Chapter Eleven:

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

Bella found herself seated again in her uncle's office, watching him watch her. She shifted uncomfortably in the chair, in last night's clothes and runny makeup. She was thoroughly embarrassed, especially doing the walk-of-shame through her aunt's "Daughter's of the American Revolution" tea party and earning glares from both Charlotte and Irina.

"You want to get married?" Peter finally said as he removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Twenty minutes ago, Bella drove home trying to find the right words to tell her family that she was getting married. Instead, she chose to blurt out her news in the middle of his lecture, and, up until now, it had been eerily quiet.

"Yes," Bella sat up in her chair and nodded confidently. "I love him, he loves me…this is what we want."

"I see," Peter huffed. "Well, you're not a kid anymore. I just wish…this is sudden, isn't it?" Peter tried his best not show how he was really feeling. It was as if he was losing a daughter…so to speak. Truth was, no matter what wrong Bella may have done, she was still his little girl, his favorite little girl.

"There's this pull I feel towards him, I can't explain it…I can't define it, but I know what I want- and that's him. He makes me happy, Peter." Bella smiled, wondering what Edward was up to.

"And he loves you? Are you certain?"

"He asked me to marry him, Uncle Peter, of course he does." Bella blushed, remembering the intimate moment she shared with Edward the night before. "We love each other a great deal." If Bella could tell him how she was really feeling, she'd tell him she needed Edward like the air she breathes. Bella craved him, desired him, wanted to be lost in him forever.

"If he were a real man, he'd ask me for permission first, then you," Peter mumbled under his breath. "Where will you live? How will you make a living?"

"Minor details," Bella sighed. "We will work these things out, and as for what I'm going to be doing…well, what I've always been doing."

"A little of this and a little of that?" Peter waved his hand dismissively and chuckled. "You know I've never been one to push you but-"

"I'm in love, Peter. I know I sound juvenile and silly but I just want to believe that it will all work itself out."

Peter massaged the bridge of his nose again and took a deep breath, Bella walked around his desk and knelt beside him. "Peter, I've always had that mentality that marriage was not for me-"

"I kind of liked your thinking then." Peter snorted, smiling at Bella.

"But it was only because I hadn't found the one. Peter, I'm so happy and the feelings I have for this man are so impossible to put into words." Peter noticed the far-away look in her eyes, they glossed over as she smiled. "I just can't," Bella shook her head and quickly wiped her tears. "So please," Bella grabbed Peter's hands and gripped them tightly in hers, "Please…be happy for me."

Peter tightened his grip on Bella's hands and kissed her forehead. "You know I could never deny you anything," Peter smiled as he wiped her tears. "As long as my Birdie is happy, I'm happy."

"Oh, Peter," Bella sighed, wrapping her arms around him. "You've made me so happy."

"I want to talk to him, though." Peter said, pulling her away from him to playfully glare. "I need to hear it from his own mouth."

"Of course," Bella agreed. "He's coming over tonight for dinner."

"Alright then," Peter hugged her once more before patting her cheek. "Now, go and get yourself cleaned up or your aunt will have a field day with this." Bella nodded with a Cheshire grin and grabbed her belongings. Peter's heart hurt a little as he watched her leave. He thought of his best friend and wondered what he would have done in this situation. The irrational father in him wanted to chase Edward out of the city with a sawed-off shot gun, and make sure Bella stayed confined in her room until she was too old to walk. He laughed off the idea and exhaled slowly as the idea of his little girl getting married sunk into his head.

-x-X-x-

"Why are you so smiley and cheery?" Irina asked, leaning against Bella's door frame. Bella stopped brushing out the tangles in her wet hair and glared at Irina through the reflection in her mirror.

"Last I checked, my door was closed."

Irina shrugged as she strutted into Bella's room, flopping on her bed and thumbing through a book. "You didn't lock it."

"A closed door usually means I want privacy, Irina."

"Usually," Irina shrugged again. "But I heard someone was getting married."

"Where did you hear that?" Bella turned, glaring at her.

"The servants talk."

"Irina, this isn't 1806," Bella snorted. "Don't call Thomas, Glenn and Julia our servants."

"Then what do you expect me to address them as?' Irina asked, clearly confused.

"By their names!" Bella snapped. "What do you want, Irina? I need to get ready."

Irina slapped the book shut and studied Bella's movements for a while. She laughed to her self and rolled on her back to look at the canopy of Bella's bed. "What's so funny?" Bella huffed.

"I don't get it," Irina giggled. "Why pass up a man like Jasper and settle for a guy like Edward…he has no means to support you. You'd be poor."

"You would think something so stuck-up like that, wouldn't you?"

"Bella, I'm not being stuck-up, I'm being…real."

"I don't love Jasper, Irina. It wouldn't be fair to him and it wouldn't be fair to me. I love Edward, with everything that's in me."

