Author's Note: Hey all! For all those asking if the other Cullens will be in the story - indeed they shall. Every single one of them. You've already met one, but you probably didn't recognize it. You'll meet this Cullen again at the end. Be prepared: this Cullen's problem is much more serious and darker than Edward and Bella's. Now on with the show!

I suppose I'm the one who jinxed it. We had just reached the car when I thought, 'That all went really well.'

That was when the unmistakable flash of a camera bulb went off behind us.


Oh, just when you think you're in control,
Just when you think you've got a hold,
Just when you get on a roll.
Oh here it goes, here it goes, here it goes again.

Here It Goes Again by OK Go

"Oh shit," Edward muttered. We both turned our heads to look behind us.

There was a man in black slacks and a wrinkled white oxford shirt, his tie artfully loosened, with his camera to his face. There was another bright flash that made me cringe and automatically throw my hand over my eyes. I was usually on the other side of these bright flashes. Not the one they were directed at.

"Edward Masen!" said the man excitedly. "Who is this pretty lady here?"

The man's loud, carrying voice caused a couple heads to turn as my eyes scanned habitually. I heard low murmurs, Edward's name prominent in them. And I felt, for one of the few times in my life (and for the first time for a reason other than me falling down and breaking something loudly) many pairs of eyes on myself.

The whole exchange and effect took place in maybe ten seconds. I looked up at Edward but his hand, which had never left the small of my back, started pressing firmly down, guiding me around the car to the passenger side. "She's my girlfriend," he replied shortly, opening my door and helping me inside, his face tense. I wanted to say something to comfort him but he was already shutting my door.

I still heard the loud squawk of a female, shouting, "What!?"

There were more flashes and the growing of a crowd, excited babble flowing outside the car. Two more paparazzi members had joined the man with the camera.

"What's her name?" one of them shouted.

"How long have you been together?"

"How serious is it Edward?"

"What are your feelings on open relationships?"

But Edward was already in the car and shutting the door at this point, scowling. He started the car, not bothering with his seatbelt, an action that made me frown - but I thought it wise not to say anything. I was still kind of dazed from everything that had occurred in the past minute. There was a small crowd in front of the car already, and a larger one gathering on the sidewalk. How could so many people descend on one location so quickly?

Edward honked impatiently and revved his engine threateningly, forcing the braver gawkers out of the road. He entered traffic quickly with only half a glance over his shoulder before he sped off. I automatically gripped the door handle and the console, my knuckles turning white.

"I'm pretty sure this is over the speed limit," I gasped.

"I'm pretty sure we'll be fine," he retorted sordidly. His expression could've been chiseled from stone, but then he glanced over at me for the first time and something in my expression must have grounded him, for he seemed to soften slightly. I watched the needle on the speedometer relax its way down some. I breathed out a sigh of relief and finally let my death grips loosen. A lot of the tension released from my body then, letting me know exactly how tight I'd been wound. My hand prints were embedded deep into the black leather, very slowly inflating back to their normal stature.

I glanced at Edward and his eyes were on the road, his mouth a hard line again. I stared at him, before cautiously reaching out a hand to touch his jaw with my fingertips. "It's okay," I said quietly, feeling like this was what he needed to hear. "Edward."

He breathed out gradually, in controlled measurements. "Give me a minute," he said.

I nodded and settled back into my seat, hoping that that hadn't ruined the night. I was fine. Maybe it just hadn't sunk in yet, but the weight had passed and in my - maybe naïve - estimation, I thought it could have gone a lot worse. I just wasn't sure if Edward was all right.

Finally, he sighed. His grip on the steering wheel loosened. "I'm sorry Bella," he said wearily. "That's exactly what I was afraid would happen."

"It's fine, really Edward, I…I don't know, it wasn't…that bad, was it?"

"It could have been worse, yes," he agreed grimly. "But they've got a picture of you now, so they'll figure out your name soon enough. And then all hell will descend on you." He grimaced. "It'll be even worse now that they know I have a relationship with you. But I knew if I didn't say that they would've turned it into something worse, and I didn't want that to happen to you either…"

"You don't have to apologize all the time Edward," I told him patiently. "I know you have a good reason for whatever you do, and you also have experience. I thought you handled it really smoothly," I admitted. I grinned a little. "Now that I think about it, it's rather impressive. I was just frozen."

