Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. The plot is inspired by the manga 100% Perfect Girl by Wann.

A/N: Shout out to the two girls that mean the world to me: LaMomo and Salanna. Thanks for all your help and advice. TPG wouldn't be the same without you. *smooches*

BEFORE THE CHAPTER PLEASE READ THIS:
I got a few reviews asking about Aro and Tanya, I addressed those concerns on the blog. The reason why I did it there is because I know some readers don't like spoilers of any kind. So, if you're curious, check the post titled
TPG Chapter 10 Teaser + News. If you still have any concerns and questions, feel free to PM me. I don't mind conversing with my readers, but know that I reserve the right to not answer some questions that might give the plot away. I gotta have some aces up my sleeve, right?

Okay, that's all from me. On with the show!


~ CHAPTER TEN~

The Last Straw

Bella arrived home after school to hear Renee happily humming from somewhere in the inn. She slowly walked towards the sound and found her mother dusting the mantelpiece with a smile on her face. Since it had been rare to see Renee in such a good mood lately, Bella decided to stay away from her for the time being. Graduation was a week away, and keeping her distance from her mother was of extreme importance. She needed Renee to think she had given up her pursuit of attending art school, so she could easily make her escape and board the night flight to Brume the Monday after graduation without any complications or drama.

In that spirit, Bella turned around, silently climbed up the stairs, and walked straight to her room to pick up what was left of her belongings there. Bella had been staying in the apartment above Carmen's shop most nights, and she'd been moving her stuff over there little by little so Renee wouldn't notice. All Bella had left in her bedroom were a few books, some clothes, a couple of half-finished paintings, and her painting supplies.

She tossed her schoolbag on top of the desk and took off her uniform, quickly changing into a comfortable white cotton tank top and her favorite pair of dark-washed jeans. Her top had paint splattered on it and one of the straps was being held together by one of the floral brooches Bella had collected over the years, but it was comfortable and soft.

She checked the time on her phone—she had an hour before Renee left for her book club. Bella needed to wait until she was gone before hauling the last of her stuff out of the inn. She plopped down on her bed to try and take a nap. She ran a hand over the poppies painted on her wall and smiled. There were few things she would miss from the inn, but this mural would be one of those. She still remembered her brother getting the stencil for her as a Christmas present when she was thirteen. The idea had been to create a field of poppies, but they got tired after painting only two. One was taller than the other and slightly crooked over the smaller one. Caleb had called it minimalist, whilst Bella called it laziness. With time, the poppies on her wall took a different meaning, and for Bella they represented her relationship with her brother. The taller and crooked poppy was Caleb, always protective of the smaller one – Bella – yet allowing it to bloom under the sun.

Bella thanked God every day for her brother. He had been such a great support, and not only had he helped her escape from Renee's shackles, he also made time to help her get ready for her SATs. Angela had also helped, sharing the material she got from the private lessons her parents had signed her up for. Between the two of them, Bella had been confident she would be able to get the score needed to attend RAI.

The day of the exam Bella had been a mass of nerves. She answered all the questions as quickly as she could and was able to finish the exam on time. When she got out and Caleb and Angela asked how it went, she burst into tears—sure that she had failed because she had found the questions too easy.

Isn't that a rule? If it's too easy, you're probably doing it wrong?

When the results had arrived at Carmen's shop—so Renee wouldn't see the envelope—Bella was shocked when she saw how high she had scored. Caleb had been so proud, and Angela called the rest of the gang together to celebrate. They spent the night at the apartment above the shop playing games, watching movies and drinking a punch that Bella later discovered had been spiked with vodka. She had cursed Caleb to the high heavens the next morning, experiencing her first hangover.

Bella smiled at her memories, feeling blessed. Though Renee hadn't been easy to deal with the past weeks, Bella felt content and excited. With a sigh, she closed her eyes, her hand playing with her hair, and she immediately saw his emerald green eyes looking back at her.

Edward…

Bella groaned, rubbing her hands over her face, trying unsuccessfully to get him out of her head.

