A/N: Here we are again! Thank you so much for continuing to read. It makes me so happy to know that others are enjoying the story I have playing in my head. Carlisle is just so... dreeeeeamy to write about.


Ok. So. This chapter is a bit more intense than I hoped, but it gets the point across. Please forgive any silly little typos or errors. I've reread this thing so many times now and I'm sure my brain is just skipping the words at this point.

SM Still owns everything. I just like to play dirty with her characters.


Chapter 11: Til' We're Back at Serenity

Carlisle POV

I shifted Bella tighter against me, relishing the chance to hold her in my arms.

It may be my last chance.

We raced through the forest, putting as much distance between us and the mess we left behind. I shuddered slightly, remembering the look on Edward's face after I had hit him into the ground. I only hope he will forgive me for losing my control.

But Bella... Bella had said that she loves me.

My heart soared at the memory of her warm brown eyes desperately seeking mine, and the whisper from her lips as she confessed the very motivation I needed to keep going. I had originally thought that I had lost her, noting the look of horror on her face as I allowed Edward to vent his frustrations. When I saw her, terrified because of who I was, I was ready for Edward to finish me and claim my life.

But instead, she told me she loves me.

And those few simple words restored in me an urge to live, to fight back, to mark her as my mate and to live out the rest of the days I am allowed on this earth.

With her, hopefully.

I finally slowed to a stop about a hundred miles away from Forks. Running only fueled by instinct, I found myself at one of my favorite places, a near impossible climb for all humans. It was peaceful, a physical representation of the serenity I have strived to live by. Nature had staked its claim, covering the entire area with a lush green. There was a waterfall that trickled into a small lake before wandering away in a stream, providing the area with the a symphony of water chuckles, drips, and the calls of the amphibians who lived here. It was surrounded by large drooping trees that dipped down to dangle in the water, creating swooping ripples that reached out to hug the banks. It was a place where I have always felt embraced by magic and it was fitting place to have a conversation about monsters, myth, and a supernatural reality.

I was reluctant to let her go, but I set her down gently on one of the flat rocks that wrapped around the bank by the lake. She was shaking slightly; whether from the run or from fear of me, I did not know.

I knelt down in front of her and was relieved when she allowed me to take her hand in mine. "Bella-" My voice broke and I tried again. "Bella. I'm sorry for what you had to see; I'm sorry for the way you had to learn of what and who I really am. I'm sure you are full of questions and I promise to you, I will answer every one of them honestly. I have nothing to hide from you."

Her fingertips on her other hand reached out and gently traced the lines on my face where it had been split. It was almost fully healed now and she watched in awe as they finished closing up, disappearing into the pale skin of my face like a drawing fades from wet sand. It stung, as usual, but the touch of her hand on my face was soothing. She slowly removed her hand and I mourned its loss immediately.

She looked at me, eyes shining with enigmatic tears and she opened and closed her mouth a few times. I gave her as much time as she needed to pose her first question and I braced myself.

"Are you a vampire?" She blurted suddenly.

I blinked in shock.

How did she know?

"Yes." I said evenly, trying to keep my bewilderment from my voice.

"Where are your fangs?" She asked, biting her lip and I chuckled in spite of myself.

"There are the vampires of fiction; these are stories filled with fangs, coffins, aversion to sunlight, vampires who are staked through the heart, and those that can turn into bats." I answered slowly. "But there's a difference between these stories and the vampires in our reality, although some of the fables have been adapted from fact. People have misunderstood our mannerisms and created stories in order to explain it."

She released the breath she had been holding and nodded. I continued.

"We don't have fangs . But all of our teeth are extremely sharp and can bite through almost anything."

"What about the rest in the list? She brought her fingers to her lips and bit her nails nervously. "The coffins, and sunlight, and bats stuff?"

I was suddenly very jealous of those fingers.

I smiled at her questions. "Coffins, no- can you imagine how awful that would be? I don't even know how that one got started. As for stakes, there isn't a stake in the world that would be able to break through our skin; it would be reduced to splinters before it was even able to scratch us. And bats? No, I've always found that definition to our character to be amusing. As far as sunlight goes, it doesn't harm us, but we do try to avoid it."

