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Habitat for love

Summary:
Edward is running, broken from a past relationship. Bella is searching, trying to find a place where she truly belongs. Both feeling pessimistic and jaded, they head to a third-world country to volunteer their time. Will the place they travel to escape be the place they truly find happiness?


Notes:
Disclaimer: No copyright infringment intended. The characters belong to SM. all the plot are belong to us.


4. Chapter 4

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2392   Review this Chapter

Bella was dreaming. She had to be. Somewhere in the back of her mind she could feel someone staring at her, watching her from a distance. She breathed in deeply and tried to roll onto one side but was stopped by the tug of her thin blanket. That’s when the vibrations started, tiny shakes and tremors that coursed through the thin mattress and shook Bella through to her bones. She vaguely remembered she was in a foreign country and, through her haze, she tried to remember how many earthquakes Honduras had survived. Still mostly asleep, she moved to see what the blanket was caught on, and gave a startled yelp as she noticed Alice on the small bed with her, actually staring her in the face.

"Alice, why are we in bed together?" Bella's exhausted tone phrased the question that came out as more of a statement to which she really didn't expect an answer as she rubbed her hands on her face trying to wake herself up fully, and grimacing when she felt a layer of grime on her face. She was sorely in need of a shower. Running her fingers through her tangled hair, she knew it was in no better shape and that she had to visit a bathroom to clean up before she confronted anyone else.

"Good morning to you too Bella! Hey, did you know you talk in your sleep?” Alice rose to her knees and kneeled on the bed next to Bella but didn’t make any attempt to get off of it.

Bella groaned and she replied, “Yeah, Jasper’s mentioned it to me before.” Bella pulled hard on the blanket, throwing Alice off balance as she rolled onto her stomach and bunched her pathetically thin pillow under her head.

“Oh, I didn’t realize that you two…” Alice started but was cut off by Bella’s own muffled admission.

“Jasper and I are best friends Alice, nothing more. We dated years ago but are better for each other as friends than we ever were as a couple. Just leave it at that.” She gave a yawn as she realized that no more sleep would be coming for her and she rolled to her side to face Alice, daring her to continue her path of questioning.

Alice ignored Bella’s almost comical glare that came off like more of a grimace because she was still half asleep, and smiled as she tugged the blanket, trying to get it away from her. “Come on Bella, we have to get you ready for today and I refuse to let you walk around with me wearing Jasper's clothes and looking like a high school dropout. We have to fix them,” she stated while handing Bella a small pile of clothing.

"Jazz was here already?" Bella's eyes lit up at the thought of seeing her friend after a lonely night in a strange country, with crazy people getting into bed with her during the middle of the night. She sat up a little straighter at the thought of seeing something familiar.

"He came by earlier and just wanted to give you these clothes. I took them from him. You know, he didn't seem surprised to find out that you were still dead to the world. He sorta laughed about it.” Alice’s eyes became dreamy as she continued on, “He has the cutest laugh."

Bella narrowed her eyes and snatched the clothing from her. "Yeah, right, he obviously wasn't laughing AT you or you wouldn't be saying it like that. Believe me, when Jasper gets started laughing it's pretty infectious.” Bella held up the shirt to inspect it and sighed, “So, I’m going to be a Led Zeppelin fan today I guess. Well, anything is better than just wearing my bra.” Bella held up Jasper’s old ‘Stairway To Heaven’ t-shirt toward Alice and shrugged as they giggled. She reached over for her bra that she had left draped over a chair, hoping it would dry throughout the night.

"Come on Bella, you still haven't met my sister Rose. She's married to Emmett, my oldest brother, you haven’t met him either, but I am sure you’ve seen him around. He stands taller than everyone else and is all brawn no brain. He’s the muscle in my family. Anyway, Rose has a great sense of style, she’ll be able to help figure out something to do with Jasper’s clothes until yours are found." Alice pulled Bella off the bed and propelled her toward a small group of women that were assembling at a small table.

“Rose!” Alice shoved her way through the women as she now dragged Bella along by her arm. Bella shrank back as she saw the beautiful blonde woman say a polite ‘excuse me a moment’ to the crowd before turning to them.

“Alice, really, calm down.” Rose sighed as she wiped her sweaty forehead with the palm of her hand. “I was just about to come and find you to walk down to breakfa…” Rose’s voice caught herself as she took in the sight of Bella’s clothing and then looked her up and down, head to toe.

Bella blushed and found herself unable to speak as her jaw dropped open and then clamped shut. She crossed her arms in front of her body defensively and clutched the clothes to herself. ‘Another family member, another insult,’ Bella thought to herself before deciding that she wasn’t going to give this woman the satisfaction of seeing her cry. Instead she raised her chin up higher and stood more proud. As if on cue, Alice started to defend Bella but Rose cut her off before she could.

“What a great idea! I would have never thought to pack my husband’s old clothes for this trip. I just packed my own. Alice, you should have told me! That would have been a great way to narrow down Emmett’s old t-shirt collection, what a great idea by the way.” Rose smiled at her, though it almost seemed like a sneer as she made a jab about Bella's personal appearance.

“Um, Rose, this is my friend Bella Swan. She’s borrowing some clothes from a friend of hers because her luggage was lost at the airport so she only has one pair of clothes…” Alice looked helplessly at Bella realize that yet another family member of hers had just insulted her. “Sorry Bella.” She said in a small, sad voice.

“It’s alright Alice.” Bella swallowed and tried to be the better person. “It’s nice to meet you Rose. I’m afraid my clothes leave a bit to be desired right now, through no fault of my own. My friend Jasper is lending me some of his clothes until mine are found.”

