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Breaking Rules

Summary:
Basically, it's Breaking Dawn before me and my friend read it. It features Edward and Bella techincally dead - though Edward is MIA -, Jacob madly in love, the Volturi, personality differences... And it's different. We don't have a wedding scene *hint hint*. So uniqueness counts, right? Please give us a try.


Notes:
I am working on this with EdwardCullenGirlxo, who also has permission to post it on her profile. We had a lot of fun writing it and hope that you enjoy it lots.


2. The Hard Parts of Choosing

Rating 0/5   Word Count 5718   Review this Chapter

I had told Jacob I didn’t have a choice. But I did. I had a choice. In fact, I’d had two choices. But to me, it felt like one. The one and only choice. And maybe that one choice wasn’t the right one to make. Was it?

But it was too late. Jacob had imprinted; there was nothing I could do about that. But I still wondered if he had meant what he’d said, about never stopping loving me. I knew he’d meant it, actually. Really, I’d just wondered if he’d keep that promise.

“Bella?” Edward whispered. “You seem… distracted. Are you all right, love?”

I couldn’t say anything at first. I knew he’d hear it in my voice. Or see it in my eyes. “Sorry,” I said feebly. It was all I could manage.

“Don’t apologize, Bella.” His golden eyes were scorching. “Please,” he begged. “Tell me what’s on your mind.”

I could tell it was still impossible for him — not knowing what I was thinking. Could I make myself lie to him? Or would that hurt him more? I fell into my pillow, kicking my legs up onto the bed.

I was surprised when Edward didn’t sit next to me. I looked up, confused, only to find him sitting in my rocking chair, staring at me earnestly. My eyes burned. I turned my face back to my pillow.

He was by my side instantly. He was careful not to touch me, but I could tell he wanted too.

“Bella. I understand this is hard for you. I truly do. If I had a soul.... Bella, if you tell me what you’re thinking, well, I might be able to help.” Edward lightly ran his fingers through my hair; slowly, cautiously.

I felt like such a terrible person. I turned again to look into his eyes. Mine widened visibly when I saw how close he was to my face. His cool, sweet breath was on my face, and for a moment, my train of thought was derailed.

His icy lips met mine. They were cautious, like his fingers through my hair. My mind went completely blank, and it took all I had to focus on keeping my breathing steady.

But what he did next surprised me. What was usually my move was now his; his fingers locked into my hair. I wrapped my arms around him as tightly as I could.

When I realized through my clouded mind that he wasn’t pushing me away, I hugged myself tighter to him, forgetting my earlier thoughts.

“Bella,” he said softly.

“Huh?” I mumbled, still distracted by his closeness to me, and his lips on my hair.

“I love you. I want to help you through whatever you’re feeling. Please, let me.” His cold mouth moved to the base of my throat and upwards toward my jaw. I shivered. My movement made him pull away. I sighed.

“Don’t go away.” My voice was weak, pleading and useless. He smiled, but it didn’t reach his worried eyes.

“Let me in. Just this once?”

I sighed again, rolling away from him so that I might be able to think straight, just for a minute. “What do you want to know?”

He stroked my hair softly; his hand was so hesitant that he barely brushed his fingertips against my skin. “This can’t be easy for you.”

I grabbed his hand more firmly, holding it to my face. His touch soothed me. The chill of his skin reminded me of what I wanted. What I needed. “Why are you afraid?”

He took his hand away. “I can see how hurt you are, Bella,” he breathed. His cool breath was intoxicating, like a drug but better. I wanted to push myself towards it, to inhale him until I died. But that was ridiculously impossible. And he was still talking. “I don’t want to hurt you further. I want to go as far as you want to go, and no further.” He paused, pain in his ocher eyes. “And I’ll wait for you.”

I wanted to cry. “That’s hardly fair to you.”

He shook his head. “That doesn’t matter right now. You’re the only important thing in my life.”

I hugged him tightly, but I still heard that other part of me – my traitorous side who still wanted Jacob. And the tears started to fall.

“Bella. Tell me.” His voice was like a spell, whispered on the wind.

“It’s nothing you haven’t heard before,” I said, trying to think clearly, as he pulled me into his marble chest.

“But things have changed,” he insisted. “Jacob imprinted.”