"Why?" she asked.

I brought her hand to my lips, briefly kissing her knuckles. "I'll have to show you sometime."

She swallowed hard and pressed her hand against my cheek, running her thumb over my lips. I closed my eyes, leaning into her touch.

"Do you drink blood?"

I opened my eyes and looked at her, surprised at the curiosity in her eyes.


She took a deep breath, and I could almost see her mind wrapping around the reality of my lifestyle. "Ok. " she breathed.

Before I could even tell her that I only drink the blood of animals, that I have never sated my thirst on the blood of a human, she had accepted me. She moved her hand to cover mine, sandwiching my hand between hers. She wasn't afraid. She wasn't disgusted. She was amazing.

Alice was right. I had seriously underestimated her.

I shook slightly in relief. I didn't have to lose her.

My Bella.

She must have noticed it when I trembled, as I found her eyes filled with concern.

"Are you ok? Do you still need to heal from the fight?" She asked. "Do you... need blood now? I... I can help if you need." She drew her hair to one side of her neck, an offering of the pulse that beat beneath her ivory skin. "I don't know how it works. This is still so bizarre to think about."

My wonderful Bella.

"No." I swallowed hard, desperate to press my lips against the delicious scent that thudded heavy with her heart. I longed to trail kisses against the smooth plane of her skin and lose myself in a dizzying euphoria. "I don't drink the blood of humans. Only animals."

"Only animals?" She sounded amused.

"We- my family, are vegetarians of sorts. " I murmured. "We value human life and choose not to drink their blood."

"Why don't all vampires drink animals then?" She asked, smoothing her hair back down .

"Our diet is considered unnatural by most of our kind. And on top of that, it doesn't taste very good. It's definitely not the easiest way to live out a nearly immortal life."

"So you don't want to eat me?" she joked.

Oh, Bella. I would very much like to eat you. But not the way you're thinking.

"No." I stated firmly, trying to hide my smile. "I would never harm you."

She nodded. "Are all vampires fast and strong?"

"Yes. Some more than others."

"How fast are you?"

I cleared my throat and ducked my head in embarrassment. "Um. We are in Oregon right now."

"Wow... really?"

"Yes. This place, I come here often to think. It is one of my favorite places and, because of its difficult location, no humans ever come here."

She stood suddenly and looked around. The wind chose that exact moment to flutter through the willow branches, sending wide ripples through the water. She took in the long grass that surrounded the lake, the wispy white flowers that danced , and the song that rippled through the area as it swayed in the breeze.

"It's beautiful." She whispered.

Not nearly as beautiful as you. She ran her small hand through her windblown tresses and stared at me, a small smile forming in the corner of her mouth. She started pacing, her sneakers flattening a small path in the grass. I took a turn sitting on the rock instead, trying to ease her nerves with a natural posture.

"What happened, back there with Edward?"

"He doesn't agree with me being with you."

She stopped and her brow furrowed slightly in irritation. "Why? Because of our age? Or because I'm human?"

"The age difference is meaningless. Technically, I am only 23, but I just play a much older role."

She looked at me. "How long have you been playing this... older role?"

I winced and ducked my head. "A little over 300 years."

She snorted and resumed her pacing. "And here I thought us being a over a decade apart was our biggest hurdle. Instead it's 'Hey dad, mom. I'd like you to meet my... Carlisle. He's a 300 year old vampire, but it's ok because he just eats animals.'" She scoffed to herself, bemused.

I lowered my head, staring at the grass. She was right; I was being unfair to her. But I don't think I could bear to abandon her now.

She stopped and walked over to me. "So it's because I'm human then?" She continued. "Why Edward fought you?"

"Not entirely. He fought me because he too is drawn to you. He was curious of you and it made him angry when he learned that I had also shown interest. It didn't help that my separation from Esme was also timed around your arrival in our lives. "

"Did she leave because of me?" she whispered.

"No." I replied, my tone sharper than I intended. "She left because after 80 years of being married, we weren't able to grow and move past regrets. She left because... we, Esme and I, we weren't truly mates."

"Like, soul mates?" She questioned. "You mentioned that before."

"Yes. I believe I did."