"Because it's your first t - " He broke off as he looked into his rearview mirror. His eyes narrowed. "Hold on a second," he muttered. "I think I know that car…"

He peered closer into the mirror, his eyes only glancing onto the road every few seconds, making me edgy again. My hand started to creep back to the door…

"Dammit!" he suddenly hissed. He made a sharp right turn at the next block which had me holding on for dear life.

"What is it this time?" I asked through clenched teeth, the blood draining from my hands again.

He scowled. "Only one of the most devoted and craziest journalists I've ever met, and her team. Her name is Jessica Stanley. She writes for one of those online gossip sites. My picture and crazy articles about me are all over it thanks to her. She barely gives me a moments peace to breathe. I've avoided her for some time now, miraculously, but that's blown I guess." He grit his teeth and glanced at me. "You've told me before that you hate crazy driving so you might want to close your eyes. It's going to take quite a lot to lose her. Trust me, I know."

So I did as he suggested (because it was probably the best option for me) and squeezed my eyes shut, biting my lip hard and trying to ignore the fact that we never seemed to slow down, stop, take gentle turns, or anything to suggest a proper adherence to traffic rules and regulations.

To try to distract myself as much as possible from the sick clamping in my stomach (and hoping that I wasn't distracting him) I asked, "So, how long has this been going on between you two?"

He snorted. "Basically since she found out I was into acting and I wasn't bad at it." He huffed, then admitted, "I used to go to high school with her."

"Woah!" My eyes shot open, and my jaw dropped in surprise. I was so startled I didn't even pay attention to the blur of scenery outside his window, and especially the fact that it shouldn't have been a blur. "No way! Small world."

"That's what I thought." He paused for a moment, before making another sharp turn that made my eyes close. "I think a part of it is that she's bitter I never wanted to go out with her. And insulted. Which is why she's so dogmatic with making me miserable. "

I felt a small glimmer of smugness shove aside the nausea in my stomach, thinking that though many people had undoubtedly desired (and still desire) him, I was the one he chose.

"To be honest though, I'm not that surprised this is her job," he continued dourly. "Gossiping was the one thing she was good at, and probably her only passion."

He glanced into the rearview mirror again and breathed a sigh of relief. I finally felt the car decrease to an appropriate speed, and I mirrored his relieved sigh. "I think we lost her," he said triumphantly.

My hands were numb from their grip, my posture rigid. I slowly let myself relax bit by bit. The tension didn't entirely leave me this time though, because I was just waiting for us to resume this street race thing we'd had going on.

I let myself look out the window for the first time, now that I was sure I wasn't going to throw up. "Uh, where are we?"

"Hmm…an excellent question. I'm not quite sure," he answered thoughtfully. He pulled over to the side of the road then, parking, and I let myself relax completely. He pulled out his phone. "I have a Navigator on this thing, so that should tell us where we are, and from there I can figure out how to get us back."

I asked my next curiosity. "Back where? Where are we going?"

Edward ran a nervous hand through his hair. "Well…I know our date has gotten a bit…messed up toward the end here…But I suppose it is customary for me to take you home. If you want," he added quickly. "But I don't really want to take you to my place right now, there will probably be paps all over the area." He sighed. "At the same time, I hope nobody ends up following us to your house, so you don't end up stalked." He stared broodingly into his steering wheel. "I don't know how to make this work."

"Sweetheart," I said gently, reaching across the console to touch the back of his hand gently. "I can tell I'm going to have to tell you this a million times and that's okay but - really, it's fine. It's working. All you're doing now is holding off the inevitable and I appreciate that. But I want to be with you and if that means putting up with all kinds of craziness I'm willing to do it. And if you want to be with me…"

He gave me a sour look, as if insulted that I questioned it.

I continued. "Then there's no way to avoid it long-term, and we'll deal with it. Okay? If you're already beating yourself up over it, then you're right, there is no way to make this work."

He acquiesced, nodding before chuckling darkly, shaking his head. "It's unbelievable that you're the one trying to cheer me up right now. You're the one who should be freaking out."

I shrugged. "I've always had a pretty calm head. Freaking out isn't my style." I grinned at him. "I guess it's yours."

