Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns the characters. I'm borrowing them.
I was originally going to post these when I finished the story, but since this chapter is taking me quite a lot longer than it really should be and I really hate leaving you guys for this long without an update, so I'll post these instead.
And more than likely, they won't be in order. I can't say that for sure just yet, but I'm pretty positive that I'll be jumping around with them. I will always let you know where they're from, though. Promise.
This was originally the beginning of chapter thirteen, but I scrapped it when I realized that it was going absolutely nowhere.
"Alice! We have to go!" I yelled from the bottom of the stairs the next morning at six. "You're going to miss your damn flight!"
"I'm leaving something for Bella! I'll be there in just a minute!"
I growled up at the direction of her voice and stomped over to sit at the table, crossing my arms over my chest.
I was pissy, yes. It was six in the morning, Bella had left for work twenty minutes ago, and I was left with the task of corralling my little sister on my fucking vacation.
It didn't help that Alice had kept Bella at a safe distance from me all morning, either. She'd stubbornly insisted that she spend her remaining time with the woman that she also stubbornly insisted would eventually be her sister-in-law before she had to leave.
Bella had assured me that she didn't mind while I watched forlornly as Alice shuffled her off into the bathroom.
She might not have minded, but I sure as hell did. I didn't even get to kiss her before she left for work. I barely got to see her as Alice shoved her out the door and demanded that I help her repack her two highly unnecessary designer suitcases as Bella's truck rumbled off down the road and away from me for the rest of the day.
And when we were done with that, she'd ordered me – actually ordered me – to put the damn things in the car while she got dressed and ready.
And now she was leaving something – and I wasn't entirely sure I trusted her on that - for my girlfriend. If she missed her flight and had to spend one more day here, interrupting all this precious time with the woman I was completely in love with, it was altogether possible that I'd kill her.
I'd never be able to go home to my family ever again, but at this point, I began thinking that it might be worth it in the end.
"Alice!" I yelled again, listening carefully to hear her absurdly high heels sounding on the floors above me. "We need to go!"
"Do you really want to get rid of me that quickly, big brother?" she yelled back.
"Yes, princess, I do!"
I winced when I heard shattering sounds from above me and groaned, unfolding my arms from my chest to lean forward and rest my head in my hands.
"Whoops!" I heard her sarcastically exclaim.
I fisted my hands in my hair and pulled, closing my eyes tightly and taking deep, even breaths in a sad effort to calm the raging urge to go up there and throw her out of the bedroom window.
And the feel of my fingers in my hair made my head snap up.
I needed my hat. There was no fucking way in hell that I was going out in public without it. Especially when I was in this kind of a mood; the last thing I needed was to get a hysterical email from Jeannie asking why the hell I attacked an innocent fan in an airport.
Hell, there wouldn't be a point in going back to California either. I'd have to stay here.
A grin lit up my face as I stood up, damn near skipping to the front door and grabbing my jacket off of the rocking chair.
I could stay here with Bella. I could always be with her. There would be no need to leave and no need to put myself through the kind of torture I'd feel at being away from her for an extended amount of time.
Maybe attacking someone wouldn't be a bad idea, after all.
"Okay, I'm ready!" Alice clicked down the stairs, her hands in the air as she walked over to me. "I hope you didn't like that vase you had on your night stand."
She smiled innocently as she grabbed her coat.
"As a matter of fact, I didn't." I smiled smugly down at her as she scowled and jabbed her arms into her coat. "But mom did."
"Fuck," she mumbled, snatching up her purse and slinging it over her shoulder.
"I have to put my hat on," I told her, smiling brightly as I grabbed my keys from the table and locked the door behind me.
The way I felt when just thinking about her never ceased to amaze me. I'd wanted to strangle my only sister a minute ago and now I was happily grinning at anything and everything in my path.
All because of one woman that had completely altered the way I felt about everything.
"That thing is ugly," Alice sighed heavily, shaking her head and mumbling to herself as she slammed the door shut behind her and followed me down the porch steps.
"That thing saves me a hell of a lot of grief. It'll also keep you from being mauled, so you might want to be thankful for it."
"Why would I get mauled? You're the one they're after."
"But you're the one with me. That's bound to make people terrorize you, too."
"Have I ever told you how much I hate your career choice?"
I unlocked the car and crawled in, ignoring her as I reached behind my seat to grab the bandana from where I'd thrown both it and the hat after picking her up from the airport two days ago.
I plopped into the driver's seat and flipped down the visor to stare at my hair as I lay the bandana on top of it, quickly flipping the back down and knotting the ends at the back of my neck.
"You look ridiculous," Alice sighed as she plopped into the passenger's side seat and shook her head. "Absolutely ridiculous."
