Author's Note:

I've been shit, I know. RL took a MA-hu-SSIVE turn just after I updated the last chapter and things have been hectic ever since (I started university, decided I hated the course (Law, eurgh) so left to take a year out for work, got a million jobs, applying for university again for next year etc etc) and I've literally JUST settled down and moved back to London. So huge huge huge apologies!

Thanks to Parama for still beta-ing this even though I've been MIA for like, two months at least. Thanks for all the readers that haven't given up on this story! I love you!

So, on with the chapter. It's a bit of a strange one, but it takes a sharp turn at the end. Hope you like it!

"Ssh," Edward whispered into Bella's ear as he cradled her slightly. "It's okay, love."

But Bella would not stop crying and Edward didn't know why. He knew that it must have been an emotional time for her and it was for him, too. However, her crying was worrying him and he was suddenly panicking. Had he hurt her? Had he upset her?

"Isabella," he whispered again, trying to soothe her as much as possible. Guilt came over him as he pondered on whether he had gone too far.

"Bella, Bella, Bella," he tried, hoping that using the name that others called her might calm her down. But it didn't.

She wasn't just sniffling into his chest, no, she was properly crying; actual sobs were coming from her. He held her face gently and brought it out from hiding in his chest. It pained him to see her face so tearstained and indignant. "What's wrong, love? Please, why are you crying?"

She sniffed a few times before finally answering. It was hard to make out what she was saying when she was crying so much. "Everything…everything is just going wrong," she sobbed. "Everything was so perfect….and now, well, it isn't."

Edward rubbed her arms, still holding her to his chest. "Isabella, I am so sorry. I thought you wanted… I wasn't sure… I'm so sorry I did that. Oh God, I'm sorry."

"No!" she screamed, which startled Edward. "That was perfect. That was everything I could have ever wished for. It's just now, we can't ever do that again. Never."

He sighed and pulled her back into his chest. "Oh, Isabella…" he sighed. "Don't say such silly things."

She sat back, and pushed away from him. "Well, what do you want me to say, Edward? We love each other and we can't be together. You know, I may not have any experience with this kind of thing, or even know anyone who has, but I've, well… Oh God, this sounds so stupid…"

Edward reached out to touch her hand. She didn't hold it back, but she still didn't push him away. Instead, she sighed deeply.

"Look, I've read enough books to know that there have been many situations like ours, and everyone always ends up okay. So I thought I could try and be with you, because everyone ends up okay, don't they? But us? Why can't we? Why does nothing ever go right? I just want to love you, I want people to accept me and us, but it's not going to happen!"

"And why is that, Isabella? You say you love me and that you want to be with me, so why won't you? Think about all the risks I've taken for you and you just gave up, just like that!" Edward boomed, hurt and angry at Bella's revelation.

Bella was shocked at how Edward shouted and became slightly scared, but still resentful. "Edward, you know about my mom, my dad… I just can't put him through all of this, this… this shit! I've been so selfish from the start. He's been through so much and I'm all he's got left… he's… he's just been through too much…"

"After all your dad's been through? You – selfish? Really, Isabella?" Edward said, his voice rising again. "Will you stop just thinking about your dad for once?"

"You know how important my family is to me! Before you…he was all I had."

Edward sighed, trying to grab Isabella's hands, but she pushed him and turned away, sobbing. "Look, I didn't mean it like that. But he isn't the only person involved in this. In fact, from my point of view, this relationship is only between two people – you and I. No one else should matter."

Bella tried to come up with some sort of argument about how it wasn't going to work, but she couldn't. She wanted to tell Edward to leave her alone and that she hated him, but every time she tried to bring the words to her mouth, they wouldn't come out. She wanted to push him away, but every time she held her hands up to shove him and leave, she was too scared that they, of their own accord, would pull him in for an embrace because really, she cared about him and he was telling the truth.

She turned to him with a sober sadness in her eyes. "I love you Edward," she said, her voice shaking. "But it does affect my father. He worries what people think of me…and you. I don't know. There's still Rose, Honey and what about Irina? And… and the rest of the town! You know it's not right and we have to stop pretending that we're not going against any sort of normal morals."

"So what?" Edward replied with a sort of smirk adorning his face. "Since when did you follow normal, Isabella?"

"But things have changed…"

"Oh, spare me, Isabella! Are you really going to give up one thing that makes you happy just because of what other people think? Or is there something else holding you back? Because I think that if you loved me as much as you say you do, there wouldn't be anything holding you back. So please, darling, enlighten me."

"You really don't believe me, Edward?"

"Of course I do. But how can I be certain when you won't even try to make this work? You just keep putting it off, putting it off… and just telling me how wrong it is all the goddamn time! Do you not think I realize it too?"

