Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight, New Moon, or any of Stephenie Meyer's characters. Please don't sue me.

Okay, I'm pretty sure that Bella will choose to take Edward up on his marriage offer in Eclipse, so I'll leave any ideas I have for that for Ms. Meyers to write so that I do not poison her wondrous ideas with my sloppy own. Therefore, I'm not going to take that approach with this story.

Hi, ya'll. I started writing this at a friend's request for a Twilight/New Moon fanfiction, but I only gave her one chapter. Soon, I found myself staying up until two every morning working on this, and it was screaming at me to post it, so, despite my promise to focus on my other story before I post any more, I give you the first chapter of Setting Dusk.

"The course of true love never did run smooth."

-From A Midsummer Night's Dream (I, i, 134)

Chapter One


I looked up at the simple clock that was hung above the teacher's unorganized desk. The silence was unbearable, almost choking. I slid my teeth over my bottom lip and chewed impatiently.


Next to me, Edward was drawing invisible circles on the soft underside of my arm, our hands held loosely under the table. I turned to him and sighed exasperatedly. He smiled gently, looking at me sympathetically. I leaned over to whisper something in his ear, but a shrill, earsplitting scream echoed through the classroom.

The entire class jumped up, an exuberant cheer filling the silence. My eyes widened, and the corners of my mouth spread into a huge smile. Edward laughed, pulling me up and into his arms. I pressed my face into his stone chest, breathing in his magnificent scent as he wrapped his cold arms around my waist.

"Finally…" I murmured, pulling away reluctantly. "It's over!"

He threw his head back and laughed, leaving me astounded as his perfect white teeth glowed like a model's. "You think this is long?" He leaned down to me, staging his whisper as a kiss to my forehead. "I've graduated so many more times than you."

I looked back up to him as he released me and took both of our book-bags in one fluid movement. Smiling as he pulled me out of the already empty classroom, I shivered with fear and excitement. It was finally over! No more tests or studying, no more stressing over projects that were due the next morning, and definitely no more time to keep Edward and I apart.

The halls were extremely packed as Edward put his hand on the small of my back to lead me out of the way of an over-eager sophomore. Papers were thrown everywhere, jubilant cries, deafening. I spotted Mike Newton and his girlfriend, Jessica Stanley, kissing by the front door.

I snorted. I couldn't help but feel responsible for getting them together. Over a year ago, Jess had called me asking for my permission to ask him to a dance. Then, that summer, they had separated, and less than a year later, they decided to give it another try. Now, they couldn't seem to keep their hands off of each other.

Edward handed me my raincoat, which had somehow appeared from nowhere. I thanked him and pulled it on. I gave Jess a quick pat on the shoulder, which she acknowledged with a muffled "Bye," and walked outside, pulling my hood up as my dark brown hair immediately reacted to the humidity.

I grinned as Edward pulled me to his car, a silver Volvo, and opened my door. I ducked inside to avoid the light rain as he sauntered around and sat in the driver's seat. "Guess what?" he said, that crooked grin tugging at his lips. "You are no longer a student."

I threw my head back with a relieved sigh. "This is true." I replied, raising a finger. "And by tomorrow, we won't have to deal with teachers yelling at us…" I paused. "At least for a few years."

He stiffened at my side. I pressed my lips shut and turned to the window. It was a soft subject for him and I knew it.

"I still don't think you should do it." His voice was low as he started the car.

I sighed. "I know you don't." A few more words came to my lips, but I held them back.

He pulled out of the parking lot smoothly, reaching for the CD player and turning on some jazz song. We were out of he lot and speeding down the road at eighty miles an hour within seconds. The car was filled with the familiar tension that came with the subject. "I mean," He took one hand off of the wheel to gesture with it. "You have your whole life ahead of you. If you would just walk away now, you could…" His gesturing hand grasped air as if the words could be picked out of the sky.