"Love?" Irina snorted, "You can learn to love, Bella. Right now, it's all about security…once that's all settled, then you can love."

Bella studied Irina's face for a long moment, waiting for the smile that would say she was kidding, but it didn't come. "You can't be serious, Irina."

"Dead serious, cousin." Irina sat beside her and pushed Bella's damp hair behind her shoulder. She looked at their reflection and smiled. "But then again, this is a good thing….you know how much I care for Jasper and all."

"You care for him or his money?"

Irina rolled her eyes and giggled like a child. "Oh Bella, that is just an added bonus…I love him dearly."

"Somehow I doubt that," Bella continued to stare at Irina in disbelief.

"So," Irina beamed, "Edward is joining us for dinner? Is he going to talk to Peter?"

"That's the idea," Bella muttered. Irina smiled to herself and studied the picture of Bella and Alec on the mirror. "Now, is there a real reason why you're here? Or are you just here to give me a headache?"

"I just came in to wish you good luck, tonight. Charlotte is really mad at you, I wouldn't be surprised if she mentions your past indiscretions to Edward when they have their sit down…do you think he'd care?"

"Irina." Bella signed, annoyed with both the scent of Irina's perfume and her voice. "Get out."

"It's a simple question, do you think he'd care?"

"I have no indiscretions to speak of, Irina, and the only nights I stayed away were with him and it was only twice."

"Charlotte assumes you've done it more often than not."

"You know what they say about people of assume," Bella snickered as she carefully applied lotion on her face. She turned to look at Irina and studied her face again. "I didn't know you had chin hair, how cute!" Bella reached to touch Irina's face and bit back her laugh when Irina jumped back, cupping her chin.

"I do not," Irina said as she slowly rose from her seat. "You're just saying that to get me out of here."

"Suit yourself," Bella shrugged. "I'd take a look at that before you join us for dinner…you know how Charlotte feels about things like that."

Irina still had her hand cupped around her chin as she rolled her eyes. "I know you're lying."

"Then why are you still covering your chin?" Bella laughed, tapping her own. "A lot of men find that attractive Irina," Bella called out, watching Irina leave her room. "I'm sure Jasper will."

Irina stopped in front of a large mirror that hung in the hallway between her and Bella's room, she looked around to make sure no one was watching and quickly brought her chin up to get a better view. "Stupid bitch." Irina muttered, running her fingers over a stumble-free chin.

-x-X-x-

"Michael says that there's a buyer interested in the vineyard." Edward stared at the phone lying on the table as he ran his hands through his wet hair. His sisters somber voice filled his apartment, he dried off the remnants of his shower and pulled a shirt from the closet.

"Tell them no," Edward snapped. "I will not sell my brother's legacy."

"Edward, I know but…it's- the vineyard- it's not doing too well. The grapes suffered another freeze and-"

"I'll be there soon, Rose."

"How soon?" Rose asked, staring out the window of her office at her husband. Emmett was under the hood of her prized Aston Martin, muttering profanities.

"Two-weeks tops…I have some things I need to take care of."

"Okay." He could hear Rose sniff a little as he fidgeted uncomfortably in his chair. "I'll make sure the house is ready for you…we had to hire new help, a lot of the staff quit after…well, you know."

"I know." Edward muttered. He checked his watch and winced at the time, he was due for dinner in half an hour and traffic was bound to be bad on a Friday night. "Hey sis, I have to go or I'm going to be late for a dinner thing."

"A dinner thing? Do you mean date?"

"No, it's sort of a business thing." Edward felt horrible for lying to his sister, he toyed with a rubber band that held Bella's hair together the night before.

"Call me later then, we still have to talk about hiring new hands for next season."

"I'll call you in the morning, I love you."

"Love you, be careful."

An engagement should be a happy time for a couple in love, this wasn't how he imagined himself taking 'the next step'. Whenever he thought about finding the perfect girl, he imagined both their families coming together and sharing their joy.

He would imagine his big brother serving as best man and the stupid bachelor party he'd throw him. Knowing his brother, it would include midget strippers and Edward being subjected to gay clubs. He laughed to himself, reliving the memory of the surprise party for his brother threw for Edward's twenty-first birthday.

Anger suddenly washed over him like a flood as soon as Bella's face appeared in his mind. He slammed his fist down on the table and wipe angry tears away from his face. He hated her and he loved her…how? He thought, tugging at his hair. His head was telling him to leave it be, walk away and start over alone in Texas, but his heart couldn't bear the thought of leaving her. And his pride, his pride wanted her to pay, and, for now, it served as his only voice of reason.

-x-X-x-

Later that night, Edward found himself seated in the same seat Bella had been in earlier that day. He sat up straight in his chair, gently drumming his fingers against the wood of the chair while Peter sipped on his glass of brandy.

