Text Size Large SizeMedium SizeSmall Size    Color Scheme Black SchemeWhite SchemeGrey SchemePaper Scheme        

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.


5. Chapter 5

Rating 0/5   Word Count 6154   Review this Chapter

@font-face { font-family: "Arial"; }@font-face { font-family: "Cambria Math"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }.MsoChpDefault { font-size: 10pt; }div.WordSection1 { page: WordSection1; }

Bella wandered outside along with Jasper and the rest of the Cullen clan over to a group of people surrounding papers posted on the outside wall, indicating who would be in each group for the different work assignments. Bella stood back a bit, slightly reluctant to squeeze herself into the mold of the many sweaty bodies surrounding the paper, while Jasper swiftly moved ahead to check out their assignments.

Once he reached the assignments he turned to face Bella and Alice, his face lighting up with a sparkle reaching his eyes that even Bella rarely saw, and it appeared to Bella that Jasper was actually looking more to Alice than he was herself, but Bella decided to swiftly push that train of thought aside. Jasper had always been friendly with everyone, easily getting along with anyone he met. They had come here to volunteer, to try something new, and clear their heads from all the post-graduation clutter that had plagued their minds. Jasper was her best friend and would never abandon her for a summertime fling, even though Alice was beautiful, kind, funny, exuberant, and just well...perfect, it seemed, despite the minor incident that had occurred upon their first face-to-face meeting. Bella knew Alice's character from all of their on-line contact and was convinced that Alice was a beautiful soul, even if she could use a serious chill pill every now and again.

Jasper suddenly interrupted her inner monologue as he announced that he, Bella, and the Cullen clan would all be at the same work site together. Alice began jumping up and down clapping her hands, eyes wide and all smiles, like a kid in a candy store, as she quickly hugged Bella, who in turn awkwardly patted her on the back in return, not expecting such excitement over this announcement. Alice finally released Bella, automatically reaching out so to hug Jasper, but quickly jerked her arms back at the last second, looking around embarrassed. She realized that she had almost attacked a man she barely knew, no matter how easy it was to be in his presence. Jasper immediately soothed her embarrassment by stating that he was happy they would be working together as well.

**********

Once they had all finished putting sunscreen on and Esme had gathered their lunch for the day, it was time to load up and head to the work sites. Jasper announced that the paper said they would be loading up in the red truck. Turning toward the truck and eyeing it, Bella was completely baffled, hesitatingly stating “Umm...exactly how are all of us supposed to travel in this truck? There is only enough room for three people to sit inside besides the driver”. Her question was quickly answered as Alberto walked up to her and simply stated “You climb in the back of course”.

Bella looked at Alberto, then at everyone in her group wondering if they all thought this was a joke as she had. The back of the truck was full of tools, a wheelbarrow, shovels, a huge trash can, long boards tied across the top rack, along with other types of equipment they will be using during their work.

Surprisingly, Esme was the first to respond, as she smiled saying “Well, let's rock and roll!” quickly jumping up on the side of the truck, swinging her legs over the railing, and climbing in amongst the throng of tools.

Everyone else chuckled and began climbing in, one by one, standing in the back of the truck, surrounded by work equipment.

As Rosalie began to climb into the back of the truck with Emmett’s help, Alberto pulled the couple aside. Knowing that Rose was pregnant, he discretely asked the couple if she preferred to ride in the cab of the truck. Bella was surprised when she heard Rose refuse, saying that she didn't want to miss out on all the fun. After assuring both her husband and Alberto that she felt fine, Rose promised to let them know if she felt the need to sit in the cab in the future.

Once they were all crammed in together like sardines, Alberto leaned his head out of the driver's side window, announcing “As you American's say, let's roll out!”

Pulling out of the camp site, it was obvious that they stuck out like sore thumbs in the country, as everyone in the vicinity turned to watch them make their way through the town. They traveled the two paved roads in the city and soon hit the gravel running. Bouncing up and down like popping popcorn, hips banging into tools, Emmett smiled like a kid in a candy store hollering “Hang on kids! It's gonna be a bumpy ride!”