"You really do believe in that, don't you?" she asked, running her hands through her hair again to push the strands out of her face.

I chuckled."When you have lived as long as I have, finding someone that makes you feel as alive and as... human... as you have made me feel these past few weeks, is nothing short of a miracle. It is something to be treasured and revered. I spent a lot of time trying to decide if it was right to do this to you, to saddle you with the burdens that come with being involved with someone like me. While I was thinking, I may have distanced myself from you, made you feel ignored and for that I am sorry." I looked at her wistfully before continuing. "But in the end, nothing could keep me from you. I truly feel we were meant to meet each other, Bella."

She chewed her lip and it whitened under her teeth. It popped as she released it and swelled with blood.


"And Edward," she continued, "he doesn't see that?"

I sighed. "Edward feels something for you as well, although his is based on your blood, and not... you."

"So he wants my blood? He wants me as a little Bella happy meal?"

I tried not to chuckle. "That's a rather uncouth way of saying it, but yes. However, he has shown an immense amount of control. It's not a common accomplishment when a vampire encounters a human whose blood sings as much as yours does for Edward."

Her eyes flashed. "Edward has no right. He is not allowed to take any privileges with me. He's been such a pompous jerk with me, and then to do this? To try to kill the man I- I... I wanna wring his neck."

"A physically impossible feat, I assure you. " I replied, smirking a little.

She walked closer and stood in front of me, her very proximity making my body respond. Her arms slid around my shoulders and I shivered, resisting my need to shred her clothing and make a Bella shaped indent in the grass. I swallowed and allowed my fingers to skim up the side of her leg.

"Well, " she sighed, "someone needs to tell Edward to back off. I'm yours. Completely."

"Still? Even after everything you have just learned?" I looked up at her, watching the breeze lift locks of her hair in an alluring dance.

"You can't get rid of me that easy." she whispered and bent forward slightly.

My trousers tightened significantly as our noses met, the spark of her touch electrifying my web of nerves in a single shudder. Her forehead leaned against mine, our lips a half second away from each other and the little sigh that escaped hers was as warm and sweet I as remembered. I gripped the denim of her jeans tighter, threatening the very structure of the fabric under my grasp as she pressed her lips against mine. I was putty under her touch. The anxiety, the self doubt, and the wavering control I had struggled with all week vanished, without a trace of their existence, with her in my arms.

She balanced me, grounded me, completed me.

She is my mate.

"Did you... did you mean what you said earlier?" My voice was deepened with the influence of my desire for her.

"Yes," she murmured against my ear, pressing a kiss on the smooth skin beside it, "I'm yours."

"Before then. " I slid my hands slowly from her knees to her hips and then back down again, my palms memorizing every curve. "While I was fighting with Edward."

She stilled in my arms for a moment and I could feel the beat of her heart increase and her face flush as she blushed.


I growled and deepened the kiss, raising one of my hands to curl around her neck and pull her closer to me. She met me with equal fervor, climbing into my lap and straddling me. I gasped as the heat of her core brushed against my cock. She was so fucking warm. I could imagine how good it would feel to be sheathed in her heat and I groaned.

"What have you done to me, Bella Swan?" I moaned against her collarbone as I trailed a line of kisses down her neck and wrapped my arms around her. She sighed blissfully against me and ran her fingers through my hair, scratching my skin slightly with her nails. I growled and her blood thudded faster through her veins, overwhelming me in a dizzying cloud of her heady scent. My hands gripped her back with careful force in a desperate attempt to pull her even closer. My mouth made its way back to hers and her tongue pressed gently against my lips, a soft request for entrance.

How could I deny her anything?

I let my lips part and the warm exquisite taste of her flood my senses. She let out a faint whimper and my cock twitched against her.

Fuck. I could take her right now.

Her lips moved hungrily against mine, her body finding a rhythm as she ground the plea of her own need into my solid frame. My hands moved down to the curve of her hips, pressing her tighter against my aching length and she gasped as we connected there, again and again as she moved. I growled again, a deep rumble in my chest as I moved my mouth to her neck, relishing in the pureness of her scent.