"That beautiful woman on the other side of that door is one of the most important people in my life." Peter said, lighting his cigar.

"Mine too." Edward said, watching the liquor in his own glass. "She is…everything to me."

"How do know she's the one?" Peter leaned back in his chair and brought his hands to his chin. "How do I know this isn't some heat-of-the-moment thing that turns into an expensive divorce a month later?"

"I wasn't brought up that way, Sir." Edward cleared his throat and adjusted the collar of his shirt. "In the short time that I've known her, I believe that I've met my other half. She's my best friend in every sense of the word." Edward lied smoothly, wishing like hell that the words were all true.

"When are you all planning to make this official?"

"The sooner the better," Edward said. "I'd like to do it next week, neither of us are really in favor of a big wedding."

"Next week?" Peter jumped in his seat and glared at Edward. "Why don't you take a few weeks to spend some time together? What's the rush?"

"I love her," Edward stated simply. "Because when I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her…I wanted it to start as soon as possible."

"She's something else." Peter said, watching him intently. "There is no one like her, I promise you."

"I know, Sir…she's certainly a piece of work." Edward tried his best to keep the bitterness out of his voice, he gave Peter a tight smile and shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

"Are you planning on making Seattle your permanent hometown?"

"No Sir." Peter looked up quickly from his desk and studied the glacial expression on Edward's face. "With the sudden death in my family…I have responsibilities in Texas that require my attention."

"Does Bella know about this?"

"She knows," Edward lied again. "She understands."

"And this is in-"

"A little city outside of Austin called Spicewood. We plan on dividing out time between the two cities."

"I see," Peter said before he gulped down his drink.

"Look, Mr. Whitlock-"

"Peter."

"Peter," Edward amended, "I will make sure she wants for nothing. She wants to continue school? I will pay her way. She wants to stay home and paint or take photographs? So be it. She is my life, Sir, she will be well taken care of…I give you my word."

Peter studied him for a long while and took one last sip of his drink. "Isabella's father was my best friend, we grew up together and when he died, I felt as though I lost my brother."

"Bella told me he was a good man."

"He was a great man, the best man I've ever known. He'd want the best for his daughter, and I trust her judgment when she tells me she's found him." Peter loosened his tie and rose from his seat, extending his hand to Edward. "Take care of her, Edward…if you don't, I will make your life a living hell."

You can't make it any worse than it already is… "You have my word, she will be…taken care of."

-x-X-x-

Bella paced nervously in their sitting room, waiting for Peter and Edward to come out of the study. Charlotte stood in the dining room, making sure their new maid set the table properly while Irina thumbed through a magazine. "Are you waiting for Edward to run out of their screaming?" Irina snorted.

"Cute, Irina," Bella giggled humorlessly.

"Worried he's going to change his mind?" Irina asked, grinning from behind the magazine.

Bella sat beside her and slapped the magazine from Irina's grasp. "No." She smiled, cuddly close to Irina. "I know he loves me…and I love him. Say, how are things going with Jasper?"

Irina sniffed and picked up the magazine from the floor. "That's none of your business."

"Well, since you made it a point to involve yourself in my love life, I think I'll do the same…you know, for moral support?"

"Edward is going to run when he finds out you have nothing to offer him…but then again, he's not exactly a prize." Bella stopped bouncing her leg and slowly turned to face her cousin.

"That was the ugliest thing you've ever said to me."

"It's true…"

"You're just jealous because I have someone who acknowledges my existence…who cares about me the same way I care for him." Bella whispered. "Who's the loser, Irina? The woman in love with a man who loves her, or the woman who "loves" a man who can't stand the sight of her?"

"You-"

"Isabella!" Charlotte snapped, towering over Bella. "Did I just hear what I thought I heard?" Bella turned to Irina and saw her wipe non-existent tears.

"You didn't hear what she-"

"No, I heard what you said…loud and clear." Charlotte crossed her arms and shot Irina a sympathetic look. "How could someone be so ugly?"

"Charlotte-"

"Irina," Charlotte cooed, effectively cutting Bella off. "Don't listen to her, you are a wonderful girl." Irina nodded somberly and tucked herself into Charlottes embrace.

"Pathetic," Bella muttered.

"What was that?" Charlotte asked.

"Nothing." Bella snapped as she walked to the kitchen and into the patio, muttering profanities as she kicked her aunt's silly garden gnomes.

"Easy there karate kid," Edward snickered. "What did that gnome ever do to you?" Bella hugged him, squeezing tight around his neck. "Hey what's wrong?"

"Charlotte can be so…" Bella shuddered and tightened her grip on Edward. "Unfair, impossible…snotty!"

"Oh baby," Edward cooed. "Did they double team you again?"

"I guess you could say that," Bella played with the button of his shirt and kissed his neck.

