Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap…

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap…

TAP, TAP, TAP, TAP, TAP, TAP, TAP…

"Urgh!" Bella groaned, abandoning the pencil she'd been holding and resting her forehead against the piano keys, feeling them sink beneath her weight as they produced a less than pleasant crashing noise. She glared up again at the manuscript paper, empty except for a treble clef and a time signature.

How did Edward do it? She'd been sitting there for nearly an hour according to the clock hanging over the door leading to the kitchen, yet she still couldn't come up with what key she wanted the piece to be in. Surely writing music wasn't supposed to be this difficult!

The lyrics drifted into her mind again, like they often did when she wasn't concentrating properly. Edward's song started to replay in her head. Am I crazy or falling in love? Is it real or just another crush?

The rumble of a car engine as it came to a halt in their driveway alerted her to her mother's arrival; a man's booming, drunken laughter told her Renée was not alone. She wrinkled her nose in disgust. That was all she needed.

The door slammed against the wall and there was a high-pitched giggle, closely followed by the usual sounds of two people sucking the faces off one another. Bella felt like throwing up. She heard someone's foot hit the squeaky step on the staircase — Renée, from the sounds of the giggle that followed. Then the noise faded away as they reached the second landing.

All hope for Bella's song was gone. Any inspiration had been thrown away to make room for the massive repulsion that filled her now. She abandoned the piano and all-but blank manuscript paper to pour herself a drink.

xXxXxXxXx~xXxXxXxXx

"Are you okay?" Edward asked at school the following day. It was a Wednesday and, like most Wednesdays, school was dragging on like it would never end.

"Fine." Bella answered shortly. Even in her own ears, her voice sounded flat and unconvincing.

"You sure? You seem a bit quiet."

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"Okay…."

Seconds ticked by as they walked in silence. Eventually Bella sighed.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Of course."

"Your songs… when you write them, I mean. How do you do it? How do you think up the melody and the lyrics?"

Edward was quiet as he contemplated her question.

"Well…" he said slowly, "When I write lyrics, I always write what I'm thinking about. It's a bit like a diary, really; only instead of writing on a notepad you jot it down on manuscript paper. Write from your heart. That's the only way to create a good song."

"Oh…"

Edward scratched his head sheepishly. "Sorry, my explanations suck."

"No, it made a lot of sense, actually."

xXxXxXxXx~xXxXxXxXx

"…I expect you to know the first 30 elements of the periodic table off by heart by Friday, as well as everything I've taught you about the formation of atoms…" The Science teacher was explaining.

At that moment Jasper walked through the door, his face weary and eerily desolate. The sparkle was missing from his deep violet eyes, Edward realized immediately.

"You're late." The teacher accused.

"Sorry. I don't have any excuse."

Strange. Jasper always had an excuse.

"Yes, well… just get to your seat. We're studying for Friday's test, so get to work." Ordered the teacher, obviously picking up on his student's mood.

Jasper nodded and sank into the seat beside Edward and flipped through his text book, glancing at Edward's to make sure he was on the right page.

"What kept you?" Edward whispered.

Jasper hesitated and then sighed heavily. "It's Alice. We… we had a falling out."

"A what?!" Edward exclaimed, forgetting to keep his voice down.

The teacher glared heatedly at him and raised an eyebrow. "Is there something you wish to share with us, Mr. Masen?" he asked.

Edward shook his head. "Sorry, I'll be quiet."

As soon as the teacher was out of earshot he turned back to Jasper. "Explain." He ordered.

Jasper looked at him and it was all Edward could do to keep himself from flinching, the eyes were so void of life. "That's the thing… there's nothing to explain. We just… had a falling out. It wasn't working. She… she needed more from me."

"More from you?"

"Yeah, she said she couldn't be with someone who constantly had her on the edge. She wanted someone who she could rely on. That's how she put it."

"But… couldn't she rely on you?" Edward asked.

"Obviously not."