I continued to grin as I snapped the mirror back into place and closed my door, grabbing the keys I'd dropped from my lap and sticking it in the ignition.
"Yes, I know."
She rolled her eyes again, rummaging around in the duffel bag she called a purse before coming up with a pair of sunglasses and quickly slipping them onto her nose.
"When are you going to tell her?"
My grin faded and I glared over at her as I backed out of the driveway, my eyes landing on the empty house across the street as I straightened out and started my way out of town.
"I don't know, Alice."
"Soon, right? I mean, you're leaving soon, you know."
I grit my teeth together, tightening the hold on the steering wheel as I reached the end of the street.
"I'd really rather not think about that right now."
"You have to, you ass! It's not going to go away! The only thing disappearing is you!"
I winced, hunching my shoulders forward as I stared hard at the small house sitting at the end of the road as I waited to turn.
I was aware of that. Acutely aware that I'd have to leave an amazing woman behind while I flew back to the other side of the country; this was not news to me.
It was damn near painful, that's what it was.
"I know," I said through clenched teeth as I turned onto the main road and began the twenty minute trek to get on the Northway.
"You already know how she feels about you, Edward! I don't understand the dilemma."
She huffed, crossing her arms over her chest as she pouted out at the passing scenery.
"It's… Alice," I sighed heavily, sucking in a deep breath and sitting up straight in my seat. "It needs to be perfect, all right?"
"You can make any damn moment perfect, Edward. As long as you finally tell her and get it out there, it'll be perfect when it happens."
"I don't want to screw this up."
"The only way you'll screw anything up is if you don't tell her before you go. Do you think it's fair to leave here without telling her how you really feel about her?"
"No," I said quietly, licking my lips as I did my best to relax my hands on the steering wheel.
"Then don't you think you should do something soon?"
"I will. Just because you rushed head first into it with Jasper doesn't mean that I have to do the same with Bella."
"At least he always knew how I felt about him," she reasoned, one of her eyebrows arching over the top of her over-sized sunglasses. "He never had to second guess anything."
"Who says she's second guessing anything?" I looked over at her, my neck nearly snapping at the motion as the panic welled up in my throat. "Did she say something?"
"Oh, good Christ," she mumbled, shaking her head and placing a hand on her forehead. "You need to tell her, Edward. The both of you need to get it out in the open because it's damn obvious to the rest of us."
I looked back at the road, momentarily biting my bottom lip as I maneuvered around a wayward trash can sitting haphazardly on the side of the road.
"Almost like you smack me in the face with it each time I'm in the same room with you two. Tell her, Edward. You already know that you won't be shot down because you heard it straight from her."
"She's only falling, Alice," I mumbled. "She hasn't gotten there yet."
She was quiet and I could feel her staring at me, burning holes into the side of my head.
"You're an idiot."
I pursed my lips.
"Thank you," I said dryly.
"Edward, when a girl brings in her best friends to meet you she isn't merely falling. She's there; she's exactly where you wanted her to be. Why you haven't figured any of this out yet is beyond me."
"It's not like I've got much experience in this whole being in love thing, Alice!" I exclaimed, throwing my hands in the air and letting them fall against the wheel again. "How the hell am I supposed to know what any of it means?"
"You should know how you feel and that's all that should matter to you right now. You know how you feel when you're with her and you know how you feel about her, right?"
I nodded once, once again having to force my hands to relax when I realized that I'd tightened them around the wheel again.
"And you know how she feels about you, so I don't really understand what the hold up is."
I stared hard at the road in front of me, my eyes narrowed.
Of course she wouldn't understand what the problem was; she didn't have as many obstacles to deal with when she found Jasper. She wasn't living clear across the country from him when she realized that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him and she hadn't started her fashion line yet. She didn't have to deal with any of the same things that I did when it came to Bella and it only managed to piss me off again.
"I'm fucking terrified! That's what the damn hold up is!" I finally shouted, sucking in another deep breath as I concentrated even more on the road in front of me.
If that was at all possible.
She was quiet for a few moments and I swallowed hard, forcing myself to relax and lean back against the seat I hadn't realized I'd lurched myself up from as my temper died down.
I hadn't intended on telling my little sister how the beautiful neighbor I'd gotten myself thankfully tangled up in scared the shit out of me. No, that hadn't been a part of the conversation plan I'd carefully crafted in my head.
But there it was; out in the open and dangling just in front of our noses.
There had never been anyone else in my entire life that had made me feel something like this. I'd never had such a strong pull, such a solid connection with another woman before and as much as I loved it, I didn't know what to do with it.
