Termination of Courtship. During the early stages of courtship, should the intended's suitor prove to be less than what was originally presented, the father of the intended can move to terminate the courtship. This decision is usually made in the event of financial misrepresentation, dishonesty or lack of moral integrity.



"Edward, settle down," Carlisle said in exasperation as he watched his son pace the foyer relentlessly.

"Mom," Edward called as he broke off toward the kitchen, unaware that his father had even spoken. "Instead of eating at the table on the deck, do you think we could do a picnic on the back lawn? You and Dad will still be able to see us from the house…"

"Edward, I think that's a fine idea," Esme tapped his hand in an effort to bestow a little calm upon him. "The weather is nice enough today."

Esme and Carlisle Cullen were trying their very hardest not to undermine the momentous feat that was about to occur at their house that very afternoon. Edward was finally going to let down his guard and let Bella in – even if only a little bit.

It was a side of Edward that they hadn't seen in quite some time, and they had begun to wonder if they would ever see a glimpse of the man who had all but died almost four years ago.

"I didn't even ask her if she likes chicken. I should call and ask her…but I've never talked with her on the phone. I don't want our first phone conversation to be about food," Edward shook his head. "Do you think her parents would object if I called her on the phone? If it's only to ask about lunch they shouldn't mind, should they?"

Esme couldn't help but laugh at his rambling. "Edward. Stop. Chicken will be fine. Everything will be fine. You need to relax."

But Edward took no comfort in his mother's words, for he knew she was simply trying to appease him, but she had no idea if things were going to be fine.

Edward's decision to reveal his past to Bella meant that he was opening himself up to not only possible rejection, but to reliving the reaction he knew he'd never grow accustomed to.

In telling Bella, Edward was drawing a line in the sand. And it was highly probable that Bella would continue to stand on the other side of it.

Edward knew his mother was idealistic and he couldn't fault her for seeing the silver lining in all situations. But he'd expected some semblance of understanding from his father, yet Carlisle seemed just as flustered by Edward's nervousness as his mother did.

Though Edward wasn't quite ready to label his feelings for Bella, he knew that they were quite strong. Just the thought of her no longer being in his life, of losing the possibility of being with her, being someone to her, caused his throat to constrict in despair.

But that is exactly what could happen if Bella found him to be tainted by his past experiences. And there was no doubt in Edward's mind that if Charlie Swan felt that Edward ceased to be the perfect picture that he'd once thought him to be, Charlie wouldn't hesitate to call off the entire arrangement and spare his perfect princess a blemished man.

"Edward, what time did you say you were getting Bella?" Esme's voice pulled Edward out of his mental dungeon.

"Noon," he checked is watch as he spoke and saw that he would need a miracle to be on time. "I'm late!"

"Why don't you have her meet you? You said she likes to drive," Esme suggested.

Edward shook his head adamantly. "I requested this time with her. It wouldn't be right to make her drive over. Besides, she doesn't have a car. I think she shares her parents' car and I'd hate to leave them stranded because I was running late."

Carlisle stood at the edge of the kitchen listening to Edward's explanation of why he simply wouldn't ask Bella to drive herself to the Cullen home. While his words sounded noble, Carlisle was sure there was more beneath them.

"We should probably get going then," Carlisle stated. He had a late afternoon shift at the hospital and he was anxious to get back so that he could have time to mentally prepare for his day.

Edward nodded and dropped his keys as he made his way toward his father. Moments later, as the two men stood in the foyer, Edward dropped his keys again as he fidgeted nervously with his collar. The third time he dropped his keys, Carlisle bent down to retrieve them and refused to hand them back to Edward.

"I'll drive," he stated.

It was Edward's intention to mull over his prepared speech on the way to Bella's house. But his father had other plans. As soon as they exited the Cullen driveway, Edward heard his father's signature throat clearing – a signal that he had a prepared a speech of his own.

"Edward," Carlisle began, "it might have been a good idea to let Bella drive out today."

Edward rested his head against the headrest on the passenger side of his car. "I think that's rude. It would be like –"

"Providing her an exit plan?" Carlisle chuckled.

"What?" Edward did not seem amused. "What do you mean by that?"

"I'm wondering if your desire to drive her has less to do with chivalry and more to do with the fact that she'll have to hear you out in the event that she doesn't like what you have to say."

"That's ridiculous," Edward shook his head unconvincingly. "And if she wants to leave, then I'll take her home."