I gently sucked her pulsing skin into my mouth, causing the blood beneath to bloom right under the surface and I swallowed back the venom that flooded against my teeth. Never has my control been tested so much as now, having her moving against me; I needed her, I needed to claim her, to mark her as my mate. I fought my instincts, nuzzling against the reddened mark I had left instead.


"Carlisle..." she groaned. I responded by claiming her mouth with my own again. Her movements were growing erratic as her body urged her towards its one primal goal of completion. My resolve was crumbling with this pliant, mesmerizing girl in my arms, grinding against the root of me, and panting sweetly in my ear.

"Bella." I rasped back. I allowed my hands to travel from her hips, teasing the hemline of her shirt.

"Please." she whispered. My fingers slipped beneath the fabric and I almost lost myself at the warm velvet of her skin. I skimmed my fingertips up her torso, pulling her shirt up slightly as I explored the wonderland beneath my hands.

She is magnificent.

Her breath grew ragged as I continued to caress her, seeking further upwards. She suddenly slammed her hips against me as my thumbs reached the curve of her bra and she whimpered in frustration. I grunted at the unexpected contact of her center against mine, bringing an almost blinding ache to my cock. The remainder of my control crumbled like a house of cards; she was the hurricane that spun me to fly apart in a haze.

Before she could blink, I had her in the grass, deftly pinning her to the ground with the weight of my body. I was careful not to crush her as she pressed desperate kisses into my neck. This time it was me, rubbing into the core of her warmth, helping her achieve the one thing she most desperately craved. I groaned at the friction of the contact. It was marvelous, it was splendor, it was heaven.

This heaven is named Bella. And she is mine.

She arched her back, letting her hands roam over the hard musculature of my chest, and she pressed herself closer still. Her breathing quickened and I sensed the rapid thundering of her blood through her body, flushing her face, her arms, and the still exposed skin of her chest with color. The blush of her skin was the most gorgeous color, and I could nearly, very nearly, come from the warmth that radiated from it. I pressed a little harder into her, right where she needed, and she exploded.

Fucking hell.

She was enchanting; her eyes clenching shut as her body shuddered, her fingertips digging into the fabric of my sweater and her throat making a symphony of slight gasps as she came apart beneath me. I hissed air through my teeth in a sharp breath, holding it in to keep myself from coming in my pants like a randy boy. I stilled my movements, waiting for her to return to me. I knew then, there was no greater thing in my life then giving this delicate, perfect girl pleasure. My cock still pulsed with venom and ached for release, but this moment was not mine.

It was hers. Everything I have belongs to her.

I settled for pressing soft, sweet kisses against her cheeks, her forehead and jaw as her breathing returned, although its rhythm still remained uneven.

She reddened as she met my eyes, turning from me in embarrassment.

"No, no." I begged. "Don't hide from me, mia bella anima." She gazed at me, her face radiant with her pleasure and she smiled.

"That-" she whispered, "that was... incredible."

I ducked my head and smiled.

Anything. Anything in the world is yours.

She leaned up and pressed a sweet kiss against my lips, smiling as she pulled away. Her toes curled as she stretched slightly, and she unavoidably bumped into my cock, which had only gotten harder at watching her succumb to her little sweet death. Her eyes widened and I pulled away slightly.

"What about... you?" she asked, her hands leaving my shoulders to start to reach for me. I shook my head and leaned back, sitting back on the grass and willing my erection to dissipate.

"Don't worry about me this time. It was magnanimous, just to watch you. To know that I helped you achieve such pleasure is enough for me."

"For now?" she questioned, sitting up to join me.

"For now." I confirmed. "Believe me, I would very much like to finish with you someday." I smirked at her.

Inside you would be even better.

She blushed and reached out to stroke my arm, still wrapped in its bandages. "Are you ok? I mean, it was kinda disconcerting to see your arm ripped off."

"I'm just fine." I laughed. I unwrapped the bandage and flexed my arm and she ran her fingers over the seam. A small silver white line wound around my bicep where I had been pieced back together. She gently traced the jagged edges with her fingertips and I tried not to groan under her touch.

After what had happened on the grass, I was like a live wire.

"Whoa." She whispered. "Did it hurt?"

I nodded. "But only for a little bit. This arm will be weaker for a little bit, but then it will be back to normal." I grinned at her as she snorted. "Well, as back to normal as things can be, I guess."