After finding out that her Edward was the freaking ruler of his own country, as well as the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company, Bella felt bereft. She kept analyzing their…date? Was that what it was? She had no clue what to think of him and wondered for the millionth time what had made him accept her invitation that day outside the art shop.

Did he really like me, or was I only a distraction from his life?

Why hasn't he contacted me yet? Will I ever see him again?

All these questions kept running through her mind over and over again. Bella was anxious to hear from him, but at the same time she was afraid to hear the answers.

In a moment of weakness, Bella had sat down with her laptop and started looking for more information about the man that had captured her attention back in April. She'd even been doing a little bit of cyber-stalking through the numerous websites and blogs that followed his every move. It was through them that she'd learnt Edward was safe and sound in Volterra. The same blog that had posted the Seattle pictures kept tags on him constantly throughout his many journeys. There were pictures from every city he had visited–every day, the blog posted everything from official photos to paparazzi's and locals' pictures. Bella even had a folder on her laptop with her favorite pictures of him.

Ugh…I'm so pathetic, Bella thought and rolled over, burying her face in her pillow.

She just couldn't stop thinking about him, and had started having dreams about that day in the park and the two of them together. She missed him every single day.

How could a man I barely know have such a profound effect on me?

Bella was so confused. Those questions kept looping over and over again in her mind like a broken record.

When Carmen returned from New York, Bella told her all about Edward. Carmen had been calm and understanding, but what she revealed afterwards both surprised and scared the crap out of Bella. Carmen informed her that there would be an art show, followed by a party for all the scholarship recipients. The Up & Coming Art Show was hosted by Dr. Tia Masri and the Royal Art Gallery, and attended by the manager of the gallery, who was no other than Lady Rosalie Cullen—Edward's older sister.

Bella's nerves were shot after that small revelation, but Carmen promised she would accompany Bella and she felt marginally better after that. She had seen pictures of Lady Rosalie and was slightly intimidated by her. Still, there was a bit of excitement around the prospect that Bella might be able to see Edward again. She doubted he would go to the party, but the art show…you never knew. The chances of him attending were higher than him showing up at her doorstep one afternoon.

Bella snorted at that last thought.

As if she needed more ammo for her best friend…

Angela had already written Bella off as the modern day Cinderella, and was buzzing with excitement about their move to Roinne. Most of the time Bella tried to ignore her. It wasn't like she wasn't excited about their move, but Angela annoyed her to no end with all the unrealistic scenarios she kept coming up with for Bella's eventual reunion with Edward. Those scenarios got worse with time and more…err, steamy when they found out they had to stay for a couple of days in Brume, waiting for their belongings to arrive.

The apartment they had secured through Dr. Masri was less than an hour's drive from the capital. It was on the outskirts of Roinne, close to campus and the train station, so that Angela could commute by train to Brume. Carmen would travel with Bella to help get all their stuff to the apartment, since Angela couldn't join them until after the 4th of July. Angela had a bunch of interviews and a workshop to attend, all part of the contest she had won. Bella had rented a van for the task and was looking forward to exploring the city, but Angela wanted Bella to go the Cullen Tower as soon as they arrived and ask for an appointment with Edward. Angela was delusional if she thought that Bella would ever consider doing something that outrageous in this lifetime.

I have already embarrassed myself one too many times in front of the man, thank you very much.

Bella rolled over again and giggled, but suddenly stilled, feeling like something was off. She took a deep breath and realized that something was definitely missing from her room. She sat up, breathing in the scents of her bedroom, and it hit her.

Her room smelled of cleaning products.

Bella wasn't by any means a slob, but because of her art projects her room always carried a distinct smell of paint, turpentine, linen and powder.

Now she couldn't smell any of it.

Bella quickly scrambled out of her bed and went straight to her small supply closet next to her desk. When she opened it, she gasped and tears sprang into her eyes.

It was empty.

Not a single bottle of paint in the entire closet.

The cans that were filled with brushes on the top shelf were also empty.