Edward shifted nervously in his seat as he considered voicing his concerns audibly to his father.

"She could…based on what happened…she could ask her father to end everything," Edward stated quietly.

"I doubt that Bella would do that, and I further doubt that Charlie would comply if Bella asked," Carlisle said evenly.

"You can't know that."

"Oh yes I can."

"How?"

"Because Charlie already knows."

Edward flinched as he robotically turned to face his father. All niceties aside, was he really expected to sit idly by while his father toyed with what could possibly be the most important endeavor of his life?

"I beg your pardon?" Edward asked as he inhaled deeply through his nose.

Carlisle sensed Edward's shift in mood and pulled over onto the shoulder of the nearly deserted road.

"You told Charlie?" the pitch of Edward's voice began to climb. "You had no right to-"

"Edward!" Carlisle rarely raised his voice to his family, but as he abruptly turned to face Edward, it was evident that he meant business. "You are my son, living in my house. Do not presume to tell me what my rights are!"

"Sorry," Edward muttered, but it came out sounding more like the words from an insolent twelve-year-old than a repentant twenty-four-year-old man.

"You do not know more than I do on this subject. Let me state the obvious by saying that you've never had a child, and you have no idea what my responsibilities in this situation are," Carlisle kept his eyes on the dashboard as he spoke.

"You're almost twenty-five, you're moderately successful and you're a good-looking young man. Don't you think Charlie Swan's first question to me was aren't you married?"

"He asked you that?" Edward seemed astounded. "Why didn't he ask me?"

"He asked me before you decided you were interested in Bella. I met him in passing right after he'd moved here and when he found out I was a Cannabean, we struck up an easy conversation. He told me about Bella and in return, I told him about my children. He asked if I had grandchildren and I told him that I had three and that my youngest son wasn't yet married. He was surprised to find out that at twenty-four you hadn't yet settled down, so I told him that you'd come close once."

"And?"

"And I said that it didn't work out. That's it."

"So he doesn't know the details?"

"No, son. That's your story to tell." Carlisle's words held more weight than their obvious meaning. Yes, it was Edward's story to tell, but would he tell it? Aside from what was blaringly obvious, Edward had neglected to give the exact details about what had happened to him. Only one other person knew the exact truth and neither of them had spoken in detail.

Edward anxiously pulled his hands through his hair and squinted as he glanced sideways at his father. "Is there any reason why you're just now telling me this?"

"Because I didn't want you to use it as an excuse not to talk to Bella," Carlisle stated matter of fact. "And if we're being honest with each other right now, Edward, we'd both admit to knowing that your previous betrothal isn't really the issue here."

Though Edward agreed with his father, there was an underlying issue; he knew they didn't exactly agree on what that issue was. Therefore, he dropped the conversation altogether and pondered something his father had said earlier. Regardless of whether Bella knew about his previous close call or not, it was his story to tell.

"We're late," Edward said softly.

Without another word, Carlisle maneuvered the car back onto the road and drove off toward the Swan residence.

The silence that decorated the rest of the drive continued to remain in place even after Bella had joined the Cullen men in the car. After a few pleasantries – "How are you" and "You look very nice", Edward and Bella settled into a comfortable quiet, much to Carlisle's chagrin. He made several attempts to strike up a conversation, but both Edward and Bella didn't uphold their part to keep the conversation going – most likely a product of their nervousness.

As soon as they arrived back at the Cullen home, Esme ran out of the house to greet them, a sign that she had been watching for their return.

"You all have perfect timing. Lunch is ready," she said happily as she gave Bella a quick hug. "It's a perfect day for a picnic, don't you think, Bella?"

Bella quickly nodded. "Yes. It's really nice out," she replied of the rare dry weather.

When the elder Cullens didn't follow Bella and Edward out through the patio doors, Edward explained that it would just be she and him, dining alone.

"They can see us through the windows in case you're worried," Edward added in the event that she was wondering.

"I'm not worried," Bella smiled at him as she followed him to a clear area on the back lawn.

Her smile was infectious, and Edward found himself doing the same thing.

They stood awkwardly facing each other for a moment until Edward had the good sense to spread out the blanket he had carried out atop the basket of food.

Their movements continued to lack grace as they passed plates, cutlery and food dishes. Once they had dished out their portions, Edward offered to say grace. Without thinking, they both reached out and clasped one another's hands, a customary gesture during Cannabean prayer.