My phone buzzed in my pocket and I grumbled, sliding it out to check it.

*Carlisle. I can see Bella again! And now that she has been thoroughly ravished, you may want to drop her off at home. We are back at the house waiting for you! :)*

Damn it Alice.

I sighed and stood slowly, holding my hand out to Bella to help her up. "I know you still have more questions; I have some for you as well, but I need to take you home for now. Can I visit you later?"

She bit her lip. I wanted to nibble it.

"I'm pretty sure Charlie will be home tonight." she said, sighing in disappointment.

"He won't know I was even there."

"How?" She raised her eyebrow at me.

I leaned forward, my breath soft against her ear. "Just leave your window open."

She looked at me and smirked, her eyebrow pulling higher on her face. "I'll be waiting."

"Can I run you home now?" I asked, pulling her close against me, running my hands up and down her back.

"You mean that literally, right?" she sighed. "There's no vampire flight abilities?"

I shook my head. "Wouldn't that be nice?" I grinned and grabbed her, hoisting her legs to wrap around my waist. She curled her arms over my shoulders and nuzzled into my neck. I could feel her heart beat against my skin and held her close, one arm around her back and shoulders and the other wrapped around her hips. I tried to ignore the intimacy of our position but failed miserably, feeling her body rest against me again.

"Can we come back here, back to this very spot sometime?" She asked shyly.

"Of course." I kissed the top of her head and sped off though the forest.

I could see that Emmett had already brought her truck home and as we neared her driveway I slowed to a stop and gently set her feet back on the ground. I took advantage and held her close against me as she got her bearings.

"Promise me you'll come later tonight?" She murmured as we stood, still hidden in the tree line of the forest. I bent down and brushed my lips against hers, careful not to deepen the kiss as I still ached with my need for her.

"Absolutely. You have my word."

She nodded and pressed the faintest of kisses against my lips, my nose, my chin. "I'll be waiting." She turned to head into her house and I took the opportunity to disappear back into the trees. If she had turned back around, if I had been caught in her warm gaze for but a moment, I wouldn't have been able to resist the urge to gather her in my arms once again. I headed back into the forest, running back to my home.

The increasing distance between me and mate was an almost tangible ache.


The living room was full when I arrived. Edward was seated in the middle of the couch, his arms crossed over themselves and his usual scowl set in his face. His clothes were still dirty and his jaw looked like it had taken a good pop and had been recently set back in place. Emmett and Rosalie had chosen to sit on either side of him, their bodies angled towards each other and essentially blocking Edward in. Jasper sat in the armchair that Alice had recently replaced, and was bent over with his elbows on his knees while Alice perched on the top of the back of his seat. Jasper was glaring across the room at Edward. I detected hostility in Jasper's emotional influence and the room seemed to crackle with tension.

"Jasper." I could hear the strain in my voice. "Can you be a little more helpful, please?"

"Sorry. I didn't realize." He mumbled guiltily. The family visibly relaxed as Jasper traded the emotions of hostility to ones of a more calm and peaceful nature.

"Come sit down, Carlisle." Alice piped in from Jasper's chair. I raised my eyebrows at her, acknowledging the bossy tone in her voice, but complied. We really had no need to sit; we never feel fatigued or get tired. But after years of conforming to human habits, the activity had become normal and I honestly felt it made the atmosphere feel more relaxed. I took a seat by the window, facing the center of the room.

"How's your arm?" Emmett gestured from the couch.

"It is fine, thank you. The scarring will be minimal. It was a clean break." I answered. Edward looked over at me and I didn't need Jasper's guilt to read his emotions. I could sense both his remorse and his emotional injury from my betrayal.

"Now," Emmett's voice was gruff and commanding and Rosalie smirked. "We are going to have a civilized conversation. No growling, hissing, snarling, or biting. All furniture and limbs stay intact. Everyone agreed?"

We all nodded.

"Good." Emmett smacked his fist into his hand. "Let's get this over with."

I folded my hands in my lap, trying to keep my mind as empty as I could. I didn't want my thoughts to provoke Edward, who was already probably overwhelmed with the situation.