I liked it when he was like this, unable to finish his sentences or know what to say. It reminded me that somewhere, beneath all of his perfection, Edward was still just human. Well… mostly…

I put my hand on his shoulder, leaning forward and whispering, "You know I could never walk away from you, or from your family, or from everything I feel about you."

His lips twitched into a scowl. "I wish you would." His voice was so low and soft, it took me a moment to comprehend what he said. His eyes, almost black from going without feeding for so long, gazed out at the road painfully, though we both knew he didn't even have to look that way to drive.

I retorted with a voice almost as soft as his. "I can't" Leaning back, I turned so I was just slightly facing him. "I couldn't go every day knowing that I could've spent the rest of my life… death…" I corrected myself confusedly. "With you… I couldn't live with myself knowing that I threw everything away to-"

"You are throwing everything away!" He interrupted, finally turning to look at me.

"I'm throwing away nothing." I shot back, accentuating the final word. "I'm throwing everything away when I think that even for a millisecond that you aren't worth it." I balled my hands into fists, resisting the tears that sprang to my eyes. "You… you can't imagine…" I sighed, throwing my hands into the air in front of me. "I love you, Edward! I can't imagine not being with you."

"And neither can I!" he interjected desperately. "But…" His words trailed off for a minute before they came back at full force. "I don't want you to be like Rosalie!" The mention of his sister's name hit me like a hot bullet. "I don't want you to wake up one morning and realize you regret the decision you made! You have…" I must've imagined that catch in his perfect voice. "The choice to live your life or to be some…" He turned to the road and glared. "Monster."

"You are not a monster." I leaned forward and turned the music off.

"You're right." He sneered. "I'm a vampire."

It took me a moment to notice we were in the driveway of mine and Charlie's house. Looking from the house to Edward, I slid across the seat and wrapped my arms around him. He stiffened, but released the wheel and pulled me into his lap. He held me tight, pushing my curtain of hair aside to hide his face in the crook of my neck.

I almost jumped when he pressed his cold lips against the hollow of my throat. It was stupid; he did that all the time. I felt his breath waver on my skin, his hand groping its way to my neck. His lips parted slowly, caressing my pale skin with soft kisses. They made their way to a spot below my jawline and froze.

I furrowed my eyebrows. He pressed his mouth firmly, his lips parting hesitantly. I almost pulled away as an eerie fear washed over me, but I knew he wouldn't hurt me. It wasn't until I felt the blunt of his teeth against my throat that a sense of alarm shot through my chest. He wouldn't bite me; he loathed the idea, but the human instinct in me was still terrified. "Edward…" I whispered. He exhaled shakily, fisting the back of my shirt.

For a moment, nothing but pure fear pulsed through my veins, but he pulled his mouth away. He gave me a gentle squeeze and released me. I awkwardly made my way out, holding the door open for a minute.

"I'll… I'll pick you up at seven…" He said.

I nodded, whispering a good-bye and closing the door. He smiled sadly at me through the rain-caressed window. I raised my hand in a weak wave as he started the car again and backed out, driving away.

I let my hand fall as I turned and went into the house. Charlie wasn't home yet, I noticed, and I walked into the kitchen so my hands could find something, anything to keep busy. Pulling open the refrigerator with one hand, I pressed the other to my neck where he'd placed his lips. The skin wasn't broken, but I could still feel the cold of his marble lips pressed there.

Shaking the thought away, I pulled the hamburger meat, cheese, and tomato sauce out and placed them next to the stovetop.

While I cooked the lasagna, my mind drifted over everything that had happened since I had moved in with Charlie the year before, everything that had happened since my life got so much more confusing.

When I met Edward at school that first day, I was positive that he hated me. We somewhat became friends, if he wasn't angry or mysterious about everything. From then on, it had seemed like my life was always in danger. I'd been almost hit by a car and killed by some shady guys in the city among other things, but every time, Edward had come to my aid.