Jasper turned back to his text book, signaling that the conversation was over. Edward continued to stare at the back of his friend's head, thoughts still reeling with this new dose of information. Alice and Jasper had… broken up? He thought about the many times he'd sat with them, listening to their continuous banter, completely at ease with each other. It was impossible to imagine them apart.

Yet as he continued to stare at Jasper it became apparent that his friend wasn't lying. Edward had always been good at reading faces; he'd always seen it as a talent to be proud of. When he'd seen the dullness of Jasper's eyes… he'd wished that he never had such a gift. To see the amount of pain and suffering welling in the depths of his eyes….

At that moment he made a promise to himself: he would never see Bella's eyes like that. He would never break her like that, not like Alice had broken Jasper.

xXxXxXxXx~xXxXxXxXx

"This is your house?" Bella demanded skeptically. When Edward had invited her over earlier that day she had immediately agreed without a second thought. Anything beat being home, when her mother would most certainly be wallowing out her latest hangover. Besides, she couldn't wait to see Rosalie again.

"Sure is. Why?" Edward asked as he opened the wrought iron gate.

"It's huge."

"Yeah, I guess so."

"So why don't we go to your house for practice instead of going to mine?"

Edward shrugged. "I dunno. I guess I just like hanging out at your house. It's cozier… simpler, if you get my drift."

Bella stared at him. "You like my house because it's simpler?"

Edward scratched his head sheepishly and refused to meet her eyes. "Well… that and it kind of… you know… reminds me of you…"

"Oh…"

Edward's house turned out to be like no house Bella had ever seen before. It was a mansion. Several stories high and several normal-houses long, it stretched over the yard in all of its gleaming white-stoned glory. A small fountain bubbled merrily in the middle of the front garden and a lone gardener was bending over the flowers surrounding the entire house. Edward had led her through a side gate; the front entrance was much bigger and required authorization to enter.

They walked silently across the large gravel driveway to Edward's front door, which the boyfriend opened for his girlfriend.

"Welcome," he said with a bow and a small smile, "To the Masen residence."

If Bella had been taken aback by the outside of the house, it was nothing compared to what she felt as she stared at the interior. Everything seemed to gleam and shine—even the pure white carpet had a certain glow about it. A staircase was spiraling upwards in the other end of the foyer and, from the looks of it, not one of the sleek wooden steps would creak underfoot. The crème walls were dotted with all kinds of tapestries and paintings, with the occasional photograph here and there. Bella couldn't keep herself from ogling.

The disorientating richness of the place seemed to have no affect on Edward. He grabbed Bella's hand and led her into the first room to their left, which turned out to be a gleaming white kitchen.

"Drink?" he asked as he opened the fridge.

"Sure."

"Which one? We have orange juice, apple juice, blackcurrant juice, ice tea, coke, sprite…"

"Just water, thanks." Bella interrupted his listings with a smile.

Edward smiled back and nodded. "Yep, we have that, too."

"Edward? Is that you?" Rosalie emerged from another door that Bella guessed led to the dining room. Her eyes widened as she saw her old friend standing beside him.

"Bella!" suddenly Bella found herself being tackled by a very happy Rosalie. Apparently pregnancy had not affected her strength. "You came to visit! Oh, I'm so glad! I've been telling Yash for ages…"

After her shock wore off Bella began patting Rosalie's head affectionately and laughing. "Far out Rosalie, I missed you so much!"

"You missed me?! I cried so much after I left that Fluffy started getting weekly bulk packs of tissues!"

"Fluffy…?" Bella asked, confused.

"Emmett's nickname," Edward explained as he took a sip of lemonade, "Reserved for only when he isn't around. He caught me using it once… I still have the bruises to prove it." He winced at the memory while Rosalie giggled.

"Okay, so where's… Fluffy…now?"

"Out with Carlisle, having some quality father-son time," Rosalie answered, "And Esme's out shopping, so we have the house to ourselves."

"Cool." Bella stated; she couldn't think of any other response.

"So what do you two want to do?" Edward asked.

