This takes place between Twilight and New Moon, in the summer. It details how Edward and Bella's relationship grew during those months.
1. Chapter One
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I was sitting in the chair that was pushed up to my old, out-of-date computer, reading my mom’s latest e-mail. I reread the sentences I just finished to make sure I hadn’t mixed up the words or something. No, I hadn’t.
“Phil thought it was time I learned to drive a stick shift. I know. I tried to convince him not to, but he just wouldn’t take no for an answer. We’re using a rental now. I think we’re looking at new Priuses next week.”
I was a little irritated at Phil for letting my mother inside a car that she would, apparently, total, but that soon was overshadowed by my new apprehension: she had found yet another new hobby. And an expensive one at that. It looked like saving the environment one hybrid at a time was the current goal.
Distracted by my internal eye rolling, I was surprised when a highly anticipated sound- the light purring of an engine- alerted me to the real world. So surprised that I fell right out of the chair and landed with a thud on the floor of my bedroom.
It took less than two seconds for cool hands to be cradling my face while I lay, still on my back. Edward’s face appeared upside down over my own, with a look of worry etched on his flawless features.
“Bella, are you ok? Are you hurt?”
I sighed dramatically. “Just my pride,” I mumbled.
He picked me up off the ground, stood me up and straightened me out. He looked in my eyes for a long second.
“Let’s hope that’s all. Can we try a few months without any major medical emergencies, perhaps?” he asked. His hand bushed slightly over my right thigh and to my forearm where the crescent shaped scar sat. It lingered there for a few moments.
I held back my scowl. I knew his heart was in the right place. “We’ll see,” I answered.
He leaned in and pressed his hard lips for my forehead. “I suppose that’s all I can ask. It is you we’re speaking of.”
My scowl escaped. Now he was just teasing me. Two could play this game.
“Out,” I demanded casually.
His face mixed with shock, hurt, and apology.
“You have to come in the front door,” I reassured him. “I can’t be positive, but Charlie probably heard your car outside. You do have to make your official entrance.”
“Oh,” he replied smiling and glancing to the floor briefly. “Yes, he did. Meet you at the door.” Then he jumped back out the window. I heard the knock immediately.
He couldn’t have given me a few seconds? Now Charlie would answer and I would have to buffer. Charlie was still holding Edward responsible for my trip to Phoenix last spring. He thought that Edward was the one who must have done something to initiate my leaving. Especially since I could not give him the truth- (that a sadistic vampire intent on killing me for sport was chasing my scent across the western border) - and I was not a very good liar. To say the least, he suspected some “foul play” on Edward’s part.
When I was down the steps, Charlie was opening the door shockingly enthusiastic.
“Finally!” he started, loudly- shouting. “The game is-oh. Edward,” his excitement melted and cooled.
Well, obviously. Who else was he expecting? Who else came here at exactly five thirty every night?
I was trained enough to see the unease in Edward’s eyes, through the polite smile he plastered on for Charlie. He caught my gaze and then glanced at Charlie pointedly, wearily. So, Charlie was expecting someone else?
“Bella,” Charlie moaned, disappointed, turning to face me. “Edward’s here.”
I smiled at him. “I can see that, Dad. Thank you.”
And he sulked back into the living room.
I walked over to Edward and leaned into him. His arms wrapped around my body and pressed me tighter to him. I tilted my head up to meet his eyes.
“Who’s coming here?” I asked him.
“Billy. And he’s here.”
Oh, great. “What do we do? Do we leave?” I was stunned. This kind of situation had not presented itself; two foes meeting on common ground. Although, under not-so-common circumstances.
“No. Not just yet, at least. It will be fine. They’ll be watching a game. We’ll leave in a few minutes. We shouldn’t let this be too noticeable to Charlie.”
I nodded. “Right,” I whispered as there was a knock on the other side of the door.
“Can you get that, Bella? It’s Billy and Harry.” Charlie called, looking over his shoulder.
Edward took a step to my side as I opened the door.
“Hi, Billy! Mr. Clearwater,” I greeted them, a little too eager.
“Hello, Bella,” Billy chuckled. Then he caught sight of who was beside me and his eyes widened. I sensed Harry’s eyes boring into Edward, as well. “Mr. Cullen,” Billy acknowledged stiffly.
“Good evening, Mr. Black. Mr. Clearwater,” Edward said respectfully, but with an edge of difficulty. “Nice jacket,” he noted, trying to offer peace to Harry, as he stepped aside again to allow enough room for Billy’s wheelchair.
“Thanks,” said Harry, looking away towards the living room.
