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Twelve years ago Edward left Bella thinking she would be safe and happy away from the dangers of his world. She wasn't. How can he make it up to her? Each chapter written from a different POV with some overlap as the same incident is seen from a different perspective. Some new characters of my own imagination.

You know, all the recognisable characters are not mine. They belong to Stephanie Meyer and I hope I've used them in the spirit in which she created them.

35. Edward - Kate Drops Garrett

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Bella had given me much to think about with regard to her theory on reincarnation. It was true that we could not be sure one way or another what really happened when a person, or vampire, died. It was all a matter of faith. The trouble was, I didn’t think I could rely on something that ‘might’ happen. How long could I roam the world looking for a mind I couldn’t read? How long would it be before hope was supplanted by despair? But what I found really frightening, was that if I was right and I had no soul once Bella died she would be without me. As she put it, like the twelve years we were apart but forever. I had read enough of Jacob and Lizzie’s minds, and heard the truth in Bella’s own words to know how that was for her. I worried even more for Bella now. By wanting to save her soul, I was putting it in a different kind of danger, in some ways a worse kind. Other than my tortured thoughts about Bella spending eternity crying for me, I actually enjoyed our time in Forks. The fact that Bella was staying at the Cullen house did generate some concern and the police did turn up to check up on her. Luckily Bella was known to the Chief – Charlie’s former deputy – and when he was satisfied that Bella was there with Carlisle’s permission we were left alone. That didn’t stop the speculation though. The Chief wondered when Bella had run into Carlisle, what she felt about Carlisle and me, and if she had met up with me again. He even went so far as to talk to Jacob about it, checking that Jacob was sure that it was a sensible thing for Bella to do. “It’s a form of therapy for her” Jacob had said. “Running into the Doc was probably the best thing to happen to her since she can now put it all in perspective and get on with her life properly.” The Chief could see that Bella was looking much better than the last time he saw her and thought that Jacob was probably right. We were enjoying a few days with the family in Carcrix to celebrate Bella’s birthday when Jacob called me. Me, not Bella. “Do you know this blood sucker?” he asked as he turned the ‘phone to show Garrett. “Yes, he’s our friend and yes I know he’s not a vegetarian. Can you pass the ‘phone to him please so that I can talk to him?” And I saw the scenery fly as the ‘phone was tossed to Garrett with the words “Catch, he wants to speak to you.” “Garrett, good to see you” I opened. “Edward! Funny company you keep these days. Not exactly the welcome I was expecting when I decided to drop in on you. I had just realised that your scent was a couple of days old and you weren’t here when this strange little female turns up and starts questioning me!” “That would be Pia. She comes to play the piano.” “That’s what she said. No sooner had I decided that I wanted to know exactly what she was when a giant silver wolf bounds up, howls and starts growling at me with her hackles high. I thought that it might make a good fight when the little female tells the wolf to calm down because I wasn’t hungry!” “That would be Leah, Pia’s mom and if it came to it I wouldn’t have put money on your survival if you had touched Pia.” “Neither would I, especially once the others turned up! So are you going to tell them that I’m harmless?” “Garrett, they can see that you’re not harmless so there would be no point in me uttering the lie. The wolves’ primary purpose is to protect humans from vampires. You so much as look like you’re about to attack a human, or part human like Pia, and they will tear you to shreds, and yes they can do that, and have done that. Do you still want to visit? I can be there tomorrow.” “Hell yes I want to visit. It sounds absolutely fascinating what you’ve got going on here.” “I’ll be bringing a human with me and if you so much as think about touching her I’ll tear you to shreds myself and feed the bits of you to the wolves.” “Okay, wow, even more to hear. Well I’ll be waiting.” The ‘phone was tossed back to Jacob. “Jacob, let him stay but to be on the safe side, I would guard him with two wolves all the time. I’ll bring some support with me when I come to make sure we keep him in line. We’ll be there tomorrow around sixish. Bella can sleep in the car.” I knew that Carlisle and Esme would not be able to come with us – Carlisle had work and Esme was going to New Zealand to check out the land that she had preliminarily picked out for us to purchase before we put in a formal offer. Carlisle