A/N… Okay, so it's official… You're all hating on Bella's parentals, specifically Renee. I'll say nothing to that and keep going.

I'll step out of your way. See me at the bottom. :)

~oooOOOooo~

Chapter 9

October 2001

BELLA

The sound of shattering glass made me sit up. I struggled in my covers, knowing and feeling that I was dreaming, but I couldn't wake myself up. Knowing I was in a dream was what made them that much scarier, because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't change anything.

I wasn't in my room at Masen. I was in my bedroom back in Boston. The moonlight beamed in through my window, causing the simplest things like furniture and a laundry basket to cast strange and eerie shadows across the floor. Staying perfectly still, I listened to the house. The sound of the ticking clock on my wall, the sound of a car's radio driving by outside, and finally…the creak of the sixth step coming up from the living room.

Tears filled my eyes because I knew what was next. I'd wait, I'd run across the hallway to my parents' room, and I'd relive it all over again. Unable to stop, I watched my own feet slip down to the floor and cross my room as my hand reached for the doorknob.

Darting across the hallway, I shoved open my parents' bedroom door. I froze when two figures yanked my father from his bed.

"Bella, run! Scream!" Dad yelled, but his voice was stopped short when the blade sliced across his throat.

"Daddy!" I screamed, but I'd waited too long, and the men grabbed me hard, tugging my head back by the hair.

I never felt the blade, but the sound of it slicing through my skin was something that I couldn't forget. It sounded a bit like paper ripping, or a butcher slicing meat. And the warmth that spilled down my neck and over my chest was strange in comparison to the cold I felt everywhere else.

"So much for screaming," one of the men said with a laugh, stepping over me. "Let's get this shit done."

I rolled over to crawl to my dad, but the dream changed. The sound of splintering wood and snarls met my ears. I tried to see, but the only thing I could do was stay there on the floor.

"No one will touch you again, Bella. I swear it on my life," I heard next to my ear, and it was the sweetest voice, the velvet tone that calmed me every single time.

"Eh…" I tried to call Edward's name, but no sound could come from me.

"Shh, sweetheart. Sleep in peace."

A cool touch met my forehead, and then everything faded away. I gasped awake, clawing at my throat. Gazing around my dorm room, I groaned at its emptiness. It was Sunday, and Alice was most likely down at the dining hall. I collapsed back onto my pillow, giving the clock on my nightstand a glare. It was only nine in the morning. But my heart stopped at what was sitting by the clock.

The purple journal.

My brow furrowed, and I looked around my room again. Nothing was different, nothing had been disturbed, but the notebook sat there all the same. My dream came back to me in flashes, though it was already starting to fade. The true parts remained, but I could've sworn that Edward had been in my dream, that he'd spoken to me.

I let out a deep breath, rubbing my face, but snatched up the notebook and opened it.

Beautiful Bella,

You need to know this first… I speak of your strength because you are indeed strong. Not many could go through the things you have and still be standing. You're strong whether you know it or not. The fact that you carry a guilt for your father's death proves it. However, it wasn't your fault. You need to know that. You fear monsters, Bella, but what you fail to realize is that when evil wants something, it tends to simply take. As much as I wish it differently, they took…and they took too much from you. Even your father would tell you that it wasn't your fault. He would also tell you that monsters with ski masks and knives can overpower frightened girls in the middle of the night. There was nothing you could've done. Nothing. It wasn't your fault, but I swear to you that you are safe now.

I can't answer all of your questions, Bella, but I can try to clear SOME things up. You've trusted me with your past, and it's time I trusted you with mine. What I have to tell you could destroy me, should it fall into the wrong hands, but I feel it's only fair.

The rules I mentioned… Are they imposed on me? Or are they some sort of self-preservation? Yes, and…well, yes. It would not be accepted for people to know about me. And due to my differences, it was always best to lie about what I am. Fear and ignorance can cause human beings to react harshly and sometimes irrationally.

