A/N: So here we are with another new story, enjoy xx Alexis


It was pretty sad that Bella wasn't actually surprised about what had happened today; no it should have been soul-destroying, but it wasn't! It was also truly maddening, that Edward couldn't be nicer, gentler or even in the least, truthful with her. That she knew it was coming was predictable, but once again dreadful. She found it irritating that Carlisle had done such a piss-poor job of being any kind of a real father to Edward or had he tried and failed miserably? Pitifully depressing, is what it was, that they all thought what he was doing was actually acceptable or normal! They had no clue what was normal to a human, because they were not and hadn't been for a very long time, human!

It was unsettling and a tad ridiculous, that after all these years they still didn't know how to act and especially re-act like the humans they pretended to be. But what wasn't in the least cheerless was how relieved Bella actually was. It's now ten hours since he left and she felt blissful, free and well, almost like herself again. Let me explain, Bella Swan knew something was very wrong in her relationship with Edward Cullen. It started a few months ago, during their summer break; she noticed they always did things he wanted. No, everything he wanted, but never what she might like to do! She kept trying to speak to him about it, how for instance, she felt they had very little in common. But as always Edward brushed aside her worries and concerns as unimportant.

It annoyed Bella, that she had been doing things not so much against her will, but out of character for her. Doing and agreeing to things she never normally would, just to please a boy who didn't show any real interest in her or want to reciprocate. That's what drew his brother, Jasper's attention, her annoyance and erratic emotions. He eventually managed to get Bella alone while the others were hunting and asked what was wrong. Jasper was able to easily block his thoughts and hide his decisions; so he was the best brother in the world to Bella from that day on. He wanted to know why her emotions kept flipping from overwhelming adulation to blatantly undisguised exasperation. Bella told him everything she felt and how Edward seemed unconcerned, no more like uninterested.

So they devised a plan to get her free of Edward's grip, Jasper explained he couldn't possibly be her mate. He would desperately want to change her if he really was and want her physically, which they both knew he did not! With Alice's insistence that Bella has a party for her 18th birthday, they found a way out for her. It really was the perfect godsend. They rigged her cutting her finger and well that was that. Except for Edward's overreaction to the smell of Bella's blood. Causing him to make it worse by throwing her across the room, otherwise, the others fell right into their trap. Jasper acted the part very well, scared the hell out of everyone that's for sure. Edward then did exactly what they expected; he panicked and demanded everyone leave immediately.

Jasper explained to Bella, that Edward was intentionally trying to keep her human and it could only be for one reason. He wanted her blood and he literally got off on the powerful feeling he got from resisting it. Therefore he steered her into what he saw as safe and boring behaviour patterns. Basically trying to turn Bella into what he thought the perfect wife should be and keep her from hurting herself. But she wasn't his mother or living in the nineteen hundreds, so Bella fought his restrictions all the time and grew resentful. It was unhealthy Jasper said and proved he wasn't even in love with her far less her mate. Edward had serious control issues apparently and a huge need to be in charge, like all the time. Bella was his ultimate test subject, his pet human.

The fact that the others went along with it was disturbing. Jasper said he worked out that Alice and Rose, knew and condoned what Edward was doing. Saying it was safer for them both until he changed Bella; after all, she was his singer! But Edward had no intention of changing her, even Bella knew that. It was their way of absolving themselves from his behaviour, especially if he snapped and killed her. Emmett, Carlisle and Esme were not privy to his and Alice's underhand tactics and would be mortified if they really knew all that was going on. She was glad Emmett wasn't involved; she loved her big brothers all the more now.

But now Edward was fearful that someone else might get her blood, so they all had to leave and here we are. Of course, they had never told Jasper any of this knowing he would not only disapprove but be livid about it, along with the others. Forgetting one important detail, Jasper could feel their deceit, their manipulations of the truth, basically their lies! They were all gone now and Bella is blissfully free of Edward's rigid controls. Jasper had also given her his cell number and told Bella if she ever needed help to call him. But warned her to get away from Forks fairly soon. Edward would not be able to withstand the lack of her scent for more than a few months. Believing that he'd return and most likely he'd just drain Bella.

Edward would expect that when the time came, she wouldn't fight her death or him, since he assumed she would be suffering from withdrawal from all the glamouring he'd tried and failed to do to her! But it could be worse; his addiction to her might push him over the edge into more than just bloodlust! So what has she been doing for the last ten hours, cleaning! Well gutting her room actually, it looked like an extension of Edward's room and nothing like the Bella she used to be at all. His taste in music, his taste in clothes, his taste in everything. That's how she found them, all her gifts from last night hidden under a loose floorboard like X marks the spot.

