Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. No Copyright infringement intendend

A/N: I could give you countless excuses as to why this story hasn't been updated.

Instead, I'll just say I'm truly sorry and that I thank you. Sincerely.

Thank you for sticking with it, with me, and with my dream of a storyline.

Finally, Thank you to my beta and lover-friend, my hubby is no Edward.

You're the best friend I could ask for and my heart is yours, these characters dedicated to you for your constant encouragement.

Chapter 5: Tulips and a Sunshine Kind of Day

There was a lot to say about the serenity of waking up to a new day. It was almost as though the moment my head lifted off the pillow, the shadow of my dreams pushing their way out of consciousness, I felt as though my life was new and anything was possible. It was almost as though I could be anybody I wanted to be…to be able to fall in love, to learn to swim, to grow old with another. It could be new day, a new start, a clean slate.

Except, it never was.

It never could.

Eventually the truth would sink in, my false strength taking over to get me through. It was in those moments—the earliest hours of the morning—that I reached both my highest and my weakest. I was ashamed of the person I became in those darkest minutes, feeling sorry for myself when I had so much to be thankful for instead. They were wasted, used, and abused, each second precious, undeserving of being thrown away for egotism.

Ultimately, I would sigh, push my pessimistic attitudes aside, and climb out of bed to start another calendar day, on the calendar year that could potentially be my last.

The sun was rising, the birds chirped, and the chilled morning air whirled around me as I stood next to my mailbox, flipping through the endless envelopes of my mail.

Sue waved at me, already outside in her garden, and I nodded my head and smiled before turning to head back into my house. Sophie greeted me as though I had been gone for an entire week as I bent down and scratched her back, laughing in response to her enthusiasm.

"Yeah, yeah, I missed you, too," I said to her absent-mindedly as I bent down to scratch her soft belly.

It was a typical morning with the typical routine, and yet there was absolutely nothing typical about this particular day.

My stomach was in knots and my head was spinning with questions, every part of me overflowing with nervous energy. I was not in my comfort zone, at my coffee shop watching for someone interesting to walk through the front door, and I was not all alone with nothing on my agenda. Instead, I was going to be spending the morning with a man.

A man named Edward Cullen.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect, what to do or what to say, but I knew this was my only chance at accomplishing the one thing that was most important to me in this world. I knew what I had to do; I just didn't know how to do it. Isn't that how it always worked?

I sighed as I came out of my inner contemplations, standing up straight, stretching my sore legs before walking down the short hallway and into the kitchen to throw the bundle of mail on my table. I looked adjacently to the counter where the small, black coffee pot sat dutifully untouched, abandoned and ignored since the day I moved in. I briefly entertained the idea of making my own morning cup before I remembered I didn't have anything to brew.

My attention was stolen away from Mr. Coffee by a faint knock at the front door that sent Sophie off on her usual barking tangent, her feet clicking against the hardwood foyer as she pranced around waiting for me to answer to the guest.

I smiled to myself, walking back the path I just came and grabbed onto Sophie's collar before swinging the front door open, already knowing who would be waiting on the other side.

Edward stood straight, a small bouquet of tulips in his right hand, a half- smile on his face that spoke of uncertainly and slight embarrassment. My eyes scanned over him briefly, realizing that I probably wouldn't have recognized him in his current state had I not been expecting his arrival. His worn jeans—purposely purchased that way, I suspected—and his navy blue zippered hoodie made him appear almost normal, approachable, not as intimidating as he did while in his business executive environment. Eventually, I realized I was staring so I slowly averted my eyes and focused in on the orange flowers being outstretched by his slender fingers.

"For you," he said, though it sounded more like a question.

That's when I saw her. Sue was staring at us from across the street, quickly turning the moment my eyes trailed in her direction, trying to appear as though she was clueless.

I smiled and shook my head.

"Really, Edward, you shouldn't have," I said jokingly through a light laugh, taking the flowers and instinctively smelling them. He simply shrugged and reached around with his left hand to awkwardly scratch the back of his neck.

He seemed a little bit nervous which piqued my curiosity. I stepped aside and motioned for him to walk inside. "Please, come in," I said as friendly as possible, hoping to put him at ease.

He walked inside, me following and closing the door behind us as I released a rambunctious Sophie. She descended upon him, jumping and licking, tail wagging at a rapid pace as it made a rhythmic thumping against the narrow foyer wall.

