still planning on teaching me how to long board? I smiled


and he looked satisfied that I enjoyed his little joke on my
behalf, but I was really smiling at the thought of how him
teaching me to overcome my balance issues on a free rolling
object would probably involve a lot of touching...

I was still smiling when I realized I had followed him into his
room and he was taking the charger out of my hand and just
threw it on the bed next to his seemingly dead phone. I tried
to take in every detail of his room while he continued to
unpack and I sat down on the bed next to his bag.

He had a real bed which was a change. I wonder why he had a


real one and the others didn't. It was simple with a black
comforter and black and gold pillows. I quickly took my focus
off the bed when I started imaging laying in it with it's owner.

There was a small keyboard leaning up against the wall and


also another acoustic guitar. Taking up the rest of that wall
was the largest CD collection I had ever laid eyes on. When I
asked him about it he said "Oh that's nothing. One of my walls
at home is entirely covered with my complete collection. These
are just the few I couldn't live without." That is impressive.

There were some fliers on the wall for various bands and a
small dresser he was putting clothes into that had pictures and
some pocket change and a few guitar picks on the top.

The first picture was Edward and his brothers in button up


shirts and ties all dressed in various shades of blue. They were
probably about 5 years younger in the picture, but you could
see the good looks starting to peak in all of them. They were
in a formal pose with Emmett standing behind the other two,
but there was nothing formal about the moment captured in
the picture. Emmett was sticking his tongue out and trying to
push Jasper off of his chair and Edward was looking at both of
them and cracking up with one hand in his bronze hair, which
was still wild and stunning.

It was then that I noticed that even though the 3 of them


looked extremely different from one another if you saw them
together you could see the family resemblance. It was
somewhere in the eyes and the general facial structure. When
I looked at the next picture I saw exactly where those amazing
looks came from.

It was just a simple picture of a man and a women and I knew


instantly they were Carlisle and Esme Cullen. They both looked
beautiful standing in the yard of an equally as beautiful, and
huge, white house that looked like it was placed right in the
middle of a forest.

"Is that your house in Forks?" I had to ask even though I


already knew. It just fit.

He glanced at the picture I was pointing at and smiled when he


said "Yes it is. You should see it. My mother loves to restore
old houses and she really out did herself with this one. The
entire back wall is one huge window. It's all glass and it faces
a river. It's stunning."

"I can only imagine" I said quietly as I really did imagine and
wish visiting there someday. Again, as if he could hear my
thoughts he said "You should really see it someday."

I liked finally having faces to put to Edward's parents and I


was smiling at all the thoughts of meeting them and visiting
Forks until my gaze made it to the next picture.

It was Edward at a keyboard. He was playing it and appeared


to be singing as well but he was smiling brilliantly. Behind him
was Tanya looking gorgeous as ever. She had her hands on his
shoulders as he played and she was looked very happy. I had
to lean against the wall to hold myself up as I took in the
image of her with Edward. With my Edward.
No. That wasn't true and it never would be. What is wrong
with me? I felt so protective of him, possessive even, and he
wasn't mine to claim in any way. I was starting at a picture of
him with the women that did have a right to say that. It was
just so natural to me to think that.

I was slightly ashamed when I suddenly realized I had been


referring to him as "my Edward" in my head for a while now
without really recognizing it. I'm so hopeless and so doomed.

I sighed audibly as I tore my gaze from the picture and


internally scolded myself for being so out of control of my
emotions.

Edward had just finished packing and threw his empty bag into
the closet and then sat crossed legged on the bed next to me.
He moved the phone and charger on the other side of him, still
not plugging it in.

"So, you really do like the CD? You won't hurt my feelings if
you think there's too much belt," he smiled his crooked smile
and I was almost mad at him for making me happy instantly
because of it.

I smiled back and said "I love the belt and I love the CD,
honestly."

His smile got bigger and he flopped down and stretched out on
the bed and said, "I love being back. I was going crazy there.
Recording was great, but being trapped in that room with
those 2 for 5 days was wearing on me." He closed his eyes and
ran a hand through his hair. It's like he was teasing me on
purpose.

"At least it was worth it. And at least you had something
productive to do. We really missed you guys, you can't
imagine how boring it was here just waiting for you to come
back."
I'm not sure if I should be so forward about missing them that
much but I didn't care as much as I normally would because I
was concentrating on not looking at the part of his stomach
that was showing from his shirt stretching up after he laid
down so suddenly.

He tilted his head to look up at me and smiled smugly "Awe


it's good to know you depend on me for curing your boredom.
I told you to call me if you needed my assistance but you only
called that once so I figured you'd moved on to someone else."

There will never be anyone else. That's what I wanted to tell


him. Well I at least wanted the freedom to tell him that.

"I didn't want to disturb the recording artists or run the risk of
getting annoying. When you get sick of me it's going to be
hard roping someone else in to help me annoy everyone at all
the free movies."

He was laughing quietly and had laid his head back down with
his eyes closed and he simply said "I will never be sick of you
Bella, you are stuck with me for life."

"Well then, welcome to the Bella for Life club! Membership


count: 2." I was joking because his last comment had taken
me so off guard and it's the only thing I could think to do.

"Do we have a clubhouse?" an amused smile appeared on his


face.

That was another thing I loved about him. He played along


with my ridiculous thoughts. Just like Rosalie and the
adventure that started our friendship.

"Eh, it's more of a fort. It's not much, I know, but it's all I've,
well now we've, got. I hope you don't mind."

"Well you are the president of the club so I guess whatever is


good enough for you is good enough for me. Are there any
perks for being in this club? Besides getting to be in your life
forever of course." He was acting serious now and would have
looked like he was sleeping if he hadn't just been talking.

Winning the lottery couldn't have been better. Winning an


Oscar couldn't have been better. No feeling I had ever had or
imagined felt better than what those words made me feel.
Being in my life forever was a perk? Until death due us part at
least. If only we really could live forever...

"Bella!"

Edward snapped me out of my insane thoughts of living with


him forever in a fort by sitting up and saying my name with his
voice full of excitement. His eyes were wide and they were
sparkling. He was also touching me. His hand was on my leg
but I couldn't stop staring into his eyes.

"Eward!" I replied back just as excitedly. I was pretty elated at


the moment.

"We should build a fort!"

"Really? Where?"

"I don't know, in our living room? We have a ton of blankets.


Come on, I've been so bored in my free time the last 5 days I
just want to do something ridiculous and fun."

He said all that as if he really needed to convince me. "Ok!" I


truly was excited. How did I manage to find him? He was
gorgeous and funny and intelligent and he seemed to have the
same crazy ideas that I had.

We went into the living room and I noticed that the apartment
was empty. Edward didn't say anything about the lack of our
friends and family, he was just grabbing blankets off of Jasper
and Emmett's air mattress beds and then went into the small
closet out side their room and pulled more out, so I didn't say
anything either. They were probably just at our place anyway.
I knew we were acting like 5 year olds but with Edward it
didn't matter.

We had built a very impressive fort. It took up the whole living


room. It went over the counter that separated the kitchen
from the living room all the way to the far right corner where it
was over the whole couch and secured to a chair. The other
side was over the entertainment center so we had the TV
inside the fort as well.

Edward took the tall lamp out of his room and that stood in the
middle of the room making the fort tall enough for me to stand
in if I stood right next to the lamp. We had taken up pretty
much every blanket in their apartment and you could not get
anywhere in the living room or to Edward's bedroom without
crossing through the fort.

We had cracked up the entire time we were building it at how


much room it took up and how we were young adults living in
Hollywood and building a fort.

We were even more childish when we made a sign that said:

Bella and Edward's Clubhouse/Fort


No humans resembling pixies, bears, blondes (my idea,
at least I left of "strawberry") or Jasper allowed

Again, it was juvenile and we knew it, but for some reason it
made us laugh even harder. Once in the fort we took an official
vote and decided that if the others asked nicely we would let
them in despite the clearly posted sign forbidding them
entrance.

It was really late, or early depending on how you looked at it,


and the others hadn't returned yet so we went to our
apartment just to see what they were doing. I also needed to
get in my pajamas because we had decided to spend the night
in our fort that we were so proud of.
Before we walked in the door we agreed not to tell anyone
about the creation that took over the boy's living room. They
would find out soon enough.

We opened the door and no one was in the living room but all
the lights were on. That's odd. I finally heard Rose giggling
from our bedroom and Edward threw me a look that told me
he heard it too.

As we walked closer to the closed door we could hear


Emmett's voice just like I figured we would. I knocked on the
door and it went silent in the room.

"Hey guys I just need pajamas, is it safe?" I laughed and


Edward laughed with me.

"Of course it's safe Bella." Rose replied.

I opened the door and walked in. Edward just leaned against
the door frame and smiled at Rose and Emmett who were
sitting up on her bed, both leaning against the wall side by
side. Emmett was smiling a huge goofy grin and Rose was
smirking.

"I hope Bella and I didn't interrupt anything important,"


Edward joked and winked at both of them.

"Nope. We were just hanging out." Rose answered shortly and


smiled too sweetly at Edward. Emmett nodded but his grin was
still there.

"If you say so." Edward replied.

I went to the bathroom and changed then threw my clothes


onto my bed and I turned to Rose and Emmett before following
Edward out the door.

"Hey where are Jasper and Alice?" The door to her room was
open and the lights in there were off, so I knew they weren't in
there "hanging out" like Rose and Emmett.
"Probably on the roof or something." Rose said. She sounded
kind of impatient which made me laugh inside.

"Oh ok. You two have fun hanging out. In the bedroom. By
yourselves. On the bed..." I said this as I walked into the living
room and over to a smiling Edward who was holding the door
open for me. I heard the door to our bedroom shut quickly
behind me.

"Where did she say Jasper and Alice were?" he asked as we


walked into the hall.

"The roof or something." But right after I said that I heard


Alice's bell like laugh ring out from down the hall.

Edward and I both looked at each other with confused looks


and turned around at the same time to go towards her laugh.

As we turned towards the elevator room the laundry room


came into view and we could hear Jasper very clearly now, in
the middle of telling a story, and Alice giggling as she listened.

I'm not too sure why but we krept up and peaked into the
room. I think we both just felt wrong disturbing them. Alice
was up on a dryer sitting crossed legged and Jasper was
leaning against the window on the dryer next to her with his
legs stretched out and crossed in front of him.

Alice was smiling at him in a way I've never seen before. I was
caught up in observing them when I felt Edward grab my
elbow and gently pull me away from the laundry room.

We didn't say anything until we got safely back into the boys
apartment and Edward shut the door.

"Are you ready for some serious fort time?" I asked seriously
as I held back the blanket that was acting as a door.

"More than you know." he said and he flashed his special


crooked smile at me then gestured for me to go in first.
I got in and sat down on the floor and watched him walk
crouched over to where I was. He went past me though and
started lifting up one of the other blankets.

"What are you doing?" I asked honestly confused.

"I just need to grab some things for us to do during our time in
the fort. Do you think you can... hold down the fort while I'm
gone?" He was trying really hard to look serious as he held
back laughing at the incredibly cheesy joke he just made.

"Just go Edward." I shook my head in mock shame and then


we both started laughing and he went through the blanket and
into his room.

He came back just a minute later and he had changed into


pajama pants and a t-shirt and his hands were very full as he
crouched back in. He still looked amazing even in pajamas. He
presented me the things he brought back with him.

The comforter from his bed: "For sleeping, protecting us from


cold, or just general comfort." He tossed it to me and I put it
on my lap.

His keyboard: "In case I get inspired during fort time." He


pushed it across the fort so it wasn't in the way.

Two bottles of water: "To quench thirst". He tossed them onto


the couch behind me.

A bag of Doritos: "Movie snack." He threw them on the couch


as well.

And lastly he held up the movie Wet Hot American Summer:


"Because if you haven't seen it you haven't seen real comedy
and if you have seen it you haven't seen it enough." He smiled
and tossed it next to the keyboard.

"You are very prepared, I am pleased." I smiled back at him.


"Well then my work here is done. I am here for nothing more
than your pleasure Miss Swan."

I thought I was going to faint as his velvet voice poured out


that last sentence. Here for nothing more than my pleasure?
He was my pleasure.

I must have let me face reveal some of my thoughts because


after I didn't respond he said "You know, since this fort is your
clubhouse and I am just a mere member of the Bella for Life
club... I assume the President Miss Bella herself should be as
pleased as possible the entire time the club is assembled."

I shook myself out of my thoughts and replied "You are correct


in your assumptions Mr. Cullen. Immediate promotion to Vice
President!" He made the "yes" gesture with his arm and then
turned back to me.

"So, what do you want to do first?"

I could think of a few things...but I shouldn't be thinking them


so instead, "I want to talk about your brothers and my best
friends shacking up all over our apartment building!"

He laughed and leaned back on the couch right next to me. He


was so close to me I could feel his whole right side along my
whole left side. It was tingling.

"Yes there are some interesting developments. Jasper and


Alice are cute though. He's usually more closed off to people,
especially women, but with her I see him opening up very
quickly. It's nice. He's struggled with trusting anyone after
Maria."

He said her name with disgust so I had to know. "Who's


Maria?"

"Jasper's ex girlfriend from about a year and 1/2 ago. He loved


her a lot. I'm almost sure he was going to propose to her right
before everything happened." He got lost in his thoughts for a
second and then he turned to me and said "She cheated on
him and he walked in on it. It was with his friend from high
school. Not a good situation."

"Oh poor Jasper! That's so horrible! I bet that is hard to


recover from." I really did feel bad. Alice would never do
anything like that. I can't imagine being close to someone who
could.

"Oh yeah. You know the 3rd song on the new CD? He wrote
that one about her, after it happened. It's where I got my
whole bitterness theory that I told you about the other day.
They got back together for a bit a few months after it
happened... he really did love her and thought they could work
past it. But she couldn't stand being at shows and hearing the
song knowing it was about her. And every time we play it he
remembers everything very clearly. Eventually it just got too
hard since the trust never came back between them. He hasn't
dated at all since."

"Wow." was all I could say. I still felt really bad for Jasper.

Edward let out a little laugh suddenly and said "Then there's
Emmett and Rosalie hanging out in the bedroom." We both
started laughing. "Emmett's never done anything subtly in his
entire life."

"Especially not Rosalie." I said and we laughed harder. I


continued after we calmed down. "She likes him a lot though,
I've never seen her like this. She's usually really, um, short
with guys. Not as focused I guess."

"It's cute as well in it's own way. He cares about her. I think
he's surprised she actually responded positively to him. He
talks about her all the time. Sometimes it's annoying but I
don't think Jasper and I can say anything about it because we
are the same way."

I felt awkward. I knew what I wanted him to mean by that. I


had to know what he really meant. Did he obsessively talk
about Tanya? My stomach would ache for the rest of the night
if that's what he meant but it would be better than wondering
for the rest of my life.

"Wait, you and Jasper talk endlessly about Rose too? I know
brothers should share but geeze..." joking always made it
easier for me to get things out of Edward without having to
show my real emotions.

"Ha ha, no. We're like that with all of you I guess. Clearly we
all have our favorites." When he said that he leaned into me
and nudged my should with his own.

"But in general I think we are surprised and happy that we all


met. It was hard for us to move here so far from our friends
and family so meeting people we connect with so easily is a
blessing. It makes everything a lot easier. Life in Los Angeles
is fun now. We are probably really lame, but it's all we can talk
about when we aren't doing band stuff." He tilted his head
down a bit and looked like if he was me he would be blushing.
He was so adorable. Even in embarrassment he was dazzling
me.

"So I'm really your favorite?" I looked up at him and batted


my eyelashes dramatically. I was sitting in a fort with Edward.
I was going to milk it for all it was worth.

"I guess. If I have to pick." he said casually and smiled his


crooked smile yet again at me. I wanted it to be my smile. Just
like I wanted him to be my Edward. He stared at me for too
long and not long enough and then said "...and your pick?"

Like he didn't know.

"Jasper." I said very seriously.

He snorted and said "Yeah that's what I thought." Then shook


his head and looked at me from the corner of his eye and
laughed quietly.
I looked at the keyboard and got an idea. "So do you really
play that thing or do you just keep it around to build up the
whole musician image?"

He smiled and reached over and situated himself so the


keyboard was mostly on his lap and partly on mine. He turned
it on and looked at me and said "I have the real thing at home,
this is just for what I said earlier, if I get inspired in the
moment."

Then he started playing something light and beautiful. I was


amazed at how his fingers moved over the keys, so smoothly
and so eloquently. It reminded me of the way his voice
sounded. It only made him more perfect.

"Do you compose then?" I asked before I got carried away in


my thoughts. He was looking at me instead of the keyboard
but he didn't miss a note. He continued playing as he
answered.

"Yes I do."

"This?"

"No, not this."

"What then?"

He looked away from me and stopped playing what he had


been. He said quietly, "This is my mother's favorite," and he
started an incredibly beautiful song. It was a piece of music
that filled the entire space it was being played in. Even on the
simple keyboard it sounded full and alive.

"I can see why Esme loves it so much. It's really great
Edward." I finally managed to say.

"I'm glad you think so." He smiled down at his hands and
played for a bit longer then ended the song. Then he looked
me right in the eyes and gave me a slightly smoldering look. It
actually looked like he was trying to hold back an emotion.
What was it?

"You inspired this one." He said and he began playing a new


song.

I was in shock at the idea of me inspiring music in Edward


after I just heard the incredible music he composes. But when
I started listening I realized I recognized the song from
somewhere...

Then he started singing:

"If every word I said


Could make you laugh
I'd talk forever.
I asked the sky just what we had
It showed forever..."

I got it after he said the first five words. Uncle Jesse. Full
House. Mary Kate and Ashley. Alice's chest... there goes the
blush.

"Actually I think this is just another cover song and no one


ever writes me an original piece of music- Edward and the
Rippers!" I laughed and smacked his arm and he smiled and
continued in the song but stopped singing seriously and got
really over dramatic with his voice and playing.

"If the song I sing to you


Could fill your heart with joy
I'd sing forever..."

I started to sing the back up "forevers" and he even did the


falsetto "na na na's" at the end of the song. We ended the
song with both of us applauding our performance.

"Ok, you caught me. I didn't exactly write that song for you,
but it does remind me of you in a way. It's the first thing I
learned to play on the piano when I was younger so
sometimes I play it just because it's always been with me. I
was playing it to warm up the other day and I realized that the
first line made me think of you, since to me it seems like we
are constantly laughing when we are together. Almost as if
that's the whole reason we even talk to each other."

If I wasn't already in love with him then I knew it wasn't going


to take much longer. It still sounded crazy to me but I could
not help myself. He's the most amazing person I've ever met.
No matter what I will always compare every guy I meet to him
and they will never match up. I will be alone forever. In love
alone, forever.

Stop it Bella.

The voice that yelled at me in my head now sounded a lot like


Rosalie. She was right, I should not waste valuable Edward
time wallowing. That was for when I was alone.

"I agree. I've laughed more in the last 2 weeks than probably
ever before. I'm glad you dedicated that song to me." He
looked satisfied and just started playing something that was
soft and pretty and I couldn't hold back a yawn.

"I think we should hold out on the movie and get some sleep. I
was just about to do the same." Edward said as he put the
keyboard back on it's side of the fort. "But don't think I won't
make you watch that movie as soon as possible." He pointed a
finger at me and I laughed.

I started to wonder how we were going to handle sleeping


arrangements.

Edward reached behind me and grabbed the water bottles and


the Doritos and set them on the floor. "Well Miss President
Bella you're bed awaits." He said as he "presented" the couch
to me as my bed.

"What about you?" The couch was big enough for two, right?
Ah, stop it Bella.
"I've got a nice comfy piece of floor picked out," he rubbed his
hand on the ground next to him and smiled sincerely at me.

"Edward that doesn't make any sense. We are in your


apartment and your bed is like 5 feet away. There's no need
for you to sleep on the floor."

"I cannot sleep in my bed and leave you in the fort alone! And
I'm fairly sure you do not want to go back to your own
apartment and listen to Emmett and Rosalie hang out all night,
do you?"

I made a disgusted face and said "No definitely not."

"Very well then. We agreed to stay in the fort and in the fort
we shall stay. I don't mind the floor Bella, honestly. I actually
prefer the floor. Most nights I don't even look at my bed, I just
pull the comforter off and curl up right next to it." He flashed
his crooked smile at me and looked me in the eyes.

"You're ridiculous," I muttered under my breath and shook my


head. I didn't budge though. It still made no sense to me for
Edward to sleep on the floor.

"Isabella Swan stop worrying about my sleep arrangements


and get on that couch and close your pretty little eyes and go
to sleep."

He looked serious again but I hardly noticed because he had


called my eyes pretty. It was just an expression, I know, but it
still had a strong effect on me.

"And what if I refuse?" I asked with an equally as serious look.

"Well then I'll just have to make you."

Umm...ok...

"Have fun." I said still playing along. I crossed my arms and


held his gaze and concentrated really hard as we just stared at
each other. I really do have a problem with stubbornness
sometimes.

"You really shouldn't have said that." An almost evil yet still
stunning smile spread across his face and I got nervous and
choked out "Edward..." in the most warning tone I could
muster.

With that he bolted over to me and practically picked me up


and threw me on the couch, him almost landing on top of me.

I was squealing and he was laughing and he put all of his


weight on me as he turned to look at me and rearranged us so
that he was holding down my arms with his hands and sitting
on my legs to keep me from kicking them.

"There, now aren't you comfortable?" he looked so smug when


he said that.

"That was so not fair Edward," I said with fake anger that was
obviously not convincing at all because I was still laughing. My
insides were singing with the sensation of his touch.

"What's not fair is you requiring me to use force to get you to


do something that you should have been happy to do anyway.
Now stay." He let his face drop closer and closer to me as he
said that and ended with our faces extremely close.

His eyes were smoldering again, no emotions be held back,


and I wondered if mine were too. It felt like they were. I just
nodded that I understood and he said "good" then smiled and
backed away from me.

I immediately felt empty being released from his touch. He


threw his comforter on me said, "Sleep."

"What about you? Don't you need your comforter?" I asked,


honestly concerned. I didn't want to give it up by any means,
it had his amazing smell all over it, but I felt bad because he
hadn't brought a second blanket in.
"In case you'd forgotten our little fortress here is made out of
blankets my dear Bella." He said with a short laugh.

"Oh yeah." My dear Bella. I could get used to that.

He detached one that was up against a wall and wasn't serving


much of a purpose anyway. Then he grabbed a pillow off the
couch and turned off the lamp in the tent and laid down right
next to the couch on the floor.

"Good night Bella." his voice was so soft and sweet. It melted
me.

"Good night Edward" My Edward. Sigh.

"I hope you don't snore too loud..." he added in with a little
laugh.

Then it hit me.

Oh crap. My sleep talking.

Chapter 8 - Crazy Little Thing Called Love

I woke up the next day to: "What the hell is all this?"

Apparently Emmett had just gotten home.

I opened my eyes and looked down at Edward who was just


doing the same.

He looked up at me and we shared a quiet smile as Rosalie


said "Wait- no humans that resemble blondes...or Jasper?"
And that made Emmett start to laugh.

She sounded amused as well and we started cracking up as I


heard Emmett tear down our sign and open the blanket that
was the door.
"Well look who we have here. The owners of the fort. You're
pretty proud of yourselves aren't you?" Emmett asked. We
looked at each other and smiled and nodded.

Rose stuck her head in and looked around. I saw her take in
our very apparent and very safe sleeping arrangement. We've
been good, no need to worry, I thought to myself.

Right then Alice and Jasper walked in and apparently Jasper


had come home the night before and had seen our creation.

"I thought it was pretty cool until I realized I wasn't allowed


in." He admitted with a laugh.

Alice crawled right in when she got there and from then on we
announced the rules had changed and we tossed the sign
aside.

I hadn't forgotten about my realization before I fell asleep but


Edward didn't say anything about me declaring him mine
during my sleep and he was acting perfectly normal to me so I
decided not to worry about it.

I went home to shower and change and when I came out


everyone was in our living room. Edward looked like he had
done the same and we all just hung out until the boys said
they had to go have band practice. Apparently they were
renting a practice space about 5 blocks away on Hollywood
Blvd.

The girls and I hung out in our living room watching TV and
catching up as we waited for the boys to get home from
practice. We gossiped about all we had learned about them so
far.

"Jazz really opened up to me and told me all about Maria..."


Alice started. She said "Maria" with the same disgusted tone
Edward had. She told us the whole story and I nodded along
pretending I was hearing it for the first time. I didn't want to
get Edward in trouble for telling me something private. It
made me happy Jasper really was trusting Alice. I knew he
wouldn't regret it.

"That's sweet Alice, but why the laundry room?" Rose asked.

"Well we went back to the roof, but it was pretty chilly so we


came back in to get to get sweaters. When we passed the
laundry room someone had just finished doing laundry so it
was really warm in there and it smelt so nice from whatever
detergent they were using, I just ran in and jumped on a
dryer. Jasper followed me, not questioning my actions, and sat
right next to me and there we stayed." She smiled proudly at
her little story.

"Awe," I said. I couldn't even help it. "I don't know why that's
so cute, but it is!"

"Emmett works at Starbucks, apparently." Rose randomly


said."Just right down the street by the Kodak Theatre. He got
the whole week off for recording but he has to go back this
week. He said we could come in any time and get free stuff,
his managers are really cool." She looked pleased and I had to
admit it was a good connection to have.

We teased Rose a bit about her "hang out" session with


Emmett in the bedroom but she didn't spill any details. They
were going to stick with the hanging out story no matter what
so we dropped it.

Suddenly Alice looked a little scared as she turned to me and


said "Jasper told me a little about Edward and Tanya, Bella."

"Really?" I said trying not to sound eager or angry at the


mention of Tanya.

"Yeah Emmett and I kind of discussed it too..." Rosalie added


being careful as well.

They were treating me like I was as fragile as a soap bubble.


My little outburst the other night must have made them weary
of my emotional limits with Edward. I wasn't completely
confident I could handle it, but I was so incredibly curious.

"Well, you can't hold back from me! Tell me what you know!" I
tried to sound excited and gossipy rather than scared.

Both of them looked more confident at my response and I took


in all I could.

Apparently their families had been close for a while when


Edward and Tanya were in high school. Around the middle of
senior year Edward started pursuing her. As time passed it got
serious and stayed that way for about 6 months. Then Edward
got really freaked out and broke up with her. They reunited at
prom and ever since then they've sort of been on and off from
what his brothers could tell, but mostly on.

"Emmett doesn't get it at all. He thinks Tanya has changed a


lot since the first time Edward and her started dating. He said
it feels like she views him as more of a prize or and object she
has a right to rather than the man she loves. Probably since
he left her that first time but then came back to her. But
apparently Edward doesn't see it that way." She looked
cautiously at me and I kept myself composed.

"That's interesting. I guess when you truly love someone you


know it's real even if other people don't understand."
I don't know why I was defending their relationship. I suppose
it's because first and foremost Edward had become one of my
best friends and my first instinct was to defend him and
whatever was important to him.

"Jasper feels like she's changed too." Alice chimed in. "His
theory is that Edward just doesn't realize there are better
options out there, because Forks is such a small town and you
pretty much know everyone you are going to know your whole
life. Why not settle down with someone if you aren't planning
on leaving and meeting new people anyway? He told me that
Edward's the most skeptical about things working out for them
here in LA so that's why he's holding on so strongly to home.
That's the theory at least."

"Well they are out of Forks now, so he will see the light," Rose
said hopefully and looked at me.

I couldn't be mad at her for trying to put false hope into my


head. They really loved me and were trying to help me. It
didn't matter though.

"It doesn't matter you guys, the fact is they are still together
right now, and he still loves her." I said it more confidently
than I thought I would be able to. I was going to pay for this
later though, when I was alone.

"Actually they aren't doing too good right now." Alice quietly
said.

"What do you mean Alice?" This is news to me.

"Well they got into a bit of a fight the last day they were in
Riverside recording," She explained.

I was so focused on her it was ridiculous.

"Jasper said it sounded pretty bad, and they decided to take a


few days break from speaking to each other to get their heads
clear since they had been fighting almost since before they left
Forks. Tanya apparently couldn't handle the break and started
freaking out and called Edward all day the last day they were
there and then like 31 times in a row on the drive home from
Riverside. He never answered though and that's why he let his
phone die and didn't have his charger handy- he didn't even
want his phone on to receive any more calls from her."

This was news indeed. I thought back and remembered how


he just tossed his charger on the bed next to his phone
without plugging it in. We had spent the rest of the night in
the fort without any phones at all.
"Well that certainly is a lot of new information but it doesn't
exactly mean anything. Long distance is hard work I hear." I
had a million thoughts running through my head and I was
trying to push all of them away as I spoke.

"We just thought you might want to know," is all Rose said.

"Thanks." Was all I could get out.

What does this mean?

I was thinking too many different things to concentrate on


what any of it could possibly mean.

That night the boys announced their return home from practice
with Emmett running in and demanding a rematch of Grape
Toss. Jasper followed in after him but Edward was no where to
be found.

I grabbed the grapes from the freezer and everyone took their
place around our living room for their part in the game.

"Where's Edward?" I decided to ask. Friends could as where


other friends were.

"Um, he got an important phone call on the way home from


practice." Jasper said quickly as he grabbed a marker to keep
score with. I caught him shoot a quick look at Alice and I knew
who the phone call was from. Guess he decided to charge his
phone after all.

"Oh ok." I said nonchalantly and focused on the grapes in my


hand and Emmett directly across from me.

We did even better than we had the first time, but still not
good enough. After Emmett got tired of focusing we started to
compete with each other to see how many grapes we could
catch in our own mouths by throwing them up ourselves.
Jasper was surprisingly good, but in the end Rose won and she
curtsied as we applauded her skills.
I don't know who brought it up but soon it was decided we
were going to have a Coffee Party. Emmett wanted to show us
all he had learned at Starbucks and we decided to watch a
movie at our place, since the fort was still taking over their
living room and Edward was still on his oh-so important phone
call.

It had been almost 2 hours now. I missed him terribly even


though I did have fun with the others.

The boys left and we changed into PJs for the movie and
Coffee Party. They returned about 15 minutes later each with a
pot of coffee and a hand full of mugs and creamer.

To my extreme pleasure Edward walked in right after the other


two and he had a movie in his hands as well.

"Wet Hot American Summer?" I asked with a knowing smile.

"You know it," he winked and went right into the kitchen to set
down the coffee and mugs. He seemed happy enough. What
did that say about the conversation he had been having for the
last 2 hours?

They had made 3 different flavours of coffee and had brought


over multiple flavours of creamer so we could try a variety of
drinks. We spent a few minutes just hanging out around the
kitchen comparing them all and grabbing each other's mugs to
taste what they made and laughing nearly the whole time.

When everyone was satisfied with the drink they prepared we


took our mugs and got situated in the living room.

Jasper sat in the bowl chair once again and this time Alice
curled up right next to him. Emmett let Rose have Ruth and he
leaned up right against her, leaning on her legs. Edward and I
took the far right side of the room and I grabbed some pillows
and the comforter off of my own bed and we laid on our
stomachs with the blanket over us, each of us resting our
elbows on the pillows in front of us.
Before the movie started Edward turned to me and leaned his
head down and said, "Bella feel how soft my hair is."

I swallowed hard. I didn't know what to do. This was the one
thing I had been dreaming about ever since I first laid eyes on
him walking down the street.

"Um, ok..." I said quietly as I reached out and ran my hand


through his hair. It was amazingly soft and shot right back into
it's messy stance right after my hand left it.

I was still stunned as he lifted his eyes back to mine as he


smiled and said "I got new shampoo today, and it's amazing!"
He was so happy about his shampoo. Suddenly I was too. I
would get the name of the shampoo company and write letters
of praise to them immediately!

"I'm very happy for you and your soft hair Edward." I smiled
back at him. He laughed and ruffled my hair and then turned
to the TV.

As the movie started everyone was cracking up. It really was


one of the funniest things I had ever seen.

Towards the end of the movie I was still highly entertained but
noticed it got really quiet and I looked around to see everyone
but Rosalie and I had fallen asleep. These people really had a
tough time making it through movies. It probably had
something to do with the insane sleeping schedule we were all
taking on.

When the movie ended Rosalie got up quietly and whispered


"good night" to me. She disappeared into our room and came
back out with a blanket that she placed over Emmett who was
now sprawled on the ground. Then she went back in and
closed the door.

I looked down at Edward sleeping next to me and I didn't ever


want to move. I could have watched him sleep forever. He
looked so beautiful and peaceful in his sleep. I just wanted to
run my hand through his bronze hair again and again and tell
him how much he meant to me and have him wake up and
flash that amazing smile at me.

I sighed out loud at how hopeless that dream was and I


flopped my head face down on my pillow in defeat.

"Bella did you just fall asleep sitting up?" An amused velvet
voice whispered next to me.

I smiled into my pillow and turned my head to face him.

"At least I lasted through the whole movie unlike some people
I know." He chuckled and yawned.

"I've had a long day. And I didn't get to sleep right away last
night because someone get's rather chatty..."

So I did sleep talk in the fort.

He trailed off and I felt my eyes get as wide as quarters.


Before I could defend myself, or ask about it, or get up and
run out of the room and all the way back to Phoenix, the
laughter in his eyes faded and his whole face turned serious. It
was a very sudden change and it caught me off guard when he
continued talking.

"I spoke to Tanya tonight."

That's not what I was expecting.

Is he going to tell me about their fight? Did they break up?

"That's good," I said trying to sound uninterested. I wasn't


supposed to know as much as I did. When he didn't respond I
asked, "Is everything ok?"

He sighed and finally responded. "Yes everything is ok. We


have been having a hard time lately. That's actually what I
wanted to talk to you about that day you called me when we
were still recording. I had just had a pretty ugly conversation
with her, and I knew talking to you would make me feel better
because you make me laugh all the time. That's why I was so
pleased you were bored enough to call me, it really did cheer
me up. But then I realized I didn't want to bring you down with
my problems."

He paused. "I think the distance is getting to both of us. We've


known each other for so long though, it's hard to imagine life
without her."

He stopped there and I couldn't look at him. He was looking


down at the pillow anyway. When I still didn't say anything he
started talking again.

"We've been on and off, I guess you could call it, for a few
years now. Well, more on than off... Sometimes I pull away
from her. I feel myself doing it and I feel bad each time. My
family tells me I just over think things."

He paused again and shook his head slightly and spoke even
more softly than he had been when he continued this time.
"We were sitting in the back of Emmett's jeep on the way to a
show when I told her we had decided to move here for at least
a year. That was only two weeks before we actually left." He
looked up at me. "Have I told you that yet? That we left that
quickly?"

I shook my head "no" and he continued.

"Well, we did. She stopped talking to me for that entire night


and I only saw her once more at that show. The next 2 weeks
we really didn't speak as much as usual and when we did she
was really short with me. I guess this was another "off" time
for us. I felt horrible and selfish the entire 2 weeks. I should
have talked to her about it before we made the final decision I
think, but I just knew coming here was the best thing for us."
He stopped and sighed.

"Anyway, we got to our "goodbye" show our last night in Forks


and I didn't think she was even going to come. Then we got on
stage and started the first song and I looked to my left and
she was right there, in the front, looking very close to crying.
It hurt me to see. All I wanted to do was go over to her and
comfort her, but I couldn't. I felt like a monster, Bella." He
practically whispered the last part.

All I could do was reach over and pat his arm reassuringly. His
story was actually making me sad. For her.

"After we were done playing I asked her if I could give her a


ride home and she said yes. I mingled the rest of the show,
there were a lot of people that have supported us for a long
time that wanted to say goodbye and wish us luck in
Hollywood." He smiled at that memory.

"I met up with Tanya when it was finally time to leave and we
walked out to my car and got in. It was silent for almost the
whole ride to her house. I felt her start to say something a few
different times, but she never said anything. I didn't know how
to start apologizing. I looked over at her and she had tears
running down her face. I couldn't look at her any longer so I
turned my head back to the road and felt hopeless."

I knew the feeling.

"Then... she just reached over and took my hand. She was still
silently crying but with that gesture I knew that she had
forgiven me, or at least started to." He looked down at his
pillow again. "She didn't come say goodbye the morning we
left but we talked that night on the phone as we were driving
down here. We decided to try the whole long distance thing,
knowing it would be hard. And it is. But I hurt her so bad
already, I feel like I owe her all the fight I have in me."

I knew he was done speaking after that sentence. So that was


the whole story. I only respected him more for it.

He was putting so much burden on himself because she was


selfish and didn't want him to leave her again!
It surprised me how quickly that thought came to me and how
angry it made me. It was just another amazing thing about
Edward - he would find fault in himself before looking down on
someone he cared about.

I knew I couldn't say what I really felt. It wouldn't help


anything, and I felt incredibly privileged he trusted me with
this much of himself. I couldn't ruin it by possibly coming off
as insensitive.

I finally got out of my head and tried to fill the silence.

"I imagine it would be hard. I've never had anyone that


important to me in my life for so long so I don't really know
though..." It felt insignificant compared to the emotions he just
shared with me but I was proud I got that much out there
since I felt like my throat had closed up and I shouldn't even
be capable of speech.

He came back from whatever memories were engrossing him


and went back to being casual.

"It's... nice. You will have it someday Bella, I know you will.
It's hard and makes you feel crazy a lot of the time, but when
you find someone who is worth it you make it through and you
stick with them. That's what I honestly believe. That's why I
was on the phone for so long tonight. We had a lot of things to
work through and I think we really did. Someday someone will
be lucky enough to deserve the right to work hard for you
too." I could see him smiling but we still weren't looking at
each other.

I knew if I said anything I would loose it. I was already holding


back any sign of tears but I could feel them pounding inside of
me to be let free.

All I wanted to do was tell him that I would never find anyone
that would be that special to me because I would always want
him the most. I wanted to make him see me the way he sees
Tanya. I wanted to be beautiful and charming and have a hold
on him just like she does. It wasn't fair. None of it was fair.

"Bella what are you thinking? I can never tell." He was looking
at me now but I just closed my eyes and shook my head.

"Nothing." I whispered. He was still looking at me. My answer


wasn't good enough.

"I guess I'm just trying to imagine someone seeing me that


way. It's kind of hard for me to believe someone I thought was
that special would return those feelings." It was pretty much
true, I had just left out some specific details.

"Oh Bella don't say that." He sounded truly concerned and sad
now. He put his arm around me and I melted when he pulled
me into him in a simple hug.

"I am always here for you Bella, I hope you know that. I don't
want you to feel badly about yourself. I love you and I want
you to be happy. You are one of my closest friends already and
I need you to be happy, please." The sadness in his voice was
killing me. I never wanted to hear it in him again and I needed
to cure it right away.

He was actually pleading me to be happy. How could I deny


him anything?

I smiled and looked up to him. He had a love for me. I knew it


wasn't the love I desired but I also knew it made me a little
more complete.

"Thank you Edward. I am happy. I care about you too," I knew


I couldn't say the L word to him without loosing it. "And I'm
glad you are happy again... with Tanya I mean." Actors are
professional liars. I had never had so much faith in my "craft"
before right now.

"Thanks Bell." He gave me one last squeeze then released me


but the sadness was still haunting his eyes and tone.
We both got up and decided it was time for bed. I gathered up
all my pillows and the comforter and we smiled as we looked
at Jasper and Alice still curled up in the bowl chair and Emmett
passed out next to Ruth.

I walked Edward to the door and he gave me one more hug


and whispered "be happy" one more time before leaving.

I fell into my bed and situated my pillows and comforter before


turning on my side and letting the flood of emotions take me
over.

I was thrilled he loved me, even just as a friend. I was still


basking in the way it felt when he hugged me and how
tenderly he spoke to me trying to make me feel better.

Then I cried at the painful truth of his love for Tanya and the
fact that I would never be her. I ached when I thought of all
the blame he put on himself for hurting her. I cried harder at
the fact that it was too late for me, I was falling in love with
him, and I was falling alone.

That's a wrap for Chapter 8.

Chapter 9 - The Boys of Summer

After that night things stayed less intense and continued pretty
normally. Well, normally for our odd little family, which is what
I decided we had become.

The 6 of us hung out whenever possible, forsaking everything


and everyone else in Los Angeles.

Our sleeping schedule continued to become more and more


bizarre as we would all stay up until insane hours in the
morning watching movies, waiting for band practice to be
over, or just simply having great conversations. Most nights I
only got 2 or so hours of sleep, but it was working out because
we were all so happy.
Granted stage combat was getting a little rough, I was enough
of a hazard as it is, and putting a boradsword in my hand at 8
in the morning after only 40 minutes of sleep was making me
near lethal.

If we weren't at school or work or in rehearsal or band practice


we were together. Any combination of us worked.

Honestly, it started to feel like we were living in our own


bubble world. We started turning down offers of parties or
movies from people at school even.

Jacob, Sam and Embry had found an apartment in our


building, apartment 115 to be exact. The roof party guys had
moved out and apartment 115 was just a bit further down the
hall from the Cullens, but we still only saw them at school. We
hung out with them in between and during classes, but it was
nothing compared to being with the family.

Emmett hadn't stopped calling me "sister" ever since the first


day I called him the brother I never had.

Jasper and I even bonded over our love for Lord of the Rings
one day. He is very into to movies with any sort of epic battle
and I am very drawn to fantasies, so it's the perfect
combination for us. We spent an entire day lounging around
their apartment napping and discussing the ins and outs of
Middle Earth, just him and I.

Nothing else really ever came up about Edward and Tanya.


Whenever he was one the phone with her it was for a long
amount of time and he would leave the room. I tried to act as
normal as possible each time but I sometimes caught one of
his brothers rolling their eyes.

Despite those times he would leave to speak to Tanya our


relationship continued to progress, only getting stronger
everyday. I had never felt so close to someone before in my
entire life. We could talk about anything and everything and
never get bored.
The only thing I clearly didn't talk about was my never ending
desire for him, but I was getting really good at controlling it
when we were together. It was still hard, and I still had
frequent breakdowns, but being so close to him everyday
made it worth it for me.

About once a week Rose would crawl in bed with me and hold
me as I cried myself to sleep, whispering reassurances in my
ear. Sometimes Alice and I would retreat up to the roof and I
would scarf down Reese's Pieces (my comfort food) and she
would put her arm around me as I cried silently and listed off
all the reasons I needed him and why I couldn't be without
him.

Edward, of course, was oblivious to my anguish. That's how I


wanted it. There was no need for him to know anything about
my private mourning sessions over the kind of love that he
would never feel for me. He never went into detail about his
relationship with Tanya after the Coffee Party and that was
fine with me. What I didn't know couldn't hurt me. Well, it
couldn't hurt me more.

He and I laughed constantly and annoyed the heck out of the


other 4 with our ability to get lost in our own little world. He
would often throw his arm around my shoulder and ruffle my
hair or make me feel his own hair to make sure it was still as
soft as it should be.

"Bella feel how soft my hair is today," was something I was


quite used to hearing now, and I loved it. I never felt like we
crossed any major lines, which was good because I wanted to
stay away from adding guilt to my long list of emotions
regarding him.

Well, except for one night in about the middle of July, but it
wasn't anything that serious, just a joke.

The boys had taken off for the night. One of their friends from
Forks had ended up in Los Angeles too. I think they said his
name was Eric and he was working as a graphic artist
somewhere.

They had been gone all night, and it was fine, but a little
boring.

Edward and I were close enough now that calling him to bug
him about when they would be home was expected, even more
so than Rose or Alice calling Jasper or Emmett to bug them.
Edward and I were constantly doing that to each other now
when the other was in school, or rehearsal, or work. The only
activity that was off limits was band practice. That I had to
wait out.

It was one of our annoying habits that was starting to get on


the other's nerves, but it was part of our relationship so it
never stopped.

It only took one ring this time.

"We are in the car heading home," an amused Edward


answered.

"Ok good. It's already 10 o'clock, I just wanted to make sure


you knew." I was happy that he was on his way back to me.

"Oh we know!" Emmett boomed too loudly into the phone. It


was too loud, even for Emmett. Something was wrong.

"Is Emmett ok?" I asked with a laugh.

"I'm sooooo good Bellarina!" And then he broke into the song
he "wrote" me and all I could hear were booming "DO-DO-DO
DO DO DO's" and Edward making annoyed sounds and then
Jasper yelling.

I pulled the phone away from my ear and turned it on speaker


so that I could keep it a safe distance away from my head but
still hear Edward.
"Emmett please don't hit my seat while I'm driving your
monster truck!" Jasper said sternly.

"What is going on?" I asked Edward hoping he could hear me


through all the noise in the jeep.

"Well Emmett had a few too many margarita's at Eric's..."


Right when he said "margaritas" Emmett started yelling
"Whoooo!"

I couldn't help but laugh. None of us ever drank, I wasn't old


enough and the rest of them just weren't interested in more
than one or two drinks at a time. Emmett was a lot to handle
regularly, I couldn't imagine the hand full he was drunk.

"Oh no." I said but I was still laughing.

Then I heard, "Hey Eddie, tell your wife that you'll be home
soon then get off the phone so we can turn the music back
up!" I could tell he was trying to use a normal volume, but I
still heard every word Emmett said.

"Wife?" I asked completely stunned.

"I don't know..." Edward mumbled into the phone for only me
to hear and then he said louder, "Emmett I'm speaking to Bella
right now-"

"I know! Bellariiiiina! She is my little sister. Awe. Not really.


But someday you two will get married and she will officially be
my sister and that's going to be AWESOME." He sounded so
sure of his little drunken plan.

I didn't know what to say but Edward just laughed nervously


and said, "Whatever Emmett you're drunk."

I thought that was that and I was about to say goodbye


quickly to get out of the situation but then I actually heard
Jasper chime in.
"He's right, you two should really just get married and get it
over with. When's the wedding?" He was laughing now. I
couldn't believe it. Jasper hardly ever egged on Emmett's
craziness. He must have been drinking too. No... he was
driving...

I was expecting awkwardness and denial from Edward. I was


surprised when he sounded very confident.

"I don't know. Bella, when do you want to have the wedding?"
I could hear the smile.

Wait. He was playing along?

"Um, I don't know... I guess I have a lot of planning to do..."


and then I suddenly got confidence in our little joke, why not?
"First things first, Jasper is my maid of honor."

Edward chuckled and relayed the news back to Jasper. I heard


him crack up and then yell "Fine by me, but I'm not the one
that's going to tell Alice!"

"He's not going to tell Alice what?" Alice was suddenly behind
me with her hands on her hips.

Edward said, "Uh oh Jazz, Alice heard you." Then they both
laughed.

"Hi ALICE!" Emmett yelled and both Alice and I jumped a bit at
the extreme volume of his greeting.

"Emmett!" Both Edward and Jasper scolded at the same time.

"Well, my bride, are you going to break the news to Alice or


should I?" Edward asked coolly, the tone nearly melting me,
keeping up the ridiculous wedding charade.

Alice's eyes went wide and she snapped her head at me as I


giggled nervously and blushed under her gaze. "It's a joke,
Emmett's drunk," I covered the speaker and whispered to her
quickly. She nodded that she understood but was still looking
at me suspiciously.

"So Alice," I continued out loud, "Edward and I are planning


our wedding so I can officially become Emmett's little sister.
Since Jasper is so supportive of us I decided he had no choice
but to be my maid of honor." I cracked a smile at the end at
how crazy it all sounded.

Alice was unreadable for a second and then a huge smile broke
across her face and she yelled into the phone, "That's great,
but I get to pick out his dress!"

Edward relayed the message to Jasper and we all snickered


together. Alice turned to me and pointed and said, "And
yours." Then she winked at me and went back into her room.

We stayed on the phone for about 15 more minutes planning


our random wedding. The only things that got decided were
that Emmett would get indicted and perform the ceremony,
there had to be margaritas, and we would have the wedding in
a giant fort.

Time passed quickly. I was happier this summer than I had


ever been.

Edward's birthday was June 20th (before we got engaged by


drunk Emmett) and for his present I framed a picture Alice had
taken of he and I. We were standing together in front of our
fort, him with his arm around me, me holding our sign, both of
us laughing wildly. I found a nice black frame and it earned a
place on top of his dresser, right next to the one of him and
Tanya.

The boys booked a good amount of shows, mostly at a little


venue right outside of Hollywood. It became very customary
on Friday or Saturday night for us all to drive out there, the
girls in my car and the boys in Emmett's huge red jeep. They
didn't have a van or a trailer because they didn't need it, the
jeep had more than enough room for all of them and their
instruments.

Watching Edward perform took my breath away. The three of


us girls would stand in the front of whatever kind of crowd
they had each night and dance and sing along.

Edward would never look directly at me as he performed and


sang. I never understood why but of course I loved watching
him anyway and hardly took my eyes off him. The other two
interacted with us regularly from the stage and it was always
insanely fun and felt just like an extended dance party.

The only hard part was watching all the random girls drool all
over them.

Every. Single. Show.

I decided to concentrate on the fact that when all things were


said and done we were the ones that they went home with and
spent real time with, and who knew them for the people they
really truly were. It was comforting to think of it like that. It
always made me feel a little smug, honestly.

The crowds weren't that big but they formed a small following
and even started playing regularly with another band.

That's when things got shaken up a bit for the first time in the
past 2 months. It was sometime around the end of July when
we consistently saw the same four faces at shows.

The other band consisted of 2 guys and 2 girls.

Mike and Tyler were complete goofballs and they were pretty
nice guys, but a little on the annoying side. The Cullens loved
them though, so we tolerated them because it's not like they
were mean or anything, just not our first choice in friends.

The two girls were Angela and Jessica. They were very sweet
and very pretty. Not stunning like Rosalie and Alice, but pretty
enough to get attention. They were funny as well, and I'm
pretty sure I would have liked them a lot more right away if it
wasn't for the fact that the Cullens liked them a lot too. Right
away.

It's not like any of the guys were hitting on Angela or Jess.
There wasn't even any touching or anything. It was just the
amount of attention that they gave them that was utterly
bothersome.

"I just don't get it," Alice almost snarled next to me as we


watched Jasper pull out a guitar and hand it to Jessica across
the parking lot while Angela and Edward inspected a keyboard
she had brought along. "Is it because they play music? Is that
what's so damn interesting?"

"I don't know." I huffed from the driver's seat as I continued to


sip the Jamba Juice we had gone to get for the boys, but
decided to keep because we were annoyed with them. They
didn't even notice.

The 3 of us were just sitting in my car pouting after the show,


waiting for the boys to pack up so we could all go home.

"It's just because they are new and exciting. It will fade. We
just have to wait it out." Rose said confidently from beside me
as we heard Jess give a loud laugh and saw Emmett smiling at
her as he tackled Jasper right in front of her. I looked at Rose
and she raised her eyebrows at me and looked very annoyed.

We had kind of tried to retaliate by hanging out around Mike


and Tyler excessively at the first few shows, but that didn't
have the effect we had hoped for because it turned out Mike
and Tyler were more interested in hanging out with the Cullen
boys than us anyway. Awesome.

Soon the boys started to invite Jess, Angela, Mike and Tyler
over to our places after shows, and that's when things got a
little better. It was more casual when we were on our own turf
and the boys attention was spread out more evenly.
I even got a chance to have a conversation with Angela and
Jessica out on the patio one night and it turns out I liked them
both a lot.

We laughed and bonded on the annoyances of clueless boys (I


didn't give any details of course) and we would have stayed
out there all night talking except Edward stuck his head out
and said he needed me for something.

Of course I went more than willingly but when I got inside I


got very upset because all he wanted to do was boast that
Alice and Mike had beaten mine and Emmett's latest Grape
Toss record.

"Jasper?" I looked to him for confirmation and he just nodded


his head silently.

"Emmett get up so we can reclaim our title!" I yelled as


Edward chuckled next to me.

"I'm already on it sister!" Emmett said and he was already in


the kitchen getting the second bowl of frozen grapes out of the
freezer. We had a very large supply these days.

We were catching up with the new record fairly quickly and


everyone was in the living room counting out loud to each toss
and cheering every time we got one catch closer to regaining
the championship.

Tyler was high fiving me and even side hugging me


sometimes. It was odd because he'd always given Edward
more attention than me before. I was almost jealous of him at
times even, as ridiculous as that sounds.

Soon he was holding the bowl of grapes for me and was


faithfully by my side whenever I needed another one.

When he handed me the last grape he said "Good luck" and


winked at me. It was even more odd, but I had gotten used to
him and he was definitely easier to handle than Mike, so I
smiled and said thanks.

We had tied them now and I was holding the one small grape
in my hand that would put us back on top if I released it and
Emmett successfully caught it. I actually felt nervous.

It had gotten pretty quiet in the room as everyone waited for


me to toss the winning grape. Tyler reached over one last time
and rubbed my shoulder while giving me a reassuring nod.

I was concentrating really hard and about to make the throw


when all of a sudden Edward was right next to me and
whispered in my ear in a voice that was lower than usual,
"Good luck my Bella."

It sent shivers down my whole body and I snapped my head


towards him. He was so close to me. How was I ever going to
concentrate now?

My Edward just called me his Bella. He said sweet things to me


all time, having no idea what effect they had on me, but never
before had I been the center of attention when I was trying to
control my reaction to him.

His impossibly green eyes were dancing as he smiled at me


and the only thing that tore my gaze away from him was Rose
whistling and yelling "Now or never Bella-let's go!"

She gave me a knowing look and I knew I needed to


remember to thank her for saving me from jumping Edward
right there in front of everyone.

I focused back on Emmett and released the frozen grape


perfectly.

The cheers that erupted after Emmett caught the grape were
so loud I was afraid we were going to get in trouble for noise
violations from the neighbors. I ran across the room and got
scooped up by Emmett as we celebrated our amazing Grape
Toss skills and standing championship title.

Alice and Mike were even cheering at us beating their record,


and I was laughing so hard my sides hurt when Emmett put
me down. I am me, so I expectantly lost my balance and
stumbled right into Tyler who held me up and then hugged
me, making me a bit uncomfortable and a lot red in the
cheeks.

"Hey Tyler come here." I heard Edward yell across the room
since it was still fairly loud in the apartment from the fading
celebration. He sounded incredibly serious, especially over all
the happy sounds coming from the rest of the room.

Tyler pulled away from me and I looked over at Edward


curiously. He had a very serious expression on his face. When
I locked eyes with him he smiled at me, but it didn't reach his
eyes.

I knew I looked as confused as I felt as I stood across the


room from Edward, holding his gaze the whole time Tyler
walked over to him. Once Tyler reached him Edward looked
away and started making conversation with Tyler that I
couldn't hear.

From that night on we were even more comfortable with the


new additions to our group, but Tyler never gave me as much
attention as the grape toss victory night, which was definitely
fine with me.

They weren't around terribly often, and they didn't feel like the
family that the 6 of us felt like, but we had fun watching
movies and frequently breaking into sing a longs with them in
our apartments after shows.

I found that I really enjoyed being friends with so many


musicians because we quickly got into the habit of sitting
around living rooms with 2 or 3 of them on acoustic guitars,
just singing the night away.
It was in those times I knew this was the best time of my life.

That brings us to the beginning of August.

Things were still going splendidly in our little world. We spent


every night enjoying each other's company and just laughing
and having fun. I never wanted it to end. None of us did.

Jasper finally kissed Alice! It took a long time but she said it
was worth it. It was in the laundry room, the place they
retreated to almost every night now, and it was all Alice could
talk about the next day.

Every once in a while they would hold hands and even more
seldom there would be a peck goodbye here or there, but
other than that they were very private about being physical.
All you really had to do was see them look at each other,
though, and you felt like you were invading the most intimate
moment possible.