A few minutes later they were pulling into a gas station, Alberto announcing that he would need some help with the water jugs for the work site, so Emmett jumped out of the truck, while Jasper announced that he would stay to keep an eye on the ladies.

Everyone in the area was staring at them; Bella began scanning the area as Alice jabbered away “Oh, they pump your gas for you here. I wondered why Alberto just walked inside. Oh my, look, there are guards with huge guns! Why would they be there? Do you think it's in case someone tries to steal gas? Would someone do that?” Alice continued her verbal monologue as if she hadn't even cared that no one was actually answering her questions.

Soon enough Emmett and Alberto returned with the filled water jugs, Alberto exchanged words with the men who had pumped the gas for him, and once again they were on their way to the work site.

**************

Twenty or so minutes and a very bumpy ride later, the vehicle came to a stop. Everyone hopped out, taking a moment to get their bearing, thanks to the jelly leg syndrome they had acquired during their ride.

As Esme hopped out she stated “Well, that was FUN! I can't wait to do that again. Why in the world do we travel inside our cars in the US when we could be travelling on the outside like this? It is WAY cooler!”

Everyone started laughing and murmuring in agreement. Even Bella couldn't help but smile and laugh at her carefree spirit. She was beginning to wonder if she had maybe made some pre-judgments about this family herself.

Everyone began observing their surroundings. While it was technically winter season in Honduras, the landscape was very green and lush, despite the fact that winter in Honduras still meant mid 80's to low 90 degree weather with the sun beating down on you.

There were a number of small concrete houses in the area, all very close to one another. It was pretty quiet in the area, except for a few people in the homes around poking their heads out to stare at the American's making their presence known in the village.

In front of them was a plot of land where Bella assumed they would be building the house, and next to the house was a huge pile of....dirt.

Standing beside her, Emmett's eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas, rubbing his hands together with a smirk, saying “This is going to be AWESOME! Look at all that dirt we get to play in!”

Alberto walked around the side of the truck smiling; actually more like laughing at how ridiculous the crew looked, as if they had never seen dirt before, he knew for a fact that they had dirt in America.

Alberto went on to explain that the house they would be building was for a couple who lived in the area and have four children and they also cared for the woman’s parents. They would be building a 400 square foot house that would have four small rooms, and the family would get to choose whether to put the kitchen in the house or out back.

Everyone exchanged looks of shock and surprise as they realized that there would be eight people living in a home that was smaller than a one-bedroom apartment in the United States. Bella couldn't help but think about how blessed she was to have what she did, despite the fact that she was no where near being wealthy, she had also never known what it was like to not have a roof over her head, or lack for anything she needed. Although the group barely knew each other at this point, they did know that the moment that they had all experienced together was a bond that they would carry with them throughout this journey.

The group was instructed to begin unloading all the work equipment from the back of the truck before they put a plan together for the day. The men began gathering the bulkier items, like the wheelbarrows, while Bella surveyed the truck bed, wondering if there was anything she would be able to handle. She saw a grey bag, similar to the size of a small dog food bag, and decided she should be able to handle that. The second she pulled it off the end of the truck bed, she and her full arms plummeted quickly towards the ground. Suddenly, before she actually hit the ground, a pair of strong arms caught her, laughing “Careful there squirt. That there is concrete and that stuff is heavy.” The bag was then lifted from her arms and placed in a pile on the ground. Bella turned bright red, embarrassed, as she felt a calming hand gently rub her back. She would know that hand anywhere. It was amazing how Jasper could calm her with a simple touch.

The groundwork and structure for the house had already been completed, and they were informed that they would begin filling in the floors with dirt before pouring the floors with concrete.

Rosalie decided to speak the thoughts of everyone in the group, asking “So how are we supposed to get from the dirt pile way over there, pointing to the pile of dirt a good forty feet from the house, to the house over here?”