"So I see you already had the pleasure of meeting my neighbor," I said, grabbing Sophie's collar and shouting at her to stay down.

"You caught that, huh?" he replied, his smile lighting up the sharp curves of his face. "You can let her go, she's fine," he added, gesturing toward Sophie as he squatted down to pet her.

I leaned against the wall, crossing my arms in front of my chest as I watched him animatedly interact with my only companion. "Sue means well, but sometimes she can stick her nose where it doesn't belong," I said. "I hope she didn't give you too hard of a time."

"Nah," he said, standing up to face me again. "She just threatened to castrate me if I ever hurt you."

I could feel my mouth fly open in shock, but I had no control over it, my eyes widening in terror. "She said…what?"

His strong laughter echoed between the slender walls. "Okay, okay, relax. I'm just messing with you. She didn't say that…not exactly."

"Okay, I really don't even want to know," I said, holding up my hands in surrender, a slight smile spreading across my lips at just the thought of Sue speaking to Edward.

Our laughter slowly faded, our smiles retreating as a beat of awkward silence extended briefly between us and I tried to look at everything else in the foyer but him.

"So, the picture?" he asked suddenly, my eyes instantly shooting back up to his.

"Oh, yes, right. Let me just get these tulips in some water and then we'll get started. Feel free to make yourself at home," I said as I turned from him and walked back down the hall to the kitchen. I was vaguely aware of his presence behind me as he followed my footsteps. Once inside the kitchen, I bent down beneath the sink, the familiar ache in my legs protesting my choice of movement. I fumbled around until I found an old vase, one that belonged to my grandmother, before filling it with water and placing the flowers inside.

I worked in silence but I could feel Edward's presence, could sense that his eyes were intently watching my every move. When I turned away from the sink, facing in his direction again, I noticed that he was comfortably leaning against the inside of the archway. His brow was slightly furrowed, a confounded expression lighting up his features.

"Um, what is it?" I asked, suddenly feeling self-conscious under his furtive stare, looking down to examine my appearance.

"Oh, nothing…" he replied, seemingly snapping out of his inner turmoil, pulling his eyes from me as he uncrossed his arms and feigned indifference. "I just can't figure you out."

I smirked and pushed aside my unease, willing myself not to let this man make me feel so out of character. He may be intimidating on the outside, but I knew better than to judge a book by its cover.

"I'm not sure what you mean by that," I replied, finishing my previous path to the kitchen table to set the vase down in the center. At this point, Sophie had already worked her way up against Edward's leg, leaning against him, content with her new find of a friend.

He stood up straight, his gaze following my steps. "I mean…you're kind of fascinating to me. I just don't understand your motives. I don't get why you're being so kind to me unless of course there's something you want that you're not telling me about."

"Trust me, I don't want anything from you," I replied a little too quickly.

"Look, I'm serious; if you need a lawyer for something and are just too afraid to ask, just fill me in. I'll see what I can do," he persisted taking a step toward me, forcing Sophie to leave his side.

"I don't need a lawyer."

"Okay then…you don't need a lawyer. So, if you have some sort of crazy crush on me, just…don't okay? I'm a huge asshole, you're not my type, and it would never work out," he explained, nonchalantly. He seemed pretty confident that this was the case which made me want to roll my eyes. I laughed, instead.

"You're right, it would never work out," I agreed, pushing past him with a smirk on my face. I could hear him following me down the hallway again.

"What's so funny about that?" he asked from behind me, his beautiful voice echoing off the narrow walls.

"I realize this might come as a shock to someone like you, but it is possible for a member of the opposite sex to find you unattractive," I said as I reached the front foyer again and searched around in the coat closet for my denim jacket.

"Possible, maybe," he said, gently taking my jacket out of my hands the moment I retrieved it, holding it up in front of me to help put it on. "But, highly unlikely."

His haughty smirk from ear to ear was hard to ignore.

However, I was suddenly shocked into silence by his assumingly out-of-character, gentlemanlike behavior, so I said nothing as I slipped my right arm in the appropriate sleeve first, sensing the heat of his body as he stepped behind me and assisted me with my left arm. I was well aware of every movement he made, his hot breath on the back of my neck as he gingerly lifted the denim onto my shoulders. I inwardly noted that he smelled nice and soothing—like mint, fresh soap, and a sunshine kind of day--and It was in that instant that I realized how pathetic I was considering this was the closest I had come to a member of the opposite sex (without medical credentials) in years. Letting out a quiet breath, I awkwardly thanked him for his kindness, stepping out of his personal-space while grabbing my tote bag, Sophie's leash and flinging open the front door.