"Well…what if I told you that after next week, you wouldn't have to worry about them anymore?"

Bella pulled away and eyed him suspiciously, Edward wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her closer to him. "What's next week?"

"Well…I was thinking that we can go down to city hall and get our marriage licen-" Edward choked out the last part as Bella peppered his face with kisses.

"He gave you his blessing?" She squealed.

"He did," Edward laughed as Bella jumped up and wrapped her legs around his waist.

"I'm so happy!" Bella laughed, wiping her tears. "But why next week? Why not today?" She asked, kissing his cheek.

"We can wait until Monday, get married after the waiting period is over and then…" Edward trailed off, playing with the ends of her hair.

"Then?"

"Well, Alec's vineyard is going through some financial trouble, I have to move down there for a while to oversee some things. I know it's last minute but-"

"We can go when after we're married…I miss Texas and I need to get out of this city. We can start our lives there…together." Edward smiled and kissed her softly on the mouth, she was going along with everything he had planned, little did she know the trouble that lie ahead.

-x-X-x-

During their dinner party, everyone's focus was on Kate as she told a story of how her camera crew was stuck in the middle of a war between two tribes. She talked about how they fought around their camp site and all the amazing shots she got.

Jasper showed up for dinner an hour late with a young brunette hanging on his arm. He introduced her as his business partner but really she was a random girl he picked up at a bar. Charlotte played the gracious hostess and offered her wine, and everyone but Irina was nice to her. She kept quiet, grinding her teeth and balling her fist whenever the young woman would touch Jasper.

Towards the end of the night, Edward stood to make a toast.

"I want to thank Charlotte and Peter for inviting me to join you tonight." He took hold of Bella's hand and squeezed gently. "Bella and I have some great news-"

"We're getting married!" Bella squealed, cutting Edward off. Kate jumped up and down in her seat before darting around the table to hug Bella. Charlotte smiled smugly to Irina before getting up and giving her congratulations. Peter sat quietly in his seat, watching for Jasper's reaction.

"My Birdie's getting married?" Kate asked, cupping Bella's face. "I think it's wonderful!"

"Wonderful?" Jasper snorted, balling the tabling cloth in his fist. "You barely know each other…how can you possibly be thinking about marriage, Bella?"

"Jasper, enough." Peter warned, shaking his head slowly. "This is what they want…be happy for them."

"Peter's right, my love."

Charlotte agreed, taking his hand. Jasper glared at Edward for a long moment before his date finally spoke up. "Jasper, I have an early morning…can you take me home?" Silence followed her plea and she asked again but this time, there was a tone in her voice that made Jasper snap out of his daze.

"Take her home, Jasper," Peter said.

"You're being fucking ridiculous!" Jasper snapped, glaring at Bella. "Fucking stupid."

"Jasper-" Bella extended her hand to his but withdrew when he glared at her arm as if it was diseased.

"Let's go, Heather." Jasper muttered as he pushed himself away from the table. The chair he sat on flew back and landed on the floor, and he kicked it out of the way.

Before Peter could go after him, Charlotte grabbed his arm and shook her head. "Let him be, he will get over it. Besides, this is a happy day…we shouldn't let a small hiccup ruin the mood! Julia, wine please!" Charlotte called, snapping her fingers.

Right in that moment, Kate and Bella flinched at Charlotte's way of summoning the help. They looked at each other for a quick moment and Kate rolled her eyes. Just then, an elderly woman walked into the dining room carrying a chilled bottle of the Whitlocks finest wine.

"So, have you two set a date?" Charlotte asked, eyeing Julia as she poured the wine.

"Well," Bella exhaled sharply and tugged on Edward's hand. "We are getting our license on Monday and then we plan to make it official Thursday."

"Wow," Kate laughed. "That's really soon!"

"Well, Edward has some business in Texas that will take him away from Washington for a few months, we really don't want to wait so-"

"I get it," Kate smiled. "You guys are in love and the sex is great! Rock on."

"Kate!" Charlotte snapped, coughing up her wine. "I would have liked to have thrown you a party or something, a marriage is something to celebrate. Besides, you only get married once…most of the time." Charlotte muttered those last words, glancing at Kate for the quickest moment.

Kate smirked at Charlotte and hugged Bella as hard as she could. "This is the only life you've got, so I say…to HELL with tradition, do what you feel is right." She raised her glass and kept her arm around her favorite "niece". "To Bella and Edward!"

"To Bella and Edward!" Peter, Charlotte and Irina cheered.


Thank you so much for your patience. I suffered from a MAJOR case of writer's block with this story but I'm back! I hope you enjoy this because there will be drop in this emotional roller coaster...and it's coming up next :)

Special thanks to Shaina, my beta, for making my chapters pretty :)

See you soon! ( I promise)