I pulled away slightly to glare at him. “You knew,” I accused. “That’s why you wanted me to go talk with him.”

“He wanted to talk to you anyways.” For the first time, his face lightened, and I was glad to see him no longer looking so serious. “He just didn’t have the nerve. I had to give him the cue. He was afraid of hurting you.”

And now we’ve come full circle. I stared up at Edward. “I’m happy for him. He deserves this. The least I can hope for him now is that he’s happy. It’s not right for me to try to take it away.”

He touched my face softly. “But are you happy?”

“I –” I choked on my words. Was I happy? Could I be happy when life was like this? The answer came to me clearly, and I was ashamed that I had to ask. “Yes, I’m happy.” When I looked up at him, I was beaming through my tears. “I have you, and that’s the way things were meant to be.”

His crooked smile was glorious. “Are you sure?” He asked cautiously.

I nodded. I could suppress the other part of me – Jacob’s part of me. She would always miss him. She would always love him. But I had to come to terms with that. Edward was forever. “I’m positive,” I said.

He seemed to read my mind. As I craned my face towards him to kiss him, he leaned down gracefully. His lips brushed mine softly, testing me. When he found no resistance, he pressed his marble lips to mine gently but intensely. I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him back hard.

He rolled slightly, so that we were both on our sides. Carefully, his tongue traced my mouth. Patiently, though my instincts screamed for me to do anything but, I held still enough for him to test his control. He sighed, and his eyes met mine. They were liquid – melted gold, and they made me forget my own name. Lightheaded, I moved my mouth to his neck, kissing up its cold, smooth length.

“Bella.” His fingers braided through my hair, and I pulled him closer to me. I could scarcely breathe, but that didn’t matter. All that I needed was him.

In that moment, I realized what I had known all along. I really couldn’t live without him. I needed him more than anything else. And this was the right choice. I was sure of it. Edward. My Edward. And I loved him.

He woke me gently the next morning my kissing me lightly. My forehead. My eyelids. His lips brushed my mouth.

“Edward.” My voice came out like a moan. I guessed I hadn’t slept enough. But how late was it? It felt late in the morning.

“You’re awake.” He was joyful.

“It would seem so,” I replied bluntly. I opened my eyes, and found myself staring straight into his dizzyingly perfect golden ones. My breath caught. “What do you want?”

His smile became slightly fixed. “Alice wants to see you.” He tried to say the words normally, but they came out slightly flat and frustrated.

His tone made me instantly wary. “What does Alice want?”

He grimaced. “I think you’d have to ask her.”

Crap. I slid slowly out of bed, and he caught me as my head spun. I glanced at the clock. It was ten o’clock. So why was I so tired? “Great. So we’re going now?”

His glass-smooth lips brushed my forehead. “After you eat something.”

I barely managed to choke down the toast he had made for me. Apprehension over what Alice might have planned for me kept me silent for most of the ride to his house. He glanced at me from time to time, his face worried.

“What’s the matter, love?” he finally asked, as we turned up the road that was his driveway. He glanced over at me through his lashes, and my breath caught. Surely, I told myself, I could withstand whatever Alice wanted, if only for him.

“I’m just a little afraid of what Alice wants,” I said. “You don’t happen to know, do you?”

His face relaxed. “I can only assume that it has something to do with…”

“The wedding.” Yeah. Great. That wasn’t helpful, Edward.

“Yes, probably,” he admitted. The idiot was smiling – laughing at me.

Alice came running towards the truck before I could even get out. She caught me in a huge hug, bouncing up and down and grinning madly.

“Alice,” I groaned, trying unsuccessfully to shove her away. “What do you want?”

She glared at Edward, who pursed his lips and put a protective hand on my shoulder. “Edward,” she said, her wind chime voice cold and serious, “I think that you should leave Bella and me alone this afternoon. We’ll call you when we’re ready.”

“Al –”

She cut off my protesting. “Go, Edward. We girls are fine by ourselves.” She flashed an angelic grin that scared me more than anything she could have said.

Edward was still for a moment, probably listening to her mind to see what she was going to do. “I’m sorry, Bella,” he said. “I think this is a battle I can’t win.” And then he was gone, leaving me alone with his overenthusiastic sister.