and Esme would want to spend as much time together as they could before they were separated for a few days. I called Tanya and explained the situation to her. “Huilen said that she wanted to spend more time down there with Pia, especially given how she is growing and with the new baby on the way, and I know that Embry still misses the pack so why don’t we all come down? Rosalie can spend some time with Emmett rather than the baby!” “Thanks Tanya. Should I get anything in for Iain?” Tanya laughed. “No thanks. That little boy has more than enough of everything!” I knew that Rosalie would probably have bought a good proportion of the stuff! The Denali clan got there before we did. We arrived to see Embry, Jacob and Quil playing a form of catch on the front lawn with Iain. Iain gurgled with what I assumed to be baby laughter every time he was sent flying. I took a quick peek into Quil’s mind and he was totally unphased by the game. Garrett was sat on the porch steps looking at them all in fascination. Tanya came to greet us. “Hello, I hope you don’t mind but I have assigned rooms. Carlisle said it was alright to use his and Esme’s bedroom but not his study. Carmen and Eleazar have their room. Embry, Iain and I will use Rosalie and Emmett’s and Kate has your old room. Garret and Huilen each has a spare. She’s at Nahuel’s at the moment. Embry said he would wait for Bella before eating so only one breakfast would need to be prepared.” “Hello Tanya, motherhood agrees with you. You’re looking well. Do you know Garrett?” “We introduced ourselves when we arrived. He seems a little shell shocked by what he’s seen.” I tried to wake Bella enough for her to remember her manners. “Come on love, you need to wake up and say hello to everyone.” I lifted Bella out of the car. She opened her eyes just enough to greet everyone. “Hey Brat Face, I waited for you to arrive before eating so you had better wake up or you’ll fall face first into your plate!” Embry said to her. I peeked into Jacob and Quil’s minds and heard how hungry they were so I suggested that the pack eat now and I would get Bella something in another hour or two. “There are some supplies in the trunk of the car.” I carried Bella to our room and stretched her muscles before letting her get some more sleep. When I went back downstairs everyone bar Huilen was there. Tanya was right, Garrett was a little shell shocked. He was watching the three pack friends wolf, no pun intended, down large portions of food. Eleazar was feeding Iain while Tanya, Kate and Carmen were chatting. “Edward, how lovely to see you. And how is Bella?” Carmen asked. “You look as lovely as always Carmen. Bella is well. She just needs a little more sleep since she only managed a few hours in the night. How are you liking having a little one at home?” At that all the Denali’s turned and smiled pure delight. “Little Iain brings much joy to our lives. I am afraid that we have made Rosalie a little jealous.” I knew that it was more than a little. “Garrett, have you had all the relationships explained to you yet?” “Erm, well, yes, I think. But the one thing I haven’t perfectly got is where the human female you brought in fits with it all.” I laughed at the puzzled look on his face. “Bella is my mate and Jacob’s sister and as such was the first link between us and the pack.” “Bella, a human, is your mate?” “Yes.” And I waited for Garrett’s comment. “How the hell do you manage that one or is it not quite ...?” “I wish it wasn’t quite ...” muttered Jacob. “It’s damn scary to think of it.” “Jacob, if it bothers you so much then don’t think about our sex life. Go back to thinking that all we do is cuddle and the odd bit of physiotherapy when we’re alone in our room” I suggested. “I hate to tell you this Edward, but I think everyone now knows about your sex life. Hand shaped bruises, excellent self control, concern over pregnancies, demolishing furniture, sex in the Jacuzzi and the swimming pool. We know it all!” Kate laughed. “How did you know about the pool?” I was surprised. “Alice was going to visit you and Bella but just as she was about to set off she had a vision of herself walking in on the two of you in the pool so decided not to and to always make sure she called ahead first after that. She said it was bad enough seeing it in a vision but it would have been worse if she had actually walked in.” Carmen explained. I had to laugh. I was so used to catching glimpses other people’s thoughts as they were making love that I was unphased at the idea of others having a small peek at my sex life. In a way I was rather glad to join the club! Bella would probably want to smack me one for thinking like that, although given how she was the one who made sure everyone knew we had a sex life to start with perhaps she wouldn’t. Garrett was looking at me with a mixture of awe and puzzlement. “You and a human, regularly, engage in intimacy and she is still alive?” “Yes! Someone else who feels the same as I do about it. You two