I'm sorry I haven't updated. I don't even have a good excuse. I just suck, but I'll get back to it. Dollybigmomma hasn't Beta'd this yet, but I'm sure she'll get to it soon. She has an excuse, her mother-in-law died and she was out of town forever. Of course, she's sort of my muse, and her being out of reach might've done it. Yeah, I think I'll blame it on her. It was Dollybigmomma's fault...

Chapter 21 - To Tell You the Truth...

The rest of the day was surprisingly quiet. Rose and Tanya avoided me, giving me the silent treatment. I was actually glad for it. We went about our business, with the one change of Emmett coming in after lunch. He propped open the back door and said he'd shut it as soon as he was done unloading his truck. He was insulating the walls upstairs. Edward hurried out to help him carry stuff in. I didn't miss the way Rose was watching Emmett, or how Tanya was glaring at the both of them. I wondered if there was more to their bitchiness than just being offended by me.

On Emmett's last trip, he carried his tool belt in his hand and walked straight over to Rose, pulling her to him and kissed her. "Be happy, you're too beautiful not to be," he chided her, making her smile and blush. As he walked past Tanya, he smacked her butt and told her to be good. The glare dropped from her face, and she rolled her eyes at him and gave him a small smile.

When I turned back around, I saw Laurant eyeing him. He winked at me and said, "We need to have that around here more often."

"You're a married man," I teased, and he just shrugged.

Two days later, it was time for Jerry's appointment again. Since Emmett was upstairs working on the apartments still, and Edward was in the middle of a cut, I wondered if I needed to go and get him.

I was surprised when I received a text from Alice. I didn't even know she had my number and wondered how the hell she'd gotten it. Then I remembered I'd given it to her when she'd worked on the shop before it opened. She was asking me to come help get her grandpa out of the car and saying she was parked out front.

I looked outside and could see a green station wagon parked up near the front door, and I looked over at Edward, who was still busy with a customer near the windows. I was sure Alice could see him and could only guess that was why she had asked me to come out and not him.

She hopped out of the car, when I opened the door. "Edward looked busy," she mumbled, confirming my suspicions. She held the walker at the ready and steady, while I helped pull Jerry from the car. Alice took his other hand at one point and gave it a pull as well. Between the two of us, we got him out of the way-too-low car. I'd never been one for lift kits on cars, but I sure thought this one could use it.

Alice followed us into the shop, carrying her purse and Jerry's sweater. Jasper and Edward's eyes darted to us, when they heard the bell chime. Since they both worked more toward the front of the store, they could see people coming and going easily.

Jasper's eyes were fixed on Alice, more specifically, her hair. She had part of it pulled back, most of it too short to put up, and she fought to keep it out of her face.

"I'm almost done here," Jasper said, nodding in her direction.

He had a little girl in his chair. The kids loved him, or rather their mothers did. By the time I had made it to my door, he was dusting off the little girl and handing her one of the lollipops he always kept on hand.

"Alice," he said her name so smoothly I think it surprised her. He held his hand out to her and she took it, blushing. He kissed her fingers and led her to the shampoo chair.

"Great, just what we need, a tattooed hippy in the family, or are you going to tell me he went to Oxford or something and is as over-educated as you working in this dump?" Jerry griped.

"I thought we were past this," I frowned at him.

He looked at me, trying to decide if he wanted to continue his rant, but must have decided against it.

"I don't think Jasper's a hippy. He moved here to look after his sister, while his brother-in-law is serving his country."

"I know a hippy when I see one," he grumped making me giggle.

There was a knock on the door, and Edward popped his head in. "Do you need a hand in here?"

"Yeah, why don't you help Jerry up on the table, while I check on the hippy."

"Hippy?" Edward looked behind him.

"Apparently, Jasper is a hippy," I informed Edward.

"Don't let him hear you say that. He's a retired Marine, honorably discharged."

I looked over at Jerry with a smirk. He just scowled. "Hurry up already, boy. I'm not getting any younger."

I went to the back room to switch loads, while Edward got Jerry ready for me.

"Cinderbella," Emmett cheered as he tromped down the steps. I pulled out a bottle of water for him, and he took it happily.

"How's the insulating going?" I asked him.

"Good, I'm making it extra thick around the girl's room, on the house of course."