“Well, we place a wooden board on a slant from the ground to the top of the foundation, making a ramp. Then we use the shovels to fill the wheelbarrows with dirt, roll them up the board and dump them into each of the four sections of the house. A few of you will stay inside to even out the dirt in each section.” Alberto stated this fact like it was the simplest and most obvious thing in the world.

Things definitely worked differently in third world countries. There were no big fancy gas powered machines to help them get the job done easily.

Alberto announced “Before we get started, let me just say that everyone needs to make sure they drink plenty of water and eat some snacks if they get hungry. I don't want to have to take anyone to hospital today.”

**********

The men stated that they would be fine filling the wheelbarrows with dirt and dumping them, while the women could even out the dirt within each section, to which Rosalie announced that she was more than capable of shoveling dirt into a wheelbarrow, leaving Alice, Bella, and Esme to remain within the house.

Bella gave Jasper a pleading look with her eyes, a little nervous to be left alone with the perfection that was Esme, and the hurricane that was Alice.

Jasper mouthed “You'll be fine” then winked at her turning to begin working with the other men.

Bella didn't have much chance to mentally prepare herself before Alice grabbed her by the elbow, shovel in hand, and began skipping towards the house, with Bella in tow.

“Bella, isn't it amazing to see how differently people live down here? Bella, aren't you excited to be a part of giving something so amazing to someone? Bella, is it just me or is it insanely hot out here? I think I'm going to turn into a roasted chicken by the end of day one.”

This question/answer session, conducted mostly by Alice continued for the next few hours. Esme occasionally interjected comments, but mostly just smiled and watched relationships form around her. She found that she wanted to be careful not to accidentally offend Bella as she had the first time she met her as she appeared to be such a sweet girl, albeit quiet and shy.

Moving dirt around was hard work, Bella mused to herself. She was sweating bullets. She could not remember having worked this hard in well....she wasn't sure she had ever worked this hard. Bella had never been much of an athlete and this felt like a hard core workout. She announced to the other girls that she was going to get a drink of water, heading over to the truck.

Bella relaxed against the bed of the truck for a few minutes, watching the interactions that were going on around her. Everyone seemed to be getting along with an easy camaraderie. Jasper and Emmett appeared to be laughing and having a good time, hauling around huge piles of dirt. Even Rosalie appeared to be smiling and generally enjoying herself. Alice and Esme had fallen into easy conversation. Alberto was travelling in between groups, chatting, working, and helping out with directions for completing the task. Bella wondered if she would ever feel this at ease within this group.

Finishing up her water break she began to head back to the work site. Noticing that Emmett had stopped to talk with his wife for a minute, leaving a full wheelbarrow at the bottom of the ramp. It had looked so easy to push up the ramp when Emmett and Jasper did it, so Bella decided she would help and try to give it a go.

Bella lifted up the handles and began to push; she heard “Bella! No!” from behind her, the wheelbarrow then tipped to its side and fell over, bringing Bella down with it and landing right on top of her. As the wheelbarrow hit her leg, she felt a sharp sting. Suddenly everyone was around her, asking her if she was okay. Doing her best to compose her face she announced that she was fine as Jasper pulled the wheelbarrow off her leg. Embarrassed, she followed everyone’s gaze and looked at her legs, watching in horror as she saw her blood flowing down and mixing in with the dry dirt. She took one last look around her before she passed out.

************

Bella felt woozy as she snuggled into Jasper’s chest and hoped that the most recent wave of nausea would be her last. She took a deep breath and swallowed warm saliva down, hoping that her stomach would stop torturing her. She burped slightly, feeling Jasper laugh, his body shaking not only in movement with the truck as they bounced along, but also with the humor that he obviously found in their situation.

“Well, Bella, I do believe you will have quite a story to tell back home.” Jasper reached out his arms pulling her tighter against his chest. She chanced a tired look up into his face and he answered her unspoken question. “Well sure, the rest of us can only say that our sweat went into this house. You are the only one who can claim that your blood actually did go into that house.”

