Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer

I know there are a blue million grammatical and spelling errors, those all belong to me.

To the pheasant's feather amount of people who have read, favorited / alerted and reviewed, from the tip of my mittoned paws, thank you.

The timeline of this chapter bounces around, but it takes place over the course of about 24 hours, it startes in the middle, then to the beginning, then back to the middle to the end. It's not as confusing as I'm making it though.

Chapter Eleven

Saturday evening

"What the fuck, Edward, there's no fucking book written about me, you don't get to turn the pages whenever you want to find out the next installment of let's see what's happened to Bella. Weren't you paying attention earlier today? Didn't you understand that I don't trust you? Didn't you understand that?"

This was beyond brutal. I tried to tell myself she wasn't angry at me, she was angry at the shit hand of life she was dealt, her anger and sadness masked in reckless freedoms and financial cartes blanches. This is what Esme meant when she said she was glad she was my student. Supposedly I was to know how to help her with the hurt and anger and loss and any other feelings of general wretched desolation. Esme had an entirely too high of an opinion of me. I let Bella go on with her rant knowing that whatever I said would be the wrong thing, although, not saying anything wasn't proving out either.

"For shit's sake Edward, are you going to fucking stand there and stare at me like you're some fucking ignorant asshole?" She accentuated her insults at me, willing me to fight.

And despite the rationale that this is not Bella speaking but anger and grief being her voice, I let her taunting get the best of me. And if Esme were here right now, she would more than likely renounce me as a loved one. I would have to wholeheartedly agree, but it doesn't stop my mouth from forming a string of words that together were nothing but appalling.

"You've got some fucking nerve," I said in a slow, low and evenly menacing voice, her eyes went slightly wide before narrowing back for the fight. "You go on and on about the risk I'm taking, and you know what? I sure as shit am. All of this," I gestured between us, "could have been prevented had you told me the truth," I spat out the last word. All the things I had pushed into dark little boxes in the recesses of my mind, tumbled open and spilled forth with a vengeance. "And now, you have the audacity to get angry when I ask about some major piece of you life's history that apparently everyone else knows, even Esme fucking knows, but me, the guy you've kept on a fucking string, pulling along at your will and whim, the guy who climbs up fire escapes and risks his job and reputation every time you want to get laid, he can't know this at all? Yeah, God forbid I know anything about you, that would be too much for ol' Bee Dwyer, oh, wait, no, sorry, Isabella Swan, to share. I certainly wouldn't want to upset your delicate sensibilities." My mouth vomiting out all of these words of anger and frustration like a heartless, vile creature.

Bella might as well have had puffs of anger coming out of her ears, I had never, in my entire life, seen anyone look so utterly incensed. Her face was fire. She turned and grabbed a small but heavy crystal vase and threw it against the wall in my library. The wood paneling took the brunt of the impact, the vase falling to the rug with a thud. If my mom were alive she would have said, "Oh, Edward, no, not the Steuben from Granmummy." Bella turned back to me with fury in her eyes.

In typical form, at least as best as I've been able to discern, Bella has given brief fight then starts to give flight. With balled up fists, a tight jaw and flushed cheeks, she heads to leave. I nearly run ahead of her and throw myself in front of the door, but instead I follow closely behind. When she reaches the foyer, I speak.

"Don't go, Isabella." My voice is too stern, not what I was going for.

"Don't speak to me like I'm a child, Edward," she puts undue emphasis on my name.

"Please, don't leave, Bella," I soften in contrition.

Her shoulders slump, I hear her take a deep breath and release it.

"I'm not a charity project, Edward," she stops acting like a cross and irritable child and turns around to face me.

"I didn't say you were. And I'm not a doormat," it's a warning, and while my voice holds that edge of portent, I briefly wonder if I would be able to walk away and the bigger question being, would there be anything to make me walk away?

"I don't want this to end in an act of rage, from both of us," I add.

"You want this to end?" Her voice is small.

"No." I sigh; I am suddenly exhausted from the tumult of the day and the evening. "Please, just stay, I'll sleep in the guest room."

She weighs her options, staring at the corner of the ceiling.

"I'll stay. And I'll sleep in the guest room."

"Thank you," I say, quietly.

We get ready for bed, I give her a pajama top and I take the bottoms, and give her a toothbrush. She leaves me in my room without saying more than a token good night, and leaves to sleep away from me.

At some point during the night I feel the bed shift and warmth take over my side. I don't open my eyes, but I know I orient myself to feel that warmth throughout my body.

When I awoke in the morning both my bed and apartment are empty.

Saturday morning

Saturday morning and I had woken up alone. As I had the day before, and the day before that, and the same as I had all week. It had been a tense week with Bella, I couldn't be certain if it were because of school's quarterly finals or the fact that I backed her in a corner and made her spill her story about her father. I tried not to take her distraction and near avoidance personally, not too much at least. I reasoned I hadn't told her about my parents until Carlisle had stumbled in drunk and I had been nearly forced to come clean about his actions. With Bella, I didn't really have a catalyst for pushing her story to be told, I had nearly demanded to satisfy a question, a curiosity even. Beyond the confrontation, I was out of my depth on how to deal with this turn of events.

Evenings had not been spent together, uncomfortable phone calls with gapping silences replaced intimacy.

And I didn't know what to do. I reasoned the best thing was for Bella to become comfortable with sharing her life with me. I had felt that last weekend we had become closer, more intimate beyond a physical level, but apparently, we had not, otherwise we would not have had that uncomfortableness hanging between us all week.