Emmett and Rose still hadn't been admitting to their physical


relationship, but it was something we all knew about. They
were very sweet together in public but had not crossed the
PDA line.

Until this night.

Mike and Tyler were over. It was after a show and Edward,
Alice and I were in our apartment watching The Emperor's
New Groove because Edward and I had both been dying to
watch it, and thankfully Alice owned it. All the others were
hanging out at the boys apartment not wanting to watch a
movie.

Well, all of the others except for Rosalie and Emmett who were
once again "hanging out" in our bedroom.

We had just sat down and started the movie with plates of
french fries Edward had asked me to cook up as a movie
snack. Edward and I were on the floor sharing a plate with our
now normal set up of my comforter and pillows and Alice was
in Bertha right next to us.

I should explain Bertha:

Bertha Flashback

One night Emmett was demonstrating his "love" for Ruth, yet
again, causing all of us to choke on our dinner in laughter
when he got a bit too exuberant and popped her.

The look on his face was priceless as she slowly started to


deflate under him and Alice scolded him for popping her
furniture. She decided to replace her, and the next day Alice
came home with a new inflatable chair, the same size but a
different color as Ruth.

Emmett walked in that night and didn't miss a beat.

He flopped right down on the new chair and proclaimed


"Bertha! My new love! I will not wrong you as I did to my
Ruth, but I will love you just as passionately..." and then Rose
and Alice and I all had to work together to get him to stop
harassing the new chair in between our fits of laughter at his
ridiculousness.

This night was a few weeks after that and we were just getting
into the movie when Mike burst into our living room and made
the "Shhh" gesture with his finger over his mouth and krept
over to us.

"Ok, we have Emmett's video camera and we are planning


operation "Hanging Out" in the other apartment. We need you
guys to get out of here so I can sneak in and catch Rose and
Emmett in the act so we can finally have proof and get them to
admit the truth of all their private hang out times." He
snickered as he finished and I had to admit, it was a funny
plan.
I looked at Edward and he smiled and shrugged and we all
decided to play along. I took our plate of fries and Edward
grabbed the comforter as we silently followed Mike out into the
hallway.

"I want to watch!" Alice giggled and whispered as she turned


the opposite direction of the boys apartment and instead went
to stand by the windows that looked into our courtyard from
the hallway.

Edward and I followed her and sure enough you could see right
into our patio and living room. The blinds were closed to Rose
and I's bedroom but the lights were on.

Edward spread out the blanket on the ground in the middle of


the hallway and the 3 of us sat facing the window and waited
for the show to begin eating our french fries and laughing.

It really was hilarious. Mike had the camera and made more of
a show out of it than he needed to, but we enjoyed it all the
same.

He climbed through the window in front of us and crawled


through the courtyard. He discovered he wasn't going to get
anything from our bedroom window due to the blinds. He
changed his tactics and climbed over the patio wall and into
our living room all the while narrating to the camera.

He disappeared inside the apartment and about 30 seconds


later we heard Rose scream and there was a loud bang as we
heard the door to our apartment fly open. Seconds later Mike
raced past us down the hall back to the boys apartment with
the camera in his hand laughing and cheering the whole way.

We were all cracking up, Alice almost choking on her french


fries, Edward and I leaning on each other for support, when
Emmett went storming down the hall after Mike. He was
slightly smiling though and just nodded his head at us as he
made his way back to his apartment.
After all that we only had about 2 seconds of solid proof of
Emmett and Rose making out on the bed on film, but it was
enough. There was no need for them to put on the useless
facade any longer. They now were all over each other. At first
it was annoying, but it toned down a bit and became rather
normal.

All through the end of August we kept up that lifestyle. We


watched a ton of movies, got a ton of free Starbucks, had
amazing conversations and laughed continuously.

I was starting to admit more regularly to myself that I was


indeed falling in love with Edward and I was learning to deal
with being in it alone. It just became my way of life. He
treated me better than any other guy ever had, and I was
constantly grateful for our closeness. Every once in a while we
would add some small crazy detail to our wedding (like funfetti
cake and frozen grapes and glitter instead of flower petals for
the aisle).

I was fooling myself into thinking it would last forever. But


things definitely changed.

It started with a band meeting.

Chapter 10 - It's My Party

I was fooling myself into thinking it would last forever. But


things definitely changed.

It started with a band meeting.

We were all lounging around in the boys' apartment watching


Friends (we were on Season 8 now I think) and Emmett and
Edward were just waiting for Jasper to get home from work. I
was on the couch in between Edward and Alice, my head
leaning on Edward's shoulder, my feet in Alice's lap. The
closeness wasn't unusual for anyone in our group, so I could
get away with things like that with Edward pretty often.
I was inhaling his scent and pretending to pay attention to
Friends when Jasper got home.

"Ok girls out!" Emmett said suddenly.

"What?" Alice asked, just as surprised as Rose and I.

"Band meeting, girls out." Emmett repeated. He was serious.

"You're not serious?" Rose asked.

"Yeah guys, we have some things we need to discuss. We


usually do this at the practice space but we decided to take
tonight off from practice even though we still need to get some
things sorted out and we don't want any distractions." Jasper
explained calmly but firmly.

For some reason all 3 of us were really offended. It felt weird


to be kicked out. Even for a legitimate reason.

"So we actually have to leave?..." I wondered out loud. Edward


chuckled under me and it almost made me smile despite the
disappointment of getting kicked out.

"Yes, you actually have to leave, but the sooner you leave the
sooner we can get this over with and hang out again," he said
mostly to me but also so the others could hear. That sounded
good enough to me.

"Alright, I guess we're going now then." I got up and followed


Rosalie who was already at the door.

Jasper grabbed Alice's hand and gently squeezed it as she


walked by and she just smiled quickly at him then continued
walking right past him.

We got to our apartment and kind of just looked at each other.

"Oh shoot I forgot my phone over there!' Alice said. "I have to
go get it."
"I'll go too." Rose stated and started walking after her.

"Me too." I agreed and sped off after them. We were pretty
pathetic at this point.

I think it was the fact we weren't supposed to be there that


suddenly made it so urgent for us try to get back in. I can't
fully explain it.

We got to the door and Rosalie turned the nob to open it and
just walk in like usual. Neither door was ever locked so when it
didn't open and just clunked against the door frame Alice ran
right into Rose's back and I ran right into Alice which caused
me to fall over.

"It's locked?" Alice sqealed.

Suddenly it opened, but only enough for Jasper to stick his


head out and hand Alice her phone. "Here," he said as he
stuck his arm out the door and smiled sincerely at her.

"Thanks." She responded dryly as I got up off the floor.

"Why is the door locked?" Rose asked with a little bit of venom
in her voice.

"Band meeting!" Emmett yelled. I heard Edward laughing


inside.

"Sorry girls," Jasper said as he shut the door, and we heard


the lock click on again.

We walked back to our apartment in silence and when we got


back in we shut the door and stood around the kitchen.

"What is wrong with us?" Rose suddenly declared. "We can


survive one night without them and their stupid apartment!
It's not even one night, it's only a few hours. C'mon."

We followed her into Alice's room and she grabbed The


Wedding Date from the collection of DVDs.
"We are officially having girl's night." She informed us, smiling
and holding up the movie. "It used to be just the 3 of us all the
time, and I kind of miss it anyway."

Alice and I both smiled and agreed and ran to put on our
pajamas and make popcorn. Edward had gotten us into the
habit of always having a movie snack.

We sprawled out on the floor in the living room and turned on


the movie. Right before Rose pressed play Alice shouted
"wait!" and got up. She ran to the door and locked it for the
first time in months.

That sent us all into a fit of laughter and we were very


satisfied with ourselves as we settled in to watch the movie.

I was even having fun with the chick flick that night. We
"awed" at the right spots, giggled at the stupid jokes, and we
all even sort of cried at the part where the inevitable hardship
occurred.

We were being positively silly. The DVD player decided to skip


right as the two main characters were about to get intimate,
and it was so romantic all 3 of us flipped out at being denied
the scene.

We tried multiple ways of curing the DVD of it's skip: peanut


butter, lotion, a lighter, and we were about 2 seconds away
from trying Alice's crazy "put it in the toilet and flush it" theory
when Rose just pulled out her portable DVD player and gave
us our love scene.

"Oh! Sex!" Alice shouted out at the DVD player.

It was a statement of the release we all felt at conquering the


stubborn DVD and getting what we wanted, and from there on
we were in the silliest moods possible and were yelling
anything and everything we could at the movie to get the
others to laugh.
The movie was about 3/4 of the way through and we just
realized that the actor who played Captain Norrington in
Pirates of the Carribean was in The Wedding Date when our
door went "clunk".

We all turned to the door and snorted at it resisting the boy on


the other side who was fully expecting to be let in. Then it
happened again.

Clunk.

Clunk. Clunk.

Clunk.

Pause.

Knock, knock, knock.

The amount of laughter that burst out of Rose and Alice and I
was deafening. We were already acting crazy as it was.

Rose managed to yell out in a serious and very deep voice,


"Sorry, you can't come in...we're having an acting meeting..."
which only made me laugh so hard I cried.

We turned back to the movie and Alice said through laughs,


"Captain Norrington looks weird without his ridiculous white
wig!"

I laughed and yelled at the TV "Captain! Put on your wig!"

Then from the other side of the door we heard Edward go,
"What?"

So they were just waiting outside our locked door?

That sent us over the edge. We all had tears of laughter


running down our cheeks as we paused the movie and Alice
finally got up and unlocked the door.
All 3 of them were on the other side and poured into the room.
I looked up from the floor, still laying flat on my back
recovering from the fits of laughter, and was instantly filled
with warmth at the mere sight of Edward again.

He smiled at me and asked "What exactly are you ladies up to


in here?"

"We are having girl's night." Rose cut in. Alice nodded
confidentially beside the boys and I faithfully nodded along
with them, but it clearly wasn't my first choice now that I knew
Edward was free.

"Alright we will let you be then." Jasper said as he ushered the


other 2 out of the room.

I could see Rose and Alice fighting to be strong as we watched


them leave and Edward gave me a little wave that I returned
as he walked out.

After Edward shut the door behind him Alice came and sat
down and said "So, we're going to finish the movie and then
go over there, right?"

20 minutes later the movie was over and we were wiping real
tears from our eyes. Girl's night was really getting to me and I
needed to get out of there fast.

When we got to the boys' apartment Emmett and Jasper were


in the living room watching something other than Friends for
once. Rose and Alice cuddled up with them, still in the spirit of
the romantic comedy, and I decided to go into Edward's room
instead of playing 5th wheel. The door was cracked and I could
see the light was on so I just walked in.

He was just laying on his bed with his eyes closed listening to
music when I opened the door. I laid down next to him on the
bed, being extra careful not to touch him and send my insides
into wild fits of happiness, and a smile spread across his face.
"How was girls night?" he said pronouncing the last 2 words
extra sarcastically without opening his eyes.

"Really fun actually. How was the band meeting?" I mocked


back at him. His smile faded a bit and he opened his eyes and
turned to me.

"Long. They usually are though." He sighed but it didn't seem


like he was finished so I didn't say anything. "We're going on
tour." He stated simply but seriously.

I didn't understand why he was being so serious about it.


Weren't tours supposed to be one of the best parts of being a
musician? "That's cool. Are you excited?"

"Yes, of course." He did sound a little excited then, but not as


much as I would have expected.

"How long are you going to be gone?" I figured 2 weeks, tops.


Bands that small couldn't do a cross country tour or anything.

"A little over a month." Now he was staring at me.

"Oh." It was all I could say. 2 weeks would have been really
hard but I knew that I could have barely made it. A whole
month though? I was not prepared for being without him for a
month. Nor was I prepared for what he said next.

"Well the tour itself is probably about 2 weeks. The rest of the
time we are going to be in Forks spending time with our
friends and family for a bit."

And Tanya. That was the only thing I heard even though he
didn't even say it. To me this tour was actually just 2 weeks
for him to be with Tanya.

"That's longer than I thought it was going to be." I said really


softly, my eyes closed now. I just wanted him to tell me he
was joking but I knew that wasn't what was going to happen.
"We are going to leave from here and go directly to Vegas
where one of our friends from high school lives now. We will
spend a night with him then from there play shows and head
up to Washington for about a week and 1/2. The rest of the
time we will hang out at home and play shows around
Washington and Oregon, stay close to Forks. Then we head
back and we are planning to get back in LA on October 6th.
That's what the big meeting was about tonight, confirming the
last details for the tour."

I didn't want to over react but I was so upset at the thought of


Edward being away from me for a month.

It was even worse when I thought about him not only being
away from me but being with her. He wouldn't even miss me.
He would be with the woman he loved and then when he
returned he would be sad that he had to leave her and come
back to me. It was too much to think about.

"Bella. What are you thinking?" He hadn't asked me that in a


while and I wasn't very prepared for it. I gave him as much of
the truth as I could.

"I'm just going to miss you." I stopped there.

"I know." He said softly. I still didn't open my eyes. He pulled


me into a hug, making everything better and harder for me at
the same time. "I'm going to miss you too but we'll be back
before you know it. You can actually focus on school and
important things for a while."

He chuckled at that and I didn't argue and tell him that none
of that was important to me anymore. I just nodded and held
myself together. I'd gotten very good at holding everything in
until I was on the roof or in my bed. I would probably need
both Alice and Rose tonight.

When he released me from the hug I asked "So what day do


you leave then?" My voice was much stronger and I was able
to look at him normally. I should really win an award for the
performances I could pull off around him.

"September 3rd. Before you say it, I know," he sounded


ashamed when he said it and looked at me with sad eyes.

"Know what?" I was very confused again.

"We're going to miss your birthday."

He was right. My birthday is September 19th, right in the


middle of their tour/trip home. I was never really big on my
birthday but it meant a lot to me that Edward knew when it
was and felt bad about missing it.

"Oh well, we'll just have to celebrate when you get back," I
smiled at him and felt very satisfied when his eyes returned to
his normal beautiful emeralds void of sadness.

"Deal." He said back at me and he patted my hand on the bed


and let his own rest on top of mine for a few seconds before
moving it back to rest on his stomach.

We were silent after that and I felt myself slipping into sleep
right there on his bed next to him.

The next morning started the count down to their departure.


Every day brought us closer to the month we would have to
survive without them. It sounded over dramatic, but that's
exactly what I felt like I would be struggling to do. Our family
was not meant to be apart.

After the girls and I discussed the sad news the next day no
one ever really discussed it again as September 3rd
approached. I believe they call that denial.

The boys had a show on September 1st and Alice was acting
extra Alice-y the whole day. I just figured she was masking the
sadness she felt at being without Jasper for the approaching
month so I didn't think too much of it.
"Bella!" She called from her room about 2 1/2 hours before we
had to go to the show.

"What?" I shouted back. I was in my room putting away


laundry.

"Get over here, I have to start getting you decent for the show
tonight," she was laughing but I knew she was not joking.

I walked over to her room. "Alice it usually only takes you and
hour to do your dirty work. We still have over 2 until we have
to leave."

"I know but I want to start early tonight!" She said excitedly
and then pointed at me and then at her bathroom indicating
that's where I was supposed to go. So we're back to that, are
we?

She outdid herself on me that night and I was very


appreciative but still confused.

We met the boys in the parking garage instead of at their


place like usual, but we were running late so I it made some
sense. When Edward saw me he smiled extra big and threw his
arm around me as he leaned into me and asked, "Alice put in
extra effort tonight, huh?"

I sighed and nodded up at him with a defeated look making


him chuckle. He just ruffled my nicely curled hair and said, "I
like it" with a smile and a husky voice which suddenly made
me extremely grateful for my little pixie friend and her
obsession with making me "decent".

Edward and I regularly laughed together at how ridiculous it


was she did that to me, but never before had be complimented
the outcome.

The show was another really fun one. Jess, Angela, Mike and
Tyler were there even though they weren't playing that night.
After the boys played we all hung out for the rest of the show
as usual and Emmett was inviting a lot of people over to the
apartments after. By now we just assumed Mike and all of
them were coming over, but we never really branched out past
that.

I caught Alice throwing Emmett some annoyed looks


throughout the night, and once I saw Jasper calming her down
in the parking lot by the jeep, but she's really high strung
sometimes so I just let Jasper deal with it.

We were driving home and Alice asked me to stop by 7-11 so


she could get some water.

"It's only 2 blocks away from our apartment, can't you wait?" I
asked her. I was anxious to get back and hang out. Even
though we weren't talking about it I was very aware that my
pre tour time with Edward was limited and I didn't want to
waste any of it.

"Bella, please? I can't wait!" Alice whined from my back seat


and started hitting the back of my chair like a tantrum
throwing child.

"Just do it, she's had a rough night," Rosalie said under her
breath.

So I pulled into the damn 7-11 and watched Alice saunter in,
take her sweet time assessing 3 different bottles of water
before deciding on one, and finally pay for it and leave the
store. When she got back in my car she just threw the water
bottle in the seat next to her and said, "All right, let's go!"

Seriously?

We took the impossiibly slow elevator up to our floor and there


wasn't any noise coming from our apartment so we all
automatically continued on to 110.
Rose and Alice fell back and allowed me to open the door so I
did.

"SURPRISE!"

I was so taken back by the amount of people and noise that


exploded before me when I opened the door I tried to turn and
run out but tripped instead and started to fall.

Edward was the closest to me inside the doorway and he


faithfully caught me and chuckled as he set me back on my
feet, keeping one arm around me and turning me back to the
party.

"Oh no you don't," he said planting me in my spot.

"I hate surprises Edward." I moaned to him under my breath


but smiled fakely at the crowd.

He smiled too and leaned into me and replied, "I know you do
but Alice really wanted to do this for you before we all left so
we couldn't say no."

"That's really nice and all but I don't even know half of these
people."

Now Alice and Rose had entered and were retelling how they
had managed to keep the secret all week and stall me a bit
tonight and people were still smiling and waving at me
standing behind them.

"Emmett got a little carried away at the show. All he knew was
Alice wanted it to be a real party with a good amount of
people, not just a regular night." Edward explained into my
ear. The volume had gotten louder so his face was incredibly
close to mine now.

"That's funny because all I want to do right now is go back to


my apartment and enjoy just another regular night with my
real friends." I let my smile fade and looked at him face on
with the most pleading face I could make.

He just laughed at me and said "Don't be difficult Bella."

So he was on their side.

Alice and Rose were finished telling their story and people
were laughing and putting all of their attention back on me.

The boys' place really did look great. Alice had recycled a few
decorations from her own party and there were streamers and
birthday greetings everywhere around the little living room
and kitchen.

Edward played along and hugged me tight and said "I won't
leave your side the entire night if it will make things better."
When he pulled away I nodded and smiled and he nodded and
smiled back. He dutifully put his arm back around my
shoulders and I let the crowd swallow me with my Edward by
my side giving me strength.

They pulled out a cake 10 minutes later. Alice and Rose were
very proud that they managed to put it together without me,
and that really did make me smile.

Edward was still right next to me as he promised he would be


as I blew out the 20 candles on my brightly colored funfetti
cake.

I was hugging Alice and Rose in thanks and we were laughing


at Emmett who was yelling at people to get out of his way
since he had gotten stuck at the back of the crowd and wanted
cake as soon as possible.

From my right I heard Edward calmly go "Bella".

Naturally I turned my attention to him immediately and right


when my face turned to him he reached up and smeared
frosting all across my nose and left cheek.
"Surprise again!" I heard Edward laugh as I glared at him and
started to wipe the frosting off of my face.

He had not planned wisely though. Since he was standing to


my right I was blocking his only exit from the kitchen. I smiled
pleasantly at him and slowly reached my hand into the corner
of my cake and scooped up a big handful of cake and frosting.

"No Bella, this is my favorite shirt," he pleaded with a small


laugh, already knowing my plan. His eyes looked a little
alarmed.

"All I'm trying to do is share my birthday cake with you


Edward," I smiled sweetly as I started walking towards him
slowly, backing him up against the wall.

"Isabella Swan don't come any closer to me." He warned when


he ran out of space to back up in, but his mouth could not
keep the smile off his face.

"Maybe you shouldn't have started something you can't finish,


Edward!" I almost yelled his name and I finally got close
enough to him to pounce.

I grabbed him around the waist with one arm as he reached


out to push me away, but I was quicker and we were both
cracking up and leaning on the kitchen wall for support. I
reached up with my hand full of cake and landed it right in his
hair.

There was an audible gasp from Rose, Alice, and Jasper behind
me, and most prominently from Edward pinned next to me. He
looked at me with a very shocked expression and I met him
with a very satisfied smirk of my own.

He had stopped struggling and was pinned between me and


the wall. I then took my hand and drug the cake and frosting
through his hair and down his face very slowly until my fingers
fell off his chin.
Then I pulled away and licked one of my fingers innocently and
smiled.

"Mmm, this really is a great cake!" I said smugly as I stared


right at him.

I turned around and heard a lot of people chuckling.

Rose, Alice and Jasper were staring at me with very pleased


and very shocked expressions. Mike had Emmett's video
camera out and had apparently caught the whole thing.
Emmett and Tyler were both eating a piece of cake and
Emmett high fived me and said "I'm so proud to call you my
sister" through his mouth full of food.

Edward finally snapped out of it and came over to me."You got


me good Bella. Truce?" Then he flashed me that dazzling
crooked smile and it took my breath away, even through all
the cake smeared on his face.

Of course I smiled and held out my hand to shake on the


truce.

He grabbed it then quickly pulled me into a hug. My breathing


hitched as I felt him start to slide his hands up my back and
then into my hair, stopping on either side of my jaw. He
leaned his head down to mine and whishpered, "That wasn't
very nice Bella."

His eyes were on fire and I was mesmorized by them. Then, in


one impossibly quick moment he leaned in and smeared his
cake filled cheek against my clean one causing me to scream
and push him away as he broke out in laughter.

"You're such a cheater!" I accused.

Everyone was amused by his little trick and to make sure it


ended there Alice handed us actual pieces of cake that we
managed to eat very civilly.
When I finished my piece I got Alice's permission to retreat to
our apartment and Edward followed me saying he needed to
take a shower and couldn't even get to his own bathroom to
do so because of the high volume of people in their apartment.

Alice, Jasper, Angela and Jess followed us and Rose said she
was going to wait for Emmett to finish off the cake but they
would probably be over soon as well.

I let Edward use our bathroom to get cleaned up and he went


right in. It made me laugh at how clearly upset he was that his
hair was covered in cake, but how hard he was trying to hide
it. He came out not too long later and complimented my
shampoo.

"It smells like strawberries," he smiled. His hair was still very
wet and it was a different look than when it was dry but I was
drawn to it just as much. I watched one of the strands drip
onto his forehead and I nodded that I was aware of the smell
of my own shampoo.

"It's my favorite," I shrugged.

"Mine too, now." He smiled the crooked smile at me and I felt


faint as he ran his hand through his wet hair. He leaned down
and shook it at me, spraying me with little drops of water,
ruining the moment completely, which was probably for the
best.

I put my hands in his hair (I used any excuse I could find) and
gently pushed him away and scoffed then turned and sat on
the floor. He chuckled and went back into the bathroom to dry
his hair a little more.

My plan to retreat worked for a while. For about an hour it was


just the 6 of us who had first left the boys' apartment hanging
out in the living room and talking. I was way more comfortable
this way. We were sitting in a circle and Edward was right next
to me even though we had left the huge crowd.
Suddenly the door opened and in burst Emmett with Mike and
Tyler trailing right behind him like 2 puppy dogs, Mike with
video camera in hand.

It took me a second to figure out why it was so loud. Then I


saw it. Emmett was leading a congo line.

He wasn't even singing a real song, he was just making up a


tune as he led the crowd in our living room and around our
small, peaceful circle.

"Emmett..." I heard Edward mutter next to me and I smiled


reassuringly at him to let him know I wasn't upset by the
invasion of my peaceful haven from the party. I loved Emmett
very much and I was used to him not being too quick on the
uptake. He probably thought he was helping by bringing the
party back to me. Or he just wasn't thinking at all.

Rose filed in after the congo line and looked slightly annoyed
as even more people poured in behind her. She stood at the
door and held it open as about 40 strangers took places
around our living room and patio.

Edward, Alice, Jasper and I had all gotten up and been pushed
towards Alice's bedroom. Angela and Jess had stayed where
they were and they were now beginning to watch a Queen
DVD Tyler had brought over and started playing.

When a random dog ran into the apartment and started


running around our living room between all the people I saw
Rose scoff and throw up her hands in defeat. I looked up at
Edward and started laughing with him. Things had gotten
really crazy in our quiet living room really quickly.

"In here," Alice said and I looked behind me to her bedroom


and Edward pulled me in behind Jasper. I shut the door behind
me and flopped down on her giant bed.

"Thank you for my surprise party Alice," I laughed as I rubbed


my eyes.
"Anytime!" She said as she bounced onto the bed above my
head. "Anytime you want 40 strangers, a cake fight, a congo
line and a random dog running around your apartment you
know who to come too." She pointed at herself proudly and
then pulled Jasper down on the bed next to her and threw her
legs over him.

"You'll definitely have to pull out classy tricks like that at our
wedding," Edward joked. I smiled hugely as I usually did when
he kept up that particular joke.

Edward moved over to the bed and picked my feet up as he


sat down in their place, replacing them on his lap. "Leave it to
Emmett to do the exact opposite of what the guest of honor
wishes." He shook his head and patted my legs.

I just smiled up at him and tried to memorize his face again. I


always did that because I was so sure one
day I would wake up and find out I had been dreaming him up
the whole time and I never wanted to forget any detail about
him.

We just sat on Alice's bed for a while hiding from the party.
Emmett came in a little while later with Rose right behind him.

"Angela and Jess promised me they would keep the control out
there," she breathed as she climbed over everyone and laid
down next to Alice.

Emmett was in the bathroom but came out and looked


exhausted. He crawled over me, putting his whole self on me
and making me groan under his weight. Edward had to hold up
his hand to block one of Emmett's feet from hitting him in the
face as Emmet rolled over everyone to the spot on the bed he
wanted. He ended up right in between Rose and I and pulled
us both into his sides as he sighed in contentment.

"Did we do good Bellarina?" He groggily asked as he closed his


eyes. I snuggled into my big brother and patted his stomach.
"Yes Emmett, this is a great birthday party. Being in this room
right now is the best part." I heard Rose and Alice quietly
agree and felt Edward pat my legs again. I could picture him
smiling even though I couldn't see his face.

"If only she was here to share the moment with us." Emmett
almost sounded like he was sleep talking he was so groggy
now. I felt Rose shift on the other side of him and sternly ask,
"Who are you talking about Emmett?"

"Ruth..." he mumbled and we all started laughing at the


unexpected answer that we probably should have expected
from him.

We ended up talking and laughing for a bit longer about how


random the night had gotten and then we all fell asleep on
Alice's giant bed together listening to the faint sound of
Bohemian Rhapsody and every now and again a random bark.
It was honestly the best birthday I could have asked for and
I'm almost sure I fell asleep smiling, no thoughts of Edward
leaving in 2 days haunting my mind.

There you have it. The big 1-0.

Chapter 11 - Time & Confustion

EPOV

My mind is haunted with thoughts of leaving.

As we all lay on Alice's over sized bed I was fairly sure I would
be the only one not sleeping within the next 5 minutes.

My thoughts are racing, as usual.

It's such and interesting feeling, having 2 places feel like


home. 2 places now full of memories and people that have a
hold on your heart.
I admit I never thought Hollywood would become "home" to
me. I just couldn't get used to the feel of it at first. I couldn't
find anything that felt real and it bothered me.

But that had changed.

I smiled at how fortunate we are to have this opportunity. Not


just my brothers and I, all the people in this room with me.

It was such a quick decision we made to come here. Well


thought out, but quick. That had been a long band meeting
too...

I closed my eyes and subconsciously ran my hand through my


hair as I had my next thought.

When a year is up and we inevitably return to Washington our


time here will probably have felt quick too. A year sounded so
long before, but now it sounded much too short. What would
happen to the family we created? How will we handle leaving
them? How will they handle being left? It's hard enough right
now and this is only going to be for one month.

Going back to Forks was going to be... complicated.


Readjusting for only 2 weeks just to turn around and slip back
into this life... I sighed.

It will be fine Edward. Just another tour.

Honestly, it almost feels like I am becoming 2 different people


now. Moving here had freed me in a way. Well, maybe just a
part of me that didn't have anyone pulling at it in Forks. Maybe
just a part of me that Forks has no need for. It's probably not
very healthy having 2 different lives in 2 different places…

I am over thinking again. My whole family is always telling me


that I do that.

I closed my eyes again and let out a slight moan as I ran both
my hands through my hair this time at the next thought.
My over thinking is how things always get so complicated with
Tanya. Why can't I just be normal for her? I believe I owe her
that much. If I could just get out of my head for 2 seconds and
relax we probably wouldn't still be as distant as we had been
since before I left. I'm trying to make things right. Every
conversation is focused on that. I owe it to her. I will fix this.

Before I could get any further in my thoughts I was


interrupted.

It seems Bella has fallen asleep and the show was about to
begin... I smiled slightly to myself as I was brought back to
the world where I didn't have to over think anything.

I wonder if I will hear my name again...

Chapter 12 - If You Leave

BPOV

I woke up the next day in Alice's bed and I smiled at the


memory of how my surprise party had ended the previous
night. I was very confused and slightly disappointed though as
I looked around and realized I was alone. That's definitely not
how I fell asleep.

I got up and opened the door to see Edward holding a very full
garbage bag. He looked over and smiled at me. "Good morning
sleepy head," he said and I wasn't awake enough to do
anything but smile back and be entirely too happy he was the
first person I saw that day.

Alice was in the kitchen doing dishes with Jasper and I found
out Rose and Emmett were supposed to be in the boys'
apartment cleaning up that mess, but so far it had been a
while since anyone went to check on them, and now no one
wanted to in fear of what they might interrupt.

They all refused to let me help and Alice literally pushed me


into my bathroom to keep me away from grabbing a cleaning
supply. When I got out there was an outfit already picked out
for me laying on my bed and I shook my head at my sneaky
little friend. Even if she couldn't strap me down in her
makeshift salon of a bedroom she managed to have an
influence over my appearance whenever possible.

The whole day we were all very aware that the boys would be
leaving the next morning, and all of our moods reflected it.

We still didn't really speak about it except once when Alice said
"We should have a goodbye breakfast together!" and we all
agreed that it was a good idea. They needed to be on the road
by 10am in order to get to Vegas at a decent time, so we
decided to get up at 7 to start breakfast, that way we had
enough time for goodbyes.

The boys packed all day and I hung out in Edward's room most
of the time not really saying much as he was filling up the
silence with many details about his life in Forks (excluding
Tanya, thank God). I learned all about his father being a
doctor, more of their lovely house on their giant piece of
property, and his most prized possession aside from his piano:
his shiny silver Volvo that he was very sad to leave behind
when they moved.

I was just sitting on his bed pretending we were just sharing


stories of our lives before Hollywood like any other normal
day. He gave me a task to do, sorting his CDs in his portable
CD holder, and that made me feel rather important considering
how seriously he took everything related to music. Listening to
his velvety voice all day was soothing me and distracting me
from counting down the horrible hours until they left.

I even helped him decided what to pack and what to leave


behind. He found a dark maroon zip up hoodie that had been
buried in his closet since he moved in, and upon finding it he
immediately put it on "making up for lost time" as it is one of
his favorite articles of clothing that up until now he thought he
had forgotten in Forks. The deep maroon color was amazing
with his pale skin, his green eyes, and of course his untidy
bronze God like hair. I probably stared a little more intensely
than I should have once he zipped it up and smiled at the
reunion, and I had to remind myself to blink before he caught
me oggling at the simple act of him putting on a hoodie.

Hopeless wasn't even beginning to describe me anymore.

Eventually we all moved out into the living room where Friends
was faithfully playing. Once Jasper was done packing he came
out as the last one to join the group, with Alice trailing behind
him, the pout threatening to overtake her face any second
now. We decided to walk down to Mel's Diner to get some
dinner and a change of atmosphere for what Emmett deemed
"The Not-So-Last Last Supper".

By the time we were walking home our spirits had lifted and it
felt like any other night. We got back we went back to our
place and Alice turned on some music and when Love Shack
randomly came on it turned into a small dance party in the
living room.

Emmett begged me to teach him the Shimmy Throw and we all


cracked up as all 3 of us girls tried to get him to do it right. He
couldn't grasp the concept of shaking just his shoulders and he
was alternating between flailing his whole torso around and
shaking his head violently back and forth.

It was pretty hopeless and eventually he admitted defeat and


drug Rose off of Bertha and to his own apartment for their last
night together for a month, trying to convince us all that they
were seriously going to go to bed right away. Alice and Jasper
decided to go into her bedroom as well, and I believed them
when they said they were tired and going to straight to sleep.

That left Edward and I in the living room still listening to


music. I was in the bowl chair, reluctant to go to bed, not
wanting the morning to come at all. He wasn't taking any
action to leave any time soon either, so I was afraid to do or
say anything that might instigate that.
It was very silent and he was standing across the room from
me leaning against the kitchen counter just quietly singing
along to the music that was still playing and tapping his fingers
as I tried to look anywhere but at him.

"What are you thinking Bella?" He asked suddenly.

"Lots of things," I replied honestly. No need to mention they


were all about him.

"What's one of them?"

I decided to stick with honesty, "The look you had on your face
the other night when I smeared cake in your hair." The
memory made me smile smugly to myself.

"Still proud of yourself are you?" He asked lightly but I saw his
eyes narrow.

"Of course." He rolled his eyes and then smiled himself.

"You know if it had been any other occasion but your birthday
party I wouldn't have let you get away with that."

"Oh please! I got you really good. Don't even pretend you let
me win." I was amused at his arrogance.

"No way, I am stronger and faster than you and I was only
being nice." Now he was smirking and I was slightly annoyed.

"Whatever Edward, I'll take you on again any day."

His eyes seemed to turn a bit darker, or maybe I just imagined


it, and he said "Right now?" and started walking towards me.

I wasn't prepared for this. No, not right now! I'm too tired to
control my emotions right now...

"We don't have any cake," I said in my mild panic at his


unexpected approach.
What?

"I don't need cake to prove my point Bella," he laughed and


then he practically jumped at me in the bowl chair and started
tickling me non stop.

"Edward...stop...Edward!..." but I couldn't breathe and I


couldn't make my voice as serious as I wanted because I was
laughing so hard and he was a great deal stronger than me, so
there was no hope. "OK! You are stronger than me, you win!" I
said as fast as I could between laughs. He stopped and I was
finally able to get a real breath

"And?" he asked lifting his eyebrows and now straddling me in


the chair.

I was in a weak position and I was very aware of that. But I


honestly wasn't too concerned about getting out of it. He could
stay there as long as he deemed necessary. I was only
thinking about keeping this energy between us going.

"And?" he repeated bringing his face closer to mine and


threatening me with a play full poke in my side.

"And you're still a cheater!" I spat out and should have


regretted it because he started up again.

"And faster! You're also faster than me!" I gasped for air this
time and he was chuckling at me but he stopped because he
had gotten what he wanted. I let my body go limp in relief.

"You suck." I said and he continued to laugh at me and sink


into the chair next to me.

My breathing was getting back to normal and my head started


to clear but it didn't last long because we were still so close to
each other. The bowl chair is rather large, and 2 people can
curl up comfortably in it, but it required a lot of touching.
I sat there silently and just relished in the closeness I was
given. I would be without him soon and I needed to drink in
every part of him before he left for a month.

"Bella?" He asked quietly.

"Edward, you aren't going to ask me what I'm thinking, are


you?" I responded not as quietly.

I felt him laugh beside me. "You know me too well. Yes, I was
going to ask just that."

"You ask it a lot, you know."

"Well I really want to know." He was serious now.

"Why?" So was I.

"Because I care about what you think." He turned to look at


me but it was another one of those times that I knew I
couldn't look back at him. I had been holding back my sadness
all day and the seriousness of the moment was threatening to
let it all to come flooding out.

"It's not important. I'm just going to miss you, that's all." He
always got the truth from me. At least the most I could tell
him.

"Hmm," he grunted beside me. "I'm going to miss you too."

"Yeah for about 8 hours. Then you'll be in Las Vegas with your
friend, and then you'll be on the road meeting new people and
playing shows. Then you'll be back in Forks with your family
and your...Forks friends." Opps. I almost said "your Tanya".
That would have been a dead give away of my ever building
jealousy of the 2 weeks she was about to spend wrapped in
the arms I dreamed of every night.

I shouldn't have said any of it, I know, it just came pouring


out. I get really nervous when I know he's looking at me.
"That's true," he simply said. And then, "I will have all of those
things, but none of those things are you Bella. So I'm still
going to miss you." I had to look at him to see his eyes. I
wanted to see the emotion in them when he said that so I
risked it and turned to him.

They were radiant, even in the darkness we were in since the


only light that was on was one strand of white christmas lights
Alice had left up from her birthday party so long ago.

I lost it then. I couldn't hold back any longer as I stared into


his perfect green eyes and I looked down as silent tears
started to fall.

"Bella," he whispered as he pulled me into him. "Why are you


crying?"

I sniffed a little and spoke into his chest, "I can't help it. I'm
totally pathetic, and I know it, but I'm just... ugh."

Then I got frustrated with everything I couldn't say to him.


Every single confession of just how much he meant to me and
how being away from him was going to be hell, and how the
thought of him being with the woman he actually did love tore
my insides to pieces and made me ashamed of everything I
felt because I was selfish in wanting him to myself and
completely stupid for entertaining the idea of him ever feeling
the same.

It pounded inside of me. The anger, the hurt, the frustration,


the longing, the love. In that moment it all overwhelmed me
and all I could do was wrap my arms around him without
thinking about being careful around him for the first time ever.
I pulled him to me and held on as tight as I could using his
body to hold myself together and keep everything I was
feeling from literally tearing me apart.

"Bella can I tell you something?" He asked gently after I took


hold of him. He was stroking my hair trying to calm me. He
was too sweet to say anything about how I tightly I was
holding onto him.

I didn't trust my voice yet, I knew it would be strained due to


my recent flood of emotions so I just nodded into him.

"Can you look at me?" he asked and I could hear the smile in it
like I always could.

I lifted my face up so he could look at me like he requested


and he kept his arms around me in a protective manner.

"You are my best friend. You have made living here one of the
best experiences of my life, and I adore you for that. I know
that us going on the road and meeting new people and going
back home to our friends seems intimidating, but it's just part
of our lives. I am so used to meeting people at shows and
having to form a bond with them instantly because we need
people to feel close to us. It's not fake by any means, but it's
easy to mistake having a few honest moments with someone
for having a true bond with them. Please don't think it's the
same thing here, Bella. What we all have here can never be
taken away from us, it is real. And what you and I have
between us can never be duplicated and can never be
replaced, no matter how far apart we are from each other or
how many people I meet at shows."

He started wiping tears from my face and I sat there


entranced by his words. "I wouldn't trade my friendship with
you for anything - nothing Bella. Do you believe me?" I nodded
silently and he smiled slightly as he wiped the last bit of
moisture from my face.

"And you're acting like we are never coming back! A month


isn't going to be that bad, I promise. Remember, I'm in your
life for life now. Or did you just make up that club to trick me
into building you a fort?" He put on a very dramatic concerned
face and feigned suspicion.
It worked and I scoffed and finally loosened my grip on him
bringing my arms back to myself.

"Please Edward, I did practically all the building that night."

We both laughed quietly and he hugged me tighter for a


second and then let go but didn't get up from the chair. He
just sort of turned back over to his own space inside the big
bowl and we were again side to side.

He reached his hand out to the side and could reach the light
switch that controlled the party lights and flipped it off.
Apparently he was content in the chair for now, and it was the
only place in the world I wanted to be at that moment.

We were silent for a few minutes and I was replaying his


speech over and over in my head when I realized something.

"Edward?" I said testing if he was awake or not.

"Yes Bella?" he answered very clearly next to me.

"I feel the same. About you, I mean. You've become the best
friend I've ever had and I can't imagine my life without you."
It felt good to tell him that much of my emotions for him. It
was even better to know I wasn't alone in those at least.

"Thank you. Love you." is all he said.

I felt another tear slip out as I closed my eyes and drank in


those words. It was a happy tear this time though. Of course it
was not the right kind of love he was confessing. Not for me
anyway. But it was more than I could have asked for from my
perfect best friend and it made me smile to myself.

"Love you Edward." I whispered.

Then he reached over and took my hand in his and that's how
we fell asleep, side by side, closer than we had ever been,
neither of us knowing it was the last real night we would spend
together as best friends.
Chapter 13 - Last Chance to Loose Your Keys

I took in another breath but didn't open my eyes yet. I could


smell something. No, some things.

The most prominent thing I could smell was the most heavenly
sweet scent I had ever smelt, and it was very familiar to me. I
smiled.

Edward.

I drank that in one more time and then I moved on to identify


the other things mixed in with it...

Bacon?

I opened my eyes.

I started to open my mouth to say something, I'm not sure


what because I was still too tired to control my actions, but
before I could make a sound a hand came down on my mouth.
No... it came up to my mouth.

And it wasn't a hand. Edward's hand.

I was curled into him with my head on his shoulder and the
dark maroon zip up he had been wearing the night before was
over me like a blanket.

That was good enough to wake up to, even though I didn't


quite understand it, but then the voice I had been dreaming
about whispered into my ear:

"Don't move or speak, they still think we are asleep and we


got out of cooking."

I shivered at the feeling of his breath on my neck and


managed to nod slightly that I understood.

He chuckled very softly and it wasn't until that sound faded


from my ears that I remembered what day it was.
I let my head flop back in despair.

It all came flooding back to me then and woke me up rather


quickly. It was September 3rd. Half of my little family and my
Edward were leaving today. Then I remembered what
happened last night.

I hadn't dreampt it like I originally thought when I woke up - it


was all real.

The kind things he said, the way he let me hold him as tight as
I could, the way we fell asleep with our hands clasped
together. I smiled to myself as I remembered all that.

Maybe they should leave more often, I suddenly thought to


myself.

I made myself giggle at that absurd thought and Edward


groaned next to me because I had blown our cover.

"They're up!" I heard Alice cheer from the kitchen. Seconds


later I felt her land on top of us on the chair, making it tumble
backwards.

Edward helped me up and I handed him back his zip up and


said "Um, thanks," as he took it from me and put it back on.

"You started shivering sometime during the night so I figured


you needed it more than I did." He explained it so sweetly I
wanted to melt. "And you were also keeping me up." He fake
glared at me and then smirked at his little joke but I just rolled
my eyes at him.

The other 4 had gotten up at 7:00 as planned and had quietly


started making breakfast, as planned. I looked at the clock, it
was now 7:45.

It was from this moment on I became hyper aware of dates


and times.
"Bella I need your opinion on a top I bought yesterday can you
come with me to my room?" Alice asked me quickly as she
grabbed my elbow and started leading me to her bedroom.

"You never ask my opinion on clothes Alice, you always call me


fashionably challenged," I argued not sure why she was trying
to get me in her room so urgently. It clearly wasn't for the
reason she stated.

"Oh you're right I forgot," she said quickly again, still pulling
me, "Rose I trust you - come help us," she yelled over her
shoulder.

Rose got into the room right after we did and shut the door.
Alice literally pushed me onto her bed and they both stood
over me.

"Spill." Alice demanded.

"Alice I don't really know what you're talking about." I replied


honestly feeling uncomfortable under their stares.

"Oh please Bella, we walk into the living room to you and
Edward all snuggled up in the chair together and you expect us
to believe you have nothing to tell us?" Rose said as she folded
her arms.

"Spill." Alice demanded again.

I sighed knowing they would be disappointed. "There's nothing


to "spill" you guys... we just fell asleep."

"Together." Alice added.

"Snuggled up." Rose said.

"In a chair." Alice finished, as if that was one of the juicy


details.

"Ok, yes, I can see how that may imply something if the
situation was different, but you guys know it's not different so
drop it. We were in the middle of a conversation and fell
asleep. That's it. End of story." I folded my arms to emphasize
the finality of my statement. It was close enough to the whole
story anyway.

"Fine." Rose said sounding disappointed and dropped her gaze


from me.

Alice turned back into her perky self and sat down next to me
as she linked her arm into mine and let her head fall onto my
shoulder.

"You really should have seen how cute you two were though, I
almost took a picture but Jasper wouldn't let me." She rolled
her eyes and I smiled back at her trying to picture Edward and
I still in the chair and Jasper holding Alice back from running
to get her camera. It was indeed a happy thought.

The breakfast they made was good and went by much too
quickly, thanks mostly to Emmett of course. We all ate and
talked as if it was any other day until the last piece of food was
gone and the boys had to start packing up the jeep.

This was at 8:58. One hour and 2 minutes before the jeep was
scheduled to depart.

We were down in the parking garage at around 9:10. Everyone


was moving slow and taking multiple trips from the apartment
to the jeep, stalling the packing by as much as possible.

Jasper had Emmett's video camera out and we were filming


funny little things in the parking lot:

The boys on their longboards going in circles around all the


cars, Emmett lecturing me on taking care of Bertha's "needs"
while he was gone, Alice pretending to steal the jeep so they
couldn't leave, Rose trying a go on the longboard herself and
falling immediately causing her to declare she would never set
foot on one again, Edward pushing me around on his
longboard as I sat on it with my legs out and he explained it
was my first official lesson and it was the "training wheels"
version, Emmett impersonating that ridiculous dancing baby
from the internet, Jasper found a huge piece of cardboard with
the middle cut out and he was pretending to be different
shows on a TV as Edward pressed the invisible buttons to
change the channel, everything being done with a shadow of
sadness cast over it.

Sometimes one of us would say a little goodbye into the lens


but no one made a move to actually leave.

Inevitably 10 o'clock came. The camera was put away. The


longboards were collected and thrown into the back of the jeep
on the duffle bags. I hugged Jasper, then Emmett, leaving the
obvious for last.

"Don't find another Grape Toss partner while I'm gone sister,"
Emmett was warning me as he squeezed me as tightly as ever.

"Not a chance." I said softly. I was so close to crying it was


painfull.

"Call me on my birthday!" He reminded me. Emmett's birthday


is October 4th, 2 days before they get back.

"Only if you remember to call me on mine!" My voice was a


little stronger this time.

"Deal," He laughed. Then he squeezed a little harder and lifted


me off the ground a few inches.

He set me back on down quickly and turned to pull Rose into a


passionate goodbye kiss and I lost my balance and stumbled
backwards.

This time little Alice caught me and started laughing through


her own small tears, she was just saying goodbye to Jasper.

"I've got her." I heard the velvet voice say as he walked up to


me.
He scooped me up from Alice's tiny arms and held me with so
much more support. I flung my arms around his torso. I didn't
hold on as tightly as the night before, I was actually thinking
about boundaries again, but it was still a strong embrace.

"Miss you." Is all I could say. It was true, I already did.

"I'll call all the time to bug you Bella, don't worry. I won't let
you miss me." He laughed but his voice was soft.

"You better. Or you know I'll just fill up your voice mail with
pointless stories about how I have to pass my time without
you." I warned into his shoulder.

"Only a month." Is all he said back and he buried his face into
my hair.

I squeezed a little tighter and took in his scent one last time,
letting it fill my head and heart promising myself I wouldn't
forget anything about it in the next month and 3 days.

"One month." I agreed into his neck.

He pulled away then and I held in the tears as I looked straight


into his eyes. They were bright green today, and so full of life I
was almost intimidated. He hesitated in the stare then smiled
his brilliant crooked smile and said "See you soon. I'll call you
when we get to Las Vegas."

He let his hands trail down my arms and then gave my right
hand one last squeeze before getting into the passenger's seat
of the jeep.

They drove away and I held it in until the red giant left our
parking garage and the gate shut behind it.

Once I heard the solid "Clank" of the metal gate locking into
place I sank to the floor and sobbed right there in the middle
of the garage.
Rosalie and Alice must have picked me up and supported me
as we walked to the elevator and then down the hall to our
apartment because the next thing I knew I was in our living
room sobbing on the floor. They sat with me there on either
side of me, both of them recovered by now, and just held me
as I let it all out. It wasn't the same for them. Their loves
weren't going to be in someone else's arms in 2 weeks.

After about an hour I snapped out of it. I wiped the wetness


off my face and I sat up. This wasn't going to make the month
go by any faster.

I had built up so much strength against my agony in the past 5


months, now was just another time to put it into action. I
knew I wouldn't be the same with him gone, I couldn't be
complete, but I could be me. I could get through this one
month and 3 days then October 6th would come, Edward
would step out of that jeep and I would have more memories
to make with my best friend.

That thought got me up and around. Rosalie and Alice were


only too happy to support me in my new found strength.

We sort of just hung around the apartment the rest of the day.
We walked down to a little deli and got some lunch, then we
walked home. We talked about the boys and laughed as if
everything was normal. As if they were just at practice or
something and would be home in a few hours.

Around 4 we decided to watch a movie. Alice picked out RENT


and we all settled into the living room. I was in the bowl chair,
my new favorite spot, Rose was on Bertha, Alice on the floor.

Since the boys left at 10 they should be getting to Vegas


around 6 at the latest. I had my phone glued to my hand,
because he said he would call from Vegas.

At 6:36 the phone rang. I knew it was 6:36 because since


5:43 I had been checking the phone nearly every minute
making sure I hadn't missed anything.
"Edward Cullen" flashed on my screen.

The first ring barely rung and it was flipped open and to my
ear.

"Edward!"

"Hello Bella. Miss me?" He mused with a slight laugh.

"No, not really. Was there something you needed?" I said with
a bored voice. I couldn't help it. He was pretty arrogant
sometimes. Not that I didn't love it. I just didn't always want
him to get away with it.

"No. If I'm bothering you I can just call another time - "

"Shut up Edward. How's Vegas?" He made me laugh but I


didn't want to risk him hanging up as part of the joke and then
loosing signal and not being able to talk to him again. I might
be going crazy at this point.

"It's hot. Alec's house is enormous and breathtaking, you


would love it Bella." He started to tell me all about the house
they were staying at with their friend Alec. His voice was
happy and excited. I was happy for him as I listened, I always
loved the way he talked faster when he was excited about
something. Usually it was about music, or his family, or his
car.

"There's a huge pool we are going to go in later, you should


have seen Emmett's face when he saw it..."

He continued to describe everything to me. From the pool to


the room he was staying in to the massive front lawn that was
set up for croquet, all the way to the impressive stereo system
in the living room.

"... I have a really nice stereo at home in my room like I've


told you, but I was even impressed by the sound that came
out of that thing." He paused and took a breath. "How are
things back home?"

It made me smile that he called our apartments home. "The


same really. You've only been gone for less than 10 hours,
what could have changed?" I laughed.

"I guess you're right. I've been driving across desert all day so
it feels like it's been longer than that already."

I knew how he felt. I was only putting on the whole "It's been
less than 10 hours" bit so he wouldn't know how pathetic I
was.

"Oh Bell, I have to go, it seems pool time is upon us." He


chuckled and I could hear Emmett whooping in the
background. I reluctantly told him to enjoy himself and tell the
others I said hi.

"I'll call you later if I can," he said before hanging up.

That night I took my phone into the bed with me and fell
asleep with it in my hand, waiting for it to be later.

The first week went by pretty slow. It was hard to switch back
to a normal sleeping schedule, and for the most part we didn't
even though we tried.

Edward did call me back that first night when they were in
Vegas. He woke me up with the call and could tell that I had
been sleeping. He felt really bad and made me go back to
sleep despite my protests.

"Edward, I promise I'm not that tired. I can decide whether or


not I can stay up and talk. What are you my mother?" My last
comment made him laugh pretty hard.

"Your mother? Yes, Bella. I'm trying to be your mother right


now. Do you want me to read you a bedtime story? Sing you
to sleep maybe?" He was still laughing which made me laugh
sleepily.

"Yes. I require a lullaby." I stated and then yawned even


though I just made him laugh harder which made me happy
because I was sure he couldn't hear my yawn through his
laughing.

"Isabella Swan, what am I going to do with you? And don't


think I didn't hear that yawn young lady." He fake scolded as
his laugh faded out.

Damn. "So no lullaby then?" I asked with dryly.

"Sorry, I'm afraid I don't have one in my repertoire," he


sounded apologetic.

"I'll wait." I smiled at my answer.

"No, you'll sleep." He responded with an authoritive tone.

And that was that.

We had spoken every day they had been gone so far. He


usually called in the evening as they were waiting to load in to
the venue, or really late after they played a show and were
driving to the next city.

Every time I heard his beautiful voice on the other line I felt
calm. The phone didn't do him justice, but his velvet over the
phone was still better than anything else live and in person.
Anytime I wasn't listening to his voice I was in a constant state
of anxiousness, my stomach always in a knot, my fingers or
toes always tapping away the seconds, trying to push them by
faster.

We spoke of unimportant things like my day at school or


interesting people they met at shows. Pretty much every day
Jasper or Emmett would grab the phone and I would talk to
them for a bit. Naturally they were keeping in touch with Rose
and Alice, but we all liked to catch up personally as well.

The week they left the girls and I managed to slip into a new
routine without the boys.

We spent more time at school, watched movies and cooked


dinner together at night, and I even started reading a lot
again, pulling many of my old books out and diving into one of
my favorites. It was definitely not preferable to Edward, but it
was nice all the same and helped to pass the time.

Alice was shopping a lot, even for her! She eventually started
to bring home clothes for Rose and I. Jasper got a few goodies
too, and she laid those aside for when he returned. It was only
a matter of time before Emmett and Edward would be getting
presents, I was sure.

Rose pretty much just spent extra hours at the gym and had
started tanning because she said it was "relaxing".

September 12th, one week and 2 days after they had been
gone, Rose and I were in our Film Acting class and our teacher
announced it was time to start working on our final projects
since we didn't have this class 4th semester.

They were 2 person scenes and we would be rehearsing them


and filming them all within the rest of the semester. We had
the freedom to choose our own partners within the class, and
also the rare opportunity to choose the scene we did,
assuming it got approval from our teacher first.

Rose decided to work with Jane, another girl in our class that
we had known our whole time at school. Jacob was in front of
me and when he turned to look around the room for a partner
our eyes locked and we both smiled at the same time.

"Partner?" I asked with a smile.

"Yeah, that could be fun." Jake responded with a little laugh.


I liked the way it worked out. Jake was always really sweet,
and he made me laugh all the time in class. I remembered
that he lived down the hall from us too, which would be
convenient for rehearsals.

He came over that night so we could try and decide what


scene we wanted to do.

After listing off a ton of comedies that were pretty cliche or not
really final project worthy Jake's face lit up and he said, "What
do you think about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?"

I was instantly excited - it's only one of my favorite movies! I


remembered the night I tried to get Edward to watch it with
me. He fell asleep within the first scene because they had just
gotten home from a 3 hour practice but he tried to deny it
when he woke up again half way through only to ask when
Frodo from Lord of the Rings showed up...

"Bella? We don't have to do that if you don't want to, I was


just throwing it out there."

Oh geeze, I forgot to answer... "Oh no, sorry, I love it! What


scene though? They are all so good."

It took a while but we finally decided on a scene that would


work best and we started discussing where we could film it.
We both got pretty excited about the whole thing. We were in
the middle of discussing costumes when my phone rang.

"Oh hold on Jake, I've got to take this... Hey Edward." I smiled
when I said his name.