"I know, I know," Bella said, wondering how to appear less defensive. She wanted to tell Edward everything, but she just couldn't. She couldn't tell anyone. However, she was finding it hard to hold back, as if everything was bubbling up inside of her and she was ready to detonate. "It's just my father, Edward… he's been through…"

"If you say one more thing about your father going through a lot I swear I am going to explode! What about you, eh? Haven't you been through a lot? Are you honestly telling me now that you are going to risk ever being happy just so it won't hurt your father?"

Bella looked at him, trying to please him with her eyes as she couldn't think of anything to say instead. She was conflicted, confused and desperate.

Edward sighed, almost angrily. "Look, I'm not saying that the only way you're going to be happy is with me, Bella. But you've come this far moving away from being the girl who just stayed inside all the time and moving away from your home and the shadow of your father. You can't go back to that; I don't want to let you and I'm not going to. You know I love you, so if there is something I am missing here and you don't want to be with me, please just tell me before I go fucking crazy!"

Bella winced at his words, scared at his frustration. She wanted to hold him and tell him she was sorry, but everything was still building up inside of her, almost bubbling to the surface…

"It's just… I don't…"

"Oh for God's sake Isabella, do you want this or not? Because if you don't, then I am leaving for Seattle right now and then that's it, okay?"

"I do want this!" she cried, terrfied at the thought of losing him. "I just…"

Edward threw his head into his hands with despair. His hope, his cure, his solace… there was something that was preventing her from loving him. There was something inside of her telling her to hold back, which she was evidently trying so hard to do. He wanted to scream, he wanted to shout, but he feared he had done enough of that and was almost at the point of frightening her. Yes, she had changed a lot, but she was still extremely fragile. He didn't want to hurt her, but in actual fact, now she was hurting him – something he would have never thought possible.

A tear reluctantly slipped out of his eye.

Bella's heart broke into a thousand pieces. She wanted to tell Edward to stop crying, that she never meant to hurt him and that she wanted him in every way possible. She wanted to return all he had done for her, to nurture him in the way he had with her, and just to care. Her bubbling inside of her boiled to the brink, her anger, frustration and secrecy was about to spill out. She was going to tell him; she needed to tell him. If she was going to tell anyone at any point, she knew it would be him and it would have to be now.

"Edward, I…"

Suddenly, her phone rang. The sound made them both jump.

"If that's him, then that's it."

"Edward I have to, it could be an emergency," Bella begged, looking at the caller ID.

Edward sighed and got dressed silently whilst Bella looked at him, her eyes brimming with tears. Fighting her sorrow and wrapping herself up in Edward's duvet as if trying not to let him go, she answered the phone call.

"Hi, Dad," she said, her voice trembling. "Are you okay?"

Edward listened closely to what was so important that was keeping them apart. He wanted to know the cause that prevented her from moving forward with him. He needed to know the reason for all of this – the reason why he was losing another love in his life. But most of all, he wanted to know why the person he thought loved him wasn't letting herself.

"No, no… well, okay, yes Dad, I am with Edward now," she said timidly, catching a retiring stare from Edward.

Edward sighed and put his sweater on. He walked out of the bedroom and then to the kitchen to clean the leftover food away. He tried to remain impassive, even though Bella was in the other room talking to her father just after they had made love. Bella's reaction afterwards was nothing like he expected and he was hurt. One minute he was admitting his love for her and she in return, but now everything was slipping away like a handful of sand through his fingers.

The one thing Edward had adored about their relationship was the fact that it was so private – so pure. Sure, there were outside threats to them but the fact that he had thought that none of them would matter was what had made it so special. It was the fact that despite all those obstacles and the taboo nature of the relationship, it had pulled through. So he had thought.

He cleaned the dishes away and left them to dry on the side. He couldn't be bothered to put them away – he was leaving for Seattle and he had all of his things there that he needed. If this was how it was going to be, then he would rather just forget everything he ever had here. Everything with Rose had happened in this house… but also everything that had happened with Bella. Bella had remedied the bad memories of the house – she was his succour – but now the pain would be even worse, knowing that he had failed to keep her even though he had fallen in love so deeply.

It was too quick, he told himself as he sat down in the kitchen to wait. Too soon after Rose, too soon after Bella getting better – just too soon, too soon, too soon! He had fallen in love too quickly. They had known each other for just over a month and now it felt like his life depended on her. Whatever her decision, he would go with it. She didn't want to go to Seattle with him and she wanted to protect her father. It was that simple.

"Edward," Bella said in a stern voice. He hadn't even noticed her in the kitchen. He looked up at her, blurry eyed and weak. He didn't think he had it in him to cry again, but watching what he couldn't have standing there was almost too much.