He pinched my side and I giggled, slinking away from him as much as I could in the small space.

Edward examined his car with a thoughtful air. "I think I should invest in a maybe more nondescript car," he acknowledged, frowning. He ran a loving hand over the dashboard. "She's the reason I walk most of the time. But I love my Vanquish. She's so…beautiful. And perfect. Every man's dream…"

"She? Maybe I should step out and give you two a moment," I suggested derisively.

"Oh, it's not like you're not about to elope with my refrigerator," he shot back. "And her name is Vivian, for your information. Vivian the Vanquish."

I laughed out loud at that, throwing my head back. And that was the end of my poor chopstick bun, that had held up remarkably well all evening. The chopsticks loosened and fell out, letting my hair tumble freely down my back.

Edward's hand came over to lightly run through my hair, his eyes sweeping over my body. "I know this may be bad timing, but is it so very wrong of me to appreciate how mind-blowingly gorgeous you look right now?"

I blushed and smiled shyly. I still wasn't used to being complimented. I might never be. In my world, the only person who ever complimented me on my looks were my mother and father - and how much can you really believe them? And even in the world in general, forgetting about me, most guys just don't give amazing compliments. So it made it so very startling to hear every time Edward gave me one.

My eyes swept over his hand-run, wind-swept hair, coupled with his naturally bed-head look; down his striking, angular face; to his amazing body - his debonair grey suit, slightly rumpled, only enhancing his handsome, almost rugged appearance. It took my breath away.

I licked my lips unconsciously, and saw Edward's eyes darken.

"I should get you home," he said quietly.

I nodded in agreement, feeling a tingling start between my legs. I wanted so badly to rub my thighs together to quench it, but was scared that would just make it worse.

Edward pulled out of the space and entered traffic again, following the rules this time as he drove me back to my apartment, his eyes glancing at me periodically; I also noticed that he took as many back roads and side streets as possible.

Twenty minutes later, Edward was parking in a hidden, out-of-the-way space in the lot at my complex, no doubt trying to keep the flashy piece of machinery from catching the wrong people's eye.

Edward, always the gentleman, helped me out of the car - a gesture I still wasn't used to, similar to the compliments - his eyes lingering on my legs a little bit longer than necessary. I smiled to myself. He held my hand and we walked in companionable silence to my building, and up the stairs to my number.

I turned to face him in front of my door. The night was quiet here, the yellow glow of the light over our heads giving this a slightly cliché feel. And then there was the fact that this was Edward Masen, who drove an expensive sports car and lived in a pent house. I began to feel nervous - I had been planning on inviting him in, but I wasn't so sure I wanted to anymore.

I decided to just try to ignore it for now, and continue with the date cliché. I smiled up at him. "I had a really good time tonight," I said sincerely, trying to hide my smirk.

He grinned back and rolled his eyes, but he said, "I had a really good time too."

I fiddled with my keys in my purse, giving him time to kiss me.

He cleared his throat, shuffling his feet. "This was always the most awkward part of dates to me," he muttered. "Look at this; I'm suddenly nervous to kiss you and it's not even the first time!"

I laughed. "Am I going to have to instigate this?" I teased. "Because that's not really sexy on my end."

He ignored that and finally placed his hand underneath my chin, tilting my face up. My eyes fluttered closed as he came closer, and I finally felt his smooth, delicious mouth on mine again. This wasn't the first time we'd kissed today, but it felt like it was.

This was my first real date after all, even if it wasn't Edward's.

His mouth moved quietly, softly with mine for a minute. He kept it chaste, the way a kiss at the end of a first date should be, but it lit my body aflame and worsened the aching between my legs all the same. This was a problem. I still didn't know if I wanted him to come in.

He broke the kiss, and after one more gentle press on the corner of my mouth I was left looking up at him through star-struck eyes.

He grinned crookedly at me and I just wanted to attack him. But the yellow light above us caught my attention again, with its fluttering bugs and moths surrounding it. I thought of that in contrast to the beautiful, bright lighting coming from chandeliers in his building's lobby and the worrisome, self-deprecating part of me decided to just let this end as it was.

I fumbled the key in the lock and then leaned my back against it with my hand on the doorknob, ready to go inside when he turned away. "Night," I said, smiling to soften the blow.

