Bella grew pensive at hearing the words. The phrase 'Every family has its own problems' came to mind. Even people who are rich and powerful have those 'face, meet wall' moments. Suddenly exhilarated, she whooped loudly, laughing heartily when Edward jumped in his seat. She reached over for his hand when a particularly bold urge came, and giggled more when he looked at her with guarded eyes and slapped her hand away.

"What is your problem?" he asked harshly, subtly moving away from her.

"I am happy. What is yours?" she asked back, all smiles and glitters. He looked away.


Edward had never felt so relieved to be off of a helicopter. He didn't even know what he did or said to bring about the almost-fanatical happiness that was rolling off of Bella in waves. She was skipping ahead of him, occasionally twirling around and smiling at him just so, that made him feel like she could see right through him. It sent a not-unpleasant shiver down his spine, and made him wonder at his sanity in keeping her so close. As they entered his office building, he felt that overwhelming relief again, when he spotted Jasper waiting. Thank Lord.


To say Jasper was surprised when Bella flounced into the CEO's office with a guarded CEO in tow would be an understatement. A million and one questions blazed through his head. Was she was the one Edward sent him on a wild goose chase for? Was she the one who went to Alice's party and single-handedly tripled the amount of donations raised that day? He shuddered, pulling Edward aside.

"She's the one? Are you sure?" he asked, feeling a smidgen of doom at the thought of Alice and how to explain.

Edward's face was slightly pale when he nodded grimly.


The CEO's office was much the same as always, save for a ridiculous volume of newspapers stockpiled near the recycle bin. Stifling a soft chortle, she reminisced that, just days ago, the article about Edward's supposed obsession with newspapers was published. She had nothing to do with it; didn't even know until Rosalie offhandedly commented that the issue had a theme with newspapers and romance.

Curiosity took hold as she flipped through the varied stock. The Gazette, the Tribune, the Times... the pile had everything!

A scoff reminded her that she wasn't alone. Edward's accusatory stare explained all: your fault.


Bella's mood changed as soon as she spotted Jasper and Edward headlocked in some serious conversation or another. Her earlier euphoria fled, and she seated herself on the plush sofas, feeling anxious.

Footsteps alerted her to their approach. She looked up as Jasper shut the door behind them. Edward looked resigned and determined, while Jasper hesitant. The air hung heavily as both men seated themselves across from her.

Age-old words rang in her mind: If you must play, decide upon three things: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.

She took a deep breath, "Let's begin."

AN: heheh... so I went on sorta a vacation for a few weeks. This was supposed to be posted about 3 weeks ago... I hope you enjoy :)

On another note, this whole "story time is moving 1000x slower than real time" is driving my brain nuts. It's almost like experiencing that effect in the Alicization volumes of Sword Art Online (if you know of that light novel... If not, you might want to add that to your reading lists if you're a manga/anime lover)