Alice pulled me into the house as fast as my snail’s pace allowed her to.

“So,” I asked warily. “What’s on the agenda for today? Lace trimming? Ribbon curling? Paper cutting?”

She shook her head, skipping up the stairs. She paused and waited for me at the top. “Nope. But keep guessing. You’re so far off the mark.”

“Cake decorating? Guest lists?” I started naming things off the top of my head, following her blindly to her bedroom. Like a trusting child. And she was the one leading me into trouble.

“No.” She stopped and waited for me to catch up with her, and then took my hand and led me into her room. We passed her closet.

“You got your bridesmaid dress?”

But she barely paused long enough to roll her eyes at me. Instead, she pulled me into her bathroom. I stopped dead when she flipped on the light and I saw it. The counter. The rows of makeup – all new. And I knew what she was going to do to me.

“Alice,” I whined, looking at it all unhappily. “We still have a few months. Do you have to do this now?”

She flitted to the counter and started rearranging jars. “Sit,” she ordered, pointing at a chair. “We’re doing this now. I said so.”

“But why?” I complained, sitting ungracefully.

She turned to me, a jar already in hand. “Because we have a lot to get done, and I’m not putting this off until the last minute. Rose! Rose, we’re ready.”

Dammit. Rosalie came drifting into the room.

“Hi Bella,” she said, smiling cautiously at me. I sighed.

“What are you here for? Come to watch the fun?”

Her smile widened into a glistening row of teeth, but it wasn’t imposing. It was beautiful. It was Rosalie. “Actually, I’m here to remember everything Alice does so that she won’t have a hard time recreating it.”

“Yeah, like Alice is going to forget,” I muttered darkly.

“She’s also my personal assistant,” Alice sang. “Rose, do you want to warm up the curlers for me?”

“Please,” I mouthed to no one in particular, as Alice started to sweep a brush of some foreign-labeled powder across my face.

She paused to glare at me, her light caramel eyes amused. “Bella, I swear, if you sit through today I’ll give you a day off tomorrow.”

“Are you intending to keep me booked with this for the rest of summer?”

Her brow puckered and her lips turned down in an exquisite frown. “I’m not going overboard, I promise,” she pleaded. “Can’t you let me have my fun just for today? It’s for Edward, Bella. And this has to get done at some point.”

I ground my teeth, not willing to admit defeat.

“I’d go along with this if I were you, Bella,” Rosalie said from the corner, where she was perched on the counter and watching us with an entertained expression. “She’s not going to make many of these offers. Not with the schedule I think she has in mind for you.”

Great. “Fine, Alice,” I sighed. “Just don’t get out of hand.”

She beamed at me widely, and I settled in for an hour of torture.

After about a half-hour, Rosalie finished fixing the curlers into my hair and left me to Alice’s mercy. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I promised Emmett I’d go hunting with him.”

After another forty-five minutes in Alice’s clutches, Alice ran off to alert Edward. I tried to avoid looking at myself in the mirror while I waited. I didn’t have to wait for long.

“Bella!” Alice sang, dancing her way into the bathroom. I stared at myself in the mirror, frowning. “Are you ready for some more?”

“Some more torturing? Haven’t you already done enough?” I complained.

“Come on, Bella! You promised you wouldn’t be difficult.” Alice pouted, her pixie face crumpling.

“Only to a certain extent,” I mumbled, looking at my feet.

My hair was up in curlers, and I had — an estimate — about two tons of makeup on my face. Alice had caked on the eyeliner, foundation, mascara, and any other makeup device that involved a wand or a squeeze tube. I was a cosmetic nightmare.

“Bella? Are you listening to me?” Alice waved a hand in front of my face.

“I feel botoxed,” I moaned.

“I’m ignoring that comment. Let’s get those curlers out.” She motioned for me to sit down so that she wouldn’t have to reach up so high. Her quick fingers untangled my hair from the curlers, and I had to admit that it looked okay. Usually long, straight, and boring, it fell into exquisite waves down to my waist. Other than that, everything was intolerable. I might have been able to handle it if it had been done by anyone but Alice. For anything but an elaborate wedding. I actually didn’t look too, too bad.