You're right; I am not a ghost, not in the true sense of the word, though I have been living like one for a very long time. I'd love to tell you everything, Bella, and my hope is that someday, I can, but what I am is a man that had his choices taken away a very long time ago.

You asked me who it is that I wanted to truly see me, but Bella, you already have. I've waited so long for you that sometimes, you don't seem real. It seems as if YOU are the ghost. Have you ever been told something you didn't quite believe? Or maybe you believed it at first, but time or life hardened you into losing faith? I wanted so badly to cling to the idea of you, but my years were long and dark, making me doubt everything.

I've tried to live my life the best I could, and I've been lucky that I'm surrounded by like-minded individuals – a family, really. There are some out there like me that can't say the same, and that's why I warned you of danger. While I could never hurt you, there are some that would. I used to think us all the same, but I see now that we're not.

I misspoke when I told you of myths and fairytales. Not all that is written is accurate. While some things are MOSTLY correct, the truth is usually overshadowed by fiction.

I know you're so very smart, and it's possible you'll put it all together soon enough, which scares me more than anything because I don't know what I'll do if you shun me. If you do, I hope that you can forgive me one day. It wasn't my intention to mislead you or lie or even scare you. You'd been through so much that my first instinct was to let you be, but I can't. I'm forever a different man, a better man thanks to you. My God, have you ever changed me! In a very short time, you've become the best part of me, Bella, and each time I see you...each time we speak, it only makes me more sure that you were worth every second of the wait.

I realize that I've probably said too much, and yet, not enough, that I won't hear from you again, and that's okay, Bella, I completely understand.

MG

I stared at the beautiful penmanship for the longest time. I'd already memorized every swirl and curl, especially my name. It seemed MG wrote it so that it would stand out.

Nothing in that letter made any sense. It was just as vague as before, but maybe I wasn't awake enough to see the details, the clues he always seemed to toss in there. It was as if he was fighting with himself to simply spill it all out onto the page. He'd start to answer, but trail off into nothing. It was maddening.

He'd ignored some of my questions, which made me wonder if I'd been too close to the mark for him to be able to answer. If he was some sort of non-human, mythical being, then he couldn't just slap that answer down in ink for all the world to see should it fall into the wrong hands.

Snorting to myself, I wondered if I'd lost my mind. Was I seriously considering that he wasn't…human? Though, I honestly had no choice, since he referenced himself that way almost every time.

I scrubbed my face as his new list of statements rattled around in my brain. He didn't say his secret would kill him…he said "destroy," which seemed much more dramatic…or fearful. More than once did time factor into his point: "a long time ago," "very long life," "years were long and dark," and "forever a different man."

But it was the stuff about me that I kept going back to. How could he have waited for me? And just how much did he "see" me? He'd said that every time we spoke, he knew I was worth the wait. Did that mean we actually talked? Or did he mean every time I dropped this notebook off in the east wing? I didn't "talk" to many people – mainly Edward, occasionally to Rose, and more and more to Alice.

Frowning at that, I slammed the notebook closed and glared at its purple cover. A whiff of that sweet and comforting scent washed over me. Bringing the cover to my nose, I inhaled, my eyes closing. The pages were drenched in it. Instead of the faint haze I'd catch in the east wing, this was pure and thick and perfect. It was something altogether unique to that room…or to this person. It was a scent so good, so perfect, that I wished I could bathe in it.

I dropped the notebook to my lap, taking a deep breath and letting it out as I reread his first statement. Tears welled up in my eyes. The dream was still sharp and colorful in my mind, so seeing his words felt like punches to fresh bruises. MG didn't know what he was saying. That night, my father's murder was my fault. I should've run, I should've screamed when I heard the window shatter, or I should've set the alarm off in the hallway, but I didn't do any of it.

Swiping the tears away, I hid the notebook under my pillow. Despite how much I loved sharing MG with Alice, something about this last letter made me want to hide him, protect him, keep him to myself. Maybe it was the scared undertone of his letter, like he was completely terrified of me knowing anything, but I'd keep his secret. I just wasn't sure I knew what to say back to him. I wanted to yell at him for assuming what my dad would say, but deep down, I knew MG was right. I wanted to demand answers from him. But mostly, I was confused. I just couldn't understand how I could mean so much to someone I didn't know.