should not be having sex. How you have managed to not seriously hurt her is a miracle and you really should not push your luck.” There were times when I felt sorry for Jacob. This was not one of them. “Jacob, you know that as long as Bella wants a sex life that’s what she gets, even if it is with me. Remember, I have superior self control and would face torture rather than hurt her. If it makes you feel better you have my permission to tear me to shreds, slowly, without come back from my family if I am the cause of serious hurt or death to Bella,.” “I hate to tell you this, you being family and all, but we would have done that anyway” Embry said. “I would wait until he actually kills her guys because if you hurt a single hair on his head and she is still alive then she is likely to tear you all to shreds” Tanya added. Jacob just grinned at me because he knew how true Tanya’s words were. “Not that it isn’t good see you and Quil, Jacob, but why are you still here?” I asked. “We had planned on having a few words with Bells before going, but then you offered us food. We’ll let that settle then go home for breakfast if Bella isn’t up by then” Jacob replied. Garrett looked at the pack friends in shock that they would eat more after the vast quantities they had already consumed. “Does your Bella eat as much as they do?” “I bet little Iain eats more than she does. I know Pia does” Quil said. “Is it true about Pia? Is she part vampire, part wolf?” Garrett was still shocked. “Pia’s dad is half vampire, half human. Her mom is a human who is sometimes a wolf” I replied. Garrett kept looking at us all and the baby trying to fit the information he had been given into truths he had always believed in the past. He wasn’t succeeding very well, but I thought he would probably get it over a period of time. “Carlisle is coming down for a day at the weekend to check up on Leah so you can ask him about everything” I added and I wondered if phasing while pregnant would affect Leah’s baby. “When was the last time he checked on Bella?” Jacob asked. “To be on the safe side someone should keep an eye on her.” Once again I was feeling out of sympathy with Jacob. “Carlisle checks on her every week to make sure her new lung and heart pump are still working properly and that everything else is at least not deteriorating. I’m sure he would have spotted bruises, broken bones and bone replacements, dislocations and anything else that might be wrong with her” I was snide. Jacob at least had the grace to look a little embarrassed. Luckily, before we actually came to blows I heard Bella stirring in our room. “Hey, sleepy head. Are you waking up now? Would you like me to run the Jacuzzi for you?” “Hey. Are our guests still here or did they get fed up with waiting for me to get my butt in gear?” “They’re still all here, but I can kick some of them out if you want.” “Naw, they’ll only come back but with reinforcements. I’ll get up now and make do with a shower. I can get into the Jacuzzi later when I want an excuse to hide for a while.” I smiled at her words. Bella knew her friends and herself well. While she was getting ready I prepared Bella a fruit salad and some toast for her breakfast. She walked down the stairs looking very self conscious as all eyes were on her. She wasn’t quite able to mask the discomfort and Jacob had to pick her up on it. “You shouldn’t be walking down stairs Bella. Call someone to carry you in future, okay.” “Need to exercise Jake so no, not okay. Hope you’ll all excuse me for a few minutes more while I eat something, then I can join you” and Bella walked to the kitchen where I had laid a place for her at the counter away from everyone’s eyes. Once she was breakfasted and medicated Bella joined everyone in the living room, hugging and kissing the pack before greeting the vampires and Iain. “It’s good to see that you can now walk down stairs without cringing in total agony Brat Face so I suppose we have to accept that you’re doing well” Quil said to Bella. I was still surprised at the casual way they insulted her. “Can’t you lot think of a more dignified nick name for Bella than ‘Brat Face’?” I asked, miffed. The pack looked at each other and I read their thoughts as they considered other potential nick names and none of them were at all dignified. “Forget it” I said to them, disgruntled. “They sometimes call me ‘Bells’, don’t forget” Bella tried to console me. “How do find having a baby in the house? I guess you’re lucky in that you don’t actually need to sleep at night.” Tanya replied: “We take it in turns to watch over him during the night but Embry insists that we try to get him to sleep during the night as much as possible so that he doesn’t grow up to be nocturnal. Rosalie usually comes over on Fridays and insists that she look after him then. The only one who doesn’t cover a night shift is Huilen since we feel it is still a little too early to risk her being alone with the baby.” Bella looked at me with a raised brow. “Huilen is