"We need to leave Forks." Edward stated bluntly. "We can go anywhere else, but Forks has become too," he cast a hasty glare in my direction, "involved for us to remain safe here."

"No!" Both Alice and I spoke at once.

Edward stared at us and I could see Jasper struggle with the hositilty of Edward's emotions.

"I'm not leaving her." I said firmly. "As much as it might make things difficult, she has come to mean a great deal to me."

"We need to get used to the idea of Bella as a member of our family." Alice speculated. "It's too late now to turn back or run away."

Edward began to growl slightly and Emmett elbowed him sharply in the chest. Edward winced and rubbed his rib.

"Hey, sorry bro. I said no growling." he warned.

"I am sorry too, Edward." I started. "For the hurt I caused. It was not my intention."

"Of all the people, " he replied in a broken voice, "it had to be her. " He turned his steely gaze at me and I met his gaze until he looked away.

"It was not a choice I sought out. I didn't choose her on the basis that she is your blood singer. I tried to deny her, deny myself of the feelings that had began to surface between us. But-" I paused and he looked up at me again. "-we are fated."

Edward sneered. "Whatever excuse you have created to try to reason this atrocity away won't work with me."

"It's not an excuse." Jasper broke in. "Their mutual feeling have been overwhelming. Stand up," he ordered, "I can show you."

Edward rose from the couch and Jasper joined him in the middle of the room. Jasper placed his hand on Edward's shoulder and closed his eyes.

Edward suddenly crumpled to the floor, cradling his head in his hands as Jasper buried him under the emotions that Bella and I had plagued Jasper's empathic fields with during the few brief weeks since we had met. Jasper returned to his chair, Alice moving to wrap her arms around his shoulders.

"How- how can you bear it?" Edward rasped, still kneeling unmoving on the floor.

"I've lived a long time on this earth, son." I replied gently. "I've learned an immense amount of control, but I've never felt anything like what I feel with Bella."

He looked at me, his face twisted in anguish. "Not even with Esme?"

I looked at him solemnly. "I loved Esme; I loved her very much. She was a wonderful friend, partner, and companion. But... I didn't feel this way about her, or anyone else for that matter, until I met Bella. I do feel awful that it had to be her. I know she was special to you. But it's not something that I can, not something that I will, change."

Edward cringed abruptly and looked up at Jasper, whose gaze was still focused on him in concentrated intensity.

"Enough," Edward begged, "Please, Jasper. Stop." Edward's shoulders sagged in relief as Jasper withdrew his influence.

"I'm sorry, Carlisle." Edward murmured. "For fighting. For your arm."

"You always have my forgiveness." I hoped my voice conveyed my sincerity.

Edward glanced back over at Jasper. "Is it really always that intense?" he asked.

"Yes." My voice cracked as I answered. I couldn't help it, and my mind slipped away from my carefully controlled mental grasp. I thought of her and her soft human skin, a warm delicacy that I yearned to trace a path on with my tongue. I thought of her scent, hidden beneath the scented soap, a clean floral whiff of heaven. I remembered her shuddering beneath me as she gasped in her achieved pleasure. I felt my body respond in its normal manner as I recalled all my favorite images of her, every detail in perfect clarity.

"Fuck." I heard Edward say.

I thought about the feelings of her hair threaded through my fingers, the whisper of her kiss against my skin, the warmth of her arms around me after her acceptance of who I really was.

"Wait." Edward nearly shouted."Go back."

Go back?

I retraced my thoughts and when I got to the one of Bella in my arms, straddling me and grasping me into her kiss as we sat my secret mountain spot, he spoke up again.

"That one."

I couldn't help but linger at my most recent memory. Her hair dancing in the breeze and the soft tickle of her fingers through my hair as she lavished my lips with her kiss. The feel of the denim of her jeans twisting in my fingers as they withheld the urge to tug them down. The shimmer of affection in her eyes as she accepted me, loved me, despite my existence in an immortal word. I heard Edward gasp slightly as he saw the memories play in my mind.

"She already knows what we are and she accepts us?" He sounded bewildered.

I nodded.

Edward was over by the window in a flash, running his hand through his bronze hair, worry written all over his face. He started pacing.