He looked dreadfully confused. "You're not going to invite me in?"

My mouth twisted. "I don't think that happens at the end of first dates."

He gave me a look, and called me out on my BS. "I don't think this is a normal first date, Bella. Why don't you really want me to come in?"

My face burned with chagrin and embarrassment. How did he know me so well? I avoided his eyes as I answered. "Fine. Because this place is kind of on the lower end of things, and it's definitely not what you're used to…I'm just embarrassed I guess."

He was looking downright angry now. "Do you honestly believe I care?" he demanded.

"I honestly believe that it's human nature to notice things. It's impossible not to," I answered carefully.

He crossed his arms, glaring. When he glared his brow jutted forward, almost caveman like - though no caveman had ever looked as sexy doing it as he had - and that action immersed his eyes in shadow, making him look almost…dangerous.

"You do understand you are being absurd, correct?" he asked coldly. Uh-oh. He was busting out the formal speech. That was a bad sign.

I decided not to answer and as nonchalantly as I could examined my fingernail. "Well…good night, again."

I opened my door then and slunk inside, shutting it abruptly before he could do anything.

I leaned against my door, chewing on the side of my nail. I was already regretting my decision. I realized how insulting this must be to him, that I thought he would look down on me just because my income was significantly lower. And I knew he wouldn't. It was just my own instinctive, irrational fear.

I made my decision only a few seconds after I closed the door and sighed, opening it again. Edward was still there, frozen with shock and, if I was reading his face right, hurt. Guilt stabbed me, and I reached my hand out for his, pulling him inside.

"Sorry," I apologized as I shut my door again, except with him on the same side as me this time, and flipped on my foyer light. I toed off my shoes and kicked them into a small alcove meant for them.

"It's okay," he accepted quietly. "I suppose it's understandable." He took off his shoes too, and I walked farther into my apartment, turning on the lights in the living room, the kitchen, and the short hallway, lighting the entire place - save my bedroom - up.

"It's not much," I muttered when I walked back into the living room, but Edward wasn't listening. He was staring, transfixed, at my wall.

Ah. My wall. My one pride and glory in this tiny home.

"I see you noticed my wall," I laughed. I walked up beside him, crossing my arms. "I didn't think to name it like you named your car, but I guess we could call him Wally."

"This is…" he whispered. "…Amazing."

I blushed, and appraised the wall again. It was covered from ceiling to floor, side to side, in pictures I'd taken that weren't in my album - either because I didn't think they were good enough, or because I already had a similar picture in it, or because I had a copy of the picture. I'd probably ruined the wall by doing so, but I didn't want to ruin the photograph by placing tacks in it, so I'd put them on the wall using rolls and rolls of that double-sided tape. It was a wonderful collage.

As it was full, and I didn't want to overlap, I had started placing pictures on another wall, but it was only a thin strip, and this was the wall that drew the eye.

It had black and whites and colored. There were pictures of millions of things. Flowers, grass, the beach, the sun, trees, nature; children blowing bubbles, people holding hands, snaps of shoes, clothes, arms, and legs, all accidentally set in the most perfect candid pose, waiting for me to capture it; I had silhouettes and faces, pictures of words and phrases on buildings and sidewalks, people with every range of emotion, laughing, crying, staring, thinking. Random objects that were beautiful when shot at the perfect angle. I had pictures to show people the purity of rain and prove the creepiness of an up-close butterfly without its wings to distract you. I had a world all of my own, even though they were all shots of things available to anyone; but not these particular moments. Those were entirely mine. I owned time.

I bit the end of the thumb as I stared my photographs. They were okay, but most of them were painfully mediocre to me; I had so much learning to do.

"Well you said you wanted to see some of my pictures," I said, awkwardly rubbing my neck, thinking back on those reoccurring arguments in the book store.

Edward walked closer, his mouth hanging open. "Wow…" he breathed. He rounded on me then. "Explain to me why, again, you haven't showed your album to any agencies? Bella, you have a talent! You could be world-renowned already."

I snorted. "Edward, you're going to forgive me if I don't take you too seriously, but you're looking at these through amateur eyes. An agency would look at these and laugh in my face."

"You know what I think?" he scowled.

"I don't care what you think."