Finally, I got up out of bed and padded into the bathroom. I needed to wash away the sweat and tears from my nightmare before Alice saw it. I wasn't sure if she knew about them, but I didn't want her to worry. And as I stepped under the spray, I tried to wash away the feelings of my scary memories that had meshed with my reality. Edward was too beautiful to drag into my ugly past.

~oOo~

November 2001

"Bella, you're not focusing," Edward chided, though his grin was hilarious.

Giggling, I shrugged and pulled my hands away from the piano. "Sorry."

Folding his arms across his chest, he tilted his head at me. "It's like trying to catch smoke with my hands today. It's because today is the last day before Thanksgiving break, right?"

"Maybe," I whispered, grinning when he chuckled.

"Fine, fine," he sighed dramatically, slapping the sheet music down in defeat. "You going home?"

My smile fell, and I shook my head. "No."

Most of the students were catching the train in the morning, which would take them to New York's Penn Station, and from there, they'd either continue on to their destinations or head to the airport. They wouldn't return until the next weekend. Alice and I were really excited that we would be two of only four girls left in the dorm, and we'd heard rumors that there were about the same amount of guys staying behind. We couldn't wait for the place to be practically empty, or maybe we simply couldn't wait for Mike and Messica to leave.

"What? Why not?" he asked, leaning his elbows on the top of the piano.

He really was too much to look at, sometimes. Today, he was torturing me with plaid. It was ridiculous that anyone could make plaid sexy – my uniform was far from it – but he pulled it off with flying colors. Fashionably faded jeans paired with a plain white T-shirt was one thing, but an open blue plaid shirt topped it off.

Frowning at the question, I met his gaze. "Um, my mom and stepdad are out of town. His family. Phoenix."

A brief flash of anger crossed his beautiful face, but a small smile grew quickly. "Well, you're in luck, Bella. I believe my aunt is cooking the turkey this year since most of the staff is leaving the castle for the holiday."

"You?" I asked.

"I'll be here," he replied instantly with a nod and my favorite crooked smile. "It's a break from endless teen chatter."

Laughing, I rolled my eyes at his teasing. "Yeah, 'cause I never shut up."

He tsked, throwing his hands up. "It's constant, Bella. We should do something about it."

I threw a paper wad at his head, and he dodged it nicely. I loved him like this – all silly and teasing. It was my favorite side of Edward. I loved that my scar and my lack of speech didn't bother him, especially on days when I simply couldn't form words. He rolled with every emotional punch I threw his way.

My other favorite side of Edward was his musical side. He'd sat me down with my song, and we really worked on it. After he'd told me about his parents and he'd played me his own song, I'd taken a few days and simply thought about my own composition. Edward had been right; the song was about me, my feelings, not my dad. He'd told me that while my dad was a tremendous influence on the song, which was understandable, it was the points of my life and the emotions I was dealing with that was the true target.

Armed with that new knowledge, we'd been able to add a new section to the song. It still wasn't complete, but it was more than I'd been able to accomplish in well over a year.

What Edward didn't know was that the new part of the song was about the recent changes in my life, though he probably suspected it. The notes were tentative and a touch fearful, but there was a soft, yet happy undertone. However, the best part had been his excited hug when I'd gotten it just right.

Edward picked up the paper wad and held it up. "I'm telling my aunt that you're throwing things at me."

I snorted at him and rolled my eyes, but the woman in question was walking down the auditorium aisle. Grinning her way, I shrugged.

Mrs. C's laugh was musical. "Did he deserve it, Bella?"

I nodded, knocking the balled-up paper away when he threw it back at me. "Yup."

Her honey-colored eyes danced between us when she joined us on the stage next to the piano. "I guess I don't have to ask how things are going. I heard you playing. That's fantastic, Bella."

Smiling gratefully her way, I shrugged one shoulder.