The half-finished canvases that she had laid out to dry the day before and then storage inside the closet were also gone.

Bella quickly extracted her keychain from her bag, and then went back to the closet to unlock the hidden cabinet at the bottom. When she opened it, she sighed in relief when she saw all the rolls of paintings still intact. Bella had learned a long time ago to keep her finished paintings hidden and locked away. More than once, Renee had either tossed them into the garbage or sold them to get some extra money for her stupid hobbies.

Still, the fact the rest of her closet was empty meant only one thing.

Renee had tossed everything out.

With tears pooling in her eyes, Bella locked the cabinet again, and then ran out of her room and down the stairs. Alistair and Caleb were right at the bottom, talking about their finals, when they heard Bella's frantic steps. They both turned at the same time when Bella appeared on the landing between the ground floor and the first floor.

Caleb climbed up the steps to meet his sister. "What's wrong, Bells?" he asked with concern.

"Sh-she… t-to-tossed i-it all!" Bella was full-out sobbing, devastation coursing through her.

Taking a deep breath, she tried to explain, but her words were garbled and choppy. Caleb rubbed her arms to help her calm down a little.

"What's going on?" Alistair asked.

"I don't know," answered Caleb, trying to understand what Bella was trying to say, but she just kept sobbing, tears streaming down her flushed cheeks.

Bella cried for all the bottles of paint she had collected over the years, some of them presents from Carmen, Professor Banner, Caleb and her friends, and others that she had mixed herself. She cried for all the brushes she had managed to acquire through the years, it had taken her weeks to save enough money to buy some of them, while others were sets she had won in competitions. And the paintings she had been working on, gifts for the people that had been helping her out, all the hours of work she put into them...

Every single item in that cabinet was valuable to Bella.

They were the raw materials that allowed her to express herself.

And now they were all gone, probably tossed in the garbage.

Caleb's strong arms wrapped around her, and she found a bit of comfort in them, at least enough to stop sobbing.

"Bells, you need to tell me what's wrong, please?" Caleb asked, rocking back and forward.

Bella tried to take a breath to speak. "My p-paints, b-brushes and can-canvases…"

Alistair was rubbing her back in circles trying to soothe her. "What about them, B?"

"They're GONE!"

Caleb stiffened and Alistair gasped.

They heard footsteps approaching from the living room, and seconds later Renee appeared at the bottom of the stairs.

Renee sighed in aggravation and rolled her eyes at them. "What is going on?" she asked, bored.

"Like you don't know!" Caleb snarled, tightening his hold on Bella.

Renee frowned. "Watch that tone, Caleb…"

"How could you do this, Mrs. S?" Alistair huffed. He couldn't believe this woman, always trying to make Bella's life hell. "What the hell is wrong with you?" The question slipped out before he could contain his anger.

Renee paid Alistair no mind and looked at the sniveling Bella, smiling viciously, "All this drama for some stupid pots of paint, a few old brushes and some stained fabric?" She snorted. "Grow up, Isabella."

Bella gasped.

How could this woman, my own mother, do this to me?

"What have you done with it all?" Caleb hissed.

Renee shrugged. "Put them in a box and then threw them in the dumpster."

Both Caleb and Bella gaped at her indifference. Renee never really gave a thought about how Bella would react when she found out, or whether it would hurt her at all. To Renee, it was only junk that had been accumulated in a closet, while Bella felt like someone had cut off her arm and disposed of it like garbage.

Alistair cursed under his breath, and then flew down the stairs. On his way out, he slammed the front door so hard that the windows rattled.

Renee looked back at the front door and raised an eyebrow, vowing to order that kid to leave the inn. She'd had enough of his antics.

"And you call yourself our mother," Caleb scoffed.

Renee turned back to her son, her eyes showing no care in the world. She opened her mouth, but then closed it; it was no use talking to her son when Bella was playing the poor victim. She waved them off. "Somebody had to," she sneered, walking out of the room into the kitchen.