“Jazz, they didn’t…” Bella tried to sit upright as he held her tight in the front seat of the truck. Her hand flew to her mouth in disbelief.

Alberto laughed as he drove them to the small, local hospital. Jasper joined in as their driver shrugged and replied in a strong accent, “no point in wasting perfectly good dirt.”

“Wonderful.” Bella groaned, reaching down to move the rag that was covering her leg., She was surprised to see it was a clean piece of gauze, only slightly brown from the dried blood on it.

“Good thing for you, that Mrs. Cullen had a kit with her. You had all your shots before you came right?” Alberto took his eyes from the road and looked over at Bella with concern in his eyes.

“Of course, they wouldn’t let us sign up without proof.” Bella answered indignantly.

“Relax Bella, it looks worse than it really is. It just bled a lot, I am sure it probably won’t need but a few stitches. Nothing major, I promise.” Jasper rocked her body slightly in an effort to calm her down. “See, we’re already at the hospital. Alice’s dad and brother are here so you have nothing to worry about okay? She wanted me to make sure to tell you that.” Jasper waited as Alberto pulled into a spot and walked around to the other side to open their door for them. As Alberto reached for her, Bella held tighter to Jasper who just shrugged at Alberto, scooting himself out awkwardly with Bella still in his arms. Once out of the truck, Jasper hefted her up higher into his grip and Bella relaxed to let her body mold into his. “I don’t know about you darlin, but I really didn’t see any difference between sitting in the front of the truck and bouncing around in the back.” They walked casually, almost nonchalantly toward the small building.

Once inside, Jasper managed to have Bella stand upright on just one leg while he supported most of her weight. She winced slightly as her toe came down to get her balance better and she felt her skin pull tight against the muscles. With a brief look down, she could see new traces of bright red blood seeping slowly through the slightly dirty gauze. She groaned as Jasper looked down and sighed.

“I’m such an idiot.” Bella said as she closed her eyes, hitting the back of her head against the wall.

“Come on Bella, it could have happened to any one of us. There was way too much dirt in that wheelbarrow, that’s what Emmett was telling Rose. With the three of us throwing shovels filled with dirt in it, it’s no wonder it filled so fast. Even if Rose’s were half filled, it was still too much. Tomorrow we will be much better organized and we’ll know what to look out for.” Jasper’s arms reached out to draw her into a hug just as they heard her name called.

“Isabella Swan?” A voice said disdainfully, as if it was some kind of a disease instead of a woman’s name.

“Her name is Bella.” Jasper’s voice returned the greeting, just as cold and informal.

“Oh, hi, Jason right?” Edward held out his hand purposely saying a wrong name.

“It’s Jasper actually. Wow, you really suck at the names don’t you Emmett?” Jasper reached out taking Edward’s hand in his own, shaking it roughly as he repeated Alice’s instructions to call Edward by the wrong name to really piss him off.

“Actually Emmett is my brother. I’m Edward.” Never moving his eyes from Jasper’s face, Edward’s eyes squinted in anger.

“Sorry, my mistake.” Jasper smirked now and looked back at Bella.

“Um, OW!” Bella said dramatically, trying to get attention for her leg.

“Right. So, what seems to be the trouble?” Edward shook off his anger as he looked over at Bella’s leg, resting against the wall as she balanced against Jasper’s body.

“She has a cut on her leg.” Jasper said a second before Bella said, “I have a cut on my leg.”

“Right, well, let me get a chair for you and we’ll get you into an exam room, see what’s going on with the cut on your leg.” Edward turned to reach for a wheelchair and bumped right into one as Alberto came up behind him with it.

While Edward struggled to remain upright and Alberto struggled to maneuver the chair out of his way, Bella reached out for Jasper’s outstretched arms and within seconds she was curled up gratefully against his chest and away from the melee.

“Where to doc?” Jasper said as he easily started to carry Bella forward down the hall.