“Are you ready for Edward to see you?” Alice smiled a dazzling smile at me.

I sprang to my feet. “What? He can’t see me like this. I’m a horror!” I cried, frantic. I started looking for a washcloth to wash the stuff off my face.

“He will love it!” Alice grinned. “I should know.” She tapped her temple three times.

I grimaced. “Fine,” I said slowly.

“Yay! Okay, come on, let’s go!” Alice grabbed my hand and yanked out of the bathroom. “Edward! Where are you?” she called into the prodigious house.

“Alice —”

“I think he’s in his room.” Alice pulled my arm. I purposely lagged behind her. But Alice was ten times stronger than I was; dragging me along was no problem for her.

“Edward!” Alice burst through his bedroom door. I hid behind the frame.

“Alice,” Edward said, without looking up from his book.

“Look who I have here!” Alice gestured behind her, only to realize I wasn’t there.

It didn’t take her more than a mere half a second to find me; I was kneeling behind the door.

Alice crouched down next to me. “I promise you, Bella, he’s going to love it,” Alice laughed quietly. And then she disappeared.

“Alice!” I called quietly into the hallway. I thought I heard the tinkling of her laugh, but maybe I was just going crazy.

I stood up slowly, hesitant to let Edward see me with all the makeup on my face. I walked carefully to his doorway, and leaned against the frame. Edward looked up from his book, and his intake of breath was audible. His mouth fell open, like mine had in Jacob’s kitchen.

“Bella, I....” He trailed off. His topaz eyes were wide.

His intent gaze triggered my easy blush. “Do you not like it? I’m just going to wash it off.” I started to turn toward the hallway. Before I could move more than a fraction of an inch, he was cradling me in his arms.

“Isabella Swan, do you have any idea how beautiful you look right now?” Edward whispered, his golden eyes molten, burning into mine. I shook my head, dazed for a moment.

“Huh…?” I mumbled. “Isabella?” I asked, childishly confused.

Edward chuckled. “I have always thought you were beautiful, though, Bella. Every single day. But today…,” he breathed. “This is who I’m going to marry,” he said, his velvet voice smooth, quiet, soft. “Bella, I love you. I will always love you. You are my life, now and forever.”

Alice was smiling victoriously. “See, Bella? Was that so horrible?”

I tore my eyes away from Edward reluctantly to glare at Alice, though my head was spinning woozily and I probably didn’t look very fierce at all. “I guess not,” I said, confused. I thought I was supposed to be angry. So why did I feel eternally grateful?

She smirked, and flitted to the door. “I’ll leave you two alone. Let me know, Bella, when you’re ready to wash that off.”

I laid my head tentatively on Edward’s chest, afraid that I would cake his shirt with goop. Mercifully, when I pulled away slightly there was no powder smeared across him. I buried my face into him again and sighed. He stroked my face.

“What’s wrong this time?” he said.
I half-smiled at him. “There’s no way you can reign in Alice?”

He shook his head. “Not really. But you really don’t have anything to worry about. You look beautiful, Bella.”

Irrationally, tears were leaking out of my eyes. I prayed to god that the mascara was waterproof. “But I don’t want this to be the only way I look beautiful. What’s wrong with the way I was in the first place?”

Instantly, his mouth was on mine. “Nothing was wrong with the way you looked,” he said, around my lips. “You are beautiful, Bella. Nothing will ever change that. I don’t only like you because of some beauty product. I will always love you, no matter what.”

I softened a bit under his kiss. It was silly of me to be so convinced that he didn’t love me. That I didn’t deserve him. How could I doubt him at all? I couldn’t, when his mouth was moving with mine, and my hands were twined into his hair.

He pulled back gently and hugged me close to him. “You are my beautiful Bella,” he whispered. “For eternity.”

The rest of the day passed much more uneventfully than that morning had. There was only one thing that I could have done without. Edward decided that the time was right to call Renee and tell her our news.

Actually, Phil picked up the phone. “Hello?” he said. I heard his familiar voice fill the room on speakerphone.

“Hey Phil,” I said. “It’s Bella.” Edward’s fingers squeezed my hand lightly with a gentle pressure.

“Hey kid,” he said. I could hear the smile in his voice. “Long time no see. What’s up with you, in Forks?”

