A/N: We're almost to the end! Here's chapter nine for you! Enjoy, and thanks to the few of you that have reviewed -- it means a lot!


I sat in Carlisle's office for the next two hours working out the details of finally getting to see Charlie after almost two years. Alice had seen the meeting, and knew that it was to be held at our house. She also saw that after a brief fit of rage, Charlie would calm down and be willing to listen. Jasper would obviously play a huge roll in conquering that task. Carlisle made up a name for the disease that made me look the way I do, and Edward and Alice ran through some of the things that I'd have to remember to do: blink, cross and uncross my legs, breathe, you know, normal human movements. Most importantly, hold my breath as much as possible. I couldn't imagine living with myself if I bit Charlie.

Edward sat beside me in Carlisle's office, tracing invisible circles with his thumb on the back of my hand that was intertwined with his. Each circle made the electricity between us multiply exponentially, sometimes making me forget that I was sitting in the office with Carlisle. I could only see Edward. Focus, focus, I kept repeating in my mind. It was critical that I don't miss a single detail of the plans to see my father again, or things could end very badly. But the nerve endings in my hand didn't want to cooperate. The normally cool skin where he was tracing was on fire, and I stole a glance at him out of the corner of my eye.

I felt my jaw drop open just the slightest, again, in awe of the magnificent creature sitting to my left. FOCUS! I was losing my concentration again. Carlisle leaned back in his chair, crossed one arm over his stomach, and placed the end of his pen to his mouth, clearly deep in thought. Edward was listening intently to what was going through Carlisle's head, when Jasper knocked softly and opened the door.

"Is there anything I can help with?" He turned to me with a devious smirk on his face, and I knew then that he could feel what I felt.

I ducked my head and pulled my hand away from Edward's, hoping to calm whatever had gotten into me today. It had been a while since just his touch had made me feel like this – since before he left. This was completely new. Sure, I used to have dream after dream of what his cold hands would feel like on my warm body, how his chest and neck would taste against my lips, and how it would feel to be intimate with him. But I hadn't felt that way since he returned, and it was all coming back to me. Was I really healing?

"Bella?" Jasper's taunting voice broke through my day dream. Damn distractions, what did he ask?

"No, no, I'm fine. We're just…going over the details."

"Sure, good idea. Well let me know if you need anything." He smiled once more at me and I heard the door click behind me after what I am sure was a taunting chuckle.

Carlisle and Edward discussed the different scenarios and ways to prepare for the unknown for another half hour before we finally left Carlisle's office. Edward was clearly worried, which was no surprise to anyone, but he insisted on giving us a week or two to prepare. He, with Alice's help, vowed to work with me on playing the part of the fragile, human Bella. As we got up to leave Carlile's office Edward grabbed my hand again as we walked down stairs toward the living room.

"So," he smiled that relentless smile again, "Jasper was…distracting…" The tone of his voice rose just slightly at the end of his sentence, forming it into a have declaration, half question. This was probably as shocking for him as it was for me.

"Damn vampires and their super powers." I turned my face away from him, embarrassed at what he'd heard through Jasper, but so thankful that he couldn't hear all of the details of what I was feeling and thinking.

He pulled my arm back toward him, whipping me around to face him. He wrapped his arms tightly around my waist, so that every inch of our bodies was touching. He locked his eyes on mine, and leaned in to kiss me. He stopped just short of my lips.

"Distracting in a good way, love." And he kissed me roughly, his tongue forcing its way into my mouth, our lips moving in rhythm. He tasted like honey, sweet and irresistible. I moved my hands up his back underneath the fabric that kept his perfectly-chiseled muscles hidden. I felt the strong muscles in his back flex as he let out a soft moan, and I moved my hands to his waist to pull him tighter to my body. I wanted him, right there on the stairs. And I knew he'd let me if I wanted him to. I was slowly losing grip on my self control, and I had to stop now.

"Edward…" It came out as a mumble, as my lips were still pressed tightly against his. I broke away from the magnetism that kept our lips connected, "Stop."

"No." His breathing was fast and heavy, well for a vampire anyway, and he kept his firm grip on my waist. "Bella, don't stop."

I smiled as sweetly as I could muster, hoping it would wipe away the hurt look on his face. "Edward, on the stairs? Really?"

He smiled back, "Well, we could move elsewhere." He lifted my feet out from under me, and carried me up the stairs to the third floor landing, kissing me the entire way.

Everything suddenly felt wrong, this was too fast. All of the hurt from the past two years came rushing back, and I knew I couldn't do it. I hadn't forgiven him for what he'd done to me, and I didn't want everything to happen this way. I wanted to be whole again. "Wait, stop." His hand paused on the door knob of his bedroom door. "I…I don't want this." I felt his shoulders drop in defeat as he placed my feet back on the floor. "I'm sorry."