Bella had absolutely no idea, but it appeared that it didn't matter. Rosalie was already grinning and, taking both of their hands, dragged them out of the kitchen and down a complicated maze of corridors and rooms. They passed lounge rooms, game rooms, bathrooms, sitting rooms, studies, another kitchen - two kitchens? Bella couldn't see the point - and other rooms that Bella couldn't identify. Eventually they came to a halt in a small room on the house's second story. 'Small' meaning in comparison to the rest of the house — it was still three times the size of Bella's miniscule bedroom.

"Ta da!" Rosalie said with a flourish of her arms.

"When did you set this up?" Edward asked her as he looked around.

Rosalie shrugged. "Don't blame me. Sure, your house is cool and everything… but there's only so much you can do before you get bored."

The room resembled a mini studio. Cords leading to microphones and speakers laced across the floors into surrounding powerpoints. Toward the back of the room a drum kit had been set up. A sleek mahogany upright piano had been pushed toward the middle, beside a guitar leaning against a cushiony black chair. Two music stands had been set up; one in front of the guitar, the other behind a microphone stand. Against one of the walls sat a wooden desk complete with computer and several very complicated pieces of computer equipment.

"You didn't move that piano by yourself, did you?" Edward wanted to know.

"No, I had a couple of the servants do that."

Edward looked relieved. "Thank goodness. Do you know how much trouble I would have been in if Fluffy found out you'd been pushing heavy pianos around the house?"

Rosalie rolled her eyes. "Whatever. What do you think, Bella?"

Bella was already at the piano, lowering her finger onto a random key and savoring the rich texture of the note. Tuned, ready to play. She grinned.

"You must have been pretty bored to set up all this."

"Yeah well, pregnancy does that to you. What are we going to play?"

For the next hour or so the three worked their way through song after song; Edward on the guitar, Bella at the piano and Rosalie singing. Occasionally Bella would back up Rosalie's voice with her own, acquiring positive results.

"All the, small things
True care, truth brings
I'll take, one lift
Your ride, best trip
Always, I know
You'll be at my show
Watching, waiting,
commiserating…
"

"But have you heard about
the Great Crusade?
We ran into millions,
but nobody got paid
Yeah, we raised four
corners of the globe,
For the Holy Grail.
All the locals scattered,
They were hiding in the snow
We were so far from home,
So how were we to know,
There'd be nothing left to plunder
When we stumbled on the Holy Grail…
"

"I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
I know, right now you can't tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you'll see
A different side of me
I'm not crazy, I'm just a little impaired
I know, right now you don't care
But soon enough you're gonna think of me
And how I used to be
Me
Talking to myself in public
Dodging glances on the train
I know…
"

"The way your hair swings over your eyes
The way your words keep me in line
I'm telling you for the very last time
You better know
And you smell like,
How angels oughta smell
And you look like
You're ready to go…
"

Eventually they came to a stop when Edward heard his mother's car roll into the driveway. She was laughing as she stepped into the foyer, where the three friends had waited to greet her.

"Oh, Edward! You're home! I thought you were away on Wednesdays."

Edward shrugged. "Usually. There was a change in plans."

"Oh…?" her eyes slid to Bella and widened. Her face broke into a happy grin. "Ah, Bella if I remember correctly? What a pleasure! I was wondering if you would come to visit."

"It's nice to meet you again, Mrs. Masen." Bella replied politely.

The woman waved her hand dismissively. "Bella, please, Mrs. Masen makes me feel so old."

"As opposed to having a teenage son?" Edward asked, raising an eyebrow.

Esme shot him a dark look. "Anyway, do you want some cake?"

Bella hesitated before shaking her head. "Sorry M- Esme… but as much as I'd like to stay I really should be getting home."

"Alright dear, but make sure to drop around again soon, okay?"

"She'd better," Rosalie said, "Otherwise there shall be consequences."

She gave her best death glare, but Bella only laughed and hugged her. "Of course I will, Rosalie."