Edward managed to get ahead of him and just as he was about to tell Jasper that hospital rules stated that the patients be pushed in a wheelchair, they reached the room. He sighed as he put his arms down at his sides, defeated.

“Just put her in here.” Edward said with a shrug as he gathered supplies from a small closet off the main hallway.

Once Edward joined them again, he closed the door, giving the three of them privacy. Jasper was already peeling off the layers of gauze and as Bella winced, he laughed.

“Stop whining girl, you’ve been through worse.” Jasper stated in his southern drawl as he continued to unwrap her leg, ignoring Edward as he stared at them. Bella shrugged and bit down hard against the pain, realizing that Jasper was right and that the pain was really not all that bad in comparison to other injuries she had sustained.

“Excuse me, can I look at my patient now?” Edward held a pair of scissor in one hand and a handful of clean gauze in the other.

“Oh, sure.” Jasper winked over at Bella and she giggled, following Jasper’s lead as to how far they could push Edward.

“Thank you.” Edward stepped up to Bella’s now naked leg and frowned, causing her a moment of panic.

“What is it?” Bella looked at her own leg, and aside from a little dirt, mixed with both dried up old blood and spots of bright red new blood, she saw nothing she hadn’t seen before. Jasper stepped to her side and also looked, his brows furrowed as he tried to see what Edward saw that he might have missed.

“Could you have gotten any more dirt in there?” Edward sighed as he put his supplies on the small wheeled cart next to the exam table.

“As a matter of fact…” Bella began indignantly before Jasper laid his hand on her shoulder, quieting her with a gentle squeeze.

“Excuse me, Edward, could I speak to you out in the hall?” The tone of Jasper’s voice left no room for Edward to argue. It was cold and hard, and matched Jasper’s gaze as he nodded toward the hall.

Once they were in the hallway, Jasper let Edward have it, making sure he knew that where he was from, that was no way to talk to a lady, especially one as good hearted as Bella.

“Excuse me, but there is nothing ‘lady’ about her. A lady certainly wouldn’t walk around in public in her boyfriends clothing. A lady wouldn’t be playing in a pile of dirt and give a cut that size a chance to get infected. Maybe you don’t care about infections, but I do, it’s my job.” Edward eyed Jasper with a sneer.

“For your information, Bella is every inch a lady, albeit a clumsy one. She is only walking around in my clothing, because it would be much more unladylike to walk ’round stark naked.” At Edward’s confused look, Jasper crossed his arms in front of him as he continued. “The airport lost her luggage, jerk. All she has are my clothes until they are found so she is making the best of it. Secondly, as for ladies not ‘playing’ in the dirt, you better be careful what you say there. There are currently three Cullen women, including your mother, out there ‘playing in the dirt’ as you say. Bella was doing the exact same job that your sisters and your mother are at this very moment doing. Now, I’m sure you don’t think your mother any less of a lady for helping out where needed, now do ya?” Jasper stood back, allowing his words soak into Edward’s thick skull. At Edward’s silence he continued on.

“I didn’t think so. You should be thankful it’s not your mother or your pregnant sister in law on that table right now instead of Bella because it could have been either of them just as easily, not to mention your younger sister. As far as Bella wearing ‘her boyfriend’s clothing’. I got news for you, she is not my girlfriend anymore, although I certainly wish she were. We broke up years ago and have remained the best of friends; something you obviously know nothing about being.” Jasper wasn’t letting up and he could see Edward almost squirm under his gaze. They stood arguing back and forth, creating more and more of a scene and neither one noticed when Alberto and Carlisle approached them.

“What’s going on here?” Alberto’s face looked confused and scared. He wanted no trouble for his program.

“Ask the good doctor here.” Jasper nodded toward Edward before addressing the man with Alberto. “Dr. Carlisle Cullen? Hi, I believe we spoke over the phone a few times, Jasper Hale.” Jasper held out his hand to the older Cullen doctor as Edward struggled to regain his composure.

“Right, Jasper, how are you? It’s good to finally meet the face behind the voice. I believe you are in the same group as the rest of my family.” Where Edward’s voice was cold and distant, Carlisle’s voice was compassionate and genuine.