with Nahuel and his family at the moment. No doubt she’ll be back with Pia when Pia wants to play the piano.” Bella nodded an acknowledgement of the information then looked at the pack. “How come you guys are able to spend so long here? Don’t you have a wife, four kids, a father, business and a tribe all needing your attention Jake? And Quil, isn’t Claire lonely without you?” “Jeesh, anyone would think you were trying to get rid of us Bells” Jacob said. Bella just looked at him, making it quite clear that she was in fact trying to do just that! “Tell Lizzie and Angela that I’ll be over to see them tomorrow. Bye.” Not even Jacob was able to miss the message that Bella was giving him that time. Jacob and Quil kissed Bella and the baby and waved to everyone else as they left. “Good, that’s got rid of them” Bella said. “What was going through Quil’s mind Edward?” “Exactly the same sort of thoughts that were going through Jacob’s. He felt no differently about Iain and didn’t even consider his origins when he held or touched him. There was no hint of regret.” I could feel everyone’s relief, except for Garrett who wondered what we were on about. “Quil and his mate are Iain’s biological parents” I answered. “And now we’re his adoptive parents” Embry said. “So these people willingly gave over their baby to be raised amongst vampires?” Garrett asked. “Yes, why wouldn’t they?” Bella asked, almost daring him to answer honestly. “Because vampires and humans do not mix, that’s why” he said as if Bella was stupid to ask such a question. “I’m human and I live with vampires. And while Huilen is a new veggie vamp so precautions are being taken with her, I can tell you that none of the others would harm little Iain at all and would kill anyone who tried to.” “What the heck is a veggie vamp?” “A vampire who does not feed off humans – a little inside joke” Bella answered Garrett. “Garrett, if you could just accept that it is possible to live, and live well, off the blood of animals you would realise that it is possible to forge bonds with humans, even if they’re not close bonds” Kate joined the conversation. “And you will find that it is easier to forge close bonds with others who are the same. It is no coincidence that the two largest covens outside the Volturi are veggie vamps” Eleazar said giving the phrase ‘veggie vamp’ a questioning intonation. “Yes, we cannot live alone despite sometimes needing time alone. We feel the tight bonds of friendship and love, we’re family” Carmen explained. “Why is Huilen a new veggie vamp?” Garrett asked. “Her human sister was impregnated by a vampire. Giving birth to the hybrid killed the mother. Nahuel, the hybrid, bit Huilen and it made Huilen a vampire. She remembers the love she felt for her human sister and still feels her loss. Once she learned that it is possible to exist without killing humans she wanted to join us so that she was not responsible for the loss of a loved one to more humans. Nahuel is Pia’s father who you have already met” Tanya explained. “Only Tanya and Edward have none veggie vamp mates. The other pairs are all veggie vamps” Kate said. “You know I like that expression, veggie vamps. It’s good, who thought of it?” Everyone looked to Bella to answer. “I think it was Lizzie, Jake’s wife” she said. “Other than Tanya and Nahuel, the packs’ mates are all human. The pack are siblings so any harm to one or it’s mate and family is to harm them all. You hurt Iain or Pia and as well as a bunch of veggie vamps wanting to kill you, there will be a pack of wolves who will hunt you down.” Garrett looked at Bella as if she was insane. “Aren’t you ever afraid amongst all the vampires?” “Jasper and Kate have both nearly killed me, but despite that, the only veggie vamp who actually ever frightened me was Rosalie. Other than the very first day we met I have never felt anything other than safe and protected with Edward and Alice always seemed to regard me as her friend. Actually, you’re the only non veggie vamp I’ve met who hasn’t tried to kill me. Please don’t try to change that record.” “Don’t worry Bella, he won’t” I reassured her. “I’ve already told him what the pack and I will do if he so much as thinks about touching you. You are mine and that is something we vampires take very seriously as you know.” Garrett looked at Kate and wanted to know why she nearly killed Bella. Kate was embarrassed as she explained about her gift. “So you can drop vampires can you?” he asked her. “Don’t, Garrett, you’ll regret it” I tried to warn him. “Well I’ve only done it to my sisters so I don’t know if it will work with a strong warrior type like you” she said reeling him in. “Want to give it a go?” he was cocky. “How about we try finger to finger first?” Kate was all innocence as she held out an index finger. Garrett reached out with one of his fingers to touch Kate. “Ahhh!” and he fell to the floor. It took about thirty seconds for Garrett to be up on his feet again but this time he was looking at Kate and Bella