Somewhere between my near-death experiences and falling in love, I discovered his and his family's secret. They were vampires. Instead of feasting on humans, their instinctual diets, they left every other weekend to hunt animals in the mountains.

Edward and I were constantly in danger. When we went to Italy at the beginning of the year, he made a promise that I'd be turned like him, in other words, a vampire. When we returned, he and his family had a vote on whether to change me or not. The only two who disagreed were Edward and Rosalie. The others, Jasper, Emmett, Esme, Alice, and the father-like figure, Carlisle, agreed to accept me into their family.

So it was agreed. Carlisle, being the one in complete control of his instincts, would change me after graduation. I'd move out to live with them and adapt to their life and schedule. Now, with that just a day away, I was terrified. I didn't admit it, thankful that I was the only mind Edward couldn't read, and I didn't show it, but there was always that pang of fear before I fell asleep.

I'd never change my mind, though. Never.

"Bella?" Charlie opened the door and stepped inside, the sound of rain echoing in the otherwise quiet house.

"Yeah, Dad." I left my spot, bent over the kitchen table, and walked out to the living room.

"Smells good. What are you making this time?" He walked inside with a smile on his face, but I could tell it pained him knowing that this was the last time he'd come home to quality food in the oven.

"Lasagna. I know you like it, so I figured…" I trailed off, leaning against the doorway to the kitchen.

He nodded, grinning and setting his raincoat on one of the empty hooks. "You are the best chef that kitchen has ever met."

I smiled. "Thanks, Dad. There's a timer on that when it's done, so I'm gonna go get ready for tonight."

"Sure. Where are they taking you again?" he asked, referring to the Cullens' taking me out for dinner tonight to "celebrate" my last human night out. Charlie, unfortunately, only knew that it was a graduation dinner. Esme thought I should tell him, but Carlisle thought it best that I didn't.

"It's called 'La Bella Italia', down in Port Angeles?"

"Ah, yes. I remember now." He smiled and sat down in his favorite chair, reaching for the remote and turning on the t.v.

Smiling sadly, I started up the stairs and dodged into my room. I closed the door behind me, pulling out my CDs and slipping one that Phil, my mother's new husband, had given me into the CD player. It was some loud, screaming music, but it gave me something else to occupy my thoughts.

Shuffling over to my closet, I pulled the doors open and shifted my weight to my right, examining my choices. Eventually, I settled on a short, dark blue dress. I smiled softly as I stepped into it, knowing that Edward loved the color on me. I'd had another dress in that color, but it was extremely low cut. He would flip.

Stepping into the bathroom across the hall, I bit my lip. I rarely did anything with my hair, but I figured that tonight was special. I had about an hour, enough time to do whatever I wanted with my untamable hair, so I weaved my fingers through it. At first, I tried a simple French braid, but shook it out when my hair decided to rebel.

After several different hairstyles, none of which looked good or were convenient, I decided to just straighten my hair. Once I had, I pulled back my bangs and attached them to the top of my head with a rhinestone clip. Staring at myself blankly in the mirror, I could see that it looked better than anything else I had tried.

My heart skipped with fright when the doorbell rang. "What?" I nearly shouted, looking at the clock on the wall. It read seven o' clock, right on the dot.

I panicked.

"Dad!" I screamed. "Get the door!" I scrambled to my room, falling over the rug. "Crap." I muttered darkly, diving under my bed to find my shoes. I could hear laughter from downstairs and fumed. My hands grasped the heel to one of the shoes. I grabbed it and its mate, hitting my head on the bed as I quickly crawled out. I winced, muttering a string of curses under my breath.

I put the shoes on with hasty and fumbling hands. Tripping as I stood, I ran back to the bathroom to fix the mess of my hair. Luckily, the only major problem was that my clip had come out of place, spraying whisps of my hair across my forehead. "Bella? You okay up there?" Charlie called.

