Disclaimer: The Twilight character all belong to Stephenie Meyer. I do not make any money…I simply play with them

Special thanks to ObsessingOverEdward for all her inspiration. She's the one who keeps me writing even when I hit writer's block. She talks out ideas with me and is not afraid to tell me when something sucks.

I would also like to thank Project Team Beta. Without their input this story would not be what it is. To my permanent betas, Jmeyer and TRDancer thank you for making this story readable.

Chapter 4: Denial

Isabella Swan

I had no choice but to allow Edward to help me out of the car and into the house. The rain was coming down at a steady pace, and Edward had made it clear that the cast couldn't get wet. We walked close together, huddling underneath the bright yellow umbrella that matched the yellow Porsche in the driveway.

I had just stepped one foot onto the front porch when Alice pulled me into a tight embrace. I was completely caught off guard by her energy and eagerness. "I'm so sorry, Bella. Is your arm broken?" she asked in a panicked tone.

"It'll be fine," Edward answered for me after he had closed the umbrella. I bit my tongue to stop myself from replying. Who had given him the right to talk for me?

"I just feel so bad," she continued, pulling me into the house. "I really didn't mean to do it."

"It's really not a big deal, Alice. It'll be fine in two months or less." I knew that it was going to severely limit me, but I didn't want to make her feel bad. She hadn't done it on purpose, and I could tell that she really was sorry.

Alice was unable to respond as two kids nearly trampled us, running directly towards Edward. The little girl instantly threw herself at him, and I was surprised how easily he caught her in mid-air, hugging her tightly.

"How's my favorite cupcake?" Edward asked with a huge smile, which I was sure would make any woman in the world melt. But I was smarter. I wasn't some young and naive girl that swooned at the sight of a handsome man with a child. I wasn't about to allow one moment of cuteness change my mind about the asshole I knew him to be.

"I miss you," she replied with a giggle before frowning. "You don't come see me."

"I was here two days ago," he pointed out with a slightly amused grin.

"Edward, Edward," the older boy said, hopping in place to get Edward's attention.

"What? What?" Edward questioned with equal energy, as he still held the little girl in his arms.

"The coach said I can open in the next game. We have to go practice..." the boy kept talking about his upcoming game, holding Edward's attention.

"Jackson, Ashley," Alice interrupted them with the pointed look every mother seemed to master. "Don't be rude, and say hi to our guest."

"Hi," the little boy said shyly, as the little girl buried her face into Edward's neck.

"Hello, my name is Bella. What's yours?" I asked, extending my good hand for him to shake. He was extremely adorable with messy blond hair and piercing blue eyes. Even from such a young age, it was obvious he would one day be a heartbreaker.

"Jackson Edward Whitlock," he said proudly, taking my hand. "Do you play baseball? I got hurt too and had to wear a green cast."

"No, my story isn't as great as yours," I explained as Edward tried to put the little girl on the floor, but she was clinging to him like a monkey. "I just fell."

"I fell too, during practice. Is Edward your doctor? He was mine, and he made it all go away. Grandpa helped too," he continued.

"Aren't you going to say hi, Ashley?" Alice asked her daughter, causing her to take a peek at me. Ashley looked to be around five or six years old with black hair like her mother and the same signature blue eyes as her brother.

"Hi, Bella," she mumbled before clinging even harder to Edward's neck.

"Cupcake, you're going to strangle me," Edward stated, trying to loosen the little girl's grip.

"I think the chicken is done, sweetheart." A tall man with blond hair entered the foyer, and I quickly recognized the man from a picture I saw on his real estate webpage. He was just as handsome in person, with sharp manly features.

"This is my husband, Jasper," Alice quickly introduced. "Go ahead and make yourself comfortable. The food should be all set in a few minutes."

Alice bounced out of the foyer, as Jasper stepped forward to take my hand. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you, Isabella." He had a deep Texan accent.

"Please, call me Bella. I can't thank you enough for all your help during the past few months." Jasper led the way past the living room toward the dining room.