And then, as if burned by hot water, they each dropped the other's hands.

"Sorry. Habit." Bella laughed as she folded her hands in her lap.

Edward watched her as she sat parallel, facing him from the opposite direction. He coveted the peace he saw in her and briefly wondered if he could ever attain it. Would he ever be free from the demons that haunted him and made him feel like half a man?

When Bella, her head slightly bowed, peered up at him, Edward realized that his ponderings had lasted too long.

He held out his hands to her. "I don't think the rules apply to prayer," he said.

"Really?"

"I'll look it up and if I'm wrong, then we'll know for next time, okay?"

"Alright," Bella agreed.

Tentatively, their fingers slid alongside one another's before softly intertwining together.

Edward's reverent words lightly tumbled from his lips as he as he reveled in the smooth flesh that conformed to his own.

The prayer ended all too soon, sending Edward and Bella's hands to their respective dishes on opposite sides of the blanket.

The noises of nature seemed inappropriately loud as Edward wrestled with how to begin, how to step into his nightmare in the middle of the afternoon.

"Edward," Bella's soft-spoken tone hovered between them. "Is everything alright?"

Edward looked up to see that she had shredded a piece of French bread on her plate. She was nervous, too.

"Bella, I…" Edward started and stopped. "I wanted to talk to you a little more about what happened yesterday."

"Alright," Bella prodded him to continue with a nod of her head.

"Well…I guess I want to talk about something that happened before…what caused yesterday to be so…tense." Edward stole a glance at Bella and saw that she seemed riddled with confusion and anxiety. "Not because of you, of course." He noticed that she visibly relaxed upon hearing his words.

Bella sat stock-still as she waited for Edward to get to the point. Her motionlessness made him even more uneasy, so he suggested the go for a walk.

"Just around the property, " he qualified.

"Sure," Bella agreed as she clambered up to stand beside Edward. She scanned the vast acreage before letting out an appreciative sigh. "It is so beautiful out here. You must love it."

"Uh…yeah. It's nice, I suppose," Edward said. He'd lost appreciation for the property over the years, clearly equating it with his misfortune.

"This kind of reminds me of Montana. It's so green," Bella said as she fell into step beside Edward.

"Do you miss it?" Edward asked.

"Well, there's nothing really there for me anymore, but I guess I do miss how comfortable it was. There wasn't really anything new and unknown there, and sometimes that's nice."

"Don't like surprises?"

"Oh, I love surprises," Bella paused as she stepped around an area of soft, sunken earth. "I guess I've just been feeling…in the dark a lot lately. And it makes me miss the familiarity of home."

Edward laughed. "Why do I get the feeling you're talking about me?"

"Well, not you, per se…just…"

"Every situation that involves me?"

Bella and Edward shared a chuckle over what they knew to be true before a cloud of silence settled between them.

"You know you can ask me if there's something you don't understand." The air turned chilly as they walked and Edward pushed his hands deep within his pockets.

For a few paces, the only sound was that of their footfalls wading through the low grass. Bella kept her eyes on the tips of the cream-colored ballet flats she wore and she appeared to be deep in thought.

Edward was about to suggest that they turn around and go back, since their walk wasn't doing much to loosen up his tongue.

That's when Bella spoke.

"What are we?" she asked demurely.

It wasn't a question Edward had been expecting. He thought she'd ask about future plans, outings, even about his siblings. But what are we? That question definitely hadn't been on his radar.

"What do you mean?" Edward stalled, even though he'd understood what she was asking.

"I feel like I'm in limbo with you," Bella twisted her hands nervously as she spoke. "I'm not quite sure where I stand…with you."

As Edward turned to look at Bella, he was reminded of the time when he was thirteen and his mother had taken him to a doctor other than his father for his first sports physical. After the extremely embarrassing hernia check, Edward remembered the doctor telling him he was in the midst of puberty. Puberty. It was one of those words, that though one fully understood its meaning, one never actually wanted to apply the title to himself.

Much like courtship. To verbally tell Bella that he considered himself to be courting her rang among the most unromantic statements a man could make to a woman.

But what was he to say? Cannabeans considered the terms 'girlfriend' and 'boyfriend' to be too secular and worldly in their meaning, and not telling enough of the seriousness of commitment.