"Hello Bella, how are you today?" The calm feeling took over...

"I'm good. We got our final assignments for film class and I'm
pretty sure mine is going to turn out pretty amazing."

"Well of course it is, you are in it aren't you?" I still swooned


when he said things like that to me.
"You've never even seen me act before," that you know of at
least, "how can you say something like that?"

"Don't be absurd Bella, I know you better than most and I


have no doubt that you couldn't do anything but an amazing
job. Just don't trip in the middle of the scene and take out the
camera man, alright?" He laughed at his own joke and I made
a face at him even though he couldn't see me.

"Thanks for the excellent direction, I'll try my best. How are
things on the road today?"

"Long. Well, the drives are long. We are going to be in Forks


tomorrow, you know." He sounded anxious.

"I know." And I did. I had been trying really hard not to think
about it. One of their shows got canceled and now they were
driving straight from tonight's show to Forks, giving them even
more time there. Even more time with her...

"I'm sorry Bella, I have to go, Jasper thinks he got lost and
Emmett can't figure out the map, I am much needed." He
chuckled and I pictured his crooked smile spread across his
face.

"Alright, go save the day Master Navigator Cullen." I laughed


at my own joke.

"Goodbye Bella." Suddenly his voice had that very distinct


purring sound it sometimes got when he was very close to me.
It came out of nowhere. I'm pretty sure he wasn't ever aware
when he did it.

"Bye Edward..." I was a little light headed from the way his
voice had changed, it was one of the few things about him I
had not managed to get used to in the slightest.

"Miss you." It was softer now, but still as effective.

"More than you know." I answered.


He said a small "bye" one more time and then we both hung
up and the anxiousness set back in.

More days passed and we were nearing my birthday.


Everything went on the same way it had been.

I was on the phone with Edward as they were driving in to


Forks, actually. We'd been talking for about an hour and he
wasn't paying attention to where they were, so it took him by
surprise.

"Bella! We are driving into Forks!" Despite my slight


disappointment at their arrival I soaked up the happiness in his
voice, it always made it sound so radiant.

"That's great Edward, does it feel good to be home?" I smiled


as I imagined Carlisle and Esme greeting the boys as they got
back to their house in the forest.

"It does. Oh wow - the colors here are amazing Bella! It's so
green, you've never seen anything like it, I'm sure. I actually
forgot how green it was here. It's beautiful, you'd honestly
love it... Oh, we just passed our high school...wow- It's weird
to be back. Now we just passed the hospital my dad works
at...there's the bank and the Newton's store... it's so different
from Hollywood." He laughed at that and I smiled again.

He kept saying "wow" and describing different buildings and


landscapes to me. I loved it. The only other thing I'd ever
heard him sound this amazed by was music. Every so often he
would say "you would really love it here" and it made me
happy he was thinking of me being in Forks. He started telling
me about all the different kinds of trees they had in
Washington and it was the first time I ever cared that much
about foliage.

All too soon he said, "Oh there's the house!" and I heard
Jasper and Emmett cheering in the background.
"I have to go now, I'm sorry, we are pulling up to our house."
He sounded truly sorry but more anxious than anything.

"I understand, tell your parents and your house I said hi!"

He chuckled and said "Of course. Talk to you soon Bell." Then
he was gone.

"Not soon enough." I sighed into the already dead phone, my


foot already beggining to tap on the ground.

That was 5 days ago now, which made today September 18th,
the day before my birthday. Not that it mattered much to me,
the only thing I really wanted was not anything I would ever
get.

"I'm going to check the mail," I said as I grabbed the 3 keys


and headed down to the lobby. My mother said she was
sending a card and a package, maybe they came early.

I grabbed 3 keys because the boys left a mail key and an


apartment key for us so we could get their mail for them while
they were gone.

I got both piles of mail and headed to 110 to drop off theirs
first. I always went in and set it on the counter, not ever
looking around at the all too vacant living room or even letting
myself glance at Edward's room.

I shut the door and locked it, which was weird, and walked
back to my own apartment, taking my phone out and checking
it to make sure I hadn't missed anything, It was a new habit I
had slipped into.

I opened the door and walked into the living room and I
almost made it all the way into my room before I noticed there
were more bodies than there should be in my apartment.

"Look what I found!" Rosalie proclaimed as she presented me


our guests.
Jake was lounging in Bertha and Sam was sitting in one of the
chairs at our little table. Jake had been over a lot after school
in the past week, but Sam hadn't so that was a surprise.

"Hey guys!" I said getting over my surprise. I had to admit it


was pretty nice to see our living room kind of full again.

We sat around for awhile and talked about school. We laughed


about one of our insane teachers and then Sam started doing
an impersonation of ET that had me screaming and then falling
out of Bertha holding my sides. It was both frightening and
hilarious all at the same time. Jacob even screamed once in a
higher pitch than me, which actually made Sam fall out of
"character" and double over in laughter.

They went home around 10:30, which was early for us but late
enough to be called late, and I started to get ready for bed
even though I wasn't too tired.

I got into bed and started to read. Rose was on the patio on
the phone with Emmett and Alice was in her room with the
door shut. I opened Wuthering Heights and started back in,
begging the characters I knew so well to distract me long
enough to get tired.

My phone buzzed and I opened it to read the text message.

Seattle show was amazing tonight, huge crowd, you would


have been proud. I'm driving tonight so no call. Miss you. Call
tomorrow, your b-day and Forks show! -E

I smiled because I was indeed very proud and then responded.

I'm always proud. Drive safe, tell Em and Jazz I love them.
Miss you. Talk tomorrow for sure. -Bell

I sat there for a minute and thought of Edward performing in


front of a large crowd and how happy that probably made him.
They were very excited for their Forks show because they
usually drew a huge crowd, it being their home town and all.
Only 2 weeks and 4 days left.

I actually shook my head to clear the thoughts away and went


back into my fictional world until I finally fell asleep with my
book in one hand and my phone in the other.

I was hanging out with Jake in the cafe the next afternoon and
we were waiting for Sam to get out of class.

September 19th. 2 weeks and 3 days until they get home. My


birthday.

It had come up in an earlier class that it was my birthday.


Jacob scolded me for not telling him sooner.

"What kind of final scene partner would I be if I didn't do


something for you?" He smiled and asked me.

"An excellent one. You would be respecting my wishes, and not


running the risk of me resenting you forever." I smiled coyly
back at him and he just shook his head and put his arm over
my shoulders.

"Bella Swan what am I going to do with you..." He pretended


to be disappointed and we walked to meet Rose and Sam at
my car.

I had been spending a good amount of time with Jacob due to


us having rehearsal for our final scene. Everyday in between
classes I was with him actually. We didn't start rehearsing with
the teacher and the camera until the week before we filmed,
so it was up to us to get ready on our own before then.

Jake was so easy to get along with and made me laugh a lot
so most rehearsals had turned into him coming over to the
apartment to hangout. Naturally spending more time with
Jacob also meant spending more time with Sam, but that was
fine because Sam was one of the funniest people I had ever
met.
It was later that night on my birthday and Sam and Jake were
over again like the night before. Alice was around this time,
having returned from the mall early due to my birthday.

She had gotten me a ridiculous present and I was very


unhappy about it at first.

"It's a Love Sac!" She said proudly as I walked into the


apartment and my jaw dropped.

There on our floor, taking up literally about 1/4 of the living


room, was the "Love Sac."

"You got me an over sided bean bag?" I asked incredulously.

She immediately looked horrified. "Isabella Swan you will


never refer the Love Sac as a bean bag ever again, do you
hear me? It is so much more than that. Here. Sit." With that
she grabbed my shoulders and forced me down on the most
comfortable thing I had ever sat on.

It was being engulfed by love. The name immediately made


sense to me. The extreme amound of comfort over took me
and I let it show on my face, giving Alice her victory.

"Oh yeah, you totally love the Love Sac. I did well." She
giggled and then literally jumped on the Love Sac next to me,
and we fit perfectly with more than enough room for two. It
was huge. Jacob even fit and he sat down on my other side for
a few minutes, but then he took the floor instead.

Later on I still hadn't moved out of the Love Sac and Alice got
caught up in a heated lecture as she was explaining the
differences of blue and aqua to Sam by holding up two tank
tops she had just bought. His face was priceless as he just
shook his head back and forth, refusing to admit they were
different shades.

I was pleased with how comfortable it was to hang out with


them. The conversation was so different from the ones I had
grown used to, a lot of discussions about movies and auditions
and the best characters of all time, and of course Alice's
fashion lectures to Sam. Every time Jake went into his deep
thoughts on the brilliance of Monty Python all I could do was
listen and laugh at his excitement.

"What?" He asked kind of chuckling.

"Noting, you just get so excited when you talk sometimes. You
use your hands a lot. It's fun to watch." I smiled and shrugged
at him.

"Oh. Yeah, I do that." He shrugged back and we laughed.

My phone started ringing and I had it right by my side as


usual. It was 4:30 in the afternoon and I had been waiting all
day for Edward to call, nervous that Forks and the big show
would distract him too much to remember me.

"Sorry Jake, I've got to take this." I said and I excused myself
and slipped out onto the patio.

"Hey!"

But it wasn't the soothing voice I expected to hear. It's was


Emmett booming: "5, 6, 7, 8!"

And then all 3 Cullens sang Happy Birthday to me over the


phone, all singing in ridiculous volumes and keys. It made me
incredibly happy and after they finished Edward grabbed the
phone and apologized again for not being there.

"It's really ok, there's nothing going on." I assured him. It was
true, we were just in the apartment as usual.

"Well I can hear people in the background, you must be doing


something," he replied.

"Oh Jake and Sam are here again and we rented a movie, but
that's it. Alice did buy me a ridiculous thing called a Love
Sac... but you'll find out more about that when you get back.
Other than that the most exciting thing that happened was
when Alice and I made cupcakes, but you aren't Emmett so
that shouldn't really make any difference to you."

He just laughed and said, "A Love Sac huh?...Well there's


nothing exciting going on here either. We don't have to leave
for the show for another hour or so. Oh, my mother says
'Happy Birthday'" I smiled at the thought of Esme wishing me
a happy birthday before I'd ever met her. I loved his whole
family so much.

They had been home for almost a week now. I hadn't been
talking to him every day like before, but it was consistent
enough. He briefly mentioned that Tanya was in Alaska with
her family until the 22nd, so I knew that our tiny hitch in
communication was not due to her, which made it ok.

"How's your piano?" I smiled when I asked it. I've seen what
he can do on a keyboard, I can only imagine the magic he
could create on a real piano.

"Excellent. I have been writing a lot. It's a lot easier to do on


the piano than the key board, I had almost forgotten what
music is really supposed to sound like." He chuckled.

"Can I hear what you wrote?" I had tried this before a few
days ago.

"Sure, just come over and once you get here I'll play it for
you." He was being funny.

"Ha ha. I meant for you to play it for me over the phone." I
put on my most innocent voice possible, hoping it would soften
him. It didn't.

"I've already told you my views on this. It's practically


disrespectful. It would sound horrible." He was so stubborn.

"Nothing you could play would ever sound horrible Edward, but
of course we will do things your way and I will wait. You have
to play it for me when you get back though." I didn't ask. I
would force him to.

"It'll be the first thing we do. That reminds me, I know what
I'm getting you for your birthday." I could hear him smiling.

That was the other thing he was annoyingly stubborn about. I


told him over and over again I did not expect anything from
him but he insisted he knew the perfect thing for me, he just
had to make sure he could actually get it. I hoped he would let
it go after a few days, but no.

"I've already told you my views on this. It's unnecessary." I


was mocking him and trying to be forceful with my voice but
he just laughed at me.

"Silly Bella, you will change your mind when you find out what
it is. I am certain. Would it help if I told you I won't spend any
money on it?"

It did help, but it made me extremely confused. "Sure." I


sighed.

"Good."

He sounded really content and I felt it too, like I always did


when I was talking to him. We spoke a little longer about small
things, making each other laugh until I saw the others in my
apartment were starting the movie and decided I should go.

I sat out there for a minute more and just let myself miss him.
My thoughts were broken by laughter breaking out inside and I
looked behind me through the sliding glass door to see Jacob
and Sam now wearing Alice's tank tops strutting around our
living room as she had a laughing fit on the floor and Rose ran
to get a camera.

It made me smile and I tucked my phone back into my pocket


and went inside to see what could possibly be going on.
After Alice got her clothes back from the guys we each
grabbed a cupcake and I settled into the Love Sac next to Jake
and enjoyed the rest of my real birthday as much as I could
enjoy any other Cullen free day.

September 22nd marked 2 weeks until the Cullens would get


back, to the day. It also marked the day Tanya got home from
Alaska and many things changed.

He stopped calling me everyday. I was convinced it was


because Tanya was around. There could be no other reason for
it. And there shouldn't be any reason that bothered me, I had
no right to be bothered. I knew this time was coming. I knew
that he would be with her and I would become second in his
life.

But no matter how many times I reminded myself I knew it


was coming I couldn't stop the pain I felt when it did.

I finally had a real conversation with him again on September


24th. Only 2 days after the last time we talked, but it felt too
long. Exactly one week and 5 days before they came home.

But he didn't sound the same. He was talking to me


differently. There was a warmth that was missing from his
voice.

"So what do you have planned tonight?" I asked trying to get


him to keep talking until he sounded more like himself.

"Just dinner with the family. And Tanya I think. I invited her
over tonight since my parents haven't seen her in so long due
to us being away." He still sounded wrong.

"That's great." I knew my voice sounded dead too. At least I


had a good reason.

"We had a really great talk last night, actually. I took her down
to the river and I think it's the first time we've been honest
with each other in a long time."
Why is he telling me this? He never talks about their
relationship to me. We never made that statement out loud,
but it just wasn't part of our friendship. Why now? Why is he
feeding me details now?

"Well that's good..." I said trying hard to think of ways to


change the subject quickly.

I didn't have time though. I didn't have time to change the


subject at all. I was still thinking when he said it.

Chapter 14 - Hello Alone

"We had a really great talk last night, actually. I took her down
to the river and I think it's the first time we've been honest
with each other in a long time."

Why is he telling me this? He never talks about their


relationship to me. We never made that statement out loud,
but it just wasn't part of our friendship. Why now? Why is he
feeding me details now?

"Well that's good..." I said trying hard to think of ways to


change the subject quickly.

I didn't have time though. I didn't have time to change the


subject at all. I was still thinking when he said it.

"I think I'm going to marry her Bella."

I stopped breathing. I just stopped.

Probably due to the fact my body forgot how to do anything in


that one moment. With that one word. My insides went frantic
with ways to convince me I hadn't just heard that, my whole
body was trying to refuse it, the knot was pounding in my
stomach.

"Tonight?" I blurted out.


"Certainly not. Not any time soon. Just someday. We sort of
discussed it last night." He almost sounded bored.

Sort of discussed it? Did he propose? Did he get down on one


knee? I imagined him as type of guy who would do that... Did
he give her a ring? Did they kiss and look into each other's
eyes and hold each other after it happened? All these images
flew through my mind in one horrible slide show and I
collapsed into the chair on the patio.

"Is there a date?" I hoped I didn't sound as mortified as I felt.


I needed to know though.

"No, nothing like that Bella." He didn't say my name right. "It's
just a plan. Not an engagement exactly... I mean, I didn't
propose or plan it out. I guess we both just know that
someday..." He didn't finish his sentence and he didn't need
to. Ring or no ring, date or no date it was final enough to
break my heart.

"Oh. Well good, I'm happy for you." I lied straight through my
teeth, my voice monotone, my mind still racing around in
confusion.

Jake and Sam were inside with Rose and Alice as was usual
these days, but none of them saw my silent melt down.

How was I supposed to respond to this? I am supposed to be


his best friend. Nothing more, no matter what I had let my
imagination get away with this past summer. It was so much
easier to fool myself when it was just us, joking about our faux
wedding, or laying in our fort, or holding hands in the bowl
chair...

"Bella I have to go, dinner's ready." Edward cut into my


thoughts. His voice was still entirely wrong. Everything in my
world was suddenly entirely wrong.

"Ok, bye. Miss you." I nearly whispered. It was all I could think
to do.
There was silence for a moment and I thought he was already
gone but I just sat there with the phone still up to my head not
able to move or think any further.

He wasn't gone yet though.

"You too." And the warmth was back for those 2 tiny words.
Then he was gone.

"Nothing's going to be different. Nothing is going to be


different. It doesn't have to be different..."

That's what I kept repeating quietly to myself as I sat outside


staring at my phone still in my hand.

After Jacob and Sam left that night I went to bed and lost it. I
have never had an episode like this. I'd never had a reason to.
Rosalie didn't miss a beat. She came into the room and laid
next to me and wrapped her arms around my shoulders and
let me cry. Sob. Scream.

I was really letting loose so Alice of course heard me and came


in as well. She sat at my feet and rubbed my legs through the
comforter as she looked at me with sad eyes.

I explained to them through my sobs the conversation Edward


and I had that evening. They both looked shocked when I told
them what he said about marrying Tanya.

They were great friends and they immediately protested it and


listed off all the reasons why it was a horrible mistake, and it
probably wouldn't end up happening, and all the things you
are supposed to say to me in this situation. I nodded at them,
not believing anything they said but not having strength to
fight back. I should have known this was coming. I should
have been more prepared.

It was always her.


After that night I threw myself into my scene with Jake. Any
second I could be Clementine and not Isabella was a blessing.

Jacob was amazing in our scene. He really did take me by


surprise every time we rehearsed. His character Joel was timid
and shy, but in a very charming way, and Jake was flawless
every time we rehearsed.

My character, Clementine, is all over the place. But in a good


way. She says what she feels and she goes after what she
wants in the moment, and she's eccentric and interesting and
bold and beautiful. She is not me. And that's the best thing
about her. She is a release for me though. She helps me forget
about all the shortcomings of plain old Bella whenever I am
her. She is loveable and she is someone's first choice. She isn't
stuck being the plain best friend. She isn't heartbroken. She
isn't wrongly in love with Edward Cullen. She is not me.

It is now October 1st. Exactly 5 days until the Cullens come


back.

I spoke to Edward on the phone once since the night he told


me about his "discussion" with Tanya. It was 3 days later, I
had called him. It probably sounds ridiculous and I almost
didn't even tell Rose and Alice that I called him after my
extreme breakdown the other night.

The thing is I started to understand all those dumb movies I


never thought were realistic, namely My Best Friend's
Wedding. Suddenly I understood it completely. They actually
walked in on my crying to it one night and I think that's when
the real worry started to set in. I just got it. When you are in
love with someone, the truest way to tell is when they have
promised themselves to someone else, killing part of you in
the process, and they are still the only person in the world you
want to talk to. Be with. Love.

Love began to take on a whole new meaning to me.

Hopeless.
This particular conversation I had with Edward was only for
about 3 minutes but it was better than the conversation that
preceded it because he said nothing of his girlfriend/semi
fiance/she-devil...or whatever you want to call her.

And, the warmth was back.

"I finished a song today." He said proudly and randomly.

"Congratulations. Play it for me over the phone." I knew he


wouldn't but I asked anyway. He had continued to refuse me
this one request the whole time he was home.

"You know I won't so why do you keep asking?" He lightly


chuckled.

"Because I am hopeless." I meant it in more ways than one.


Just calling him and speaking to him at the moment were proof
of that. He didn't know it, but I did.

"You will hear it soon enough, it's not like I will forget how to
play it when we return," he assured me.

We said goodbye quickly because his dad wanted to play


baseball with him and his brothers that afternoon.

Hearing his voice go back to normal was wonderful. It made


the knot in my stomach loosen slightly when we hung up, but
it did not make me forget what kept it there.

That day, September 27th, was the last time I spoke to


Edward Cullen before October 6th.

He never called again. No texts, nothing. I called him for the


first few days and left long humorous messages about my
boring days without him like I said I would, but they never got
returned. I stopped trying after 3 days.

Alice and Rose were around, and we had just called Emmett
for his birthday because it was now October 4th.
2 days before they returned. 1 day before they left Forks.
Exactly one full week since I have spoken to Edward. The
longest we have ever gone without speaking since the day we
met.

Jacob and Sam were over again and we were watching Eternal
Sunshine so we could get even more into our scene.

While I had my turn on the phone with Emmett during his


birthday call I asked what they were doing to celebrate. I felt a
little shameful since I was not asking it because I cared about
Emmett enjoying his birthday. I was asking it to get
information about Edward.

"Just a family dinner at the house. Well, family and some, um,
friends." The way he said "friends" told me what I needed to
know. It wasn't his blessed DVD collection. She was there. The
happy couple was together.

Then the way he said, "I love you sister, I really can't wait to
get back to you guys. We'll start having fun again Bellarina,"
confirmed that the sadness was apparent in my voice. Emmett
was trying to comfort me, no doubt having heard from Rose
about mine and Edward's sudden distance, and my reaction to
it.

Tonight Rose was in Bertha, asleep. Alice was in the bowl


chair, curled up with Jasper's hoodie he had on the day he met
us that he had left with her. Sam was in one of the chairs at
our table, he didn't like the floor. Jake and I were in the Love
Sac (which I was very much attached to now, Alice had been
right again) and Jake's head was in my lap, my hand
subconsciously playing with his hair.

It wasn't a huge ordeal like when Edward would let me touch


his hair. Jacob's dark locks were soft and it was a comforting
thing for me to do, but it was no match to running my fingers
through the amazing bronze strands that had no other equal.
It was just a habit that took the place of the finger or foot
tapping when we were watching movies.
I had gotten considerably closer to Jacob in a short amount of
time through our scene and through my constant need for it's
distraction.

I spent all of my spare time with him for the last week because
he reminded me of the character I could become to stop being
Bella. He made me feel like I didn't have to feel what Bella was
feeling, didn't have to worry about what Bella was or wasn't. I
don't know if I was using him. I don't think so because I truly
enjoyed his company.

And he always gave me hugs in the hallways at school when


we were waiting to go into class and I accidentally slipped into
memories of Edward and let my face show my pain. He never
knew why, but he always comforted me anyway.

The movie ended and Jacob looked up to me and smiled. I


smiled back and he said, "Bella we should do something fun
tomorrow. We don't have class or rehearsal or anything. Let's
get out of Hollywood, you want to?"

"That's a really great idea Jacob!" I was instantly searching my


mind for where we should go. "I know! Disneyland!"

The thought struck me like lightening. I love Disneyland! I


have only been there once since I moved to LA, way back in
1st semester with a girl that was in my class who loved Disney
also.

"I've never been actually," Jake sat up and said to me. "I've
always wanted to go though, so it's settled. Disneyland." He
stated and made it official.

"Disneyland." I agreed back with a nod.

"Disneyland!" He cheered and hugged me. We laughed at our


silliness and then they left with Sam singing "Dippity Do Dah"
all the way back to their apartment.
I laid down in bed that night letting misery take over as usual,
but then calming down with the thought of my adventure with
Jacob tomorrow.

I fell asleep imagining Edward's beautiful smile in front of


Sleeping Beauty's castle.

October 5th. The day the Cullens leave Forks to come back to
Hollywood. 1 day before I see them again. One full week and 1
day since I have spoken to Edward. Disneyland Day.

"Jacob, I said no!" I was throwing a slight tantrum as we stood


at the ticket window.

"Did you really just stomp your foot?" Jake laughed at me as


he ignored me and handed the teller some money.

"Yes! Yes I did! You are not paying for my ticket Jake!" I was
really angry. This made no sense to me.

"I told you Bells, it's your late birthday present. I said I was
going to do something for you, why not this?" He smiled and
me and I glared back. The "A Very Merry Un-Birthday" song
from Alice and Wonderland that just happened to come on
over the speakers throughout the entrance plaza only seemed
to mock me as he stared at me with his sincere face.

"Fine. I'll let you think you are getting away with this, but I will
pay you back somehow." I folded my arms and started
thinking of ways to pay him back immediately.

"Wow stubborn much?" I heard him chuckle under his breath.

He politely handed me my ticket and I snatched it out of his


hand.

"I can tell that this is going to be a really fun day with the
awesome way you are reacting to my present." He said
sarcastically as he looked at me sideways.

I cracked an apologetic smile and broke down.


"Sorry Jake, I just don't really like people doing things like this
for me. It makes me uncomfortable. I really appreciate it
though. Thanks." I kind of felt bad now, but I was still going to
try to make it up to him somehow.

I managed to leave out the explanation about my emotions


going haywire lately at the drop of a pin due to a certain
bronze haired "best friend" that I was foolishly in love with
who had gone MIA recently and was breaking my heart.

"Good!" He said at my submission to his present. He smiled


and it was dropped.

"Ok Jake, are you sure you are ready to experience The
Happiest Place on Earth?" I said excitedly as I linked my arm
in his to speed up our walking. I was definitely in a better
mood with each step closer to the front gates. You have to
love Disneyland.

"If you think I'm ready, I trust you."

"Your life is never going to be the same." I promised him.

We walked through the gates to the magic kingdom and I let


myself become overtaken with thoughts of fairy tale worlds
where love always wins, and where Edward Cullen didn't effect
my emotions.

The day I spent with Jake at Disneyland was amazing. I forgot


how happy it truly made me to be there. We had gone at least
once every time my family visited Riverside as I grew up and it
gave me the same feeling now as it did then.

Jake and I spent the day doing anything and everything we


could so he could get the full experience. We went on
everything from Splash Mountain to Peter Pan. We ate at my
favorite restaurant of all time, it's actually inside of the Pirates
of the Carribean ride, and we wore the paper pirate hats that
the little kids were supposed to wear throughout our entire
meal. We took pictures in the funny bug glasses you had to
wear for the 3-D Bug's Life show and made the best bug faces
we could come up with. He screamed like a girl again on Space
Mountain and the picture of that ride was of me literally turned
to him and laughing at his screaming. We watched parades
and the best show in the park, Fantasmic. And he didn't judge
me when I jumped up and down during the Peter Pan scene
with the real ship, or when I cheered Mickey on as he defeated
the dragon, or even when I got misty eyed at the end as
Mickey Mouse stood on the topmost part of the stage and
created magic before our very eyes.

"Are you seriously going to cry?" He put his arm around my


shoulders and I put my hands up to my face in awe. He was
saying it gently, like he was actually curious.

"No... Maybe. It's just so great, you know? Every time I see
the show I know it will turn out ok. I know that Mickey will
save the world. It's comforting." I looked at him with my
moisture filled eyes and smiled and he nodded that he
understood, humoring me.

I really appreciated him in that moment. It was nice to share it


with someone who was letting me be me. He wasn't telling me
to calm down like my mother always did, even when I was a
child. I tried extremely hard not to think about who I wished
was sharing this moment with me instead, and I leaned into
Jake a little more when the knot tightened and I suddenly felt
weak.

I fell asleep on the way home from the extreme amount of


physical and emotional rides I had gone through. Jacob and I
made our way to the apartments sleepily, him walking me to
my door before going to his own.

Our door still wasn't ever locked so I opened it and then


turned to hug him goodbye. He was closer to me than I
realized and I tripped on his foot and fell backwards into the
apartment, landing in a sitting position in my door way.
In our sleepy states it was the funniest thing in the world. He
fell to the ground next to me in laughter and we cracked up at
my complete lack of grace. When we stopped he got up
himself then reached his hand out to help me up as well.

"There's got to be something you can do about that," he


smiled at me.

"Sure, I'll just go to the equilibrium doctor and see what they
can do to fix me up." I retorted sarcastically. Of course there
was nothing I could do about it!

"That's all I ask. You are going to put yourself in real danger
one of these days. What would I do without you?" He asked
that mostly in a joking manner, but it turned a little serious at
the end and I blushed.

"I mean, Joel cannot complete his final project without


Clementine, she's the whole scene." He said it quickly,
covering the near seriousness of the previous moment.

"Please, Clementine cannot possibly remain stable without


Joel, so I need you as much as you need me."

That was clearly the wrong thing to say. His face got really
serious and I blushed even more. I didn't mean it in anyway
other than in reference to our scene partner relationship.

Yes, I had become really close with Jake in the last month. I
had spent so much time with him it would have been
impossible not to.

But I knew what it felt like to have someone who I actually


needed. I knew who it was that could keep me up at night
wondering if they really needed me too. I knew who it was
that made me nauseous when I started to realize that they
didn't...

With that thought I was done for the night. I literally had to
shake my head again to try and get those thoughts cleared
out. I needed to get to my bed, the place where I could finally
let them take me over and not have to constantly fight against
them.

"Bells you don't look too good, I think you need some sleep."
Jake said as he watched my face change with my thoughts. He
still never asked what always changed my mood so suddenly,
he just snapped into caretaker mode.

"Yeah, I think you're right." I hugged him and let him support
most of my weight for a second. "Thank you again for going
with me today Jacob, it was a really great idea to get out of
here for a bit."

He murmured his agreement and then let me go. I closed the


door and walked to my room, just falling onto my bed in my
clothes, not bothering to change.

I looked over at the clock. 12:33am.

October 6th. The 9th day in a row Edward and I haven't


spoken. The day the Cullens finally return.

I climbed under the covers but I couldn't sleep. Surprisingly


enough I didn't break down either. There were too many
thoughts running through my mind.

I picked up my phone and dialed. I couldn't stand it anymore.

It only took 2 rings.

"Bellarina!"

This time it did cheer me up, a little.

I was stuck in my stubbornness at this point. If Mr. Marriage


didn't want to talk to me then I wouldn't waste my time calling
him just to have him not pick up or not have the decency to
return his supposed best friend's calls.
"Emmett! I didn't wake you up did I?" I knew he wouldn't care
if I did, but I would feel a little bad about it.

"No way sister, I'm just in the back of the jeep hanging out.
Jasper's driving. Don't you usually bug Edward about getting
back faster than humanly possible?" He chuckled at himself
and I smiled at how naive he was. He clearly didn't
comprehend how much our situation had changed in the past
few days. Well, how much Edward had let everything change.

"I actually haven't spoken to Edward in over a week." I know


my tone was littered with annoyance.

"Oh...huh. Well do you want me to put him on the phone real


quick?" He asked innocently, apparently not catching on to my
tone.

"Actually, yes that would be great."

Try to ignore me now Cullen.

I heard movement and then the murmur of Emmett's voice.


Then for the first time in 9 whole days:

"Hello?"

It was icy velvet again and truly a question. Emmett hadn't


told him it was me.

"Hello. You are on your way back." It wasn't a question like


usual. I was just talking to him for the sake of talking to him
now.

"Yes we are. We've been driving since yesterday evening so


we will be getting in around 8ish." He stated back to me
calmly.

"I'm excited to see you."

I sighed to myself in defeat. I couldn't be mad at him. I


couldn't hold on to the anger or the annoyance of him blatantly
ignoring me. Anyone else and I would have been strong for
days on end. But not with Edward.

He always got everything he would let me give to him.

"Me too Bella. It will be good to get back." I could tell he


meant it but his voice didn't change. It was something though.

Everything he said was still void of the warmth. I wish I could


see his eyes, see the emotions there. He could never keep
things out of his eyes like he could his voice.

"Alright, I think I'm going to try to sleep now so I'm going to


give the phone back to Emmett." He did sound tired, that's for
sure.

"Ok, have good sleep."

"Thank you. You should probably get some too, it's really late."
I agreed and then said goodbye.

At least he seemed concerned about me, like he really did still


care. Everything would be better tonight when they got home.
He was just tired.

For 9 whole days, Bella? No, you cannot chalk all his odd
behavior up to fatigue. I was too tired myself, though, of
trying to figure out what was wrong with him so that's what I
lied to myself over and over again anyway.

"So you heard we'll be home tonight?" Emmett asked me


excitedly but softly.

"Yeah, I can't wait. It's been a long month." I tried to talk


normally to him, but I was still fighting the feeling Edward's
cold voice had left in me.

"Bella what's wrong?"


He asked with so much concern in his voice. And he called me
"Bella". Not "sister" or "Bellarina" like usual. He finally heard
the anguish in me.

"Is Edward by you?" I asked.

"Not really. He's in the seat in front of me so I can lay down


back here, but he's got his iPod on so he can't hear me. Ed?"
Emmett tested his brother, but when he got no response I
continued.

"Edward has been...different lately Emmett. He stopped calling


me all of a sudden over a week ago and we haven't talked
again until just now and I know you didn't tell him it was me
on the phone when you gave it to him. You know how we are
together Em, we're best friends, that is not like us. It's not like
him. Something is wrong and it just makes me sad. I miss
him. He actually stopped talking to me pretty much when
Tanya came back." I admitted it all to him because Emmett
was probably well aware of my feelings for Edward. He'd been
teasing me about it since the week we all met, after all.

"Oh sister, it will be ok." He sighed like he wanted to say more


but he didn't. He simply continued, "Just give him time. We'll
be home tonight and things will go back to normal. You should
really sleep now so I'm going to let you go."

"Ok, thanks Emmett. Love you. See you soon."

"See you soon Bellarina."

I hung up and smiled at my love for Emmett. He said to give


Edward time. I scoffed when I realized that I would.

Emmett said things would go back to normal. I had to believe


him. But something was pulling at me, causing the knot in my
stomach to tighten even more.

I ignored it and rolled over. They would be home tonight.


Things could start to go back to normal tonight.
It is 8:07pm on October 6th. 7 minutes past the time we were
expecting them home.

"I mean, can they ever be on time for anything?" Alice was
ranting as she paced in our living room.

She was being a bit dramatic, Edward had said "8ish" not 8
exactly. But I knew how she felt. I was sitting on the edge of
what I now thought of as Sam's chair. My leg was bouncing up
and down rapidly, my mind moving even faster.

At 8:09 we all got the same text at the same time. It was from
Emmett.

Home!

Alice squealed and led us to the door where we walked as fast


as possible with out actually running to the elevator, rode it
down, exited, and rushed into the parking garage.

He must have texted a bit early to give us time because the


big red jeep was just being turned off.

The driver side door flew open and Emmett bounded out,
scooped Rose up and spun her around as he kissed her. Alice
had run over to the passenger side of the jeep and I suppose
her and Jasper were having their reunion privately over there.

I was so nervous it was beyond ridiculous. I shouldn't be


nervous, this is my family, this is Edward, my best friend, the
person I have been dying to see for 33 days.

But the knot was the worst it had ever, ever been in all 33
days. I was sort of frozen in place, about 6 feet away from the
jeep.

Emmett let Rosalie go and ran over to me next before I could


think or move any closer.
I hugged him as tight as I could, knowing I would never match
his strong squeeze. It felt so good to be hugging my big
brother again.

"Bellarina! We are home!" He was so happy about it, it actually


gave me hope and confidence.

"I know you are! It's a good day!" I had a real smile on now
and I was feeling real happiness.

He set me down and Jasper was right behind me waiting for


his turn. I hugged him tightly too and felt so much happier in
that embrace as well. He rubbed my back in a very reassuring
manner. The way you would do to someone who just
experienced a tragedy. He was comforting me.

When I pulled away from Jasper I noticed Edward had gotten


out of the jeep. The sight of him again took my breath away,
even though it was just his back.

He was side hugging Alice as she went on and on about a shirt


she bought for him.

He was digging around in the back of the jeep trying to pull his
bag out. Once it was released he flung it over his shoulder and
turned around and faced me. I looked in his eyes for the first
time in one month and 3 days.

Something was more than wrong. His eyes were wrong. They
were dark and they were distant. His body language was
wrong. His shoulders were slumped and his head was held a
little lower than usual. And he looked tired in a way.

He was still gorgeous of course. If you hadn't known him


before, or hadn't studied and memorized every detail about
him as I had, you would have been stunned. I still found things
to oggle, but I was overcome with sadness at the amount of
things that were just wrong.
"Bella!" He smiled a ghost of my favorite crooked smile and
reached his free arm out to me as he walked over.

His walk was wrong.

"Hey," was all I could get out as I sincerely smiled back at


him.

He brought me into an embrace, but it was wrong too. It was


only half the hug he usually gave me.

I leaned into him to try and fix it. He smelled the same at
least. I took in the scent I had been forcing myself to
remember every day and realized I had done a poor job
recreating it in my memory.

It was the only thing about him that wasn't changed somehow.

He let go and kept walking to the elevator, alone, not even


looking back at anyone. Not saying anything more. He just
walked away.

I turned back to the others and just stared. All 4 of them


stared back silently at me, having watched Edward walk away
alone. None of them had any help for me.

I didn't cry and I didn't yell. I didn't do anything. I went


completely numb.

I retreated to my apartment alone, just as Edward had. Clearly


things were going to remain different from the way he treated
me.

The numbness led me through the living room and into the
bedroom. I had imagined the reunion so much differently than
that. Especially after 9 days of not talking at all. Tanya or no
Tanya we should be able to still be friends. We always had
before.
Time didn't matter any more. Days didn't matter any more. I
threw my cell phone on my bed and then myself next to it. Or
on top of it. Or whatever. It didn't matter any more.

I had been laying face down on my bed for a while when the
door opened and someone came inside.

"Bells?" Rosalie was using her careful voice.

"Hmm?" I just grunted into the pillow.

"Do you want some dinner? We are thinking pizza." She


paused and then extra carefully added, "Edward went to the
practice space, so it just us and Em and Jasper."

I thought about it for a second. I was hungry. Or at least I


should be. Either way...

"Ok, I'm in." I said. I pulled myself up and followed her into
the living room.

We put on sweaters and walked to the little pizza place a few


blocks down. I didn't have any input in the order. I wouldn't
really taste it anyway.

Rose and Alice talked about anything and everything to try to


get me to open up. They were trying to get me to tell Emmett
and Jasper about my scene with Jake, or Sam's ET
impersonation, or the movies we watched while they were
away.

I almost felt bad for them. I knew all their efforts were being
wasted.

We got back to our apartment and ate as we watched TV.

"I'm going to take a shower." I announced as I realized that it


was something I should probably do before bed.

"Bella don't you want some more pizza?" Alice asked with her
little careful voice.
"Um, not really. I'm kind of full." I lied.

Well, I knew I wasn't hungry. So I must be full.

"You only took 2 bites Bell," Rose said still being so damn
careful. Like their words were going to break me further.

"Oh," is all I said. I just walked into the bathroom and shut the
door.

The shower passed and I was in my pajamas. I went out into


the living room and sat in the Love Sac just to not be in my
room anymore.

No one was home. Excellent.

I sighed and grabbed my book off the table.

I read for a bit and then just let the book drop out of my hands
and to the floor when I realized I wasn't really reading at all. I
knew the story by heart anyway. Why was I reading something
that I already knew? What is wrong with me? Why do I stay
interested in things that will not ever change? Why...

But my thoughts were interrupted by Alice walking in the door


with Rose.

"Hey Bells! You're still awake!" Alice was speaking in a new


voice now, it was excited and careful. How creative.

"Is that an accomplishment?" I asked. I didn't say it mean, I


was not mad at anyone. I said it as a joke and I was pleased
when they chuckled and I knew it had come out as I intended.

"Well it is 12:30 in the morning." Rosalie replied, releasing a


little bit of caution and sounding more like herself.

"Oh. I was reading."


They both glanced from my empty hands to the book that was
lying on the floor, out of my reach, and then back at me with
sad eyes.

Then they looked at each other and nodded, making some


silent agreement right in front of me. They came over and sat
on either side of me, the Love Sac providing more than enough
room for the 3 of us. Alice turned and faced me.

"Bella, we know you are having a hard time because of how


Edward is behaving." She paused after she said his name. She
wasn't using her careful voice anymore though, she was using
her regular friendly one, but they were both starting at me,
waiting for me to physically react to his name or something.

I was too numb for that. They only thing that reacted was the
silent contraction of the knot inside of me. On the surface I
just stared back at her until I found my voice.

"Yeah I think everyone except Edward knows I'm having a


"hard time". Or at least if he knows he doesn't seem to care
anymore. I don't know if he's aware of it or why he's making it
this way , however, because he won't talk to me about it. Or
hardly anything for that matter!" I was breathing faster now.
The numbness wasn't gone, I think I just felt it loosening. So I
stopped talking.

Then out of nowhere Alice just said it.

"Bella, Edward and Tanya broke up."

Numbness gone.

Ok so I couldn't resist doing it again! But it's better this


time right? Are you happier? You have to be.

Oh the surprises I have in store for you guys! We are


nowhere near finished here people - hehe

Chapter 15 - Cold Water


Then out of nowhere Alice just said it.

"Bella, Edward and Tanya broke up."

Numbness gone.

"What? Alice, what do you mean they broke up? Are you
serious? Weren't they just practically engaged?" I may have
asked all 4 questions at the same time, I was talking so fast. I
felt like a huge bucket of cold water had been dumped over my
head. I was instantly alert and very shaken up.

My heart was pounding and my head was spinning and


thoughts were racing. I think the knot exploded.

Broke up? They broke up? He told me they were getting


married not breaking up!

"It happened on Emmett's birthday," Alice continued calmly.


"They got into a fight or something. Jasper and Emmett don't
exactly know what all happened because Edward and Tanya
went outside for a walk, then like 30 minutes later Edward
came in all upset and the only thing he would tell the family is
that he broke up with her."

"So he broke up with her?" That was definitely an important


detail.

Alice nodded in confirmation.

He did it. Him. Not her. Edward broke up with Tanya. He had
to have a reason. Things were so different the last time I
talked to him. He had to have a reason. A good reason. Me?

NO!

I was thinking too quickly now and that was not the correct
thing to think. Where did that even come from? From all the
unhealthy wishful thinking. No, not because of me, he wasn't
even speaking to me. But what then?
"I have to talk to him."

That was the only thing I knew for sure. Whatever the reason
was it had hurt him. It had changed him. But he did it for
some good reason, I know Edward and he wouldn't do
something like this without a good reason, especially if it hurt
him to do it.

Then it hit me. It hurt him. He was in pain. Of course he


wasn't going to be himself!

I sighed and I knew I needed to push everything else aside


and be his friend. As much as he would let me at least. That's
what he needed.

Emmett was right, things were going return to normal. I was


back to pushing everything that hurt me aside to make sure I
got the sparkle back in his eye and the warmth back in his
voice. That was what I needed.

I went to the boys' apartment that same night. Yes, it was


around 1 in the morning now but Alice and Rose confirmed
that they boys were still up and followed me over there.

Emmett and Jasper were watching Friends in their living room.


We were seamlessly slipping back into our old routine, and
that gave me strength to keep going.

I sat on the couch because I could hear that Edward was on


the phone in his room. I was sitting on the side closest to his
door. Jasper was next to me, Alice on his other side.

Jasper gave me a pat on the leg and a smile. He was my


family too, and he was very aware of how Edward effected me.
His reassuring touch made me feel a little better. Jasper was
usually good for things like that.

I turned my face to the TV but actually put all of my attention


on Edward's voice coming from his room. His door was half
way open so I could hear most of what he said.
"I know Dad. Yeah. I know. I just really need to figure a things
out...Thanks...I know, and I've realized that...I know. Love
you too. Bye."

I ached at the sadness in his voice as he spoke to his father.


He walked out after he hung up.

As he walked past me he looked down and smiled a fake smile,


but I figured it was probably the best he could do at the
moment so I smiled back. He reached down and squeezed my
shoulder quickly and then kept going into the kitchen. My
shoulder held onto the warmth from where he touched me.

I sat there as I heard him open the fridge, grab something,


and then close it. He started walking back to his room with a
water bottle in his hand, went in, then shut the door. I heard
music start to play. Damien Rice. Wallowing music.

I sighed. "I'm going to bed guys, I'll see you tomorrow."

Tonight was clearly not the correct time to talk to him. He


needed some time alone probably. I just need him to know I
am here when he is ready.

I was sad as I walked back to our apartment and got into my


bed but not crushed or anything near where I had been before.
I picked up my phone and opened it.

Welcome home. -Bella

I sent it off to Edward then settled into bed. The knot had
returned and was the only thing with me as I slipped into
dreamless sleep.

The next dayI had a full day of school and then rehearsal with
Jacob. We were rehearsing in the spot we would be filming
now, which was a grassy knoll on campus.

I was not diving into it as I had been before, today I was


distracted rather than using it as my distraction.
Of course Jacob noticed so I apologized and we decided to end
it early. He stayed at school and I drove back to the apartment
alone.

I still had the knot but I was working to ignore it.

Edward was at work when I got home. Emmett had helped him
get hired at a Starbucks in a Barnes & Nobel in the huge
shopping center close to Beverly Hills called The Grove. It is a
really nice area and Emmett was going to be transferring there
soon as well. Edward was training today apparently. I got this
information from Emmett.

Later that night we were hanging out in the boys' apartment


when Edward got home. He looked really tired still. Not the
work tired, the sad tired.

He took a shower and then came out into the living room with
the rest of us. He had on his maroon zip up and it still
complimented his hair and his skin perfectly, but the darkness
his eyes had taken on wasn't effected. He ran his hand
through his damp hair as he walked out his door and I sat up a
little bit falling back in love with that subconscious habit of his.

The spot next to me on the couch was open. He sat on the


floor.

I couldn't help it when my heart started to ache. I took a deep


breath.

2 hours later we were playing "would you rather", a game the


boys' played on the road to pass the time and apparently
weren't sick of yet. Well, Emmett and Jasper weren't sick of it.
Edward wasn't really speaking.

It was Jasper's turn. "Would you rather have relations with


Sleeping Beauty or Pocahontas?" He asked the group.

"Sleeping Beauty, she's classic." Alice said confidentially.


"Same for me. Blondes should stick together." Rose said with a
smile.

"I hate Pocahontas." I replied truthfully. I do. I never liked the


story or anything.

"No way!" Emmett yelled from the kitchen, even though he


didn't need to. We were all literally 5 feet away. "Pocahontas
all the way! She's already got "poke" in her name- so you
know it's good!" He wiggled his eyebrows and his ridiculous
logic made everyone laugh.

I even caught Edward chuckling. So there was hope.

The rest of the game did nothing for him though. I was more
silent as well because of it.

Eventually I got frustrated and decided to just leave. We were


not going to make any progress tonight, that was apparent.
Besides that one chuckle he pretty much stayed blank. I
couldn't stand it anymore. I was putting out my best effort to
be normal, but it just wasn't normal and I needed to escape
for a while.

I got back to my apartment and went straight to my room and


sat on the bed. I wasn't going to cry. I was just thinking,
letting myself sink into the hopelessness that was being held in
because it was easier to just let go whenever I got a chance
to.

Suddenly Edward was in my door way just looking at me with


his eyes that weren't anything like they should be.

"Hey." I said quietly.

"Hey." He said back, just as quietly. "Can I talk to you?"

Finally!

"Of course." I said and I scooted over on the bed to make


room for him next to me.
He took a seat, sitting crossed legged on my bed facing me.

I turned and mimicked his position and waited.

"Bella, you probably already know this, but I know I should tell
you myself anyway. Tanya and I broke up." He was still talking
really softly and he was looking down at my bed.

"Yeah, I know Edward."

He didn't start again for a few moments. I waited, barely


breathing.

"I did it. On Emmett's birthday." He paused again. "It was so


hard Bella..." He breathed that out and then he looked up to
me.

He wasn't crying at all but he looked more sad than I have


ever seen him.

"Why then?" I asked almost breathless.

He sighed and looked back down. "A lot of reasons, really. It


was so weird, we had just talked about getting married
someday only a few days before." He ran one hand through his
hair as he said this. It still drove me crazy.

"I remember." I replied. Like I could have forgotten.

He took a long time to start talking again, but this time when
he did it was faster than before and I tried to take it all in.

"The marriage stuff was one last effort for me to make it right
for her I guess. It was so easy to think about after readjusting
to life in Forks that first week. I have tried everything to make
it right. No matter what I try though, we always ended back at
the same place. She's changed so much, I guess I didn't see it.
Well, I didn't want to see it. She's not the person I fell in love
with 2 years ago. She's started living a life style I don't agree
with. She was honest about it when we first moved. That's
when she got these new friends and started spending all her
time with them. They party a lot and are pretty vulgar."

Yeah, those were definitely not Edward's type of people.


Sometimes he couldn't even stand Emmett's playful comments
if they crossed a certain line.

"When I confronted her about how it made me feel when she


hung out with them, how it was changing her, all she said to
me was, 'Well if you were here I wouldn't need them, would I?
They're all I've got now. Should I give that up too?' That was
right after we met you guys I think. Talk about guilt... A few
nights later she apologized and said she would take it easy. I
thought we would be ok then. I thought it was ok then. There
were a few incidents and we'd fight about it, but we always
tried to work it out before we hung up for the night. No one
said long distance was easy after all. What I didn't know was
that she was just lying to me to make me think she had
calmed down."

He looked up at me then and there was something in his eyes


finally, but it wasn't what I was looking for. It was anger.

"She kissed another guy. It all came out in our fight on


Emmett's birthday. It was at a stupid party her friends took
her too while we were in Riverside recording, when her and I
took a break from speaking to each other. It was sort of a
break up so I wasn't sure how upset I could get. It was a weird
"break". Obviously I was still angry though. Then she told me
she wasn't drunk when it happened, as if that made it better.
She was just lonley and there was no way I could understand
because we had met all of you and that's all I talked about."

That was the first time I understood what it must have been
like to be Tanya all these months. As much as I hated hearing
her name, how much had she hated hearing any of ours? Or
even just mine? How much of our relationship had Edward let
her in on? She had a right to know everything. He at least told
her enough to make her use it against him.
I very nearly felt bad for her. But Edward was still talking, and
still hurting, and that was unacceptable.

"Things had been so rough for us, I almost wanted to work


past it again. But then I asked her if that was the only time
she had kissed another guy. She told me yes but she had
come really close once before. I asked when. She said May
9th."

He was staring at me now like I should have made a


connection to that date.

"Bella, we didn't leave Forks to move here until May 16th."

Then I got it. She almost did it before they left. After he told
her the band was moving. Before the goodbye show.

"Then it all made sense. That's why she wasn't speaking to me


before the last show. That's why she was so miserable at the
show. That's why she was crying in the car. The guilt. I know
how it feels, believe me it's astounding how strong that feeling
is. I couldn't even look at her anymore. She had already
started changing before I left, so she could not use her new
friends as an excuse. She was making these decisions when
they were still directly going to effect me. She almost cheated
on me and had no intentions of telling me about it. I told her
to leave and then I went back into the house and that was
that."

He wasn't looking at me anymore. Just down at the bed again.

"It's horrible because I know I still have a love for her. I mean,
I've known her for so long... but I suppose I love the person I
wanted her to be. The one she used to be. I don't know her
anymore. The woman I loved wouldn't have done any of those
things."

He was practically saying the last part of his speech to himself.


I just sat and watched because I didn't know what to do. I
wanted to hold him. I wanted to comfort him and make him
smile again. I wanted to go to Forks and hunt Tanya down and
make her feel the way I am feeling right now watching my
Edward in so much pain.

But I can't do any of those things. I'm not enough to really do


any of those things. He's not really my Edward to do those
things for.

"I'm so sorry Edward." I whispered it to him because it's all I


could think of to actually do. I reached out and set my hand on
his knee.

He looked up, but not all the way. Just kind of at the wall.

"Thank you Bella. Thank you for listening. I haven't told


anyone but my father the complete story. I will be fine. Clearly
my life isn't going in the direction I thought it was, which is
fine. I know what I need to do though. I need to move on and
concentrate on the right things."

This sounded good. His voice was stronger and he wasn't


speaking in such a defeated tone. I started to feel better.

But that's only because I didn't know what was coming next.

"We came here for a reason 5 or so months ago. To help the


band. To give us an opportunity Forks couldn't. My brothers
and I are here for a very definite reason, and so far we haven't
put as much effort into that as we should. It's been really fun
and I really love all of you but it's time to start focusing
again."

No. Wait. No... my head started spinning... this wasn't going


where I thought it was...No!

"So I just want you to know something Bella."

He looked straight at me then. There was something in his


eyes. Not the anger from before. Not the happiness I desired.
Determination.
I felt my mouth go dry.

"I am going to be sort of distant. For a while at least. I need to


break away from the group and focus on music and the band
and spend some time alone. I need to figure a lot of things
out. I really need to figure myself out."

I opened my mouth to say something but nothing came out. I


must have looked like and idiot, but I could not think of words
to talk him out of this. He was clearly determined. He just kept
staring at me.

"I really care about you, and Alice and Rose of course. I'm not
planning on disappearing or anything, just spending more time
doing more productive things. I thought I should let you know
I won't be around as much. Like I said I still care a lot about
you Bella, and if you need anything don't hesitate to come to
me, please. I'm just making a decision not to be around the
group as much for a while. Not to be distracted."

He stayed determined as I felt my eyes fill with moisture. I


didn't blink though. I didn't look away even. I stared back and
tried to place the same determination he had in my own eyes
and all I said was, "No."

But his determination continued to bore into me and he won.


"Bella I'm sorry, but it's what I have to do right now."

I literally saw the walls block me out and build up in his eyes
and I felt the first tear fall.

"But I'm going to miss you." My body only allowed me a


whisper.

"I'm sorry..." It's all he said and then he pulled me into a hug.

Why is he hugging me? Is he doing some sort of dramatic


goodbye gesture? Who is this person that's pretending to be
Edward? Where did he really go? How do I get him back?
I didn't have any answers and they wouldn't have helped
anyway. He already made his decision.

I didn't even enjoy his touch because it was so false.


Everything about what he was doing was so wrong.

He pulled away from me finally and for the second time in 2


days I went completely numb.

For 2 weeks he stayed true to his word and I stayed numb.

They would go to band practice right after he got home from


work, giving him about 10 minutes to be around everyone.
Then Emmett and Jasper would come home from practice and
Edward would stay 5 blocks away in the practice space for
hours and hours until he came home and practically went
straight to bed.

I can't honestly say what I really did during most of that 2


weeks. I know I went to school. I know I rehearsed with Jake
and it was good because it was my release again. It was the
only time I allowed myself to feel because they weren't my
feelings at all.

I know I hung out with Emmett, Rosalie, Jasper and Alice at


home. I know I hung out with Sam and Jake at school. I
laughed with everyone, but I could not tell you what we
laughed about more than half the time. I can't tell you many
details because I was just going through the motions of living
my life.

Everything was so dull without Edward. The knot was hardly a


replacement for him.

I missed his voice. I missed his sweet familiar smell. I missed


his laugh and his smirks. I missed his smugness. I missed his
hair and his hands running through his hair. I missed him
whispering funny things to me while we were in a room with
everyone else, just so we would be in our own world. I missed
planning our fake wedding and discussing music. I missed
hearing about his parents and his house and his stupid shiny
volvo. I missed the way he would ruffle my hair. I missed the
way we could just look at each other and laugh about things
without having to know why. I missed the way he said my
name and the way he sang under his breath all the time and
how he always fell asleep during movies if we weren't
annoying everyone by talking through them. I missed how he
would stand behind me and drum on my shoulders to
whatever song was playing in his head at the time. It wasn't
even a matter of being in love with him at this point. I simply
missed my best friend most the time.

The worst part is that it didn't feel like a fight or even a break
up of sorts. It was like a death. That's what made it so hard.
The person I loved, in more ways than one, just didn't exist
anymore.

I spoke to everyone about how I felt, it didn't matter to me


anymore. If someone told him I missed him so much it
probably wouldn't make a difference anyway. I saw the
determination turn into solid walls that night.

It wasn't as if we never hung out though. I would sit next to


him silently whenever he was around long enough. I still took
whatever I could get, as pathetic as that sounds. He wasn't
avoiding me he just wasn't as involved in what the group did.

Of course one of the only days I remember details about


throughout that 2 weeks involved him. It wasn't a happy
memory like I wished for though.