"Despite the fact that she's got the attention span of a fly today," Edward growled playfully, laughing when I threatened him with another paper ball, "she's doing amazing. You're right; Harris wouldn't have been able to concentrate on her."

My brow furrowed, but internally, I was happy that Edward was proud of me.

Mrs. C tapped her temple, wearing a smirk. "Sometimes, I have good ideas."

Giggling at his belligerent eye roll at her, I started to pack up my things.

"Yeah, you're a genius," he chortled, shaking his head. "So why are you here on my time?" he asked her, and the slight growl he put into the last two words made me want to moan aloud at how sexy that sounded. I barely kept it in check.

"I'm allowed to check on you," she countered haughtily. "You're technically on my time."

Edward sighed, wearing a small smile while shaking his head. "And?"

Smiling at their banter, I could see that he respected her, but even more…he loved her. A sweet warmth softened his facial features as he looked at her. And it was the same the other way around. I'd heard rumors that Dr. and Mrs. Cullen couldn't have children, and I wasn't sure how true that was, except she seemed to look at Edward like a loving mother. That thought made me happy. If he'd lost his own parents, at least someone was looking out for him.

"I was sent here, actually," Mrs. C said, seeming to communicate to Edward with her eyes. "Carlisle told me to tell you to go see him when you're finished here. He's finally had a chance to look over that package he received."

Edward nodded, his face going from the fun, silly thing to something much more serious, but his eyes caught sight of me. I waved, pointing toward the auditorium doors to let him know I was leaving.

"Not yet, Bella. Just give me a second." He chuckled, shaking his head. "I know you're simply dying to get away from me today, but hang on." He shot me a wink when I laughed, and he held up a finger to me before going back to his aunt. "Tell him I'll head that way."

"He knew you would, so he's expecting you. I'm heading into Hunter's Lake. I need to pick up a few things," she said, leaning in to kiss his cheek. "I'll be back in about an hour."

"Yes, ma'am," he told her.

Mrs. C turned to me, smiling a little. "I hear you and Alice are staying behind for the holiday." When I nodded, she squeezed my shoulder gently. "I'll try not to make a dry turkey, but if I do, lie to me."

Grinning, I nodded, placing a hand on my chest in a vow.

"Good girl." She shot me a wink before leaving the stage and making her way up the aisle.

I picked up my music folder and turned to Edward. My eyes on him seemed to snap him out of whatever he'd been thinking, but he walked to the blackboard to erase it.

"I know it's a holiday week, but since we're both staying here, I thought maybe if you wanted to work sometime next week, we could," he said, looking my way.

"Okay," I agreed, trying not to read his expression as hopeful. "When?"

"Whenever." He shrugged a shoulder, shoving his hands into his front pockets. "Just… If inspiration strikes you, come to my aunt and uncle's living quarters, and I'll help you. I'm staying with them."

Smiling, I nodded and gave him a wave, which he returned, and then I left the stage.

~oOo~

EDWARD

The smile didn't leave my face, even after Bella had left the auditorium. It had been hell trying to get her to focus, but I could understand it. It was the last day of school for a week. She – and the rest of the students, for that matter – had been extraordinarily busy the last few weeks. Thanksgiving break was a chance to relax, not worry about tests and grades, and Bella was no different than the rest of them.

I quickly cleaned up the stage of paper wads, slid the chalkboard back behind the curtain after wiping it down, and then decided to take the back passageway to see Carlisle.

He was sitting at his desk in his office when I walked in, papers strewn from one end of it to the other. Behind him were x-rays illuminated on a light box. My eyes raked over them and then the file open on his desk.

"My apologies, son, for taking so long to get to this," he stated, and his thoughts were showing the case that had called him away.

Smiling, I waved off the apology. "I assume that the patient in New York is doing better, then?"

"Much, thank you," he said with a smile. He tapped the top of his desk. "I know this was important…"

Shaking my head at him, I sat across from him in the same chair that Bella had occupied when she'd first visited Carlisle. He'd been called away several times to a hospital in Manhattan. The patient had been critical, and it had taken Carlisle several attempts to bring him back from the edge.

