Hello, this is a new story with a Christmas theme to it. I know it's out of season, but I wanted an event where the whole family could come together and there could be a lot of drama going on.

This is an AU, all human story done just for fun.

Disclaimer: The characters are not mine.


And we all fall down...

Chapter One – Falling out of Love

The drive had been silent, save for the classical music playing on the CD player and the usual noise of the car's engine. Isabella Swan stared almost sightlessly out the window, hands resting daintily in her lap, giving all the outward signs that she was calm and relaxed. Inside, however, was a bubbling inferno of hurt, anger and slight panic.

She turned her head slightly to the right so she could just see the driver of the car out of the corner of her eyes. The sight of him made her heart both jump for joy and cry out in pain.

Edward Cullen was the most handsome man she had ever had the pleasure of meeting in her life. The fact that she had known him since she was twelve when she'd moved back to Forks with her father only made it so she'd been able to watch him grow into the man he was today. He was everything a girl dreamed of in a partner. Kind, loving, completely devoted to her and not to mention extremely attractive. He had been her best friend since the first day they had met and, when they were seventeen, he'd finally asked her out and they'd been together ever since.

However, in the last three months, ever since their sixth year anniversary, he'd been growing distant from her. Suddenly, whenever she entered the room he would seem to leave, or when she went to kiss him he had was too busy to kiss her back. They hadn't even made love for two months now, and the last time was fast and lacked the usual loving tenderness they shared.

She just didn't know what she was going to do. Did he not love her anymore?

The song finished and a slow piano melody began. She pulled her eyes away from him and sighed softly. They had arrived in Forks now and it would only be a matter of minutes before they would be at his parents place. Bella had been spending Christmas at the Cullen place ever since she was eighteen, when her father had passed away. It was always a fun time and over the years their party had grown as both Edwards older brother and younger sister married. Then there was always the chance of a more distant relative showing up, having been in the area at the time and wanting to share Christmas with family rather than by themselves.

Sure enough, not five minutes later, Edward was pulling up in the drive of his childhood home and Bella quickly opened the door and got out. It had been so uncomfortable in the car; neither of them had spoken for the last half an hour at least. Closing the car door, she looked up at the two story white house and a smile came to her lips unbidden. She'd always loved this house and Esme – Edwards mother – was an excellent interior decorator.

"Bella! Edward!" Speak of the devil.

"Esme!" Bella exclaimed as the older woman opened the door and moved quickly down the front steps of the veranda to embrace the younger woman.

"Merry Christmas! Oh, it's so good to see you both! I'm so happy you're here, and you made such good time too. Come in, come in; we don't want to catch a cold out here in the snow now do we?" She happily bubbled and Bella couldn't stop smiling even if she wanted to. Taking the suitcase Edward had just pulled out of the boot, Bella happily linked arms with Esme and the two women walked inside with Edward following with their other suitcase.

Stepping into the glorious warmth of inside, Bella took of the heavy cloak she had been wearing and hung it up before stepping into the welcoming parlour.

"So, where's Carlisle?" Bella asked, looking around expectantly for Esme's husband.

"Oh, he's in his study right now. I'm sure he'll be down soon." Esme said, though something about her smile darkened, making Bella curious as an almost sad glint entered Esme's soft brown eyes.

However, before she could think any further on the subject, the front door was thrown open and Edward's older brother, Emmett, and his wife, Rosalle walked into the room.

"Edward! Bella! Mum! Merry Christmas!" Emmett exclaimed loudly, as though he'd not been expecting to see them at all. Without any real warning, though they should have guessed as he did this every time they saw one another for their family get-togethers, he engulfed each other them in a bear-sized hug, leaving everyone slightly breathless. Rose moved in next and greeted Edward and Esme with a warm smile, though that smile turned fidgety cold when it rested on Bella.

Bella wasn't exactly sure what it was she had done to offend the blond to such a degree, but the two had never gotten along. For some unknown reason, Emmett's wife just didn't like Bella – at all!

Rose, Emmett and Edward had just disappeared up-stairs to put their bags away when the door opened again and Alice and her husband Jasper walked inside. Though, from the frowns on their faces it wasn't a very merry Christmas at all on their drive here.

As soon as Alice's eyes landed on Bella, however, a huge smile flashed across her face, erasing any frown that had been there.

"Oh! Thank goodness I came when I did! Don't worry Bella, I've brought loads of clothes so you won't have to go around in those rags at all for the next three days!" She chirped, sounding extremely pleased with herself.

Though Bella loved being around Alice, she was a very nice and caring person, when it came to what Alice believed was good fashion and what she didn't, she could be downright evil. It didn't matter that Alice had been a constant in their lives since she had met Jasper at collage three years ago, when she saw something she didn't like she said so. Bella tried to tell her that she didn't need help and liked the way she was, it was like trying to talk sense into a brick wall – Alice just flat out didn't listen.

Rather than telling Alice to mind her own bloody business and leave her clothes alone, Bella just forced a small smile and hoped no one asked her to talk any time soon. She might just tell them where they could take their advice and go.

She was saved from being spoken to, however, by the arrival of Angela and her new husband of two months, Ben. While Angela was a distant cousin of the Cullen's, she'd never much gotten along with the rest of the family. Which was surprising as she was such a nice, sweet girl.

"Merry Christmas everyone!" Angela said happily, pulling people into hugs as she went around the room, Ben quietly wishing everyone a Merry Christmas in a more stated manner.