"I think you just don't believe in yourself, though it's ridiculous because these are amazing, and I'm sure the ones in your album are even better."

I rolled my eyes.

"Bella, promise me that soon, one day very soon, you will go to some good agency and give them your portfolio. I mean, what's the harm in trying? I already know you'd be hired," he said, his eyes filled with that same star-struck gaze I'd been giving him not too long ago. As if I was amazing.

I frowned, shaking my head. He didn't understand.

"Do I have to convince you?" he asked, and his loving look abruptly switched to something much more primal; something that lit my body aflame again. He stepped towards me.

I took a step back automatically, gulping. He grinned devilishly at me. "M-maybe," I stuttered, watching him as hungrily as he watched me.

His eyes roved over my body once more, staring at my thighs.

"You know that dress has been killing me softly all night right?" he murmured, before closing the remaining gap between us and lifting me into his arms. I wrapped my legs around his waist, my dress riding up over my hips.

His darkened eyes watched the action before meeting mine, his parted lips sending a surge of heat through my center again. "Much better," he whispered, rubbing my thigh, almost brushing my underwear.

He started walking me toward the hall that led to my bedroom and I could only think to ask, "You really like carrying me, don't you?"

"And you like being carried. Which one?" he asked, gesturing between the door to my bathroom and the door to my room. I gripped the knob to the right and we stumbled through.

His eyes did an automatic sweep of my room, but he soon returned them to me. I was glad he wasn't going to over-analyze anything right now.

"And my bed is right there," I teased, pointing to purple-covered, full-sized mattress behind me.

"Who needs a bed?" Edward purred, his eyes glinting.

I gasped before he kicked my door shut and spun us around, pressing me firmly against it. I wrapped my arms around his neck as he bent down to mine, kissing slowly up towards my jaw. "No…I think I want to take you right here," he murmured softly.

"O-okay," I moaned, feeling intensely turned on by the proposition of this new position, but then he set me down on my feet. Before I could protest - maybe I did like being held - I felt his hands on the bottom of my dress, lifting it over my head. He groaned at my white undergarments.

"Erm," I squirmed under his gaze, "They're not silky and lacy or anything, but they were white so…"

"White is perfect," he mumbled as he pressed his lips to mine, almost hard. I fumbled with his belt as he peeled his shirt off. "It makes you look like a sweet angel…that I just want to fuck the innocent right out of."

I gasped again, shocked but so, so very turned on. Edward met my eyes almost worriedly. "Was that too much?" he asked nervously.

I tugged his hair until my lips were at his ear and whispered, "Why don't you fuck the innocent right out of me, and then we'll see?"

He let loose almost a snarl, and tore my underwear off - literally, ripped them. I didn't even know that was possible. I thought that was just a term people used, but it was real! My skin stung where the fabric was forced to rip but that just added to my arousal. I hurriedly scrambled my fingers into the waistband of his boxers and slid them down as fast as I could.

Edward's arms hoisted me up again, pressing me against the door, his hard body pushed against me. I felt his cock tease my entrance and whimpered, kissing him again. He broke from my lips enough to whisper, "So, are you going to show your portfolio to anyone?"

"No," I hissed, aggravated and horny out of my mind because of his teasing. I could still feel him pressed lightly into me, only one good thrust away from sweet completeness. I tried rocking my hips to gain some much needed friction, but he wasn't having it. One of his arms pushed my hips tightly to the door, keeping them from moving.

"That's really a shame," he said silkily against my ear, his voice a deep rumble in his chest. I could hear the smile in his voice. He was enjoying teasing me. I pressed my nails deep into his shoulders and he sighed contentedly. "Mmm…like it when you're rough," he grinned. "But about those agencies…"

"I'll think about it," I snapped, struggling against his firm hold.

"Tut tut…not good enough. But maybe I can change your mind this way…" He let go of my hips and finally, mercifully slid into me. We both let out breaths of relief and he began to move, slowly at first, thrusting me lightly against my door.

Our eyes met and he leaned his forehead against mine as his eyelids and breathing grew heavier, his cock stretching me perfectly, filling me. But I still needed more.

"You know," I panted. "Whenever I think of fucking, I think of something much harder and faster."