I hated sounding like a TV psycho-babble charlatan.

And fuck if I didn't crave the physical more too. The fact that she could do so much to me with words alone turned me on and tortured me in equal measures. I purposefully tried not to call on her in class, thinking about her wearing a dress shirt of mine without a bra on underneath, stimulating her nipples all day long. Of course she wore her regular oxford shirts at school, with a bra too, but I would find my mind inadvertently drifting off during her class with thoughts of her watching me speak, watching my lips and wondering if her panties showed the evidence of any arousal.

I got up out of bed, started the spray of the shower, stepping in and beating off like a fucking 13 year old boy. Once out of the shower I went back to my room to get dressed when my phone rang, I jumped to answer it hoping it was Bella.

It was Alice.

"Hey, Ali, you're up early."

"Ub, Edward, listen," her voice was a stuffy rough whisper.

"What happened to you?"

"I don't know, I hab a fever, my head is pulsing, I'b coffing and my nobe is stubby. I want to die," she rasped out.

"Alright, I'm coming over, I'll stop and get some soup and what, ice cream? You want some tacos?" I rarely got sick, I didn't really know what to do for her.

"No, dumbbass, I hab a code, I'b not hunggober." Even stuffy nosed Alice still had an edge to her.

"Alright what do you want?"

"Carlisle has this thingg, he wunted me to go to a fuudball gameba," I started to wonder if Alice was putting it on thick with her stuffed-upedness or if she was really that sick. "I needd you to go for me."

"What's the big deal, why doesn't he just call one of his friends?"

Alice went on to explain that Carlisle was trying to impress some bank president guy to get financing for some piece of equipment for his office, the guy he was meeting with was also a Northwestern alumni. Carlisle wanted to show his loving family kind of thing. I seemed to recall him asking me if I would go to the game with them but had declined knowing it was when I would be working on quarterly grades.

"I'll be over in a few to get the ticket."


This isn't what I wanted to be doing today. I got off the El having had to take two different trains to get up to Evanston. I walked down to the stadium. Carlisle's practice had sprung for some choice seats on the 50 yard line and I hoped this perk was enough to hold my interest.

"Oh, Edward, what a surprise, we were expecting Ali," Esme exclaimed, rosy cheeked from a thermos at one time full of hot toddies.

"Hi Esme," I leaned down and kissed her proffered cheek. The game was a few minutes into the 1st quarter. "Alice has a cold, she asked me to go for her."

"Carlisle, darling, Edward's here. Ali's sick."

Carlisle, sitting at the other end of what I expect is our group, stands up, "Edward, good to see you, son. Here, please, meet our guests," and yet again, because this week hadn't been strained enough, sitting a few feet from where I stood was Rosalie Hale.

"This is Mr. Hale, class of '83, Kellogg School, Arthur, this is my son, Edward Cullen, he graduated from NU two years ago," he reached over shaking my hand. "And Edward, this is his daughter-,"

"Miss Hale, nice to see you," I said, cutting off Carlisle.

"Hi, Mr. Masen," Rose didn't even bother to look at me, her gaze fixed to the field. I remembered Emmet was on the football team but kept the knowledge to myself, in no way wanting to explain how I knew Emmett and Rose were a couple, or that Emmett liked to wear boxer briefs.

"Rosalie!" She was chastised by the woman I assumed to be her mother, Rosalie waved her off. "Edward, hello, I'm Virginia Hale, but you can call me Ginny," well I sure as hell wasn't going to call her Virgin with the way her eyes were scanning my body, take mental measurements and sizing up my hand. Maybe Art should spend a little less time at the bank.

"Mrs. Hale, it's nice to meet you, your daughter, Rosalie, is in my Senior Honors English class," I hoped that was a clear enough message.

She dropped my hand and holding her hands out in front of her, tapped each of her fingertips over her thumb like she was checking for any sticky tactile residue. "Oh, yes, of course, I do hope she's not a nuisance," she said dismissively of me, apparently not wanting to give Rosalie much credit or notice.

"She's an outstanding student, and athlete," I stated. I got a glimpse into Rosalie's home life and maybe understood now why she was so guarding of Bella, probably wanting to protect a relationship that wasn't insulting to her endeavors.

"I would hope so," Mrs. Hale gave me an insincere and patronizing smile and dismissed me by turning her attentions back to the game. I went and sat next to Esme and looked at the scoreboard clock. It was going to be an endless afternoon.

"Dear, would you like some of my hot toddy?" Esme covertly offered me, keeping her eyes on the game. No doubt Carlisle had warned her to keep her imbibing in check for today's affair.

"No, but thank you," I smiled. Esme is awesome to go to any type of outdoor event with, no matter what, she can smuggle liquor in anywhere. I learned from the best, the antique silver flask she gave me for my 18th, birthday was firmly tucked in my pocket and filled with peppermint schnapps, my hot chocolate having turned into pepperminty goodness.

Esme became deep in conversation with Mrs. Hale, Carlisle and Mr. Hale actively watching and discussing the game and Rosalie was stilled glued to the action, although the offense was on the field at the moment no doubt she was scanning the sidelines watching for Emmett. I was bored.

