Chapter 18: As Rain in Forks

Disclaimer: Stephenie's

Recap: "Bella, it's one of them. Run."

So I ran. Fast. Edward had a firm hold on my hand, pulling me faster than I usually ran. I never stumbled, to my surprise, but I didn't have time to be happy about that.

"Call your family! Tell them they know," I suggested as we ran.

"They don't know yet, Bella," he responded, pulling out his phone and dialing anyway. "One of them was there before us. They were probably close by, though. If they picked up our scent…we don't have much time." The look on his face was what scared me most. The fear in his eyes was heartbreaking.

"Alice?" he asked, bringing the phone to his ear. "They were there, in our meadow. I don't know why, but if they pick up her scent…tell Carlisle we've got to leave now. Get a head start. Bella and I will be right behind you." A pause, and then, "No, Alice, don't wait for us. I only picked up one of their scents. Black, I think. I'm not sure when he started phasing, but…yes, we're almost at the house. Leave the keys on the counter, have Emmett pack the Volvo for me. Because he's faster, Alice. Leave now. Please." He hung up then, still running, his pace never slowing or faltering throughout the entire conversation.

"They're leaving now, right?" I asked anxiously.

"All of them except Emmett and Rosalie…just in case we need their help. If the dogs catch up to us," he said darkly, running a bit faster. I could see the break in the endless trees now, telling me that we were close.

We entered the house, slowing down a bit. Most of the furniture remained, but nothing else. Edward jogged straight to the kitchen counter, then took the keys from the counter with his free hand- the one that didn't have a firm grip on my own.

He turned to me, pulling me closer to him immediately. "Bella, listen to me," he commanded, taking my face in his hands. "He was behind us. His name is Jacob Black, and he's a new werewolf. Very new. He's not very fast yet, or good at fighting, I'm guessing. If he catches up to us, I need you to run, okay?" The look in his face was desperate, pleading.

"No, Edward. I'm not leaving without you," I replied firmly.

His eyes blazed. "Yes. You are. I love you, Isabella Swan, and I refuse to see you get hurt." He leaned down swiftly, crushing my lips to his for just a second. "Let's go. Hurry."

We sprinted to the car, and we had pulled out of the driveway before thirty seconds had passed. "He's behind us," Edward murmured as we sped away from the house. I turned in my seat, and I didn't need to look far to see a large, russet-colored wolf running in the middle of the street. It stared back at me for a while before slowing down, then turning back, then trotting back into the forest slowly.

"He knows you," Edward said suddenly, his tone astonished.

"What?" I couldn't remember anything about a Jacob.

"His father, Billy Black and your father…they're pretty good friends. He must've put the pieces together…we said you and I eloped, but then he picked up my scent, plus a new one. I'm not sure, but I think he may know that I can hear what he's thinking. He doesn't want anything to do with killing Charlie's kid. He can't keep it from his pack, though. There are no secrets, he says. He's thinking that he's sorry, and that he hopes this car can go faster than it is now." Edward's tone was curious, but not panicked, and his ryes were a bit less worried than they were minutes ago. He pushed a bit harder on the gas pedal, though. "I think he may try to buy us some time. I guess he respects your father quite a bit. To go against his pack…that's rare."

"Thank God for you, Jacob Black." I mumbled under my breath. "The rest of your family…how far ahead are they?" I inquired, looking over Edward's breathtaking profile as his gaze remained locked on the road ahead.

"Our family isn't too far away. They only left a couple minutes before us. Once we're out of town, we'll be much safer. They can't follow our scent if we're in a car. Besides, knowing Forks, it will rain soon." A confident smile lit up his face for a moment, and my entire body relaxed.

"Where are we going, again?" I asked, curious as to where our new home would be.

"This little group of houses not too far from Washington. Esme designed and decorated four of them, and we bought them after she finished. You and I will share one, Emmett and Rose another, Jasper and Alice-"

"Yeah, I think I get the idea," I interrupted, laughing, although I was having a hard time controlling the butterflies in my stomach at the thought of sharing a house with Edward, alone. He cast a sideways glance in my direction, probably thinking the same thing I was.

"About school," Edward started. "I think you should wait awhile to start up again…when you do, I'll go with you, but we should wait a year or two…just because of the bloodlust," he explained.

"Fine by me," I responded cheerfully. And it was. The more time with Edward without school as an interruption, the better.

"Me, too," he agreed, grinning.

We were both relatively quiet for the remainder of the short drive. It would've been awkward if it weren't for the music he had playing.

Just a few hours later, we pulled into a long gravel driveway-one of four in a row. The winding path reminded me of the driveway of his old house. The car screeched to a stop in front of a beautiful stucco house, smaller than his previous one but bigger than Charlie's.

Edward turned to me as I stared at the glorious structure. "Welcome home, Miss Swan," he whispered, laying a kiss on my cheek. I turned to him with a smile.