"Oh, Bella, it's so good to see you again!" She exclaimed, giving her a tight hug that Bella happily returned.

"You too, Angela; it's been far too long since we last spoke." Bella agreed easily.

"Esme, is there anything I can do to help you out?"

Typically, Angela's first thoughts were to help people.

"I'll take this upstairs." Ben called out before disappearing with their luggage.

"Ok, don't take too long." Angela said happily to him, sending him a bright smile, which he returned.

'They're so in love.' Bella thought, wishing her life could be as fairy-tale as theirs was.

"Is this everyone?" Bella asked turning to Esme.

"Well, no, there is Mike and his girlfriend Jessica, who have yet to arrive." Esme said it while not looking at Bella, knowing already how much she disliked being around them.

"Well, I guess it can't be helped." Bella said diplomatically, resigned to the idea, as she knew nothing she could say would make them not come.

Mike Newton was another distant relative of the Cullen family, one most of them tried to forget shared their blood. Where the Cullen's were a kind, giving and considerate family, the Newton's were money grabbing, materialistic and small-minded.

As if her very thoughts had summoned them, the door opened a final time to reveal Mike and his girlfriend Jessica. Though Bella used the term girlfriend very loosely as the two seemed to sleep more with other people than they did together.

"Isabelle!" Mike exclaimed upon seeing her in the room. Ignoring everyone else, he made a beeline for her as a resounding shriek from Jessica announced that Edward had come back down stairs from putting away their luggage.

'And so it begins,' she thought tryingly to herself.

"Mike," she forced a smile on her face at the same time as she glanced over at Esme, pleading with her eyes for help.

"Bella, why don't you come and help me for a moment, I could use an extra pair of hands." Esme said quietly, linking arms with Bella so that Mike couldn't refuse.

"Oh, well, talk to you later Bella!" Mike said disappointedly.

If there was one good thing about Mike Newton, it was that he was a complete pushover.

"Thank you!" Bella whispered to her savoir once they left the room and walked into the kitchen. The older woman just laughed before pulling away and moving around the large kitchen to being making tea, hot coco and pulling out freshly baked cookies from the oven.

"It's no problem at all." Esme said as Bella moved closer to help. Together they shared a smile as they began to work harmoniously around one another.

Bella had always loved Esme and viewed her as a second mother or older sister. They told one another everything and despite the age gap, they got along splendidly.

"So, are you sure Carlisle's home? I'm surprised he's not been down yet. If you hadn't of said anything I'd have thought he was still at the hospital." Bella said with a teasing smile.

"Oh, he's home – for a change." Bella paused in what she was doing at the odd sound of Esme's voice. Though she kept moving, it suddenly seemed far more unconsciously done then with any real thought. "He's been spending a lot of time at the hospital lately, more than I can ever remember him doing so before. I barely see him now. If I tried, I'm sure I could go days without actually seeing him or speaking to him even."

Concern flooded Bella as she listened to Esme's pain filled words. Clearly something wasn't right and if the resigned note Bella could hear in her voice was to be believed, then…

"You don't think he's… seeing someone do you?" She asked in a whisper, as if saying it any louder would make it true.

Esme just looked over at her with a heartbreakingly sad smile on her face. That was all Bella needed to know to be aware that seeing someone was exactly what Esme thought.

"It couldn't possibly be true! Carlisle loves you more than anything!" Bella protested. Esme just shrugged and spoke quietly.

"Sometimes people fall out of love just as suddenly as they fell into it."

Though Bella knew Esme wasn't talking about her own situation, she still felt panic well up inside her. Was this the same thing that was happening between Edward and herself, what he falling out of love with her too?

Something of her panic must have shown on her face for Esme paused in what she was doing and gave her a concerned look of her own.

"Bella, is everything ok?"

Opening her mouth to confess the whole thing, to finally tell someone her fears; they were interrupted by Rosalie, Alice and Angela suddenly walking into the kitchen. Quickly sending Esme a look saying that they would speak later, Bella put a small smile on her face and buried her fears once again.

"Well Edward, Emmett and Jasper went upstairs to talk to dad." Alice said, rolling her eyes and muttering something about men's business being a load of rubbish.

"Alice, you know it's just an excuse for them to go and tease Carlisle about his painting collection." Rose said with a roll of her eyes as she leaned over and picked up a tray containing some of the cups and cookies.

The two bickered lightly as the other ladies gathered up the plates and brought them into the informal dinning area. A large fire was roaring in the hearth and numerous squashy looking chairs were scattered around the room.

Mike and Jessica had already made themselves comfortable on separate couches, ensuring that some poor soul would be stuck having to listen to them either flirt outrageously with them or complain loudly about how rotten their luck in life was.

Stealing a seat in an armchair for one person, Bella pretended not to notice the disappointed look on Mike's face when she'd flat out ignored him motioning for her to come and sit next to him. They were saved from having to try and make conversation with the duo by the rest of their party entering the room, Carlisle in tow.

"Merry Christmas everyone." He said loudly and happily, a huge smile on his face.

Seeing someone who was like a second father to her, Bella just couldn't seem to find the strength to offer him more than a half-smile. Every time she looked at him, all she could see was that heartbreakingly sad smile on Esme's face. Turning to Angela who was sitting in the chair beside her own, Bella began a conversation about how her honeymoon had been, taking comfort in the large smile on her friends face.


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