“I’m sorry Bella is it?” At Bella’s nod she continued. “Well, that’s alright. I am sure we can come up with something more suitable for you than this.” Rose took the shirt and shorts from her and held them up as if they were infectious. “Geez, it’s like Emmett’s dresser all over again.” Alice and Rose laughed as Bella stood by looking confused. “My husband, never mind, you’ll see soon enough.” Rose excused herself from the group and offered for the three of them to switch the morning breakfast to the afternoon lunch making. After that, she dragged Bella and Alice to the women’s bathroom, stopping only briefly at her own bed to get her purse.

After what seemed like forever to Bella, she had to admit that she felt better. She couldn’t fault them for their work, they did the best they could with what they had to work with. For what it was worth, she now had on her own underwear and bra, topped off by Jaspers basketball shorts and t-shirt which Rose had expertly knotted off in the back to make it fit her better. She had settled for washing her face and let Rose braid her hair, since there was no point in cleaning up for the day only to get dirty again while they worked. Bella had to admit, as she walked into the breakfast hall, she did feel better about the day and being there.

As Alice guided them toward the table where her mom and oldest brother sat waiting, she smiled and waved. Bella watched in horror as her oldest brother stood when they approached. He didn’t stop standing, he towered over Bella and had her absolutely scared as he closed the few remaining steps and reached for Rose. It was only up close that he stopped looking so formidable and Bella realized that his features were similar to those of her stuffed bear from her childhood. Last she knew she had left it at Charlie’s one year, childishly believing that he would keep her father company when she herself had to go so far away and live with Renee. Bella couldn’t help but smile at him as he embraced his wife lovingly. He looked over at Rose shoulder as they hugged and looked straight at her, shooting her and Alice the silliest grin, Bella couldn’t help but burst out laughing.

“Ali, who’s your friend?” Emmett let go of Rose but continued to help her sit at the table, pulling the chair out for her and holding her hand as she sat. Bella saw the muscles in his forearm tighten and her eyes bulged as she thought of how much strength those muscles must hold in them. Once he had his full attention on his sister he waited to be introduced.

“Bella, this is my oldest brother Emmett, Em, this is my friend, Bella Swan.” Alice looked nervously at Bella and then back at her brother. “Be nice Emmett!”

Emmett looked taken back as he stared at Alice. “I’m always nice. So, you’re the one she met online?” Emmett sounded surprised.

“Hi, I’m Bella.” Bella stuck out her hand, wondering idly how many pieces she would get it back in after shaking Emmett’s hand.

“Well, I must say, you have good taste in music. Hey, any girlfriend of Alice’s is a friend of mine.” Emmett said shaking her hand.

“Emmett, she’s my friend, not my girlfriend. Does Bella look like she swings the other way to you?” Alice pouted as she put her hands on her hips and faced Bella. “I experimented one time, kissed one woman in college, on a dare, and suddenly he thinks I'm trying to find myself a lady friend every time I'm friendly with a woman at all. Sorry Bella. Please come sit with us.”

“And it's just concidence that you were found in her bed this morning?,” Emmett poked in jest as her tensed up to ready himself as Alice smacked him upside the head, huffed, then turned her back to her brother and sat down more forcefully than necessary.

Emmett just chuckled, murmuring to himself about the joys of getting his little sister riled up so easily.

Bella smiled as she looked over at the table and saw that there were a few empty chairs and sat down, making sure she faced the door so she could watch for Jasper. She turned to address Emmett who was clearly offended about the talking to from his mother and wife.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, but actually Emmett, the shirt belongs to a friend of mine. You probably ran into him in the men’s dorm. Jasper Hale? Tall blond with a shaggy haircut?” Bella reached over and took a small box of cereal from the basket Rose held out. She carefully opened the box according to the instructions and reached for a carton of milk to add to it. As she poured she looked over to the space in front of Emmett and laughed. Stacked in front of him were a half dozen empty cereal boxes of all different kind. Bella couldn’t help but laugh at the pyramid he had built, using the boxes like building blocks. He quickly made a reach for Esme’s and after sealing it up so the cardboard would absorb the milk, he stacked it with his own.

“Oh yeah, he seems really cool. He’s from the south?” Emmett laughed as Bella nodded and replied ‘Texas’ and continued. “Yeah, he’s the one that got Edward all riled up and then called him a yank. Anyone that can get Edward going is a friend of mine.” At his easygoing nature, Bella had to laugh. “So, Bells,” Emmett began as he leaned back in his chair and put his arm around Rose’s shoulder. “You with this Jasper guy or did you enjoy snuggling up with my little sis on tiny cots in foreign countries?” Bella started laughing so hard she choked on her cereal, causing someone to start whacking her back.

“Mind yourself you oaf.” Jasper started laughing as he took the empty chair next to Bella. “He bent over and kissed her politely on her cheek and then winked over at Alice. “He saw me walkin up behind you Bella, that’s why he asked. And I'm sure Bella LOVED snuggling up with Tink, though she would never admit it,” he chuckled while Bella gave him the stink eye. Bella watched as Jasper suavely introduced himself to Rosalie, wishing that she was that comfortable in her own skin.

As they ate their breakfast, Jasper kept everyone entertained. He recanted his conversation with Edward in which they had both taken up different sides of the Civil War, which was what led Jasper to call him a Yank. The whole story was made funnier by Emmett’s digs and one liners into how it ‘really went down’.

After a time, Alice asked where her father and Edward were and it was Esme that explained to the group hat they had already eaten because they had an earlier meeting with the doctors without borders group and a tour of the clinic there.

“Sorry Bella, looks like you’ll have to wait until later to be insulted by the rest of my family,” Alice said with a smirk as they filed out of the dining hall to find out their work assignments for the day.

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