"It's beautiful," I complimented. Edward stepped out of the car to come around and open my door for me.

"I'm glad you like it." His tone was pleased and relieved as he took my hand, leading me to the door. We stepped inside, to a dimly lit room. The curtains were all drawn and the couches covered in dusty white sheets.

We worked together to uncover each piece of furniture, and with each couch or table or chair that was revealed, I found myself gasping. All of it was so lovely.

An hour later, Edward and I sat down on the largest couch, content. He turned to me silently, taking my hand and pulling it to his face as he leaned toward me. His lips touched mine gently, just barely moving. He pulled away after just a second to stare at me, a concerned glint in his eyes.

"What's wrong?" I whispered.

"Bella, you know that, if you wanted….if you decided you were wrong about…if you realized that you didn't want to…live like…" He was speaking unbearably slowly, and his stuttering words gave me an uneasy feeling.

"Spit it out, Edward," I demanded impatiently. Then, at the broken look on his face, I added, "Please."

"I just wanted to know that, if you changed your mind about me, or the way my family and I live…I just need you to know that you're not…obligated to stay w-"

"Are you kidding?" I asked, dubious. "I thought you were smarter than that, Edward Cullen. To think that I would leave you? Voluntarily? You're insane, I swear you are."

"Seriously, Bella. Please don't stay just to…make me happy or spare my feelings. Only stay if it's what you really want," he insisted, staring at the hardwood floor.

"Edward, look at me." He obliged. "Do you understand that I love you?" I asked, a bit condescendingly.

"I understand that you think you love me," he replied carefully. "But you're so young, Bella. I'm positive you don't love me like I love you." As sad as his tone was, his words angered me.

"You think that because I haven't been alive as long as you have I can't love you?!" I demanded, standing.

"Not that you can't love me, Bella. Just that…I've lived so long without you…all by myself, and now that I've met you, I can appreciate the diff-"

"You think I don't appreciate you?" My voice rose in pitch with each word.

He sighed, frustrated with himself…or perhaps with me. "Please, Bella. Don't take it as an insult. I'm just telling you that I love you more than you know. More than I can say. And I just can't imagine that anyone…especially someone as good as you…could see me in the same light I see you," he explained slowly, his eyes latched on mine. "So I want you to be happy, and if what makes you happy doesn't involve me, then I want you to leave. But if I can take any part in making you as happy as you can be, then please, please stay and let me. Let me love you. Forever." He stopped talking, then stared at me nervously, waiting for me to speak.

"Edward," I whispered, my voice catching on the beautiful word that defined a beautiful person. "You take the only part in making me as happy as I can be," I assured him with a small smile. He let out a long breath, smiled and then seemed to think of something.

"Bella, I…please don't get mad or offended or anything, okay?" he requested anxiously. I nodded. "I know that it'll be hard for you…adjusting to everything, but I'm not sure I can wait much longer without knowing if you're mine." He paused, then knelt and took one of my hands in both of his. "Will you marry me?" His voice broke with emotion and his eyes gleamed up at me, ready and waiting for rejection.

I opened my mouth, prepared to say no, to tell him again about my parents' short-lived, miserable marriage. But then I realized that it was inevitable. Him and I. As inevitable as rain in Forks. And there seemed to be no use in trying to delay it, or stop it. Because not only was it inevitable. It was meant to be.

And so, just as the cold, terrible word 'no' was about to leave my lips, I revised and said, "Yeah. Yeah, it looks like I will."

The smile Edward rewarded me with was absolutely radiant. He reached into his pocket swiftly to pull out a small metal object. I wasn't sure what it was at first, but then it dawned on me. "Whoa!" I shouted, shocked, as I jumped out of my seat and removed my hand from his. "I thought this was a spur-of-the-moment proposal," I objected. Edward's face fell.

"It was," he replied.

"Then why do you have a ring already?" I challenged.

"Esme saw it coming. About a month after we met, she gave me this. It was hers as a human. I've kept it with me ever since, because I…I was afraid the right moment would come and I wouldn't have it…Are you okay?" he added worriedly, seeing the look on my face.

"If she already knew, she probably told Carlisle, and Jasper and Alice knew, and so did Rosalie, most likely, and she could've told Emmett. How come you didn't want to tell your family if they already knew?" I asked him curiously.

"Well, they all knew, but they never acknowledged it. I didn't want them to start talking about it and freaking you out…Besides, Alice told me what you would do to try and get me to tell them…just the thought was irresistible." He grinned at the memory. Seconds later, his smile dropped and his eyes became very serious. "Will you wear it?" he asked me quietly.

I nodded, smiling. "Yes, Edward Cullen. I will wear your ring."

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I know it's been a long time, but this chapter was longer than my others, I think.

I'm planning on doing one more chapter plus an epilogue to make it an even twenty.

Review if you have any ideas or comments or flames or criticism! Thanks so much.