"Just a minute!" I yelled back, fixing my bangs back into their proper place. As I approached the stairs, I stopped and took a few deep breaths, trying to calm myself, but to no avail. There was another round of booming laughter, and now that I was somewhat focused, I could hear Esme's light chuckling behind it. That sent up a new wave of panic. "Them too?" I whispered to myself.

I reluctantly started down the stairs. I had imagined this walk forever, since I started watching romance movies with my mom. Every girl knows that walk: the guy's standing at the bottom, completely clueless; then, all of the sudden, the room gets silent as the girl starts floating down the stairs; the guy is put into some goofy looking trance as she comes down with that I'm-hot-and-I-know-it air about her; she slips into his arms as he looks into her eyes with awe. Yeah, that one.

This walk was completely different. I must've looked completely flushed and embarrassed, my cheeks as bright as cherries. To make it worse, as I was moving to walk over to the small crowd in my living room, I tripped, causing my blush to spread across my face.

Edward smiled, not that awe-struck smile, but that nice-to-see-you smile. That slowed my frantic heartbeat slightly, but made it flutter all the same.

"You look beautiful." Esme murmured softly, hesitating just slightly before tucking my hair behind my ear. Her smile was comforting to my frantic nerves. That motherly, loving smile brought back memories of me and Renee. I felt the early beginnings of tears in my eyes, so I shoved the bitter-sweet memories aside.

Charlie choked on the drink he had been sipping when he got a good view of the dress I was wearing. He said nothing about it, and I was grateful, but I could see from the look on his face that he didn't entirely agree. I felt my cheeks get hot, and turned away from his stare.

"Hello." I said, suddenly shy.

Carlisle took a step towards the door. "Thank you for your time and your daughter." He said, motioning to me. "I hope to see you again, Chief Swan." He grinned one of his dazzling smiles and wrapped his arm around Esme's waist.

Charlie nodded and Edward took my hand, leading me out. "We'll have her back before ten!" he called over his shoulder. The door closed behind us and I saw Edward's Volvo parked in the driveway next to my beaten up old truck.

Edward, as far as I could see, had returned to his normal self. He squeezed my hand gently before opening the back door and helping me in. Esme slid in beside me on the other side while Edward sat in the driver's seat and Carlisle beside him.

"Well, Bella," Carlisle began as Edward started the car and pulled out smoothly. "How are you doing, seeing as you've finished high school?"

I smiled and opened my mouth to say something, but thought about what Edward had said. "It's not as great as I expected." I lied, twisting my hands in my lap.

"Are you nervous, dear?" Esme asked, placing a cold hand on my bare shoulder. Of course she noticed, they notice everything.

I decided to be honest and swallowed. "Somewhat."

Her voice got softer and I wondered if she meant for the whole car to hear. If she was or not, I could tell by the way Edward stiffened in the front seat that he heard either way. "About now or…tomorrow?"

I looked up into her warm eyes. And I lied again. "Just now." I managed a smile. "These heels are murder in shoe form, so I'll probably break my neck."

She didn't seem to really believe me, but she smiled and leaned back comfortably.

The car got strangely silent. Now was one of the only times I wish Edward knew what I was thinking so that he'd say something, anything. Finally, Carlisle cleared his throat to speak. "You know, Bella, I had a patient in the hospital today." I nodded and added an mm-hmm for encouragement. "It scared me half to death; she looked just like you." He laughed. "I even called up Edward in the middle of class to tell him you were hurt, but he said you were fine."

I looked at Edward, who was smiling. "You didn't tell me anything about that."

He chuckled. "It didn't seem important."

I furrowed my eyebrows, turning to watch the towns blur behind the window. I opened my mouth to ask the normal small talk question, "So, what are you guys going to order?" but clamped my mouth shut before I even got the first word out.

As if echoing my thoughts, Carlisle said, "What are you planning on eating?"

"Um," I suddenly felt small and weak. I was in a car with three vampires, and they were asking me what I was going to eat for dinner. I couldn't help but wince at the irony. "I was planning on getting what I got with Edward last time we went: mushroom ravioli. It was pretty good."