It was just him and I in their living room watching Friends. It


was the middle of the second week. It was the first time we
had been alone since the night he told me he broke up with
Tanya.

It was very hard for me to be around him since he was so


different, but it was better than not being around him at all.
We were sitting next to each other on the couch, farther away
than we used to, but not as far away as possible. It was
horrible.

We weren't joking or talking over the TV. We were actually


sitting there watching it. It was those subtle differences that
killed me. When something particularly funny happened on the
show he would turn to me and we would laugh together for a
second at what had happened.

I much rather be laughing with him about a moment we


shared than staring at a TV and laughing next to him about a
moment someone else wrote.

I had this horrible false hope that at any second he would turn
to me and his eyes would be back to normal and we would
snap back into our amazing friendship and he would forget all
his silly "I need to be distant and find myself" crap.

All I wanted was for him to scoot closer to me. Not in any
romantic way, just the way it used to be. I wanted to see his
real smile when he turned to me and to be sharing a "movie
snack" because we were watching something on TV for a long
period of time. I wanted him to tease me about being clumsy
or get excited over a new CD and force me to pause the show
and listen to it right away. I wanted to hear the things he had
composed and promised me I could hear when they returned
from tour. I even wanted my damn birthday present he was so
stubborn about, just because it would be the old Edward being
stubborn about giving it to me!

I was yearning for him and he was right there next to me.

Then an episode came on where a couple on the show broke


up and the mood changed dramatically.

It is the one where Ross cheated on Rachael because they


were "on a break" and she forced herself to leave him even
though she loved him because she said she didn't know him
anymore. He wasn't really the person she loved anymore.
I looked at Edward when I felt him tense next to me and his
face was stone. His eyes weren't though. They were liquid. No,
they were holding liquid. He was on the verge of crying.

I had never seen this before. It instantly broke my heart. I


should have remembered that episode was in this season! We
have already watched it before. How did I not remember that?

I didn't think. I just said "Edward..." and reached out to him. It


was instinct for me to do it.

He broke down then. He leaned into me and put his head on


my chest and I wrapped my arms around him. He silently cried
for a minute and it was finally I who was comforting him after
so many months of it being the other way around. I was so
overwhelmed with our closeness that I had missed so much I
started to let tears fall too.

He eventually sat up but kept our arms entwined.

"That's what it felt like Bella. It all came flooding back to me


as we watched that scene and I couldn't hold it in." He was
wiping his tears away now and sounded like he was trying to
apologize for something.

"I know exactly how she felt. You don't want to do it. You don't
want to believe someone you thought you knew could change
that just want it to be fixed." He was better now, recovering,
putting his walls back up as he explained to me. I could see his
eyes change as he put all the walls right back up.

I could still feel remnants of my own tears on my cheeks but I


didn't dare take my arms away from his, not knowing when I
would be around him with the walls down again.

He retracted his arms from mine but reached a hand up and


wiped the remaining wetness from my face and smiled.

He said, "Thanks Bell," quietly and I nodded back. He got up


and went into his bathroom. He came back with a tissue for
me and one for him. He sat back down on the couch in the
spot that set us apart from each other and he handed me my
tissue.

We both turned back to the TV and before I knew it we were


back in the friendship that was just the ghost of our real one.
He pulled away again.

That was the only instance in those 2 weeks Edward allowed


me into his world.

The only other days I have detailed memories from are due to
the people who were still my family during that time.

Rose, Alice, Jasper and Emmett all tried to distract me and


bring me back into the world as myself. They all had different
methods and they all succeed at least once, but nothing was
permanent. The loss I felt was just too strong.

Rosalie and Alice were constantly looking for ways to cheer me


up and keep me in that state. Apparently when I wasn't talking
or concentrating on something specific I had a really sad look
on my face. I didn't notice the difference because inside that's
how I felt all the time.

Emmett was the first to cheer me all the way up, even if it was
temporary.

Mostly he would just take me to lunch at Baja Fresh (a favorite


of both of ours) and let me talk and talk and talk about Edward
and missing him and loving him and missing him some more.
Then he would give me a giant bear hug and I would let him
squeeze me as hard as he could foolishly hoping maybe he
could squeeze the sadness right out of me.

One afternoon, I think it was the weekend, I was laying on the


couch watching him play video games. We had been the only 2
home all day, he actually had the day off which was rare, and I
had wandered into their apartment looking for the Lost Cause
(who Emmett informed me was being "productive" in the
practice space).

I ended up cheering Emmett on as he yelled profanities at the


little football players on the screen because they just would
not play correctly. That alone made me smile. He was such a
big kid.

"Emmett it's fun rooting for you and your little men." I threw
out. And it really was. It was a comforting kind of fun.

Emmett is Emmett so he only heard one select syllable in my


statement.

"Bellarina, you know what I could really go for right now? A


root beer float! Doesn't that sound like the perfect thing right
now?" He got so excited. I should have known he would have
translated anything I said into something food related.

I sat up. I'll go along with it. There's only one thing I really
crave these days, and I won't find it at the bottom of a glass
with soda and ice cream, but who could deny Emmett?

"We're going to the store, aren't we?" I smirked up at him and


he just closed his eyes and nodded dramatcially. "Well I need
to stop by my place first and get shoes." I told him, sticking
out my legs and wiggling my bare feet.

He just picked me up and flung me over his shoulder and


carried me down the hall to my apartment, causing me to
laugh the whole way. It was so unecessary. It was so Emmett.

We found Alice in the Love Sac when we walked into the


apartment and Emmett just said, "We're making rootbeer
floats, you're either in or your out."

Alice let out a tiny excited squeal and jumped up to prove she
was in. I threw some converse on and we were out, the three
of us in Emmett's giant jeep.
We never got the root beer floats, however. We decided to go
to Super Target on Sunset and Melrose and we got entirely too
distracted. We ended up with a huge tub of sherbert ice cream
instead. I still don't know how, and this time it's not because
of my Loss-of-Edward-Daze. None of us could really explain
how we had changed our minds and ended up with it.

So we get to Emmett's jeep and decide that we rather not sit


in the apartments and risk having to share our sherbert with
the others. So we planned a stealth mission.

We would park on the street, Alice would run up and into our
kitchen, grab some spoons and then retreat back to the jeep
and we would make away with our ice cream and the open
road!

She more than succeeded. It only took her about 3 minutes to


complete the mission and she even brought shortbread
cookies, much to Emmett's delight. He quickly forsake his
spoon and just started eating cookies dipped in sherbert.

He was driving so eventually he started making Alice and I


practically feed him. Whenever he was ready for more he'd
just yell, 'Sherbert me!' and whichever one of us was faster
would grab a cookie, scoop, and place it into Emmett's waiting
open mouth and he would proceed to make very loud yummy
noises.

We had 90's music blasting and we were driving all through


downtown LA. Once Emmett was so enthralled by the palm
trees that were flourishing in the middle of October he let go of
the wheel completely and stuck his whole giant upper body
outside of the driver's side window pumping his fists and
yelling, "Palm trees! There's freaking palm trees alive right
now! In October! What the heck?"

It was frightening but much to entertaining to get angry about.


He could be such a big kid and he was a great distraction from
any worry or sadness you had in you. I was laughing so hard I
barely had control over the wheel as he hung out the window.
We even parked the jeep once and got out and explored some
of the more interesting buildings in the city. We made plans to
head to the beach when Emmett got a text.

"Oh girls, we have to stop by the practice space real quick, the
guys are off work and we need to load the jeep for the show
this weekend. The guys are already there. But then we can go
to the beach!" We remained excited and headed back to
Hollywood Blvd for our quick detour.

When we got there Edward and Jasper were outside with a


bunch of equipment on the sidewalk, waiting.

But the totally awesome thing was, they weren't alone. Angela
and Jess were there too. I was confused but I tried not to think
about it.

But really, it just made no sense. What were they doing here?

We all helped load so it would go faster. Edward didn't really


look at me or talk to me at all. Emmett started telling the story
of our night and Alice and I got really into it too. We were all
cutting each other off trying to explain things better than the
person who started the story. In the end it was just us
laughing at ourselves and Jasper trying to humor Alice with a
few small chuckles.

We finished up and Emmett invited all of them with us to the


beach but Jasper was tired and Edward was a shut in now. I
didn't even listen to what Angela and Jess said.

I had written them all off before Emmett even finished inviting
them and I was letting the numbness take back over as I
watched Edward go back up into the practice space. It didn't
work though because as we drove away I noticed Angela and
Jess follow him in.

I don't remember the beach adventure very much because all I


could really think about was Angela and Jess and Edward and
the practice space.
Again, why were they even there?

So Emmett and the Sherbert Escapades were the first small


success despite the prectice space issue.

It was followed shortly by the second small success, this time


instigated by Rosalie.

It was the night after Edward's small breakdown actually. Rose


decided I needed to get out of the apartment since it had
worked so well when Emmett got me to go out. She grabbed
my keys and drove Alice and I around Hollywood in my car
with the windows down. We just drove.

The wind felt good on my face and the lights flashing by on


Sunset Blvd were beautiful. It reminded me that life still
existed outside of my Edward-less world.

All of a sudden Alice popped in the Beauty and the Beast


soundtrack and they started singing. It was very amusing and
made me laugh, but I didn't really join in at first.

Then the Gaston song came on. Rose took over and made me
and Alice giggle as she made her voice as manly as possible
and sang to me as if I was Gaston:

"Gosh it disturbs me to see you, Gaston


Looking so down in the dumps
Every guy here'd love to be you, Gaston
Even when taking your lumps
There's no man in town as admired as you
You're ev'ryone's favorite guy
Ev'ryone's awed and inspired by you
And it's not very hard to see why.

Then Alice joined in for the chorus:

No one's slick as Gaston


No one's quick as Gaston
No one's neck's as incredibly thick as Gaston
For there's no man in town half as manly
Perfect, a pure paragon
You can ask any Tom, Dick or Stanley
And they'll tell you whose team they prefer to be on"

That went on through the whole song until they turned to me,
indicating I had to sing Gaston's very famous line:

"And every last inch of me's covered with hair!"I hadn't given
in during the first part of the song, but I couldn't resist and I
surprised them when I used my most manly voice I could
muster and belted it out. There was part of me still alive and
still willing to come out and play. It was good to know.

After that we were cracking up and they actually had me


laughing with my whole self for the first time in a while.

Rosalie continued to sing that song to me in her manly voice


as we laid in our beds later that night, forcing me to smile as I
fell asleep. It was a nice change even if it only lasted for that
one night.

This brings us to Jasper's small success. Again, with the help


of Alice.

Jasper would often comfort me with a pat on the back or a hug


or simple touch. He wouldn't speak of what was really
bothering me, but would talk to me normally, not like I was as
wounded as I was. It was a good tactic, original, but nothing
that pulled me out of numbness.

One afternoon, however, he and I were playing Halo (another


thing we bonded over) and Alice was on the floor next to us
just watching us play and sketching away at some fashion
designs she was playing around with. It was her other passion
and career option. She was very talented in it and I loved
seeing her designs whenever she finished some.
She wasn't doing anything too serious at the moment though
so she was just doodling with the Sharpies we had bought a
while ago for the grand game of tag.

Jasper had just lost to me for the first time ever, I was really
focused in my new state of needing distractions, and I was
sort of teasing him about it.

Ok, I was boasting. It didn't take much these days. Any small
victory counted.

"Jasper. I just want to point something out to you." I said very


seriously, like I had an actual fact and was having normal
conversation with him.

He sighed. Almost knowing what was coming. In a very bored


tone he asked, "Yes Bella?"

"I seriously just killed you. And not even once, or twice. Like
25 times. In a row. That's pretty bad Jasper." I couldn't stiffle
the giggle now.

It was such an accomplishment for me. He usually beat me


within 3 or 4 minutes. And he usually gloated in his own Jasper
like way about it. He knew he was good.

"Yes I am aware of that thank you." He said in a defeated and


slighly annoyed tone.

"Awe Jazz are you sad? Do you need some tears?" Alice teased
him further. She reached up with the light blue Sharpie that
was in her hand and made a small mark on his face.

"Alice..." He warned with a serious look. I could see the sides


of his mouth twitching though. I was giggling and Alice was
making an over dramatic face.

"What's wrong Jazzy? Are the mean girls picking on you?" As


she said this she made her voice extra pouty to match her face
and threw me a magenta Sharpie behind his back and she
made 2 more "tears" on his face with her own.

He was so fast I barely got the lid off of my Sharpie before he


had two in his own hands, lids off in defensive mode, one
pointed at each of us on either side of him.

We were all up on our feet now and it was almost a dance.


Two against one didn't seem fair until he started moving and
dominated us! I had green and orange and even some light
blue lines all over me.

At one point Jasper threw his shirt off so as not to get it


marked on and it was a bit distracting for a few seconds, I
have to admit.

The boy was not literally blood related to me and for the first
time in my almost 6 months of knowing him I was more than
grateful for that. It definitely distracted Alice more than me
though, and he got her on the couch, pinned, while he just
green and oranged her all over.

She was sqealing in protest and I was right there to save her,
but he was stronger than both of us together. What was with
these Cullens? You expected the strength from Emmett, but
the other 2 were also insanely strong when they focused it.

Eventually he had both of us pinned on the floor and we were


done for. His green and orange out weighed all the light blue
and magenta and we surrendered. He stood on the couch and
raised his Sharpies high in victory.

Only then did we notice the 3 guys in on the patio directly


across from the boys' apartment staring directly into the open
sliding glass window, eyes wide and jaws dropped at what they
had just seen occur between the 3 of us.

The fits of laughter that kept us on the floor for a few minutes
longer were the last small success any of them had with me in
that 2 weeks.
They were all so wonderful, and most of the time I was just
numb.

But I stopped being numb the weekend of that second week.

The boys had a show. It was their first show back, so it was
kind of a big deal for the little community that started to follow
their every move.

I sat in Alice's room and let her do what she wanted with me.
The results were good, I had to admit. It didn't matter of
course, to me it never did, but now it really didn't because I
knew Edward wouldn't be commenting on the outcome again
no matter what. He probably wouldn't even look at me long
enough to notice a difference. But I still couldn't deny her
talents in making me "decent".

We got to the show and saw Jess and Angela with Mike and
Tyler, the last 2 we hadn't in over a month. It was nice and I
tried my best to listen as they told us what they were up to,
trying catching a hint as to why Jess and Angela would visit
the practice space, but I was actually scanning the room to
find Edward.

I found him and felt better once I knew his location. He may
not be "hanging out as much" but I still made sure I always
knew exactly where he was. It just made me feel better I
guess.

He was talking to a girl I didn't recognize. Ok, now I can go


back to pretending I care about how Tyler and Mike mooned
the Amtrak train last weekend in Santa Monica...

It wasn't until I looked away it hit me.

Wait. He's talking to a girl. And now, he's single.

It all came crashing down on me then. He's single! He's in a


band, he's gorgeous, and he's available.
I nearly collapsed right there when I made the realization. I
literally let my head drop in defeat.

This is going to be hell! It was hard enough to watch before


when he wasn't single, but now how was I supposed to get
through shows?

I couldn't have him now, and I definitely couldn't have him


before, I know, but the fact that I knew all these other bimbos
couldn't have had him before either had made things at shows
a lot easier.

I tried to ignore him the rest of the night so I didn't have to


see him interacting with random girls. It wasn't hard because
he didn't make an effort to hang out around me, like I
expected.

The interesting thing was Jess, Mike, Angela and Tyler seemed
to be ok for him to be around. Oh sure, he hung out with them
all night.

The only time anything felt normal that night was when they
took the small stage. He walked up to me where I was next to
Rose and Alice in the front row and took out his cell phone and
handed it to me.

He smiled at me then and it was my Edward for a brief


moment. It was the first time I had seen him in so long.

I was trapped in that moment of familiarity. He always had me


hold his cell phone while he was on stage before because he
hated having it in his pocket while he performed. Now here he
was, handing it to me again as if nothing had changed. As if it
were a month and 1/2 ago.

I reached out and took it and he said "Thanks Bell" with the
smile still on his face. Then he turned around and the show
started. He didn't look at me at all while he performed, also
just like before.
The rest of the show passed with him being new unfamiliar
Edward. I gave him his phone back after they were done and
he smiled again and said thanks again but it was fake and
immediately after Mike came up to him rambling something
about a cover song.

I didn't care so I walked away.

Things got even more interesting when I noticed that the rest
of the show Edward spent at Angela's side.

That's about when I started to shed the numbness for good.

I was never near enough to them to know what they were


talking about, but they were just leaning against a wall talking
and laughing.

Maybe I don't like her as much as I thought I did.

We got back to the apartments and it was back to the old


routine. We ended up in the boys' living room where a sing a
long started to some Jimmy Eat World songs then transferred
into some Maroon 5. I was on the couch closest to his door
again and Edward was on the floor to my left, but not directly
next to me. Angela was right next to him. It was awesome.

After a few songs the guitars got set aside and conversation
broke out though no one really moved, except for 2 people.

Edward got up from his place on the floor and Angela followed
as they went into his bedroom and shut the door.

They walked right past me and I just stared ahead until I


heard the door close.

The second the door shut Rose, Alice, Jasper and Emmett all
turned their heads to me, all with looks of worry on their faces.
And with good reason.

"That's awesome." I stated sarcastically.


It was not a bucket of cold water being thrust at me this time,
it was like a glass of it being poured slowly down my center,
the iciness sliding down me and slightly burning as it krept
inch by inch. I let it get to the bottom of me then I got up and
walked out, the numbness fully and completely replaced with a
venomous monster.

I wasn't numb anymore and I hated it. I tried to get it back


but the jealousy was already too alive in me.

Not much to say... At least it's not really a cliffy this


time, right?

Chapter 16 - Save a Dance

Another week went on pretty much like the previous two. The
only differences being I was constantly in pain now and
Edward was around even less.

He was apparently doing vocals on a cover song with the other


band. You know, the one Angela is in. This meant when he
wasn't at work or at his own band's practice he was at theirs.
It was really very awesome.

I hung out with Jake even more because of it. We filmed our
scene that week and it went great. I was so eager to be
Clementine and not Isabella by that point I wished we were
doing a remake of the whole movie and not just the one scene.

Jake and Sam came over the night Jake and I filmed to
celebrate it going so well. Sam and Rose had filmed their
scenes earlier in the week so it was a celebration for us all.

It was now Friday night on that third week of living with new
and distant Edward and things were about to start to change,
again, and it caught me completely off guard, again.

The show this week was on Saturday so we had the whole


night on Friday to hang out at home.
Edward was at cover song practice. Jasper and Emmett were
in our apartment when Jake, Sam, and I arrived. I wasn't sure
how it was going to be with the Cullens (the ones that actually
hung out with us now) and Sam and Jake all hanging out
together. Not that I didn't think they would get a long, it was
just weird for me to imagine all of us being together at the
same time. They were almost two different parts of my life.

We were watching Sasquatch Hunters, Sam's pick of course.


It's horrible, which is what makes it so very wonderful.

It made me honestly laugh because it was so bad and


Emmett's and Sam's comments about the cheesiness of the
movie only added to the experience. I should have known
those two would be hilarious together.

I was in the Love Sac again with Jake's head in my lap. Rose
and Em in Bertha, Alice and Jasper in the bowl chair, Sam in
his faithful chair at the table.

We were laughing at Sam's impression of the Sasquatch


(which was much like the one he did of ET, but with a deeper
voice) when our door opened and Edward walked in.

I had gotten very used to the jolt that went through my insides
when he walked in a room these past few weeks.

It was my body's new reaction to him. I instinctively got


excited when I saw him and I've always reacted to him that
way but now I had become used to ignoring him on the surface
unless he decided he wanted to talk. So far besides the very
few real moments we had shared it was always only a little
joke here or story there. He was so disconnected the whole
time. None of it gave me hope or happiness like it used to.

I had finally come to terms with the fact that my Edward, for
the most part, was gone and I had no idea how to make him
come back. I didn't give up any time I could get with him
though, I still felt entirely drawn to him. I probably always
would. I wanted to believe he was still in there but I also didn't
expect much from him anymore.

I followed his every move without showing it as he quickly said


hi to everyone and walked across the room and sat in the chair
next to Sam, a little behind me and to me left.

I continued to watch the TV but I no longer knew what I was


watching due to his presence. My fingers were still running
through Jacob's hair in habit and I was trying very hard to
concentrate on anything but Edward when suddenly I felt it.

He's looking at me. I tilted my head a bit to get him in my


peripheral vision to make sure, even though I knew it.

He was looking at me. I actually got nervous. I had been


disconnected to him for so long I'd lost all my defenses against
him. Also he hadn't really looked at me so intently since the
day they left for tour.

When it was too much to handle I just turned my head and


looked straight back. It was like a magnet.

I wasn't expecting what I saw when I connected with him. His


eyes... they were alive!

He smiled his crooked smile at me as he gave a little wave and


it took everything in me not to get up right there and jump
him. Not in the way I usually wanted to, not that way. In a
celebratory way because I had missed that smile so much. I
almost wanted to thank him for it. It was so defined by that
look in his eyes. Him.

I just simply smiled back though, confusion probably painted


all over my face. I couldn't figure out why he was giving me
that look again. I searched every thought I had but I couldn't
figure out what had brought him back all of a sudden.

All too soon it was gone.


Jacob had started laughing at something I missed due to the
moment Edward and I had just shared and he was patting my
calf trying to get my attention on Sam who was doing
something ridiculous.

I saw Edward's eyes flash down to Jake as the smile


disappeared. He glanced back up at me so quickly I almost
didn't catch it, and then he turned himself towards Sam and
his back was to me. He started laughing mechanically with the
rest of the room and I worked to push away thoughts of why
Edward would glance at Jake like that.

Maybe I'm starting to have full on dellusions of him. That


cannot be good.

Jake was still talking to me as I pretended to listen to him but


I kept my thoughts on Edward. I kept coming so close to
getting him back but he was only allowing it for short
moments. It was so frustrating.

Before the movie ended Edward had turned his gaze back to
me but I never looked directly at him again. I was sure his
eyes were going to be guarded like they always were now and
I hated seeing that. It didn't feel as intense as it had before so
I kept my attention on the movie and the small comments
Jake would make to me every few minutes.

After the amazing cinematic feature finally ended Alice talked


Jake, Sam, Rose and I into attempting the dances we were
learning in our Dance and Movement class. We had been
studying the Jive and now we were on the Waltz.

Alice was the most entertained by our struggling since dancing


was a solid part of her musical theatre training and she was
very comfortable doing it and we weren't. I could hear her
delighted squeals as Jake and I turned about the room, she
was the best cheerleader for the 4 of us amatures.

I was as clumsy as ever but I could make it most the way


through class without falling now. Partnering dances heloped a
lot. I had never danced with Jacob in class before, my partner
was a different Jake who "palyed for the other team" if you
catch my drift. We were pretty good together though and Rose
and Sam actually tripped up first, but it was mostly because
Sam decided to improv a dip in the middle of a step because
Emmett kept chanting "Dip her! Dip her! Dip her!"

Rose really never had a chance now that those two knew
about each other.

I was laughing and clutching Jake as he and I tried to stay in


time with Rosalie and Sam, and then dodge them when the dip
gave out, but all in all the four of us were pretty lost without
the teacher leading us no matter what we did.

Everyone was enjoying it though. Edward was just staring


from the kitchen but I caught the fake smile a few times. Once
it might have been real when I did trip and landed on top of
Emmett and Bertha, but I can't be too sure. I was falling at the
time.

Before everyone left Emmett invited Sam and Jake to their


show the next night. Everyone agreed it was a great idea and
they seemed pretty excited about it. Edward just nodded and
smiled his fake smile, which annoyed me.

The apartment cleared out when the dancing was done and I
got a bow from Jacob after our dance which actually made me
blush because it was so gentlemanly. I also got a fake hug
from Edward as he left which made me feel more distant from
him than ever. I usually felt that way when I had to put up
with the fake him right after he gave me a moment with the
real him though.

I held on a bit longer to the hug than I should have and he


kept his gaze on me until he walked out the door and down the
hall.

The next night brought on the show with the big cover song. I
was actually excited to hear it, Mike and all them were good
musicians and with Edward's vocals they were probably going
to sound great. They had informed us at the beginning of the
night the song they were covering was "Working for
theWeekend" by Loverboy. An excellent choice if you ask me.

I would have been even more excited except Edward had been
picked up by Angela earlier in the afternoon so he could
rehearse with them some more before the big show. He was
riding to the show with them as well. It all worked out pretty
awesome.

They got there after we did and I was surprised when Edward
actually managed to pealed himself away from her for a while
to mingle with other people.

Yes, jealousy had taken me over at this point.

They still never touched or looked flirty, which kind of made it


worse. I felt so utterly replaced by her it was insane. If it
wasn't attraction then what was it she had that I couldn't give
him? Why couldn't he be close like that with me again? What
made it so easy for him to spend time around Angela?

I scoffed and went to find Jake. He and Sam had ridden with
us to the show but I had separated myself to calm down after
Edward showed up.

The boys' were going to play first, before we got to hear the
cover song. I was standing in our usual spot in the front row
with Rose, Alice, Sam, Jake, Jess, Mike, Tyler, and of course
awesome Angela. Sam and Jake were actually sort of behind
us since the group was sort of large and Jake was leaning on
me and we were all talking as a group.

What we were talking about I don't really know, however,


because Edward was off to the side waiting for the others to be
done setting up. He was sitting on an amp and staring at me.
The walls were still up in his eyes and the green was still
darker than it should be, but I felt him looking at me and it
was driving me crazy.
I ignored it as best I could and I was relieved when it was time
for them to start because it meant he had to stop.

He walked onto the stage and right up to me, turning his gaze
to me again but less intensely. He smiled sweetly as he pulled
his phone out of his pocket and handed it to me. It was an odd
look I'd never seen before. The smile was almost too sweet. It
wasn't the fake one and it wasn't the dazzling real one. It
almost looked like a predator trying to lure their prey into
them. I was oddly attracted to it though. Something must
really be wrong with me.

I reached up and grabbed it, fulfilling my duty, and smiled


back just as sweetly but kept my eyes hard as I looked up at
him.

Pathetically enough as I stuck his phone into my own pocket it


still made me feel very special and I couldn't help but hope
Angela noticed.

He caught me off guard by winking at me before quickly


turning his back to the crowd to start the show.

I was confused again, but I dropped it when they started the


first song. I really did love their music and I let myself get lost
in it. It was upbeat and fun and everyone in the room started
dancing around not caring what they looked like, as usual. I
turned back to Jake and Sam every few minutes and they
seemed to be enjoying themselves a lot too which made me
happy.

My favorite song of theirs started and I had no idea Edward


was going to surprise me yet again.

It was the middle of their set (we knew it by heart now of


course) and through the first 3 songs Edward had faithfully not
looked directly at me. I pretty much loved it now because it
gave me a sense of normalcy at these past few shows. I could
pretend nothing had changed, even if it was only during the 30
or so minutes they were on stage.
Then, without warning, he changed that on me too.

It was on a line I had sung a hundred times before myself at


shows or to the CD, but I realized I had never really heard the
words until that night.

He was on the edge of the stage leaning into the crowd as


usual. Then suddenly he was right in front of me, his eyes
locking on mine, the green bursting with life. I forgot about
everything else as he sang directly to me:

"Well don't you worry darling,


You're not helpless if you're hurting,
Because love will find a way..."

He nodded slightly on the last line and then he was gone. I


blushed horribly, I could feel it. He didn't look at me again
throughout the whole set.

I made it through the other songs as normally as possible but


played that one moment and line over and over again in my
head.

What the hell is he doing?

I hung out with Jake, Sam, Alice and Rose outside as


Edward,.Emmett, and Jasper were inside mingling with the
crowd as was expected of them.

Jake had his arm around me, as he often did these days, and I
was leaning into him enjoying not having to put as much effort
into being upright, as I often did these days. The past month
had taken a lot out of me. The past 3 weeks specifically since
someone couldn't seem to decide if he wanted to stay distant
or not.

Maybe he didn't know he was doing it. He was so horribly


stuck on being distant and "finding himself" in his stupid
distance. But then why is it ok to hang out with Angela and the
others so often? How come they aren't distracting him from
focusing on the right things? Why can he hang out in his room
with her but not me? Is it really because they are musicians
too? As long as music was involved it was ok to hang out?

Ugh, why didn't I keep up with those piano lessons my mother


forced me into when I was younger?

My endless thoughts were interrupted by Jake whispering in


my ear.

"Um, Bells, Edward Cullen is staring at you."

My breath hitched and I looked up. Jacob was chuckling


because he didn't understand the situation. I'd never opened
up to him about anything that concerned Edward. He found
this amusing. I definitely did not.

Edward was leaning against a wall right by the door "talking"


with Mike and Tyler if you could call it that. He wasn't even
facing them. I looked right at him, but not into his eyes, just
his face. I didn't want to know what his eyes held this time, it
was too much for me to handle either way.

I mouthed "What?" at him and raised my eyebrows.

He just smugly tilted his head to the side and gave a little shug
that meant "nothing".

I was annoyed. He looked smug and irresistable when he did


it, but I was annoyed. I looked back to the group I was in but I
felt him looking at me still.

Alice noticed our little exchange and quickly grabbed my elbow


and took me around the corner where we were away from any
of our friends.

"Spill." She was going to try this again.

"Alice, seriously, there is still nothing to for me to spill so you


have to stop doing this!" I was taking out my annoyance at
Edward on her, but I hardly felt bad about it because it was so
strong in me.

She sighed. "Ok, I believe you. I'm probably asking the wrong
person anyway..." She tried to walk away but this time it was
my turn.

I grabbed her arm and planted her in front of me again.

"Alice, what are you talking about?" I don't need her playing
games with me too.

"Please Bella, like Rose and I haven't been watching every look
that Edward has been giving you all night. You have to be
going crazy!" She had that right.

"Yeah, actually I am. What the hell is he doing? I mean, first


he tells me I'm his best friend and all this other crap before
they leave for tour, then they leave and I have to deal with
that, then he decides to marry Tanya, then - surprise surprise
- that turns out to be the worst idea ever..." I was ranting now
and she laughed at that little comment, "then he comes back
and acts like a freaking zombie and pushes me out of his life
almost completely for 3 weeks except for select times when he
decides -not to be my friend again, no!- but to play some
dumb game where he melts me with his eyes for no apparent
reason at all! What am I supposed to do? I just want my best
friend back!"

Wow. I guess she did get me to "spill" after all. It kind of felt
good.

A smile was playing on her lips. I assumed it was because the


first half of my speach was dripping with sarcasm, a feature
Alice really appreciated about me when I was upset. But then
she just said, "Jacob."

Not what I expected. "Um...what?"


"Bella, Bella, Bella. Do you not see?" She was being dramatic
now. "The boy is definitely falling for you. You have to know!
After all the movies and the sharing of the Love Sac and the
nights at our apartment, and Disneyland..."

I couldn't believe she was suggesting that Jacob was


interested in me. He was my scene partner. My distraction. My
stable world outside of my hopeless Edward world. If this was
true everything would be ruined.

"No way." I responded confidentially more to stop my thoughts


than anything. I refused to even entertain the idea."We are
just friends. We are young adults and people our age who are
friends hang out like that all the time and it doesn't have to
mean anything more than that to either one of them."

She smirked. "Oh yeah? Just like you and Edward, right? How
all your time together didn't mean anything to either one of
you?" She emphasized "you" to make her point.

Why does she always have to be right?

I put my hand up to my head to try and keep it stable. "Ok, so


let's just pretend Jacob could possibly, maybe be a tiny bit
interested in me." She smiled in satisfaction. "What does that
have to do with Edward?"

"It's called jealousy Bella." She sounded like she was speaking
to a 2 year old. "It's a bitch but it works wonders."

She was absurd. First with this crazy Jacob liking me theory,
and then with the impossible Edward is jealous talk. "Ok Alice,
you're losing it."

With that I walked away and but her little legs caught up with
me and she said quietly "You don't see the way Jake looks at
you, it would drive me crazy too if I knew I gave you up, even
as a friend, and got replaced by him."
And with that our conversation was over and we were back
with the small group, my head even more full of questions
than before.

Right after we joined the others, and before Edward could start
staring again, Angela gestured towards everyone that it was
time to go back in and start their set.

The plan was to play "Working for the Weekend" as the last
song in their set so Edward was not needed until then.

We took our places on stage left, completely on the side. Since


we had comeback in so late it was the best option to be close
to the stage. We never really stayed in the very front for thier
band anyway but we always danced along a bit, supporting
them.

Edward was sitting on the same amp he was earlier which was
on stage right, which put him directly across from us now.

This time I was in the back row or our little group and I'll
admit I was hiding a little bit. Rose, Alice and Jasper were in
front. Emmett was next to me with his arms around Rose, Jake
and Sam to my other side.

Of course he returned to staring at me.

I didn't look at him though. I pretended to be into the music


and every so often Jake would lean in and tell me something
and I would giggle back, pretending to pay attention to him
too. No matter what Alice said I would have to deal with any
Jacob issues later. I need to keep myself occupied on anything
but the perfect bronze haired boy across from me. Anything to
let Edward know he wasn't going to win whatever odd little
game he was playing. Jealousy or no jealousy it wasn't fair to
me and I am through acting ok with it.

Their set passed quickly and before I knew it Edward turned


his gaze from me and took the stage as they announced him
and the cover song. The small crowd went wild, it really was a
fun idea.

Edward sang the song perfectly and they got the whole room
moving. He spent a lot of time on stage next to Angela, who
played the keyboard, and I couldn't stop the burning feeling in
my stomach each time she sang with him in the mic or he
playfully bumped her with his hips.

The song ended and despite the Angela situation I really


enjoyed it. We all danced and sang together, Sam and Jake
even knew this song and they sang it all the way home in the
car to the delight of Rose and Alice and I.

We left the show earlier than usual since the boys' had packed
the jeep while waiting for Edward to play with the other band.
When we decided to leave Edward got into Angela's car to
drive with her back to the apartments.

Again, it was just incredibly awesome.

My car got home first with Jasper and Emmett pulling in right
behind us. We all went up to our floor and straight to the boys'
apartment. We hung out in the living room and Emmett was
burning Sam and Jake a copy of their CD since they enjoyed
the show so much.

Mike and Tyler entered the apartment by coming through the


courtyard hopping the patio and entering through the sliding
glass doors. Angela, Jess and Edward weren't too far behind
them, but came in through the door and proceeded directly
into the living room.

I felt the jolt but continued listening to Jasper as we stood in


the kitchen and he told us a story about when they were
younger and he actually managed to beat Emmett in one of
their wrestling matches.

"Dude you totally cheated and used the stairs to your


advantage!" Emmett yelled from their room.
"Don't listen to him, I won fair and square and he still can't
handle it." Jasper had a smug grin on his face.

"Jasper. Stairs?" I questioned him. It didn't sound good.

"Well yes, there were stairs involved at the end." He still


looked smug but there was a note of hesitation.

"How involved?" Rosalie asked.

"He pushed me down them!" Emmett interjected. Apparently


he had better hearing than Jasper accounted for.

"Jasper!" All 3 of us girls gasped and Alice swatted his arm. It


seemed like such an un-Jasper like thing to do.

"What? You try being cornered by that bear and see how you
react! I was a child and he was not that much smaller when we
were young!" His face was serious as he raised his volume as
he defended himself. We all started laughing and Edward
walked by us and into the kitchen as he said that.

"Are you telling them about when you shamelessly pushed


Emmett down the stairs and mom almost had a heart attack?"
He asked with a smirk.

"My boyfriend is a monster." Alice groaned into her hand.

We all chuckled and Edward defended his brother."No Alice, I


would have done the same thing. He was relentless.
Remember when he ran my head through that window?" I
accidentially snorted out a laugh really loudly when he said
that. I couldn't help it. I hadn't been too far from doing the
same in the past few weeks, just to see if I could get him to
wake up.

He gave me a questioning and slightly hurt look and I just


gave him a smug one back. A little light flickered into his eyes
and then he grabbed the water bottle he came in for originally
and went back into the living room as Rosalie said "Your poor
mother." and shook her head in pity.

"Yeah, it was a pretty good thing our dad is a skilled doctor."


Jasper chuckled. Then he put his arm around Alice and we all
migrated into the living room where the guitars were picked up
and the sing a longs started as usual.

Everyone settled in around the room. Edward was on the


couch with Angela right next to him, just as awesome as ever,
Jess was next to her, Tyler next to her.

The rest of us formed a semi circle around the couch. I was in


between Jake and Jasper and directly across from Edward.

He wasn't staring at at me now which was a relief. He was


looking down at the guitar he was playing. We were singing
Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson tonight, softer songs than usual.
After a while Jasper, who was one of the 3 with guitars
tonight, changed it up and started singing "The Blowers
Daughter" by Damien Rice.

It's a beautiful song and everyone joined in softly right away,


Edward and Jess matching their guitars with Jasper's.

But during this song he did it to me again. Not the only the
staring... he surprised me with the real him.

It started out normal. We were singing the song as a group:

And so it is
Just like you said it would be
Life goes easy on me
Most of the time
And so it is
The shorter story
No love, no glory
No hero in her sky
But as the next line started Edward moved his gaze up directly
on me and I felt it so strong I couldn't refuse my body's urge
to look back. It was even more powerful because of the line we
had gotten to in the song:

I can't take my eyes off of you


I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off of you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes...

I turned about 7 shades of red and instantly stopped singing


after the first time he sang it to me. And he was singing it
directly to me as if no one else was around for miled. The rest
of the group kept singing the entire 6 times the line was
repeated but I didn't hear them. The only thing that I heard or
saw was Edward.

His eyes were smoldering.

I was breathless. I was hopeless. I was so in love with him,


more than ever before.

The song continued and I tore myself away from his eyes as
the lyrics became less intense. I felt him still staring but I just
kept my eyes on the floor trying to make my face and heart
return to normal. We actually were in a room full of people
after all.

I heard in the background of my thoughts the second verse


begin. I let all the other voices fade back into my head, trying
to create a distraction for myself, but Edward's was still the
most prominent:

And so it is
Just like you said it should be
We'll both forget the breeze
Most of the time
And so it is
The colder water
The blower's daughter
The pupil in denial

And then I had to tighten my resolve not to look up as the


song came back to:

I can't take my eyes off of you


I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off of you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes...

I felt his eyes calling me to look at him again but I couldn't.


The magnet was back but I had to resist. His tone and the
feeling of his eyes on me were begging me to look to him,
practically demanding it actually. It was too much for me I had
to keep forcing myself to stay calm. How does he do this to
me? Why does he do this to me?

The next lines are sung by a female in the original song and of
course Mike was using a humorous falsetto voice. That helped
distract me a little. Even above that though, I could hear the
velvet calling to me:

Did I say that I loathe you?


Did I say that I want to,
Leave it all behind?

He never gave up staring. I let myself look up a little and


stared at the bottom of the couch where I could only see his
feet.

I was fighting against the urge to look and the love I felt and I
was holding strong until the last part of the song arrived.

I not only heard Edward's velvet intensify but so did his


playing. He was strumming louder than the rest of the group
and his intake of breath was sharp. I broke down and locked
into his eyes as he started to sing to me:

I can't take my mind off of you


I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind off of you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind...
My mind...my mind...

He stopped singing and playing and seemed a bit out of


breath, exactly the way I felt, but he kept his smoldering
emerald gaze on me as the rest of the group finished the last
line quietly as in the song:

'Til I find somebody new.

I barely noticed it because I was mesmerized by the intensity


of the moments that had passed between Edward and I.
Everyone around me seemed to be talking and strumming new
prospects of sing a long songs but I was still just staring at
him.

His face was very serious and I couldn't handle it. My insides
were on fire, but it wasn't the jealous fire I that had been
fueling all week. My head was pounding, not in pain, in
confusion and desire. I had to get out of there before I
exploded.

I mumbled an excuse about going to our apartment to grab


something and I tripped as I flew out of the apartment and
practically ran down the hall. I ran into the bathroom and just
leaned my palms on the counter and stared in the mirror.

My normally impossible brown hair was wildly curled, thanks


again to Alice who really enjoyed that look on me for shows
now, and it actually looked really pretty. But I was looking into
my own dull brown eyes, something she couldn't fix, and I was
trying to talk myself out of my insane thoughts.
None of it made any sense. All I wanted was my best friend
back. That's all I've wanted for so long. Not this crazy mixed
up half friendship full of moments that I didn't understand at
all. I've wanted my real friendship back with him for what felt
so much longer than 3 weeks now.

But I've wanted him for even longer. All of him.

He was available now, but he was more distant than ever.


More out of my reach than even that first day I saw him on the
street.

If he really wanted something from me he could just reach out


and take it. He had to know that! Everyone else knew! He
didn't need to play games with me if he really wanted me.
That's how I knew that could not be it. Jealousy was not
fueling it. Alice was wrong.

So why was he looking at me like that? Why did he sing those


lines to me tonight with those eyes and that voice?

I made and audible "ugh" and pushed off the counter as I


realized I didn't have any answers for myself - just more
questions, more frustration, and more sorrow for the Edward I
had lost. At least I knew who I was with that Edward. At least I
had a real place in his life then.

I went into the living room and threw Damien Rice into the
stereo. Wallowing music.

I skipped over "The Blowers Daughter" being afraid I couldn't


handle it again and I just sat in Sam's chair with my head in
my hands.

A few songs passed but I didn't move. I simply let the music
take me over- all the sadness of it, and the passion... the
feelings it conveyed that I never fully could.

From behind me I heard the door open and I prayed it was


anyone but him. I needed a break.
I didn't look over but I felt him. I felt the jolt and then a
million other things at once.

Fear. Hope. Frustration. Anger. Desire. Joy. Warmth.


Confusion. Love.

I swallowed hard and looked up. He was leaning against the


counter facing me. Stunning me.

My heart skipped more than one beat as I realized it was him


still. His eyes were not on fire any longer but they were warm.
I was instantly afraid of how short it would last this time so I
stared into them to not miss any second of it.

He held my gaze and walked over to me very slowly. It was


killing me how slow he was walking.

When he reached me he crouched down so his face was at my


level.

His eyes were more alive now, dancing. I was frozen in place.

He reached up as slowly as he had walked and brushed my


cheek with is hand. It was only then that I noticed I had been
crying and he was wiping a tear away. How many times was
he going to have to do that to me?

I saw his eyes flash from the dancing to sorrow and then back
to warm dance. He stood up then and held out his hand.

"Dance with me." He said it very gently, but it was a demand.

"What?" Was all I could get out, completely off guard.

He chuckled at the complete confusion that was on my face. It


was musical and beautiful and made my heart swell.

"Dance with me Bella. You know the waltz now don't you?" He
smiled slightly and grabbed my hand, forcing me out of the
chair.
He pulled me to him, not completely, but enough.

"Teach me the waltz." He said in his gentle voice, still


demanding. His face was still very serious, his eyes still alive.

"Edward, you know that's a bad idea. I could put us both in the
hospital." I joked back at him. It came back to me so
naturally, this playfulness. It was the way it was meant to be
between us.

We both smiled and I looked down as I laughed at myself, too


scared to believe this was going to last.

Then he said, "I won't let that happen," very seriously. I


looked back up at him with a soft smile and he said again,
"Teach me." He was still serious.

"Amie" had come on the stereo. It's a very beautiful and


emotional song and was just in the background while we were
talking but now I focused on it and began to move, trying to
remember how to function with him staring in my eyes like he
was.

I put one hand on his shoulder and he put one of his on my


waist. My stomach flipped.

He took the hand he was already holding and raised it up so


we were in the correct waltzing position.

I slowly started to move my feet to the music.

It didn't take long to get into the rhythm. I didn't notice until
about a minute later that it was because Edward had quickly
taken over.

Of course he knew the waltz. Of course.

I giggled softly at my realization and he said "What are you


thinking?" but kept us moving around the room.
"You totally know the waltz already." I accused him as I looked
up at him with a suspicous stare.

"Maybe." Is all the said with a smirk, then he spun me around.


I had stopped concentrating and I tripped on the carpet but he
was prepared and just pulled me tightly into his chest
chuckling at me.

The music had changed now. That particular song ends with
just a symphony playing the most beautiful and heart warming
notes you could imagine. It swells and builds with passion and
simple beauty.

I was looking up at him and he was smoldering back at me


again. I was not breathing. I was scared because the moment
was so real.

It almost felt like he was going to kiss me. At least all those
times I had imagined kissing him, this was what I had
imagined right before it to be like.

He was hesitating but still starting at me, our faces not far
apart at all, but they had been closer before.

His face and eyes changed suddenly but not to the fake
Edward that had come back from tour. He was still him. It was
more of a calming look that took over. The warmth remained
and he brought his forehead down on mine and closed his
eyes. He brought both of his hands up to either side of my
head and tangled them in my wild hair gently.

He whispered to me,"I'm so sorry Bella. I'm so sorry for


everything."

He didn't have to say anything else adn I'm not sure he could
have even if he tried.. I knew it was over then, the
awkwardness and the distance.

"I missed you so much.," was all I could say, but it was all that
was needed in that moment. We were connected again and we
didn't need words to communicate. That's how our relationship
worked.

We were just standing in the middle of the living room now,


foreheads together. He kept his eyes closed and nodded his
head against mine in thanks at my silent acceptance of his
apology then dropped his hands to my torso and pulled me
into a hug. A real hug. An Edward and Bella hug.

It was the happiest moment of my life as I wrapped my arms


securly around his middle. I had my Edward back! My best
friend. The person I loved more than anything in the world and
thought I had lost.

We started laughing during the hug over nothing. Im sure it


was just to make up for all the time we had wasted not
laughing together.

We pulled away and shared one last look then we went back to
rejoin the others but never left each others side the rest of the
night, laughing at things no one else found funny, finally back
together after so long.

I was ecstatic the whole night at our return to normalcy and


the rest of our families spirits seemed lifted as well. They had
been living without either of us for as long as we had, it had
been so hard on everyone.

I was so ready for our incredible relationship to return to what


it had been, that's the only thing that was important to me
that night. My best friend was back and it was the only thing
on my mind. I didn't even notice that Jake and Sam had left.

But in my joy of getting my Edward back I managed to forget


one little thing.

It would not be the same between us. It couldn't be. One


detail of our previous friendship was missing. One very, very
defining piece.
Tanya.

Chapter 17 - Across the Night

EPOV

I laid down on my bed but I was nowhere near sleep.

How I loved this night and everything that was strewn across
it. It brought me back. No, not the night itself...

I smiled when I thought of what had brought me back. Then I


frowned and ran my hand through my hair... such conflicting
emotions for the same exact thought.

I sighed and got up and walked to my dresser to change into


pajamas. Maybe that would help bring on sleep.

Then my eye caught the picture.

Oh.

I don't really want that out any longer. I picked it up. But what
do I do with it?

I just stared at it for a second and tapped my finger on the


edge of the frame.

I wonder if Tanya is awake right now...

Probably. It's Saturday. She's probably at Irina's. Drunk.


Kissing someone else...

Sad?

No she's probably not sad. She doesn't seem to let herself feel
anything close to remorse if she can help it. That's not who
she truly is though, I know it. Inside of her is the girl that lived
in the picture I am holding. It doesn't matter anymore,
however. I will never view her the same even if we reconcile a
friendship someday.
I just placed the picture in a box in my closet and shut the
door and grabbed my maroon zip up and started putting it on.

Swooping it around my back caused the air to stir and I was


engulfed by the scent of my hoodie. It automatically made me
smile. I was glad for a quick moment that her scent stuck to it
so well.

Then I frowned again.

Hm, I really shouldn't be glad. I have so many other emotions


to sort through... but not tonight. No more over thinking to
cloud a night like tonight.

I do have to be careful though...

I zipped the hoodie up hastily and laid back down on the bed
and turned on some music. I really do need to relax.

I glanced over to the empty place on my desk where the photo


just was.

But it wasn't empty at all.

Chapter 18 - The Best is Yet to Come

BPOV

I want to say a normal week went by after the night my


Edward came back. But I can't.

The reason I can't is because normal for Edward and I included


boundaries. Even though he never viewed me as anything
more than a friend we had to have boundaries in our close
relationship. Every touch had to have thought behind it, a
platonic reason almost. If it didn't it had to be quick and
unaknowledged after the fact. At least those were the
unspoken rules I made.
There was closeness before, sure. My head on his shoulder, or
feet on laps, sharing tight spaces in chairs and couches. But it
could never really be done with any freedom.

But it didn't matter now and it definitely changed things on


some level. We were missing that one defining piece of our
boundary ridden frienship:

Tanya.

To me it was honestly the best change that had happened so


far, aside from Edward changing back the other night, and I
welcomed it with open arms. (Almost literally)

Now, for instance, we shared a blanket in the Love Sac when


we watched movies. There was more than enough room for
another person on The Sac (Emmett's nickname for it, of
course), but there were no other people to occupy it as Alice
and Jazz were always in the bowl chair and Bertha was
practically a part of Rose and Emmett's relationship.

So there we were, almost every night this past week, in the


Love Sac sharing a blanket with no worries.

Nothing serious happened of course, it was just nice. When


Edward inevitably fell asleep during the movie his head would
drop down towards my shoulder and it was 100 ok if it landed
safely in place and stayed there. Or sometimes I would lean
my legs into him a bit and I could stay that way the whole
night free of worry.

Things during everyday activity were different too. Hugs lasted


longer, playful pokes and tickle fights broke out frequently, he
put his arm around me more and I could lean into it now. They
were little things, but to me they made all the difference.

The week passed peacefully between Edward and I and the


small family felt more whole than ever. Our life without Tanya
seemed to be benefiting everyone. I for one was happily
adjusting to life where my nightly break downs were being
replaced by sleepovers in "The Sac".

My only problem that week started on that Tuesday after what


was now being referred to as "The Cover Song Show". I was
secretly referring to it as the Re-Birth but a few days later
when I told Edward I called it that he just rolled his eyes at me
and then immediately pulled me into a hug that had guilt
dripping from it, so I never said it out loud again because I
only meant it as a joke and even though he tried to hide it I
could literally feel how it effected him.

My new problem was unique in the fact that it was not an


Edward problem for once. But it was another boy.

Jacob.

There was no real problem until we were in the cafe on


Tuesaday between classes. Jake came up to me and put his
arm around my shoulders. Alice raised her eyebrows at me,
reminding me of the little chat we had about him and his
supposive obvious feelings for me.

I wondered if he noticed that I tensed under his arm now


instead of leaning my weight into him like before.

Being around him now was more than uncomfortable for me


and I hated it. It got even worse when he started talking.

"So Bells, movie tonight? I promise I won't let Sam pick." He


smiled at me and I tried to smile back but my mind was
already somewhere else.

Edward had tonight off and we were going to go grocery


shopping (he needed help getting "practical food') and then we
were going to make chicken fettucinni and watch Jurassic Park.
Yes, we make detailed plans now.

It was then that I realized things were going to get


complicated with Jake.
With Edward and I back to more than normal, where did Jake
fit into my life? He fit into my school days perfectly as long as
he wasn't touching me. But I was back to filling my free time
with Edward and my small family. Our bubble world was
reconstructed and in full swing again.

I felt really bad when I realized Sam and Jake were not going
to be around as often as they had been and it was very ok with
me.

"I don't know Jake, tonight really isn't good. We have some
errands to run." I didn't explain who "we" was. Not that it
should matter, but putting the two of them together in any
way still felt weird to me.

"Alright, maybe tomorrow then." He sounded disappointed but


also hopeful and he pulled his arm away from me allowing my
body to relax finally.

I felt very bad. This could not end well. I really didn't want to
hurt him...

My phone started ringing and all my worry fled because


"Edward Cullen" graced my screen and I knew exactly what he
wanted.

"I'm leaving in 5 minutes, Alice is finishing a conversation." I


smiled even before I heard the voice.

"Tell her 5 minutes and no longer, you and I have a date with
the grocery store."

When he said "date" my heart stopped for a second and I


loved the sound of it even if it was a joke.

"Wow, you really know how to treat a lady. Do we have


reservations in the produce aisle? Or did you get us a view of
the bakery?" I joked hoping to coax the musical laugh out of
him.
There it is.

"It's a surprise my Bella." He was still laughing and I was


soaring at his words.

Oh yeah, that was another thing that changed. He had taken


to calling me his Bella, well "my Bella", every so often. I
certainly didn't object. The first time he had ever done it I
almost jumped him in front of a whole room of people if you
recall. It still had a strong effect on me, but it was more like
filling up with warmth rather than lust now.

The rest of the week I avoided Jake outside of school. I made


excuses about shopping with Alice and rehearsing for other
classes. I wasn't straight up lying. I was just allowing more
time for things I had already scheduled. Ok, the shopping
thing was sort of a lie, but I did let her show me everything
she bought with very detailed explinations. Granted I also
made Edward sit with me through it, but I still fullfilled the
duty.

Friday finally arrived and without our Film class we had the
whole day free.

It hardly did me any good when I told Edward and he informed


me he had work almost all day. I relayed the news to Rose and
she sadly informed me Emmett had to work all day too. It was
his first day transferring to the Starbucks Edward woked at
was Friday.

Luckily it didn't take us long to form a plan that took away the
work problem at least a little.

We decided to gather Jasper and Alice and go pay our favorite


Starbucks employees a surprise visit. It was in a Barnes &
Noble in the nicest shopping center in Los Angeles after all, it
was quite an outing for us!

We arrived in The Grove and it was beautiful. There is a giant


fountain in the middle of the main plaza with elegant
streetlights surrounding it and more scattered throughout the
street. The buildings are painted a creamy carmely color with
ivory railings and it was all very grand. There are many
expensive shops and kiosks and a movie theatre too big for it's
own good, but built as beautifully as the rest of the plaza. It
was the type of place you wanted to walk around in while
holding someone's hand. That is the simpilist way to put it. It's
not what you are used to seeing by our apartment building,
that's for sure.

It definitely had a romantic edge to it but that was lost on our


small group since the only couple that was currently
assembled was Jasper and Alice who were having difficulties at
the moment. Jasper had to practically carry Alice across the
street towards the giant Barnes & Nobel to keep her from
running into all the other stores.

"Jazz, you are being unreasonable! I just want to look at one


little thing-" She was pleading and squirming under his arm.

He just wrapped his other one around her middle and smiled
sweetly at her. "Oh really? Just like the last time we went into
a store for one little thing and I ended up carrying 5 full bags
to the car? And then when I tripped on the sidewalk and
dropped one you hit me in the arm and asked if Bella was
contagious?"

"Hey!" I interjected. It was kind of funny, but Alice was the


only one who never made fun of my clumsiness to my face so
it surprised me to hear that she said that.

"You're still hung up on that? I've told you I'm sorry for that
already! I promise this time. Jazzy, I promise! Plee-ee-se?"
She looked up to him with the pout. She was so good.

Jasper is a strong man though, and he was able to resist at


first by shaking his head and looking straight ahead. He was
determined not to let this small trip to visit his brothers turn
into an Alice shopping extravaganza.
When she kept it up he cracked a bit however, "Ok, how about
this Alice. You don't get to go into any other stores but what if
I buy you something in the book store?"

She thought about it for a minute and then smiled widely and
agreed. "Thank you Jasper! Now we have to take our time and
make sure we look at everything in the store, so I know I'm
getting what I really want..." and with that his face fell in
defeat and she grabbed his hand and drug him full force into
the store.

Rose and I were laughing as we appraoched the Barnes &


Nobel behind them. Alice and Jasper were already nowhere in
sight as we entered the front doors.