The one person that I could see spending the rest of my life with and I wouldn't be able to see her for long periods of time. Phone calls don't measure up to the same sort of relationship when I've already come to depend on seeing her every day.
I won't be able to see her expressions, I won't be able to read her face or know when she's upset about something, I won't be able to pull her into my arms and be able to know that everything was going to be okay just because I had her.
Bella had the power to crush me and giving my heart out to her to hold in the palm of her hand wasn't turning out to be as easy as I initially thought it would be.
"Of what?" she finally asked softly.
I grit my teeth together again, clenching my jaw shut.
"Of what, Edward?" she demanded, reaching over and smacking my leg.
"Of her not feeling the same about me once I'm gone," I ground out, quickly glaring over at her before looking back at the road.
She was quiet again and I swallowed hard, nervously twisting my hands around the steering wheel.
She wasn't supposed to be quiet. She was supposed to be the good little sister I'd come to count on to tell me that my fears were irrational.
Why wasn't she saying that?
"Do you know what she said to me this morning?" she asked quietly, taking her sunglasses off of her nose and holding them in her lap.
"You wouldn't let me anywhere near her this morning," I grumbled. "How would I know what she said?"
"I asked her how she felt about you leaving because she always seems so calm about the whole idea. She told me that it was going to be hard and it was going to hurt," she paused, probably to draw out the suspense and drive me crazy before continuing, "but she loved you enough to wait for you to come back home to her."
The snapping that I'd felt yesterday morning happened again and I sucked in yet another breath, desperately wanting to turn the car around and just… find her.
Find her, gather her in my arms and never let her go anywhere ever again.
"You have no reason to be terrified of anything, Edward," she said softly, leaning her head against the head rest and looking over at me. "Her feelings for you aren't going to change no matter where you are."
My hands twitched on the wheel as we passed one of the many turn around spots littered on the side of the road and I breathed out an annoyed sigh.
"So tell her, okay? She deserves to know and you deserve to hear it first hand from her."
"Remind me why you couldn't just take a cab again?"
"And pass up this chance to annoy you and make you see reason at the same time? No," she scoffed, sliding the sunglasses over her nose again and settling into the seat. "I don't think so."
I growled over at her, pushing the speed limit as much as I dared.
I'd gotten a speeding ticket once during one of my stays and it had been one of the worst experiences of my life. The cop knew who I was instantly and had given me attitude even before I'd opened my mouth to answer him. I'd spent over a thousand dollars on that ticket and had no desire to do so again.
"When are you going to call Angela about that photo session?"
"I don't know," I grumbled, shaking my head.
That hadn't really been the thing that stuck out in my mind, in all honesty. Yes, I wanted to do it before I left, but with my impending departure date looming closely, I had more important things to be thinking about.
"You know what would be a good idea?"
I sighed, shaking my head again.
"No, but I'm sure you're going to tell me."
"Have Angela take pictures of you and Bella together. This way you'll have something to moon over when you come home."
I tilted my head to the side, still staring at the road as I pursed my lips and nodded my head.
I'd never really thought of something like that. Having a picture of Bella would be a better improvement than not having anything at all. And while it wouldn't be the real thing, at least I'd have something.
I guess I was turning into that pathetic sap I'd always made fun of. Framed pictures of Bella and stressing over the perfect time to tell her I loved her had always been the types of things I promised myself I'd never, ever, ever do.
And now I was. And I wasn't complaining one damn bit about it, either.
"Sometimes you're brilliant, Alice."
"Sometimes?" She scoffed and waved a hand at me. "I'm brilliant all the damn time, Edward. It's just taken you this long to notice it."
I rolled my eyes and sighed heavily. The airport had to be an hour away, didn't it?
"Mom would love those pictures. When are you going to tell the rest of our lovely family about her, by the way?"
I shrugged one shoulder. "Soon."
"Sooner than telling Bella that you love her?"
"Oh, my God," I mumbled, bringing one hand up to rub my forehead in an attempt to get rid of the headache that was starting to brew there. "Give it a rest, Alice."
"I just want to know how much longer I have to wait until I get to plan the wedding."
"You are really pushing things, Alice."
She huffed and crossed her arms over her chest again, shaking her head as she grumbled to her reflection in the window.
I shook my head yet again and sighed. A wedding. Right. I had to get through the dating thing before the wedding thing was even an option.
Although, being forever tied down to Bella wasn't really all that unpleasant. Being able to come home to her every day, seeing that smile light up her face when I walked in the door, being able to hold her in my arms and knowing that I didn't have to let her go if I didn't want to; that wasn't such a horrible image at all.
Smiling, I turned onto the Northway ramp when we finally made it there and completely ignored Alice as she began talking to me about the new designs she'd thought of while she was here.