"It was not a problem. It's great when I get to work on a local sale, most of the time I have to travel." The dining room was located just off the kitchen, and it was just as homey as the rest of the house. Due to the size of the house, I had expected the decorations to be very gaudy. Yet it was all very simple, and the house seemed lived in.

"I hope you like Chicken Parm," Alice called as she carried a pan into the dining room closely followed by Edward who was still carrying Ashley.

"You sit there," Ashley told Edward, pointing to the middle seat before climbing off of him.

I stood in amazement as the small girl pulled everyone to a different seat. Nobody sat down until she had indicated which seat belonged to whom. She finished placing every person except me before going to her chair next to Edward.

"Ashley, how about Bella?" Jasper asked from his spot at the head of the table.

"Oh," she exclaimed before hopping off her chair and taking my good hand.

I knew exactly where I was headed before she had even taken one step. I knew I wasn't lucky enough to get seated next to Alice and Jackson. I was going to get the seat directly across from Edward and next to Jasper.

I didn't look at Edward as I sat down, focusing instead on the delicious food in front of me. It had definitely been way too long since I had eaten a homemade meal, and I wasn't going to let Edward's presence ruin it for me.

"What brings you here to Masenville?" Jasper inquired once we had begun to eat. "It seems like a big change from New York."

"It is." I laughed. "I really just wanted a change of scenery and pace. A place where I could regroup my life and sort everything out. Masenville seemed really peaceful, and once I saw the pictures of the house, I knew it was perfect."

"Are you here for long?" Edward questioned with a pointed look that made me want to slap him. What did he care how long I was here? It was a free country, and I was allowed to live where I pleased.

"What kind of question is that, Edward?" Alice scolded before giving me an apologetic look. "Please excuse my brother, apparently he's forgotten his manners."

"It was just a question," Edward defended as Alice rolled her eyes.

"It doesn't give you the right to act like a total ass. Mom taught you better than that," Alice continued.

"You don't have to treat me like a child!" Edward snapped in annoyance.

"I'm the older sibling; it's my job," Alice pointed out, as I held back a laugh.

"By three minutes," Edward quickly added, causing Alice to roll her eyes.

"Anyway, are you working on any new books?" Alice inquired as she turned to me, completely ignoring Edward and his disrespectful behavior.

"I had hoped to start a new book after I had settled in, but now with the broken arm, it's going to have to be pushed back a bit." I had hoped to finish settling into my new house by the end of the week and start focusing on developing a new plot.

"Actually, we can all help you," Alice volunteered happily.

"Oh! I couldn't impose," I replied.

"It's not a problem, Bella. Tomorrow is Edward's day off. I'm sure he'll be more than happy to help you out. Right, Edward?" Although, Alice was asking Edward, I could tell that the point was not negotiable. She wasn't going to take "no" for an answer.

"I don't know, Alice," Edward said hesitantly as he studied his mostly empty plate. "I was hoping to take Jackson out to practice."

"That's in the afternoon," Alice dismissed before turning to me. "Don't worry, Bella. Edward will be there first thing tomorrow morning."

I really wasn't too keen on having Edward over at my house, but at the same time, the temptation to annoy him was too much to resist. I would accept his help. After all, I would never get unpacked with a broken arm.

"That's great," I answered, as I gave Edward a smile, causing him to huff in annoyance.

Tomorrow would definitely be an adventure.

The rest of dinner passed without incidence. Edward and I barely looked in the other's direction, and neither one of us said much unless Alice or Jasper asked us a direct question. It was a pretty awkward dinner for the both of us, but neither Alice nor Jasper really seemed to notice.

Somehow I was able to escape the Whitlock Residence after having coffee and without an escort. Alice had insisted that Edward walk me home, but he had been busy with his niece and nephew. I really didn't mind walking the twenty feet to my house on my own; I actually preferred it. I was already going to have to deal with Edward for far too long the next day.