He looked away from her.

"Edward!" she shouted as she walked right up to where Edward was sitting. The loudness startled him.

He looked at her, pained and perturbed. "What has he said now, Bella? Is he going to lock you up inside the house and throw away the key? Is he…"

Edward stopped as he looked properly at Bella's face. She looked absolutely terrified. Her face was completely tear-stained – but even more so than when he had been in the room with her. She had put her clothes on but she looked an absolute mess. Her eyes weren't meeting his. She was fidgeting, she was hunched, she was afraid and something was seriously wrong.

"Isabella?" Edward asked, leaning into her. "What is it? Tell me."

She looked at him, her eyes bloodshot and scared. "We have to leave, Edward."

"What do you mean? Leave where? What did your father say?"

Bella rushed over to him frantically, pulling him from the chair. "We don't have time, Edward! We have to go right now. Please Edward – please trust me and get in the car!"

Edward laughed as if bemused. "What's the matter? If you're father is angry about you coming over here then I will talk to him, I promise but please just tell me…"

Bella pinched Edward's arms as hard as she could so that he would stop talking. She was trying so hard to keep calm but she couldn't appear rational. "Please, Edward. We need to go right now. It's not my dad, it's a lot worse. We need to get out of Forks right this minute or… or…"

"Or what?" Edward said, reaching over to the side for his car keys. He trusted her without even thinking about it.

"Or I could be in a lot of danger."

Edward did not hesitate before he picked Bella up in his arms, grabbed his car keys and ran out of the door. He didn't know what the fuck he was doing or where the fuck he was going, but if Bella was in danger he would do anything to protect her.

Bella clutched onto him as if her life depended on it, because now, in theory, it did.

Edward threw Bella into the front seat hastily and even strapped her in as if he saw her as helpless now, as If he was the only one who could save her.

He got into the car himself, turned on the ignition and slammed on the gas. And then they drove.

They drove for a while, despite Edward not knowing what was happening. In fact, he was kind of relieved that she wanted to go somewhere with him, but completely fretful for her safety. Thoughts ran wild in his head about what was going on, but he couldn't work it out. After about ten minutes of painful silence – besides the sounds of Bella's muffled sobs – Edward finally spoke.

"Isabella, are you going to tell me what's going on?"

Two minutes later, she finally answered. She knew she definitely had to tell him now; everything – the whole story. She spoke softly, as if just about loud enough for Edward to hear.

"My mom… she… she didn't just die. She didn't fall down the stairs. She was murdered."

Edward was silent for a minute, not knowing how to react. Everyone knew about the family's heartbreak over Renee Swan's death, but the town learnt of the death as a tragic accident of falling down the stairs and knew that Bella had witnessed it. Edward even knew one of the coroners who had confirmed it.

Before Edward knew it, Bella spoke again.

"I was there – when it happened. That part's true. And…the man…he ran… and he got away. My dad's been using private investigators to find the guy ever since. He didn't want anyone to know."

Edward was still silenced. He wanted to say something to Bella, but he couldn't deem anything appropriate. He indicated and pulled over to the nearest lay by and concentrated on Bella as she sat there crying in his car.

"Edward," she cried. "You have to keep going."

"Don't worry love, I'm here," he said, holding her hand. "What happened to the man? Why are we running away from Forks?"

Bella started properly sobbing again. "That's the thing, Edward. We have to go!"

"Of course," Edward replied, turning on the ignition again. "But why?"

He placed his hand on Bella's again. She grasped it back, tighter than ever.

"Because they've found him. He's in Forks, Edward."

"And they've arrested him?" Edward asked, even though he knew that wasn't the answer.

"He got away again," Bella stated, her eyes blank but tears still streaming out.

"Oh Isabella…" Edward squeezed her hand protectively.

"And now he…" she sobbed.

"What Isabella? Tell me," Edward demanded.

"He…" she began.

"Its okay, Isabella. You need to tell me."

"Edward... he wants me."

Author's Note:

And the drama keeps coming...

I promise the next update won't take me 2 months again. It'll be an early New Year's resolution... to write so much more! I do enjoy it, it's just hard to find the time sometimes. Reviewing always spurs me on though, so if you fancy it - let me know you're still reading and what you think!

If you want more teasers and stuff like that, I have a blog for my fanfiction (edieswan (dot) blogspot (dot) com) and there's a new Facebook page, too! (Just search for Edie Swan. I think I have about 10 fans hehe) and of course the old favourite, Twitter (edieswan) which I continue to update regularly (sometimes involving stepping on Claudia Schiffer's foot in Starbucks - yes, that did happen)

Until next time...