That wasn't saying much though, considering it was 3 stories


high. I was pretty impressed and Rosalie and I took the
escalators up to the very top floor since the signs indicated
that's where the Starbucks cafe was.

As we walked up to the counter Emmett spotted us first. He


raised his arms and boomed across the store, "Welcome!" with
a huge grin.

I was pretty surprised he would act like we were just meeting


up to hang out as he was working, but no one seemed to mind
he was that loud while on the clock. I suppose that's
something you figure out about Emmett before you hire him.

Edward was next to him and he looked up at Emmett's yell.


When he spotted us his dazzling crooked smile over took his
face making my heart beat faster. He was stunning even in his
basic black polo and green apron. Then again he would be
stunning in a potatoe sack so I don't know why I was surprised
at all.

Emmett fixed Rose's drink first, knowing by now exactly what


she liked since she visited him so often at the other store. He
handed it right to her and she took it and stepped back without
paying, leaving room for me.
I ordered but when Emmett handed me my drink I pulled out
my money.

"Your money is no good here Swan." Emmett joked.

"No, it's ok, really. How much is it?" I asked sincerely. I am so


not comfortable with this.

"Bellarina, Mr. Barnes and Mr. Nobel would like to treat a


pretty lady to a drink, please allow them their one small wish."
He smiled at his little joke but I wasn't having it.

"Well Rosalie already has her drink so this one needs to be


paid for." I spoke to him slowly as if he was a child.

Rose giggled and Edward smiled at the joke but threw me and
odd look as well. Emmett just smiled back and said "All pretty
ladies drink on the house today," and pushed the drink
towards me then walked away so it couldn't be discussed any
further.

I scoffed and picked up the drink. I threw the money into the
tip box and felt satisfied.

"I saw that," the velvet voice spoke up suddenly right in front
of me.

I looked up and smiled sweetly at his disapproving glare.

"What do you think you're doing miss?" He nodded at the tip


box and put both of his hands on the counter and leaned
towards me a little, tyring to be intimidating.

"Just rewarding good service." I replied coolly and I leaned my


free palm on the counter, matching his move and not backing
down.

Then he leaned across the counter very close to me and his


voice got very quiet and he did the thing where he practically
purrs, "Oh you haven't seen anything near good service yet
miss."
I swallowed hard and just kept looking at him and his amazing
smile. How did he make regular sentences sound so...
appealing? He was dazzling me right here in the middle of a
crowded book store and I couldn't do anything about it. He
was trying to win the game and I couldn't decide if I wanted
him to or not.

"Oh really?" I got out eventually. "What qualifies as good


service?" I was trying to play along, not quite sure how to
match his sultry voice but trying to keep up as best I could.

He chuckled and the sound was lower than usual. "Wouldn't


you like to know." He moved his hand very slightly so that his
fingertips slid over mine on the counter as he turned and
walked away. I'm not sure if that last move was intentional or
not, but it was effective.

I walked into the store in a daze to look for an interesting book


to get into since we were clearly going to be there for a while
thanks to Alice and Jasper's little deal.

I couldn't concentrate very well though because my little


encounter with Edward was playing over and over in my head.
I figured these little moments that happened between us now
were a result of the freedom he felt at being single. Nothing
more. Nothing deeper. Just a guy being single for the first time
in practically 2 years. I mean Edward had to know what he
could do to people. With our closeness he probably thought it
was harmless to have a little fun now and then.

Well it wasn't like I was going to stop him any time soon!

I saw Rosalie consumed in the magazine section and decided


against joining her. I finally found a fantasy book that looked
interesting and I wandered back up to the cafe to find a place
to sit and read.

I found the perfect giant chocolately brown sqishy chair and


automan right next to the giant window by the cafe and
claimed it as my own.
It was the perfect spot. If I looked to my left I was looking
directly out the huge window to the street below and the
fountain in the middle of the plaza. The water was dancing and
there were people everywhere in jackets and scarves. It was
fall in California, my favorite time here. It's chilly, but not
exactly cold. You can have that bundled up feeling though,
which I loved. I could also see the fancy little shops and the
grand trees that surrounded the back side of the fountain area.

But if I looked to my right the view was even better, in my


opinion. I had a direct view of the Starbucks counter and of
Edward standing behind it talking to his co-workers and
occasionally making drinks. I looked over and noticed he had
been watching me stare out the giant window.

He smirked when I looked over and then quickly looked away


as if he had been caught, the expression remaining on his face
as he busied himself making coffee. I smiled to myself and
turned my attention to my book the best I could.

A few chapters later my phone buzzed and I opened it to read


the text that was waiting.

Hey Bells, want to hang out? I miss you.

It was from Jacob. I sighed and stared at the phone for a few
moments just thinking. I have been avoiding him more or less
for 4 days now. I have to address this little problem sooner or
later. I was concentrating so hard I didn't even hear Emmett
approach and sit in the chair next to me.

"Excuse me ma'am but I'm going to need to confinscate that


drink, I don't believe it was paid for." I stuck my tounge out at
him and he laughed. "Are you ok sister? You had a worried
look on your face."

"No, it's ok I guess. It's just Jacob." I figured I would have to


explain but I stopped there anyway.
"Boy's got a bit of a crush, huh?" Wait, how did Emmett know?
Did Rose tell him?

"I guess so. How do you know?"

"Well for one you are awesome and any guy that had sense
would go for you," I blushed slighly at that, it was such a nice
compliment but it was ridiculous,"and for two I've seen him
around you!" He laughed a bit at his last statement like he just
pointed out the most obvious thing ever.

I just groaned. "Well it might become a problem. He keeps


asking me to hang out and now I'm uncomfortable with our
friendship. It's not like he's specifically asked me on a date or
anything but I don't even want it to get that far. I'm just not
interested in him like that, you know?" I looked at him
pleadingly.

"Oh I know. I've also seen you around him." After he said that
he made a very quick but very pointed glance in Edward's
direction and I no longer knew which "him" Emmett was
referring to.

"Well I have no experience in this so I'm kind of nervous. What


if he does ask me out? I dont want to hurt him, I do care
about him. But I don't want to date him either."

"You are in luck!" He threw his hands up again in celebration.


"I happen to be very educated in the art of the easy let down.
I mean look at me Bellarina-" He sat up then and rubbed his
hands up and down his chest and made his voice low and
husky. "Your brother's a stud. I have to keep the unwanted
ladies away somehow!"

I cracked up and noticed Edward look over towards us


curiously. I didn't want him to get involved in this so when he
started walking over and I turned to Emmett, "Thanks Em. If I
ever need help fending off all the ladies throwing themselves
at me I know who to come to."
By then Edward had gotten over to us and picked up my feet
and sat down on the automan, placing my feet gently down on
his lap instead.

Emmett got up to go back to work. I'm assuming they were


taking their breaks. "Honestly though, if you need anything,
advice or anything, I got you on this one." He said it in a
serious tone then smiled and winked quickly and walked back
behind the counter.

"What is he talking about?" Edward asked curiously cocking his


head to the side. He looked adorable.

"Oh nothing, it's fine." I hurridly put my phone away and tried
to change the subject. "Are you on break?"

"Yes I have 10 whole minutes to do anything I please." He


smiled triumphantly.

"Well what pleases you?" I asked innocently. But his face


changed slightly and his eyes light up just a bit.

"Hmm... that's a good question." That's all he said but he kept


looking right at me.

Then he got up and stood in front of the chair indicating he


wanted to sit down.

The chair was pretty large, bigger than the bowl chair but
smaller than the Love Sac. I scooted over and he sat next to
me very close. I loved it. I felt warm all over and I could have
stayed there all day.

He turned his head to me then and I responded by turning


mine to him. He looked at me curiously again for a moment
before he began to speak.

"If it was something important you would tell me, right?"

I was slightly confused. "If what was something important?"


"Whatever it was you were discussing with Emmett. You
looked worried." He was studying my face now like he was
going to pull the truth right out of my expression.

"Oh it's really nothing Edward. It's not a big deal. But yes, if it
was very important I would tell you." I tried to sound casual so
he wouldn't worry any longer. This wasn't something I felt
comfortable discussing with him. Apparently it worked because
he smiled and just said "good," before turning his face away
from me.

Then he let his head fall back onto the chair and closed his
eyes as he ran his hands through his hair, causing a slight
groan to escape his mouth. "This is the longest day of work I
have ever experienced. I really wish I could go home now."

I knew I was gapping at him but I couldn't stop. I was fully


enjoying just being with him again like I had been doing all
week long.

He dropped his hands from his head and started speaking


again but kept his eyes closed. "I bought new shampoo and
it's not as good as the other brand I had before. Feel my hair,
it's not as soft." He truly sounded annoyed.

I held a silent celebration inside and reached up to feel his


hair. It felt perfectly fine to me.

As my hand made contact with his scalp he groaned a bit again


and let his head drop towards me as he said, "Please keep
going, you don't know how relaxing that is." His head made it
all the way to my shoulder and he situated himself a bit so he
was comfortable in that position as I kept my fingers running
through his untidy locks.

We stayed like that for the remaining 6 minutes of his break


and just talked as he kept his eyes closed and I kept my
fingers moving, helping him relax. He asked me all about the
book I was reading and it was so amazingly comfortable with
him there I thought I was going to cry when his break was
over and he sat up to go back to work.

"Thank you Bella, that honestly calms me down. I may have to


inlist you for assistance in the future." He smiled playfully and
gave my arm a quick rub before saying goodbye and walking
back behind the counter.

I was in awe of the new action I was allowed to perform on


him freely. His wild hair always had a hold on me. I probably
looked like an idiot as I sat in the chair alone smiling hugely
into my book but it didn't matter to me at all, I couldn't get it
off my face.

We left about 45 minutes later when Alice and Jasper appeared


and Rose was following them.

Jasper had an even more defeated look on his face and he was
carrying 3 full bags. Alice was beaming and instantly started
telling me about all the fashion design books she found. I gave
Jasper a sympathetic look and he just shrugged and shook his
head with a small smile.

We said goodbye to Edward and Emmett and learned that they


would be off work in 2 hours. Edward gave me a smile and a
small wave goodbye and I started counting down minutes
immediately. Only 118 to go.

When we got home I went to my room and decided to read


something. Anything. I just needed to pass the time for about
an hour and 1/2. I was reading for a while when my phone
buzzed again.

You never answered earlier. Movie tonight? Not free, my


treat :)I checked the contact name just to be sure even
though I knew who it was. Jacob.

I made a frustrated noise and wrote back the only thing I


could think. I had to be sure. Might as well do it now.
Like a date?I sent it and held my breath. Maybe we are all
wrong and he doesn't see me that way. He will reply with
something witty then Sam will laugh in my face at school and
tease me about it for a while and I will blush but then we can
all go back to being friends without any awkwardness.

No such luck.

My phone buzzed again.

Yes"Crap." I said to myself. I didn't know what to say back to


Jacob. I really don't want to hurt him, he's been so amazing to
me. He deserves better.

I checked the phone and realized 2 hours were up and had


been for about 20 minutes. I rolled off the bed and kept my
phone open. I needed any help I could get.

Rosalie was at the gym since she got into that habit while the
boys were gone. Alice and Jasper were having one of their
laundry room talks, they still frequently sat on the dryers for
hours and hung out in their own little world there. It was odd
on the surface but we were all used to it now. It was very
"them".

I had one offer for help I apparently couldn't refuse.

I walked into 110 and yelled "Emmett!"

The only thing on my mind was dealing with this as soon as


possible and then moving on.

It was not Emmett who appeared however, it was my Greek


God of a best friend, straight out of the shower looking as
perfect as ever with that lovely maroon hoodie on. He wore it
all the time now, it was kind of cute.

"I was just going to come get you." He said with a smile as he
walked over and gave me a side hug.
I had to keep my mind from wandering down the path that
held thoughts of the many ways Edward could "get" me. Dear
Lord I had no control these days...

"Actually I need to see Emmett."

His face fell a bit and he took his arm from around me. "Oh.
Well he's in the shower right now." I listened and realized I
could indeed hear the water running.

"Is there something I can help you with?" He was looking at


me curiously again. He really didn't like not knowing what
Emmett and I had going on.

"Um...I don't know." I was so uncomfortable with this. Yes I


could tell Edward about Jacob asking me on a date. But
Edward would ask questions and want details. What was I
supposed to say as to why I didn't have any interest in him?

"Well Edward, I became really close with Jacob when you were
away and now he's attracted to me for some reason and just
asked me on a date but I'm not interested in him because you
are the only person I want to spend any time with due to the
fact that I've fallen hopelessly in love with you and even
though you don't feel the same about me I can't imagine
feeling this way about anyone else, ever, and I'll probably be
comparing guys to you for the rest of my life and none of them
will match up. How do you think I should let him down
easy?"Yeah, right. Not happening.

But then he started pleading with me like he knew I couldn't


resist him.

"Bella, come on. You can tell me anything. Please? If


something is wrong I want to help." No fair. His eyes were so
green and his face was so sincere and he made his voice soft
and smooth and his hair is always even more wildly attractive
right after he showers.

I am so weak.
"Fine, I have a problem." I stated in defeat.

He actually smiled at that statement and then pulled me down


to the couch next to him so we were facing each other. He
looked like he was ready to go into full gossip mode. It was
sort of comical and I imagined him demanding "spill" just like
Alice always did and I almost broke into a laugh.

In reality he just continued to stare at me, apparently I was


supposed to start.

"So Jacob and I did our final scene together, like I told you a
few weeks ago," he nodded that he remembered and his eyes
narrowed a bit...odd, "well it required us to spend a lot of time
together and we became good friends, which is nice."

Now he looked sort of upset and I was a little afraid to


continue.

"But..." He urged me on.

"But now..." I couldn't say it so I just handed him the phone


with the first text of Jake asking me to a movie displayed on
the screen.

He held it up in his perfect hand and read it quickly. The only


things that moved were his eyes when he put them back on
me. I was sheepishly staring at him as I waited for him to read
it.

He asked the same question I did. "Like on a date?" But it


wasn't the same way he said "date" before when he was
making a joke about the grocery store. This time he said it like
it was a disease.

I nodded and he still just sat there with the phone in his hand,
not moving, just looking at me. "And how do you feel about
this?" He was searching me again, looking for things in my
eyes.
He was making me nervous as he sometimes does and I
started rambling. "Well I don't. I mean, I want it to stop. I like
him a lot as a friend, and yeah I had a lot of fun with him
during our scene, and hanging out every night while you guys
were away, and of course at Disneyland-" He cut me off then.

"Disneyland?" He was completely curious again. Apparently I


never told him about that day.

"Oh yeah, Jake took me to Disneyland for my birthday the day


before you guys got home." I was just stating a fact, hoping to
catch him up and then move on. He stayed as still as stone,
the phone still in his hand and held in front of his face. He
didn't say anything, he just grunted with indication that he
found that detail interesting.

"So basically I don't know what do to now. I don't want to hurt


him, but I don't want to date him either. At all." I was
prepared to be done then and start getting advice but he
asked another question like I knew he would.

"Why don't you want to date him, he seems like a good guy."

He didn't sound like he thought Jacob was anything near a


"good guy" though. He didn't sound sincere. Not sarcastic
either, but just sort of bland. The velvet was still beautiful but
there wasn't much depth.

"Um, a lot of reasons really..." This is where it got tricky. "...I


just don't see him that way. He's not what I want." I was
trying to be careful and honest. I was really trying not to
envision confessing everything to Edward right then and there
and him throwing my phone across the room and grabbing me
and pulling me to him...

"Bella?" He was nudging my arm now.

"Sorry, what?" Again I focused back on reality.


"So what you are saying is you want to decline him, but you
are afraid of hurting him. This is not what you want?' He was
still holding my phone and staring at me, but he was speaking
more gentle now.

"Exactly." The worst was over.

He finally shut the phone and handed it back to me. He let one
of his hands rest on my knee and began speaking again. "I
can't help you." He smiled at me and my jaw dropped.

"Seriously?" I almost yelled at him.

He practically begged me to let him help me! I tread water this


whole time, worried I will let something slip, and now he's
denying me help? This boy was literally going to drive me
crazy one way or another.

"Bella don't worry. Just tell him the truth and it will be fine. If
he has any sort of intelligence he will be able to get over it and
stay friends with you." He sounded so confident.

I just sat there and stayed upset. This wasn't helping at all.
Being honest was obvious, I needed to be comforted! I am not
used to turning people down! Perfect Edward had to be. Oh no
- he was not done. He wanted to help me and help me he
would. He had an obligation to as the best friend.

If I had been standing up I would have stomped my foot.

"Edward, come on! I am so out of my element here. I don't


want to make him feel badly and it's killing me that I know
whatever I write back to him is going to hurt him. I know what
that feels like! I don't want to do that to another person, ever.
I'd much rather be on the other side of it, the one getting hurt.
I can deal with that. I'm good at that!"

More came out in that rant than I had planned on, but my
emotions took me over when I started. I knew I was looking at
him with all the emotions I felt displayed on my face and it
was only the second time I almost fully lost control around
him, the first being the night before they left for tour. I pulled
back and tried to convince myself I hadn't let my face show
that I was referring to him. He could read me really well and
that would certainly not help things. I hoped he would ignore
most of what I just said and soley pay attention to my plea of
help. He didn't though. His face already told me he had taken
in every single word.

"Bella what are you talking about? You are good at being hurt?
Please don't say that. That's horrible." He looked truly sad now
and a little shocked. He ignored my plea altogether.

"No, it's fine. It's not important right now. I just... ugh... I just
want to get this over with." I got up then and walked out
leaving Edward and his sad eyes behind me in the couch. I
didn't look back, I just walked down the hall and straight into
the Love Sac. I will deal with Edward's sad face later. Make up
some excuse of a past love or something so I can keep my
cover. I needed to deal with this first.

I flipped open the phone angrily and began typing. Whatever


will be will be, I have to be honest and hope this all blows over
soon.

Jake, I can't. I'm sorry. I love being your friend but I can't be
anything more. You are amazing- I just don't feel that way.
Sorry. Still friends?

I hit send before I could think and just waited. I waited for
about 20 minutes but no reply came back. It was worse than
him telling me I lead him on and he hated me. The silence
from him made me feel horrible. He was so amazing to me
during all the crap I went through when Edward was so
distant. He never asked questions, he just cared.

I let my eyes water but I did not lose control. I wasn't exactly
sad over Jacob, just the unfairness of the situation for him. I
kind of laughed bitterly when I realized we weren't that
different. Not that he was in love with me, but I knew what it
felt like to supress feelings for someone who cared about you,
but not in the right way.

I was done sort of crying over the situation pretty quickly but I
was still just sitting in the Love Sac not really knowing what to
do next.

I didn't have to know though. The door opened and I looked


up to see Edward there. I felt happy again because I was near
him, but he still looked a little sad. There was more to him now
however. The determination was in his eyes when he turned
them to me.

"I did it. I told him how I felt and he didn't respond at all. I
feel horrible." I caught him up on what I had been doing and
waited for his reply. I figured he would comfort me but he
didn't.

"Bella, will you go on a walk with me?" He did this to me all


the time. Surprising me with questions and phrases that came
out of nowhere.

"Sure." I sighed and got up. Any time with him was time well
spent, no matter how I was feeling.

We walked out the door and down the hall.

"Where are we going?" I asked

He looked down at me and smiled finally. "The practice space."

I wasn't expecting that but it made me happy. The infamous


practice space, huh?

"Ok." Is all I said and his smile grew.

We walked out onto Hollywood Blvd and turned left towards


the practice space. Once we got out into the open the breeze
hit me and I started shivering because I had forgotten to grab
a sweater and my dark blue T-shirt just wasn't cutting it.
Out of instinct and the freedom to be able to do these things
now I latched onto one of Edward's arms and huddled to him
for warmth.

"Hold on," he murmered and pushed me away, making me sad


for a second until I realized what he was doing.

He took off his zip up and handed it to me, smiling.

"Are you sure?" I said looking up at him. It was the sweetest


gesture I could imagine but I didn't want him to suffer. Plus
this left me no real excuse to latch onto him.

He nodded and I took the sweater, wrapping it around me and


zipping it up. My head was filled with his sweet scent that
lingered on his clothing and I was instantly warmed from the
inside out. The arms were too long for me but I just bunched
up my hands inside the sleeves and cut off any air from
passing into them.

"You're not too cold?" I asked him sincerely. I had already


taken over the hoodie but I really was concerned. He was
wearing one of his own band's T-shirts, something he did often
that Jasper and Emmett always teased him about, and I knew
it wasn't better than my own T-shirt I had just reinforced.

"It's not that bad." He sort of smirked at me and then grabbed


my arm and snaked it back through his own. "You have to
promise to take care of it though. You are the only other
person I let use it and I don't want you getting it all covered in
your girl scent." He looked at me seriously and then let the
smirk creep up again.

"Whatever Edward, you like my girl scent all over your


precious hoodie and you know it!" I joked up at him.

"Maybe." He replied as he smiled and looked straight ahead. It


sounded very much like the "maybe" he used when I accused
him of knowing the waltz. It was very smug and sounded
much more like a, "Of course."
This was by far the best walk I had ever taken.

We chatted about nothing in particular as we walked,


interesting customers he had that day and I told him about
Alice's insane shopping and how Jasper got tricked by her
earlier. This caused him to throw his head back in laughter and
it was so nice to be enjoying such happy moments with him,
arm in arm.

We got to a blue door randomly standing in the middle of the


city block and he punched a code in the key pad on the outside
so the door would unlock. It was such a hidden place, you
would have no idea what it was if you just drove by. The blue
door was in between a tourist gift shop and a small pizza place
and was very inconspicuous. How they found this place to rent
a room from, I had no idea.

He held the door open for me and we walked up a narrow


flight of stairs that curved around a corner. It smelled...old.
The walls were dark midnight blue and the carpet was a dark
blue as well but with specks of lighter blues thrown in. The
stairs were worn down and the walls were knicked all over, no
doubt from equipment being loaded in and out on a daily
basis. All of the doors down the long hallway at the top of the
stairs were dark blue to match the prominent color in the
carpet, and it was rather dark in the hallway but it wasn't
creepy at all because there were bits of music drifting from
every corner of the building.

"At least the carpet matches the doors," I thought out loud as
we got to the top of the stairs and I waited for him to show me
which door was theirs.

"What?" He sounded amused and started to lead me down the


hall.

"In our apartment building the carpet is light blue and the
doors are orange. They don't match, it's horrible. It's always
bothered me." I explained it to him, surprised he hadn't
noticed. Honestly, it was hideous.
He just chuckled and mumbled something I couldn't hear and
he shook his head at me.

We were at a door about 1/4 of a way down the hall now and
he was unlocking it with a key. He opened the door and I was
granted entrance into the sacred paractice space.

It was a small room, but not cramped. A band of 5 would


probably just be able to fit comfortably. The drums were
against the back wall and there were big amps on either side.
There was a mirror directly across from the drums and I
laughed inside as I imagined them watching themselves as
they rehearsed. There was an acoustic guitar set against the
wall to the left and a keyboard set up all the way on the right
side of the room with a small stool in front of it. To the side of
the keyboard was a pile of pillows, a trash bag, and another
tall amp that seemed to be pushed to the side out of use.

"So this is where the magic happens?" I asked as I scanned


the room.

"This is it." Edward smiled. Even in the small dark room his
smile was radiant. It brightened everything up immediately.

He closed the door and then went over to the keyboard and
sat on the small stool. It was clearly a better model than the
one he had leaning against the wall in his room. It had it's own
stand and everything. I followed him silently and perched
myself on top of the amp that was next to him.

"This is where I come when I'm not sure where else to go." He
explained, turning on the kayboard and sounding serious. "I
just come and play and think. I've spent a lot of time here in
the past month or so." On that sentence he glanced over to
me apologetically, and I knew he was referring to his period of
distance.

"Yeah I remember." Is all I said.


He looked back down at the keys and started to move his
hands across them. He started to play slowly as a smile made
it's way across his face. It took me a second again to figure
out what it was but when I realized I smiled too. He was
playing "Forever" the song he dedicated to me in the fort. He
wasn't singing this time though, he was just warming up with
it as he had told me he usually did.

He began to talk again as he played. "Bella, can I ask you


something?" He wasn't looking at me, he was still looking
down at his hands even though I knew he didn't need to.

"Of course." I was trying to keep my tone light despite the


emotions the music was provoking in me and the seriousness
of his voice.

"You turned down Jacob for a date." He continued to play and


look down at his hands.

"That's not a question Edward..." I sort of laughed and he


smiled to himself slightly.

"Why exactly?" I couldn't imagine why we were doing this


again. He knew this subject upset me, why did he bring it up?

"I've already told you, I just don't feel that way for him." I was
studying him now, trying to find reason in his actions.

"That's all?" He asked, still not looking at me but raising an


eyebrow slightly. His voice was low and alluring and I really
wished we were talking about anything but Jacob so I could
fully enjoy it.

"Well... yeah."

No! But I can't tell him that. What is he getting at?

He finished the song then looked up at me but kept his hands


on the keys. "Can I ask you another question?" His eyes were
alive now. The way they get when he is excited about
something. It made me a little nervous.

"Sure."

"Do you forgive me?" His look was pleading and I was caught
off guard.

"I don't know what you are talking about." The nervousness
was fading as confusion took over.

"For being so distant from you Bella. I know it hurt you and
I'm so sorry." His voice was extra quiet now and he was boring
his pleading eyes into me. "I over think things all the time and
I was just trying to make sense of my life. I thought I needed
to push everyone I cared about away so I didn't hurt them
until I had my own emotions under control. Everything with
Tanya seemed to happen too quickly and I was dealing with so
many opposing feelings, I didn't even know which ones were
real so I felt like I needed a break. It makes sense to me, but I
shouldn't have been so extreme about it. I didn't mean to hurt
you further. I really am very sorry."

His look was breaking my heart. I hadn't worried about it since


the night after the show when he came back to himself,
honestly. I thought it was done and over with. I had no idea he
felt the need to apologize again.

"Of course I forgive you Edward, I already did. You were really
hurt yourself. I saw that." I tried to stay casual in a way so he
would know I wasn't dwelling on the extreme amount of pain I
had indeed endured.

"Thank you Isabella," is all he said for a moment and then I


saw his eyes change again, from pleading to hoping.

"Can I ask you one more thing?"

"Anything." I said truthfully. I think my voice matched his in


volume now. What could this third thing possibly be?
"Give me more time." It was more of a statement, but I knew
he was requesting rather than demanding.

"More time for what?" My heart beat was racing...his eyes


were intense and it was effecting every part of me like it
always did.

"To get my head straight. I am so much better than I was


before, mostly thanks to you, but I need some more time so I
know for sure I have all my emotions in order. To be fully
myself and so I know that my actions are all full and correct. I
do not want to hurt you again Bella. Ever."

My head was swimming. I knew what I wanted him to be


requesting of me. More time to sort out his emotions to
change our relationship? No. That could not be it. This was not
leading into that. It couldn't be.

I must have looked as confused as I felt because before I


could think of a question or an asnwer of any sort he was on
his feet and coming over to me.

My breath stopped and he was standing right in front of me,


actually leaning on my legs dangling over the side of the amp I
was perched on.

He reached up and tucked a lock of hair behind my ear as he


looked into my eyes. He was actually looking too, not boring or
staring or searching. Just looking. It was oddly peaceful and
breath taking at the same time.

I knew what I had to say then and I couldn't stop myself.


Today was a day of honesty.

"Edward, I never stopped waiting for you before and last time
you didn't even ask me to." It was such a simple statement
but it was so full of meaning.

I felt the red take over my face and his eyes closed slowly as
he took in my words.
He took both my hands in both of his and leaned his forehead
down on mine again, keeping his eyes closed.

"Thank you Bella. I don't deserve it but thank you. I promise I


just need some more time." He was whispering so softly I
knew that if we hadn't been so close I would never had heard
him.

I was still staring at him, stunned by what was happening. He


wasn't being specific but the feeling in the room was giving me
hope. He was holding both of my hands and it felt too right.
His sweet scent was taking me over and I only wanted more
and more of it. The touch of his forehead to mine was so
familiar and so warm. The way he was leaning on me was
trusting and comfortable and loving. I was overwhelmed.

He opened his eyes and looked at me again and smiled. I


couldnt help but smile back, even though I was still trying to
catch up with what had just occured. What was still occuring.

I was about to attempt to say something to break the silence


when he leaned away from me, still holding both my hands,
and asked excitedly, "Do you finally want your birthday
present?"

The mood shifted with his words. It wasn't serious or thoughful


anymore. It was bright and happy and playfull.

I had honestly forgotten about my promised birthday present


from him with everything that had gone on since then.

"Sure...you kept it here?" I furrowed my brow in confusion and


glanced around the room. The practice space? Really?

He chuckled and let go of my hands and sat back down on the


stool in front of the keyboard.

"No," he said softly. "I kept it here." He put on finger to his


temple and then began to play.
It's impossible to describe how this new song made me feel. It
was gorgeous. The most moving piece of music I had ever
heard. Esme's song was beautiful, but this was overflowing
with emotion. I closed my eyes and tried to think of what the
deep melody reminded me of. Then it hit me.

I opened my eyes and he was watching me with a loving look


on his face.

"It's a lullaby." I said incredulously, bringing a smile to his


face.

"Indeed. You told me to get one, so I got one. For you.


Inspired by you. Now I will never have to deny your request
again." He looked very proud of himself, but not smugly, more
in an accomplished manner. Like he passed a test.

"You wrote this for me?"

"Well, when I was home at my piano and I thought of you as I


played this is what happened. It was yours from the very first
time I played the very first note. Happy Birthday."

I couldn't stand it any longer. I jumped off the amp and


practically right onto him, wrapping my arms around his neck
forcing him to end the song early.

"Thank you Edward. It's the best present anyone has ever
given me." I felt his arms find their way around me and hold
me more tightly to him.

He breathed in and then said into my ear, "So you can accept
a present properly." I could hear the smile in his voice.

I pulled back a little to look at his face and thank him again. It
turned into us just looking at each other in silence. Just
looking again. It was all I needed to do for the rest of my life. I
didn't even notice that I had moved my hands up to the side of
his head and into his hair.
I was aware, however, that his hands were still around me,
holding me within his reach.

He smiled at me and said, "Time Bella. I'm not going to hurt


you again."

Chapter 19 - When the Day Met the Night

"Bella I have great news!"

He practically ran into my room where I was reading on my


bed and he was still in his work clothes, apron and all. The
green apron would have looked silly on anyone else outside of
the Starbucks environment. It actually did sort of bring a
comedic edge to Emmett's appearance. He's not exactly the
apron type... but on Edward it just brought out his eyes and
accentuated the unique color in his hair. I gawked at him and
his abrupt entrance into my room and I started to worry it was
developing a sick Starbucks after hours fantasy in me...

"Isabella are you even listening to me?"

He was sitting on my bed now watching me get lost in my


thoughts. His voice was stern and he used my full name
because he knew I wasn't listening at all. I immediately
blushed at him catching me in my thoughts and was extremely
grateful he couldn't read my mind. He would catch me
frequently thinking inappropriate things about him now if he
could. The new found freedom our friendship had taken on had
freed my mind as well.

"Yes, sorry. You have news!" I tried to mock his excitement


but seem interested at the same time.

"Oh no, you just blushed profusely. What are you thinking?"
He asked it differently, less seriously, than he usually did and
leaned towards me. He had a devilish look on his face and I
blushed even more.
"It's just hot in here Edward, what's your news?" I was
speaking fast trying to get him off the subject of my little
embarrassing reaction.

He eyed me suspiciously. He had been catching me blushing a


lot lately because he was paying closer attention to me these
days. It had been about a week since the practice space
ordeal. It was the very beginning of November now and it was
nowhere near hot anywhere so my inability to lie was evident.
I never told him what caused the blushing, but he always
asked and I assumed he may have an idea, but I did not want
to confirm any suspicions for obvious reasons.

"Well, my father is attending a medical conference at the Ritz


Carleton in Pasadena next week. Since it's only about 20 miles
away from Hollywood my parents decided to make a trip out of
it. Which means..."

"Carlisle and Esme are coming!" I finished the thought for him
and I was truly excited. The past few times Edward had been
on the phone with his mother around me he handed it to me
and I spoke to her for a few minutes each time. I had started
calling her "mom" because her voice held such a motherly tone
it felt natural to do. She definitely sounded more motherly
than my own mom. My mother thought it was sweet when I
told I did that and Esme loved it instantly, which only made
me love her more.

"Yes! They want to see where we live and meet all of our
ladies." He smiled when he said that and I beamed back.

All of their ladies, huh? Did I qualify as Edward's "lady"? That


was the big question these days. Nothing was defined because
he said he needed time. For what exactly I still hadn't figured
out or asked about.

The way he looked at me and touched me now though...that


thought made me laugh a little and blush again, which did not
go unnoticed by Edward.
"Ok, you are blushing again, what are you thinking?" He was
almost whining now.

"It's nothing Edward, seriously. I just... I think things and I


can't control it so stop worrying and learn to ignore it." I tried
to be stern but my rambling answer wasn't very stern at all
and he wasn't having it.

"Well I'm going to go shower and get the coffee smell off of
me, but don't think for one second that I am going to stop
asking or thinking about your bushing. I will find out
someday." He gave me a smug look and I was almost sure he
could in fact read all my thoughts and was just attempting to
make me admit out loud I wanted to rip the apron right off of
him.

I just smirked back at him, holding my determination as he


walked out of the room.

I let down my guard and smiled freely. Meeting Carlisle and


Esme was pretty exciting to me.

Later that night the boys were at practice and the girls and I
were lounging in the living room waiting for their return. It was
a late practice and the plan was to watch Anchorman when
they got home so we were keeping ourselves awake and
energized.

All of us were on the Love Sac eating Doritos that we were


dipping in cream cheese. It sounds horrible at first, but it sort
of just happened because we were running out of groceries
and had to be inventive. We were laughing at ourselves and
our ridiculous snack, especially Rose who initially gave Alice
and I disgusted looks as we started dipping and eating. But
she was now the one holding the cream cheese in one hand
and had the bag of Doritos in her lap. We were also laughing
at America's Funniest Home Videos which had come on the TV
and was apparently a lot better than any of us had
remembered it being.
"There's just nothing that compares to children falling down!"
Rose exclaimed while gasping for air.

Alice and I both scolded her for making that statement but we
couldn't really deny it. Anyone falling down was hilarious and I
figured I have a right to laugh at them since it could be me.
They were my people.

After 2 full episodes of AFHV the annoyance began to set in.


The musician thing was starting to get in the way of family
time and since the 3 of us were on a week break in between
our 3rd and 4th semesters we had a lot of time to do nothing
but wait it out.

"I hate long rehearsal nights! It's never good. You know this
means 2 of them are fighting and will be in bad moods when
they get back." Alice stated this as she shoved another 2 chips
in her mouth. There was nothing dainty about Doritos and
cream cheese. She also gave Rose and I a pointed look
because it was always Emmett and Edward who fought. Like
we could help it!

"It always takes me forever to get Emmett calm when him and
Edward have fight night. It's ridiculous really, how do you deal
with it Bella?" Rosalie asked with an amused look.

"I don't." I looked right back at her blankly. "Why would I have
to deal with it?"

Rose looked exasperated from having to explain the obvious to


me. "Well I have to deal with Emmett being upset at Edward
and Alice has to deal with Jasper being upset at Emmett for
being upset at Edward..." Alice nodded in agreement and
rolled her eyes,"so I just assume you have to deal with an
upset Edward on nights like this. He is, um, yours." When she
said "yours" she kind of laughed and Alice and I did too.

"You make it sound like they are puppies we adopted Rose!"


Alice laughed and covered her mouth to keep Dorito from
escaping. "I don't care how much he begs, I am never taking
Jasper outside to do a pee-pee!"

Rose threw a chip at her for making fun of her statement and I
almost choked I laughed so hard. "I'm not ever rewarding him
for making a potty like a good boy either!" Alice was making
her jokes through gasps now as she tried to balance laughing
with swallowing and even Rose lost it. We were laughing loudly
at this point and I couldn't get that hilarious mental image out
of my head.

As I was calming down I asked, "Seriously though Rose, what


do you mean he's mine?" I was still laughing a bit but I was
throwing her an odd look.

"You know what I mean!" She accused. "Ever since Edward


came back from the black hole he was in after tour you guys
have been even closer than you were before." She paused and
then her face turned curious. "What are you two exactly
anyway? I mean, he seems to be doing pretty well now with
the Tanya thing..."

"Or the lack thereof..." Alice joked under her breath causing us
all to laugh again.

"So what gives Bell? Anything official?" They both sat up


straighter then and I think I slumped down further into The
Sac.

"Well, no. But the other night, when I turned Jake down for
the date," I shuddered a little. It still made me uncomfortable
and thanks to the break between semesters I hadn't seen or
spoken to Jake in a while, "Edward and I took a walk to the
practice space..." I trailed off not sure how to keep going.

"And?" Alice was bouncing up and down now.

"Did he put the moves on you Bella?" Rosalie winked at me


dramatically and nudged my arm.
"No, no. But he did ask me to give him time."

They both sort of stared at me for a moment. Alice stopped


bouncing and looked confused then asked, "Time for what?"

"He didn't say exactly." I sighed and then decided it would be


better to tell them the whole story starting with the little
changes in our relationship, the way he reacted to Jacob
asking me on a date, and then all the details of our practice
space conversation.

I thought they were both going to loose it when I got to the


part about my lullaby. I almost did too when I remembered
how incredibly sweet it was. We were all having a very girly
moment. Alice looked like she was far off in dreamland with a
Jasper that was following Edward's practice space example and
Rose had subconsciously placed her hand over her heart as
she stared at me with adoring eyes. I was just smiling like an
idiot at both of them.

When I got to the end of the story I stopped and waited for
their opinions I knew were coming.

"Bella it's so obvious he's asking for time to be ready to be


with you! What else could he possibly need time for?" Rose
was very sure of her reasoning.

"That's what I keep thinking. But it just sounds too good to be


true." It really did. That's the only thing that kept me hesitant.

"No way Bella, it makes sense to everyone else. We can


literally see it! You two are more disgustingly perfect together
than the rest of us and we are all in real relationships!" Alice
swatted my arm to make her point. "He's being very careful
with you now, asking for time and all that, which is a good
sign. I know it's vague but I think you can be confident in
exactly what it's all about."

I nodded that I understood what they were saying, but I was


still so unsure. I guess all the many months of knowing I
couldn't have him were giving me uncertainties that were like
a bad habit I couldn't break. I was so used to him not being
available to me in that way.

"If you still feel so unsure about it just ask him. You guys
having that crazy communication thing going, you should be
able to talk about it. Plus I think he needs to own up to some
of the things that occurred during the Black Hole Days before
you fully agree to anything." Rose gave me a "trust me" look
just as the door to our apartment opened and Jasper walked in
so I had no time to respond.

He looked pretty upset, for Jasper at least, and he just nodded


in greeting towards us then walked straight to Alice, reached
down and grabbed her hand and drug her off to the laundry
room. Alice gave a wave to us as she rolled her eyes and shut
the door behind them.

"Well I'm going to go get mine." Rose sighed as she got up


and walked to the door. "Do you want me to send yours over?
I'll probably have to split them up anyway." She laughed a
little but looked strained by the task that was ahead of her.

"Eh, he's good at finding his own way." I joked and shrugged.

She nodded then set off down the hall.

I got up and went into the kitchen to put the chips and the
cream cheese away thinking all the time about introducing it
as a new movie snack to Edward the next time we needed one.

It really didn't take him long to find his way at all.

I smiled when the door opened and Edward appeared in the


doorway.

"Productive practice?" I asked sarcastically with a knowing


smile.
He rolled his eyes and said "Oh yeah." We never spoke of their
fights, he always just wanted to forget about it and have fun. I
was more than happy to oblige. They never fought about
anything too serious so I was glad he didn't spend time being
upset around me.

He walked over and grabbed a water bottle out of our fridge. It


was then that I noticed what he had with him.

"What's that for?" I asked skeptically looking at the longboard


he was dragging behind him.

He smiled evilly. "We're starting your training tonight." He said


it with authority and he smiled the crooked wonder and took a
sip of water.

I got really nervous suddenly.

"Edward it's ok, I don't really have to learn how to longboard."


I really thought it had always been joke.

"Oh yes you do. I require it as a skill in all my friends." He


kept smiling at me.

I laughed nervously and turned directly to him. "That's nice,


but you may have to replace me then. I really don't feel like
ending up in the hospital tonight." I gave him a pleading look
because I was only half joking. There was a very good chance
it could end up that way.

He walked over and put a hand on my shoulder and spoke


very softly to me. "I promise, I won't let you get hurt. Don't
you trust me?"

Suddenly I felt like we weren't talking about longboarding


anymore and Rosalie's suggestion flew through my mind.
Maybe longboarding would be a good way to avoid that
conversation. Part of me wanted to know what he really meant
about time and get some answers about the antics of Black
Hole Edward, but most of me had enjoyed these past 2 weeks
with him and the new perks of our freedom filled relationship.
If I was thinking the wrong thing and he had to set me straight
it could all be messed up and I could lose it again. I wasn't
ready to look any of it.

Longboarding it is.

"Well I know you aren't going to give up until I fail enough to


prove to you I don't belong on something like a longboard." I
laughed a little trying to lighten the mood.

He looked a little upset for a second that I didn't directly


answer his question but since I had just agreed to go along
with his plan he smirked and then held the door open for me.

We went down to the parking garage where it was flat and


secluded. Since it was so late at night there was no danger of
cars or people to help me along my path of destruction.

It was actually really fun. When we started out my heart was


racing as I first stepped onto the board and I could fill it
hammering inside of me. It got even worse when Edward's
hands found their place on my hips.

"Ok, don't be scared Bella. I'm not going to let go of you until
you tell me too." He was behind me and I was glad he couldn't
see my face flood red so I wouldn't have to deal with his
questions.

"Um, ok." My voice was shaking half from nerves and half from
the idea that I could keep his hands on me all night if I wished.

He started to roll the board so I could get a feel of the


movement of it. How it went over bumps and turned and
cruised. It went on like that for about 10 minutes and he
would laugh when I would squeal as he pushed me faster and
faster around the cars.

His hands were faithfully on my hips the whole time and once
when the board hitched for a second on a crack in the cement
I instinctively shot my hands on top of his for reassurance. He
chuckled and entwined his fingers in mine, as reassurance
back.

"It's cute that you don't trust me." He said right after with
sarcasm in his tone.

"It's not you, it's my natural ability to make a situation that's


safe for any normal person a disaster." I turned my head
around then to give him my worried look so he knew I was
telling the truth and it had nothing to do with my trust in him.

His face was closer than I expected it to be and when I turned


I caught his scent and his eyes at the same time, which made
me smile.

"See, it's fun." He said gently smiling back at me.

"Indeed it is." I said softly. And it was.

We shared a moment of almost seriousness and then he put


his foot on the front of the board to stop the rolling and smiled
playfully, breaking the moment completely.

"Ok, next step. Pushing off!" He smiled widely and I panicked.

"Pushing off? That requires skill."

He scoffed. "No it doesn't. It requires basic motor skills, which


I know you have."

He had me step off the board and started teaching me about


pushing off with one foot and then placing it in the front of the
board as it started rolling. The key was grace and balance. I
was positive this would be my demise. He wasn't going to hold
me as I attempted this, which was a disappointment all in it's
own, and I hesitated for a long time as he watched me stand
in the same spot for about 5 minutes, one foot on the board
and one firmly on the ground.
He crossed his arms finally. "Pushing off usually requires you
to push off," he mocked.

"I'm mentally preparing." I was doing nothing of the sort. I


was stalling. Maybe he'll get annoyed and let it go.

"Well, we have all night." I forget how stubborn he is


sometimes.

"Bella, all you have to do is push a little and then roll towards
me. I will stop you once you get to me. I'm only about 3 feet
away if you need me before that." He held his arms out to me
and suddenly I had motivation to roll.

I took a deep breath and pushed gently with my foot then


placed it on the front of the board and wobbled slightly as I
rolled about 2 1/2 feet. I lost my balance even more but didn't
start to fall all the way until I was close enough to land my
hands on Edward's shoulders and stable myself.

"You did it!" He smiled at me. I was actually face to face with
him when on the longboard because it made up most of the
difference in our heights.

"Kind of... I lost it at the end there." He looked so pleased with


me I even felt a little proud although I knew it was ridiculous
to feel proud over something like longboarding.

"Oh no my Bella, that counts as a success. You aren't in the


hospital are you?" He laughed and waited for my answer to
prove his point.

"No I guess I'm not." I laughed and smiled in victory.

Eventually he had me pushing off and rolling 5 feet to him.


Then 7 feet. Then he just sort of walked beside me as I cruised
the length of the garage. It was pretty fun, I had to admit. He
was eventually holding my hand as I rolled because I was
going a long enough distance to turn and I was still a little
unsure about leaning into it.
After he was satisfied with the progress I made he declared
the lesson over and stole the board from me to do a few laps
himself. I never thought watching someone longboard around
a parking garage could be such a great way to pass time. I
was perfectly happy though, leaning against the wall watching
him go round and round and smile at me. Anything I did was
fine as long as Edward was there, preferably smiling at me.

Suddenly he was coming right towards me at an alarming


speed and I was caught like a deer in headlights. At the last
second he reached his foot down and stopped right in front of
me, inches away from colliding with me and the wall. He had
to lean both his hands on the wall on either side of my
shoulders to keep himself from falling on top of me as I
shrieked "Edward!" in a panic.

He was laughing as he looked at me, clearly amused by his


trick as I just shook my head in disgust.

"That was mean." I accused.

"I knew I wasn't going to hit you. Your face was priceless
though." He smirked but didn't change our position. I was
finding breathing to be a little difficult.

His laughter faded and turned into a sincere smile. His eyes
were bright and alive. He looked like he stopped breathing for
a moment too.

"Hey." He said softly and leaned in a little closer. He said it in a


way that made me blush.

"Hey." I said back trying to hide my face but having no where


to look that wasn't consumed by him. So I let some hair fall in
front of it instead.

"You really are afraid I'm going to slip up and hurt you, aren't
you?" He looked concerned now.
I sighed because it seemed like he changed the subject again.
Very sneaky Edward Cullen. I suppose I should take this
opportunity since it keeps coming up anyway. I felt my insides
tighten as I began.

"Edward I need to ask you something." I knew my face looked


worried. I could see him get worried as well as he watched my
face change.

"Yes?" He still didn't move away from me. His arms were still
on either side of me and I was still in between his body and
the wall. It was very hard to concentrate because he was so
close.

"Can you back up a little bit?" I asked quietly.

His face turned to confusion and then disappointment all within


one second as he dropped his arms and stood up straight, no
longer leaning into me. "Oh, sorry," he said just as quietly
after he had assumed his new position. He looked down
sheepishly and his face fell slightly.

Apparently he thought that was the question I had for him and
it was incredibly adorable how visibly disappointed he was at
the thought of me wanting him farther away from me. It gave
me confidence to go on, however. His reaction to my request
was comforting considering the subject matter I was
embarking on.

"That wasn't my question Edward, I just couldn't concentrate


with you that close." I said it quietly and giggled as he only
lifted his eyes to me and they lit up again.

"Oh," he smiled a little bit. "Well can I at least stand next to


you? Or would that count as being too close?" He smiled wider
at that. He just loved mocking me so much.

I stuck my tongue out at him and he walked over and leaned


against the wall next to me and looked down at me waiting.
When I didn't start he leaned into me a little. "Your question
Bella?"

I took in a big breath..."Ok. I need to know something. You


know how you said you needed time?" I felt him stiffen a bit
next to me. He wasn't expecting this subject from me. I saw
him nod silently and I continued. "Well I'm not exactly sure
what you mean exactly." Did I say exactly too many times? Oh
geeze, now is not the time to sound like an idiot Bella.

"Well..." He started and I felt nerves shoot through my body.


It could all change right now and I was instantly afraid so I cut
him off in an attempt to stall.

"I mean, I know what I think you meant, but I don't exactly
know for sure. You never really said. So I don't know if what I
am thinking is right, exactly." Ugh, did I just say "exactly" a
million times like an idiot again? Geeze, he gives me such odd
nervous habits.

"I guess I thought it was obvious." His tone sounded a little


disappointed and he paused. It was silent for a few moments
and I was sure he could hear my heart racing from where he
was standing. "Bella, I have very strong feelings for you. Not
just friendship feelings."

Everything stopped.

But not like when he told me he had a girlfriend, or when I


first saw a picture of her, or when he told me he was going to
marry her, or when he put his walls up and slipped into the
black hole, or when he went into his room with Angela and
everything got darker and I couldn't catch my breath and
nothing seemed to matter anymore. Oh no. This time
everything stopped and the sky opened up and light shone
down on me and my body filled with warmth and light of its
own and I wanted to sing show tunes from a mountain top!

It was the moment in my life when the dark nights I had


suffered were met and replaced by the sun filled fantasies. It's
not an over reaction either. I knew that my nights would no
longer be dark. That the sun would be so strong in me now,
just from his words, that the night had no chance of taking
over again.

I was instantly giddy. I giggled. "'Friendship feelings',


Edward?" It probably wasn't a great time to make fun of him
and his little phrase but I was in such a good mood suddenly I
couldn't control it.

"Isabella Marie Swan, I just confess that I have feelings for


you and you are giggling at me? Giggling? Way to give a guy
confidence..." He sounded serious but slightly amused. It
made me giggle even more and I turned to him.

"I'm sorry Edward." The giggling continued and he stared at


me, still amused, but not joining in the laughter. I finally got
control but the sun inside of me was still shining brightly. "Ok,
I'm sorry." I composed myself. "That is... good to hear."

Talk about the understatement of the year! What is wrong with


me tonight? I have imagined him wanting me this way for so
long now but I had never imagined having to give a real life
reaction to it. I was trying to control the sing from a mountain
top urge in me so I was watering my emotions down a bit..

"Good to hear?" He jaw literally dropped at me and my simple


answer.

I needed to get the seriousness back if this was going to be


productive at all. I took a deep breath. He looked incredulous
at my response. It almost made me laugh again because he
didn't know the alternative to me trying to control myself in
this moment was me jumping up and down in a circle and
clapping my hands and squealing like Alice in a sale.

"No, I didn't mean just 'good to hear'... it's definitely better


than that! I mean, it's... well... I feel the same." That made
me serious enough. Saying it out loud. And I managed not to
say "exactly" even once. "Of course I feel the same Edward!
I've been feeling that way for what feels like forever. I've been
dreaming of you finally feeling the same as me."

I was honestly looking at him now. I wasn't intimidated by his


stare like I usually was. I was finally telling him, and it was
safe because he had admitted it first.

His face broke into a huge grin. It was the equivalent of


Emmett's big silly grin except on Edward there wasn't anything
silly about it.

"Good to hear." He said casually. We both started laughing at


that and I looked away but ran my elbow into his side for using
my words against me.

We finished laughing and I continued. "So, when you asked for


time..."

"I was asking you to wait for me, essentially, yes." The
seriousness was back. "I know it's more than I deserve to ask
of you but Bella, but I really, really care about you. As a friend
before anything, which is what makes this so important to
me." He pushed off the wall and stood in front of me then,
putting both hands gently on my shoulders.

"I went through a lot with Tanya, especially after we moved


here and I met you. I had very conflicting emotions for a long
time which made things...difficult. I really felt like I owed it to
Tanya to fix things between us and that relationship became
more of a project to me than anything. All the while I was
getting closer and closer to you, and it was making me happier
than anything else in my life."

I looked down and smiled when he said that. That was also
good to hear, but I knew what it had been doing to him at the
time now that he was explaining everything to me.

"So when I broke things off with Tanya I didn't know how to
handle everything I was feeling. I was trying to cope with all of
the emotions of failing with her, the hurt of how she had
changed, and losing that trust. The things I felt for you didn't
help - I just got more confused and almost guilt ridden." He
paused for a second and then reached his right hand to my
chin and pulled my face up so I was looking at him.

"Bella I need you to fully understand. I pushed you so far away


when I got back because I felt incredibly guilty about caring so
much about you when I thought I should only be feeling badly
about breaking up with Tanya. I forced myself to believe that I
was being selfish so I secluded myself to try and take away
the risk of messing things up with you when I was feeling so
utterly confused about what exactly it was I did feel for you."
His eyes were pleading with me to understand. Then they filled
with sorrow again.

"I know that I only hurt and confused you by pulling away, but
it was the only thing I could think to do to clear my head." He
laughed bitterly and kept explaining. "The funny thing is my
head wasn't clear at all. All I could do was wonder how you
were filling your time and try and deal with missing you so
badly. It only made my brooding worse I think. I was clearing
away all my emotions over losing Tanya because I did loose a
friendship in that break up and it did hurt a lot... but I didn't
know how to react to the fact that the majority of my emotions
centered around you." He leaned his head in a little and he
smiled slightly.

"So what made you realize you were screwing things up so


badly?" I smirked at him and he laughed.

"When I walked into your apartment the night that ridiculous


big foot movie was on," he rolled his eyes and I laughed, "you
were sitting with Jacob in the Love Sac and my insides went
crazy."

He was jealous. I couldn't help but smile victoriously. It's not


like I had been trying to make him jealous back then, I didn't
expect to see him enough to form a plan like that, but I was
satisfied anyway. Especially after what I went through with
him and Angela.
"Wait, what was with you and Angela?" I asked him abruptly
when that thought entered my mind as he was starting to
speak again. He stared at me for a second, caught off guard.

"We'll get to that..." He looked slightly confused and I folded


my arms and gave him a "well get on with it" look.

"It only got worse with the dance demonstration that night and
the next night at the show. He was always touching you." His
face was scrunched up in disgust and I marveled at how it
remained beautiful.

"I was waking up more and more with every touch he gave
you until I couldn't stand it any longer. By the end of the night
I was overwhelmed and I knew I needed to fix things with you
because I was exploding with jealousy. He was clearly picking
up all the time I was forfeiting and I hated that thought. I
hated it enough to come back to myself in such a way I didn't
know how to handle it at first. My only desire was to drag you
home immediately and make up for all the lost time, leaving
dear Jacob behind." He had a slightly evil and distant look in
his eyes when he explained this memory to me and I was lost
in how intense the confession he just made was. Alice had
been dead on.

He seemed to clear his mind of that memory and looked more


calm as he continued. "When we got back to our apartment
after that show I was back to myself and I was calm enough to
think logically about what I needed to do. But every time I got
a chance to really look at you I was taken aback by how you
were looking at me. It was so full of fear and sorrow. Like you
were afraid that any look I gave you or any word I said to you
would completely break you." His face was full of beautiful
regret now and he reached up and tucked my hair behind my
ear in a comforting manner.

"That's not very far from what was actually happening


Edward." I told him the truth and I didn't look away from him.
"I'm so sorry." He whispered and pulled me into a hug. I
hugged him back and I was very surprised at how tightly he
was holding me this time.

"It's ok now, you really don't need to apologize again. I


understand you weren't being yourself and it's nice to hear
what was really going on. I'm just being honest too." I pulled
away and he reluctantly let me. I wanted to look at his face
again though.

I leaned back against the wall and smiled to try and coax the
same out of him. When it worked I reached up and started
playing with one of the strings coming out of the hood of his
maroon zip up. He practically lived in the thing now when he
wasn't letting me borrow it.

"So," I started as I looked up at him seriously. "Angela?" I still


needed an answer to this.