I entered my house, finding everything the same way I had left. I knew there was no way things could have magically unpacked on their own, but I hated the mess. The boxes were piled high everywhere, and most of the furniture was not where it should be. Even the coffee table I had broken was still in pieces in the living room.

I was about to start picking up when I decided against it. It had been a very long day, and all I wanted was a nice warm bath before bed. I wanted to forget the stress of the day and relish the fact that I actually owned my own home. I wasn't renting; the house was really mine.

I walked into the kitchen to grab my things, finding that I had four missed calls and two messages on my cell phone. The phone seemed to stare back at me as I stood in my kitchen. There was no doubt in my mind that it had been Jacob who had called. I had promised to call when I arrived, and I had completely forgotten.

I took the cell phone upstairs as I prepared myself to hear his messages.

"Hey, Bells, it's me. I'm just calling to make sure you got to South Carolina alright. Call me, please."

I deleted the first message as the electronic answering service informed me that the next call had occurred less than a half hour ago.

"Bells, I'm really starting to get worried. I know you want space and all, but I need to know you made it there fine. Please, call me when you get this. I don't care about the time. Bye."

I could clearly hear the concern in his voice, and I knew I had no choice. I had to communicate with him in some form. I had hoped that my move would prove to him what I already knew—Jake and I were better off as friends. But it seemed that even the distance hadn't deterred him.

I was extremely tired, and I was in no mood to deal with Jacob. I didn't want to talk to him, and I didn't want him to ask about my day. I was a terrible liar, and the last thing I needed was for him to find out about my broken arm. He would probably be on the next plane out of New York and headed this way.

Hi, Jake! Sorry I didn't call. I was just busy unpacking and stuff and completely forgot. I'm heading to bed now. Goodnight!

I read the text a few times before finally hitting send. I didn't want the text to say something I didn't mean. The last thing Jake needed was encouragement or hope. I also wanted to make it clear that I wasn't about to have an entire conversation with him. I wanted to sleep, not talk.

I had just dropped the phone on my bed when it began to chirp, signaling his response.

I'm glad you're alright, Bells. Love you.

I cringed as I read the last two words. His feelings were no secret to me, but they still made me feel guilty. I really wished I could return the sentiment, and in a way, I did. I loved Jake as a friend or as a brother. I didn't love him the way he loved me.

I didn't respond, heading toward my suitcase instead. The Jake problem had no real solution. I had been completely honest with him in Italy, but he didn't lose hope. He was determined to make us work. My only hope would be for him to find someone else.

Taking a shower with a cast was a lot harder than it seemed. I had to be careful not to get it wet, and I ended up taking a half-ass shower. It was fucking annoying. Even after I had showered, my arm still felt grimy.

I climbed into bed, thankful that at least my bed was in its proper place. I sighed happily, as I realized the ocean was visible from my spot. It was a beautiful night. The rain had completely cleared, and there was a full moon and a sky full of stars. It was breathtaking.

I studied the view for a long time. It was completely different from any view I had ever had in New York. I had never been a big fan of nature. I was born and raised in Phoenix, and then I moved to New York. I was a city girl. But the view made me realize that I had been missing an appreciation for the small things.

There was more to life than meeting one deadline after another. I still wanted to write. Writing was my passion, and that would never change. But this time, I wanted to enjoy the process. I would take a step back and do things my way. I would work at my own pace and forget what everyone else said. I wanted to enjoy life.

I felt more determined as I snuggled into my bed, wrapping the covers around me. I really couldn't wait to start writing. I still had no plot, but I was inspired. For the first time in months, I was ready to get back to my passion, and I would start in the early morning.

It truly felt like a new beginning.

A/N: I hope everyone enjoyed the new chapter. I want to thank everyone for their understanding and their reviews. School has been very hectic, and I haven't had the time to devote to writing. I hope to be able to be more consistent once my classes end for the summer.

So what are your thoughts? I love to read all your ideas. Make sure to review!

Next Chapter: Settling In