"Edward, here, I brought an extra blanket, that isn't a warm enough coat, did you bring a hat?" Esme pulled a wool Pendleton blanket out of a canvas boat bag, it was huge, it used to cover their bed up at our home up North. She also pulled out a vintage purple and white striped knit hat with a pompom on top. I wasn't proud and it was cold and moist. I snugged the hat on and folded the blanket in quarters and laid it across my legs, I looked like Franklin Roosevelt on a cold January inauguration. I bent down and retrieved my schnappy cocoa and tucked in and started to let the fall traditions revive my melancholy mood.

Of course, my panacea was short lived. At the end of the row stood a retiree usher with Bella, showing her that this was the row she should be in. She was a winter vision if I were going to be honest with myself, like straight out of a Gorsuch après ski catalog; a Nordic looking sweater and skin tight black jeans and a black pompom hat, she pulled hers off better than mine, though.

I couldn't decide if her presence at the game was some sort of kismet, karma or catastrophe.

"Mr. Masen?" Clearly she was as surprised as I.

"Miss Swan. Uh, hello." We both looked at one another with trepidation and fear and maybe a little wanton hunger, fortunately Esme took notice of Bella.

"Oh, Bella, how nice to see you again. Did you come with Rosalie? We could all scoot down one so you can sit next to her."

"Oh, no, please, don't bother, I'm fine here on the end."

"Edward, don't be rude, sit on the end, Bella can sit next to me," chivalry and decorum, regardless if Esme was under the influence or not, was expected, especially without prompts.

"Here, yes, of course, Bella, please," I gestured uncomfortably while I woodenly moved to the end and took my seat. I sat down with the wool blanket still on me. How best to approach this? I decided to act like she was any other person and offer her some of the blanket, it's misting and the wind nearly whistling, this stadium is always so fucking cold I wondered if it's actually built atop an ancient burial ground.

"Here, uh, take some of this, you've got to be cold," I move to stretch out the blanket across her.

She looks down, not at me and moves to cover up herself from the waist down. "Thank you, uh, Mrs. Cullen, here, this can stretch, do you want some of this blanket?" Bella has nice manners. And she's smart too, playing this off like misery loves company.

"Oh, I'm fine dear, I have a blanket already," Esme replies, and then takes another drink from her thermos cup. She won't be tuned in to the finer points of anything by the end of this quarter of play.

And we sit there in uncomfortable, charged, non-interest of the game. I'm slugging back my cocoa like the small amount of alcohol lacing it will remove me from this painful experience.

"Had I known you were going to be here, I would have declined the ticket," Bella says to me surreptitiously while she has turned her head to appear to be looking for a concessions vendor.

"It was all last minute, I just found out about this a few hours ago," I said into my cup appearing like I was taking a drink.

"Oh." She sits there, looking at the field.

"You look nice," I say. It's true, I can't get the thought of her slender legs wrapped around my waist or rubbing against my thigh or – I stop myself and try to remove these thoughts from my head.

She turns and looks at me, and that's what I've missed all week, a look of mischief and confidence. "Nice hat," she quips, raising an eyebrow at me in challenge.

I open my mouth, running my tongue slowly along the edge of my top teeth. It's close to be shameless and maybe slightly obscene, but since everyone is involved in their own world, I risk it. "I'm glad you approve, I don't want to get cold, unless of course you can think of some other way to stay warm?" I raise an eyebrow of my own.

"Nope," she pops the "p" just to torment me, "I think the liquory hot chocolate you have going on there is doing the trick."

"Suit yourself," I say, and refocus back on the game.

Then, all of a sudden the "Home" side of the crowd erupts, there's an interception run back for a touchdown. Bella is jumping up and down. Even through her thick sweater I am pleased I can see her boobs bounce.

"Pick six Emmett!" I look back to the field to see it was Rosalie's boyfriend to get the take and run it back. Bella and Rosalie both lean over Esme and Mrs. Hale and grasp hands in high fives, Rosalie's sour expression momentarily faded in the elation and pride of her boyfriend's on field accomplishment. I take the opportunity to eye Bella's ass in those tight pants, I also noticed some stupid fuck in the row ahead of us lean back and give her ass a gander too. I barely fought off the urge to cuff the fucker's ears.

"Sorry, didn't mean to lean over you like that, Emmett McCarty is Rosalie's boyfriend," Bella explains to Esme.

In the background the announcer lists Emmett's accomplishment and states he's an Academic All American, I see Bella glance at me surreptitiously and give me a grin at the voice over the loudspeaker, no doubt she's heard Emmett echo off his achievements.

"Emmett's got a nice bum," and drunky Esme has come out to play. And while it would probably be appropriate for me to rein Esme back in since Bella and Rosalie are both students of mine, there's really no reason to, I mean, outside of the parents here, the cat's out of the bag. That, and Esme's droll commentary when she's in her cups is the perfect diversion from illicit Bella thoughts.

Bella has the good nature to laugh. "Yeah he does, just ask him about it too," and Bella cups her hands around her mouth and makes like a loudspeaker announcer, much like Emmett did a couple of weeks ago, "Emmett McCarty-Carty-Carty, with a 3.75 GPA-A-A, and a bum you could bounce a half dollar off of-of-of!"

And with that, Esme gets the giggles. "Bella, you're terrible," Esme remarks grabbing Bella's arm for support.

"Trust me, it's nothing Emmett hasn't press released about himself before. He'll be thrilled to have expanded his admirers. He'll put you in a whole new market, focus group you and write some sort of thesis on it."

"I might like to focus group one night when Carlisle is working late at the office."