"You know she can't know about us. The Volturi-"

"The Volturi can wait." Alice interrupted. "There are other matters more important."

"Like what?" Edward snapped."The Volturi can and will dispense of us all if they find out about her exposure to our life."

"Whoa, reign it in, bro." Emmett commented from the couch. "The Volturi still haven't even met us," he gestured to Rosalie, Jasper, Alice, and himself, "and we've been with the family for decades."

Edward relaxed slightly and ran his hand through his hair again. Rosalie turned to look at Alice.

"What is more important right now?" she asked, slipping her hand through Emmett's.

Alice glanced over at me, her wide golden eyes were guarded with secrets.

"Keeping Carlisle balanced." she said softly.

"I'm fine now." I held out my hands and smiled.

"Are you sure?" Rosalie questioned. "You've been acting weird all week."

"I have felt a little off this week, " I admitted. "But I promise, I'm better now."

"He's telling the truth." Jasper noted. "His emotions are at the same peaceful state we are used to. Unless he's thinking about Bella, of course, but that goes without saying."

"Hmm." Alice drummed her fingers against her chin. "Carlisle, did you do anything this week outside your normal patterns?"

I tried to think back, replaying over my day to day schedule, thinking over the details over the past week.

"It's because of Bella, isn't it?" Edward rasped from the corner. We all turned to look at him.

"What makes you say that?" Alice asked.

"He's been distancing himself from her, mentally at least. She has texted him a few times, but he has ignored them, making a conscious decision to avoid her. I've heard it here and there, a constant struggle to keep himself from her and her from his thoughts."

I stared at my oldest son. It was hard to believe that only a few hours ago he was furious enough with me to be a twitch away from removing my head from the rest of me. Now, he was trying to help figure out my issues with the girl he had originally chosen for himself.

And he was right. I had been pulling away from Bella. It was difficult to keep her out of my thoughts, difficult to keep myself from tracking the trail of her scent and following it to find her. Difficult to keep myself from wanting to pull her into my arms and drag my lips across every flawless expanse of her skin.

Edward cleared his throat angrily.

Fuck. Oops.

"Sorry, Edward." I muttered guiltily. " I really am trying."

"I know." His eyes flashed at me. "So am I."

"I think though, that Edward may have a point." Alice continued. "Carlisle, you were with Bella earlier today. How do you feel right now?"

"Relieved." I said immediately. I thought back slowly, comparing my emotional state from where it was this morning. I had gone from moody and unfocused to exuberantly happy, controlled, and now my head was clear enough to see how much of an idiot I have been. "And complete. Desperately happy, even."

"Much different from this morning, then?" she asked.

"Hundred eighty degrees." I answered.

Alice nodded, casting her eyes downward as she thought. Edward hissed.

"What are you hiding from me, Alice?" He blurted.

She looked over at him guilty and his eyes widened as he took in her thoughts.

"No." His voice was barely audible to even out superior ears. He turned at looked at me again, his eyes pooling with a broken haunted expression. "We can fix this, Alice. He doesn't have to end up like that. Carlisle?" He turned to me suddenly and I looked up at him in surprise.

What the hell did Alice see?

"Can you stop trying to distance her and just allow yourself to be with her. Be with her in some way, in any way. Take her, claim her and be mated, for fuck's sake. You nearly did today anyway." He scoffed.

"Score!" Emmett guffawed from the couch and Rosalie backhanded him. I stared at Edward blankly, astounded at his radical change in opinion. First he wants me to have nothing to do with her, now he's practically begging me to bond with her in the most intimate way?


I turned to glare at her and she shook her head at me.

"Just be with her so this internal struggle can cease." Edward continued. "I understand better now, after Jasper. She is the push to your pull, the yin to your yang, the spindle to your top. You need her now to stay centered and to not spiral out of control. If you just do it, and make her yours, it will be easier to bear."

I shook my head. "I can't. Not yet."

Edward's jaw fell open slightly. "Why the hell not?"

"He's not going to claim her until she's of eighteen. An adult." Emmett remarked.

"Seriously?!" Edward started pacing again. "This is ridiculous! This would have been so much easier if it... if it had been... " He sank back down on the couch and put his head in his hands. "If it had been me."