Esme smiled next to me and leaned forward to say something to Carlisle. "Do you think we should order?" I know she only meant for him to hear, but I couldn't help but blush.

He turned his head towards her, but I was shocked when he spoke to me. "What do you think, Bella?"

I could feel the heat rising to his face, and Edward muttered something to Carlisle. "I… I don't know. I guess that's not my choice…"

"Well, would you feel on the spot if you were the only one eating?" Esme whispered something to him, but he looked straight at me.

I thought back to the first time I'd gone there with Edward, after my shopping trip with Jess and another girl from school. He'd stared at me intensely, watching every move I made and every bite I took. That along with our intense conversation made it really hard to eat. I expected nothing different of tonight.

"I- I guess so." I managed, twisting my hands in my lap even more.

"Well, then, we want to make her comfortable." He said, speaking to Esme again. "So we won't make her feel like she's being stared at."

She leaned back, seemingly unsatisfied. I blushed and turned to look back out the window. It was chokingly quiet for a while. I could barely breathe in the pressuring, suffocating atmosphere. Suddenly, Edward spoke up, saving me from drowning. "I think I'll have what Bella's having."

It was if that had decided it. The conversation was closed, and I felt somehow protected. Edward suddenly made a sharp turn, and I looked out the window. Rosalie's car was parked beside us, I noticed as I climbed out clumsily.

Edward was immediately at my side, pressing his palm against the small of my back as we walked towards the restaurant. Esme and Carlisle were whispering about something behind us, and as much as I strained to hear, they were talking, intentionally, too low. We walked inside, embracing the cool air.

A petite waitress bounced up to us, a couple menus in her arm. "Hi, I'm Becky. Can I get you a table? For two?" Carlisle and Esme walked in behind us and Carlisle put a hand on Edward's shoulder. Becky's smile wavered for a moment, but she immediately recovered. "Four?"

"Actually, we're here to have dinner with our family. Under 'Cullen?'" Carlisle smiled one of his dazzling smiles and I swear the waitress almost fainted.

"Um, yes." She stammered for a moment, looking at some seating chart at the front podium behind her. "Oh, of course, right this way." She seemed less "bouncy" as she led us through a sea of tables and booths. Eventually, we were led to one long table in the very back. I could make out the back of the rest of the Cullen coven, leaned over each other in quiet conversation.

"Hello." Esme almost sang as she took a seat on the other side of the table, leaning back as Becky placed a menu in front of her.

Alice, who was seated with Jasper on her right and Rosalie on her left, looked up with a gaze that could only be labeled as surprised. "Hi, guys." She folded her arms on the table in front of her as Edward led me to the chair across from Jasper and sat on my right.

"Is this everybody?" Becky chirped, rocking back on her heels. You could see it in her eyes that she was slightly uneasy at being around so many stunning people at once. "Would you like to order something to drink?"

"Water, please." Esme said, smiling warmly at her.

"I'll have water too." Carlisle turned to Edward.

"Sweet tea." After I ordered my coke, the rest started a trend of asking for water. Becky took the orders with a nod, bounding off when we were finished. Once she was out of sight, Edward all but burst into laughter. The rest of the table looked at him like he was crazy. He grinned mischievously. "She thinks Bella and I are the only sane ones here." We all smiled, but no one laughed quite as loudly as he had.

"So, Bella, are you packed?" Alice asked. She ran a graceful hand through her dark, pixie-cut hair. "We've got your room all ready."

"You fixed my room for me?" I was surprised, but the feeling didn't last for long. They didn't sleep, so I guessed they did it at night to keep themselves busy. A new waitress came, one with shoulder-length hair. She had a tray of drinks balanced in her hand.