His mouth parted and his eyes darkened, his cock growing impossibly harder inside of me. "Is that what you want?" he growled softly. "For me to bang you so hard all your neighbors can hear you screaming?"

I was loving this dirty talk stuff. "Yes," I gasped back. "Yes, please, make me scream…"

Kissing my lips hard again, he pulled almost all the way back out before slamming back inside. I couldn't help but to cry out, trying to adjust to this new pace but he wasn't pausing or hesitating, instead slamming into me again before I could even register the first mind-blowing thrust. He kept it up, and he did have me screaming because I just couldn't handle this - it felt too good, so intense and all at once and I never had a break to process it but that was making it better. My door was rattling and so were the objects on my walls as my body was crashed again and again against it. I finally understood the expression getting 'banged.'

I was so close to the edge. Biting my lip and whimpering constantly, I tried reaching down to rub my nub, that last bit of contact I needed to climax, but Edward grabbed my wrist, pressing it against the door next to my head. "No," he huffed, never ceasing his hard banging of my body. Sweat dripped down the side of his face and I would've licked it if I wasn't so frustrated at his clit-block. "Not yet. Not until you agree to go to an agency and show them…"

"Ohhhh!" I hissed through clenched teeth. I was so desperate for a release at this point, my body was aching with the need. "Fine! Fine, you controlling bastard, just please, please make me come," I begged.

He smirked his foudroyant smile at me and I still couldn't help but to be attracted to it, turned on by it. His hand reached between us and pressed firmly against my nub, rubbing it just as I needed. Within seconds I was coming, screaming his name and 'yes' repeatedly. He thrust thrice more before stilling, his head resting against my shoulder as he came, an added wet heat inside me.

Panting for air, we both slid down to the floor, not ready to move to the bed quite yet. I rested on his chest, kissing his mouth repeatedly. "My neighbors better not call the cops," I muttered to him, but the warning was lost against the happy smile on my face. "And thank you for being a controlling bastard. It might be what I needed."

He grinned at me before glancing at my bed. "C'mon," he said, taking my hand and pulling us up. "I've really been looking forward to falling asleep in something that smells entirely of you."

"What makes you think you're staying?" I challenged teasingly.

But he just kissed me again as we fell back on my bed, and promptly made me forget all about it.

Esme POV

I know, it's asking for your benediction,
I know, I know,
I know, the past will catch you up as you run faster.

I Know by Placebo

I hummed tunelessly as I closed up shop. I knew I was just an employee - though a highly ranked employee - and didn't own the place, but sometimes it felt like it.

I pulled down the metal grates in front of the door and windows, effectively locking up for the night. I would leave out the back way when I was done, using the key I was given to lock that too.

I dusted my hands off and stood back up, the last grate in place. I walked into the back room behind the check-out counter and flipped the power switches off. The building buzzed as it darkened, the only lighting being the emergency ones in the ceiling, casting their dim greenish-blue glow.

I ceased my humming when I walked back out, locking up the back room. I leaned against the desk for the moment, just taking a second to breathe. I looked around with no particular goal in mind and my eyes landed on a stack of the new shipment of 'What to Expect When You're Expecting' books. I quickly looked away before the lump formed in my throat, but my hand was a filthy traitor, automatically hovering over my stomach, where there had once been a life growing inside of me.

Breathing in deeply, I looked up at the ceiling, with its poor emergency lighting, and blinked back the tears.

Pushing off the desk, I shrugged on my jacket and began walking towards the back exit. My eyes scanned habitually around, even though I knew there was no one here. The only person I knew who would've been anyway hadn't come in today. I had a guess as to why. In a way I was relieved. I'd grown fond of Bella, a sweet girl who had haunted this book store for quite a few months now. I had always wondered why a nice, pretty girl like her had no where else to be, and was glad that she had seemed to finally find someone.

That 'someone' was the only downside to it though - not for her, but maybe for me. I hoped not for me. I remembered the first time I'd seen him in here, a little over a month ago; I had recognized his face immediately, having seen one or two of his films. I was shocked. Though I now resided in a city known for its stars, he was the first famous person to ever come in here. That was sort of the point in me choosing to work in this book store. Hollywood would be the last place Charles would ever look for me. What could be a worse place to hide than somewhere where it was possible for me to be accidentally photographed and put into a newspaper? He knew I knew how intelligent and resourceful he was. But that was my reasoning. He would never think to search here. And by working in an out-of-the-way bookstore, I was perfectly safe from being photographed or mentioned with any famous stars.