And he had all too harshly learned the lesson of getting ahead of himself in relationships. She was intended to be his intended, but they were not yet betrothed.

Yes. He fully understood Bella's question.

"I'm sorry, I thought your father explained to you that I had asked to…"

"Yes, yes, he did."

Edward was thankful that Bella had interjected before he'd had to sound academic in his assessment of their relationship.

"But you never gave me the book, so I thought maybe you…had other thoughts," Bella concluded.

"The book?" Edward asked. "The betrothal book?"

When Bella nodded, Edward was shocked. He hadn't expected her to know about that, and he told her as much.

"My grandparents had them," Bella said. "I was never allowed to look in them though. I was always told that it was special, to be kept for when that time came for me.

"So, you've never…had a reason to have one before?" Edward asked slowly. He knew her answer, but he also knew what it would enable him to tell her.

"No," Bella simply stated.

"Bella." Edward stopped and positioned himself in front of Bella so that she'd have to stop walking as well. He couldn't tear his eyes from the ground as he embarked upon the task he'd been dreading all day. "I asked you here today because there was something I wanted to tell you…"

"Right," Bella said. Her tone revealed that she both had been expecting this and that she was nervous about whatever it was that he had to say.

A blood-red robin flew low overhead, and as Edward's eyes followed its trail, they landed upon the barren clearing that housed a flat, cement foundation and nothing more. Before he could control or prepare for what happened next, the words began tumbling forth from his mouth.

"I started building a house there three years ago," Edward pointed to the cement slab. "I'd had these plans drawn up for this beautiful, two-story cobblestone home that I saw one time when I'd gone to visit a relative in Connecticut. I was so excited to get started, but she didn't like it, and so I had to start the process all over."

Edward paused and finally looked Bella in the eye. The expression on her face was just what he'd expected: shock, wonder, confusion and inquisitiveness. He implored her with his eyes to take the cue. Ask the question. Help me get through this…

And she did. "She?"

"She was only seventeen when I met her, and, at first, I thought she was the most annoying person I'd ever met. I used to tease her relentlessly. And then one day, she started teasing me back – and it became this sort of game with us.

"I don't even know when it happened really, but we kind of fell into this relationship. We did everything together…went everywhere together, until things got busy for me at school. But even when I wasn't at home, she'd come to my house, and I always kind of thought that was her way of trying to stay close to me in my absence," Edward let out a slight pshaw in his pause, as if he found humor in his stupidity.

Bella stood quietly, her arms wrapped around her torso to ward off anything tragic that Edward might say.

"She was such a perfectionist in her planning, so I didn't really think it was off for her to always want to move back the wedding so that she could have the perfect cake or hall or weather. But by the time I was done with school, I didn't want to put it off much longer. I'd started the house and it was going to be finished in the spring, so I wanted a spring wedding. Well then suddenly the perfect dress was at her aunt's in Dallas, Texas and she couldn't possibly ask her to ship something so precious. I started to think she was stalling, so I just flat out asked her if she still wanted to get married. She said she did, but that she just wanted everything to be perfect and the wedding details were all she had control over."

When Edward stopped talking, Bella took the opportunity to speak up. "Was she Cannabean? Was this a Cannabean wedding?"

"Well…yes and no." Edward vacillated. "She claimed to be, and all of her association was Cannabean. Her father wasn't around and her mother was…well, for all intents and purposes, wasn't around either.

"And it was a time in my life when the Cannabean Way was just my parents' religion. I wasn't as dedicated as I should have been. But I've grown up, and now I know what happens when you don't do things the right way."

Edward walked over to a low two-rung fence and leaned upon it, facing the property he had long since abandoned. He sensed Bella's presence as she came up and rested against the fence beside him.

"What happened, Edward? What happened to her?" she asked quietly.

She was being polite. Edward knew that someone like Bella, who hadn't grown up watching television and still didn't own one, wouldn't be prepared for the soap opera like climax to the story he was now telling. Most likely, Bella was already mourning for the woman she assumed perished tragically or came to some other horrible, but noble end.

"It was just after I'd decided that maybe I'd back off a little bit about the wedding. I had to fly out to Texas to meet up with a company that was interested in buying wine for their restaurant. While I was there, I remembered about the wedding dress, so I looked up the aunt, called her and asked her if I could come by and pick up the wedding dress. Right then I should have known something was off, because she didn't know anything about a wedding dress. No one had ever said a thing to her," Edward shook his head.