"How're ya'll doing tonight? I'm Sarah, and I'll be your waitress for tonight." She smiled and began placing the drinks in front of their correct owners. Her voice had a sweet southern drawl to it, and her brown eyes sparkled when she spoke. "What can I get ya'll tonight?" She took a small pad from a pocket in her black apron and pulled out the pen that had been tucked behind her ear.

I could tell that the rest of the family was surprised when Esme and Carlisle ordered, and then Edward, but they recovered in time and quickly picked something off the menu at random. Sarah, like Becky, took note of everything with a nod and a smile and then parted when she had everything.

"Actually, Rosalie planned everything out. We just moved stuff into place." Alice looked at the woman in question, who had turned her head away and picked the water up, swirling the liquid nonchalantly. "I think you'll like it, Bella."

"Thanks, guys." I said with a smile. "I'm sure I will."

"Yeah, we didn't want you to feel awkward when you first moved in, so Rosie went right to color coordinating and sewing." Emmett spoke up with a proud grin.

I heard an angry grumble from Rosalie that sounded extremely similar to "I told you not to call me that in public." I heard Edward stifle a chuckle next to me and I couldn't help but smile when the blonde looked up at her husband with a glare.

"I didn't know you could sew." I commented, leaning over to take a sip of my coke. The liquid was sweet and fizzy on my tongue.

She turned to look at me, and her caramel eyes hesitated before she decided to respond. "I picked it up a few years ago." I knew when she said "a few" that she meant about seven or eight, but I didn't acknowledge it. "I actually major in fashion and design when I go to college." She laughed softly. "And a minor in mechanic engineering."

"You should see our closet." Emmett grinned. "I have about four shirts and four pairs of pants, and everything else is hers. We have to struggle to close it every morning."

I noticed a tiny smile forcing its way onto Rosalie's lips as she hit him playfully. I liked watching her try to hide that little smile. It reminded me that even though she would sometimes treat me coldly (less so since our trip to Italy), and she resented being a vampire with the sheer essence of her being, that it was her love for Emmett that got her through the day. He, even when she was trying to be angry and distant, could make her smile.

I nearly jumped when I felt Edward's ice-cold hand sliding discreetly onto my bare knee. A sense of relaxation washed over me, and my hand ducked under the table to cover his. I looked at him and saw a mischievous smile twitching at the corners of his lips. He winked at me, so quickly I barely caught it, and I found myself trying to hide a smile, just like Rosalie.

After a while of talking and laughing, always managing to dance around the subject of tomorrow without actually touching it, Sarah brought us our food. I could tell that when they looked down at it, my almost-family wasn't too excited about it, but after a moment of hesitation, Edward came to my rescue once again and was the first to eat of his meal. Then everything seemed to fold in seamlessly. Carlisle ate a forkful of his, and then the rest of the family followed suit.

I hesitated for a moment before I plunged my fork into my food to watch their reaction. The awkward silence had passed and Edward and Alice were debating on the pros and cons of the violin and piano. They didn't seem too disgusted or too delighted. When the conversation turned to Alice trying to explain to Emmett something about string instruments, I took a deep breath and leaned over to Edward, whispering into his ear, "Is the food absolutely horrible?"

I could tell he noticed the worried tone in my voice, because he smiled encouragingly and gently squeezed my knee. "It's fine, just bland." He leaned down so that his lips brushed my ear when he spoke, causing shivers to shoot through my spine. "And a little crunchy."

I covered my mouth with my hand as I laughed softly, shaking my head as he pulled away. Returning to my meal contentedly, I gracefully weaved my way into the conversation. The more I watched, the more I noticed that they only took very tiny bites, and a bit of guilt would tug at my chest, but then someone at the table would crack some stupid joke and I couldn't help but laugh.

We left around nine, and I noticed as Edward was leading me out, his hand on the small of my back again, that their plates looked like they were barely touched. Edward's and Carlisle's were the only ones that even looked eaten off of.