My pulse sped up a bit. “Not much. Is Mom there?” I felt bad about not talking to him for long, but I had to tell Renee before I let it slip to Phil accidentally. I hoped he wasn’t terribly offended by my rudeness.

“Yeah, let me go find her.”

Renee’s voice came on. She was happy to be talking to me. “Bella! How are you?”

“I’m good, Mom,” I said. “Look — Edward and I have something to tell you.”

There was a pause. “Oh?” she asked. She sounded a lot less calm than she probably intended to. “Okay. What’s up?”

“I —” I was speechless. Thankfully, Edward wasn’t. He smiled at me warmly and turned to the phone.

“Hello Renee,” he said pleasantly.

“Hello Edward.” My mother sounded confused. I wondered if she was thinking the obvious, or if she was trying to suppress it. I felt squeamish. She always had warned me to be responsible and not end up like her. And now I was telling her that I was following her example.

“Renee, I’ve already asked Charlie. But I should ask you too.” Edward’s tone was very serious, but he winked at me. “May I have your daughter’s hand in marriage?”

I suppressed the urge to groan. He had to do everything so damn formally, didn’t he?

Renee was shocked. “Bella?” she asked.

“Mom, Edward and I are engaged.” I said it as calmly as I could, because I could tell that she was hyperventilating in Florida. “We’re getting married on August 13th of this year. Alice is doing the wedding. Charlie is resigned to accept this.”

“Bella, Edward, I — I don’t know what to say!”

The line was quiet for a moment. Even Edward—the almighty speaker—didn’t know what to say.
“So…,” Renee started. I glanced at Edward through my hair. My mother had developed mixed feelings about Edward. She felt that he really loved me — but also looked at me ‘like I was something to eat.’ “Wow. Well… Edward?”

“Yes, Renee?” Edward flashed his crooked smile at me.

“You have my permission…to marry Bella,” Renee said, slowly, as if she was still processing the information presented to her.

“Thank you, Renee. As Bella said, the wedding is on August 13th….” Edward ran through all the details with Renee; I stared out the window.

So this is really happening, I thought to myself. I’m getting married.

“Bella? Bella.” Edward put is icy hand on my shoulder.

“Yes?” I said, coming back from my thoughts.

Edward gestured towards the phone.

“Oh. Mom?” I shook my head.

“Yes?” My harebrained, loving mother, watching her daughter follow in her reckless footsteps.

“Um. I’ll call you later?” My mind was still elsewhere.

“Okay, honey. Congratulations, Bella, Edward. I’ll…I’ll talk to you later?”

“I love you, Mom.”

“I love you, too, Bella.”

“Bye, Mom.”

“Goodbye, Renee,” Edward added.

“Goodbye,” my mother said softly. She hung up; Edward waited until we heard the dial tone to end the call.

“Bella? Are you alright?” Edward asked, his topaz eyes scorching.

“I’m fine. Just tired.” It was only until after I said so that I realized I really was exhausted. I didn’t know why — I had slept late.

“Would you like me to take you home?”

“No!” I exclaimed. “I think I’ll just take a nap…” I walked away, toward the general direction of Edward’s room. Somehow, I managed to trip. But I never hit the ground. I was caught by Edward’s cold, stone arms.

“Need some help, Bella?” Edward smiled, and his ocher eyes melted into liquid gold.

I tried to smile back, but my attempt was feeble. I had never realized how heavy eyelids could be.

Edward set me down on something amazingly soft. I opened my eyes and comprehended that I was laying on a large bed. One bronze flower was missing from the frame.

I closed my eyes again, just as I felt icy arms encircle me. I also faintly heard a beautiful song. A lullaby, maybe….

That was the day I had the first dream.

I was running through the forest. I recognized where I was – in La Push. But why? I somehow knew I shouldn’t be there. It wasn’t right for me to be there. And I was alone. I didn’t know where I was going, or why, but I was alone, and my feet were carrying me somewhere.

The trees flew by, faster than I was used to. I didn’t trip, and I didn’t scrape myself once. Strange.

Before I knew it, I was on First Beach. Again. My nose wrinkled at some strange smell. It was horrible – strong, and sour. And I knew what it was.

Werewolf.

Jacob.