"I think you're terrible, Esme," Bella exclaims, playing along with her. "Besides, Carlisle's a total dish, looks like he's got that whole brooding genius sensitive thing going on," Bella leaned over to give the appearance of covertly checking Carlisle out.

"Oh my dear, you have no idea."

I gag a little. And Bella was playing dangerously along an edge, goading misfortune to take notice of our ill-timed relationship.

After some more sniggers and titters, Bella pulled herself away from Esme's liquor besotted clutches and looked at me briefly, winking. Fuck, this girl with her fucking winks, every time I'm fighting off a hard on. And that's when we go from this could be slightly uncomfortable to wrong, wrong, wrong. Bella snakes her hand underneath the blanket and rubs my cock, from base to tip. I'm so desperate for her touch I have to grip the arm rests to resist the urge to buck up my hips.

This woman is evil and divine when it comes to public places. She turns and looks at me, the slightest of smiles flitting at the corners of her mouth. She then turns back to the game. Is this day to be filled with teasing and taunts?

Suddenly, she pulls back the blanket, resting her portion on my lap and stands up to announce she's getting a hot chocolate before the rush of halftime. It's the start of the 2nd quarter.

"Esme, Mrs. Hale, can I get the two of you anything?" Her politeness to adults is enough to ease the flow of blood to my dick. Bella glances at Rosalie who is simultaneously watching the game with two eyes and tapping a message into her phone, Bella obviously doesn't want to interrupt. Carlisle and Arthur Hale are animatedly discussing jet streams and the effect it has on the trajectory of the football against the wind.

"No thank you dear, we're fine," Mrs. Hale replies, having taken part of Esme's thermos.

"Mr. Masen," Bella is set to walk past me as I turn so she can get by. "Is there anything you'd like?"

Make or break time. Snippets of the Clash start to float through my mind, If I go there will be trouble, if I stay there will be double. But then again, This indecision's buggin' me. But with Bella, It's always tease, tease, tease. Now I sit here and wonder, Should stay or should I go?

Somewhere between my musical inner monologue and trying to make a decision, Bella shrugs her shoulder and starts her ascent of the stairs.

"Edward, darling, is Bella okay, go check on her, I'd hate for something to happen to her when she's under our care." First off, is Esme mental? Did she not recall Bella just moments ago asking her if she wanted anything from the concession stand? And secondly, under our care? Now I feel all sorts of captain of the pervs, or worse yet, like Jasper. I look to the sky and see the clouds rumbling like a storm's approaching. Fuck, I hate real life foreshadowing.

I turn and get out of my seat and run up the stairs to see her standing at the top, making no effort to find any hot chocolate or stadium dogs or even a packet of pickle relish. She's waiting for me.

We start walking together in silence.

Why wasn't she this accessible and playful this past week?

We walk under the concrete arches, the game becoming a white noise to the thoughts running through each of our minds.

"Do you want to leave for a few minutes?" I ask.

"Uh yeah, but I don't think we can get back into the game once we leave."

I think about this for a moment. "Can you act sickly?"

She lets out a little ack-ack-ack sound, covering her mouth with a fisted hand. We walk to the entry.

"Hey," I say to the bespectacled kid wearing a bright yellow windbreaker jacket that was having the tensile strength of the zipper pushed to its limits by his bulbous belly. I can imagine in 20 years when he looks back at his time in college, he'll brag to his not so little, bespectacled children about how he was part of the football team and he still has his uniform and University issued flashlight.

"Listen, my guest here has left her medicine in the car, can you let us back in?" I've also pulled out monetary persuasion. This could go either way. Bella keeps up her ack-ack-acking and I swear she wiggles her ass a little bit too because suddenly oh boy is giving my girl the once over. Did he just lick his lips? Fucker.

"Yeah, sure, go ahead man," the kid nearly fucking winks at me. Stupid prick, he's probably going to go home to his drywall, single dorm room, furnished by IKEA, and launch a civil war onto his dick getting off with images of my girl's wiggling ass.

Alright Edward, rein it back in. Everybody deserves something.

I took her elbow to cross the street. We walk down about half a block and take a right into an alley, then a left into a schoolyard doubling as a Boy Scout operated parking lot. The troop were at the opposite end clustered around a 55 gallon drum with a fire built in it trying to stay warm against the damp blowing wind.

"What is this place?" Bella asked taking a look at the cream colored stone building, a vague look of distaste present on her face.

"I don't know, it's a school, Jas and I used to come over here to get high before games," I shrug; I wasn't interested in discussing the setting or architecture.

"Did you guys have little makeout sessions too?" Bella thought she was a funny girl.

"Yeah, but he never let me get past second base," I could be funny too.

"Yeah, I hear he's a total cock-tease."

I might have snorted at that comment.

I pulled her past the playground equipment up the solid Lannon stone banister set of stairs where I pulled her down to sit on the top step with me. We quickly scoot back to rest against the back staircase wall.

"We shouldn't stay here for too much time, the longer we're away the worse it'll look."

"We just got here, besides, I don't think anyone will be paying attention to how long we're gone," I fit my fingers between hers. I see her look down at out joined hands then to me.

"You brought me over here to hold hands? Do you have any idea how Emmett quizzes me after a game to make sure I watch all of his moves? From August to November I have a little Emmett SAT test every week. 'If Emmett were a wide receiver would he A.) Fit the smaller uniform; B.) Throw his own blocks; C.) Run with wild abandon; or D.) Rock all of the above.' I shit you not, every game he has these little Emmett love tests for me. I swear I'm gonna apply to Northwestern just so I can start off my freshman year with 6 Emmett credits already applied towards graduation." Bella delivered this little soliloquy with her ever-present dry wit, but tempered it with a gentle clutch of my hand.