with respect. “You couldn’t feel it when Kate did that to you?” he asked Bella. “I didn’t do that to Bella. I only gave her a mild shock” Kate explained. “Give me the type of shock you gave her” Garrett demanded. I knew he would regret that too. Kate reached out to touch Garrett again. “Ouch! Dammit, that hurt too. And you really didn’t feel it?” Bella just looked smug as she said “Nope”. Garrett was very disgruntled looking at Kate and Bella. “Are you sure you touched her?” Kate sighed. “Bella, would you mind if I tried to give you a mild shock again?” I was about to protest when I realised that Kate did not physically send a shock through a person, she just sent a trick message to the brain making them believe that they were being shocked. Bella’s brain appeared to be closed to us all. “If you want” Bella agreed. Kate went to shock Bella. Bella didn’t react at all. “Would you like to up the ante?” Bella asked Kate who looked a little frustrated even though she didn’t want to hurt Bella. Kate nodded and tried again. Once more Bella didn’t react. “I did that to Garrett to have him on the floor. I still can’t believe you didn’t feel anything!” “A physical electric current would have killed me. But I think you must send false information to the brain and my brain won’t let you in.” I thought that was a very good explanation by Bella. Garrett was a bit more respectful of Bella, and humans in general, after that. Pia did come to the house with Huilen. She hugged Uncle Embry and Auntie Tanya and stroked the cheek and chatted a little to cousin Iain, babbling away in Quileute. She immediately made a good impression on Carmen by being able to talk to her in fluent Spanish and Eleazar by talking in Portugese. She asked Bella to test her on her numbers and she showed how much her handwriting had improved. “Drawing isn’t any fun so I’m not doing that any more, but I like to look at the drawings daddy does before he starts work and at the drawings Esme did of our house. I like them drawings but drawing pictures is silly when you can just use a camera.” Pia showed off to everyone how well she could play the piano. She showed great technical skill, but there was no virtuosity. I had no doubt that she would soon get bored with that game. Given that her skills were all bent towards the mathematical area I suggested she learn all she could about computer programming so that she could decide if she wanted to do that when she was older. Then I noticed something else about her. “Pia, you don’t seem to have grown very much since I last saw you” I said. “No. Mom said that I had slowed down which is good coz I can wear my clothes for longer before I grow out of them. I’m not going to go to school though yet which is a shame but the teachers say I am too advanced unless I go with the older children which is no fun so I have to go after school while the teachers give me tests to see if there are any gaps in my education which there will be because I don’t like to learn about boring things. Mom said that the teachers have agreed to teach me for an hour after school until I pass all my tests so if I don’t want boring lessons then I should just learn it quickly so I can stop.” I had to laugh at the clever way Leah was handling Pia. It couldn’t be easy trying to bring up a daughter who was obviously intellectually superior. I went to make the none vampires drinks. Pia said that she wanted a hot chocolate with marshmallows if I had it, please. At least her manners were good. After her drink she asked Embry to walk her home. “I’m not allowed to be in the woods by myself while he’s here” she said indicating Garrett with dislike. “Very sensible” I said. “Your mom and dad only want to protect you.” It resulted in a very long suffering sigh. Pia thought she could protect herself, and if she couldn’t then it was about time she was taught since she might have to protect her little brother or sister one day too. “That’s your parents’ and uncles’ job, not yours until you are full grown. Then you can learn how to protect yourself and your younger sibling” I said to her. Pia was most surprised that I had answered her thoughts and not her words. “I can hear your thoughts so you can’t lie to me” I told her sternly. “Life isn’t fair” I replied to her thoughts again. The next day while Bella was at La Push with her friends Garrett kept questioning me about her and Kate. How did I know that Kate really had tried to shock Bella? “Bella is the only person, human, vampire, wolf or hybrid, whose mind I cannot hear. I can only guess at what she’s thinking based on her expressions and heart beat. It’s very frustrating. Since she can shut me out, why not Kate?” “Good grief. I had no idea that humans could out fox vampires. How long have you known Kate? Have you never been interested?” I could tell that Garrett liked the idea of a woman who could fell him is she was of a mind to. “A while, and no. The only woman I have ever had any interest in is Bella. Very hard it was too