So obvious due to the recent lifting of the said floorboard. Also in the very back of Bella's cupboard were all the bigger items and her own original clothes. How childish, but so like Edward. He really was very immature; Bella wished she'd seen it before now. She knew she had to leave Forks, get herself away and make a new life for herself. One where the wolves couldn't interfere, as they really had no rights in her life or ever should have. Or when the Volturi came for her, if they ever found out or once they did about Bella that is. She would start her senior year here but then Bella was going, where she had no idea just yet. Jasper suggested Bella go to their house and grab any money she found lying around loose. He assured her there would be plenty and it was hers for the taking.

He gave Bella the codes for the shutters and said to help herself to a car as well. Unsurprisingly enough, tucked away right at the back of the garage was a red convertible. Bella didn't recognise the make, but the paperwork was all in her name! Shit, this was the after car. Alice must have gotten it because Edward never intended for there to be an after, but she would have to keep up the pretence for the others. Well, it ain't stealing if it's already hers, now is it? Bella took it for a spin going out of Forks the back way and it was great, this could be her getaway car. She has only a few short months to devise a plan; needing to find a place to go for the rest of her senior year. But one that wouldn't set off alarms bells to Charlie, the pack or even the Cullens.

It would have to be an English-speaking country because languages were not her forte at all. Amazingly it was Jasper once again that gave Bella the answer, Malta! Yup, where better to go than an Island crawling with vampires, but under the protection of their leader. Jasper has once saved Luca's niece and her mate from death and therefore a debt was due in the vampire's eyes. It would be the safest place for her, the Volturi never encroach on Luca's territory, because he was too well known and respected. Bella would never have to worry about random vampires finding her because all the vampires there were Lucca's family. So if he protected her, then all of them would too.

Jasper was asking his brother to organise it for her, an exchange program of sorts. Bella as a senior and a Maltese girl, a sixth-year student, but both of them are the same age, eighteen. Peter knew one of Luca's descendants wished to come to America to study. Therefore, she would come here to stay with Charlie and Bella would go to the Maltese family. What no one knew was that neither of them would ever return home. The girl would go on to college here in the USA and Bella would..., well she didn't know yet! Probably head to Britain, after she'd been changed. She longed to see the sights that have kept her enthralled for years, in the books she dearly loved. Yes, she would be changed; Bella intended to be the one in control now!

The Cullens, well Edward would always be a danger to Bella if she was still human. So she would request Lucca change her and then after her newborn year or so. She could start her own new life, but with Maltese backup, if it was needed. When it gets sorted Bella will make sure Angela takes the exchange student under her wing and not Jess or Lauren. The hardest part would be Charlie himself, taking on a stranger. Maybe if the girl had a chaperone, one who could run the house for Charlie that would be easier. Bella texted Peter asking him to please sort that out as well. She hoped she doesn't mind the rain because she'll see lots of it here. Bella might have to revise her car choice though and take one of the bikes instead.

Or better yet sell the convertible and buy a scooter or moped when she gets there. Yes, that's a far better idea; she'll sell it and have some spare money left over. You know, just in case because it's a bit too ostentatious for her anyway. Plus Malta is a small island and it's a huge car. Eternity is a long time after all; Bella would need money to start with until she got firmly on her own two feet. Peter said he'd give her some investment tips and set her on the road to full independence. It was just a week or so into the start of senior year, and the principal held an assembly. It was to discuss an exchange student program with Malta in Europe, starting after the Christmas break. Nobody but Bella knew it was rigged and she would be the lucky student chosen.

Bella dutifully filled out the forms saying, why not. Seeing the world might be nice, blah, blah, blah! She told Charlie that night, and he wasn't overly amused. But he never expected her of all people to be chosen, an indictment of their lack-lustre relationship. Neither of them had tried very hard when Bella first arrived, he was too set in his ways and she was too insular. Now it was too late to change of course won; so he tried to say she couldn't go. Bella reminded him she was eighteen and wanted to go. He said the other student couldn't stay there with him and Bella said the Webbers would probably take her in. But what would the good people of Forks think of their Chief of Police if he refused? That stopped him in his tracks; he knew he was being petty and childish.

So he agreed as if that would have stopped her and now Bella just had to wait a little longer. Her biggest fear was Edward would return before she got away from here. Bella talked to Angie, telling her to keep Jess and Lauren away from the poor new girl. Asked her to be her friend like she was Bella's. Charlie was relieved to hear the student was coming with her aunt. The woman would act as his housekeeper and spoke excellent English. So Bella now carefully packed away all her stuff, keeping anything she didn't want to lose as she would not be returning here ever again. Peter kept her informed of everything and Bella avoided anyone from the La Push Reservation. Jacob Black was persistent about seeing her, but she was just as persistent about not seeing him.