Confused, and needing to know exactly what this was all about, Bella wiped her face with the bottom of her shirt. Anger started coursing through her veins, but she tried to rein it in, knowing she needed to keep herself collected. It was time for Bella to clear the air with Renee and figure out why the hell she had been treating her like a pariah all her life.

"I need to talk to her," Bella told Caleb, pushing him away.

He looked concerned. "Are you sure, Bells?"

She nodded. "Yes, it's time. This was the last straw."

Determined and angry, she walked towards the kitchen.

Caleb followed and grabbed her elbow before she entered. "I'll be here. Call me if you need help."

Bella nodded and kissed his cheek.

In the kitchen, Renee was getting a glass of lemonade. She considered adding some vodka to her drink, but shook the thought away. The sound of the kitchen door opening and closing alerted her to the fact she wasn't alone anymore. She turned around and was surprised to see Bella instead of Caleb, who often fought his sister's battles for her.

Renee sighed, rubbing her forehead and feeling the beginning of a migraine. "What do you want, Isabella?"

"Why?"

Renee frowned, taking a gulp of lemonade. "Why what?"

Bella gritted her teeth. "Don't play games, Renee."

"Watch your tone—"

"Don't tell me to watch my tone after what you did to me!" she lashed out, shocking Renee for a second, but she was fast to collect herself and let out a sarcastic laugh.

"After what you did to me," she mocked, "Come on, Isabella. It's time to wake up! Did you honestly believe that you were going to keep that silly hobby of yours after graduation? It's time for you to face reality."

Bella clenched her fists in anger. "What is this…reality according to you?"

"That you have to work for what you want!" she bellowed, slamming her hand down the counter between them.

Shocked by her outburst, Bella finally snapped. "And you think I haven't? Then what the hell have I been doing all along?!"

Renee tossed the glass into the sink, not caring when it shattered, and turned to glare at Bella. "Everything was handed to you, Isabella." She walked round the counter, her voice cold as ice. "Since you were born, your dear daddy always gave you what you wanted."

The venom in Renee's voice sent chills down Bella's spine.

Renee stood in front of Bella, glaring down at her. "I knew you were important to him, just like she was, but to put the inn's deed in your name?"

Bella gasped, slowly understanding what this was all about.

Renee let out a humorless chuckle. "Forget the fact I gave him the best years of my life! Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice?" She shook her head and stepped back. "A soon as I found out about it, I kicked his deceiving ass out of my bed and out of my life."

"What are you talking about?"

Renee continued talking like she hadn't heard Bella. "Charlie was such a fool to believe I would make it easy for him. I knew he would come back, they always come back," she said smugly, but then her face turned into a sneer. "What I didn't expect was…he only came back for you!"

Bella stepped back, trying to understand what Renee was saying. "Dad came back for me?"

"Yes, that delusional man thought that I was going to give you up just like that." She snapped her fingers. "He was too late, though. Charlie had given me a power of attorney in his name years ago, since he was often away abroad for work, and with it I was able to change the deed to my name. The divorce was finalized before he showed up again, but he wanted to contest your custody. I was willing to fight, but he never showed up the day of the hearing, and after several attempts to contact him without response, the judge ruled in my favor."

Bella couldn't believe what she was hearing. She felt like Renee had knocked her down and stumped all over her. All these years, she had thought her father didn't want her, whilst Renee was the one who had kept them apart. Bella rubbed her hands against her temples; her ears were ringing as she felt anger bubbling inside. She was literally shaking with it.

"You had no right!" Bella finally cried out, unable to contain it anymore. "How could you do this? I'm your daughter, for God's sake!"

Renee smirked and then delivered an unexpected blow. "No, you're not."

All the air in her lungs escaped in a whoosh as Bella swayed. "I'm not…your daughter?"

Renee grabbed her chin and looked straight into her eyes. "No, and I thank God for that."

Bella flinched and stepped out of her grasp. She closed her eyes as pain flared inside her chest. "Caleb?"

"He is mine." Renee smiled proudly, her hand on her chest.