at first before I realised I loved her more than I wanted to kill her.” “I don’t know how you’ve had the strength not to. I don’t know whether I think you’re an idiot or a hero. I admit the life of a nomad is lonely, but I don’t know if I could live the life you live with so many people, including the humans and hybrids, always there. Don’t you ever just want some peace and quiet and the chance to be on your own?” “We all go off on our own sometimes. I don’t like not being with Bella, it makes me anxious, so I leave her to hunt as infrequently as possible. But she and I have our own home and are often just the two of us. In fact we went away together and we were so alone that for the first time since I was converted I heard no thoughts for days at a time. It was very strange.” Garrett just didn’t get our relationship. As yet, he did not have the capacity to form the bonds that us veggie vamps had formed. In fact he was slightly frightened of them and that was the only thing making him hold back with Kate. “If you and Kate are not meant to be mates, you won’t be even if you live our lifestyle. But if you are meant to be mates, it will be easier if you could join the whole family even if you two have your own place or places.” I hoped I had given him something to think about. The next job was to try to discover what Kate thought of Garrett! “You impressed Garrett by being able to fell him” I said to Kate when we were alone. Kate smiled and I could read how pleased she was. “It’s good to keep a man on his toes. He has to know that a woman can look after herself.” “Should some of us take him hunting so he can try our diet?” I suggested “I would think that you and me would be enough to keep him in check if necessary. How thirsty should we let him get before we take him?” I could tell that Kate wanted to get him into the none human diet as quickly as possible but she knew that it was easier to take that first animal feed if you were thirsty. “We can tell when the right time is by how he is with Iain and Bella. How’s Huilen coping?” “I think she actually finds strength from seeing you with Bella. It reminds her why she made this choice. I wouldn’t trust her alone amongst humans yet though. I don’t know what physical effect Pia has on her. She has spent many years inuring herself against the pull of Nahuel’s blood and there may be enough none human in Pia that there is little pull for her. You would be able to judge that best.” Kate was right. I should try to read Huilen’s mind to gauge how she felt about Pia’s blood, and Iain and Embry’s come to that. It really wouldn’t do to think that things were going better than they really were: it didn’t help anyone in the long run. Pia asked me if she could call Esme and ask her to do some more drawings of her house because they needed another bedroom. “Mom and dad said that they don’t need such a big bedroom and closet so there was lots of room but they need some plans. Dad said that he would try to set out some ideas before they bothered Esme but I think that it would probably be better to give Esme some time” she explained. I was again struck by how grown up she was. I told her that Esme had gone away to New Zealand for a while and wouldn’t have everything she needed to do the plans until she came back. “I could speak to her and ask if she could give me some ideas that I could pass on to your dad though if you think it might help.” Pia agreed that Nahuel needed all the help he could get. Pia went to play the piano. I could tell that she was already getting bored with it. There was no artistic ability, no interest in composing her own music. Pia liked being able to play her favourite tunes but that was it as far as she was concerned; anything else was just unnecessary. Carlisle came down for the weekend. He checked out Leah and agreed to deliver the baby the following week. Claire was thrilled when Carlisle and Leah agreed that she could assist. Carlisle even suggested that Claire ask Seth if he would mind if she was the one to draw the blood from him that would be used, under Carlisle’s supervision of course. Both Claire and Pia competed to see who could pick Carlisle’s brains the most. Claire wanted the information to focus on medical matters. Pia just liked to accumulate information. In that was she was just like Carlisle who also liked to learn new things. And Carlisle was fascinated by Pia. In some ways it was a pity that Pia didn’t want to be a doctor since she would undoubtedly have all the necessary knowledge in a very short time, but she was determined to be able to have a job that would allow her to support her family. “Pia, why do you want to support your family? Don’t you think that your mom and dad should do that?” I asked her. “Mom and dad have to adjust to their new lives, each other and us kids. They worry that they are not doing enough for us. If I show them that they don’t need to worry about us then they might relax a bit more and just concentrate on being happy. And I