He sighed. "There's really nothing to tell. She called me out


one night and became my confidant."

"She called you out?" I raised my eyebrows.

He smiled and stuck his hands in his pockets.

"Yes she did. We started doing work on Working for the


Weekend at the practice space the night you, Emmett, and
Alice had your joy ride around the city." I smiled at the
memory. "After you left from loading up the jeep with us we
got back up to the practice space and she confronted me on
how I was treating you. She actually asked if we broke up!" He
looked amused and I laughed at what that meant she had
mistaken our relationship before they left for tour.

"I had to explain everything to her then. We didn't even work


on the song at all the rest of the night because her and Jess
wanted every detail of my life concerning Tanya and you. They
were dissecting me. After that night Jess never really brought
it up again but Angela was trying to pull me out of my, what
do you guys call it now? Black hole?" I smiled and nodded and
he chuckled.

"So that night after the first show back, when you and Angela
went into your bedroom and shut the door?" I stopped playing
with his hoodie and folded my arms seriously.

"Oh dear." He clearly had forgotten about that and was just
realizing what that had done to me. "I'm so sorry Bella, that
must have looked horrible." He got lost in his thoughts and his
face drifted a little to the right as his brow furrowed.

"It felt a lot worse than it looked." I said under my breath.

He snapped his head back to me and spoke desperately fast as


he explained, "I was so lost Bella, and she was a safe person
to open up to because I didn't have to worry about any extra
feelings I had towards her. She was neutral territory. She was
Switzerland." He was reaching for ways to comfort me. I
wasn't going to make it so easy on him.

"Switzerland?" I asked sarcastically.

He slowed down and spoke confidentially now. "Yes. I feel very


tame, very controlled friendship feelings for Angela so opening
up to her didn't risk anything. I could just talk to her and stop
holding everything inside and I didn't have to worry about
getting distracted by her." His eyes turned warmer and he
smiled even more warmly down at me. "Unlike others I didn't
have to fight the constant distraction of always wanting to be
closer to her, or touch her face, or hold her hand." His voice
got softer as he spoke and he had taken one hand out of his
pocket and pulled one of mine free to entwine our fingers
together.

"Switzerland. Neutral. Safe. Not distracting." He was smiling at


me now and I was falling for it and melting into the wall at his
touch and his words. "That particular night I was having
trouble with how guys at the show were interacting with you
and all the looks I always catch Tyler throwing at you." He
rolled his eyes and I felt a little surprised. Tyler? Really?

"So I went into my room with Angela because I was still


determined to keep my distance from you and protect you
from my confusing emotions but some of them were burning
up in me with the way you looked that night. Well, every night,
but it was worse when I hadn't been around you a lot." He
looked like he could have been blushing if he was me and he
looked down a little. I was shocked. The way I looked affected
him? I made a mental note to be extra nice to Alice for now
on, especially during Bella Barbie moments.

"I still didn't recognize that I was hurting both of us by keeping


us apart. You know how stubborn I can be. I thought I was
protecting you from my confusion. Angela was alwasy trying to
tell me that I needed to relax but I was still scared of what I
felt."

He was waiting for me to respond now and he was looking


down at our still clasped hands. He needed me to accept what
he said and forgive him again in a way. I smiled up at him.

"So you didn't throw her down on your bed and make
passionate black hole love to her?" I knew he would take my
joking as a sign of acceptance.

He cocked his head to the side and smiled smugly. "Well even
if I did I was thinking of you the whole time."

I let my jaw drop and then pulled my hand out of his and hit
him playfully in the chest. He laughed and grabbed my hand
again and pulled me into a hug.

We stood there like that for a second and let the seriousness
take over once again.

"So you need time." I stated as I looked up at him.


He sighed and looked down to me. "Yes I do. I need to gain
trust back in myself. I know I have feelings for you and it's
more than ok, but I need to sort through everything else I still
feel too. I know I don't love Tanya anymore, please don't
worry about that. But the way things ended between her and I
really messed with my trust and my reaction to things. I need
things to stay casual until I know I won't over react to
something and hurt you again in the process. Does that make
sense? I need time to be ready for this fully so I can do it
right."

It did make sense. Edward over thinks things a lot, but when
he gets overwhelmed with something he over reacts at the
drop if a hat, hardly thinking about his actions at all. If he felt
he needed time to sort through left over feelings from his
messy break up with someone he knew and loved for many
years I couldn't look down on him. It was very considerate
actually. He was protecting both of us.

"It makes sense. I have time Edward. Like I told you, I have
been waiting for you before you even thought to ask me too."

He smiled at that and pulled me into him again. We shared


that final moment embracing in the parking garage in the
middle of the night and I felt nothing but excitement. Time
would pass as it always did. But it wouldn't be hopeless and
pointless like before, each day and each night would meet
each other and in passing would only bring me closer to him in
so many ways.

Plus, no one said casual waiting couldn't be fun...right?

Chapter 20 - Just Friends

"Aaaaahhhh! I was right!" Alice was jumping up and down on


her bed like a 3 year old with a curling iron in one hand and
hair spray in the other.
"For the record I was right too." Rosalie chimed in coolly as
she looked at us through the mirror she was standing at while
applying her make up.

The boys had a show in a few hours and I was filling them in
on the previous night's conversation in the parking garage with
Edward. When he and I had gotten back up to the apartments
everyone was asleep in the boys' living room and Friends was
still playing on the TV so we had gone into Edward's room and
he played me some new CDs he had picked up and we hung
out in his room without waking the others up.

Alice stopped jumping and reassumed her official curling


position and started in on the right side of my hair.

"Yes, you were both right, thank God!" I couldn't stop smiling
and I didn't care.

"So, you both know the parents are coming in a few days,
don't you?" Rose asked us as she stepped away from the
mirror to join us on the bed. It never took her long to get
ready since she started with perfection anyway.

"Oh yeah I've already spoken to Esme on the phone about


making time for a Melrose Blvd shopping spree while they are
here. She's excited about it, so I know we will get along well."
Alice smiled to herself looking as pleased as she sounded.

"I've talked to her a few times too and she's so wonderful. I


can't wait to meet them in person. Rose, have you talked to
Esme yet?" I tried to look at her as I spoke but Alice forcefully
turned my head back where she needed it.

"Nope but I have spoken to Carlisle." Rose stated with a


chuckle. That was different.

"Really? About what?" I asked.

"He wanted to know if my nickname was Bertha because he


was worried about he demeaning way Emmett spoke of her."
Alice fell over laughing and I shook my head at Emmett and let
my head fall into my hand as I laughed with her.

"Wait...so you had to explain to Dr. Carlisle Cullen that his


eldest son was not demeaning the girlfriend he picked up in
Hollywood but rather the inflatable chair he fell in love with in
her apartment?" My eyes were watering at the thought of Rose
having to explain this.

"Oh yeah." Rose still wasn't as engulfed in laughter as Alice or


I. "I explained the whole situation to him, starting with Ruth,
and he wasn't phased at all! They did raise Emmett though, I
guess it wasn't that out of line to him. It actually seemed to
comfort him!"

With that she lost it too and we spent the rest of the time
getting ready pondering if we should introduce Bertha to
Carlisle or if we should let Emmett.

We went over to the boys' apartment as usual to head out to


the show. They were in the living room waiting for us and they
all stood up as soon as the door began to open. We didn't even
fully enter the apartment because we all had this routine down
by now. They all filed out into the hallway with us. Emmett
grabbbed his keys and then put his arm around Rose and gave
her a chaste kiss as they started walking down the hall. I
turned my head as Jasper and Alice shared on of their initmate
looks and she just linked her little arm around his and started
whispering to him about what I assumed was Edward and I
because she kept stealing little exuberant glances at us
walking right behind them.

We walked down the hall and Edward turned to me and smiled.


It was full of more emotion than it ever had been before. I
knew it was due to our new understanding of our relationship
and I know my smile matched his as I looked back at him. It
was the first time I'd seen him since last night and I suppose a
part of me was a bit afraid I had dreampt the whole thing. But
the way he was looking at me now... the dream had definitely
started to come true.
"So my parents are coming on Monday." He informed me with
a different smile than the one he just gave me.

"That's exciting! That's only in 2 days!" I clapped my hands


and he chuckled at my excitement.

"Yes they want to spend their first few nights here with us and
then head to the Ritz for the convention at the end of the
week."

"I can't wait, honestly. Alice already has your mother booked
for a shopping trip, but I think Rose and I will go as well and
make it a girls day." We had discussed that earlier and all
decided it would be fun and would allow us to get embarassing
stories of the boys from Esme uninterrupted, which was
ultimately our real goal.

"She's going to love that." He gave me my smile again and my


knees felt weak. He placed his arm around my shoulders as we
got on the elevator with everyone else and Emmett started
telling us a story about when he was younger and drank out of
a bottle of tile cleaner labeled "Easy Orange" because he
mistook it for orange soda that was left out on the counter.

"Turns out it didn't taste like orange at all and there was
nothing easy about getting it out of my system!" He finished
the story with a painful look haunting his eyes.

Edward was doubled over in laughter at the memory and


Jasper was doing the thing where he laughs silently but mostly
just shakes his head in shame at his brother. Rose just patted
him on the shoulder and giggled as Alice and I gawked and
laughed at him at the same time.

"You didn't...You didn't..." Alice was having a hard time talking


between laughs,"...you didn't think that the bottle it was in
was a little unusual for soda?" Everyone turned to Emmett, still
laughing, and waiting because she had a good point.
"Well I had a little help getting convinced it was just a clever
way for mom to get me to stop drinking so much soda." He
gave a pointed look at Edward and it only made him laugh
harder as everyone turned their attention from Emmett to him.

"Oh yeah! I remember that!" Jasper reached over and high


fived Edward, who was still laughing. but could finally stand all
the way up even though he was now using the arm that was
still around me for some support.

"What is he talking about?" I asked suspiciously.

He looked down at me and beamed which made me smile back


even though he hadn't said anything yet. "Well..." he looked
back up at the group and I now glaring Emmett," I may or
may not have told Emmett that mom was hiding food from him
and that she did it cleverly right in front of his face, like hiding
the orange soda in the tile cleaner bottle so that she could
regulate his intake of sweets."

He and Jasper started chuckling againg and Emmett crossed


his arms but now had a hint of a smirk on his face.

In between chuckles Jasper chimed in, "I bet Edward my whole


small week's allowance he wouldn't be able to get Emmett to
drink the Easy Orange, and I clearly lost, but it was the most
entertaining 10 I'd ever given up."

The doors to the elevator opened and I heard Rose mutter


"boys" underneath her breath as we all exited the elevator and
headed to our cars.

My parking space and Emmett's are directly across the aisle


from eachother so I started getting my keys out as the boys
started walking towards the jeep. Edward pulled me into him
quickly with his arm that was still wrapped around my
shoulders and whispered "I really don't agree with this boy-girl
car arrangement, you know. You think we could get it
appealed?"
I smiled at his new distaste for separation and answered
quietly,"I distinctly remember the band wanting to ride
together separately so they could get some 'solid time
together' to strategize or whatever it is bands have to do in
their alone time before shows. So I'm affraid things probably
can't change." I gave him an innocent "oh well" look and saw
amusement flash through his eyes. My tone was littered with
annoyance on purpose.

All of us girls have always hated the separate car arrangement


but we understood it and never complained about it to their
faces. It didn't stop me from teasing him about it now.

"Oh you're right I forgot." He smiled back, smugness taking


over amusement."We do like to strategize on picking up girls
at the show on the way there. That way we make the most of
our time." He smiled wider at the scowl I gave him. What a
funny little game Edward Cullen.

"Oh good, because I like to call Tyler from the car and set up
our secret meeting time so we can... hang out before they go
on. It helps him make the most of his time at the show." I
concentrated on matching the smugness I had seen in him so
many times and then slipped out from under his arm and
walked away and said, "See you there!" as I got into my car.

He shook his head slightly and had an amused smile on his


face as he looked back at me and walked to the jeep. His eyes
were dacing, the emeralds were alive. We shared a look for a
quick moment as we silently laughed at ourselves and our
jokes before he got in the jeep and both cars started.

We got to the show and everything was casual and normal


which was really nice.

When Angela, Jess, Mike and Tyler got there I made sure to
hug Angela extra tight in greeting assuming I had thrown her
too many subconscious death glares in the past few weeks.
"It's good to have him back, isn't it?" She asked quietly as we
hugged.

I nodded and smiled as we pulled apart and she matched my


smile.

"Good because I was about 2 seconds away from locking that


boy in a room with you so you could beat him out of his
stubborness!" We laughed and I told her "Thank you Angela,"
and it felt good that she understood everything.

I realized afterwards how ridiculous I had been about her as


well. I should have known that Angela was smart enough to
recognize my feelings for Edward before, everyone had to have
seen it. And she was definitely too sweet and sincere to do
anything that would blatanly hurt me.

The boys played and that was normal and fun as well. We all
danced and sang and Edward gave me his cell phone before
they started as he flashed me his crooked grin and said
"Thanks Bell" like always. He still didn't look at me throughout
the set and I still wondered why but didn't worry about it.

Angela and all them played right after the boys and soon we
were all hanging out, dispersed around the venue as the last
few bands played.

The boys were at their merch table since they had enough of a
following to sell things now so I was sitting on a couch in the
back in between Tyler and Jessica across the room from their
table. We could see and obviously hear the bands from this
spot, but we didn't have to deal with a crowd since we didn't
really know the other bands at all.

Edward was facing me from where he was sitting at the table


and I was stealing glaces at him as he sold a CD to a couple of
guys who had been talking to him for a few minutes now.
Jasper and Emmett were working on selling some other kids
some shirts on the other side of their table.
Soon after 2 girls walked up to Edward's side of the table and
picked up a CD. They both started looking at it together and
naurally Edward had to talk to them. I felt my insides tighten
as they always did anytime Edward spoke to anything remotely
female at a show.

They looked like they were about 12 years old and dressed too
attention-needy for their own good. I may be biased though.

One was blonde and the other had died black hair. They had
small features and were both rather pretty from what I could
see, but they were also very young. To young to be talking to
my Edward at least.

I tried to calm down and pay attention to the band that was
playing but I was caught glaring at the backs of their heads a
few minutes later because they were leaning into Edward as
they laughed over something he said. Edward suddenly looked
past them and caught my eyes. He raised one eyebrow and
fought an amused smile as I tried to cool my expression and
smile casually back.

He just shook his head at me and looked away quickly as he


responded to something the little blonde one said, causing
them both to laugh again. Then she reached out and palyfully
hit his arm and he glanced up at me immediately afterwards,
knowing I was still watching.

I raised my eyebrows at him now and gave him a very


unamused look. He smirked, clearly enjoying himself and my
reaction to the little girls he was charming. He kept it up
though, making more and more conversation with them and
stealing glances at me the whole time, all the while getting
more and more amused at my reaction.

The little girl that touched him before did it again and he
straight out laughed at my expression when he caught my
eyes, making it appear he was responding to whatever dumb
thing she had just said.
I was through being a helpless witness and I decided to fight
back. I smiled sweetly and tapped Tyler's arm to get his
attention, still holding Edward's eyes until I felt Tyler turn his
attention to me. I asked him, "Hey Tyler, what band is this?"

I smiled as sickingly sweet as I could, knowing Edward couldn't


hear or tell that I was asking Tyler a simple question. I also
knew Tyler well enough to know a simple question would keep
him talking long enough to achieve my goal.

I glanced back up at Edward and he was now glancing between


me and the little girls. His eyes were slightly darker now and
he was giving me a "What are you doing?" look as the little
girls were pulling out money to pay for their new CDs.

I turned back to Tyler who was in the middle of telling me


about the lead singer's journey from drmmer to front man and
I nodded and leaned in to him in faux interest. When I looked
back at Edward he was collecting money from the girls and
then let one of them hug him. He looked over her head right at
me and smiled smugly.

I narrowed my eyes but caught myself quickly and went back


into game mode. I turned towards Tyler and put my hand on
his arm as I asked, "Wait, Tyler, this isn't the same band that
Mike was in when he was in junior high that made him shave
his head is it?" Tyler laughed and leaned into me for support
because of it like I knew he would.

Tyler loved that story and told it often so I knew brining it up


would get a reaction out of him that would read as something
exuberant. I kept my hand on his arm as he finished laughing
and saw Edward sidehugging the black haired girl with no
smile what so ever on his face as he watched. His eyes were
narrowed and he was definitely curious.

He snapped out of it and put his game face on as he grabbed


the shoulder of the blonde one, the one that insited on
touching him regularly, and said something quick to her,
causing her to pull a pen out of her little girl purse. He took it
from her then flipped over a flier from the table and began to
write something for her on it.

I gave a quick nod and smile to Tyler as Edward glanced up


from writing. He stood up and handed the little girl the paper
which made her beam at him. It was all fun and games of
course and I was amused at our little competition even though
still slightly annoyed.

Things got serious for me though, because I had retaliated


Edward's note giving with taking out my cell phone and
snapping a picture of Tyler and I, his arm around me and my
head pressed agains his cheek. As I was saving the picture in
my phone I glanced up with a smile and saw Edward give me a
slight "if that's how you want it" kind of nod and turn his
attention back on the little girls.

Suddnely Edward reached out and felt a lock of the long


blonde hair that blonde one was holding out to him, then
leaned down and let run her little girl hand through his untidy
bronze strands.

That was it. The hair is off limits! He knew I loved his hair, I
managed to tell him last night when we were in his room and
we were listening to music. We were laying on his bed and his
head was curved into my shoulder and I was "helping him
relax" again by playing with his hair with my fingers. At one
point he said I could stop anytime I wanted if I was getting
tired of it and I confessed to him that his hair had a bizarre
hold on me and I loved touching it. His eyes had been closed
but I could envision the look that would have crossed them
when he just grunted in recognition of my confession and
smiled smugly.

So he knew full well what he was doing right now with this
little girl and letting her put her hands in my territory. When
he leaned back up he said something small to her but made
sure to smile smugly at my narrowed eyes.

That's just fine Edward.


I knew he was looking at me from the corner of his eye as I
turned my full attention to Tyler and moved my hand to his
knee.

I had already heard the story he was telling, of course, so I


just interrupted him. "Tyler hold on, I need your help with
something." I cocked my head to the side and smiled so it
would look like I was saying something more alluring than I
was.

"What's up Bella?" He asked sincerely with a goofy smile.

"This may sound weird but I need you to hug me right now.
And maybe rub my back a little. I'm sorry for how weird it is,
but please I need it as a favor. I will buy one of your shirts if
you help me." I was pleading with him and leaning into him so
I could speak quietly and not let Jess hear my shameful
request. I snuck a look at Edward who was now standing
alone, the little girls probably had to be home and tucked in
soon. He was clearly just watching my show now.

Tyler caught me looking and smiled knowingly when I looked


back to him. "This wouldn't be for Edward's benefit would it?"
He joked and leaned in as well, now playing along.

"Oh yeah. How'd you guess?" Now that he knew I could really
play around so I started twirling a lock of hair around my
finger and looking at Tyler with great interest.

Tyler just leaned in closer and almost whispered in my ear with


a chuckle, "Dude, he gave himself away a while ago.
Remember when you and Emmett won your title back at that
grape game?"

I nodded and he went on, still chuckling, "Well our good friend
Edward over there had a small chat with me that night about
how you had a boyfriend in Phoenix and he was concerned I
was getting feelings for you so he wanted to warn me before I
got in too deep and got hurt. He was a very caring friend,
right? Ha! I found out later there is no bf in Phoenix, but Ang
helped me put the pieces together about why he lied." He was
full out laughing and had his hand on my elbow as I leaned
into him and laughed too.

There was no smile on Edward's face as he looked at me now.


He wasn't clearly upset but he was ready for the game to be
over. But it seems I certainly owed him more than I thought
now that I had this new piece of information. Boyfriend in
Phoenix, huh? More like insanely-confused-by-his-feelings
lying best friend.

"Well let's seal the deal Tyler, I definiely owe him now."

He leaned into me and hugged me tightly as I wrapped my


arms around his back. "He's looking right?"

He turned his head into mine to ask me that and I replied, "Oh
yeah." With a laugh at the look on Edward's face.

I felt Tyler laugh some more and he rubbed his hand up and
down my back once then moved it into my hair and tangled it
slightly.

With that Edward got up from leaning on the table and started
walking over, keeping eye contact with me the whole time. His
face was unreadable, he was very good at making it blank
even though it remained stunning.

"Job well done my friend!" I said to Tyler quietly as we pulled


apart.

"Anytime dude. Have fun!" He nodded and winked then got up


to escape the approaching Edward.

Edward kept his dark eyes blank and smiled sweetly at me as


he took Tyler's spot next to me.

"Don't you have to man the CD sales?" I asked innocently as I


looked at him.
He eyes were still narrowed slightly as he answered. "Oh I'm
sure my brothers can handle it for a while. Unless you are
saving this seat for someone..." He glanced over at Tyler then
back at me with fake concern.

I looked over at Tyler who was now wacthing Edward and I on


the couch as he stood in a group with Mike and some other
guys I didn't recognize. He winked at me and blew me a kiss
dramatically then laughed as he turned away. I laughed myself
and turned my head back to Edward.

His face had moved extremely close to me and our noses were
almost touching when I was fully facing him again. It surprised
me at first and I gasped and then focused on his eyes that
were full now and back to their lively bright green.

He spoke very softly to me, "Bella what exactly are you


doing?" He was fighting a smirk now since he was referring to
my part of our little game.

"Nothing Edward." I shrugged innocently. "I'm just making the


most of my time as I wait for you." He narrowed his eyes
again at my choice of words and inflection. He was still fighting
a smile though. "You know, wait for you to be done
shamelessly flirting with little girls to sell CDs." I looked at him
accusingly and the smile broke.

"Someone's not jealous of little girls are they?" He said smugly


as he watched his hand wander into my hair and stroke a
strand of it. He looked back up at me and smirked.

"Oh please, I'm not the on that walked over here and
interrupted a friendly conversation." I smirked right back.

"Conversation! He had his hands all over you! It was a bit


inappropriate." He was sounding a little serious now and there
was a small fire in his eyes.

"You're right Edward. That innocent hug was probably wildly


inappropriate considering Tyler knows all about my boyfriend
in Phoenix." I gave him a pointed look and his eyes widened in
shock of my knowledge.

We sat there for a moment, me glaring at him and him in


shock until we both broke out laughing.

He threw his arm around me and pulled me into his chest and
finished laughing.

"I'm sorry Bella, but your reaction was just too amusing at
first. You can't honestly be jealous of me talking to women at
our merch table! I'm there to talk to people so they will buy
things from me!" He was leaning down to talk to me since it
was still loud in the venue.

I looked up to answer him and we were close again. It was


nice. "Not women Edward, little girls, and I can't help it. There
are just so many of them always so willing to giggle at you and
touch you all the time. You are one to talk though. I mean,
Tyler? Really? Edward you know me better than that." He
shrugged it off and looked back down at me. I thought about it
for a second and decided not to let him off the hook so easily.

"So this isn't the first time Tyler has invoked a reaction with
you. You actually told him I had a boyfriend in Phoenix?"

I felt him stiffen a little beneath me at the reminder of the


unexpected knowledge I had. He relaxed a second after and
responded coolly.

"Maybe." He used his infamous answer again and I swatted


him on his chest.

He rubbed the spot I hit and said, "What? What was I


supposed to do? I had to find some way to keep him from you.
I was confused about what I felt about you back then, and I
knew I had no right to you myself, but I also knew keeping
Tyler away from you was a very innocent and friendly move if
anything. Alice and Rose would have done the same, you can't
deny it."
He had a point but it was different because it wasn't Alice or
Rose, it was him. I dropped it with a laugh because I had at
least gotten a reaction out of him.

"Well Tyler knew I was trying to make you jealous tonight so


none of you have anything to worry about." Then a serious
thought hit me. "Why did you let that little girl touch your
hair? That was uncalled for." I glanced up at the untidy
perfection and he started chuckling to himself.

"Because that's what we were talking about the whole time.


Hair and shampoo and stuff. They asked if my hiar was dyed,
which is a question I get a lot, and it led into this whole hair
product conversation. That's why it's so amusing you were so
upset. After they decided to buy the CD we were discussing
our shampoo of choice. I was explaining to them about that
shampoo that makes my hair very soft and they didn't believe
my shampoo could be better than theirs so we had to
compare." He finished the explanation very seriously and
looked at me the same way.

"Geeze, I'm sorry I asked." I said under my breath and turned


away.

He laughed at me then leaned his cheek down on top of my


head and said, "Let's make a deal. I won't let anymore little
girls touch my hair if you won't let Tyler Crowley touch you,
period."

I laughed and said "Deal" then we actually shook hands on it


and both held on to each other for a bit longer than necessary.

"Alright I should probably get back over there. It seems they


need me."

He sat up and took his arm out from behind me. I looked over
to their table and sure enough Mike was distracting Emmett
from doing his job at the table by filming him running around
in one of the little girl's zip up hoodies that was bright pink and
stretched comedicly over his big frame.
I laughed and shook my head as I caught Rose's exasperated
but adoring look from across the room. I knew that Emmett's
uninhibited antics were what kept her on her toes and so in
love with him. She grew bored of regular guys rather quickly,
and I was happy to finally see her meet her match.

Edward gave me one last smile as he walked back over to the


table and began talking to the few people that were around it.

The next day was Sunday and Rose, Alice and I had to go to
school to check our 4th semester class assignments.

4th semester works quite differently from all the other


semesters. Instead of classes during the day we have classes
at night, and they aren't real classes mostly but rather
rehearsals for our scenes in our final showcase in December.
This meant that for this first week back we would have
auditions for final scenes during the day and evenings, but
starting next week we would have a very different schedule
with rehearsals starting at 5:30pm and lasting through
11:30pm.

We would only have about 2 real classes a week, all of them


being on various audition techniques.

It was nice because we had no more stage combat at 8 in the


morning and sleeping in could be an everyday occurrence. I
had no doubt it would be a blessing considering we all stayed
up ridiculously late every night as it is.

We got to campus and went up to the bulletin board where


announcements are posted. Rose and I were in the same class
again, which was nice even if we didn't end up in any final
scenes together. I saw that Jake and Sam were not in our
class and I felt many different things at once. I was slightly
relieved and then slightly sad and guilty at the relief I felt. I
really missed him when I thought about it and I felt bad I
hadn't heard from him since the dreaded date texts.
Alice had to pick up some sheet music that the musical theatre
kids had to work on before their auditions started so Rose and
I headed down to the cafe to wait for her and get some lunch.

We walked in and Jacob was sitting at one of the tables across


the room. I stopped walking for a second in fear. My stomach
flipped and I felt nervous and guilty and horrible all at the
same time. He didn't look sad or anything, he was laughing
with Sam and that comforted me a lot. Not that I was
expecting my rejection of him, I cringed as I thought that
word, to affect him all that much but I hadn't seen him in so
long it was nice to know he was just as happy as before.

I walked over to the counter behind Rose and we both ordered


then sat at a table across the room from Jake and Sam as we
ate. My back was to them, but it didn't comfort me at all.

"Is he looking at me?" I asked over my sandwich I still hadn't


taken a bite out of.

"He keeps glancing over, yeah." Rose confirmed.

"What should I do? Should I go over and talk to him? Do I


bring it up? Apologize? Act like nothing happened? Don't talk
to him at all? Send him a text? Run out of the room
screaming?" I was growing more and more frantic as I spoke
and realized. Rose was trying to hold the sip of water she had
just taken in her mouth as she laughed at my questions and
swallowed.

"Oh Bella. I was never able to perfect you in the art of


seduction so I never thought we would have to worry about
you freaking out over the delicacy of rejecting people. Please,
this isn't even that bad. Remember that guy that stalked me
for 3 days after I danced with him at the gala the school held
second semester? Feel lucky Jake can at least take a hint."
She raised her eyebrows at me and took another bite of her
salad.
"I still think I should talk to him. Should I talk to him? I think I
should talk to him."

Rosalie wasn't even paying attention to my crazy ranting now


she just looked at me with pity filled eyes and said, "Bell relax
please. Jake is a big boy and you didn't do anything wrong. Do
what you need to do, Emmett's on his break so I'm going to
give him a call." She picked up her salad and water and
walked outside as she started dialing.

Great. Now I'm just sitting here with my uneaten food and my
ridiculous never ending battle going on in my head.

If I were him would I want to talk to me? Sure. He should.


Rose was right, I didn't do anything wrong. I was being honest
and not leading him on. At least I never got unnecessarily
jealous and told other girls he hung out with he had a
girlfriend back home so they should back off...

I smiled then and had to shake my head to get that thought


out. Everything I did led to thoughts of Edward and even
though it calmed me down and made me smile it was not what
I needed to be thinking about right now.

I didn't have a chance to get back on track though because


suddenly Jake was standing next to my table.

"Hey Bells." He said quietly with a smile.

"Hey Jake." I hope I don't sound as awkward as I feel.

There was a small moment of silence and I was searching for


something to say but he managed to start.

"So I just want to apologize for the whole date thing the other
week, it wasn't meant to be serious, Sam stole my phone and
thought it would be funny."

Oh really?
He laughed nervously and tried to sound annoyed at Sam
when he spoke but I could hear sadness in his tone. The
awkwardness that still existed between us was evidence too.
He was lying.

I faked a small laugh and decided to go along with it if it


helped everyone move on. "Oh geeze, that sounds like a Sam
thing." Another awkward moment. "So we're ok then, friends
and everything? Without weirdness?" I was pleading with him
and I hoped it let him know that no matter what, lying or not,
it's what I wanted.

"Yeah of course!" He replied a little too excitedly and I got up


to hug him and he gave me a fake one back. He was
purposefully not leaning into it and when he pulled away
everything was still awkward.

Rose came back in and the 4 of us hung out until Alice was
done. It took her about 30 minutes to get down to the cafe so
we could leave. The entire time Jake would not look at me in
the eye and he would not say anything directly to me.

I hated it because I knew that things between us would never


be the same. Thank God we finished our scene a while ago, or
else I don't know what we would have done. His distance from
me in his personality alone was saddening. I loved him as a
friend and I still felt incredibly guilty the entire time we hung
out. Was I being selfish? I was ok with the fact I hadn't seen
him in a while, but I was bothered that he wasn't himself now
that I did see him. It was selfish. All of it. Especially me not
wanting him in a certain way but being upset when I couldn't
have what I wanted when I chose to want it.

I know I got really quiet before we left because I didn't have


the will power to be myself. I was not being a good person.

When we left he didn't even look at me as I said goodbye. He


just sort of waved and looked past me.
I remained silent on the ride home and Alice stopped her
rambling about her audition song long enough to ask what was
wrong.

"Jacob was in the cafe and I think they discussed the date
incident." Rosalie explained since I still hadn't answered.

"Oh, are you ok Bella? You're being very quiet. You haven't
seen or spoken to him in a few weeks, why is it such a big deal
now?" She was honestly curious and I realized that it must
seem kind of weird that it was having such a great effect on
my mood.

"It's not a big deal really. I just feel bad about it still. It was
easy not to think about when I didn't see him, but he tried to
pass the whole thing off as a joke Sam pulled and then said we
could be friends without it being weird, but then he acted
totally different to me the entire time he was around me and
now I know it won't be the same as it used to be. It's fine, it
just sucks. I still feel bad because I realize I was expecting him
to be an unfair part of my life." I was frustrated now and they
were sympathetic and understanding but trying to lighten my
mood.

"Poor Bella, always confusing the boys by making them so


crazy about her they have to stop talking to her to keep from
going completely crazy."

I smiled at Alice's comment as Rose snorted out a small laugh.


Then Alice gave in and cracked up at her own joke and I shook
my head as I silently joined in. She was right, between Edward
and Jake I was going to seriously start getting a complex
about people who like me and don't know what to do about it
so they just up and change who they are around me.

We got back to the apartment and they started discussing the


auditions that started tomorrow as I slipped back into guilt. I
knew it would be weird to see Jake at school and not be able
to hang out with him like before. Things change so quickly,
sometimes I just can't keep up.
I didn't have the energy to go to the store with them so I
informed the girls what I wanted and then decided to do the
dishes while they were gone to keep busy. They boys were all
at work and I texted Edward to see what time he would be
returning. Conversing with him always made me feel better
and maybe he would be home soon and would do a better job
distracting me than the dishes were. I sent off the text and
didn't have to wait long for his response.

About 2 hours. Not soon enough. What are you doing?

That's definitely not soon enough.

I'm distracting myself with dishes.

What could you possibly need distraction from?

You don't want to know. Now stop letting me distract you and
bring me home a coffee cake, please :)

Emmett and Edward always got to bring left over food home
from the cafe and often times it was our late night snack we all
anticipated on a regular basis. I had grown quite accustomed
to the melt in your mouth coffee cake and sometimes I would
request it. Edward would always bring home more than one
piece of it whenever possible so I could have more later if I
wished. It was a sweet gesture but I usually walked in his
apartment the next morning to him eating it himself for
breakfast and smiling at me sheepishly when I caught him. He
loved the heavenly coffee cake just as much a I did but would
never own up to it.

I always want to know if something is bothering you my Bella.


We'll talk when I get home. Coffee cake it is :)

The "my Bella" and the confirmation of coffee cake did lift my
spirits considerably for a while.
About an hour later Jasper came over to see who was home
and we decided to go the their apartment and battle it out on
Halo until everyone else returned.

I wasn't focused like I was the one time I beat him before and
he killed me. Literally, about 50 times. Rose and Alice joined
us soon after and were cheering me on, but to no avail. We
eventually got them to join in and grab the other 2 controllers,
neither of them had stepped up before so it was fun

Alice was surprisingly good, probably better than me when she


concentrated long enough. She was definitely giving Jasper a
run for his money despite her lack of focus on the right things.

"Jazzy why do you have a purple gun and I have this ugly
brown one?" She made a face and kept shooting at him on the
screen.

"Because I have the laser gun and you have the rifle Alice." He
explained calmly as she shot him in the head. Again. "Which
you clearly know how to use, so I don't know why you are
complaining." He gave her an amused look and she just stared
back at him, annoyed.

"I don't care, I want the pretty one." She was serious and he
laughed at her then tried to keep her from killing him again so
he could show her how to get a new gun, namely the "pretty
one."

Rosalie was loosing horribly, but not because of any of us. She
couldn't get a handle on the controls and she kept running off
of the same platform and falling into the abyss below. For a
few moments thre rest of us had stopped playing altogether
and watched her as she repeatedly fell into the abyss. She
would fall and die, the game would return her to the spot she
last fallen from, she would turn to run away, and then just fall
off the other side of the platform into the abyss again.

"This isn't fair!" She half growled at the TV and held the
controller tighter, causing her knuckles to whiten. "Why do
they keep putting me on this thing! It's impossible to escape!"
Between laughs Jasper tried to help her, "You have to jump
Rose, you cannot run off of the platform you'll just keep..." he
didn't get to finish because right on cue she fell once again
down down down into nothingness.

"I'm trying to jump but it won't let me!" She was now glaring
at the screen and lifting her hands and the controller up every
time she tried to make her little guy on screen jump, but he
remained firm on the ground until she tried extra exuberantly
once more and threw him off the edge of the platform again.

Meanwhile I was lost somewhere in the giant space station


type thing we were killing each other in and I was running
from room to room on a secluded level of the station trying
finding my way down to the action.

"Where the heck am I?" I wondered out loud as I concentrated


even harder on the little map at the bottom of the screen I
clearly wasn't reading correctly.

"I don't know but it doesn't seem there is coffee cake for you
there." The most familiar velvety voice suddenly appeared in
my ear and a long pale hand presented a Starbucks to go bag
in front of my face.

This is how dangerous Halo is. I was so engulfed in getting out


of the maze and killing my friends I hadn't even noticed
Edward and Emmett return.

I smiled at the bag in front of my face and then up at him as I


grabbed it from his hand. He smiled my new smile back down
at me. I recognized it as a mixture of the crooked grin and the
one he had that now that was full of the new emotions we
were allowed to share with each other.

"Thank you Edward," I said sweetly as I set the bag next to


me on the couch and continued to stay wrapped up in his
smile. Apparently he was even more dangerously consuming
than Halo.
"Boo-YAH!" Alice yelled suddenly as she jumped up from the
floor and onto the couch next to me. I had to rescue my treat
from where her small feet were landing as she pointed down at
me with her controller like a gun. "Looks like I just killed Bella
for the win!" She laughed some more and Jasper high fived
her, proud of her victory even though it meant his defeat as
well.

Rosalie had thrown her controller across the room and was
now hugging Emmett and explaining to him how her character
had been defective and couldn't jump as he laughed at her.
She then banned Halo from her life just as she had banned
longboarding.

Alice was still celebrating as she turned from Rose back to


Edward and I. I was holding the bag with the coffee cake in it
between myself and Edward who had perched on the arm of
the couch and we were taking turns pulling pieces of the little
slice of heaven out of the bag and eating them happily.

"I guess I can't take all the credit for that last kill, Edward
helped a little by distracting you for me." She winked at
Edward then smirked at me and we all laughed.

"That's not fair! You can't use my greatest temptation to


distract me!"

"Bella!" Alice exclaimed then giggled wildly and hid her face in
Jasper's arm to control herself.

The rest of the group was snickering and giving me odd looks.
I looked up at Edward for help. His eyes were wide and bright
and he had a very amused version of the crooked grin on his
face.

"What?" I asked him, not amused in the slightest that I was


left out of their little joke.

"You're biggest temptation huh?" He said with smugness


hanging off every syllable. "That's good to know." His voice
was quiet and everyone was staring at us and still snickering.
The smoothness of his voice distracted me for a moment
before I realized what they were all so amused about.

"No! Oh my God!" The blush took over instantly and I threw


my face down on Edward's arm to hide my embarrassment.
"No you guys! I was referring to the coffee cake! Not...ah!" I
couldn't finish it because I could literally feel the heat in my
cheeks now.

Edward put a reassuring hand in my hair but I could feel him


laughing still.

"Sure, Bella. The coffee cake." Rosalie said sarcastically and


they all continued to laugh at me.

Had I really just accidentally declared Edward "my greatest


temptation"? I groaned some more as they continued
laughing. I honestly had been referring to the coffee cake at
the time, no matter what the truth was.

I sat up eventually with my face still red when the subject


changed. Within 5 minutes everyone had settled into the living
room and turned their attention to the TV instead of me. This
allowed my face to start to return to normal. Edward moved
and sat on my other side were he could actually be on the
cushions and off the arm of the couch now that I wasn't hiding
my face against him.

"Are you ok Bella?" I wasn't looking at him but the slight


smugness and smile were still in his voice.

"Uh-huh." I replied shortly. This was one of those times I


didn't feel like feeding into his ego. I didn't look over at him,
just straight ahead. I was still embarrassed too.

"Are you sure?" He poked my side now and I concentrated


harder on not laughing or looking at him.

"Uh uh." I said just as dryly as before.


He leaned in really close and I braced myself for whatever he
had planned. "Bella..." He was calling to me so low and so
smooth I felt a shiver run down my spine.

"Hm?" I knew real words would defy me if I tried. I didn't want


to give in yet.

"Look at me please." He was very calm and very alluring. How


could I deny him? I couldn't, and I threw a tiny fit in my head
about my weakness with him when I realized my slip up had
been entirely true. He was my greatest temptation.

I looked at him but didn't smile. I tried to glare through the


amazement at how gorgeous he was.

"Are you going to speak to me?" He was still talking quietly as


everyone else was laughing at whatever they were watching.

I just shrugged and held his gaze with the serious expression
on my face. He smiled at my stubbornness and said, "Fine, can
you at least answer a question for me?" He was still being
charming and his eyes were dancing and I was working very
hard not to get mesmerized by the green I loved so much.

I nodded yes and managed to keep the annoyed look on my


face.

He leaned in closer so he was just above a whisper and used


the purr. "Am I at least second to the coffee cake?"

He couldn't keep it up when I pushed him away from me and


his musical laugh filled the room making everyone look over to
us briefly then look away, they were used to our disruptions by
now.

"Well am I?" He laughed and asked more loudly as he settled


back in next to me. He turned to me but remained a normal
distance from me.
When I still didn't answer but just kept looking ahead he said,
"I am." with extreme confidence. The was had faded but he
kept the smug smile on and I glanced over at him and stared
back neither confirming nor denying his claim.

When he reached over me to take another piece of coffee cake


I held my arm out so he couldn't reach the bag and still never
turned my face away from him again, a smug smile now taking
over my face.

"Fine." He chuckled as he got up off the couch and walked


around me to his room."I need to take a shower anyway."

He shut the door and I was became pretty sad at how empty I
felt without him next to me.

I let the coffee cake drop to the floor now that the little game
was over and I had practically finished all of it anyway. I curled
up into the side of the couch to wait for Edward to return.

As he was gone the show the others were watching ended and
Jasper was now flipping through the channels looking for
something else to watch. He stopped on a channel when he
saw Jim Carrey, clearly thinking it had potential.

My stomach dropped as I realized what we had stopped on.


Eternal Sunshine. It was past the scene I had done with Jake,
but it was enough to flood me with guilt again. I stared at the
screen and sat silent and unmoving as I let it wash over me.

I should have seen it all along. The way I leaned into him for
support every time I thought of Edward, the way he took care
of me without even asking, all the times we sat in the Love
Sac together, Disneyland...

I had to stop there because it hit me like a ton of bricks. I


should have been more careful with him. I should have known.

I was still curled up on the couch feeling horrible when Edward


came back out about 30 minutes later. Rose and Emmett had
gone out to get some food (Emmett's request) and Alice and
Jasper had moved into Jasper and Emmett's room where I
could hear Jasper playing the guitar softly.

Edward walked out of his room and back around the end of the
couch causing the air to waft as he passed me. He smelled
wonderful, not that it was bad before, the sweetness was just
more fresh after he got out of the shower. He sat down next to
me and offered me his maroon hoodie he had brought out with
him. I saw him take in what I assume was a sad look on my
face and his face became concerned very quickly.

I wasn't lost in the sad feeling exactly, it was practically


nothing compared to the disparaging things I had felt before,
but it was strong enough for Edward to pick up on and get
worried about.

He leaned over to me and put his arm around my shoulders.

"Bella..." he barely spoke my name and very gently pulled me


from being curled into the arm of the couch to being curled
into him. Of course I let him move me, it was the most
comforting place for me to be.

"What's wrong? You can't really be upset over the teasing from
earlier?" He sounded concerned and sat very still waiting for
my response.

"No of course not, that was funny." I looked up and smiled at


him to let him see my face fully and know I was telling the
truth. He smiled back but didn't stop looking concerned.

"Well what's going on then?"

"It's the movie."

"The movie is upsetting you?" I wasn't looking at him any


longer but I could hear clear confusion in his tone.
"It's the movie the scene I did with Jake is from. I saw him
today." I sighed.

The tone in my voice was a clear hint at how it had gone.

Edward sounded upset when he spoke after a moment of


silence. "Was he rude to you?"

I sighed again. So protective for no reason. "No not at all. He


was just... different. Our friendship will never be the same and
it's mostly my fault. Well, I guess I just should have been
more careful about how I acted and been more aware of what
he felt. I don't know. I just know it can't be the same and it's
going to be sad for me for a little while." I was sick of talking
and thinking about it so I kept is as short as I could. I think
Edward could hear the strain of it in my voice because he
didn't push the subject further.

"I'm sorry Bella." He sounded truly sorry and I knew he


understood that I was just sad I lost a friend and nothing
more. We watched the movie for a few minutes in silence and I
felt him turn his face to me as he said, "It will be ok."

I looked up to him and smiled sincerely because I knew it was


true. I was here with Edward and the rest of my family which
was the best thing I could ask for. I looked into his eyes and
answered, "I know."

We shared a moment of understanding before I put my head


down on his chest and relaxed, actually feeling better about
everything.

I must have fallen asleep quickly after that because the next
thing I knew I heard my lullaby floating into my awareness. It
sounded different somehow. Still beautiful and still familiar,
but different. I opened my eyes slightly and realized I was still
leaning into Edward on the couch and a blanket was over us
now. The TV was turned off and he had leaned himself back
and at an angle where he had his feet up and was not quite
laying down, but definitely in a more comfortable position. He
had his favorite zip up on and one of his hands was stroking a
lock of my hair over and over again in a soothing manner. I
realized then the sound I heard before was him humming my
lullaby into my ear.

I smiled at myself but I didn't move at all because I didn't


want him to know I was awake and ruin the perfect moment.
He was doing all of these things assuming I was completely
asleep and unaware. He was doing them solely because he
wanted too, not for any benefit he knew I would consciously be
aware of.

Through my slitted eyes I watched Jasper walk out of his room


with Alice and she curled up on the floor and laid her head in
his lap as he continued to play the guitar softly.

"Is she ok?" Alice asked very quietly to Edward.

"Yes I believe so. I was afraid she would keep herself up


worrying over Jacob, but she actually fell asleep rather
quickly."

"That's good." I heard Alice yawn. "You take good care of her
Edward. I like that."

"I do too." He said it softly and leaned his head down on top of
mine as Jasper continued to strum a slow and peaceful
melody, lulling us all to sleep in the living room.

Chapter 21 - On the Floor

Auditions for our final scenes were brutal. Not the auditions
themselves, just the process. We were all very comfortable
with each other and our teachers we were performing for so
the small amount of time you actually got to be actively
auditioning on stage was a mild miracle. That's because the
rest of the time we were trapped on campus for about 5 hours
waiting and waiting and waiting.
Each person probably got to go on stage about 2 times that
day. 2 times in 5 hours for about 2 minutes each time. Most of
the time everyone was hanging out in various locations around
the biggest room on campus that was acting as our holding
cell. Rosalie and I had staked out the far right corner of the
room and we had scripts, iPods, a laptop, a blanket, our school
bags, and ourselves spread out around us to claim our spot.

It was going to be like this all week. I started to fear that my


love of my craft was fading, but I brushed it off as nothing
more than my insane lack of interest in anything Edward
wasn't a part of. I needed to learn to work past that and be
semi normal.

We were finally set free around 5pm and everyone stepped


outside and froze in place. It was raining! It had been chilly
and overcast for a while now, it being fall in California and all,
but it hadn't really rained yet this season. It wasn't a big
hassle, we just weren't really expecting it.

We drove home quickly, talking excitedly the whole way about


the arrival of Carlisle and Esme that evening.

We walked into our apartment and we were immediately hit


with a wall of stink. Seriously, it smelt like dirty feet, spoiled
milk and... mold.

Alice had ran inside first but she started shrieking and hopping
around until she made her way out of the living room and onto
the tile in the kitchen. Rose and I were stuck in the doorway
watching her freak out, neither of us wanting to go further
anymore.

"The floor is all wet!" Alice took off her socks and threw them
right away. "It felt like I stepped in a giant puddle."

We examined the situation further and found that our patio


drains were clogged so all the rain water falling into it had built
up and seeped into our living room for the last 5 or 6 hours,
soaking our carpet and no doubt creating mold underneath.
I was holding my nose the whole time we were in there not
being able to handle the smell very well. We were all barefoot
now with our pants rolled up to our knees as we slopped
around the living room trying to salvage things from the wet
floor. It was like a giant puddle, everywhere you took a step
water would splash out of the carpet around your foot, that's
how soaking wet it was.

The Love Sac was fine, it had a vinyl cover that kept it
protected from water damage. It took both Rose and I all of
our strength and the better half of 10 minutes to get it rolled
into our room (the bedrooms had been discovered as dry
zones). Alice was standing on a chair refusing to move. She
was very "grossed out" by the idea of mold starting to form
under our floor and didn't last more than 10 steps when we
decided to clear the room before she shrieked again and took
her place atop the chair which was the closed dry surface to
her at the time. Now she was stuck there watching Rose and I
do what we could.

We moved the bowl chair into Alice's room and Bertha on top
of the table since she was fairly light. The rest of the stuff was
ok for now and we retreated into the kitchen to figure out what
to do next.

"Boys. That's our best solution until we can get a hold of the
managers." Rosalie declared this as she shut her phone after
failing to get a hold of our apartment managers for the 4th
time.

"What if Carlisle and Esme are here? Should we bother them?"

"Bella parents are better at handling these things than boys


are, so hopefully they are here and we do bother them!" She
laughed and I smirked at her. "We have to work something out
with them, we can't remain in the swamp." She held her hand
towards our stinky, soaked living room and I nodded in
agreement.
"Boys and parents- let's go." I pointed to the door and we
started walking.

"Wait! What about me?" Alice whined from the chair, staring at
us with worried eyes.

"Get off the chair and come with us." Rose said without turning
to her.

"Ewe! No way. I'm not walking in the swamp ever again. I


ruined a good pair of socks and now I feel like I have 17
different diseases all over my feet." She made a face and
looked down at her feet sadly.

"Fine Alice, stay in your safe spot, we will send a rescue


party." I laughed and left the door open to help air out the
stench as we took off towards the boy's apartment.

We opened their door to find Jasper and Edward playing Halo.


It looked like Edward was winning and they were so engrossed
in the game they didn't seem to hear us enter.

"Jasper, I seriously just killed you about 36 times in a row.


That's pretty sad brother." Edward started mocking Jasper
calmly as he fired his last shot and ended the game. He looked
pretty pleased with himself, but it wasn't unusual for him to
win whenever he got a chance to play. It never stopped him
from gloating though.

"You sound a lot like Bella the one time she beat me. That's
kind of weird how you guys do that." Jasper just looked back
at his brother and gave him a concerned look.

"Bella beat you? When? How bad?" Edward looked pleased


which made me pleased.

"Really bad, believe me. I think Jasper even cried a little," I


said smugly making mine and Rose's presence finally known.
Rose laughed as the boys jumped at my voice. Edward smiled
and Jasper rolled his eyes playfully as they stood up then took
in our appearance.

"Are you making wine over there ladies?" Jasper asked as they
both gazed down at our bare feet and rolled up jeans.

"No we were clearing out the swamp." I said as I leaned


against the counter making Rose chuckle and then groan.

"What?" Jasper asked as turned off the TV.

Rose took over then. "Our patio drains were clogged,


apparently, and the rain caused a slight flood that put our
living room in a very swamp like state. The bedrooms are fine
in terms of dryness, but the smell is unbearable everywhere in
there."

"Well you girls are more than welcome to stay here until it
gets fixed, you can't live in that mess." Edward offered and
smiled at both of us as they moved into the kitchen area with
us.

"What about your parents?" I asked. "Aren't they staying here


too? That would make it pretty crowded."

Jasper shrugged a little and explained. "Not really. Emmett


and Rose share his bed all the time though sleeping in it may
be new to them," he smiled slyly when he said that and Rose
kicked him in the shin making him pause and throw her a "well
it's true" look, "and Alice and I can certainly fit on my bed...
um, if you two can figure something out we should be fine."
The last part came out awkwardly as Jasper remembered mine
and Edward's not so official situation and looked over at both
of us.

"Oh it's fine, I can just get a fan and stay in our room," I
gestured towards Rose and grimaced quickly at the thought of
sleeping in the stench. I didn't want to make things crowded or
awkward though, so I would just suck it up.
"No that won't be necessary." Edward chimed in and gave me
a scolding look like I had said I would sleep on the streets.
"Our parents are taking my room since it has the only real bed
and I was going to take the couch. You can have it instead and
I will reunite with my comfy piece of floor." He smiled
reassuringly at me but I made a face at him back.

"You know I don't like that arrangement Edward." I gave him a


stern look.

"You know I will win in the end Bella." He smirked at me and


matched my tone.

"So there's really no point in arguing because it's all figured


out." He was pleased with himself and if he wasn't so good at
dazzling me I would have fought back harder, but he usually
did win in the end.

"We'll discuss it more later." I finished, but he wasn't even


going to acknowledge my statement.

"Hey where are your parents anyway?" Rose asked suddenly


reminding me as well. "And Emmett?"

"Emmett's picking them up from the airport as we speak


actually." Jasper answered with a smile. "I was going to head
over to your place to give Alice a briefing on pacing herself
with my mother on the shopping spree tomorrow, but Edward
distracted me with a Halo challenge." He smiled and a thought
hit me.

"Alice! We left her stranded on the chair!" Rose and I laughed


quickly with each other as Jasper asked, "What?"

Rose grabbed his arm and drug him out the door, Edward and
I following behind them.

"Alice refuses to walk on the carpet because she can't stand


the thought of mold. She had this epiphany of her disgust half
way across the room, however, so she climbed up on a chair
and now has no way off since we refuse to encourage her
ridiculousness. We promised we'd send a rescue team."

Jasper rolled his eyes as Rose spoke but didn't look surprised
at all.

We turned the corner in the hallway towards our door and the
wall of stench that hit us was strong enough to stagger all 4 of
us. It was just lingering in the hallway now, a good 8 feet from
our door.

Edward kept one hand over his nose and protectively threw his
other arm around me and brought me close to him. "There's
no way I am allowing you to stay here tonight you silly
stubborn girl." He looked down at me and shook his head and I
had to laugh a little as he went into protection mode again for
no real reason.

We got to the door and Alice was sitting crossed legged on the
table with her hand over her mouth and nose. When she saw
Jasper walk in she jumped up immediately.

"Jasper come save me!" She reached out her arms to him and
started bouncing up and down.

We had stepped into the kitchen where it was safe and Jasper
was rolling up his pants to go save little Alice from her island
in the swamp.

He got over to her and she jumped on his back, giggling the
whole way and giving the side of his face grateful little kisses
until he made it to the kitchen with her and set her down.

"Thank you for rescuing me, you are the only one who loves
me enough to do so!" She turned and stuck her tongue out to
Rose and I and we just scoffed at her.

"Any time ma'am." Jasper joked and pretended to tip and


invisible hat to her, making her giggle again.
Just then we heard "What the hell died in here?" And then a
very pleasant voice scold, "Emmett Cullen watch your mouth
around your mother," coming from the hall.

Edward and Jasper's eyes both lit up and we followed them out
into the hallway to find Emmett leading his parents into our
horrible smelling vicinity of the apartment building.

We watched as Edward and Jasper greeted their parents and


then waited to be introduced.

They were even more beautiful in person if that was possible.


This family was seriously blessed with the stunningly good
looks gene. I felt inferior immediately because I was so plain
compared to all of the people I was standing with.

After names were exchanged Carlisle suggested we move the


greeting party to a better location, so we migrated very quickly
down the hall and into the boys' apartment.

After Emmett settled all of their luggage into Edward's room


where they would be staying we all took places around the
living room and Rose explained our situation to Emmett,
Carlisle, and Esme so we could figure out a game plan. It was
decided that we would get all the fans we had available to us
and spread them around the living room to keep the air
moving and not let the stench settle and that would have to
work until the managers decided to be helpful.

"Obviously you need to spend as little time in the swamp as


possible," Carlisle smiled an older version of a stunning Cullen
smile as he referred to our disastrous apartment by it's new
name. He was lecturing us all on how to proceed since mold
was involved,"only go in to grab clothes or things you need for
school, but nothing more. There are many airborne diseases
that come with mold so until the carpet gets pulled up and
cleaned properly I don't want anyone in there longer than
possible."
Carlisle was in full Doctor Dad mode as he looked around and
all of us girls and gave us the protocol on Operation Clean Out
the Swamp.

"The boys and I will go set up the fans and get the patio
cleared out so if it rains again the situation doesn't get worse,
then we can go grab something to eat and come back to figure
out sleeping arrangements."

"We already have sleeping arrangements figured out actually."