"There was no dress?" Bella asked in a stunned whisper.

"Oh, there was a dress, alright. And I got it. Her aunt willingly handed it over and I flew all the way back to Washington with this big white box as my carry-on," Edward mused. "When I got back, I was so excited to surprise her with the dress. But when I dropped in on her, she wasn't home. Her mother told me she'd gone out for a short while and offered to let me wait. So I did. I waited for a long time before I heard a car pull up. I kept thinking that any minute now she'd walk through that door. But she didn't. After about five minutes, I went outside to look for her and I found her in a rather…compromising position with…another man."

Bella's hands clapped against the sides of her face in an expression of horror as she gasped out loud. "Edward that's horrible!" she exclaimed.

It had been years since Edward had allowed himself to recount the story in such detail. He was surprised to find that though it still angered him, the raw hurt had vastly subsided.

But there was still more to tell. And as he looked over at Bella, he could see that she had no idea that she hadn't even heard the worst part yet.

"So there was a shunning, then?" Bella asked quietly.

The strict practice of excommunication, casting a person off as a social pariah among family and friends, was a highly feared reaction to any punishable deed. So harsh was the penance that it often punished the innocent along with the guilty, and was therefore rare in its implication. Yet, just like Edward, Bella seemed to feel that the injustice upon Edward warranted such an act.

"No. There was no shunning," Edward said quietly.

"How is that possible? She said she was Cannabean, right?"

"She did."

"And she was with another man while she was betrothed to you?"

Edward paused. The answer to this question was the great divide. It was a matter of interpretation.

"She…said she wanted to marry me, yes," Edward answered slowly.

"Did you give her a ring?"

"I did."

"And she accepted it?"

"She did."

"Was it a secret?"

"No. Pretty much everyone knew. All of our friends and families."

"So…how, exactly, did she avoid the shunning?" Bella seemed confused.

"It was a matter of protocol," Edward answered, his voice weathered and horse from so much use. "There was no acquaintance meeting because I'd known her for so long already and since her parents weren't Cannabean, I couldn't exactly enter into a formal courtship with her. So, at the end of it all, she denied that we had ever spoke about marriage."

"But what did the Cannabean council say?" Bella asked. Her soulful eyes reflected an empathy that Edward had only seen in one other woman: his mother.

"Well, because the Cannabean community here is small, there weren't enough men to preside if my father sat out of the hearing. And because his sons were involved, my father abstained from voting on a shunning. I'm sure the other elders didn't feel comfortable voting in my father's presence, so they abstained as well. Without a majority vote, there's no shunning."

"Wow," Bella was awestricken. "In Billings, there were so many elders that I could barely keep track of them all. How many are there here?"

"Five," Edward answered. "There used to be seven, but one moved away and the other passed away last fall."

Bella ruefully shook her head. "I'm sorry, Edward."

"Don't be. Ben Happ was ninety-six years old. He had a good, long life."

Bella smiled up at Edward with sad eyes. "Not for that. I meant I was sorry about what happened…that you had to go through that."

"Oh," Edward's eyes softened as he looked over at Bella and saw the tender compassion behind her gaze.

Edward looked down to where Bella's had rested atop the fence. So badly he wanted to cover it with his own and tell her how grateful he was to have her understanding; how light and free he felt now that he'd shared his past with her. Or, rather, a portion of his past.

"So what ended up happening?" Bella asked.

"Well, after the council made their decision public, she was free to marry the other guy, so she did. The Cannabean community was pretty divided for awhile. A lot of people didn't agree with the vote, and to this day, many Cannabeans shun her anyway."

"Even though the elders said not to?" Bella questioned. "That would never have happened in Billings…of course, she probably would have been shunned in Billings."

"Yeah, well, if we had as large a council as you had, the vote probably would have gone a lot differently than-"

"Edward?" Bella turned to him suddenly.

"Mmhm?" He looked up and found Bella staring at him with brows furrowed in thought.

"Earlier you sons."

"What?"

"When you said your father abstained from voting, you said 'because his sons were involved'."

It had been a slip of the tongue. In his careful attempt to guard his words and dole out bits and pieces of relevant information, Edward had still managed to make a mistake. And now, Bella was looking to him through wondrous, expectant eyes.

"Yes," Edward nodded before turning to look directly at her. "My father abstained from voting because he didn't want to vote against one of his sons."