"Bella's…here." I pointed to the floor. "She's safe here. The case can wait. Had she gone home for the holiday, I might have followed, but right now, she's perfectly safe under this roof."

"You didn't think so in the beginning," he teased, smiling at me.

Smirking, I folded my arms across my chest. "I was…mistaken."

"Yeah, I bet." He laughed, but the smile fell quickly. "With the police report and now the autopsy results, I've been able to put together a rather vague synopsis. Has Jenks found anything more out on her parents?"

Nodding, I sat forward. "The mother's clean. We knew that much, though I'm not sure that money isn't a factor where Bella is concerned. The stepfather is complicated." I raised my eyebrows up so that he knew that I wasn't kidding. "Jenks called me a few days after he'd sent Jasper the financial report on the Swan residence. Phil Dwyer was a witness in a pretty ugly case that Charlie Swan was presiding over. Apparently, Dwyer was a batting coach back in Arizona, but had transferred to Boston about five years ago. He got wrapped up in some drug ring – performance enhancement drugs. Because there were big names and even bigger salaries at stake, lots of threats were made and money exchanged hands."

"Charlie Swan?"

"No, he stayed clean," I told him firmly with a shake of my head. "In fact, that's the problem. He was so clean that lawyers, managers, and players started to get really nervous. And that includes the suppliers of the steroids, which could explain why Charlie Swan was removed from the picture. Some guys are still serving sentences."

"And Bella?"

I shook my head and shrugged. "From what I can gather, she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was made to look like a robbery, a year after the trial finished. I bet in your file there are some high-value items missing – jewelry, electronics, art, maybe – and it was done to throw everyone off."

"Yes, it does," he agreed. "But no fingerprints were linked to the stepfather. There were a few unknowns, but only partials."

"And that's the thing," I told him, clawing at my hair. "Phil Dwyer comes up clean. He came in and gave his testimony in court, which was mainly concerning the players and anything he'd seen. As far as Jasper can tell, he told the truth – some of it ugly – and went back to work. He resigned from the baseball team several months later, taking a position as an online sports writer. Renee is his first marriage. His financials weren't great, but they weren't dirty, and he has no children out there, as far as Jenks can find. According to public record, Phil and Renee married about a year after Charlie's death. It looks legit, but I'm not so sure."

Carlisle shuffled a few papers around on his desk, pulling out a stack of photographs. "I'm with you. Someone covered their tracks really well." He set them down in front of me. "Look at those and tell me what you see."

I knew what I was about to see would bother me. The mere thought of what Bella had been through – what she'd survived – was enough to make me want to tear someone to shreds. The crime scene photos in my hand were disturbing: a shattered pane of glass in the door; several shots of fingerprinted doorknobs, counters, and walls; and finally, Charlie Swan's bedroom.

"Christ," I hissed, squeezing my eyes closed for a second to calm my temper.

The pictures were from after they'd removed Charlie's body. There were remnants of where the emergency people had worked on Bella. But there was blood everywhere. It was obvious that Charlie had been pulled from his bed, that Bella had been caught when she'd run into the room, and that whoever had attacked them had done so with such malice that it was nauseating. More pictures showed the blood spray, which could've only come from Charlie. It was all along his nightstand, across the floor, and up the wall.

Where Bella fell was a different story. She'd obviously been stopped at the foot of the bed, and according to the police report, she'd been found trying to crawl to her father. There was a pool of dark red soaked into the carpet, and to know she'd almost died right there in that spot caused my hands to shake.

"Fuck, Carlisle…I can't," I groaned, tossing the pictures onto his desk.

"If you want to solve this, son, you have to," he stated, his face blank of emotion, but his mind was anything but blank. He set down another stack of pictures. "These were taken at the hospital."