"And my mother?"

Renee shrugged. "I only know that her name was Sarah."

Bella swayed again and was able to steady herself with a hand against the counter. "Was?"

Renee nodded once. "I had no idea Charlie was capable of having an affair, but one morning a girl showed up on our doorstep, asking for help. I didn't know who she was, so I called Charlie, who raced back from work. I never heard of her again until the day Charlie came home with you in his arms, saying you were his daughter and that your mother, the girl from months before, had died. I almost divorced him back then, but apparently your mother had a very nice insurance that Charlie was able to collect, so I agreed to keep you with us. With the money left by your mother, we bought this inn. I was so focused on remodeling the rooms that I never noticed under whose name the deeds were drawn. If it wasn't because I had to pay taxes one time when Charlie was out of town for business, I would've never found out."

"So just took everything that was mine?"

"Don't fool yourself, Isabella. I sacrificed a lot because of you. It was the least I deserved for taking you in!" Renee bellowed in outrage, before taking a deep breath and restoring her cold façade. "You were a constant reminder that the man I had married lied and cheated on me." He face cracked for a second and a tear slipped out. "I loved your father so much—" Renee's voice cracked a little. She cleared her throat and carried on. "I could never forgive him for what he did." She turned around and wiped off her tears.

Then something inside Bella clicked. "Is this why you don't want me to go to Volterra?"

Renee stilled.

"Is my real mother from there?" she pressed, staring daggers at her back.

"I'm done with you," Renee said, and tried to leave.

Bella grabbed Renee's arm and forced her to face her. "Tell me," she demanded through clenched teeth.

Renee pulled her arm out of Bella's grasp. "It doesn't matter because she's dead."

If she didn't want me to go because of her, then…"He is there, isn't he? My father, he's there!"

Renee forcefully grabbed Bella's bicep. "It. Doesn't. Matter." She shook her with each word, her nails digging into her skin. "You're not leaving this place!"

Bella pushed Renee away, and then rubbed her bicep. "Why are you trying to keep me here? You don't need me. The inn is yours now, you made sure of that. Thanks to you, I have nothing!"

"You will stay here, Isabella," she said, pointing at the ground and glaring at the girl in front of her. "Do. You. Understand?"

"We'll see about that," Bella hissed in her face and, with a final glare to the dreadful woman that she'd called mother for the past eighteen years of her life, she marched out of the kitchen.

Renee was hot on her heels, but Bella didn't pay any attention to her. She ran up the stairs straight to her bedroom. She locked the door and started packing, while Renee kept pounding on the door, screeching at her to open up. Bella needed to get out of that place. She couldn't stay there anymore, not after everything she had learned. Tears pooled in her eyes, and she tried to blink them away, but it was no use. She silently cried as she packed the belongings she had left and the small jewelry box her dad gave her when she was little.

Bella didn't know why Renee was so determined to keep her there, but she wasn't planning on staying to find out. She zipped her bag closed and set it on the bed. She looked around the room, making sure she hadn't forgotten anything. She sat down on the bed and touched the poppies on the wall.

Renee had taken everything from her. How could she? How dared she? It wasn't even about the money—Bella couldn't care less about that, Renee could have it all! It was about the lies, the contempt, the manipulations, and the life she'd taken away from her.

Renee's screeches suddenly stopped and Bella stilled. She could hear Caleb talking and then someone stomping down the stairs.

Caleb had heard most of what was said in the kitchen—it was hard not to, since they had both been screaming. After a while both of them calmed down, and Caleb couldn't hear what they said before Bella stormed out of the kitchen with Renee screaming after her. He didn't understand what was happening, and when he confronted Renee outside of his sister's bedroom, she had refused to say anything and left with his questions still unanswered.

Caleb knocked on her door. "Bella? Please open the do—"

The door swung open and Bella let Caleb in.

"How much did you hear?" she asked him, staring down her shoes.

Before Caleb could answer, Bella's cellphone started ringing, but she didn't make a move to answer.