He was most likely trying to find a way of stopping her, or she thought forbidding her to go! It's very handy having a friend who just knows shit! She was always somewhere else when the Blacks called over and too busy to go to the Rez with also arranged for a dealer to come to look at the car and Bella sold it to him right away. Now with plenty of money in the bank, she was ready to get the hell out of dodge! Peter also asked Bella to pack up all of Jasper's things from the Cullen mansion and be there for the uplift of them. He had a feeling that he'd be seeing his brother soon and wanted to save his stuff from the wrath of either Alice or Edward. They were childish enough to destroy other people's memories in a fit of pique.

Bella now wondered how Alice hadn't seen all of this, but Peter said she could no longer see her, from the minute Edward walked away. He also said Lucca would explain it all to Bella once she was in Malta. That her gift, yes gift was his area of expertise. Bella didn't realise she had one, but then she did keep Edward out of her mind. But Peter did ask if she'd made a conscious decision that she didn't want Alice looking at her future. Hell, yes she did! Right there in the forest, Bella remembered thinking Alice doesn't have the right to see her anymore after what they'd all done to her. Helping Edward keep her as a docile pet, a 'Stupid Lamb', right enough! So what was Bella's gift? That's two vampires who have been thwarted by her. Bella hoped Luca could explain and help her with it once she was a vampire.

Peter had jokingly said Luca would be doing an in-depth search on Bella's family tree to find a connection to him somewhere. Because her gift was a family trait in Malta! Wow, what it was Bella had no idea, but she was kind of happy she had something, hopefully, helpful in keeping her safe from Edward. Now and after her change, she also wanted Lucca to teach her how to fight. Visions of kicking Edward's ass were firmly in her mind and probably Alice too, his accomplice in everything. Christmas break had arrived, her school threw her a going away do and everyone said their goodbyes. She would leave between Christmas and New Year and the other girl would arrive just after the New Year. Bella was so ready to be out of here, her relationship with her dad was beyond strained, nowadays.

She didn't want to just do everything he wanted, that was as bad as living with the Cullens. She wasn't interested in baseball or fishing; the people on the Rez were his friends and only put up with her for him. Except for Jake, but that was another can of worms she didn't want to open! Bella and her dad had nothing in common, except being biologically father and daughter. He had always fobbed her off on someone on the Rez when she was younger, saying he had no idea how it look after a kid. But she was an adult now and he didn't understand her at all, he had barely tried to either. So Bella knew the best thing for her was to go and never return to Forks! She had made up her mind and was happy with that decision. Bella was now looking forward to whatever her new life would entail.

Renee, her mother was totally happy for her and even sent her money, telling her to grab life with both hands and never settle for less than the best. So for once she was taking a leaf out of her mother's book and was going to live and die her way and for herself! The flights were long but she enjoyed the whole thing seeing it as an adventure she would never normally have. Bella fully intended to learn Maltese, but for now, she thanked God, that most people on the Island also spoke English. She wasn't expecting to be changed until she actually finished school. That would hopefully give her time to settle in and get to know a couple of people. Mostly she just wanted to speak to Luca; from all accounts, he was a serious family man.

As she walked off the plane and into Valletta's airport Bella felt the initial worry drop from her shoulders. She had subconsciously thought Edward might catch her before she got away. But now she breathed freely for the first time in months. She texted Peter to say she had landed and to thank him and Jasper once again. Peter replied saying it was his pleasure and there would be someone to meet her after she got through customs. Sure enough, a placard with her name on it was being held up and she quickly made her way over to the human couple. This too was a bit of a relief, not that she thought the Maltese vampires would hurt her. But just she was happy with the normality of it; she was still just an eighteen-year-old American girl.

One who was thrown into a world she wasn't really equipped for. But once there she had taken it in her stride and accepted those vampires for who they had been and they threw it back in her face!

HLMWAINS

That was the Cullen's cross to bear and the cracks had begun to show as they left Forks and Washington behind, but Bella didn't know that at this time. Jasper was bidding his time once they had moved from Forks. Alice refused to share a room with him and he nodded and said that was fine! Edward tried to have him thrown out of the family, but Carlisle was for once not listening to him. Jasper was far too calm and Carlisle knew the shit was literally about to hit the fan. Emmett was refusing to talk to anyone except Jasper. He wouldn't share a room with Rose either. Esme watched as her family fell apart and she knew she was equally to blame for it.

Emmett knew his brother was hiding something and he just waited, because when Jasper went, so would he! It was two days after Christmas when the call arrived. Peter took delight in announcing it over speakerphone.

"Merry Christmas Cullens, sorry to be a little late! Major, little bird says thank you once again and she has flown the coop! Emmett, you're welcome to join us too!