The two words were a conflicting mess in my mind. I couldn’t decide which one mattered more. Some instinct inside chose for me. Werewolf.

I knew why I shouldn’t be here.

I was breaking the treaty.

Surprisingly silent, I snuck up to the beach, where the horrible stench was coming from. I saw two people sitting in our tree. Jacob’s tree. It wasn’t mine anymore. I stole even closer, and saw Jacob and Leah. They were kissing.

The simple act should have made my blood boil. I should have started weeping bitter tears, because I finally realized that Jacob was gone. But instead, my heart cooled over. For the first time, I looked down at my hands. They both glittered in the sunlight.

A movement behind me made me turn around. Out of the forest came the Volturi.

I recognized the angelic face too well. “Hello, Bella.” Jane’s voice was melting, sweet.

I nodded once to her.

“What are you thinking of doing, Bella?” she asked me, her face expressionless, but her eyes curious.

I just stared at her, my mind blank.

“Bella. You don’t want to go any farther. You know you’ve already crossed the line.” Jane’s face was a mask of calm, emotionless nothing.

My eyes narrowed. “What are you going to do to stop me? I have nothing to lose.” My voice was velvet. It reminded me of….

“Please stand up, Bella.” Jane eyed my crouched position.

“Why, Jane? Does it frighten you?”I smiled dangerously.

Then, Aro stepped out of the darkness behind Jane.

“Bella!” he exclaimed. “Long time no see. I also see that you have changed…quite a bit since the last time we met.”

“Aro,” I greeted him, nodding to him as I did to Jane.

“You aren’t particularly chatty, today, are you, Bella?”

“Not very, Aro.” I looked back toward the beach.

“Where’s Edward?” Aro asked. He looked genuinely interested.

I growled. “He’s not….”

“Is this hard for you, Bella?” Jane turned her fierce eyes to mine.

“Bella?” And unknown voice called my name. It got louder, louder… “Bella!”

I woke up suddenly in Edward’s arms. He was stroking my hair softly, and staring into my face with a mild expression of concern.

“Edward?” I said groggily. “Did you just wake me up?”

His velvety voice was soft, and his eyes were smoldering. “Did I? I didn’t mean to.”

But it hadn’t been his voice that came through the fog.

“No, I don’t think so.” I pushed his arms away and struggled to sit up. He let me go, not raising himself from his reclining position on his bed. He watched me quietly.

“You were talking in your sleep.”

I wondered if I had said anything insightful. My dream was confusing me. “What did I say?”

His angel face melted into a frown. “You were talking to Aro.”

I wondered if he heard my heart rate go up. “And… what did I say to Aro?”

His cool fingers laced through mine. “I’m not sure,” he said. “Is there a reason this is troubling you so much? Did you dream about the Volturi?” He tried to keep the worry and confusion out of his eyes, but I saw it all the same.

“I did,” I said. “But I don’t know why. And I don’t know what woke me up, either.”

Edward’s puzzled expression matched mine, I was sure.

“I just wonder who that was,” I muttered, mostly to myself.

“I can ask Alice if she’s seen anything about the Volturi,” Edward offered.

“Maybe later,” I mumbled. “What time is it?”

“Eight forty five, love. You’ve been asleep for a while.” He brushed his cold fingers across my face lightly. “Would you like to talk about your dream, Bella?” he asked softly.

“Would you like me to talk about it?” I replied.

His eyes burned into mine. He frowned slightly.

“You only need to tell me if you’d like,” he countered.

I sighed. I might as well tell him, I thought. “Well, I was running. Through I forest. It was in La Push. I was near First Beach and I saw… I saw the Volturi. They were behind me. Jane, Aro… they asked me what I was doing there, they told me I had crossed the boundary line. Aro said that I had changed much since I last saw him.” That made Edward flinch. “And I said I had nothing to lose, so they could do whatever they’d like with me. Jane asked me if talking about you was hard for me. And then someone called my name. I don’t know who, though. That’s why I’m confused.”

I thought I saw a flash of something like fear in Edward’s eyes. He brushed my forehead softly with his lips. “You have no idea what they were talking about?”