He took a deep breath and kissed my forehead. "Bella, I'm so sorry. I should have controlled myself. I'm sorry. I just…miss you."

"I know. I miss you too. I just want things to be perfect. Like they were…"

"Before I left." He wrapped me in his strong arms, and held me close to him. "We have forever, love. There's no hurry."

He let go of me, and I followed him slowly down the stairs.

Alice and Jasper were entangled on the couch when we got to the base of the steps, Jasper was whispering to her softly, and she was giggling her high-pitched Alice giggle.

"Jasper, please." His tone was disgusted, and I knew immediately what they were discussing.

"Really, Jasper?" I was furious. It was bad enough to be surrounded by someone who could feel what I was feeling, but for him to share it with the rest of the family was maddening.

Alice sat up quickly, "Bella, I've been worried about you. I've been asking Jasper to keep an eye on how you are feeling. If you're going to be mad at anyone, be mad at me."

"Alice, those are private feelings, and I don't want them announced to the entire family. It's hard enough dealing with this on my own, I don't need people intruding on my feelings too."

"Bella, I'm so sorry. I know I shouldn't have, but I want you to be okay." She paused. "And it looks like you are." She said this almost apologetically, shrugging her shoulders and she spoke.

"Alice, please stop. This is between Edward and me. I don't need someone keeping tabs on me, but I'm grateful for your concern."

She looked hurt, but I left it at that. It really was none of her business, regardless of her intentions.

"Guys, do you mind if we had a moment?"

Jasper turned toward her, "Sure, we'll…go upstairs with Emmett."

Edward looked down at me, asking with his expression if I wanted him to stay. "I'll be fine." I kissed him on the cheek before he turned toward the staircase with Jasper.

Alice shouted after him, "That means no listening, E."

I walked over to the white couch and sat down, crossing my legs and facing my sister. She reached out and took my hand, holding it in both of her own.

"I really am sorry, Bella, I just worry about you. He's been back a while now, and things are still so tense. I just want you both to be happy." She looked down, guilt washed over her usually excited face.

"I know, but having Jasper spy on me isn't exactly what I need. Please let this be between me and your brother. I promise things are getting better, and you can ask me about it whenever you want. Just let us work on it without your interference."

"From now on, I will, I promise. I'm sorry. I love you, and I'm so happy that you're my sister." One half of her mouth curled up into the sweet smile I was so used to seeing on Alice's face. She leaned forward to hug me, and then sat back on the couch.

"I love you too, Alice."

As it started getting dark, the gloomy sky turned from light grey to dark grey, and finally to black. A light fog settled in the opening surrounding our house, and the sounds of the forest life were silent. The house was finally quiet: Alice and Jasper playing chess, Carlisle at work, Emmett upstairs watching a movie with Rosalie, and Esme in her office, working away at her latest project. I was lying on the couch in Edward's arms: I was reading, and he was playing with a single strand of my hair, weaving it between his first and second fingers.

He dropped my hair, and reached around me, folding down the corner of the page I was on, and closed the book. He placed it on the coffee table, and took my hand in his. He stood up, pulling me with him, and held tightly to my hand as he walked us over to the piano. He sat down in the middle of the bench, and guided me down next to him, sitting side-by-side – just like we used to.

He placed his hands on the keys, and played the first few notes; I recognized it instantly. It was my lullaby. The lullaby that he'd composed what seemed like a lifetime ago for me. The lullaby that he used to hum to me at night, sending me straight into a coma-like sleep. The lullaby that played in my head every day that he was gone.

Everything changed right there in that moment. I forgot about expensive Mini Coopers, I forgot about missing Charlie, I forgot about alienating the only family I had now, I forgot about the meadow, I forgot about wrestling and beating Emmett, Alice and Jasper invading my privacy, or Rosalie accepting me into the family. I forgot about Edward abandoning me.

It was just him and me now, sitting at the piano, listening to the song he'd written for me – the surroundings disappeared. It was a new beginning for us, a place to start over. Somewhere between his return and now, I'd forgiven him for leaving me. Each note he played was a promise that he'd be with me forever, and I listened to each and every key played and believed each one. I felt a sense of belonging; I belonged here with Edward, with this family, in this house. This was how it was meant to be, but fate had stepped in the way and altered the course. We were back on the intended path now, heading for the future that was laid out for us the minute I arrived in Forks, Washington.


A/N: Please review and tell me what ya think! You guys are great!