I drop her hand and lean over, "I wanna kiss you," I whisper in her ear. She opens her mouth as if to speak but just nods her head in response. I push her hat off her head and start to kiss her neck, taking my hand to move her hair away. I let my lips find her neck's pulse point, lingering there to feel the blood flow. Bella lets out a very low moan of approval when I move my lips away to the space below her ear, where her jaw line ends or begins, I'm not certain which but it didn't matter, I was lost there just the same. I gently start to suck the skin, wanting to taste her and leave a short-lived record that I had traversed the area and planted my flag. I felt Bella press her head fiercely back against the wall, her mouth locked partially open, the tip of her tongue tracing across her upper lip.

I held her jaw with a figurative grasp, turning her head so I could whisper in her ear again, "I missed you this week."

I pulled my head back enough to see that she had slowly closed her eyes, I returned my mouth's exploration of her above her shoulders, giving her small, open mouth kisses alternated with brushes of my nose along the column of her neck. I was regaining my balance with every breath of her essence.

Bella turned her face to me and brought her lips within whispers of my own.

"I," Bella closed her eyes briefly when I traced my finger around her ear, pausing on the secret mark I had just left, hidden by her shiny, brown hair, the mark was a secret that we shared. "I missed you this week," she said.

"I always miss you when I don't get to see you," I say quietly into her ear, pulling a page from her playbook and finishing it off with a lick to the curve of it.

"Don't be such a naughty boy, Edward, we really should get back," Bella states distractedly while I run my fingertips along the other side of her neck.

I get up and extend my hand to help her up, then grab her hips and back her up against the arched doorway. I lay my lips upon her cheek and giving gentle kisses along the bone and to her ear and back down her jaw line.

"Mmm, I don't think this is the way back to the stadium," she says, pushing the hat off my head and running her fingers up through my hair.

"We're taking a long-cut."

"I thought there were only short-cuts."

"Well, sometimes I have a terrible sense of direction."

"I see," and she tipped up and kissed each side of my mouth taking my bottom lip in her teeth lightly then releasing it to look at me. I couldn't stop myself any longer, I needed to feel her skin underneath my hands, to lay my hand on the small of her back, to pull her against my erection so she could feel what she does to me even in the most offhanded of ways. I went to put my hands under her sweater but was stopped by some sort of drawstring barrier. I tried circling around the edge of the sweater trying to find an entry somewhere but nothing. I was frustrated.

"What is this, like a chastity sweater?"

"Yes, that's exactly it, I'm suddenly into wool chastity clothing," she deadpans.

"You think you're clever, don't you?" I stopped wrestling with the sweater and rested my hands on her hips.

"Obviously cleverer than you, I know how to get under this sweater."

"Who made this thing, someone who doesn't want me to get any?"

"Wow, you're completely on point today, there's a whole line of Dale of Norway outerwear called the Fall Edward Block-a-Cock prêt-à-porter collection."

"Your teasing words hurt," I pretend to be wounded by her wit. "Why would you wear something like this, it's just mean."

"You're acting like a spoiled little boy who can't get what he wants," she mockingly chastises me as she's done before. "Besides, don't make fun of my sweater, my mom gave it to me."

"Yeah, well, I think your mom already doesn't like me."

She stilled and looked at me, her eyes roiled like storm clouds, pupils dilating and contracting while myriad thoughts rolled through them. I craved to know these thoughts, always still a mystery.

"What are you thinking?" I had to ask. The air felt heavy with cold humidity, latent ice crystals wanting to form around us, locking us in this anti-state of paradise and loss. I wanted to reassure my mind with her body.

"Nothing really," she said absently, "I was just wondering if for as long as we're together will we always have to sneak around?"

That wasn't a nothing really thought, and, she thought we were finite.

"Bella, we won't be like this forever." I was suddenly uncertain but forged ahead despite the apprehension I felt. I glanced upward and saw the sky continuing to be threatening and grey. "I'm not going to bail on you," I say slowly and succinctly.

"Don't say something like that. Regardless of your best intentions, you can't promise that. It's just that, things don't," she was struggling to find the words to finish her sentence. Gathering her thoughts she appears to square her shoulders before leveling me in the most even of voices. "Don't make pat little promises that are outside of your ability to keep."

I kept my hands on her hips but put some space between us, certain my expression was one of hurt.

"I don't know what you mean when you say things like that." Even to my own ears I sounded slightly forlorn.

She takes me off guard and reaches just under her sweater and releases some sort of toggle and takes my hand between hers to warm it up, lightly rubbing and blowing on it, all the while I am looking down at her full eyelashes as she focuses on my digits. She is trying to distract me, I understand this, she's done it before, but I haven't had the pleasure of having her or pleasing her for two weeks. I let myself be drawn away from her disconcerting comments and take my hands and finally slide them up along the sides of her torso, over to her breasts, over the material, and leaning in to briefly take her bottom lip between my teeth. I remove one hand and wave her hair through my fingers, pulling her closer to me, her body resting into mine like fossil impressed in a rock.

Our mouths meet and we open up simultaneously our tongues skip and flit about teasingly, finally meeting to caress and hum and taste and delight.

My hand has moved away the cup of her bra, a naughty little half cup with lace and ribbony straps, but now I cup her breast, working her nipple into a hard, hard nub, pinching too hard and eliciting her desperate little moans of want.