"Did you have a good time?" Edward asked as he opened the passenger's side door so I could climb in. Carlisle and Esme were driving home with Rosalie and Emmett so Edward and I could have a bit of privacy.

I shrugged. "I'm starting to wish I'd told Carlisle not to order." I paused. "Or that he'd just taken us bowling or something." I waited while he smiled sympathetically and closed my door, walking around and climbing into his own seat. I continued as He started the car. "But over all, it was pretty fun."

He grinned, pulling out onto the main road at a ridiculous speed. "Good. They'll probably be attacking me when I get home." He cleared his throat and imitated Alice's musical voice. "'She didn't feel too uncomfortable did she? Was she nervous?' She always interrogates me after you come over."

"Well, I'd rather her interrogate you than to not say anything at all." I pulled my seatbelt across my body and tucked it in securely.

"Yeah, I guess so." He leaned back comfortably, taking one hand from the steering wheel to place it on my knee again.

We were resting in comfortable silence for a while, just listening to soft jazz and watching the scenery blur by. I could close my eyes and listen to him just barely singing along to the music with his perfect velvet voice.

Suddenly, he smirked and looked at me. My eyes, which had been closed, snapped open at the pressure of his gaze. "What?" I breathed.

He chuckled, shaking his head and turning back to the front. "I was just thinking." His black eyes took on an almost glazed look, one I'd never seen on him. "I can't wait until I can just pull you into my arms and kiss you long and hard. I'm not going to have to worry about holding you too tight or having to control my hunger." He looked back at me, his eyes almost sad. "I'm gonna take care of you for the rest of your existence, Bella Swan, I promise."

I could feel the tears ripping at my core. "I know." I sniffed, banishing any thoughts of crying. "And what's this I hear? Is Edward Cullen looking forward to my transformation?" I gasped and put my fingertips to my mouth in mock surprise. "It couldn't be!"

He sneered. "Ha ha. Very funny. I was just saying that it'll be nice to be able to be with you without having to worry about hurting you every minute."

I smiled. "I know, Edward, I'm just kidding." And we were quiet the rest of the way. I shifted over so I could be closer to him, and he wrapped his marble arm around my waist securely. We basked in each others' presence, just enjoying the company.

My happiness depleted when he pulled into my driveway. Like before, I ungracefully snaked my seatbelt off and pulled myself into his lap. He curled me tightly into his arms, but he didn't put his lips to the hollow of my throat like he usually did. I shrugged that off as he kissed my forehead and released me, leaning over to open my door for me. "I'll be there in a minute, okay? Go ahead and get ready for bed. I'm just gonna drop this off and run back."

I nodded and climbed out awkwardly. He drove off with a wave, and I reluctantly turned and walked inside. Charlie had fallen asleep in front of a baseball game. I smiled as I walked up the familiar stairs, pulling out a pair of pajama bottoms and an old t-shirt. Getting through a shower and brushing my teeth as quickly as possible, I pulled them on.

When I walked into my room, there he was, flipping through one of my Jane Austen books. I leaned against the door frame and waited for him to notice me, which took longer than it usually did. When he finally did look up, a broad grin spread across his face. "Hey, beautiful."

There was something that always made me angry when he called me beautiful. It always made me think, Why would he think I was beautiful when he sees a goddess like Rosalie every day? Somehow, it frustrated me, and then he'd look at me with those stupid, perfect eyes and I'd forget all about it.

I looked down, almost embarrassed, and shuffled over to his spot in my chair. I held my arms out like a baby and he gladly pulled me in, settling my fragile body into his lap.

Resting my head against his cold chest, I breathed in his magnificent scent. He smiled softly when I sighed contentedly and took to stroking my back with his thumb. I wrapped my arms around his neck and buried my face in his chest. Taking a shaky breath first, I murmured into his shirt, "I am nervous, though."

He laughed shortly. "I'm just proud that you're so brave. Most humans would be having a panic attack right now."

I smiled, and that was the last thing I remembered before I fell asleep in his arms.