"Who's calling?" Caleb asked, closing the door behind him.

Bella checked the caller ID as she sat down on her bed. "It's Carmen." She let the call go to voicemail and put the phone down on her nightstand.

Caleb sat down next to her. "Bella, what happened downstairs? What did Renee say to you?"

"How much did you hear?" she asked again, still not looking at him. She couldn't meet Caleb's eyes, afraid of what she might see in his face.

Her phone rang again, and Caleb grabbed it.

"Carmen, it's Caleb. Right now it's not—"

Bella looked up as Carmen's voice was loud enough for her to hear, but not to understand. Bella watched as Caleb's expression transformed from shock, to confusion, to horror and finally to understanding. His eyes finally connected with hers, but instead of pity, she only saw comfort and support.

Bella felt her nose burn and her throat clog. She tried to push back the tears, but it was a lost cause, she was far too much overwhelmed to even make an attempt. They slid down her cheeks as Caleb finished his conversation with Carmen.

"She wants to talk to you," Caleb said and handed the phone back to Bella, then sat down next to her.

Bella put the phone against her ear. "Hello?"

"Oh my god, dulzura. Caleb texted me that you were arguing with Renee. I foolishly called your mother to figure out what was going on, but Renee started ranting about what happened and the argument you had with her. I can't believe the things she said to you. I'm so sorry, corazón."

Bella just needed to know one thing from both Carmen and Caleb. "Did you know Renee isn't my mother?" she asked, looking straight into Caleb's eyes.

Caleb shook his head 'no' as a few tears escaped from the corner of his eyes. Bella wiped them away with the pad of her thumb, giving him a tight smile.

In the meantime, Carmen was silent.

"Carmen?" Bella prompted, fearing her answer.

"No, dulzura. I didn't know," Carmen sobbed. "God, I wished I had known, because I would have been able to take you from that horrible woman."

Bella frowned. "What do you mean? Did you know my real mother, Carmen?"

Carmen sighed and cleared her throat. "I-I knew her, but whatever that woman told you about her, it was a lie. Sarah was a good person, Bella. She just made the wrong decisions and well...she wasn't the only one. I don't know why Charlie never told me!"

Bella closed her eyes, feeling like she was in some sort of a nightmare. Caleb pulled her closer and she buried her face against his chest. Bella sobbed silently for all the things she had lost. She felt like she was breaking apart and yet, there was this tiny feeling at the back of her mind that she couldn't place. It felt almost like…relief? Bella shook her head, the chaos inside her head making her dizzy. She needed to stay focused and get out of that place once and for all.

Caleb and Bella heard a door open and close from downstairs. Seconds later, they heard Renee's car leaving.

"I need to get out of here," she mumbled.

"I agree. Dulzura, I know you must be extremely confused. I promise to tell you more once you are out of there. You can't stay there with that woman anymore, Bella. Come back to the shop and we'll talk some more here."

"Thank you, Carmen."

"Don't worry about it, mija. I don't trust Renee. She must be planning something to keep you from leaving, and I need to call a friend of mine to find out what that is."

"Okay, Carmen, I'll see you soon." Bella disconnected the call and stood up.

"I'll help you pack," Caleb quickly started moving around the room, packing the rest of her clothes in the bag she had set on her bed.

Bella went to the bathroom and washed her face. When she was finished cleaning herself up, she grabbed her toiletries bag and went back to her bedroom to finish packing.

Caleb zipped the bag closed when they were done. Bella removed the hidden chest inside the supply closet that held her paintings. She carried it as Caleb shouldered the duffel bag and her backpack.

"Let's go, Bella," Caleb said, grabbing his keys from his bedroom.