Edward answered his father with a very slight smirk in my
direction. I folded my arms and looked away from him which
made it turn into a full blown grin.

We followed them over to the apartment and hung out outside


our patio wall on the courtyard side as the boys went to work.

Jasper, Edward and Carlisle were inside setting up fans and


moving a few more things into the dry zones for us and
Emmett was on the patio with a large broom. He cleared out
the drains with the end of it then proceeded to direct all of the
water into them as it slowly drained out.

I had grabbed Edward's longboard and was practicing in the


small courtyard where I couldn't do too much damage and
Alice was taking turns on it as well as I held her hand since it
was her first time. I caught Edward glancing at me proudly
now and then.

Rose was holding strong to her no longboarding rule and she


was leaning against the patio wall with Esme asking about
their flight and such. Emmett suddenly started singing "Chim
Chim Cheree", the chimney sweep song from Marry Poppins,
and he was dancing around our patio as he swept, flinging the
broom and water everywhere.

Esme and Rose both screamed as they got splashed with water
during one of his more exuberant dance moves, and at the
exact same time, in the exact same tone they both yelled,
"Emmett Cullen!"
They looked at each other and laughed as everyone in the
apartment and out joined in. Emmett mumbled a, "Sorry mom,
sorry Rose," and went back to sweeping silently.

We got back to the boys' apartment and took turns showering


and changing into clothes that had not been worn while
traipsing through the swamp before deciding where to go for
dinner.

Emmett and I quickly convinced everyone that Baja Fresh was


the ideal dining choice, and soon we were on our way, taking
the stairs instead of the elevator so we didn't have to cross by
the horrid smelling hallway.

Our night out was fun. We walked there since it was only a few
blocks away and Esme and Carlisle insisted on paying for
everyone. It really felt like a huge family dinner. It was huge
to me at least, being an only child.

Emmett ordered about 3 full meals for himself and made us all
laugh when he started eating a whole tomato like it was an
apple.

"Emmett is that the tomato that was part of the display on the
counter with all the salsa? You know those are for looks only,
it's not like a buffett." Jasper asked his brother as he took his
first bite.

"Mmm-hmm." Emmet replied with a smile as tomato juice


started dripping down his chin. Again everyone started
laughing when Rose on his left side and Emse on his right both
handed him a napkin to wipe his face with at the same time.

They looked at each other and Esme said, "Go ahead Rose. It's
very nice to know I can pass the torch off to someone who
knows what they are doing."

I saw warmth take over Rosalie's face and in her eyes as she
smiled back and looked up at Emmett who was immersed in
his tomato still. I could tell she was very appreciative of
Esme's vocal approval of her and I had never seen a happier
look on her face.

Edward and I were practically sharing our meal since once we


sat down next to each other and saw what the other ordered
we started picking at each other's plates. Edward finally said
"Wait" and pushed my hand away then put my burrito and his
nachos on one plate and set it between us then handed me a
fork and smiled at me.

I smiled back and let my inner 12 year old relish the fact that
this was my life's equivalent of the classic Lady and the Tramp
spaghetti scene.

We finished the meal after all of us girls got a chance to tell all
about our lives and families at home, and our school and how
we all got to where we were. We described the way we met
each other and the boys and there was a lot of laughing form
everyone as we all remembered the elaborate game of tag,
and the roof party, and the very fun beginnings of our
relationships with each other.

Esme and Carlisle found our stories amusing though Carlisle


was the most impressed with how they had won tag.

"Who's idea was it?" He asked proudly gazing around at all his
sons faces and settling on Jasper for some reason.

"It was all Edward." Jasper said as he raised both his hands in
"search me" mode.

"Edward Anthony! You came up with the idea of sneaking into


and vandalizing these sweet girls' apartment?" Esme was
being over dramatic with her schocked tone for comedic effect
but Carlisle looked surprised too.

"I hadn't met them yet, I didn't know they were sweet! Plus
they started the vandalizing." He defended himself but he only
looked straight at me and I gave him an innocent look back.
"I don't know what you are talking about or why you are
looking at me." I kept up the act.

"Oh really?" He smiled and leaned closer to me. "If I recall


correctly you are the one that put my personal property in
jeopardy when you 3 snuck over and tagged our sliding glass
door at 1 in the morning. And I do believe hearing afterward
that it was all your idea." He was very close to me now and I
was smiling mischievously back at him. " I never did punish
you for that."

The moment got a little intense and I could see fire start to
errupt in his eyes as I felt mine start to burn too. Looking at
him for any amount of time was always risky for me and now
was no exception. I was about to throw something witty back
at him but I didn't get the chance.

"I hope the rest of you know what they are talking about."
Carlisle broke our little stare down with an amused tone and I
looked around to see Rose and Alice engulfed in silent giggles
and Jasper and Emmett close to doing the same.

I blushed right away because we had gone into our own little
world again with everyone around the table watching. It wasn't
a big deal normally but with his parents there I didn't know
how to feel. Esme looked amused as well and she smiled
slightly at me then threw Edward a look I couldn't quite grasp
the meaning of. Carlisle was laughing because Jasper was now
telling him the story of our sliding glass door tag.

"And don't worry about them, dad, they do that all the time.
The thing where they go into their own conversation and forget
other people are in the room." Jasper gave us a sly glance and
made everyone laugh as he explained what had just happened
with Edward and I to his father.

Esme decided it was time to head home then and I wanted to


hug her for diverting the attention away from us because my
blush was only getting worse with every look.
I glanced over at Edward and he wasn't looking at me but he
did look quite pleased with himself.

We started walking back to the apartment but we were taking


our time since Baja Fresh was on Hollywood Blvd right across
from the Kodak Theatre shopping center and it is an area that
is always buzzing with the beginnings of Hollywood nightlife
around dinner time.

We stopped about 3 stores down from Baja Fresh were a guy


was outside playing a guitar that Jasper was gawking at. The
guy was clean cut and was definitely just a street performer,
maybe even a student from the Musician's Institue that was
just down the street.

Jasper started helping the guy tune the guitar for the song he
wanted to play and eventually Jasper had it strapped to
himself and was playing as the guy it belonged to stood next
to him smiling and singing along. He was playing Jet's song
"Are You Gunna Be My Girl" and the street guy sang it
surprisingly well. He eventually pulled a tambourine out and
handed that to Alice who started dancing around with it.

Carlisle took Esme's hand suddenly and began dancing with


her right there in the middle of the sidewalk. It was amazingly
sweet and I noticed how evident it was they were very much in
love. They resembled newly weds as they embraced and
smiled at each other, they still had that young love air about
them, but it also felt deeper than that at the same time. The
connection they had was pouring out in every touch and every
look and every smile.

I couldn't control the smile that came over me as I watched


them laughing and dancing and singing together as Alice
began to twirl around them. Emmett literally picked up Rose
and swung her around causing her to squeal in delight and
wrap her arms around him.

I felt an arm wrap around my shoulders and smiled when the


faint sweetness hit my senses as I inhaled.
"Do you like them?" Edward asked softly in my ear as he
watched his parents with me.

"Of course! I love them! They are even better in person than
they are on the phone or in pictures." I smiled up at him and a
soft chuckle escaped his mouth.

We just stood there watching everyone dance for a second


when I realized something.

"Your middle name is Anthony?" I looked up at him and he


turned his face towards me.

"Yes it is. Have I never told you?" We both looked at each


other in a very confused way because that's how we both felt.

"No I don't think you have." It was odd. Such a simple detail
we had never covered. We both shrugged and he pulled me in
to him further very slightly, but enough for me to notice. "It's
nice." I told him and I smiled when I thought about it more.

He chuckled then said, "Thanks?" And I laughed too, because


what do you say to someone who compliments your middle
name?

He leaned his head down to me again, but closer this time and
I could feel his breath on my ear and cheek. "It's funny how
we can know so many intimate details about each other but
skip over simple things like middle names." He sounded
serious and in thought but we both laughed at his realization.
"That's what I love about us though, Bella. No matter how
much I think we know each other you surprise me every day
with little things I never knew before. I love that. I don't ever
want that to end."

It was so sweet I thought I was either going to jump him, cry,


or faint. Maybe all 3 at once.
I collected myself for a second then focused on remaining
sane, tear free, and upright, as I looked at him and simply
said, "Me either Edward."

We got lost in one of our moments again and Alice must have
noticed because she quickly came over and pulled us both onto
the makeshift dance floor in the middle of the sidewalk with
her and the tambourine.

Esme and Rose were dancing together now and Alice pulled me
over to them as Edward drifted over to where the guy who
owned the guitar had bongo drums set up. Emmett was
already there banging away on the largest one and Edward
only added another rhythm over his that matched perfectly. I
bet he could figure out any instrument you set in front of him
if he tried.

We finished the song that way, laughing and playing and


dancing and singing altother, then we all bowed and curtsied
when it ended and we noticed a small crowd had gathered
around us and were applauding our performance.

All 8 of us laughed all the way home as Alice and Emmett kept
singing the song, keeping it alive in everyone. We congo lined
half the way home and watched Emmett twirl Alice around
with no effort at all the other half.

When we got back to the apartments we ran into our rooms


and got pajamas then ran back out and down the hall away
from the awful smell.

After everyone was changed into sleep clothes we sat around


the living room listening to Carlisle tell us stories about when
he was younger and lived in Italy for a while. I've always
wanted to travel and see beautiful countries and cities exactly
like what he was describing to us. I was caught up in
everything he was saying as if it was just another book I
couldn't put down.
We decided, in classic "us" fashion, to watch a movie and the
boys let Esme pick what we watched. She chose Behind
Enemy Lines which both her and I had never seen, but were
assured we would love. We could have watched "Seasame
Street the Movie" for all I cared, I was so happy to be with the
other 7 people I was with I was sure anything would have
been fun.

Since we had decided on movie night Edward was quick to


point out we needed a movie snack. Emmett requested
brownies and Emse ended up in the kitchen with Edward
helping him make them since apparently she was the one who
taught him the recepie when he was little. Since we were in a
transition mode Alice turned on some music and a dance party
broke out. It had been a while since we'd had on with
everyone present.

When "Dancing Queen" by ABBA came on no one could control


thier laughter as Emmett started singing every single word in a
falsetto voice as loud as he could. He definitely was attempting
to be dancing queen and he even attempted to throw the
shimmy at me a few times, only to be shown up by his father
and Jasper who mastered it right away. It was a sight I will
never forget.

I couldn't help but turn most of my attention to Edward and


Esme in the kitchen together as we danced though. It was
adorable how Edward was so close with his family and seeing
him with his mother was irresistible in a way. I laughed inside
as I realized how much of a "girl thing" it is to be so taken by
seeing a boy have a good relationship with his mother. They
were mixing and pouring to the rhythm, and every so often he
could grab her hand and spin her around while he sang to her.

They eventually put the brownies in the oven and all we had
left to do was wait and catch our breath from singing and
dancing with all of our energy. We were quite the musical
dance troupe tonight.
I noticed Esme lean into Edward and say something quietly to
him. He nodded slightly when she pulled away and then he
followed her into his bedroom where and they shut the door.

Clearly my world didn't change like last time I watched Edward


walk into his bedroom and shut the door with a female, but it
was kind of odd since about 2 minutes ago they had been
dancing and baking in the kitchen.

They didn't come back out until the oven buzzed loudly
announcing that the brownies were ready. Emmett
immediately jumped up from where he and Rose were sitting
on the floor and ran over to the oven with a loud call of
"Brownies!" that sounded a lot more like a yell of "Victory!".

Edward's door opened then and Esme rushed out and into the
kitchen. She smiled down at me as she walked past me in my
normal spot on the couch and it held more than just a sweet
gesture. I couldn't tell what else it was though...she had
flashed it at me too quickly.

"Emmett Cullen step away from the brownies!" She reached


him and swatted his hands away from the oven door. "You do
not get to devour them all until everyone has had a fair
share."

We all laughed quietly because she knew her son so well.


Emmett made an annoyed scoffing noise and remained in the
kitchen right behind his mother as she pulled them out of the
oven and set them on the counter.

It wasn't until then Edward emerged from his room and


something was slightly off. His eyes.

It wasn't the emotion in them that was off like before though. I
would have screamed if that would have been the issue. The
emeralds that were usually sparkling were just clouded a bit.
And ever so slightly pink...
He had been crying! I was fairly sure that I was the only one
that could tell because I studied him so closely all the time and
the difference was so faint. Well, me and of course Esme who I
knew would have picked it up too, even if she hadn't been in
the room with him when it happened.

He looked down at me and smiled. I admit I was worried when


I made my realization about his crying but a little of the worry
lifted when he gave me the crooked smile he had recently
created for me. It was extra comforting because I was so
afraid of losing him again, even in the slightest way possible.
But seeing my smile on his face despite his almost hidden
sorrow I was reassured he wouldn't leave like that again.

I reached out and put my hand on his arm and cocked my


head to the side and mouthed "Are you ok?"

He nodded and leaned into me and whispered, "I'll tell you


about it later." He moved his arm that I was touching so that
his hand met mine and he gave it a quick squeeze then got up
and joined his mother in the kitchen where he helped her keep
Emmett at a safe distance.

"I just want to taste one first to make sure they are acceptable
for all of you!" Emmett pleaded with his goofy grin.

Rose scoffed, Carlisle out right laughed, I smiled, and Esme


and Edward surprised me by wearing identical expressions at
his request. It was amazing how this family could look so
unique as individuals, but one moment later you would see 2
of them together and the resemblance was astounding.

"Yeah right. One brownie Emmett?" Edward scoffed.

"Who do you think we are?" Esme asked with a laugh of her


own. "Out Emmett. You wait like everyone else." She flashed
him a gorgeous smile and pointed toward the living room.

Emmett finally sighed in defeat and walked back to Rose and


flopped down next to her.
They cut the brownies up and Esme scolded her sons when she
looked in the fridge for milk and found none. Bad nutritional
habits and all that.

"They usually just come take ours." Rose explained turning to


face Esme in the kitchen. "Which pretty much just hinders our
nutritional habits because we never get any of it!"

We all laughed and Esme scolded the boys once again, now for
taking advantage of our milk. Edward laughed and joked along
with everyone and his eyes finally cleared up so I felt almost
completely better but continued to watch him closely.

When they served everyone their movie snack (Emmett was


served 2 ,but he had to wait until everyone else had theirs)
Esme joined Carlisle on the sleeping bag the boys had set up
on the floor and Edward took his place next to me on the
couch.

I lifted the blanket I was under so he could sit and take his
share of it like usual. When he got settled next to me he sat
cross legged and set his brownie down in his lap and started
picking at it. As the movie began he looked over at me and
smiled my special smile again which made me happy.

He was sitting more stiffly than he usually did though. Again, it


wasn't anything very obvious at all. I just knew too well how
he naturally was. Nothing in his eyes or his smile or speech
betrayed whatever was effecting him, but something was
wrong. If not wrong, different. I wasn't scared at all, just
curious. I turned back to the movie and decided not to worry
about it because he said he would tell me later. Probably after
we weren't around the rest of the family.

It didn't take long for things to progress as they normally did.

"Do you like it?" Edward asked me quietly as he leaned over


and nodded at my brownie in my hands.

"Just as good as last time." I smiled back at him.


"Hm. I always think they taste better when my mother helps
me." He shrugged and smiled with a closed mouth after
popping a huge piece brownie in, making his cheeks poof out
and making me laugh at his silliness.

I couldn't resist. As fast as I could I reached up and pushed his


full cheeks together from either side. His eyes went wide and
he grabbed my wrists, but he was too late.

His moth popped open and pieces of brownie flew out and
landed on me as I just sat there laughing at him. I stopped
abruptly when I got hit in the face with one of the pieces
though, and realized how my funny plan had backfired.

He never let go of my wrists but took over my laughter. "Didn't


think very hard about that one, did you?" He said over his
chuckling.

I shook my head in shame and gave a small pout at how I had


failed.

He laughed more and started wiping my cheek with his own


napkin where the piece of food had hit me.

"What did you think would happen?" He was still laughing and
wiping off my face as he looked at me with a judgmental and
pity filled look.

"I don't know, you just looked so funny..." I started laughing


at the memory of his puffy cheeks.

He smirked as he said, "Oh you think I looked funny? I'm not


the one that ended up with brownie smudged on their face."

"Thanks to you!" As I said that I pulled of a piece of my


remaining square and smashed it on his face with my whole
hand, causing laughter to erupt from me.

"Now we match!" I leaned away from him in laughter as he


glared at me with small pieces of brownie now stuck to his
cheek. As he sat there still as stone one of the larger pieces
fell off his face and onto his arm resting in his lap. The timing
of it was comedic in itself and I was still lost in laughter when
he went into action.

He picked up the whole 1/2 a brownie he had left and leaned


all the way over me trying to get it on my face as I leaned
away, both of us laughing the whole time and me squealing for
him to stop.

He finally got it smeared all the way across my face and only
then was he satisfied and relented his attack. We sat back up,
breathing hard as we recovered from laughter and wiping our
hands and faces off with napkins.

Once Edward's charming laugh faded beside me I realized how


very quite it was. I was looking down at my hands as I cleaned
them but I stopped mid wipe and looked up to see the movie
paused on the TV and the 6 other people in the room just
staring at us.

Alice and Jasper were holding their hands over their mouths
and were actually glancing back and forth between Carlisle and
Esme and Edward and I.

Rose was staring at me with an almost proud grin and


Emmett'd stare was blank but was pulling pieces off of Rose's
brownie and putting them in his mouth, his empty plate sitting
on the other side of him.

Lastly I noticed Carlisle and Esme.

Carlisle looked like he was trying not to laugh and was only
about 2 seconds away from having to cover his mouth like
Jasper and Alice. Esme looked like a mother. That's the best
way to describe it. She was smiling and shaking her head in
astonishment but her eyes had a look of concern in them. Not
in a judgmental way, but a motherly way. A "why are 2
children disrupting the rest of the family" way.
I took all this in rather quickly and I could feel Edward beside
me still working on cleaning his hands off, having not yet
looked up. I nudged him with my elbow and when he turned to
me I nodded my head towards the others, pressing my lips
together to suppress my smile.

He looked around at everyone as quickly as I did then the


crooked smile spread across his face, still looking brilliant even
under all the chocolate smears, and he just said "What?"
casually as if they were staring at us for no apparent reason.

After he broke the silence Alice lost it with a big, "Pffffttttt"


noise from her laugh trying to break free of her small hand
holding it in.

Jasper turned to his parents and said, "I told you! They do this
to us all the time, go into their own little conversations or
games when the rest of us are clearly in the middle of
something else!" He shook his head at us and we both just
shrugged, not knowing what to say. It was true and it probably
wasn't going to stop any time soon. It's not like we did it on
purpose.

The room filled with laughs and Edward and I turned to each
other and started laughing even harder after taking in our
chocolate filled faces that we hadn't stopped to really look at.

Edward reached over with his napkin again while continuing to


laugh at me and began to wipe one of my cheeks off.

Esme stood up suddenly and said, "Wait!" then disappeared in


Edward's room, only to reappear again with a camera.

"We have to get this on film. Evidence that my full grown


children are still nothing but just that, children." She smiled
and I wrapped my arms around Edward's neck, bringing our
chocolaty faces close together. He looked at me with his
emeralds alive and inticed as our faces came closer and closer
together, and my breath stuck in my throat until he turned his
cheek to mine at the very last second. He reached up one
hand and put it on the opposite side of my face, holding our
cheeks together. We both grinned as widely as we could, just
like 5 year olds.

"Now clean up before you get the couch messy!" Esme fake
scolded us with a finger wag. She turned and snapped some
pictures of the others and their various reactions to our child-
like antics.

"Oh that was nothing mom, you should have seen the cake
fight they had once!" Emmett boomed out from the kitchen
where he was getting yet another brownie, having finished off
Rosalie's already.

"We don't want to know." Carlisle said as he raised up his


hand.

Edward got up and got us more napkins to fully clean


ourselves with. After we were clean and made promises not to
disrupt the group further the movie started again.

We kept true to our word because Edward kept true to his


tradition of falling asleep half way through.

He was leaning away from me as he slept but his feet were up


against my leg because he had placed them therebefore he
had fallen asleep since my flannel pajama pants provided
warmth or them.

When the movie ended everyone said goodnight and went into
their rooms. Esme and Carlisle made sure I had my situation
handled before they left the room then they both hugged me
good night, which was really sweet.

I just watched Edward sleep for about 5 minutes. He looked so


peaceful with his eyes closed and his deviant hair still standing
in every direction. I couldn't help it. I reached over and began
running my fingers through his hair and I said his name softly
at first, then a bit louder, trying to bring him back to
consciousness.
"Edward...Edward?" I smiled as he reached his hand up and
rubbed one of his shut eyes and remained in the same position
but made a soft sound in his throat, probably at the
recognition of his name and my hand in his hair.

"Edward Anthony." I said it a little louder and more stern but


with a bigger smile. He grunted this time, becoming more
conscious.

"Can you wake up for a second?" I asked sweetly knowing he


could hear me now because his head was turning to me a
little.

"Why?" He said it softly and almost with a whine as he turned


his head back into the couch.

He was being difficult and cute at the same time. That's fine, I
guess he could stay on the couch and I will just take the floor.
That's preferable actually, why hadn't I thought of that earlier?
If he stays asleep he gets the couch and I win!

"Nevermind Edward, stay asleep. I'll see you in the morning." I


said it quietly to him trying to keep him in the same out-of-it
state he had been in. But when I withdrew my hand from his
hair he surprised me by shooting his arm up and an inhuman
speed and catching my wrist.

I gasped at the fast motion of my seemingly groggy best


friend. I watched a beautiful smug smile take over his face
though he still kept his eyes shut.

"Where do you think you are going Bella?"

"I'm letting you sleep since you are so reluctant to wake up." I
accused, now knowing he had been more awake than he led
on to.

"You weren't going to the floor by any chance were you?" He


opened his eyes now and turned them on me, looking at me
like I was committing a crime.
"What if I was? You certainly weren't going to move." I sassed
him right back.

"Of course I was, don't be silly. I was just trying to see how
long I could get you to keep playing with my hair. It's really
soft again, isn't it?" He looked very proud and nodded a little
trying to encourage me to nod along.

"It's silky smooth as always." I reassured him with a monotone


and straight face. He is so funny about the varrying softness of
his hair. It always feels perfect to me.

It pleased him enough though, and he released my wrist then


got up quickly and grabbed the sleeping bag his parents had
been on. He set it up right next to the couch, the exact same
place he had slept when our fort had taken over the living
room.

He looked at me in my still upright position with my still


straight faced expression.

"Sleep Isabella." He commanded and pointed at the part of the


couch I was not laying down on.

We had a stare down for about a minute until I realized I was


so tired I couldn't fight it any longer. I sighed and laid down,
giving him his victory he already knew he would have.

"Thank you." He said smugly in a mocking tone.

"You're welcome." I said back in a horrible deep voice that was


mocking him right back.

He started to chuckle which made me laugh at us too.

"We really are children sometimes." He sighed and I saw him


run one of his hands through is hair where he was laying. I
was almost jealous of it.
"Yes we are. I hope your parents don't care about me
reverting you to childhood." I laughed but the concern stuck a
little in the back of my head when I said it.

"Not at all, they love you Bella. They love all of you already.
They can tell when we are truly happy." That response made
me smile but it also reminded me that Edward hadn't been
truly happy all night.

"Edward, what was wrong earlier? You said you'd tell me."

I heard him sigh. "It's nothing really. I don't want you to


worry, but I do want you to know."

Too late, I am worrying. The seriousness in his silky voice was


very worrisome.

He paused long enough for a lump to rise in my throat then


continued.

"My mother took me into my room tonight to give me


something in private. It was a letter from Tanya."

The lump turned into a boulder and I stopped breathing. The


only thing that kept me from spiraling back into despair out of
habit of that name was the fact that I had seen the look in his
eyes and the emotions in his smiles after he had read the
letter, and they were the ones he reserved only for me. He had
stayed my Edward despite anything related to Tanya coming
back into his life.

"Bella, it's ok. You can breathe." He almost sounded like he


was going to laugh and I realized I must have taken in a huge
gasp of breath and not yet let it out.

He sat up and leaned over to where I was laying down.

"Bella, honestly, it's fine. I promised I wouldn't hurt you again,


and I wasn't lying. I'm telling you this for a reason even
though I knew initially it was going to be weird for you to hear
it. But I need you to be breathing as I tell you." The faintest
musical chuckle escaped him then and he reached up to push
hair out of my face.

His brief touch did the trick and I was able to get another
breath in, then out, then in again. He smiled and then
continued when I visibly calmed.

"Tanya wrote me a letter of apology when she found out my


mother and father were coming to visit. She asked my mother
to bring it to me and she said yes. She knew the real Tanya
and watched her grow up with all of us, so I know why she
was so kind to her even after everything that occurred. Plus,
everyone should get the chance to apologize. I know I'm glad I
did." He threw me my smile and I know he was purposefully
keeping our relationship a part of the conversation so I
wouldn't let my breath stop due to what he was saying.

I smiled meekly back but just wanted to hear more.

"I opened it and asked my mom to stay with me as I read the


letter. I knew it was going to be hard." He looked away briefly
and ran his hand through his hair again.

"She apologized profusely and I know she means it, though


I'm not positive she's changed back to her old self. I don't
think she can ever go back completely. Anyway, it was hard
for me to read because she was very forward about how alone
she felt when I moved and how hearing about... you..." he
hesitated right before he said "you" and I knew the guilt was
threatening him again. He decided to go in a slightly different
direction,"...well she basically poured her heart out about
knowing things were going to end between us before they did.
It was hard to read because she detailed the pain that us
growing apart caused her. It really got to me Bella. I cried."

He was looking a little past me now, lost in his thoughts. I


knew he wasn't talking to the Bella he had confessed feelings
for, he was talking to Bella the best friend. They are not
exactly the same thing for him yet, and in this moment I
understood completely why he had asked me for time.

This was a moment I had to listen to him as best friend Bella


and nothing more. It didn't hurt at all for him to keep those
parts of our relationship a bit separated because he had made
this need clear. Had he dove right in and let us progress to the
next level this night would have been hell for both of us
because there were still old emotions left to be dissolved. He
still needed time to let go of the loss of that relationship.

As it was I could be Bella the best friend and know that the
other Bella, the one he felt for, still existed and was still
important to him. I pushed her aside and knew I would keep
best friend Bella in the forefront for as long as he needed. Our
friendship was the most beautiful thing about every other part
of our relationship anyway.

"I know you cried Edward, I could tell." I reached out and took
his hand lightly, as nothing more than his best friend.

He looked close to tears again for a very small moment. But


when our hands connected he looked down at them and
smiled.

"Of course you did." He said softly, still gazing at our


connection.

He looked back up to me and I could see the emotions in his


eyes looking at me, his Bella. The one waiting for him.

Well that didn't take as long as I thought it would!

I smiled back and said, "Are you ok?"

My Edward stared back at me and flashed one of his classic


smiles. "Yes I'm fine now. It just caught me off guard. It's so
easy to get caught up in our little world here in Hollywood...
you almost forget about life outside of it. Luckily I have you
here to keep me wrapped up in it." I smiled at his compliment,
happy that best friend Bella had been dismissed so quickly.

I nodded that I understood. It was completely true. All 6 of us


were guilty of getting lost in our bubble world. Rose and Alice
and I talked about it often actually. What do you need past
your family though? Nothing. That was the conclusion we
always came to.

"Well, let me know if you need anything." I said sincerely.

He changed a bit then, his hand clamped the slightest bit


tighter to mine and it was hard to tell in the dark but I was
fairly sure I saw his eyes darken a bit like they sometimes
seemed to.

He leaned closer to me and said in his charming lower-than-


normal voice, "I promise you will be the first to know."

A different lump took over now and I just stared at him. He


chuckled so very softly, still in the deeper tone, not helping me
at all.

He pulled a safe distance away from me again and said,


"Breathe Bella, remember?"

I rolled my eyes at him and felt a small blush take over. At


least he couldn't see it to ask me about it in the dark.

"Can we sleep now, geeze Chatty Cathy, I have school


tomorrow." I gave him an annoyed look and he laughed at me.

"So sorry to keep you up." Sarcasm littered his tone but he
smiled and laid back down. He brought our still connected
hands up to his hair, which was right where my arm naturally
hung if I let it fall off the couch.

I peered down at him and he gave me a pout that would knock


even Alice out of the park. His eyes were big and pleading and
he said, "Please?" in the most adorable way you can twist
velvet.

"Like you even have to ask." I scoffed and started my familiar


motion with my fingers.

He sighed in satisfaction and turned towards the couch and


closed his eyes.

"Good night my Bella."

"Good night Edward Anthony."

Chapter 22 - I'm Coming Home

The next day in our holding cell at school I caught Rosalie and
Alice up on the new Tanya news.

Alice had snuck into our room since she was told she was done
auditioning for the day. The musical theatre kids were being
"held" right next door, so it wasn't difficult for her sneaky little
self to get in unnoticed.

"She needs to go away." Rose rolled her eyes and continued


flipping through the magazine she was holding.

"No, I get it. She wanted to apologize and that's a very... nice
way of doing it." I wasn't sure "nice" was the right word.

"If by 'nice' you mean better than calling him and taking up
what would have surely been hours of his time, then yes, it
was a 'nice' way of doing it." Rose always knew what evil
undertones girls really had.

I laughed but didn't agree or disagree.

"Well it's good Edward was smart enough to keep your


relationship in a safe spot since this happened." Alice pointed
out what I was already thinking.
"That's exactly what I thought. It didn't take him very long to
get over the sadness he felt after the letter, but it still c;early
effects him strongly since it was a huge mess, so it's good
things aren't serious yet. Knowing us, I would have taken his
reaction to the letter personally and stopped putting effort into
living, and he would have freaked out that he felt more than 3
things at once and probably would have ran away to
Madagascar to save me from his horrible range of emotions!" I
was using grand hand gestures to accentuate the
ridiculousness of my prediction.

They both laughed with me because it was a very easy, yet


dramatic, thing to picture given how things had gone with the
two of us a little over a month ago.

Alice remained in our room unnoticed and we spent the rest of


the time taking stupid quizzes from the magazine and planning
our shopping trip with Esme that evening. Jake didn't come
hang out or speak to me really but he did wave and smile at
me from across the room where he was hanging out with Sam
and a few others. I didn't feel the guilt burning in me, which
was a huge relief.

"I wonder what the boys will do while we are shopping?" Alice
wondered as she literally danced her way to my car when we
were free.

"Emmett said something about showing Carlisle the practice


space and stuff. Apparently he used to play and that's how
they all got into music in the first place." Rosalie answered
with a smile.

"Ah! Can you imagine Carlisle in the practice space jammin'


with the boys?" Alice played a little air guitar before she
opened the door to the backseat and got in.

We were laughing at the mental imagine of Dr. Cullen "rocking


out" all the way home.
We left the boys behind and hugged all of them goodbye as
Esme gave Carlisle a significant and serious look and said "Be
good" before we walked out the door.

All 4 of them were smiling too sweetly as we left and it made


all of us a little suspicious.

"One weekend I left them alone when I went to visit my sister.


It was not good." Esme start explaining the many times she
had said goodbye to those too-sweet smiles.

"I came home a week later and Emmett had stitches in his
head. Edward had a black eye, Jasper had half of his hair cut
off and my darling husband would only tell me that they had
small 'accidents' while playing baseball."

We were gaping at her now due to the ridiculousness of the


story.

"I still don't know what really happened but I definitely play ref
at all of their baseball outings now, just in case."

She smiled and shook her head then laughed a bit with us as
we asked her more and more questions about her life.

By the time we got through all of the stores Alice had required
us to go into we each had our own bags to carry, me with the
least at 2. I only got simple things: a pair of sandals, 2 light
sweaters (one in maroon and one in dark blue), and a scarf
that was so soft I couldn't say no after Alice wrapped it around
me. I also managed to pick up a shirt for Edward.

When I saw it I instantly knew he would love it. The bright


green of it had caught my eye because it reminded me so
much of his. I had picked it up without thinking. When I did
start thinking I blushed at the fact that Esme was 2 feet away
from me watching me size up a man's shirt.

I wasn't sure how much she knew about Edward and I. I


mean, I'm sure she saw enough to put the pieces together
even if he hadn't told her much, but we were nothing official
yet and I just wasn't sure what she would think about me
wanting to purchase him gifts like Alice and Rose were doing
freely with Jazz and Emmett.

She simply walked over to me and said, "Edward looks really


good in green, it matches his eyes." Then she placed a hand
on my back and smiled at me with a little wink.

Oh she knew. She knew so much.

I didn't stop smiling the rest of the day as we sat around the
little deli that Alice had fallen in love with on her many visits to
Melrose.

The conversation was finally getting to where we wanted it to.

"I should have brought the home videos," Esme declared with
a slightly disappointed shake of her head.

"Oh! Tell us about them!" Alice was clapping her hands in


anticipation.

Esme thought for a second and took a sip of her water. "Hm...
oh one of my favorites is 'Cooking Improvement' and it's about
3 or 4 different 'episodes'."

This was definitely what we wanted.

"Like Home Improvement, Tim Allen's old show?" I asked


hopefully.

"Yes!" She was happy we all recognized it. " 'Cooking


Improvement' was Emmett and Edward's show and Jasper was
the camera man. Emmett would mess around with food,
making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and tacos,
and...what was it that one time..." she looked down in
thought,"...oh! coco puffs in a bowl of melted ice cream." She
made a face and we all made various "ewe" noises at the last
one.
"That sounds like something Emmett would come up with."
Rosalie murmured and we all agreed.

"So they would just make food while Jasper filmed?" Alice
asked.

"Well Emmett would put together the food and 'host' the show,
explaining the proper way to do everything since he was the
oldest. He called himself Emmett Allen and made Edward wear
one of Carlisle's old flannel shirts and would insist on calling
him Al. Every time he calls him that on film Edward tells him,
'That's not my name Emmett, I'm Edward!' until the very last
episode when he learned to ignore it."

We were snorting in laughter at this point and I couldn't get


the image of Edward in flannel out of my head.

"How old were they?" I managed to get out.

"Emmett was 9, Jasper was about 7, and Edward was 5. He


still had that wild hair, Emmett was still huge for his age, and
Jasper appeared every now and then on film in his 'director's
hat' to calm them down when they would get in a fight during
the show, which was often. You see, as Emmett was 'cooking'
Edward didn't have anything to so Emmett always just
required him to sit on a stool and be in the shot because all he
knew was that Tim Allen always had Al next to him on his
show. Edward would get impatient or bored and steal pieces of
food off of the plate Emmett was working on. You all know by
now how Emmett feels about getting his food stolen, so he
would get angry and take the food back making Edward cry
and Jasper pop in to lecture them becase they weren't
following the script and were wasting time."

This was the best story I'd ever heard. I was relishing in the
image of 5 year old wild haired Edward in an over sized flannel
shirt fighting with a small version of Emmett and being
lectured by a still calm 7 year old Jasper.
"We need those videos!" Alice squealed and Esme promised
next time they came to visit it would be the first thing we did.

"They haven't changed very much, have they?" Rose asked as


she finished laughing.

"Well they've certainly grown up fast but in a way, no they


haven't." Esme looked very proud for a second then looked us
all in the eye in turn. "They have really found themselves here
though, I can tell. I don't know how this band thing is working
out exactly but I do know that when my sons were home in
September they weren't really home anymore. Not while you
all were here."

The way she was adoringly looking at us made me flush with


pride and I know Alice and Rose had to feel the same. It was
true for all 3 of us too.

Esme looked us all over once and then turned to her left and
spoke directly at Rose.

"Rosalie I have to tell you that I have never met another


woman that can handle the challenge that is Emmett." Rose
looked like she just won a prize. "Besides myself I have never
seen Emmett be completely himself around a girl and not scare
her senseless in one way or another. Not like a monster or
anything, but I think every other girl he's dated felt
intimidated or overshadowed by his naturally big personality."

Rose just nodded and Alice chimed in, "Please! Rosalie doesn't
know the meaning of the word
intimidated!" It made us all laugh and Rose shrugged and
nodded her agreement.

Esme turned to look straight across the table at Alice next.


"Alice, what can I say? Jasper was very hurt in the past and I
worried that he would never trust again and never find
someone he could be close to. He is very in touch with
emotional things and it was evident how much feeling so
deeply for someone and then loosing everything had effected
him. But look at you! You have him back to his old self. You
wouldn't know it, but you pulled out a warmth in him I haven't
seen him give to anyone outside of our family in years. Thank
you. Thank you for being someone he can trust."

Alice now looked like she was going to cry and she quietly
said, "No thank you for having him for me!"

We all giggled and Esme turned to me making me nervous.


What could she possibly say to me? I had no real claim in
Edward's life. He was still dealing with things. Just like the rest
of the Cullens I was ready for Esme to throw anything at me.

She smiled at me very warmly and I was sure she could tell I
was nervous and unsure.

"Bella, I have never seen Edward like this before in his whole
life. I know things have been complicated for him the past few
months, and I know that you have been there for him the
entire time you have known him. Thank you very much for
that. I was very worried for him when he left Forks in October
but after seeing him here, with all of you, I know he is more
than fine. With you especially Bella. The way he cheered up so
quickly last night..." She smiled and shook her head without
finishing the thought then looked like she was deciding
something before she continued.

"I have never seen him so close to anyone before in all the
ways he is close to you. It's very special I think. He wasn't
even like that with Tanya you know, and they knew each other
for years. I don't want to meddle, but I am his mother and I
feel close enough to you already to assume I know a bit about
what's going on between the two of you." She paused and
smiled warmly. I blushed slightly having just been called out
by Edward's mother.

Again Alice chimed in, "Believe me, you don't have to be either
of their mother's to see what's going on between them." I shot
her a stern look but laughed a little and Rose muttered
"Right?" under her breath and shared a knowing look with
Alice.

Esme nodded at me and continued."Bella, I've just never seen


him so full of the simple need to be touching someone as often
as he does with you. He was never like that with Tanya, or
anyone before. They were close but I see him change around
you in a way I have never seen him change for anyone before.
In a good way, my dear. I just wanted you to know." She
smiled sincerely at me then and I was speechless.

I wonder if Edward had explained to her his request of me


giving him time. I suppose he did. I knew they were very close
and he disclosed a lot to her. Was this her way of encouraging
me?

"Ok I'm going to stop before I say too much, but I am having
so much fun with you girls and I want you to know you are all
like daughters to me already. I'm so glad we are getting to
know you all in person. Thank you for taking care of my needy
boys."

Rosalie raised her glass in a "cheers" motion and we all


followed suit, none of us able to get anything more than
sincere "thank yous" out.

When we returned home that night it didn't appear we had too


much to worry about concerning the boys. The only thing out
of place was an acoustic guitar I noticed had a new and huge
scratch in it, a faint bruise on Carlisle's forehead that Esme
scowled at, and Jasper limping slightly.

"I don't want to know." Esme breathed and then went into
Edward's room to get ready for bed making the boys laugh and
the girls shake their heads.

Carlisle informed us that he had gotten in contact with the


managers for us and had informed them of what they needed
to do. He was very fatherly about it all and I felt like he was
treating the situation as if his own daughters were the ones
displaced by the swamp. The managers had agreed to start
working tomorrow and it would be finished by the time Carlisle
and Esme left, guarenteed.

We showed the boys the spoils of our shopping excursion and


as the other girls started pulling their gifts out for their
signifigant others Edward sat next to me on the couch watched
the others curiously.

"Um, Edward, I got you something." I said it very quietly and I


couldn't look at him. I have been through so much with him,
but this small gesture was so uncomfortable for me with our
unofficial situation. I had to go back to my old reasoning.
Friends could by friends gifts, right?

But what about more-than-friends-sort-of-girlfriend-in-


waiting?

Wait. I just thought the word "girlfriend". That's what I would


be when the wait was up. I made a small face when I thought
that. It was odd to think. Maybe because it sounded
elementary. What else would I be though?

"Bella!" He was nudging me again like he always had to when I


got lost in my thoughts when we were talking. At least this
time nothing I thought caused me to blush so he wouldn't
launch into 20 questions.

"Did you say you got me something?" He was smiling sweetly


but looked confused.

I'm still very uncomfortable. Was this too much? Was this
inappropriate for waiting time?

I started rambling, "Well, yeah. I didn't plan it or anything. I


saw it and I thought of you, which may be weird but it's the
truth, and I think you will like it but if you don't that's fine, I
just didn't see anything else I wanted and you always get me
Starbucks for free now so I thought that maybe this would be
a way to pay you back for that except I guess you don't really
pay for those things, Starbucks does, so maybe that's not the
best reasoning in the world-"

"Bella!" He was fighting a laugh now and his eyes were


swirling with amusement as he grabbed my face with one hand
and put a finger up to my mouth with the other. He just stared
at me and smiled my smile which charmed me into silence
though I was still breathing heavily from nerves and starting at
him with worried eyes.

"You are so cute when you're nervous." He said it very softly


and when I concentrated on his words it made all the other
sounds of the other's giving their gifts fade into the
background.

He leaned in closer to me with his eyes now smoldering. He


hadn't let them get that way in a long time, even though I'd
caught him holding it back a few times in the recent past.

I just said, "Thank you?" pathetically and just as quietly


through his finger that was still resting on my lips.

His eyes shot down to where his finger rested right after I
spoke and I saw the fire rise up even brighter for a second and
his mouth opened slightly.

It was causing a ridiculous sensation in me. I started thinking


about what his mother said earlier about his constant need to
touch me. Had he really not been like that with Tanya? She
was so gorgeous though. He looked back up into my eyes and
smiled the crooked, brilliant, almost devilish smile I had only
seen a few times before. It was not the sweet emotional one I
had been getting latley. It both scared and excited me. Time
seemed to be moving slower than it really was as I drank in
every inch of his face.

Somewhere in the background Alice squealed at Jasper


emerging from the bedroom in one of his new outfits, yes Alice
bought entire outfits for people, and it brought both of us back
to reality, at least a little bit.
He pulled away from me a little and gave me a sideways look
as he took his hands off my face slowly, as if warning me they
would go right back up if I started rambling again. When I
behaved and sat there silently he nodded and smiled sweetly,
back to family friendly Edward.

He was still speaking quietly but no one was really paying


attention to us still.."As cute as you are when you ramble I
don't understand why you are nervous. I love that you thought
of me on your shopping trip with the girls and I would very
much like to know what you got me because no matter what it
is I will love it."

And he did love it. I could tell the instant I showed it to him
and I was grateful I had made the decision to get it for him.
He hugged me and turned his head into my neck as he
thanked me for it, making me shiver as he did so.

We fell asleep that night on the couch together with our heads
at the opposite ends. Our legs were curled into ourselves but
our feet were entangled and he had insisted on tickling mine
with his own for the first 10 minutes we were trying to fall
asleep. I laughed loudly and the only thing that made him stop
was Rosalie yelling, "Children, go to sleep!" and then the whole
apartment laughing from their own rooms.

Right before we feel asleep he bid me goodnight the same way


he had the night before, and the same way he would continue
to everytime we said goodnight to each other from then on.

"Good night my Bella."

"Good night Edward Anthony."

I feel asleep smiling and allowed myself to imagine Edward


one the other end of the couch doing the same.

Carlisle and Esme left on that Thursday bringing sadness over


everyone. It just didn't seem like enough time because it all
went by so quickly. Well, all the moments we were together
that is. Auditions at school were still pretty hurrendously
boring and slow. Such is the glamorous life of acting!

We said our goodbyes and Esme whispered reminders of the


sweet things she had told all of us girls on our shopping spree
as she hugged us. Carlisle inspected our living room before
leaving, making sure we were taken care of and settled in
again before he felt fit to leave us on our own.

It was now Friday and the girls and I were at the apartment,
finally free of our hell week of auditions, waiting for the boys
to finish band practice.

I had taken out the trash and when I walked back into the
living room and flopped next to Rosalie on the Love Sac she
turned to me and asked, "If you had to punch one of us in the
face, who would it be?"

"What?"

"If you had to punch one of the 6 of us in the face, like it was
'punch someone or die', who would you punch?"

She was looking at me seriously and I could tell she really


wanted an answer.

"I said Edward." Alice chirped her answer out from the table
where she was sketching design ideas.

I got annoyed instantly as I turned to look at her. "Why


Edward?" Why was I so offended?

"Because of all that crap he put you through. I know it's all
good and forgiven now, but it was my first reaction so I went
with it." She shrugged and I shook my head and smiled finally.

"So Bella, you would you punch?" Rose looked at me seriously


again.

Wow. We were getting incredibly desperate in finding ways to


stay busy while the boys were at practice.
"Jasper." I said confidentially.

Alice snorted and said "Why?" without looking up from her


work.

"I don't know. Because he's always so calm and maybe it


would finally get a rise out of him. And because you said
Edward." We all laughed when I revealed my real reason.
"Rose who did you say?"

"You." She started picking at her nails when she blurted out
her answer.

"Me? Why me?" I was less offended than when Alice said
Edward, pathetically enough, but I still felt a sting.

"It's along the same lines as Alice's reasoning except it


extends to the present time as well." She still wasn't looking at
me and now I was just confused.

"I don't get it." I said bluntly.

With that she started chuckling and looked at me smiling, "I


would punch you in the hopes that it would knock a back bone
into you and get you to jump that boy's bones already!"

I shrieked at her forwardness and pushed her side playfully.


Alice was laughing and clapping excitedly at the table, very
entertained with Rose's answer.

I knew my face was red but I wasn't embarassed around the


girls. Rose finished her logic, "Seriously Bella, with the way
that boy looks at you sometimes- I don't know how you control
it. If I wasn't so in love with Emmett..." She trailed off
sugegstively and I shrieked and pushed her again and she
assured me she was "just joking, just joking".

Jasper walked in first, straight from practice. He came through


the windows in the courtyard and over our patio then he
flopped down in the bowl chair turning to the TV since we had
turned that on.

As soon as he sat, "Jasper, if you had to punch one of us in the


face who would you choose?" Rose gave him the serious look
and his brow furrowed in confusion.

"I chose Edward." Alice sang out proudly again, then looked at
me. I just rolled my eyes.

"Ok...um. Edward for me too." He sounded confused at first


but finished confidentially enough.

"Seriously?" I defended again.

"So far Edward is the most punchable..." Rosalie thought out


loud.

"Why Edward?" I asked Jasper sincerely.

"Because Edward is the nice guy. If you punch Edward he will


be like 'what the heck?' and be upset for about a minute, but
then you could come back to him and be like 'Edward I'm sorry
I hit you, man' and he'd be like, 'It's ok' and then smile and
hug you." He explained himself very calmly and after thinking
about it for a moment we all agreed it was probably true.

Emmett walked in next, having stopped at the apartment to


pick up some food before heading over.

Right on cue, "Em, if you had to punch on of us in the face,


who would it be?"

"Edward."

I sat up and almost yelled this time. "What? Why?" Jasper,


Rose, and Alice laughed at me and Emmett just shrugged on
shoulder.

"He's the youngest brother so it's the obvious choice."


I sighed and sank back into The Sac. Rose patted my arm and
laughed some more and I started to chuckle myself.

Edward finally made it over and it was clear that he had


showered first. I more than expected it this time.

"Edward!" Rosalie was holding back a laugh since she knew he


was in the "lead" in her little game he had no idea about yet.
"If you had to punch one of the 6 of us in the face who would
you punch?"

He looked confused but took in all of the other 5 serious and


curious faces around him. He sat down next to Emmett in
Bertha and thought for a second as we all waited.

He turned to Emmett and said, "Who did you choose?"

Emmett stopped chewing and tilted his head down, giving


Edward a pointed look through his brow.

Edward's face lit up in sock, "Not Jasper?" he yelled out.

Everyone broke into laughter then and Emmett just shook his
head at his brother. "Sorry bro, you are the youngest."

"We need an answer Edward," Rose reminded him after the


laughter died.

"I don't know." He ran his hand through his hair as he thought.
"Um, who else said me?"

Jasper and Alice both raised their hands and he looked truly
hurt. "Jasper?" His mouth was open now and it was pretty
adorable how hard he was taking it.

"Sorry man, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings." Jasper said


sincerely.

After about 10 seconds Edward smiled sincerely and said, "It's


ok."
Everyone lost it then, Jasper more so than everyone else,
because Edward had just demonstrated the very reason Jasper
picked him in the first place.

"You still haven't answered!" Rose accused making everyone


clam down and pay attention again.

"You Rose!" Edward pointed and smiled back at her.

"And why me?" She asked him coolly, barely phased.

"Because it's your irrational game that ignited violent feelings


against me in half of my closest friends and family!" He folded
his arms and playfully pouted at her making everyone laugh
and Emmett reach over and clap him on the back reassuringly.

"That's fair enough." Rose smiled a perfect smile at him then


he broke into one as well.

"Who did you choose?" Edward asked Rose since they were
still looking at each other.

"Bella." She said with a straight face.

"Really..." He moved his gaze to me with wonder in his eyes.


"Why would that be?"

Rose looked at me then and I knew my eyes had gotten wider


at what she was about to tell him. She gave me a defiant look
and opened her mouth to speak. I changed my look to one of
pleading and in my head I was trying to send my thoughts at
her in waves, "Please Rose, do not use the 'so I will jump his
bones' reason, my face will explode from the amount of
blushing that will occur!"

She winked at me very quickly and then turned back to


Edward. "Because she keeps me up at night with her sleep
talking and maybe if I punch her she will be knocked out
enough to shut up for 8 straight hours."
We all laughed at that, it was a good reason too if you asked
me, and I secretly reached over and squeezed her hand in
thanks.

Edward nodded that he understood and then turned to me


again. "Bella? Your choice?"

"Jasper." I said clearly and gave him a sweet smile as I said


his name.

"Why?"

I looked back at Edward. "Because Alice said you"

The room got silent as everyone gauged my answer and then


Edward's reaction. I wasn't embarassed to admit it because
everyone in this room knew how I felt about him. And it wasn't
anything perverse like Rosalie's real reason, I was merely
defending his honour.

His eyes danced and he gave me my smile as we locked eyes.


He was clearly pleased. Smiles grew on both of our faces but
we didn't need to say anything to each other.

"Oh God, there they go." Rosalie said under her breath as she
got up from the Love Sac and went into the kitchen.

The next week the subject of Thanksgiving came up. It was


only a week away at this point, and we had 3 days off of
school because of it. All of the others were a little sad because
none of them would be at home for the holiday quickly
approaching us.

The boys weren't able to go home because Carlisle and Esme


would be in Chicago at her sister's house. There was a new
baby or something.

Rose and Alice both weren't going home because the break
was so small flying there and back was unappealing.
I could go home very easily. Phoenix was only about an 8 hour
drive away and I could make it easily but I honestly didn't
want to. I dislike Thanksgiving a lot. I always have. None of
the food is too appealing to me, I grew up a picky eater due to
my only child syndrome. None of it thrilled me and I much
rather be with my Hollywood family than my parents, to be
honest. It wasn't like I wasn't going to see them in about a
month for Christmas anyway. And to me Thanksgiving was
only an annoying road bump you had to get over so you could
start relishing in the glory of Christmas.

I was explaining my friend's sadness to my mom as I spoke to


her on the phone the Monday of the week of Thanksgiving and
she had an idea.

"Bring them all here Bells! Oh my gosh that would be so fun! I


want to meet them all, I haven't even seen Rose and Alice
since you have been close with them. I need to meet Edward
too of course..."

It was actually a very good idea. I speak to my mother a lot,


pretty much daily, and I have kept her in the loop on mine and
Edward's relationship. She was the first to declare I was in
love with him actually.

"I can hear it in your voice Bella. That's when you know it's
bad."

That was during the time before tour though, when all seemed
hopeless. Now she was bursting with excitement at the
thought of meeting him and seeing us together. I told her I'd
ask the others, but she should pretty much clear the local
stores of food now, Emmett Cullen was most likely coming to
Thanksgiving dinner.

Of course the idea was a hit. Emmett actually picked me up


and twirled me around in the living room.

"I get a real Thanksgiving meal! Bellarina I love you more than
any other sister I have!" He squeezed me too tightly then put
me down, making Edward have to catch me when I stumbled
after being let loose.

He kept booming out laughter and I said, "Emmett you don't


have any other sisters," as I smiled and balanced myself on
Edward's arm.

"Eh, sometimes Edward counts," Emmett joked and Edward


just scoffed.

Instead of letting me go when I was steady I felt Edward's arm


curve around my waist and he spun me around to face him.

"I get to meet your family?" He sounded excited and the green
was resilient and breath taking.

I nodded excitedly back since I couldn't quite speak at the


moment and he smiled at me, never taking his gaze away but
pulling me into a hug for apparently no real reason at all.

We pulled apart and I said, "You aren't going to be too sad you
can't be with your mom and dad?"

"No. I mean, we just saw them and this way we can all be
together. It will be different, but I'm excited to meet your
parents. And I love Thanksgiving food so as long as we are
eating right the Cullen boys are happy." He smiled and I made
a face at his food comment. "What?" he asked my disgusted
face.

"I hate Thanksgiving food. I usually try to skip the holiday


altogether. I play along for my parents but for one year I'd
rather just have pizza, honestly." I shrugged it off and he just
laughed at me and shook his head.

"Maybe this year we can make that happen." He smiled.

"Probably not. Now that we have a crowd my mom will go all


out on the traditional grub."
"Well what if I make you pizza?" Edward looked at me
seriously and waited for my reply.

"Edward, you don't have to make me pizza, that would be


ridiculous." I laughed a little trying to break him but he only
smiled and continued to look sincere.

"No it's not. If that's what you truly want then that is what I
want you to have. You can't stop me. I've already decided to
do it for you." He pursed his lips and looked at me like he was
challenging me to refuse again.

"That's very sweet but first of all, do you even know how to
make pizza?" I gave him my most sly look, like I had backed
him into a corner with a brilliant argument.

"Not yet." He smiled back simply. "But I will. I will learn for
you so you can have the best Thanksgiving possible. Then you
and I will dine on my gourmet pizza and it will become our
own Thanksgiving tradition that you can look forward to each
year." Now his smile was triumphant.

It was as if he knew that my heart was soaring on all of his


words of lasting traditions and he and I together "each year."
Was he really thinking long term like that? I guess so. That
was enough for me.

I reached and and pulled him into a hug rather roughly, still
being caught up in his words.

He chuckled at first and then wrapped his arms around me and


turned his head into my hair. "Well your welcome," he said
rather smugly.

I laughed but didn't let go. "I didn't say thank you yet."

"This is better than any words you could say to me Bella."


Again I swooned and kept holding on to him until he pulled
away and led me to the computer so we could look up recepies
for making pizza from scratch.

We were waiting for Emmett to get home from work before we


could leave on Wednesday evening and Edward and I had
decided to walk to 7-11 to get road snacks.

Jasper had worked some sort of magic and managed to get the
guys a show booked on Friday night in Phoenix so this was
turning into a full blown road trip. We were going to get to my
house early Thursday morning, have Thanksgiving, hang out
Friday and go to the boys' show, then head back to LA late
Saturday since Edward and Emmett had to be at work on
Sunday.

He had pulled my arm through his and I was slightly leaning


into him as we walked the 3 blocks to the store.

"So, since we aren't technically driving straight to a show do


you think the car rule can get appealed now?" He looked down
at me and smiled.

I sighed. "I"m going to go with no. Alice and Rose have been
talking all day about how great it is we will have some girl time
the whole ride to Arizona." I smiled back up at him, but he was
making an annoyed face now and rolling his eyes.