Photos of Charlie were the first few. They were taken of his wounds on the autopsy table. He'd been cut across his throat, much like Bella, though they'd accomplished what they'd intended to when it came to him. There were a few bruises along the knuckles of his hands from where he'd fought back, a black eye, and a few superficial stab wounds to the chest. The latter looked like they'd happened during a struggle. I hoped like hell that Charlie got a few nasty hits in before it was all said and done.

Bella's pictures caused a low, rumbling growl to escape me. She was unconscious, her sweet, long eyelashes resting against too-pale cheeks. She was so much smaller than she was now – a child of barely thirteen – but her long dark curls, her pouting mouth, and her slightly turned-up nose were all the same. Aside from the stitches across her neck, she looked to be sleeping, but the next few pictures showed her bandaged, with IVs and oxygen tubes all over her. Even with all of that, she was a beautiful girl who had grown into the strongest, most gorgeous young woman I'd ever seen.

"Tell me she wasn't… That they didn't…" I shook my head, finally locking gazes with Carlisle with pleading eyes.

"No." He said the word firmly, tapping her medical file. "They just wanted to shut her up. That's all, Edward. I vow to you that the only injury she sustained was the cut to her throat, and obviously that wasn't done with enough strength to kill her."

Swallowing back venom and anger, I nodded. "Thank God."

"I know," he sighed deeply. He sat back in his desk chair, his eyes scanning over everything on his desk. "There were two of them. That much is obvious. You can see blank spots in the blood spatter here…and here," he explained, pointing to the crime photo of the bedroom. "And from Charlie's defensive wounds, it would've taken more than one. He fought like hell."

"Good," I growled low, my lip twitching in hatred.

Carlisle spread the pictures across in front of him, pointing to each one. "They came through the back door here. No alarm sounded, and no witnesses heard or saw anything. They took the stairs straight up to the master bedroom. And something at that point had to have alerted Bella," he surmised, shaking his head slowly. "She came straight across the hall from her room to his."

"Jesus, Carlisle…she watched it all," I whispered.

With a grimace, he said, "Yes, that's what everyone seems to think. It would explain her emotional block, as well."

"Where the hell was her mother at one o'clock in the morning?" I snapped, reaching for the police file.

I flipped through it, ignoring Carlisle's mind. I wanted to read it for myself. Renee's statement was about three or four pages in, and I fell back down into the chair to read it.

"Out with friends from her art class…a movie and drinks after," I sighed, shaking my head. There were verifications of her alibi, as well…even parking stubs. "And the housekeeper, Chelsea?"

"Visiting her son at college," he replied darkly.

I sat back in the chair, gripping my hair. "I don't get it… I just don't."

Carlisle sat forward. "What if this was random or simply revenge unassociated with Dwyer, Edward? The Swan residence was in an affluent neighborhood, he had money, and he'd probably sent a thousand criminals to jail. Anyone could've come for him."

"I know," I agreed with a nod, pulling a few pages closer to me. "I've thought about that. And it's a possibility, but whoever it was… Charlie knew. He knew something was about to happen, or he knew there was a chance, because he changed everything into Bella's name just a few months prior to his death."

Carlisle's expression darkened. "Does…" he started, grimacing a little, but I could see why he hesitated.

"No, she won't discuss it," I answered him sadly. "She's slowly opening up, but the only thing she's ever mentioned was that she feels it's her fault. And that was written in the journal."

"Nothing else?"

"No, and she hasn't answered that back yet. I don't expect her to; it's been a few weeks."

He nodded like he'd assumed as much. "She speaks to you, though? Verbally?"

"Oh, yeah," I said with a grin. "She rarely writes to me, unless it's a bad day. And those are usually after nightmares, but she doesn't tell me that. I see it in Alice's mind. Both look like hell the next day, but Alice hides it from Bella."

"Thick as thieves, those two, these days."

Sighing, I nodded. "Carlisle, her nightmares…they're violent," I whispered, gazing up at him. "I…I shouldn't have, but I took her journal to her room. I wanted her to have it back, without her stepping into the east wing. I didn't know she was still asleep, but she…"

"Terrors," he confirmed, and I nodded. "Yes, some of her doctors have notated them in her file. Did she wake up?"