Bella stopped just outside her bedroom, melancholy pressing heavily on her heart. For so long, Bella had been afraid, not only of Renee, but of what was out there. Years and years of hearing how she could never make it on her own, of being blamed for things out of her control, of her feelings crippled and silenced because they didn't matter, forever damaging her ability to trust others. Bella had lived a lie her whole life, and now that she knew the truth, so many things made more sense. Renee's constant disapproval of her choices, the tight budget she always demanded from her, the everyday mundane tasks she forced her to do, her clear favoritism of Caleb, never giving her a word of praise, never saying that she loved her. Bella had desperately clung to the hope of one day earning Renee's love and pride, so she endured her words—her abuse—and day after day tried to do better, but she now realized it was a lost cause.

Renee couldn't love her, and Bella would never make her proud.

It surprised Bella how it suddenly didn't matter anymore. She was done feeding that false hope, she didn't need it. She didn't need her. She could see that now. She was strong and smart enough…she was good enough. She wasn't the burden Renee had made her feel all these years, and Bella refused to see herself like that ever again. She mattered—her feelings, her words, her life…they all mattered.

Caleb touched her shoulder. "Bells? Are you ready?"

Bella nodded. "Yes, I'm ready."

As she closed the door to her bedroom, she closed a chapter of her life.

Bella didn't look back as she went down the stairs.

Caleb put all the bags inside the trunk of his car, slamming it shut with a loud thud and then got in the car. Bella placed the chest with her paintings on the back seat and then slid into the passenger seat as Caleb started the car. He pulled out of the garage and then drove off in the direction of the art shop.

"What a day, huh?" Caleb chuckled, no real humor present at all.

Even though Caleb's joke fell flat, Bella still managed to crack a small smile.

My dear brother, always trying to make me smile.

No, not brother. Half-brother.

That last thought shook her.

Caleb looked at her when they stopped at a red light. He could see the fear and doubt in her eyes. "Nothing has changed, Bells." He angled his body so he could look straight into her eyes and then grabbed her shoulders. "You are and will forever be my little sister. Never doubt that."

Bella's chin wrinkled, sniffling as a few tears slipped out of the corners of her eyes. "I love you, Caleb," she whispered, leaning in to hug him.

Caleb smiled, wrapping his arms around her, and kissed her forehead. "I love you, too."

"Always?" she asked.

"Always," he vowed, letting her go.

The rest of the drive was silent.

Bella sighed and leaned back against the headrest, looking out the car window and thinking about the future. So many things were up in the air, and that feeling didn't sit well with Bella. Nonetheless, the only thing she could do now was hope she'd be able to find the answers she needed with Carmen, who seemed to be the only one who would answer her questions honestly.

Well, she isn't exactly the only one…

Bella frowned at that thought. It was true, though. There was another person who could answer her questions, but she had no idea where he was. The last time Bella had seen her father she was a little girl. She didn't remember much from back then, but she did remember how her father often travelled a lot. She'd found out years later that he'd been a project manager for a national construction company, which forced him to travel around the world. She could vaguely remember her father telling her about his travels, but she couldn't remember if he ever mentioned Volterra. Bella wondered if her assumption that Charlie was there was correct, and if it was, would she be able to find him?

Bella shook her head—she didn't want to think anymore. Not about Renee, her real mother, or her father. She wanted it all to go away, at least for a little while.

Caleb took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. "Get some rest, Bells. With this traffic, it's going to take a while to get to the shop."

Bella looked up to see that Caleb was right. Cars were lined up bumper to bumper a far as she could see.

"You're right," Bella said, pushing her seat back. "Just wake me up when we get there."

Feeling the day's events take a toll on her, Bella closed her eyes and fell in to a restless sleep to the soothing purr of the car's engine surrounding her.


Okay peeps, how're we doing? I see the line to kick Renee's ass is growing…not that I blame you; she was vile in this chapter! Some of you called on Bella not being Renee's daughter, well done! You'll find out more about Bella's real mother in a coming chapter.

Up next, we'll have Edward. Will he get there in time before Bella flies to Volterra? Or will their paths cross? Tune in two weeks on Sunday to find out!

Remember to check my blog for teasers, pictures, outfits and more. Link is on my profile.

Leave me a word or two…even a smiley will be fine!

Till next time,

Mina