Bella has responded by rubbing her hand over my growing erection, while starting to nestle her thighs over my leg when all of a sudden…

A rumbling clearing of a throat. We immediately break our sexual embrace, return our hands to our own bodies and try to look innocent.

"I don't see anyone" Bella says while trying nonchalantly to look down the stairs.

I look over the other side of the back wall and point my chin to the direction of a man dressed all in black with a thin black trench coat and black rubber soled shoes.

"That was a priest," Bella's brow furrows, she shakes her head quickly and furiously. "You were going to fucking fuck me behind a fuc—," she stops herself, "behind a church?"

I couldn't help myself, I start to laugh, "Aw, babe, I'm sorry, I didn't realize."

"Of course you didn't 'cause every time you were here, you and Jasper were reenacting some Midwest version of Cheech and Chong. How do you not realize that there's the church and for fuck's sake, look, that's probably where the priest lives," Bella points past a large blue spruce to similar building, this one looking like a large home.

"Let's go, I don't need another one-way ticket punched to hell," and she bends down to pick up the hats, shoving mine in my chest.

"Come on," I take her fingertips and lightly kiss them, "don't be angry, we're okay, no harm done."

We're walking down the steps and make our way back through the parked cars.

She looks at me, assessing my statement. She gives a light chuckle and shake of her head. "I don't want to fathom the thought of a priest catching us in flagrante delicto."

"Easy, Bella, your Latin is damn near giving me a hard on," I'm not entirely joking either, the way her lips surround the words is enough to make me have to duck into a corner stall.

"Well, get it under control, it's show time again," we've made our way back through the alley and are crossing the street back to the stadium.

The tubby ticket taker lets us back in while giving me a knowing look while nodding his head. I give him a patronizing single nod of my head, inwardly pissed off that he would have made any type of assumption that we left to get busy. Despite this, I still manage to put my hand on the small of Bella's back and guide her towards our seats.

"I can't go back empty handed," Bella says to me over her shoulder.

"Yeah, you're right, come on, we'll get some snacks."

We make our way back carrying hotdogs, bottles of water and warm cocoas. The band is butchering what can be loosely called a rendition of Malaguena, marching out of sync in a rudimentary formation.

"Edward, are you feeling alright? You were gone so long," Esme asks me absently while peering down through her reading glasses at a crossword puzzle. Mrs. Hale has Rosalie engrossed in conversation.

"I'm sorry, Esme, I wasn't feeling well, I've been fighting this tickle in my throat all week, Mr. Masen helped me find some tea."

I feel wrong for being impressed with Bella's quick thinking.

"Oh, Edward, you're sweet." Esme goes back to her crossword. "What's a six letter word for clandestine?"

Is she kidding me with this?

"Secret," both Bella and I answer at the same time.

Esme looked up at the both of us, even with Bella's head turned in a ¾ profile, I could see a blush creep its way up from her neck and spread across her cheeks.

"Bella, honey, you're all flushed, are you getting sick? Edward tells me our Ali is sick, I hope it's not going around," Esme takes her hand out of her glove, removes Bella's hat and curves her hand around Bella's forehead checking for a fever.

"No, you feel warm, maybe just from walking around, but no fever."

Bella scrunches her eyes up and looks down at her hands in her lap. I take the opportunity to give Esme a hard look for making Bella feel uncomfortable, Esme narrows her eyes and gives me a stiff shake of her head, like she knows better that I.

"Bella, would you like to come over to our home after the game? Carlisle and I would so love to have you, and I promise, Mr. Masen will be nice," she says like I'm not there and like I'm a total tool.

"Oh, no, Esme, I really couldn't, thank you though," Bella said demurely. Of course she wouldn't know of Esme's tenacity.

"Oh don't be silly, please come, I have two lovely quiches and some cock-a-leekie soup that will warm up all."

Bella nearly spluttered out the sip of water she was taking and I simply dropped my half eaten hotdog to the ground, my mouth hanging open. Did Esme just say that cock would warm us all up?

"Um, actually that sounds like a lovely menu, uh, but I have a date later tonight," I knew she was making it up, but it still stabbed in my heart, I was briefly tortured by the thought of her with someone else. "I hope I can take a rain check though?"

"Oh course, dear, maybe you'd like to join our book club," and Esme trailed off vaguely about books they've read and are planning to read and what the schedule is for her group of hens to meet and cackle around the coop. I hope she and Bella both forget this particular topic of conversation the moment it's changed. I am bothered by Esme's suddenly fierce interest in Bella.

Finally, after what seemed to be millennia, they break apart from conversation.

"What a shame to have turned down leaky cock soup," and she tips her head to the side with a whimsical expression upon her face.


I went in to help Esme with coffee following dinner.

"Thank you, Edward."

I hum noncommittally.

"Bella is a sweet girl. I'm glad she's your student," Esme states.

"Oh yeah, and why's that?" I ask paying more attention to the silver coffee service I'm trying not to smudge, per Esme's expectations rather than to Esme's musings.

"I had lunch with Sr. Shelly last week," this garners my attention and I set the coffee service on the counter and turn around to listen to what Esme is sharing with me.

"Esme, please don't pry into a student's personal life, especially Bella," I am surprised I have come out and said this. "The best as I can tell, she's a terribly private person."

"Oh, Edward," she cups her hand on my cheek. "It's obvious how much you care for her," my heart is pumping furiously at this observation and I try and maintain even breathing.