"How are things with them? They seem to be enjoying your company," I tried to make small talk, but I didn't want to say too much about Rose and Tanya. All I needed was for them to overhear and try and start a fight again.

"My ladies are dealing with things alright. How are you doing?" he asked carefully. His eyes were soft, and I knew he was really asking me. I looked away, not wanting to think about things.

Edward saved me by walking in and picking up on the mood. He put his arms around me. "What's going on?"

"Nothing, just chatting, is Jerry ready?" I asked.

"Ready, waiting and apparently not getting any younger," Edward teased. I kissed his lips lightly and left him with Emmett in the kitchen. I worked Jerry over in peace. Emmett helped me get him off the table and dressed, because Edward had to step out and help Ed with something.

Jasper was putting some finishing touches on Alice's hair. He'd cut and styled it, and I was pretty sure he had pierced the upper shell of her ear.

"Soldier!" Jerry called in a stern voice.

"Sir!" It was crazy how quickly Jasper turned and stood at stiff attention.

"Edward said you were a Marine, what was your rank?"

"Major, Sir."

"You were honorably discharged," Jerry stated, and Alice stepped close to Jasper, resting her hand on his side, while Jerry made his way closer.

"Yes, Sir."

Jerry nodded at him, looking him up and down.

"Are you ready to go?" Alice asked Jerry.

"Almost," he waved her off. "Why'd you leave the military?"

"I donated a kidney and part of my liver to an IED. My immune system is considered compromised. Let's face it, they don't have the best food in the field, and water can sometimes be scarce. My body just can't handle it anymore, so I serve my country by keeping an eye on my sister and her kids while her husband is deployed, and I offer my services free of charge to soldiers and their families."

Alice ran her hand up and down Jasper's side, and he lifted his shirt, giving her a sad smile. The angry scars on his body were disguised with an array of colorful tattoos. There were also a few names of men and a date from two years ago. I was tempted to step forward and run my hand over the scarred tissue like Alice was, but was I sure I would be accused of being a slut and a hussy again, so I kept my hands to myself.

Jerry gave Jasper a nod, "Major," he said with respect and dismissed him at the same time and headed for the door.

Later that night, I got a call from Billy and set up plans to have dinner with him the next day. When Edward asked if Jake would be there, I had to be honest and tell him I didn't know for sure. "He might be working." At least I hoped he would be.

I made a batch of Billy's favorite cookies and left a few at home. Home...it was amazing how quickly Edward's house had turned into my home. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. Even though Edward's was my new home, I still had my own house to deal with.

Angela would be moving in next week, and I had to get things packed up and in storage. Edward and I were going to spend the night after we left Billy's and sort through my things, deciding what would go into storage and what would come back to the house with me. I wasn't looking forward to going through my father's things. It had been years, but it still hurt to think about him. Especially now that I was engaged, and I knew he wouldn't be walking me down the aisle. At least I had Billy for that.

I was grateful Jake's car wasn't in front of Billy's house. I could only hope that he wasn't invited to the family dinner. I knocked lightly on the door and walked in.

"Bella, you made it. I'm so glad you're here. Edward can help me with the grill out back now. It's supposed to rain later tonight. We better get our food cooked up now," Billy grinned and pulled out a plate with steaks on it.

"Aren't you supposed to stay away from red meats?" I scowled at him.

"The steaks are for you all, Ms. Pushy. I have some fish and chicken, too."

"I just worry about your heart, Billy."

"I know, little Bell. I'm okay, though. I've been eating better and exercising, and they have me on a new prescription. I'm fit as a fiddle," he patted his chest, but I wasn't sure if his health was as good as he was playing it off to be. I knew he knew I worried about him.

"Enough of that frowny face, I want you smiling while you visit," Billy complained.

He was right. I shouldn't focus on the negatives. I hugged him and kissed his cheek. "I just worry about you. You're all I have left."

"Well, let's hope Edward turns out to be someone you can turn to as well."

"He is," I grabbed Edward's hand, and Billy directed him to the grill, where the pair got to firing it up.

"This is an awful lot of meat," Edward observed.

"It seems like it, but between it and the sides, I'll be lucky to have one plate of leftovers once Jake's done eating," Billy lamented.