"This doesn't solve the problem." Rosalie cut in from the couch.

"There is no problem." I said weakly.

"Alice doesn't seem to think so." Edward's voice was laced with bitterness. He lifted his head to look at me, his eyes glinting with malice. "In fact-"

"Don't!" Alice shrieked. She shot him a scathing look and I could almost hear the mental berating she was aiming at him.

"Fine." He huffed in frustration and Alice glared at him.

"How about we try something else?" Rosalie's voice broke through the mounting tension.

"Like what?" Jasper asked. His jaw was clenched tightly and I knew the atmosphere in the room was beginning to become difficult for him to be in.

Rosalie looked at me and sighed. "I still can't believe I'm actually supporting this, but why not just spend time with her? She seems to put you back at ease, restore your balance as you say, just by being with you. So... here's a thought, just BE with her."

To spend time with her sounds like heaven.

I felt myself relax with a shudder.

"Will it work?" Edward looked pointedly at Alice. Her gaze clouded as she scanned her visions and a small smile pulled her lips.

"Yes. " she whispered. "It will." Her small frame sagged with relief and Jasper gathered her in his arms.

How long has she been holding this one to herself? What had she seen? What was so bad that it caused me to be a 'problem'? Was it something I did? Did I end up hurting someone?

I glanced over at Edward, hoping he was listening in on my thoughts. He was staring back at me and answered all my questions with a slight nod.

Will you tell me later? I directed my thoughts at him. He shrugged.

It wasn't often my family kept secrets and it was a rather unsettling feeling. With a prescient, a telepath, and an empath in the family, privacy was practically unheard of.

"Carlisle?" Alice called out from Jasper's embrace, although she was glaring at Edward again. "Would you be able to do it?"

"Yes." I answered. "But I may need help. She is still governed by her age with her school requirements and her father's limitations."

Alice nodded and turned her head to look at me. "We can help. Her father should be ok with her coming over every so often. I have a feeling he will warm up to me pretty easy." She grinned. "Are you still visiting Bella later tonight through her window?"

See? No privacy.

Emmett chuckled and Rosalie raised an eyebrow at me.

"I still plan on it, yes. " I admitted sheepishly. "Her and I still have much to discuss. She knows about us, what we are and what we eat. She knows of our immortal life on a very basic level."

The room stood mute for several moments before Rosalie's soft voice broke through the silence.

"Does she really accept us, Carlisle? Does she really accept who we are?"

I couldn't stop the smile that crept across my face and I ducked my head in embarrassment of my obvious reaction to Bella.

My amazing, beautiful girl.

"Yes." I answered. "At the moment she is very open minded and gracious about us. It is surprising, unexpected, but refreshing."

"Well, " Rosalie replied. "As long as Jasper and Edward keep their teeth to themselves, this may end up being alright in the end."

Edward snorted in derision while everyone else chuckled.

"Not just ok, " Alice beamed. "It may end up being fantastic!"

"Ok!" Emmett leaped from the couch. "Everyone's feelings all fuzzy again? Great!" He ignored Edward, who had rolled his eyes. "Now, who's up for some Xbox? I think someone's ass is grass in Halo."

Jasper snickered as Alice hopped off his lap and he joined Emmett in the game room. "You suck just as much being the Master Chief as you do playing Toad in Mario Kart." he chided.

"Actions speak louder than word!" Emmett boomed.

Rosalie took off to join them and Edward headed upstairs, obviously needing some quiet for his mind. Alice came to join me.

"Thank you , Alice. Thanks for always being there." I genuinely appreciated her friendship. I would have been shipwrecked without her these past few weeks.

"You're gonna thank me more later. " She grinned and winked at me. "C'mon. I have an outfit picked for you and then you, " she poked me square in the chest, "have an absolutely gorgeous dinner date to surprise!"

Oh dear Lord.

A/N: Thanks again guys! I love you all so much. (insert obligatory 'please review for reason Carlisle here).

I appreciate all your feedback and responses I honestly do read them all, just replying is sometimes something that I have to work at. Life can surely take you away from the things you want to do. lol.

I hope to see you in the next chapter! Also, can someone give me feedback on chapter length? Are they too long?