"She's a lovely young woman who's had a difficult road with losing both of her parents, it's no surprise you would take an interest in her."

Losing both of her parentstake an interest in her… What did Esme know?

"I wasn't aware both of her parents were dead, just her father," I look at Esme and she's gently nodding her head, I continue. "We ran Cross Country together, Coach Clapp had told me to keep an eye on her running. Bella tried to shake me off, not wanting to be an exception but I eventually learned of her accident," I was speaking slowly, measuring my words not wanting to intimate anything, or wanting to feel bad for twisting the timeline of truth.

"Heartbreaking," Esme says and is genuine in her sentiment.

"And her mother?" I ask in a near whisper. I know this is wrong, I shouldn't be asking Esme about Bella like she's a piece of gossip to be divided up and shared.

"I was so concerned after seeing her at Mass the other week; no one that young and sweet should be sitting in a church alone and crying. I'm sorry Edward, I just thought if it were you or Ali I would want someone to care for both of you, that's why I spoke with Sr. Shelly."

I try to remain placid.

"What happened to her mother?" I repeat my question, this time with more voice, and more clinical interest, regardless of my wrongful curiosity, I still needed to appear somewhat dispassionate in my interest of Bella.

"She had cancer," Esme tells me while pursing her lips, as though the disease is a personal affront to her. "I just couldn't help but think about Edward Senior and Elizabeth and thankful they wanted us to look after you, but Bella has no other family."

"She's close with Rosalie Hale, and she has her step father, I think they're kind of close," I say, trying to fill the air with answers.

"That's good," Esme is humming, setting some biscuits on a tray.

I'm quiet and keep myself busy with the sugar dish and cream pitcher. I want Esme to know that I do care about Bella, obviously not as I have been caring for her, but more in a John Donne, I care about humankind kind of way.

"She lives with her step father, I think he works in the Cub's organization. Alice, Jasper and I went over to her house a couple of weeks ago for that Cross Country party," outside of the fact that I've been fucking Bella, I do want Esme's approval that I care about my students.

"Oh, God, Ali didn't come back with another tattoo, did she?" Esme had moved on to a different subject and I was both grateful and despondent. Again I thought of how little I knew of Bella and wondered why she hadn't shared this with me, especially after last weekend when I learned of her father's death.

"No, as of last weekend no new tattoos to report on the Alice front," I smiled at Esme

"Here, let's bring this into the living room," Esme leads out of the kitchen through the swinging door, and I set the service on the coffee table and settle on the couch to join the conversation while my thoughts are occupied elsewhere.

The evening wraps up not long after the coffee is served, I'm happy to be out of there. Any other time and I'd want to spend time with Esme and Carlisle, but not tonight.

Walking home, I'm thinking about Bella and trying to decide how best to - confront? No, that's not the best action; it sounds too threatening. Discuss? No, that makes me feel like I'm some sort of authority figure and can offer guidance; not my place. Inquire? I did that last weekend and it got me shut out all week, I might still be on the outs had it not been for Carlisle's need for a new cardio ultrasonic diagnostic flux-capacitor cinescope equipment thing. Smoke some weed and / or drink too much and bring it up, casually somehow? No, that's passive aggressive, just like cornering her, just not with a clear head.

I hadn't come up with a plan by the time I reached my lobby. I nod to Sergei at the desk.

"Mister Cullen," Sergei is extremely formal and straitlaced, he gives me a tight nod as I turn to head towards the elevators.

In my apartment I hang my coat and pour myself a whiskey. I'm agitated. I go and sit on the piano bench but stare out the windows watching a rare cold weather thunderstorm, brief flashes of lightning striking the lake. I turn around and sit facing the keys of this instrument, after several moments I begin to play Liszt's, Liebesträume. When I'm nearly to the end of the piece my phone vibrates with a call from Bella.


"Hey," I am preoccupied and not certain if I should see Bella tonight, even if I want to.

"I'm around the corner, can I come up? The rain is an utter banshee out here." Her tone is light.

"Yeah, please," my mouth betrays my body, my brain too afraid to speak up that this is a bad idea.

When I let Bella in she looks around at the dim lighting and at the light show going on outside. She walks over to the windows and watches the silent show. I move up behind her.

"Don't you ever get afraid by all that power of destruction right outside this glass?" Bella asks my reflection in the window.

I think about this question and the implications of my answer. "I think it's all relative to one's perception. Destruction or harmony."

"I guess that's," Bella focuses her eyes on me, her tongue playing at her top two teeth in momentary contemplation, "oblique and pragmatic all at the same time."

I decide I want more whiskey. "Bella, can I get you a drink?"

"Ever the gentleman, no, I'm good, but have at it."

She follows me into the library while I fix my drink, like pouring a whiskey neat is much of a task but happy to have my back to her. I can feel Isabella studying me.

"Is there something bothering you, Edward?" Her tone is falsely pleasant, in actuality, it's a challenge she lying down.

I turn around and trying my best to look impassive I spill it all out. "I spoke to Esme today…"

And that's when the shit hit the fan, or more specifically, the vase hit the wall.

Sunday Morning

"Fuck," I said to my very empty bed and threw back the covers while I continued to lay there flat on my back. I realized this was neither productive nor constructive so I turned my legs over to the side of the bed and sat up, leaning my elbows on my knees and scratching my fingers through my hair.