"I'm always stuck in a car with my brothers, I want for once to


be stuck in one with you." He gave me the devilish crooked
grin and I tripped from lack of being able to control my feet.
He steadied me and laughed.

"I don't think we can make them budge tonight, but we will
figure something out for the way home. Even if I have to tie
Jasper up, steal his clothes, lock him in the trunk, and pretend
to be him just to ride with you." I had him cracking up by the
end of my plan and it made me laugh too, though I
purposefully let his musical sound remain at a higher volume
than mine, not wanting to taint the beautiful sound.
"Well let's hope it doesn't come to that. I don't want to ever
pretend you are my brother. Or my sister for that matter. They
would have to lock me up."

Oh this was good. "And why would they have to lock you up?"
I looked up at him through my lashes like Rose had once tried
to teach me to do to charm people. I wasn't sure I could do it
right, but something was working because when he looked
down at me the green darkened in the slightest and one side
of his mouth found it's way into a smirk.

"Because my Bella, incestuous thoughts are usually frowned


upon by the law." He trumped my lash tactic with his alluring
voice and I was very suddenly brought to a halt by the
strength of his one arm that was connected to me. I was still
starting at his eyes and he was still smirking as I ignored the
blush on my face and the fact that we had stopped so
abruptly. I couldn't tear my eyes away from him though.

"You're blushing." He stated simply.

"I know." I stated back. What's new?

"You also almost ran into the door." The smirk grew and he
glanced directly in front of us then back at me.

I turned my head forward and saw the glass door to 7-11 only
about 6 inches from my body. The sudden stop I had felt from
his arm was Edward stopping me from running straight into
the door when I had been gapping at him instead of paying
attention not one minute before.

He was chuckling next to me and I felt my face turn even more


red as he opened the door for me then followed me in. I was
very embarrassed as I walked down the aisles and I wasn't
speaking as he was trailing right behind.

I could feel his eyes on me rather than the snacks we were


passing. I wasn't looking at them either, I was looking at the
ground mentally kicking myself for always letting him dazzle
me in public places. Like I needed more help looking like and
idiot with my already natural clumsiness. Had I really almost
walked straight into the door?

I was pulled out of my thoughts when I felt his arm wrap


around my middle and pull me to him. He didn't turn me
around, he simply leaned down and spoke softly in my ear
from behind me, "You do know I almost did it too."

I just scoffed and pulled my head away from his face. This
wasn't helping it was only sending chills down my neck and
through the rest of me, taking my concentration off of my
inner scolding.

Sure he did. He was effected by me like I was by him. It was


off balance and I knew it. I didn't need him lying to try and
make me feel better.

I tried to pull my whole body away to regain myself but he


chuckled and said, "Oh no" and only pulled me tighter, still
with his one arm.

"I'm serious Bella. The only reason I stopped before you did is
because my foot hit the bottom of the door first. Believe me,
looking at you is dangerous for me sometimes. Why do you
think I never look at you during shows? Hm?"

He was very close to my face again, making sure it was a


private conversation between us in the semi-crowded store. I
twisted my head around and looked at his face then, putting
us inches apart. His eyes were still dark and he moved his
whole arm from around me now, just letting his hand rest on
my side.

I waited for him to explain, still not ready to talk.

He backed up from me and broke any connection we had


except for our eyes.
"Perfect example, right here. I can't always concentrate on
things like I should when I am close to you. That's why I never
look directly at you when I'm on stage. If I forget what I'm
doing up there... it wouldn't be very good." He ran a hand
through his hair and looked down as a victorious smile broke
out over my face.

How could I have ever guessed I effected him like that? He


was the Greek God! I was shocked but pleased at the same
time. I couldn't deny what I saw in his eyes, I didn't
understand it at all, but I also didn't think he was lying. Me?
He really got that distracted by looking at me?

"So..." he breathed now looking around the store. "Can we


behave and pick out snacks together and manage to safely get
ourselves home?" He smiled dazzlingly at his joke.

"If we have to." I moaned and he laughed and threw his arm
around my shoulders in his regular manner then kissed the top
of my head.

My insides lit on fire and I smiled probably more wide than I


ever have before. Time was ticking by and waiting was actually
getting easier and easier by the day.

We did manage to get home safely. Well, I did trip and drop
the bottle of Mountain Dew Edward had gotten for Emmett.
But Edward just shrugged, picked it up for me and said, "It's
ok. He wants to punch me in the face and called me his sister.
This will keep me entertained for a few minutes on the road."
Then we laughed together and he walked the tiniest bit closer
to me the rest of the way back.

Emmett got home later than he was supposed to at 6pm,


putting us on the road around 6:30 and an approximate arrival
time in Phoenix around 1 or 2 Thanksgiving morning.

He made it up to all of us by bringing home a whole tray of


chocolate cupcakes with mounds of chocolate frosting on
them.
"It's my contribution to the big meal. Now your mom will like
me best." The goofy grin took over but Edward muttered,
"yeah right" under his breath rather smugly.

Emmett looked at him with the grin still playing on his face.
"Oh yeah, I bet you think you already got that spot, don't you?
I know what gets to a lady's heart. Helping with the cooking.
This is Thanksgiving Eddie, your boyish good looks and charm
aren't going to cut it. The woman needs kitchen relief! What
can you offer her there?" He was very proud of his logic.

"Gourmet pizza," Edward said confidently then he and I smiled


together and Emmett looked confused.

It took us about 30 minutes to pack the cars and get ourselves


ready to hit the road.

We walked to the garage and went to head in separate


directions like a 7th grade dance, girls on one side of the aisle,
boys on the other.

The official couples were hugging goodbye and Edward hugged


me quickly, too quickly, then pulled away and said, "I need to
talk to you about something."

He looked extremely serious and slightly worried as he


searched my face for something that wasn't there yet.

"Ok." I said hesitantly.

He put both of his hands on my shoulders. "I just want you to


know I am planning on calling Tanya while we are driving to
Phoenix."

Before he could go on my stomach tightened and I almost cut


him off when I said, "Edward you don't have to tell me this." I
said it more harshly than I planned on but it was the
alternative to not breathing.
"No. I want you to know Bella because I don't want to keep
secrets from you." He moved his hands up to my face and
looked deeper into my eyes. "Her letter was fine but I need to
tell her my part of the apologies and get closure now that I
have forgiven her."

"Ok." I made it sound short and blank. I did not want my


thoughts to be consumed with this all 8 hours of the drive,
what is he doing? I tried to pull away, thinking he was done,
but he grabbed my shoulders again and held me there.

"Wait Bella. Listen to me. I'm not trying to upset you, please
don't be upset." He reached up and brushed hair out of my
face, knowing that specific touch from him always calms me
down. He must have seen some of the fire leave my eyes
because he relaxed and continued.

"This is the last conversation I plan on having with you about


Tanya because the phone call I make to her is going to be the
last time I reach out to her in any way. I don't want us to have
the mess between us before our lives completely separate so I
need to do this. I want you to know because I want you to be
a part of the things I do Bella. I could easily call her in the car
without you knowing anything about it, but I don't want you to
be left out of any part my life. You know you are my very best
friend, and for that reason alone I need you to know
everything about me. Not to mention the other reasons."

His forehead had traveled and settled against mine by then


and our eyes were still connected. His green was burning into
my brown with sincerety and and love and we were both
smiling now.

"Thank you Edward. I hope it goes well." I replied and meant


every word of it, now understanding and appreciating every
detail he has ever shared with me.

"Ok, see you in 8 hours." He kissed my forehead quickly and


hugged me quicker then ran over to the jeep where the other
boys already were settled in.
I got in the car and got knowing looks from Alice and Rose.

"What?" I looked at both of them innocently.

"Why can't you guys just get it on and get it over with?" Rose
asked with a smirk making Alice roll all over the backseat in
laughter.

"Shut up." I spat my words out at them and then joined in the
laughter and turned the music way up as we started dancing in
the car. I pulled out to lead Emmett's big red jeep on our road
trip to my hometown and what I was certain was going to be
my most favorite holiday yet.

Chapter 23 - Call Me

EPOV

"Finally!" Emmett laughed at me as I climbed into the jeep and


settled myself into the very back seat.

I heard Jasper mutter something that sounded like "get it on


already" under his breath, but I didn't ask or really care about
it any further.

I looked around and found myself actually pouting.

There is more than enough room for another person back


here. Another brown haired, deliciously chocolaty brown eyed,
funny, charming, intoxicating, perfectly clumsy, sweet,
beautiful girl that I did not want to spend 8 hours without.

I sighed and ran my hand through my hair. I need to get a


hold of myself. I am pretty hopeless at this point and I can't
even give her all of me yet. Selfish.

I watched her drive her car out of the garage ahead of us and
my brothers and I chuckled as we saw the girls break into
ridiculous dances as they always did.

These were the best people I had ever met.


We drove down the street and got on the freeway. Jasper
turned his full attention into his book and Emmett started
drumming on the steering wheel as he drove.

I suppose now is as good a time as any. I would like to get it


over with anyway.

I pulled out my phone and flipped through my old texts until I


found the one I needed.

Eddie you said you were going to call me today, don't forget
please

I sighed and muttered, "My name is Edward..." to myself as I


hit the "call" button reluctantly and held the phone up to my
ear.

It only took one ring.

Her voice greeted me and it was less familiar than I


remembered, but just as smug.

"Ah, Edward. I've missed you."

"Tanya."

Chapter 24 - Jump On It

BPOV

It has been 3 hours now. 3 hours since we have been driving


and 3 hours since I have spoken to Edward.

I'm not on edge, exactly. It's just that every time Tanya is
involved in anything- ok involved in anything having to do with
Edward- I can't help but get a little paranoid. He said it
himself, it's easy to get caught up in our little world here.
What if she reminds him that there is another world in Forks?
The one he grew up in. With her. One he was completely
happy with about 6 months ago.
I am being paranoid though, aren't I. Yes. Calm down Bella.

I keep doing that. Mindlessly thinking and noticing that every


20 minutes or so my hands grip the steering wheel so hard it
makes my knuckles white.

We need to stop for gas soon, really really soon, so I'm


counting on speaking to Edward then and getting a good read
on him. He has to have called her by now, right? He's had 3
whole hours. If he hasn't done it yet then he's really just
stalling and why would he do that? Is he nervous to talk to
her? Because of his pent up feelings for her? Oh no, what if
he's been talking to her this whole time and he can't get
enough of her now because he hasn't spoken to her in so long
and now he won't even come out of the jeep because he can't
stand not hearing her voice any longer and after this he will
always be talking to her and forget about everything he's ever
said he felt about me?

Oh God this is the worst trip ever- I hate Thanksgiving!

"Bella I think you need to take a break from driving when we


get gas. I can take over for you."

I snapped out of my downward spiral of thoughts and looked


quickly to my right at Alice who had just spoken to me and
Rose who was now looking up from her magazine.

They both had worry and amusement in their eyes and I


relaxed immediately, knowing I was caught by them
overreacting silently, again.

"Yeah that's probably a good idea," I said as I pulled off the


highway towards the lit up gas station sign. It was about 9:00
now so it was dark out and the slowing down of the car made
my body instantly aware it was going to get to stretch itself
soon.
The big red jeep followed right behind us and it felt more like a
big red reminder of the thoughts that had just plagued my
mind.

We stopped and the 3 of us shot out of the car, Rose skipping


(yes, she really was skipping but on Rose it looked more like a
supermodel dancing down a catwalk) towards the driver side
door of the jeep where Emmett was still drumming on the
dashboard.

Alice shot off to the restroom having been bouncing in her seat
even more than usual for the last 30 minutes.

I silently went around to the gas pump. I paid there with my


card and started pumping gas, leaning against the back seat
door with my back to my friends and the jeep. I didn't want to
see if he was inside still sharing the love with Tanya.

Suddenly he was beside me leaning against the car as close as


he could to me, the place where the pump met my car the only
thing between us.

I looked up at him and he was smiling so very crookedly. It


forced me to smile back.

I took inventory of him immediately. I could do it at a


ridiculous speed since I did it so often in my first glance of
him.

The eyes were right. They were smooth and green with darker
flecks highlighting their depth and their dance. The face was
perfect as always, pale and angular. The hair was disheveled
and ungodly attractive in it's wildness. The hair. I always took
a tiny bit longer in the inventory of the hair.

"Miss me?" The velvet was intact too.

"You first." I demanded turning my face serious. Yes, this was


a game in the slightest. But I wanted him to know I hadn't
forgotten I knew what he was up to while we were separated.
He just laughed lightly and the musical sound was in tune too.
Good.

"Bella, I'm afraid I don't have words accurate enough to


describe to you just how much larger that jeep seems knowing
you should be in it with me but aren't."

Then, light lightening, he reached out his arms over the pump
and grabbed my arms on either side of me. I was still staring
at him in wonder so it took my a second to realize he did that
because I had forgotten to hold myself upright and my back
had been slowly sliding across my car away from him and
towards the ground as he spoke.

When he used that kind of talk with me I always forgot the


simplest things. Like breathing, or holding myself upright, or
blinking, or speech, or not drooling...

I blushed and he reached a hand up and touched my cheek


where the red took over and smiled devilishly. He really liked
that reaction apparently.

He moved his touch away from me then and took the pump
out of my car and hung it up in it's spot. I guess it was done
filling my tank. I still wasn't very aware of things outside the
proximity of his face.

I regained my composure while he closed the lid to my gas


tank and smiled and smiled.

"So Tanya...?" He had just charmed me but it didn't get him


off the hook.

"So Tanya and I spoke, " he said coolly, "and everything is...
good."

Good? That's all he's giving me? Good?

"Good Edward? What does good mean? Like, 'Good we love


each other again! Yay!' ?"
I made a little celebratory motion with arms and he chuckled
at me. He looked at me sarcastically and furrowed his brow.

"Yes that is exactly right my Bella. After everything that's


happened it only took one phone call that was intended to
break our ties altogether for Tanya and I to realize we are
completely in love. We are eloping tonight actually. I'm not
even leaving this gas station with you guys. We hired a private
jet to take us to Vegas and it's just going to swing by here in a
few minutes so we don't waste any more time."

He was smirking now and I was scowling at his joke. Then he


walked over to me and put his arms gently around my waist.
His emeralds were playing with me and he used a very gentle
portion of the velvet when he spoke next.

"You know we will need a witness if you would like to come.


You can be my best man."

I giggled despite myself, probably due to his closeness to me,


and then hit him in the chest and said, "shut up Edward," and
tried to pull away. He only pulled me closer though, then
started to tickle me and we were both laughing uncontrollably
until a loud whistle made us stop and stand up straight.

Alice, Rose, Jasper, and Emmett were all leaning against the
jeep watching us with amused smiles and various snacks as if
they were watching a movie.

Emmett turned his head and gave a fake cough," cough get it
on cough."

I blushed and Edward let go of me but didn't leave my side.


The others all laughed and Rosalie winked at me which broke
my smile.

We hung out outside of the vehicles for about 5 minutes before


returning to them and taking off again. Now Rosalie and Jasper
were driving and I was in the backseat dozing off.
I saw Edward in the passenger seat in the front with Jasper
and he waved at us as we pulled out in front of them.
Apparently diving took nothing out of Emmet because he had
the back window rolled down and half of his body sticking out
of it as he yelled, "ROAD TRIP! ROAD TRIP! WHOO!"

I felt considerably better even though Edward hadn't really told


me how his conversation with Tanya went. From the way he
acted I could only assume it all worked out towards my
benefit. And that was enough for now.

I fell asleep for about 2 hours and was woken up by Alice


shaking me.

"Bella wake up, we need you," she was saying quietly but
urgently.

I rubbed my eyes and sat up. It was still completely dark out
and we were pulled over at rest stop.

"What's going on?" I asked groggily, immediately looking


around to find the jeep and hopefully Edward's face in the
passenger seat.

It wasn't there though.

"It seems the boys got lost." Rosalie said with a little laugh.

"What? Weren't they following us?"

"They were but the exit on this off ramp had 2 lanes. Jasper
pulled into the lane next to me, it looked like Emmett was up
to something in the back and wanted him to get our cars
parallel, but then the road forked and they took off in the
other direction. Now we don't know where they are, but maybe
you do since you've made this drive before? Edward's awaiting
your rescue call." She was fighting laughter now and Alice was
shaking her head in shame.
"I can try to figure it out but I'm really not sure of this area.
Hold on." I looked around and did recognize the rest station
we were at since it was closer to Phoenix than we had been
before. I really didn't know the area around here though.

I pressed send and waited.

"Save us." An overly desperate Edward cooed at me from the


other line.

I laughed. "I'm not sure if I can. Where are you now?"

"I'm not too sure. Jasper turned around but we were on a


different, tiny highway by then and I think we took a wrong
turn or something. We've stopped now. We are on the side of
the road considering driving is only making things worse for
us." He chuckled and I heard Jasper laugh next to him.

"What's wrong Master Navigator Cullen, you can't figure out


where to go by using the north star?" I couldn't help but tease
them. This seriously wasn't that hard. Follow my car. That's all
they had to do.

"In case you haven't noticed there are clouds, so no, the north
star is not an option for me at the moment." He laughed a bit.

"I bet you really can use the north star though, can't you? That
sounds like something you can do." I was serious now. He was
always surprising me with small, odd, talents like that.

"I haven't really tried honestly. I bet I could on a boat


though." He was really thinking about it now, which was
amusing.

"Oh! I've always wanted to own a boat! But not for a lake or
anything, I'd only want one if I lived by the ocean and could
use it there."

"Captain Swan. I like it." I could hear the smile in his voice
now.
"Master Navigator Cullen, you already know I like that."

"Oh yes, I know you like it." It was the deeper voice now, the
one that gave me butterflies.

"Why the hell did we let them be the 2 in charge of trying to


figure this out? They can never stay on track." Rose suddenly
spoke up from the front seat.

She reached back and took the phone from me before I could
say anything more.

"Edward it's Rose, I'll be the skipper, now put Jasper on the
phone please."

She looked back at me and smiled and I rolled my eyes back


at her as Alice giggled.

"Can I be the first mate on your and Edward's Love Boat?"


Alice asked me with a play full smile.

I nodded my head "yes" and we both erupted in giggles.

Eventually we got the boys back to us and we filed back into


our 2 car parade and took off again. Now Alice was driving my
car and I was still in the backseat, still on the phone with
Edward until he heard me yawn and made me try to sleep
some more.

We pulled into my drive way at 1:47 in the morning on


Thanksgiving.

My mother was outside waiting for us and I ran out of my car


and into her arms before I did anything else.

"Bella! You look amazing sweetie. Hollywood really agrees with


you. Or maybe being happy does." She smiled at me and
touched my face the way only a mother can.
It made me warm inside and the sounds of my friends getting
out of the cars and approaching us only made the feeling
stronger.

"Mom, this is Alice-"

"Mama Swan it's so good to meet you!" Alice cut me off and
threw her tiny self into my mother's arms, making her laugh
lightly.

"I'm Rosalie, I think we met at orientation but I didn't really


know Bella then so you might not remember me."

"Oh dear, of course I remember you! The blonde bombshell


making everyone else nervous... even mature women like
me!" They both laughed and Rose looked humbled as she
hugged my mother as well.

"Boys!" My mom threw up her arms towards the 3 boys that


were waiting patiently behind the girls.

I caught Edward's eye and he winked at me very quickly then


turned his attention towards my mom who was right next to
me.

"MOM!" Emmett's loud crushing voice overtook everything for


a second as he bounded the 5 steps it took to get to my
mother and then lifted her up slightly as she laughed wildly
and got her own famous Emmett death squeeze.

"You have to be Emmett, the beloved big brother of my little


girl!" My mom beamed up at him and he turned his grin on
me.

"That's right! You are the mother to my favorite little sister,


the one I get to thank for her and for the awesome meal we
are going to feast on!"

"And that's Emmett for you Mrs. Swan, always concerned


about the people he loves and the food he gets to eat."
Jasper moved forward next and made us all smile with his
accurate assessment of Emmett.

"This is Jasper mom." I said as he leaned in to hug her.

"Oh Jasper, Mrs. Swan is Charlie's mother, please just call me


Renee," She smiled warmly at Jasper and he nodded then
stepped back.

"And now for the main event..." My mother leaned into me and
spoke so quietly only I could hear.

I chuckled very softly and watched Edward walk up to me and


Renee. He actually looked... nervous? No way.

"Well I'm sure you've figured out who I am now. Process of


elimination." He unleashed his infamous smile on her and I
thought she was going to throw me on her shoulder and
parade me around in victory with the look she gave me after
she got a good look at him.

She turned back to him and behaved.

"Edward! Of course. Bella has told me a lot about you." She


pulled him into her then and he was now looking at me over
her shoulder. He winked at me again.

"I bet she has." He said quietly making everyone laugh and me
stick my tongue out at him.

My mother finally let Edward go then put her arm around me


and turned to the rest of the group.

"Well you kids certainly look tired so lets get you inside
quickly. You have plenty of time to sleep in tomorrow so don't
worry about that."

She turned and started leading me inside still attached to her


by the arm.
"Wait mom, I have to get my bag out of the car." I started to
pull way from her but Edward appeared right beside me.

"No Bella, you go in the house with your mother, I can grab
your bag." He smiled once more and walked away.

"Mmm-hmm." My mom said under her breath as we walked in


to house and I giggled with her.

Once we got in the door, alone, "BELLA! He's incredible! They


all are! Oh I'm so happy for you. I love them already." She
pulled me into her again and squeezed.

"I know mom. But you have to remember nothing is official


between Edward and I, ok? So no comments or anything about
it. We are just friends with... an understanding." I tried to give
her a stern look and she took me seriously.

"I know, don't worry honey. I will be good. I am excited for


you though. He's very good to you, even in the short minutes
I've seen. I can tell these things Bella...I have a good feeling
about it all." She walked away to go get things for us to sleep
with.

"Me too." I said to myself with a smile as everyone tromped


through the door and into our living room.

No one was as tired as we felt in the cars after arriving at my


house. Adrenaline and all that. We sat up for a bit with my
mother, then she took herself to bed around 2:30.

At 3 everyone was asleep in the living room on sleeping bags


and air mattresses except for Edward and I. We were on the
little love seat that sits just off my kitchen in a small sitting
room where we had been when my mother was still awake and
talking to us.

"Well she's completely in love with all of you, like I knew she
would be." I smiled at that thought.
"It doesn't take much though, does it? We are a pretty lovable
bunch." Edward smiled back and we both took a good look at
our sleeping family on the floor in the next room.

"Are you tired?" He asked me, letting his head fall onto my
shoulder. We were already leaning into each other
considerably, sitting in the middle of the small couch with the
foot rests up to give us more room to stretch our legs.

"Yeah, it's been a long day and drive, I suppose I should be


tired." I replied and looked down at his head on my shoulder.

He laughed a bit." 'I suppose I should be tired'. Oh Isabella


Swan, you are one of a kind."

He reached up and pulled the blanket off the back of the couch
and threw it around us. I pulled it up to myself and sank into
the couch and him a little more.

"Are you comfortable enough?" He asked quietly, looking up at


me as best he could.

"Of course." I replied. "I would sleep on hot lava and be


perfectly fine if you were next to me" is what I wanted to tell
him, but didn't.

"Good," he yawned.

It was silent for a moment and I was enjoying the feel of him
next to me when he spoke up again.

"Oh Bella, I never got a chance to tell you about my real


conversation with Tanya." His voice was light and it brought
me out of my thoughts and back to reality. I'd pretty much
forgotten about that with all the excitement of being back at
my house.

"Oh yeah. Ok, tell away." I tried to keep it as light as he did


and not sound as interested as I was.
"It was good. At first she sounded a little expectant. As if she
assumed things were going to be the same between us. Smug
almost. But I broke through that and finally got the real her to
talk to me."

He paused and I swallowed. The real her scared me. The real
her was someone Edward had been mourning over.

"I guess you don't want all of the finer details, and they don't
matter anyway. We said goodbye basically. I know I will run
into her now and then when I'm back in Forks, the town is just
like that, and the good news is it will be civil. We left of a good
note, but we definitely left. If that makes sense."

He looked up to me again and the green was tired but alive.

"Yes it makes sense. How do you feel about it?" That was the
important part. For me at least.

"I feel great Bella. It wasn't even hard to hear her voice like I
thought it might be. It wasn't hard to say goodbye and discard
that part of my life. It's not me anymore, and it's not her
anymore, and once she took off her new mask and admitted
we were different people we spoke very calmly about
everything. There was closure and understanding. I even told
her a little bit about you."

"Really? Uh... how did that go?"

What? Boys are so odd, she probably didn't want to hear about
me no matter how understanding she seemed. I know how
girls work.

"I didn't exactly tell her everything about you and I of course,
but she's the one that brought it up and I wanted to be
honest. So she knows the jist of things." He laughed a bit and
turned his head back down.

"Well as long as we are all in on the jist then I guess it's all
good." I laughed again and he reached over and squeezed my
hand for a second under the blanket then took it away and
curled up a bit more.

"It's just you and I now Bella." He said it so softly I'm pretty
sure I wouldn't have been able to hear it if I wasn't so good at
concentrating on him. I'm not even sure he meant for me to
hear it.

"Good night Edward Anthony."

"Good night my Bella."

I awoke the next morning to Alice climbing on top of Edward


and I on the couch, sprawling her little self over both of us and
wishing us a Happy Thanksgiving. It was sweet but and odd
way to wake up. Edward launched into a tickle attack on her
which quickly got her off of us in a fit of giggles but when she
escaped his reach Emmett just took over and chased her
around the house.

We all showered and gathered in the kitchen where things


were already starting to be prepared for the meal. My father
was introduced to everyone and he was very friendly and
comfortable around them all, even Edward ,though I saw him
give an extra once over before moving his attention to
Emmett.

My mom shooed us all out and Emmett was more than happy
to lounge on the couch and watch the football game. Everyone
else sat around the living room and hung out but I followed
Edward back into the kitchen.

He explained to my mother what he was doing for me, giving


me my Thanksgiving Gourmet Pizza, and as she turned her
nearly tear filled eyes to me I just shrugged. I could tell she
was falling in love with him almost as quickly as I had.

He didn't let me help very much, which was fine. I stood by


silently and made some small talk with my father as I mostly
watched Edward interact with my mother in the kitchen.
He made the dough from scratch and he skillfully rolled it and
flattened it out, mesmerizing me with every move I watched
him make. I couldn't believe it. I love every activity that
concerned him. I loved watching him doing something for me,
as simple as cooking. I loved the way he laughed with my
mom and told her various stories of his family and his take on
our time in Hollywood. I loved how he was able to answer any
question or comment my father had sincerely and then make
him laugh as well.

We had been woken up at about 8 in the morning, meaning


Edward and I had gotten less than 5 hours of sleep.

Edward was soon fading fast, having not slept at all in the car
on the way here the night before. The dough had to sit for a
while and rise I guess so he decided a nap was in order, due to
great encouragement from my mother.

She took him back to my old bedroom to lay down for a bit,
but I couldn't follow because some old friends of the family
had come over and I was expected to be social with them.

About and hour later my mother informed me the dough was


probably ready so I should go wake him. I went back to my
room, more than eager, but I went quietly because I did want
to get a glimpse of him sleeping. He always looked so
peaceful.

I opened my door and walked in to find him laying on the bed


without a blanket or anything, just curled into him self slightly.
His hair touching my old pillow was like a gift to me.

I walked over to the bed without realizing I had done so and


then stood over him for a second, taking in his face.

I reached down and grabbed his shoulder and shook it slightly.

"Edward wake up. The dough is ready." I laughed a little after


I said it. I was just a weird thing to say.
He didn't move at all.

"Edward I know you are probably awake already so you should


stop faking and get up to finish my pizza." I stared down at
him and watched a devious smile creep across his face.

"You know me too well," he said quietly, still not moving or


opening his eyes.

"Probably," was my only response as I smiled too. "So are you


going to get up or am I going to have to call Dominos for my
pizza?"

He chuckled then reached up and grabbed the wrist of my


hand that was still on his shoulder and started pulling me
down to him, sleep still dominating a lot of his movements.

"You should just lay down and nap with me. It's nice in nap
land Bella. Join me."

I was laughing now and he was still pulling my arm across his
body, trying to force me down.

It was against everything inside of me to resist his pull but


nothing about laying down in the bed with him and napping
the day away would be good when it came to how everyone
else in the house would react.

"Edward..." I whined and tried to pull away.

"Bella..." he whined right back and continued to pull me down.

"Edward Cullen are you trying to get out of pizza duty?" I fake
scolded and he laughed and let go of my arm and finally
opened his eyes.

"No, I am happy to do that for you. I just have different


priorities than you do I guess." He sat up and gave me a small
shrug.
"Oh really? So your napping priorities are more important than
my pizza priorities? Is that what you are telling me?" I folded
my arms and looked down at him. He had turned and was
directly in front of me, but still sitting on the bed.

"To be clear, my priorities in this moment are not merely


napping priorities, but napping with you. Call me selfish but I
thought it would be a bit more pleasant that way. Guess I'll
never know now." He shrugged again than got up and brushed
past me.

I turned as quickly as I could and grabbed his hand, pulling


him back towards the bed.

"I'm sure they won't mind if you nap for a little longer. You do
need all your strength for the taunting pizza making. Not that
it's a high priority or anything."

I wasn't doing very much in terms of pulling him, he is a lot


stronger than I am. He was smirking at me and basically
standing in place as I pulled and pulled.

"Sorry Bella but I've crossed over. It's pizza time now." He
winked and then in one swift movement he yanked the arm I
was attached to and brought me to his side then somehow got
that same arm around my shoulders and walked me out of the
room.

I sighed but leaned into him and he laughed and laughed as


we walked back into the kitchen.

There was a break between games so Emmett came into the


kitchen to see how progress on the meal was being made. It
was all going according to his liking so he gave my mom an
approving thumbs up then he turned and looked out our
backdoor.

I had forgotten about his grand love of pools.


"Bellarina you never told me you have a POOL!" He looked at
me like I had killed his puppy.

"Uh, yeah, sorry Em. I've never used it and also haven't lived
here in a year so I didn't think about it."

"Oh do you kids want to swim?" My mom said happily. She had
always been a little sad the pool was lost on me when they got
it put in.

"HECK YES!" Emmett ran to his bag and pulled out his swim
trunks then ran to the bathroom.

Everyone thought it was a good idea except for Rose and I.


She didn't want to deal with chlorine in her hair and we've
already covered my feelings on bathing suits.

Within minutes Jasper and Emmett were in the water with


Alice lounging on the side with her feet dipped in, watching
them race and wrestle each other.

Edward had to roll the dough out and put the toppings on then
get the pizza into the oven before he was able to join the pool
time fun.

"Are you sure you don't want to come in?" He said through his
dazzling smile before he went outside.

"I've already told you, I don't do the pool thing." I said in


confidentially. The smile was not going to get me this time.

"Fine." He really did sound disappointed.

Eventually, as everything got put in the oven and there was


nothing left to do but wait for it all to cook, the rest of us
moved outside to watch the pool patrons have their fun.

All too soon it got quiet and I got nervous. I looked around and
Emmett and Jasper were both out of the pool, on opposite
sides, with huge grins on their faces.
I knew what was going on in an instant.

I screamed and got up from my chair, making a mad dash to


the sliding glass door and the safety of inside.

Jasper was too fast though, and he cut me off and threw his
wet arms around my middle, haulting my escape.

I knew it was over when Emmett approached me from behind


and picked me right up with no effort at all.

I could hear the laughter from everywhere above my screams


of protest. Edward's lovely noise was above them all.

"EMMETT PUT ME DOWN!" I was kicking and flailing but it was


no good. Each step he took closer and closer to the water
brought on more and more dread. "ROSE HELP!" I reached out
to her and she got up from her chair to try and save me.

She grabbed one of my arms and started pulling but Jasper


and Alice double teamed her, pulling her away from me and
leaving me helpless as they continued to hold her back.

"Sorry Bell!" I heard her yell, but she didn't sound too sorry at
all because she was not being carried to liquid misery.

"WAIT!" I finally yelled loud enough to startle Emmett enough


to stop walking. "Wait! Please at least save my cell phone, it's
in my pocket."

They agreed that it was a fair request and Edward jumped out
of the pool and smiled at me as he dried off his hand and then
reached into my pocket to remove my phone.

I glared at him, traitor, and started shrieking again as Emmett


got to the edge of the pool.

"I love you sister," is the last thing I heard before I felt myself
be released and then hit the water.
I found the bottom and stood up immediately. I heard
applause from all around me. Not for me though. Against me.

Emmett was bowing and then I felt 4 splashes erupt around


me as everyone re-entered the pool.

Emmett approached me first, laughing.

"Sorry sister, I just want some quality time with you." He


smiled sweetly but I still glared at him. My jeans were wet and
heavy, my shirt was sticking to me in every place possible...
and I had been so helpless to my attack.

"That sucked Emmett." I spat at him.

It only made him laugh.

"Oh lighten up sister, it's a POOL! Not a torture chamber."

He wrapped his big arms around me and I broke. I loved my


brother too much to remain unhappy.

I took advantage of his vulnerable state and quickly wrapped


both of my legs around his under the water then pulled them
into myself, causing his legs to buckle and us both the fall
under the water during the hug.

I was laughing furiously as I got myself loose from his grip and
got my head back out of the water.

"Oh you think that was funny?" He smiled evilly at me and I


screamed and tried to get away but my jeans were too heavy
and I got tackled by my giant brother.

I called it truce after than and he complied. Alice and Jasper


had retreated to the deeper end of the pool since we had
caused a lot of splashing and now Emmett was headed
towards them.

"I'm sorry I couldn't save you." My favorite voice suddenly


appeared in my ear.
I turned around and was face to face with Edward. He was
glorious in the pool with the water covering him and the sun
dancing off of his skin and his hair.

"Oh yeah, big effort you put in. I heard you laughing. It was
probably all your idea." I accused him and he just stared back
at me with a very uninnocent expression.

I gasped. "It was your idea!"

His smile grew. "I may have planted the seeds yes. What can I
say, I wanted to swim with you." He shrugged and I leapt into
action.

I threw myself at him to tackle him into the water but he was
ready for it. He caught me and faltered a little bit but mostly
just lowered us into the water.

"None of that Mrs. Swan. I am very big on pool safety." His


smile was radiant in the sun as well.

"Sure, now you are. But when your brother is attacking me


you are all smiles." My hands were on his shoulders and my
awareness of that touch was second only to the one
sourrounding his hands on my waist.

He leaned in closer now and spoke softer. Lower. "Well I had


to make up for the missed nap time somehow. Pool time
seemed like a good option. I couldn't have hoped you would
tackle me out of anger though. That was a nice surprise."

I leaned into him without realizing it. I couldn't stand it


anymore, Rose was right, he deserved to be jumped.

"Hey Bells, heads up!" I barely heard Alice's shrill voice but it
got Edward's attention and he removed a hand from my waist
and reached up to deflect the volley ball coming straight at my
head.
He flashed me a smile then let go of me completely. I groaned
and he chuckled but we returned to our friends. A game of
pool volley ball broke out. We didn't have a net but Rose came
and sat by the pool (Emmett wouldn't dare try anything on
her, she could threaten him with much more leverage than
anyone else) and she judged the game.

After we were through it was almost time to eat so we went in


to change. Alice and I went into my room where I cornered
her.

"What was up with the volley ball careening towards my head


today Alice?" I smiled at her and she laughed.

"Sorry Bella, I just couldn't help it. You looked like you were
finally going to go for it with Big E out there and your father
looked like he was 2 seconds away from intervening."

"Oh. I hadn't thought about that." Oops.

She laughed some more. "Yeah I was pretty sure you weren't
thinking about anything outside of Edward so I did something
drastic to save you both." She winked at me and I thanked
her.

The meal was great. Edward and I dined on pizza, which


turned out delicious. He looked like he was nervous as I took
my first bite, then like he had won Top Chef when it was
evident I loved it.

Emmett ate more food than 1/2 of the table put together. We
all ate and laughed all night, my mother was bursting with joy
at the full house. Even my father smiled almost non-stop and
he even stopped giving Edward pointed glances about half way
through the meal.

When it was over I helped my mother clear the table and clean
up a bit before she shooed me and the rest of the "kids" into
the living room.
I walked out and Emmett and Jasper were both stretched out
in our oversized recliner, side by side with the leg rest up.

They were both groaning and rubbing their stomaches, but


with looks of satisfaction in their eyes.

"I ate so much foooooood," Jasper moaned but then smiled.

Emmet rubbed his stomach and moaned even louder, "Ooooh,


I am with child!" He joked as he rubbed his hand across his
abdomonen even harder and turned to Rose.

"Don't look at me! It's all you and the turkey buddy." Rose
flipped her hand up at him and he grabbed it and placed it on
his stomach making her jump back and squeal and everyone
laugh.

We sat around for about 5 more minutes listening to Jasper


and Emmett groan about being full and refusing to move from
the recliner all night unless a forklift was involved.

That was until my mom came around the corner and


announced we had 3 different kinds of pie for dessert.

"PIE?" Emmett looked like a toddler on Christmas as his eyes


lit up and Jasper shot into a sitting up position with a similar
glimmer in his eye.

Emmett reached out and pushed Jasper back down onto the
recliner, using his brother's body to propell his own out of the
chair and into the kitchen for the dessert round of the eating
binge.

Rose and I were the only 2 to skip pie, it was another food I
wasn't fond of in the slightest, but Edward tried to feed a bite
to me anyway and Rose was begging Emmett to spare just one
of his.
"Come on Bella, if you haven't had it in a long time how do you
know you still don't like it?" He gave me his pleading eyes and
I almost caved.

"Why is it so important to you that I eat pie Edward?"

He shrugged, "I don't know. I guess I just like sharing things


with you."

That did it. I smiled and melted slightly then opened my mouth
like a child and he set the fork in. It was smucsy and kind of
bland and I still really didn't enjoy it. My face scrunched up in
disgust and he just laughed at me then threw his free arm
around my shoulders.

"Emmett Cullen sharing is caring- now give me a damn bite!"


Rose was across the table glaring at him, hitting him
repeatedly on the arm.

"Rosalie there is plenty of pie in the kitchen if you fancy a


piece for yourself. Thanksgiving is not about sharing food." He
turned farther from her and continued eating.

"Fancy a piece for myself?" Rose mocked his choice of words


at the same time I said, "Thanksgiving is totally about sharing
food! That's why it was created!"

Everyone started laughing, half at what Rose pointed out, half


at what I did. Rose finally gave up and the pie was finally
finished off and we moved back into the living room for movie
time.

Now Rosalie and Emmett shared the recliner even though she
wasn't really speaking to him due to the sharing incident with
the pie. She was touching him though, so he was doing ok.
Alice and Jasper were on the opposite side of the couch as
Edward and I, them curled up together more than us,
understandably.
We decided on watching a rental my mom had laying around.
It was an independant movie and it was supposed to be a
horror-slash-mystery type thing so I was instantly nervous. I
have such vivid dreams I usualy dont last well during the night
after watching movies of the scary nature.

I pulled up on the blanket we were sharing as the movie


started, it was a subconscious habit that seemed comforting.
Edward looked over at me and smirked.

"Scared?"

"Um, no. I'm just nervous. Scared comes later." I smiled


meekly at him and he chuckled at me. I wasn't in the mood for
laughing due to the nerves.

"Oh right." He replied and leaned into me a little bit. It was


only the side of his body, not his face or anything, but it did
comfort me. Everything about him comforted me now that I
wasn't scared to death of losing him forever to a black hole or
a gorgeous woman.

I found that I was more tired than I thought and before I knew
it I was fighting sleep and losing terribly.

I was awake enough to know my head was on Edward's


shoulder and his head was leaning on top of mine. I smiled
and curled into him a bit more, getting ready for sleep to claim
me completely. The last sound I heard was as satisfied sigh
from Edward, so close to me it was almost my sigh too.
Thanksgiving was definitely improving in my book.

The next day I got some alone time with my mom.

"I feel like I have 5 more kids to love!" She was glowing and it
was odd because she had always seemed so satisfied with just
me and now she was ready to jump into Brady Bunch mode.
"Yeah they are pretty much my family. It makes Hollywood
pretty bearable." I smiled as we sat out by the pool without
risk of being thrown in. The others were still sleeping.

"So Edward..." She smiled at me knowingly and just his name


brought out my own wide grin.

"Yes, Edward." Saying his name made it grow. Only 20


minutes before this moment I had woken up to his arm slung
over my middle and our heads still pressed together, even
though he was totally and completely asleep. I had reluctantly
climbed out of our little slumber filled embrace because I truly
did want some uninterruped time with my mother while I was
home.

"Oh you've got it bad honey! I like it though. Bella in love is


my favorite Bella. Her eyes sparkle more." She touched my
cheek and smiled at me.

"Thanks mom. It's been hard getting here though. I feel like
the past 6 months have lasted years." I let my head fall back
and I took in the feeling of the sun on my skin. I knew I would
stay pale but the feeling was nice anyway.

"I can only imagine. But even though I've only seen him in
person this once, Edward in love seems like a pretty great
Edward too." She winked at me and my mouth fell open.

Edward in love? Um, no, she's crazy.

"Mom, I love you, but you are crazy. Edward is not in love with
me. We've had the feelings talk, sure, but he's just realized
that not too long ago. It's not like me... he's been dealing with
other... things. No mom. Not love. He's not in love with me." I
was shaking my head frantically. Why would she plant that
thought in me? It was ridiculous. Impossible. It was a miracle
he even had more than "friendship feelings" for me in the first
place. Love? I never imagined his perfect love being for me.
Not this easily anyway.
"Oh Bella you don't see things the way I see them. He acts so
special around you. Like you are a treasure he has found and
needs to preserve. You may not see that because you are too
caught up in him all the time, but the rest of us can observe
both of you. I hope you are ready for this when it happens,
because it's coming soon Bell, and it's coming full force." She
was smiling but looking at me with concern. She didn't think I
was prepared for exactly how much Edward felt about me. I
was overwhelmed at the second so I just nodded and smiled,
trying to separate the words "love" and "Edward" so I could
get through the rest of the day without emotional overload.

I did well but my mother's words never left me as we hung out


around the house all day. Everytime I looked at his face I
searched for love in it. It didn't work because when he would
turn his gaze to me I would look away immediately, feeling as
if I had got caught stealing.

We were going to get ready for the show that night...

"There's hardly enough room in your bathroom to work my


magic, Bella, but lucky for you I am skilled at my craft." Alice
was holding the curling iron already, beconing me into the
small torture chamber that used to be my bathroom.

But before I could go in Edward grabbed my arm.

"Bella can we talk for a minute?" I nodded and just glanced at


him then followed him outside.

"One minute Edward! Don't think I'm not counting down in my


head!" Alice yelled behind us making us both laugh. I could
still hear her when we closed the screen door, "58 mississippi,
57 mississippi, 56..."

I kept my gaze on the ground and didn't ask what was going
on, still afraid to look at him for the silliest of reasons.
"Bella why aren't you looking at me today?" He came right out
and said it. It took me by surprise and my head snapped up
and met his gaze immediately.

"You noticed that?"

His brow furrowed. "Of course I noticed, how could I not? I've
been looking at you almost everyday for over 6 months now."

I smiled when I realized it was true and how lucky I was. "I'm
sorry Edward. I just... I've just had something on my mind all
morning and I've been distracted. I'll let it go though, it's fine."
I looked into his eyes and tried to will some of the concern
away but it wouldn't leave. I also realized it wasn't scary to
look at them. There wasn't anything there that I hadn't seen
before, and I had been silly all morning. My silly mother and
her love theories.

"Are you sure? Becuase if I've done something to upset you...


or your family... you should let me know."

My mouth dropped open for the second time that day.


"Edward? What the heck could you have done to upset me or
my family?" I had never heard his voice so unsure before. It
was adorable and sad at the same time. Something meant to
be so smooth should not be broken.

"I don't know. If your parents don't like me I suppose I would


expect you to have second thoughts about... things. Things
that concern me." He was looking down now, avoiding my
gaze.

I can't believe it. He is killing me with this fear of my family


not liking him and it effecting me thing. I started laughing,
which probably wasn't the best thing to do, but he was so
wrong. So entirely wrong!

He looked up through his lashes at me and my breathing


hitched as I calmed my laughing.
"I"m sorry Edward, I don't mean to laugh, but you are very
wrong. My famiily loves you! My mother is ready to adopt
everyone and start a bed and breakfast and my father is just
happy to have some male energy around the house for once."
That broke his smile and I felt satisfied again. "I promise that I
was just over thinking something earlier, but I'm over it now
so you don't have to worry. My family loves you very much. All
of you."

He nodded and got his confident look back. I sighed in relief


and we were about to hug when Alice screamed my name.

"Isabella Marie! I have counted down 4 whole minutes now


and I am not in a good mood any longer!" I rolled my eyes and
Edward wished me good luck before I headed inside for my
dreaded appointment with Alice.

The show passed quickly and was a huge success considering


we knew no one else outside of our little enterouge. The boys
made fast friends with the other bands that played and we
hung out with them in back behind the venue after the show,
making new friends we may never see again. The beauty was
it didn't matter. These were people who could form friendships
in the moment and it was a great crowd to be around.

We got back to my house and sat around outside by the pool,


making a small bonfire in the fire pit my dad had built years
and years ago.

My parents were alseep already and we were reflecting on the


show and the unexpected sucess of the fans and friends that
were made.

"Maybe we should come to Phoenix more often, we sold more


than we usually do in LA." Emmett pointed out that fact as he
leaned back in the lounge chair he and Rose were sharing.

I was sitting in a fold out chair with Edward right next to me in


one as well. Alice and Jasper were on a blanket on the gound.
"That's true, but at in Forks we sell large amounts of merch no
matter how often we play." Edward said this fact and they all
nodded in agreement.

"It will be nice to play at home again, the last show was fun."
Emmett smiled at the memory.

"How many kids did you have at that show?" Rose asked the
group.

"Hundreds at least. You'd never think Forks had that many


people, but there aren't many reputable bands around so we
actually draw from many small surrounding cities as well."
Edward was the one to asnwer and I think all 3 of us girls were
a little stunned by the word "hundreds".

"Wow, you guys are like the Rockstars of Foks!" Alice giggled
and the boys shook their heads.

"Yeah when we move home it's going to be weird to play full


shows again!" Emmett laughed at that thought lightly but it
got very quiet around the fire in an instant.

"Move home?" Alice asked seriously, turning directly to Jasper.

Emmetts face fell as he felt Rose's gaze move to him as well.

I continued to look at the fire, not daring to take a glimpse at


Edward who was doing the same as me.

"Well yeah," Jasper started quietly, "we really only planned on


living in LA for a year, to see if we could get things started for
the band. That's been the plan."

I heard Alice give a small, "Oh," and then felt them move
beside me and I assumed he was reassuring her with his arm.

"So you are leaving in, like, 6 months then. Right?" Rose
asked the group again but this time no one answered. Things
between all of us had never, ever been this serious. "That's
right isn't it?" She spoke more loudly but still got no response.
"Emmett?" She sounded annoyed now and he looked
frightened.

"I guess so, Rose, yeah. That's been the plan." I'd never heard
his voice that low.

"You guys and your damn plan! What about..." Rosalie trailed
off. I knew what she was going to say though. "What about
us?"

"Rosie it's a long ways away, it will work out." Emmett put his
arm around her and pulled her into his chest. She didn't look
at him or reply, her face was stone stuck in anger, but she
didn't resist him either.

It was silent for a long time. Not comfortable silence. Angry,


sad, disparaging silence.

Edward finally looked at me and I could tell he knew I was


close to crying. I was probably going to loose him after all. All
of them.

"Bella..." he barely whispered it but it broke me.

"So what are we all doing here then? We clearly love each
other, and we know we have time together, but we are
supposed to accept the limit? How is the healthy? How is any
of this healthy?" I was sort of yelling but I couldn't help it.

I think Edward was too afraid to reach out to me even though


he wanted to. Rose and Alice were letting their own fire burn
inside of them too, I could see it in their faces. The boys
looked hurt and lost.

"Everyone knew." Edward said quietly next to me, no longer


looking at me but back at the fire. "Even if we never spoke
about it we all knew."

"I guess some of us thought things had changed. Plans had


changed. Feelings had changed. Lives had changed!" I was
completely angry now and tears were escaping. I wiped them
angrily from my face and sank to the floor and curled into my
legs. I have never let loose like this before directly to the
group. Even when Edward was in the black hole. I would yell
around Rose and Alice but never at the source. This was the
closest I had ever come to freaking out in the moment.

"Bella..." Edward said it again but with more strength this time
as he got out of his chair and sank down next to me, wrapping
his arms around me. He didn't have any more words for me
though. He didn't deny leaving or anything.

"Things have changed!" Jasper was the one that spoke up.
Apparently my tears made the boys uncomfortable. Now
Emmett was squirming too, and staring at me on the ground.
"We still have a lot of time left, who knows what will happen
between then and now? Please, we can't let this ruin the time
we know we have together. We are a family, aren't we?
Tighter than time or distance? That's what I think. That's what
I feel."

I camled slightly when he said that, but more tears came.


Edward gently wiped away as many as he could but more
replaced them. All I could see was Edward driving away from
me to go live in Washington without me. I couldn't handle it. I
would move with him. I knew it in my heart, if he asked me to
I would follow him anywhere. The thing was, I wasn't very
sure he would ever ask me to.

Alice's voice was shaky but she spoke up next. "Jasper is right.
We are stronger than this. We are the oddest famliy around
anyway, right? We can overcome odd situations like ridiculous
time constraints. I mean, we consist of an overgrown 5 year
old, a super model, a midget (with good fashion sense), the
most amazing man I've ever met, a recovering black hole and
the clutziest person alive. We need each other! We are an
oddly shaped puzzle that can't be put together with outside
pieces. Plus, I can promise you none of you will be getting rid
of me anytime before you are laying in your grave."
Alice managed to make us all laugh and some smiles even
lingered after it died out. I was still crying but I looked up and
I turned towards Edward. Worry filled his beautiful eyes and I
hated it. I couldn't fix it but I tried. I smiled at him and even if
it wasn't the most sincere look I had ever given he smiled
back.

I calmed down along with the mood around the small fire. It
was like a huge rubber band being lifted from around us. Rose
relaxed into Emmett and Edward loosened his grip on me but
didn't take his arm from around me. He just didn't need to
hold me together any longer. Alice had crushed herself as deep
as she could into Jasper's side.

Everyone was staring at the fire, lost in their own thoughts but
more at peace than before. We had to believe we would be ok.
Being brought together and being changed so much by
eachother couldn't be for nothing. 6 months would give us
options. We had to believe.

The crackling of the fire was soothing and a few minutes later
a new sound drifted into our circle. Jasper was singing softly to
himself and smiling.

"Crimson...and clover... over, and over..."

He was singing "A Praise Chorus" like he had started so many


months ago when we walked to the first movie we had all
watched together. Jake's treat.

For a few rounds of him singing we sat in silence, more peace


taking over with his calming voice. Eventuallly I started in too.

"Crimson, and clover. Over and over..." He smiled wider at the


sound of my voice joining his and picked up the tempo to
match the real song better, rather than the almost mournful
timing he was keeping before.

Alice joined in next, then Emmett and finally Rose and Edward.
Once everyone joined in the sound was louder and fun and
sounded more like the real song.

"Crimson, and clover! Over and over..."

When it came time for the verse to jump in I took it over.

"Our house in the middle of the street, why did we ever meet?
Started my rock n' roll fantasy!..." I made a fake motion with
my hand like I had an invisible mic and I threw it at Alice so
she would sing the next line.

"Don't, don't... don't let's start... why did we ever part?" She
handed it to Jasper and his voice rang out as he jumped to his
feet and raised the invisible mic to his mouth:

"Kick start my rock and rollin' hear-rrt!"

We all jumped up, the joy of the song taking us over and we
all joined in:

"I'm on my feet I'm on the floor, I'm good to go!"

Then Emmett picked up the "mic" and boomed:

"So come on Eddie sing me something that I know!" He


pointed at Edward when he substituted his name in to the song
and threw the mic to him over the fire then grabbed Rose and
swung her around. Edward conintinued:

"I wanna always feel like part of this was mine!" Edward's
musical enchanting voice made my smile bleed into my insides
as he raised the mic out to the goup and grabbed my hand as
he jumped on the chair.

We all sang out together:

"I wanna fall in love tonight!"

Jasper sang the backup loud and proud, "Here tonight!"


Every one finished together and I risked it by jumping on the
chair next to Edward, feeling confident that he still hand my
hand in his:

"I wanna always feel like part of this was mine!


I wanna fall in love tonight!
I wanna fall in love tonight!
I wanna fall in love...tonight!"

At the last second Edward pulled our hands up in the air as we


all cheered and laughed, and I of course lost my balance. The
chair I was on started to fall backwards, me with it, and
Edward paniced for a second then reached out to grab me.

He was a bit late though and the force just brought us both
down together. It hurt a little, I've had a lot worse, and we
were mostly just laughing along with everyone else though
Edward was groaning a little because his body was mostly the
one that took the impact of the ground.

"If you guys wanted to finally get it on you could have just
asked us to leave!" Rosalie snorted out through her laughter
causing me to turn into a tomato and Edward to groan again,
but for a different reason than physical pain.
"Very funny," I murmered as Edward and I got up, both of us
fighting the laughter the rest of the group was still consumed
in.

We decided it was time for bed due to the exhaustion we all


felt from the emotional night we had gone through and the
long drive we had the next day.

Every one took their places around the living room, Edward
and I on the couch where we were the night before. It was
nice to truly have everyone peaceful at once again. Edward
had settled in next to me and immediately dropped his head to
my shoulder and my hand automatically started working
through his disheveled hair. He let out another satisfied sigh
and I was still gazing at the people I loved the most sleeping
around me.
I thought Edward was asleep a few minutes later because his
breathing had evened out, but I was wrong. I took my hand
out of his hair so I could fall asleep myself and he groaned
unhappily.

I laughed. "Sorry I thought you were alseep," I whispered.

"No such luck." He chuckled back. Then he yawned slightly. "I


am close to it though. You?"

I nodded and yawned back at him. "Mmm-hmm. Long night."

"You know it will be ok, right?" He asked me seriously but still


quietly. So he had been thinking about the discussion earlier
too.

"Yeah, I suppose it has to end up ok, you know? That's life." I


shrugged and he turned his head to me.

"Well I want you to know I plan on making it more than ok for


you. Just know that. This is life right here in this room, in this
moment. This is my life now and it's much more than ok."

The emotions in his eyes flooded through me and all I could do


was nod. He looked at me very seriously for another moment
then brought his head up closer to mine. The moment changed
then. It shifted very suddenly from seriousness to hesitant as
he hovered inches away from me.

His eyes were burning for a very small second, then he pursed
his lips and went back to being serious.

He was going to kiss me in that one hesitant moment. I could


feel it. I was scared and excited and he hesitated then decided
against it. I wasn't angry when he pulled way. I was almost
satisfied. He is getting closer...that's for sure.

He laid his head back down on me and sighed again, a little


less content this time. His hand snaked towards me under the
blanket until he found mine and clung to it. I smiled and
embraced his hand back. Closer and closer each day...

But I made up my mind then and there. If he didn't make a


serious move by Christmas, he was getting jumped for sure.

HEY GUYS ITS ME tds329 I know this story is really long


but I finished reading it in like 5 full on non stop hours
and it’s really worth it. 22 more chapters to go 

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