I shook my head. It was spinning, and not only from Edward’s kiss. I was worried – uneasy. It almost sounded as if I’d been talking about Edward like he was gone. But that could never happen. “Eight forty-five in the morning, or night?” I asked. “I know it must have been what, four when we got off the phone with Renee?”

“The morning, love,” he said. “Charlie doesn’t mind. Alice talked to him.”

“Oh.” Had I really been asleep that long? Wow. “I didn’t think I could still be that tired. I slept a lot yesterday too…” My speech was punctuated by a yawn. He ruffled my hair in a surprisingly casual gesture.

“You could go back to sleep, if you wanted to. It’s still early enough.”

I didn’t think I could sleep any longer. “No. But do you have some real food I could eat?”

Chuckling, he scooped me into his arms and carried me downstairs.

“What are you hungry for?” he asked, motioning to the cupboards in his kitchen.

“Yes, would you like some cereal?” Alice breezed into the room.

“You guys have cereal?” I looked quizzically at their faces.

“Of course. Why wouldn’t we?” Alice replied, tilting her head to the side.

My mouth hung open.

Edward laughed and pulled a box of cereal out of the cabinet along with two bowls. It looked so… human. “Blue or green?” he asked, gesturing to the bowls.

I just stared at him.

“Bella, when you ask for something to eat, it is the proper protocol to actually eat something,” Alice said. “And Edward, I think she’ll take the blue.”

“Blue it is.” Edward poured the cereal into the bowl, and followed that action by grabbing a milk carton — who knew? — out of the refrigerator. “Milk, Bella?”

“Um. Yes?” I was still amazed they had real food in the house. “Did you go shopping for me?”

“Of course, silly. We couldn’t just not be prepared for when you were hungry, could we?” Alice pointed out.

I shook my head. Up and down. Up and down. “So…,” I said, after I had taken a bite of cereal. It tasted better than any other kind of cereal, although the brand was the same as the one I had at home. “What are we going to do today?”

Edward’s eyes flashed to Alice’s. “Did you want to do something specific…?” Edward trailed off.

“I know how much you hate shopping, so that’s out,” Alice pouted. “But I think there’s a storm coming. We could play ball,” she suggested.

I remembered that fatal last time the Cullens had played baseball. It was when we first met James, Laurent, and Victoria. I unconsciously shuddered at the thought of their names.

“Unless you don’t want to. I don’t see anything unusual,” Alice added.

“That’s what you said the last time,” I mumbled.

“We don’t have to go. Why don’t you think of something else, Alice?” Edward said, looking at me.

“We could take my Porsche down to LA. See how long it takes to get down there through a storm,” Alice said, shrugging. I could see a smile playing at the corners of both her lips and Edward’s. They knew how much I detested fast driving.

“Alice?” I turned toward her.

“Yes?” she said, her pixie face shining. “Oh, Bella! This will be so much fun. Don’t worry, nothing will happen to you. I promise!” She grabbed my hands and tried to get me to jump up and down along with her. I wasn’t so keen on that idea. I frowned.

“Nothing better happen, Alice. I swear, if something does—” I started.

“Nothing will. I said, I promise! I’m going to ask Carlisle if he’ll join us. And Esme, Rose, Emmett, Jasper….” Alice danced off, in search of the rest of the family.

“You don’t have to do this, Bella, if you’re frightened,” Edward said, stroking my hair. I looked down into my cereal. It was soggy now.

“No. It’s fine. I’m not scared. Let’s play ball!” I tried to sound enthusiastic. Edward pressed his lips together. Trying not to smile.

“Good morning, Bella,” Esme greeted me, walking into the kitchen. Carlisle followed behind her, and trailing behind him was Alice, Jasper, Emmett, and Rosalie.

“Are you ready to play some ball, Bella?” Emmett bellowed. His laugh boomed when I jumped.

“Sure, sure, Emmett,” I replied. The family laughed. I couldn’t help but crack a smile.

“Are we ready to go? The storm’s nearing, so we should set out now.” Alice looked pointedly out the window.

“All right, Alice. Let’s go.” Carlisle put his arm around his daughter while she bounced happily up and down.

“This is going to be such fun!” Alice squealed, and headed out the door.

I turned to Edward and scowled.

“Thanks so much.”

He whisked my bowl of soggy cereal away, hiding a smile.