“Come on in, guys. The Mariners are up by two,” Charlie shouted, unaware of the atmosphere in the hall.
Both Harry and Billy glanced at the two of us before yelling their own greeting back at Charlie, and headed to the living room.
Edward and I had a conversation without a word: I looked to the clock on the wall then to the door, he stared back at me questioningly and shrugged, and my stomach let out a low growl. Edward nodded.
I walked up to my father, who was sitting on the couch with a large bowl of pretzels in his lap. I waited until he took a handful and shoved them into his mouth.
“Dad,” I started. “Edward and I are getting kind of hungry. We’re going to grab a bite to eat.”
Billy turned his head slowly, what he thought to be inconspicuously, and gaped at my words. He quickly recovered and pretended to not listen.
“That’s fine,” Charlie replied. “Be back before ten, though.”
My brain was shouting comebacks at our guest: “See, Billy? It’s alright. A few hours, not a few days. No need to worry.” I was just glad none of them slipped out.
“What were you thinking for dinner?” Edward asked as soon as we were in the car. We had escaped without incident, something I had had trouble foreseeing.
“I don’t really have a preference. I’m just glad to be out of there. I felt like I was going to suffocate. You should have seen Billy’s face when I said ‘bite,’” I scoffed. “It was ridiculously over the top. Like we would do it right there.”
Whoops. I really wished I could just grab my words out of the air and dispose of them.
Edward got “the look” on his face.
“The look” was the name I’d given to the face Edward makes anytime I mention my desire to become a vampire. It was sad and angry and mortified and hurt all at the same time. And “the look” had a friend: “the rant.”
“Bella…I can’t…I can’t do this with you! Again!” his voice grew louder and louder. “Why are you so ready to throw away your life? Your family? Your friends?”
He knew the answers to his questions, so I didn’t have to interrupt him with them. I wouldn’t have anyway. This had been going on since the day I woke up in the hospital in Arizona and he just wouldn’t let it go. It seemed like we were having this fight more and more, and he could never grasp the most important point I brought up: I need him. Forever.
More recently, “the rant” made me feel like he was treating me like a misbehaving child. This had a tendency of making me a bit more than miffed.
However, I waited until he was finished.
“You don’t know what you want! You don’t know what this is! You think this is a joke, Bella? It’s not! There are no re-dos!” His voice was now much too loud for the small space of the car.
“I’m well aware of that, Edward! You’ve made that pretty clear!” I retorted. “I’m not an idiot. I know what I need and what I want- you. Forever.” My voice had diminished to barely a whisper.
“Well, you’re wrong,” he snarled, turning to face me, with black eyes. “You don’t know anything. And I’ll wait until you do. It will never be ‘too late’ for you.”
I turned away from his glare to look out the side window.
Fine. If he did not want this to end nicely now, then he could deal with it. I had no problem with that.
In reality, I had a big problem with that. I just wouldn’t let him know. Yet.
When we pulled into the restaurant, I was happy to find that he was trying to get back on my good side. He’d taken me to Pacific Pizza, just in town, instead of some fancy Fratellini’s place in Sequim he’d been discussing. I was surprised to find that I still was a bit angry with him. I attempted to ignore the gentlemanly gestures he would make, but it was a lost cause. And I could tell, though he was trying very hard not to let me see, that he found my resentment amusing.
When my dinner arrived, it felt like we were back to normal. We were both seated in the left side of our booth, holding hands, like normal.
While I ate, he was telling me about how Alice and he had tried playing chess again and ended up in a contest to see who could frighten the other first. The contest was not finished, but Edward said he had an idea of what he could do. Although, he could not tell me. It had to be a snap decision and he couldn’t have anyone thinking about it in case she saw.
When we got back, Harry’s car was gone so Edward came in with me. Charlie was close to unconscious, so I let him know I was home and he trudged off to bed.
Edward left once Charlie was asleep, to bring his car home. I didn’t want it to, but tonight’s argument with Edward continued to bring itself to the fore front of my mind. I didn’t want to think of the things he said or any thoughts he could have been forming to stop me from having the thoughts I was.
To be honest, it frightened me.
He was back less than thirty minutes later. We curled up together on my bed. Tonight was hotter than usual, so no blankets were necessary, thankfully.
I was drifting towards sleep when Edward whispered in my ear, “I wish you could understand. I want better for you.”
I wasn’t sure if he meant for me to hear it or not- if he thought I was sleeping- but I wanted to answer anyway.
“Impossible,” I murmured. “There is nothing better than you.”
“You really believe that. And that’s what scares me.”