“That’s right. We are all on the same project. In fact, my friend Bella and I are both there with them. I just brought her in for a cut on her leg that needs to be cleaned.” As Carlisle’s face clouded over with concern, Jasper continued to explain, “It’s not too bad. She’s certainly had worse in her lifetime and I’m sure it just needs a good cleaning and perhaps a few stitches.” Jasper returned Carlisle’s smile, then looked over at Edward and Alberto. “So, any time you want to go finish cleaning up that cut there, Doc?” Jasper phrased the question as more of a statement.

Just as Edward was about to turn the handle on the door, it opened from the other side. There stood Bella, her face smudged and dirt smeared on every part of her except for the leg with her cut. She smiled as she looked over the four of them. She glanced down at her injured leg, now bearing a fresh badge of gauze, held in place securely with tape. The skin surrounding the patch of gauze was shiny and pink from just being scrubbed clean. It was in stark contrast to the dirt smeared around the rest of her leg.

“No stitches necessary. It just needed a good cleaning.” Bella smiled proudly as she limped forward, past the four men. Jasper looked away and hid his smirk as Alberto whistled. Carlisle looked over at Jasper with a question in his eyes and Edward stared on in amazement. She limped slowly toward the small nurse’s station, aware that all eyes were on her now. With as much dignity as she could muster, she told the nurses proudly. “My name is Bella Swan. I came in for a cut on my leg.” As the nurse shifted some papers around, Bella turned and leaned against the counter. She gave the four men a casual glance and then smirked, daring any of them to defy her.

*************************

The trip to the hospital had taken longer than expected and Bella was grateful for Alberto’s offer of dropping her off at the bunks before picking up the other workers from the site. As Jasper helped her down from the truck, she offered to help the women in the kitchen with making dinner as long as she could sit on a chair and help. Alberto nodded his agreement and told her to see his wife inside. Jasper gave her a quick hug before he left to make the trip with Alberto, back to the site.

Inside the small kitchen, Bella was surprised to see dinner already in progress. There were small trays of food set up and women were busy in an assembly line, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason that Bella could make of it, but yet, it all came together smoothly. Alberto’s wife came over and spoke to Bella, asking her why she was limping. As she sat in the chair relaying her story to her, she translated it for the women surrounding them that didn’t speak English.

Surrounded by sympathetic stares and friendly smiles, one of the women asked a question of Alberto’s wife and she in turn asked Bella if she had had any lunch. At the shake of her head, the woman handed Bella a napkin that held two small tortillas which were filled with beans, cheese and a small dollop of sour cream. As she handed it over to Bella, she smiled and said the word for it, ‘baleada’. For a moment, Bella was confused, thinking that the woman was mispronouncing her name. After Alberto’s wife explained that it was the food she was eating, she took a grateful bite and licked her lips, trying to show just how tasteful it truly was. She repeated the word to the woman and the two of them repeated it over and over until Bella finally said it with the right pronunciation, complete with an accent. She smiled at the small snack, grateful that it resembled the Mexican food back home so much, which made it easier for her to try something new. She laughed as took another bite, realizing that although it was almost the same as a quesadilla from the fast food Mexican restaurant back home, it offered far more in the way of taste.

Once she finished her small snack, the women set her up with a bunch of strange looking bananas, called plantains, and explained to her that she was to peel them so they could be fried up for dinner. Bella listened to the sounds of a normal kitchen going on around her. Working her way through college as a waitress, she found it almost comforting to hear the noise once again. The only real difference was the mix of Spanish and English that were both being used interchangeably.

Bella smiled as she worked side by side with the women. She looked around her and realized that she felt the homesickness, what there was of missing Renee, fading away. These women were so much like her, working, knowing that she needed to work and just doing what needed to be done. The fact that they were doing it happily and without complaint was a bonus to her. She could clean side by side with her own mother, but the complaining and listening to Renee whine about how poor they were made it miserable.