Edward don't waste your time sneakin' back to Forks for your pint of blood, she's gone! So my good news for Christmas might not be as good for you. You have about a year to eighteen months to run and hide!

Once her newborn year is up she'll either hunt you down herself or set the Volturi on you. She hasn't decided and you'll never know until it's too late!" As he paused for breath there was chaos and shouting,

Carlisle looked defeated and knew who Peter meant by she! Emmett had been watching Jasper's grin as it got bigger and bigger and he too made the leap and whooped for joy! Edward heard Emmett's thoughts and roared about his blood being gone! Esme was across the room and slapped him so hard on the face his teeth actually rattled and Alice stared at Jasper.

"What did you do?" she had whined,

"I got Isabella free of you and Edward!" he told her shrugging as he got to his feet,

"Well, that's the news I was waitin' on, so goodbye all. Oh, lose my number Alice and sign the divorce papers when they arrive or I will be back and then they won't need signin'!" he threatened and they knew he meant it,

"Wait for me, man! I'm coming with you" Emmett called out and ignored the outraged look Rose was levelling at him,

Esme just sobbed and refused to be consoled by Carlisle. Alice could see nothing, for the first time ever she was totally blind to their future. Rose couldn't believe Emmett would leave her because of a human. That human!

"Well, my work is done here. Merry belated Christmas!" Peter said ringing off gleefully,

"The attack was fake wasn't it Jazz? I knew your eyes were still gold, but damn man you and Bella played us all!" Emmett said laughing not in the least upset,

"Yeah, and Eddie said she couldn't act!" Jasper had sniggered as Edward sat crumpled on the floor,

"You lost me my mate, Edward! Why can't you be normal? You should have just killed her, but not the great Edward Cullen; he couldn't stoop so low as to kill his singer!" Rose ranted,

"Shut up bitch, he was no more your mate than Jasper was Alice's, or that human was mine!" Edward retorted snarkily,

The three idiots didn't see the hatred in Esme's eyes or the resignation in Carlisle's! He knew he'd have to choose between Esme and them and well unlike them apparently, she was his mate, so the choice was obvious to Carlisle! He couldn't believe all three had lied and just settled, rather than wait and find their other half. Didn't they see, didn't they understand? No, they were children after all! He had failed as a leader, a mentor, and a father and it broke his heart. He had treated them like adults, equals and they were nothing but spoiled greedy children! Only Emmett and Jasper were all that he hoped they could be. But true to form those three never noticed his or Esme's pain, too wrapped up in their own petty wants and desires! Esme rose and took him by the hand, leading to his study.

This did not even garner a glance from the others. But the ramifications of their actions would soon hit them where it hurt the most, their bank accounts! Esme Cullen was nothing if not resourceful, once she situated her mate. Leaving him in his study with a medical tome to take his mind off things, she set to work. She wasn't alone for long when Jasper and Emmett appeared in her equally soundproofed workroom.

"Can I give Alice the house in Biloxi you bought her son? Rose will get the Rochester house and Edward his own in Chicago. I will settle each with one million and that's it. They can have one car and any personal items that they can carry. Nothing will be sent on, nothing will be kept!

Emmett, as far as I'm concerned you are still our son and can return to Carlisle and me anytime you want. Jasper, you are my son in everything but name, don't be a stranger. Please, because I know you won't ever come back!" She told them and both men hugged her tightly and whispered,

"Thank you, mom",

HLMWAINS

Malta was amazing and Bella couldn't believe how free she felt and for once actually was. Nobody demanded she did things for them, but gladly accepted her help when she offered it. Nobody demanded her undivided attention all the time. When the young women all went into town, half shopped and half said no thanks. They took Bella sightseeing and laughed when she was relieved she didn't have to look at clothes or pretend she was interested. Not one of these strangers demanded things of her she hated, but the Cullens and her own family had! This was a huge learning curve for Bella, one where she had the right to say no to anything she wasn't comfortable with. Lucca was without a doubt the epitome of the kind of father figure Bella needed.

He was interested in her, for her and gave her as much praise as anyone in his family. He told her how strong she was, how brave she was and how kind too. He had sat her down and explained what her gift was and how advanced it already was without any help. He also dug into his family's records and found a connection between her and him. Way back when he had first established his dynasty some family members had already left and were lost in the shuffle so to speak. But with painstaking and meticulous digging through the records, he had found one branch that had settled in Italy. Well, Bella knew she had Italian ancestry, but not who or how. But that's where her name came from after all. Hell, her dad's eye and hair colouring was a giveaway too.

Family traits do follow you and even when it isn't apparent there can always be the odd throwback to remind people of their past history.


My thanks as usual to Idreamofeddy, for the wonder that is the Peter Whitlock, that we all treat as canon xx Alexis