Bella turned and extended her hand to shake Esme's, but instead found the older woman embracing her like an old friend.

"Goodbye, Bella dear." She said once she stepped away.

Bella took one last look at the two smiling women before stepping out the door, her hand entwined with Edward's, a smile of her own playing on her lips.

"Bye." She said and a servant shut the large oak doors with a small thud.

The sky had darkened considerably since they had first arrived—Bella hadn't realized how much time had passed. She was glad she didn't have to walk home alone. Without Edward's warm hand around hers she was certain she wouldn't have made it without some form of trouble.

As it happened, there was no trouble at all. Before she knew it they were standing outside the Swan house. Its windows were dark and there was no car parked outside. Her mother wasn't home, obviously. For that she was grateful.

"So…" Edward said, shoving his hands deep into his pockets and rocking onto the balls of his feet.

"Thanks… you know, for inviting me over. It was nice to see Rosalie again. And your mom. And thanks for walking me home." Bella added.

"No problem." Even in the dark those beautiful green eyes seemed to glitter in that familiar mesmerizing way.

Bella leaned in and planted a short, sweet kiss on his lips. He didn't try to shove his tongue down her throat like the other guys she'd dated. She wanted it short and sweet, so that was exactly how he kept it. He smiled for a moment after they pulled away, then frowned.

"Do you want me to come in? I don't like the idea of you being home all by yourself…."

Bella let out a small laugh despite herself. "Don't worry, I'll be fine. It isn't like this is the first time, you know?"

"Okay. But don't hesitate to call, okay?"

"Okay."

There was another kiss and then Bella walked to her door. There was a hesitation as she shoved the key into the lock. Then she was inside, the light flickering on as she locked the door behind her. Edward hovered there for a moment before turning and heading back home, his head reeling with thoughts of Bella.

xXxXxXxXx~xXxXxXxXx

Screaming. Knives. More screaming.

Then there was the blood. It was all over her, vivid red even in the dark. She sobbed as she stared at him, standing so calmly with the serrated blade dripping more blood onto the carpet.

"Why?" she cried, "Why would you do it?"

The man just grinned and raised the blade again, this time advancing on her with that same feral gleam in his eyes. "Bella," he was cooing, "My sweet, sweet Bella."

"Get away from me!" Bella shouted. As fast as she could she ran downstairs, tears still streaming down her cheeks, straight to the front door. Locked; he had the key. Sobbing even harder she sprinted around to the laundry where she knew the back door was.

He was already there, knife raised, grinning manically. He grabbed her wrist, throwing her to the floor. She cried out — her wrist was broken.

"What's wrong, Bella, darling?" he cackled, "Why are you running?"

"Please don't." Bella begged. "Please…"

The man clucked his tongue, already advancing on her. The knife was glittering a deep bloody red. Then he lunged, she screamed, the world faded into pitch black…

Bella woke with her screams muffled only by her pillow. Tears were rolling down her cheeks and for several minutes she couldn't breathe properly. Clutching the pillow to her chest, she rocked back and forth as the memories continued to erupt through her mind.

She hurried to turn on the light switch, but the glow of the overhanging bulb could do nothing to keep the shadows of her past at bay. She was alone; there was no one here to keep him from coming to get her.

Without a single thought she picked up her phone and dialed. She could have used the phone downstairs, but paranoia held her inside her bedroom.

The phone rang continuously and for a terrifying moment she thought he wasn't going to pick up. But there was no need to worry — there was a click and then he was speaking to her, his voice immediately calming her hyperventilation.

"Hello?"

"Ed-Edward?"

"Bella? What's wrong? Are you okay?"

"I'm fi-fine. It's just… that…" she paused drawing in a shaky breath. "Can you come over? Please?" she was practically begging. She was disgusted with herself.

There was a pause and Bella could have sworn she head the creak of bedsprings. He must have stood up.

"Sure. I'll be over in a minute, I promise."

AN Sooooooooooo… yeah. I apologize completely for the lateness of this chapter. Sorry… hope it was okay…