Here, no one put themselves first. It was as if they looked out for everyone else first and only when they were done helping out everyone else did they think of their own work. Bella made a mental note to spend more time getting to know these kitchen ladies and spend time helping them as much as possible. These women, found a continent away in a remote jungle village were ‘her kind’ of people.

Bella was so caught up with the kitchen work that she barely acknowledged that the trucks with the workers had pulled up. She smiled at the women as they nodded to her and took her work away, shooing her out of the kitchen now that she had people to speak English with. She gave them a grateful smile and left through the doorway in time to see the weary workers unload and split into two groups to go to the bunks. She didn’t see Alice, but she let her eyesight follow a constant hum, knowing that where the noise was, Alice was. She laughed when she still didn’t see her, but noticed that the space between Esme and Rose was where the noise was coming from. As the group separated she limped toward them.

Esme and Rose both sighed with relief when they noticed Bella. She couldn’t decide if it was because they knew she would be okay or if they realized that Alice would start talking to Bella, leaving them with some peace and quiet. Bella decided it was the latter and went on to save the other two women. As if on cue, the moment Alice saw Bella, her voice cut off and she ran ahead a few steps, completely deserting her family and starting up a whole new conversation with Bella. The other women laughed and Bella thought she saw them visibly relax once Alice was no longer talking to them.

“Bella I have so much to tell you. It’s too bad about your leg, does it still hurt? You’re walking so much better. Jasper told everyone you were fine but you know how guys are and they downplay everything. He said Edward acted like an idiot in front of you at the hospital and I’m so sorry…” Bella sighed as she fully realized what it meant now that Alice was talking to her at breakneck speed and understood why Esme and Rose both sighed with relief.

As they made their way to the bathroom to clean up before dinner, Bella tuned Alice out and let her friend’s voice become background noise as she thought about the days events. They cleaned up as best as they could without taking complete showers, Alice talking the entire time, even as she used the bathroom! As they cleaned up and Alice kept up her constant stream of chatter, Bella wasn’t surprised to look into the mirror in the bathroom and see Rose walk in, see that Alice was still talking and slip right back out, completely unnoticed.

On their way into the dining hall, Bella’s strength finally gave way and she paused, letting Alice get a few steps ahead as she stopped to rested her sore leg. Hoping she would go unnoticed, she hadn’t realized that people were behind her and they hadn’t realized she had stopped. It didn’t take long for Bella to be knocked to the ground by the crowd of people making their way to dinner. As she sat on the ground cradling her skinned knee, she looked around to see if she could ask anyone for help. Apparently hospitality only included times when food was not being served. As she watched people come and go, she was surprised when she became scooped up into a pair of strong arms.

Bella shifted and looked at her rescuer seeing Alice’s brother, Emmett, was now carrying her as if she weighed nothing. She glanced over his shoulder seeing Rose and the rest of the family, including Edward, who was again looking at her with a look of disgust. Bella, realizing there was nothing she could do, simply sighed and said, ‘thanks Emmett’ as he carried her to the hall, sitting her at a table with them, even going as far as to hold a chair for Jasper to sit with them.

Once everyone was assembled and a short prayer of thanks was given, Bella looked up and noticed the women from the kitchen sitting at a table by themselves, they smiled and nodded at her politely; she returned it with a feeling of gratefulness and peace that she had not known before coming here. As conversations started over dinner, she was surprised to hear Jasper engage Emmett in a talk about European history and Jasper’s remark that it was Winston Churchill who first coined the phrase, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat’. She looked around wearily as they laughed and it was only after that she noticed that Edward and Carlisle were engaged in an extensive talk about the different blood types. It was Rose and Alice, talking to Esme that did Bella in, when she heard Rose ask in mother in law what her and Carlisle’s ‘song’ was.

‘You’ve Made Me So Very Happy by Blood Sweat and Tears.” Esme said and looked around the table as everyone laughed and a very red faced Bella had no choice but to follow suit.