think Auntie Angie and Uncle Seth should have more money too. I don’t like Auntie Angie’s friend, Jessica, being mean about my Uncle just coz her husband has more money. Auntie Angie loves Uncle Seth and isn’t that more important than having lots of money?” “Pia, you constantly amaze me with your insights. As long as you have enough to pay for the necessities of life, love is much more important than lots of money. I think you need to tell your parents that you think the fact that they love each other and you is worth more than money. They have enough money to get everything your family needs don’t they?” I asked suddenly worried in case they didn’t. “Yes. Mom does some book keeping for some people and dad mends things and builds furniture that he sells. He is very good at it. He made a new bed for me so the baby could use my small one. He said that a big girl needs a big bed and a small baby needs a small bed. My new bed has a cupboard and some drawers under it for my clothes. He said the new baby could share with him and mom until they finished the house again. But what if we have more babies? I don’t know how many I want us to have. The bigger the family, the more protection there is but they might all be pains and who wants to live with pains?” I repeated that conversation to the others. Garrett couldn’t believe that such a young part human could be so insightful. I told him of the Quileute belief that all the changes meant that a battle was ahead “And it was interesting that Pia thought that a good point of a big family was the potential for protection.” “You’ve lived with Rosalie for years so you could reassure her about living with siblings who are pains” Bella said much to Carlisle’s amusement. “Why would you say that Rosalie is a pain?” Tanya was cross. “Because she always has been to me” Bella shrugged, “apart from when she was almost begging me to let Edward back into my life. It was almost worth putting up with the rest of the crap she dealt to have that memory. Still, she probably thinks that I’m the biggest pain” Bella was unconcerned with that thought, in fact she seemed to relish the idea. Bella enjoyed having Pia to visit. I could tell that she missed teaching and was trying to teach Pia to appreciate the nuances of literature. Carmen was also fascinated. She read extensively but had never thought to think about what she read before she heard Bella talking to Pia. I talked Garrett into helping me assist Nahuel with making some changes to the internal layout of their home. I thought it would help him learn to build relationships with humans and hybrids if he spent more time with them and began to see them as individual sentient beings like us rather than just a potential food source. I was surprised at how Garrett entered into the spirit of things. In that way he was very like Emmett who enjoyed the physical labour. It only took us one day but another bedroom was prepared at the cottage for the baby. Garrett helped further by joining me on a hunting expedition, not for food but for timber for Nahuel to use for his furniture making. He and Kate decided to go to Denali but only after the new baby had been born. Kate said she wanted to meet Huilen’s new grandchild and Garrett said he wanted to meet the person sleeping in the room he helped to prepare. Pia was pleased when she was told that she had a new baby brother – Hal. “He is a very attractive baby. I do hope the girls do not go silly over him” she said more in hope than expectation since she was used to seeing her older female cousins act like idiots around the good looking young men on the Reservation. Bella and I stayed in Forks until the end of September then went back to Carcrix for a weekend. We actually allowed ourselves to be seen holding hands in the town when we went to do Bella’s shopping. It was clear that the food was for only one person, which resulted in some significant looks from the shop assistant when I went to carry Bella’s bags. “Well that’s another step completed successfully” Bella said when we were back in my car after I was seen helping Bella into the passenger seat. The next time we were known to be in Carcrix together, I parked my car in front of the family home and, seeing a twitching curtain or two, I helped Bella from the passenger seat and gently kissed her on the lips. “Can you act like you’re a little nervous, we’re being watched?” I said to her as she made a point of standing tall and straightening her appearance. I tried to focus and listen to the thoughts of the people across the street. “Apparently they’re not surprised that you decided to try me out” I said to Bella then sniggered. “Lois Schnapper hopes I’m as good as I look and wonders how she can strike up a conversation with you in such a way that she can find out.” “Having read and marked much of Lois Schnapper’s work I can tell you that I am not at all surprised that her mind has gone down that path. At least the news will spread through the school within a day.”