"Vote against…Your brother?" Bella asked incredulously.

Edward nodded solemnly. "Jasper," he stated barely above a whisper.

In his peripheral vision, Edward could see all indications of Bella's inner struggle as the entire story flashed through her mind, now with all of the missing pieces in place. When his eyes met hers again, they both uttered the same word in unison – one in question and one in answer:

"Alice."

Edward wasn't sure if he expected or hoped for silence following the admission of exactly who "she", the woman from his past, was. Whatever the case, silence was the exact opposite of what he got.

Suddenly Bella was voracious for answers. Her questions ranged from his family's reaction to Edward's feelings for his brother.

"Do you think you can forgive him?" she asked after a brief reprieve from their question and answer.

Edward shrugged. "He doesn't really want my forgiveness."

"Why not?"

"Because it would be an acknowledgment that there is actually something to forgive him for, and he doesn't think there is."

"He thinks he's completely innocent in all of this?"

"The Cannabean council says he is."

Edward watched as a passing wind lifted a strand of Bella's hair. It whirled and waved at him before settling against her shoulder.

"Do you still love her?" she asked quietly.

It was finally a question he'd been expecting. Of course she would want to know if there was competition for his affection; if her future would find her overcast by the shadow of a woman she could never be.

"Throughout this entire ordeal with Alice and Jasper, the only thing Alice and I agreed on was that I never loved her the way my brother does."

As Edward watched Bella digest the information he'd given her, he saw movement over her shoulder and focused in on his mother, off in the distance, moving toward them.

"I think we're being summoned," he said as he gestured in his mother's direction.

Esme was slightly winded when she caught up to the couple and she flashed Edward a cautious glance, testing the mood as she approached.

"How was lunch?" she asked.

"It was nice. Thank you," Bella said graciously.

Edward hoped his mother hadn't noticed how much of the food had gone uneaten when she'd passed by their picnic.

"I told Rosalie I'd pick up groceries for her this afternoon," Esme checked her watch. "Would you like me to give Bella a lift home on my way to the store, or…"

"Um…" Edward glanced at Bella. Now that all of the information had been laid out between them, the last thing he wanted was for Bella to leave without him knowing exactly how she felt. Knowing what she now knew, would she implore her father to reconsider his choice of a mate for her?

Esme saw Edward's hesitation and rushed to offer a suitable compromise. "Why don't I clean up the picnic and you two can finish up?"

"Sure," Edward nodded, knowing it was the best he was going to get.

They retraced their steps back towards the house, and though he'd been granted extra time, Edward didn't use it. Instead, he opted to simply bask in her presence, like a man with a limited amount of time.

"Thanks for lunch," Bella quietly told Edward when Esme had returned to the kitchen with the basket of food.

He fought the urge to touch her as he watched her meekly fumble with the buttons on her sweater.

"Bella, can you wait here for a minute? I have something for you," Edward said.

She looked surprised by this statement but acquiesced nonetheless.

Agilely, Edward raced up the stairs only to return moments later carrying a thin, hardbound book.

The recommendation had been for Edward to have a type of ceremony to commemorate the event of giving Bella her Book of Betrothal. And though he'd had every intention of complying, doing it this way, in this moment, seemed right. Because, unbeknownst to Bella, Edward had passed a milestone that day. He had shared his truth with Bella, and in listening, she had freed him from the shackles of his past. No longer did he carry it as a secret sin, a scarlet blemish on his soul.

"I held on to it because I wanted to have your name engraved on the inside," Edward said as he opened the front cover of the book to where he'd provisionally sketched 'Bella Marie' in pencil. "But it's yours…if you'd still like to have it."

Like the previous night when she'd offered him the boots along with her understanding of his possible rejection, he now offered her the book and his acceptance of the fact that that his admissions may have deemed him unworthy.

And much like the previous night, she returned a smile similar to the one he'd given her as she accepted the book from his hands.

"I'd love to have it, Edward," she assured him.

And it was all he could do not to kiss her.


Thanks to everyone for their patience while I dealt with a bout of carpal tunnel and anxiety over this chapter. Many thanks to Lillybellis (Intersection, Rhapsody in B), jjuliebee (Meant to Be) and Sleepyvalentina (Art After 5, Counterpoint, My Life to Be). And, of course, thank you so much to A Different Forest (adifferentforest [dot] com) for hosting me!