"After you, Mr. Cullen."

It was time to get the show on the road.

When I was little, I can remember my mother and me walking down the quiet sidewalk of the rural street we resided on. Every summer morning, we would walk to the local post office together to get the mail. There was a small store attached to the post office, so my mother would give me a quarter, and with that small silver circle I would buy twenty-five pieces of penny candy. The watermelon slices were my favorite, but sometimes it was hard for me to choose between their sweetness and the bitter taste of the Sour Patch Kids.

An early day in July will always stand out in my mind. It was the day before my seventh birthday. My mother was quieter than usual, lost in her own thoughts with worry lines corrupting her lightly sun-kissed, olive skin. My mother was beautiful, she and I looking nothing alike because I was adopted. Her natural golden hair would reflect off the sun and it had always reminded me of a shampoo commercial, the model strutting around the city, shaking her wavy, perfect tendrils along the length of her slender back, completely oblivious to the stares she was acquiring. That model was my mother through and through, unaware of the appreciative glances, too caught up in her love for my father to notice another member of the opposite sex.

"You went with strawberry gummies today?" she asked me, the first words she had spoken since we began our walk home that day.

"Yeah," I said, sighing, my feet leaping furtively from block to block, careful not to step on any cracks.

Don't step on a crack, you'll break your mother's back, my best friend,Jake, had always said. He was the only friend I truly had all through my school-aged years, teaching me everything I ever wanted to know about life and love, about sex and exploration. I had been horrified at his admission, afraid that if I did, in fact, step on a crack, that I would be the cause of my mother's back problems.

"I know strawberries are your favorite," I added to my mom, admitting to the motives behind my decision.

"Oh, Isabella," she said, grinning, shaking her head back in forth in disbelief, her hair bouncing in the tune with the mild breeze. "You're just like your father."

Which one? I thought. Adoptive or biological?

"And you know that the sidewalk crack myth is nothing but that…a myth…right?" she asked, watching my cautious steps in amusement.

"How can you be sure?" I replied, continuing to avoid the offensive crevices. "It's not really worth the risk."

"Life is about taking risks," she countered, smiling over at me, her skin glowing and reminding me of the shampoo model again. "Without risks, you'll never fully enjoy the benefits."

And here I was, more than fifteen years later, my mother long since passed away, but yet my feet still bounced methodically over the cracks, careful to avoid them as Edward and I walked side by side down the sidewalk of my street. He had a hold of Sophie's leash, insisting that he could handle her and explaining how much he missed walking his own dog that had gone to rest. It was nice getting to spend this time with Edward, getting to see him more for the person that I knew he could be, rather than assuming the role of the rushed business man with no time for life.

"What exactly are you doing?" he asked as he stared at my bouncing movements.

"Oh c'mon, Edward," I said through a smile. "Don't step on a crack or you'll break your mother's back? Does that ring a bell?"

He laughed out loud, shaking his head back and forth in disbelief. "What are you…fifteen?"

"What are you….ninety?" I retorted, dancing over in front of Sophie's path and twirling around while bending down in front of her. "Where would you like to go today, Boo Boo? Want an ice cream cone? You do, don't you?"

I could feel Edward's eyes on me, studying my interactions with my dog, but I didn't really care what he thought about me. I knew I wasn't like most people and I was okay with that. I glanced up at him as he stood waiting for me to move out of the way and shielded my eyes from the sun.

"Boo wants some ice cream, does that sound alright with you?" I asked.

"Assuming Boo is your dog," he replied, "I guess that's fine as long as it doesn't take too long. I'd like to get this picture done."

"Relax, we have all day," I said beaming at him while standing up and pointing to the right. "This way to the ice cream stand, and look at Sophie, she's excited!"

Sure enough, Sophie was prancing around in her spot, tail wagging enthusiastically as it hit Edward in the leg.

"I'm so sorry about your luck," I thought I heard him say under his breath to Sophie as we turned the street corner and headed toward the market. "You deserve to be called something way cooler than Boo."