I shook my head. "I talked to her, though. I felt I had to do something."

"Did it help?"

Nodding, I let out a deep breath. I felt guilty for having been in her room in the first place, but my heart had shattered at her cries, her sweaty brow, her clawing at her throat. It had been too much, and I'd promised her that she was safe. My voice seemed to have calmed her, but her hands had reached for me. It had taken everything in me to bolt from the room instead of gathering her up in my arms.

Carlisle's mouth curled up a little in the corners. His mind centered around the talk we'd had at the little lake when I'd first seen Bella. He was convinced I was helping her.

"I hope so," I barely said aloud. "I want to."

"You don't see it, do you?" he asked me. His mouth opened and a laugh huffed out of him. When I shook my head in confusion, he grinned. "Edward…in just the few months she's been here, you've become a completely different person. You wouldn't have gone to all this trouble for just anyone. And you sure as hell wouldn't have had the patience to teach. You'd been living in the walls like a…"

"Ghost," I snorted, grinning when he laughed. My smile fell quickly, and I asked, "Is it always so…drastic? The changes, I mean?"

"No, son," he said gently, "but you do become what she needs. And you have. It's honestly been amazing to watch. I know she's your mate, but right now, she needed a friend, and you've become someone she can trust."

"Until she finds out what I am…who I am," I countered.

He shook his head. "Don't discredit her, Edward. Let her choose."

I nodded that I'd heard him, but stared at the floor for a moment. "I love her, Carlisle."

He smiled, got up from his desk and squeezed my shoulder. "Good. Then let that guide you. You'll know when it's time to tell her everything, to come clean…even about that damn journal."

I chuckled, burying my face in my hands. "I don't know what I was thinking…"

He ruffled my hair. "You were trying to reach out to her in every way you possibly could, son. It's understandable. She may throw it at your head one day, but…in your defense, you were simply trying."

Smiling, I looked up at him. "Thanks."

He nodded, but took a deep breath and glared at his desk with all the papers on it. "Unfortunately, Bella may be the key to what happened that night. No one really interviewed her. They couldn't because she was restricted from talking for a few weeks after the attack, but then she refused speak after that. Unless she opens up with her own version of the events, then we may never know."

We were quiet for a moment, but he patted my shoulder when I stood up to leave him.

"By the way, Leah's agreed to the diet I've drawn up for her. I'm hoping that she'll let me continue to monitor her heart, but she's ninety-two," he said, grimacing a little, "and stubborn. Anyway, I know Jacob and Jasper will be busy this coming week with picking up the slack around here. I'd like you to keep an eye on her, take her into Hunter's Lake when and if she decides to fill the prescription I gave her."

Chuckling, I nodded. "Yeah, no problem. Since Bella's staying, I'll be around."

He wondered silently if I would've really followed her to Boston.

Raising an eyebrow at him, I asked, "Wouldn't you?"

His face darkened, and he thought of all that she'd survived, but all that she feared, as well.

"Yes, I probably would have."

~oooOOOooo~

A/N… Some new info, some dead ends, too. Lots of sweet progress with Edward and Bella.

There weren't a lot of questions this time around – though, lots of threats against Renee and Phil. LOL One question I did want to answer. Jasper's history. Yes, it was explained back in Chapter 1. However, quickly… He's pretty canon. Changed by Maria, lived in the south, and tended to her newborn army. What's different was that Carlisle and Esme found him down there in the 40s and brought him back. Edward and Jasper consider themselves brothers, simply because they were changed by the same immortal. Another question… Emmett and Rose…they aren't a huge part of the story. They are friends with Bella, human, and on their last year of high school. I can't say much more than that.

JenRar, Sarge's Girls, Beffers87, and myself are up for award for the Fanatic Fanfic Awards. The link to vote is on my profile. There are a ton of categories! GO VOTE! :D

Okay… I'll see you Thursday for the teaser (which can be found on my Twitter and FB) and then again for the post on Sunday. Until then… Mooches, Deb ;)