"Jake's coming?" I asked worried. My eyes darted over to Edward. There was a firm scowl on his face.

"Yeah, he's running late, but he'll be here in about half an hour. Is everything alright?" he asked looking between Edward and me.

Edward shook his head no, while I said yes.

"Well, which is it?"

"It's fine, it's nothing," I insisted.

"He said he's healthy, Bella. He's taking medication, eating right and taking care of himself," Edward wasn't letting up.

"Edward," I snapped. I didn't want to risk it. I didn't know if Billy was just eating right today for show.

"What's going on?" Billy pushed.

"Nothing," I insisted.

"Do me a favor, Edward, and piss off little Bell by telling me what's going on."

"Edward, if-" I started to threaten him, but he jumped right in.

"Jake has been giving Bella unwanted attention. She was really shaken up the other day, when he actually had her pinned and she couldn't get up," Edward blurted out the words, but they were crystal clear.

I stood frozen, focused on Billy, looking for any signs of distress.

His worried eyes met mine. "Is that true, Bella, or is he blowing this out of proportion?"

"I'm not. He was on the verge of forcing himself on her! I won't have her being alone in the same room with him anymore," Edward insisted.

"Bella," Billy looked to me again. I didn't know what to say. I couldn't betray Edward and call him a liar, and I didn't want to upset Billy too much. He seemed to be handling things alright.

"She was worried about your heart. She said that you'd had a heart attack after she'd told you about Jake's unwanted advances the first time."

"It was a mild one. They cleaned me out, and I've been alright since. You said that was a misunderstanding, Bella. Is that true, or were you trying to cover something up in a misguided attempt to protect me?"

"You're all I have. I can handle Jake, or I could. Things just…"

"That's why you were so quick to become emancipated and move out," Billy sighed as he sank down into his chair. "You two seem to get along just fine, at least when I'm around. I know you've clocked him good a few times, but I never thought it was anything more than sibling spats."

"He's been harassing her and trying to push himself on her, grabbing her inappropriately, and even when she tells him to stop, he persists. I can't tolerate his treatment of her anymore. She was a crying mess the other night and has had nightmares from it. Not to mention she didn't leave the house for a few days. She's moved out of her home in Forks. She doesn't want to risk being alone with him."

"Edward," I wanted him to stop. I didn't want him to get Billy riled up.

"He needs to know, Bella."

"That I do. Why didn't you tell me? You should've told me, Bella." We heard the crackle of gravel in the driveway. Jake had arrived. Edward pulled me into his arms. "Stay here, you two. I need to have a chat with my son," Billy ordered and patted my arm, before he slipped out the front door to meet Jake.

"Edward, you have to stop him. If he gets upset like last time-"

He cupped my cheeks. "I think he can handle it. He's looking after his health, and I'm sure he knows his limits. You don't want me going out there. It won't be to stop him."

I dropped my head on his chest in defeat.

"We're meant to be together!" we heard Jake shout. Edward's arms tightened around me. I couldn't make out what Billy was saying, but his low muffled voice was angry.

"You're being ridiculous, Dad! She was supposed to be my girlfriend. I know she wants to be. This Edward guy is just a passing fancy. I plan to show her what a real man is like." I cringed at Jake's words, and then I was shocked by the loud smack that came after it. Edward moved to the window, and we peeked out to see Jake on the ground and Billy standing over him.

"Don't you dare touch my little girl! You have no claim to her, Jake. She's engaged to another man, and if you lay one hand on her, I'll drive her to the police station myself. I'll head the search party to track you down," Billy threatened.

"Come on, Dad. It was your and Charlie's dream that we get married. You wanted us to be a family."

"We are a family, Jake. At least I thought we were, but you sure as hell aren't acting like it. She's your sister. She should be able to call on you for help, not need help to keep you away from her. What is wrong with you? You weren't always this stupid. Get it through your thick skull, Isabella is your sister, and she's going to be another man's wife. You need to get on with your life. What ever happened to Emily?"

We saw Jake shrug.

"Find a new obsession, your sister is off limits. Now get out of here. I'll save you some food and call you home after they leave. We're not done with this," Billy ordered Jake away.

Jake let out a huff, but got up, brushed himself off and left like he was told. I just hoped he'd stay gone.