No, it wasn't a horrible thought by any means.
Two and a half hours later, I was back in the car without Alice and on my way back home.
I smiled as I chucked the hat in the seat beside me, itching to take the bandana off as I pulled out of the confusing airport and onto the Northway yet again.
I'd waited until Alice got on the plane before I'd called my mother and told her that Alice was on her way back to Washington in one piece. And I figured that while I had her on the phone, I'd tell her that I was dating Bella.
Two birds with one stone and all that.
I was still trying to get my hearing back from the loud shriek that had erupted through the tinny earpiece of my cell phone. I knew she was going to be excited, but I'd never expected to go partially deaf because of it.
And I'd paced the length of the airport as I listened to her go on and on about how she was so happy and about how perfect the two of us must look together and about how she couldn't wait to tell my grandmother about all of it.
I'd just rolled my eyes and let her talk, thinking that Alice was more like my mother than I'd originally thought she was.
I'd been forced to tell her that I needed to go and had quickly hung up when she finally let me, all but sprinting out to the car and getting in as quickly as possible.
After all of that, I wanted to see Bella.
No, want wasn't a strong enough word.
I needed to see Bella. I needed to get home to Bella. Because Bella was home to me and I didn't want to waste anymore time than I had to being without her.
I had four more days until her vacation finally started. Four more days and I was spending the rest of my last week in this town with her. There wouldn't be any interruptions like her having to go to work or my sister interrupting us; an entire week completely to ourselves.
She could get the sleep she desperately needed and I could… just be with her. There wouldn't be an alarm clock to wake either of us up at an ungodly hour and I'd already planned on unplugging my damn phone. I wasn't going to check my email and I wasn't going to turn on my cell phone if we ventured out of the house.
But I didn't see that happening, either. I had more than enough supplies to keep the both of us comfortable for the rest of the week. There was absolutely no need to leave the house and I planned on keeping it that way.
Pulling into the bookstore driveway, I looked around, surprised when I saw all the cars in the parking lot.
It was busy. It hadn't been busy since I'd gotten there.
I sighed, happy that she was getting the business she obviously needed but a little disappointed that I wouldn't be able to have her entirely to myself for at least a few minutes during the day.
Fixing the hat back onto my head, I got out of the car and quickly walked to the door, pushing through it and meeting a solid wall of people who appeared to be waiting in line to check out.
"Sorry," I mumbled, skirting around people as I made my way to the front counter.
I expected to see a stressed out Bella, ready to tear her hair out as she sat behind the counter, ringing people out as they bitched and complained about the long wait.
Instead, I saw Angela standing there, a bright smile on her face as she happily rang out books and chatted away with the group of customers closer to her.
I blinked, tipping my head up to look around the crowded front room for any sign of Bella.
And why in the hell was Angela here? Did I miss something? Hadn't Bella said that she was a photographer? Hadn't Alice and I just discussed setting up an appointment with her this morning?
"Angela?" I asked softly, stepping up to the side of the counter.
"I'm sorry, sir," she said cheerfully, looking over to smile at me even as she continued to ring up the books sitting in front of her. "I'll be with you in just a moment."
I blinked at her.
I did meet her and her husband last night, right? And I was actually dating Bella, wasn't I? I hadn't fallen asleep and dreamed that all of this had happened, had I?
"Angela," I tried again.
"Sir," she said again, her previously cheerful smile now completely forced as she looked over at me. "I'll be happy to help you in just a minute."
"I'm looking for Bella," I finally sighed out, a little flustered and very confused about this whole thing.
I couldn't have possibly dreamed all of this. I mean, it was all too real; I knew how Bella felt in my arms, I knew how her lips felt against mine, and dammit, I know that Rosalie threatened me before they all left last night so why in the hell was Angela acting like she didn't know me?
"She's helping someone. I'm sure that as soon as she's done, she'll be able to deal with you. Until then, cowboy, please wait," she said under her breath, smiling brightly as she handed the customer her shopping bag.
My eyes widened and I licked my lips, quickly remembering that I had the hat on my head. How I'd forgotten about it was a completely different story, but now at least it all made sense.
I relaxed, nodding at her as I stepped away from the counter and took a deep breath.
I hadn't been dreaming. I wasn't losing my mind and most importantly, I was with Bella. That's all that really mattered.
I walked around the front room, my hands behind my back as I stared hard at the doorway leading into the book room.
I could go in there. Nothing was stopping me. I didn't have to wait out here and watch Angela send me curious glances whenever I wandered a little too close to the front counter.
Things would've been so much easier if there weren't so many people around. And why were there so many people around?
I sighed, my fingers twitching with the urge to run them through my hair as I continued to pace around the room.