Until Edward Masen entered my bookstore. I remembered that first douse of ice cold fear that chilled my entire body, before I put my head back together and came back to myself; telling them it was closing time before they could get worried. But I was worried.

So far though, it hasn't been a problem. Whatever that man was doing, he was doing a spectacular job of keeping any paparazzi from tailing him here on the nights he came - which was every night for the past month or so until tonight.

I still couldn't erase the sick feeling creeping on to me though. The feeling that my brilliant plan was going to backfire very soon.

I hoped it wouldn't. I so did. I'd been living here comfortably for the past six months - the longest time in the past two years that I'd lived in one place. And I'd only recently begun to live my life without looking over my shoulder all day and all night.

For the most part.

And it was all because of Charles Evenson, my ex-husband; and my worst nightmare. Sometimes when it's late at night, and I'm too exhausted to block it out, I backtrack in my mind and try to figure out what happened. How this happened. How this became my life.

I married him when I was twenty-four. He had seemed like such a wonderful, perfect man. I wonder now if he really was, or if he just put on a good face. The first year and a half of our marriage was fine. I was content. And then something happened, right before I got pregnant. Something changed, shifted inside of him. Maybe it was the real him, someone he'd suppressed. Or maybe he just went crazy. I don't know and I hope I never know because that will mean I'd have to see him again. But he became cruel - and violent. Started abusing me. It scared me. The shift was so sudden I didn't know what to do. I kept telling myself that it would pass, that it was a phase. That he would go back to normal, hopefully before the baby was born. Because I knew if he was still abusing me by then, then I would have to leave, because I couldn't raise a child in that environment; I wouldn't.

But it didn't matter, I thought bitterly, locking the back door behind me and looking over my shoulder both ways.

At six months, in one of his violent whirls, Charles pushed me down the stairs of our home and I miscarriaged. I knew then, even through my despairing haze, that I was going to have to leave him.

But Charles didn't like that. Not one bit. He found me the day after I'd fled from him.

And tried to kill me. I barely escaped. I'd never thought much about death. Never thought that it applied to me. Not yet. But Charles changed that foolish notion for me.

I knew then my problems were much more serious than I'd anticipated.

I was constantly in danger, and I live on the run.

The police can't help. I have no doubt in my mind that Charles is insane, but insane or not, he is undeniably brilliant; clever. On my run to escape him, he's caught up with me every time and escaped the police each time they've been called too.

I went through so many towns, so many cities, so many states, so many alibis.

This was my last plan, my last desperate attempt, my 'Obvious' strategy - my alibi was even my middle name, that's how obvious I was being - before I decided to leave this continent altogether.

But it was working.

I'd been able to live here for six months, and there was no sign of him. It was too much to hope that he had given up - Charles was mad and obsessive. I knew he wouldn't rest until he ...killed me.

But maybe that didn't matter, because maybe I'd finally found the one place where he could look all he wanted, and never find me. Maybe.

It was a cloak-and-dagger life. It was no way to live.

But at least I was alive.

And there were times now when I could really breathe again.

I didn't know how long it could last, but I hoped for the best all the same.

As I walked down the sidewalk, I felt the age-old habit itch at my neck. I tried to hold it off, but my instinct gave way. I couldn't help but to look over my shoulder. Nothing. But I still walked faster, sighing in exhaustion, wishing for a day when this could just be over with.

Thank you guys so much for all the awesome reviews!!! Seriously, so great!

Yeah, this story is going to be something much bigger than just Edward and Bella =] But it's still their story, so I don't think we'll see Esme that much again for a little bit. Hope everything goes well for her in the mean time. But she will eventually play a big part, and so will the rest of the Cullens! Remember, they all have their own lives too, so they're not going to all conveniently run into each other on the street.

Though that would be totally awesome.

Would love to hear what you guys think! I'm probably forgetting something, but whatever. I'm just happy to have gotten a chapter out again. I have updated a lot of other things though, which is why this was delayed.

*Check out my new story, Untouchable, please! I'd super-appreciate it =]

- The Romanticidal Edwardian