How much easier my life would be if I could just give this woman up. She could go about her life tormenting other men and moving on once she had to reveal too much about herself, I could go ahead and make my way through Alice's friends again, hitting nightclubs without a girl who needed a fake ID to get into one, being able to take a girl to meet Carlisle and Esme.

Why didn't I want to do that, wouldn't it make her life and my life easier that way? She obviously didn't want to invest much in the foundation of this non-relationship we had, as best as I could tell from her actions, she just liked to fuck me. I was a prize, the young teacher being taunted and tormented by a student, I was being led around by my dick.

I didn't really believe that.


I hoped.

I got out of bed and changed into running gear pulling a beanie over my head, looking out my windows, the weather grey and moist again today. I felt no need to take an iPod, I figured if I was going to feel sorry for myself, or blame myself for the crumbling of this thing with Bella then I might as well immerse myself in it, I didn't need to supplement my heartbreak with music. Cripes, I was a fucking whiny bitch.

I glanced at my watch, 4:57, and Sunday morning. Not so long ago and I would've been just be leaving a club or in full swing of an after party. Now, I'm alone, cold, frustrated and generally unsettled.

I ran east of Michigan Avenue, to the area less traveled. The day is paused having shed the last vestiges of night before dawn struggles to break the eastern sky. It's eerie and I feel the weight of the loss of purpose and point.

I run steady, I pass only a couple other runners, the cool temperature and early morning hour not for the weak. I check my watch and it reads 5:13, my pace faster than I expected as I'm nearly to Navy Pier. I watch the towering Ferris wheel grow in size with each added footfall.

I slow, it's too much to run this hard, especially since I haven't kept an active schedule since cross country ended two weeks ago. I shake my head and the surprise that it's only been a little over two weeks back with Bella, and here we are, again, caught on a wire strung between heaven and hell. Apparently I was a metaphorical fucker when my heart was beaten, bloodied and broken, or I just relished the flourish in my self pity.

I've never had an issue trying to get women, not since I turned 14, I started to fill out and fit into my limbs and Carlisle sat me down and gave me some advice, he had given me your body is changing, how babies are made and safe sex talk a couple years earlier, but this was my introduction into being a guy talk. He told me two things; listen and act like you know what you're doing.

As most times, it turned out Carlisle was right. Even if I was nervous or uncertain, I hid it well enough that girls started to make advances to me. I'd read magazine articles, books, anything that told me about women. I knew how to talk to them, how to listen to them, what would make them happy and what would make them very unhappy. I was even stupid enough to believe I knew how they thought.

And then Bella stung herself into my routine and I realized I didn't know my ass from my elbow.

And even though I never treated woman poorly, I realized I never treated them like much of anything. Somewhere along the way I became indifferent, I expected that physically I would be satisfied, and I was most of the time. Mentally satisfied or challenged never figured into the equation. It wasn't until last weekend being around Victoria again did I realize how Bella was both sides of the coin, physical and cerebral.

Despite the paths that were set out by the fates, I was extremely fortunate to have been given two sets of very loving parents. Each couple balanced their partner out. My father was always up for a challenge and good time, no matter how imprudent it was, my mother would subtly refocus him with good natured teasing, making him think he had made a wiser decision when it was always her that guided him back to the straight and narrow. Carlisle's melancholy was always tempered by Esme's joy of living, they kept each other from flitting dangerously close along the edges of either end of excess.

Bella and I seemed to balance the other out on all of those points despite the short time we had known one another.

I had told Bella that I didn't want to stop and start again, this was it until it wasn't, but now I wondered if I could be true to that declaration.

I'd gone maybe 500 feet more when I saw someone on a bench looking out to the pier and lake. It's random, the cold weather and residual night fog hanging around make it unexpected. If Bella were here she'd have her camera taking disquieting images of common city landmarks.

I approached the bench when I heard my name.

I stopped and turned to the source. Bella was sitting on the bench next to the path.

She sighed.

"Are you okay?" I couldn't help but ask. She looked just like the weather; grey, drawn, indigo underneath her eyes.

"Are you okay?"

I nodded my head slightly.

"You're right, Edward. All the things you said are true." She looked at me with tired eyes. "I have kept you on a string, and you really have very little idea how strongly I feel about you by my actions. I don't think of you just for sex though, you're wrong on that point," she gentle argues my outburst from the previous evening.

I look around, the day had come upon us and even though the path was sparsely populated and little chance of anyone who knows us would be around, I didn't want to take a chance.

"Can we go back to my place?"


I looked at her, she was dressed in her leggings from the night before, and an oversized hooded sweatshirt that said, "Big wheels keep on turnin', Proud Mary keep on burnin'." She had her Vans on which meant she hadn't run here.

"How'd you get here?"

"Um, I walked. I needed to sort things out, outside of your home," she said thoughtfully.

I went and sat down next to her and looked out to her view.

"I never used to lie, Edward. It started after my accident. My mom would look at me, it was horrible, her eyes wide with uncertain worry. She would ask me, a ridiculous amount of times each day, how I was feeling, was the pain bad, where did I hurt. She doted on me, like, constantly. I didn't want her to worry, I rationalized that lying to her about that I felt okay or better or good, would lessen her load, I guess lighten the burden I had become."

I took her hand, I understood what she said. I hadn't been hurt when my parents were killed, but I felt like I had intruded on Carlisle and Esme's life. I understood what it felt to be a burden, regardless of the fact that they never made me feel that way.

"After that year of recovery and the intense physical therapy, I started high school. I think Renee was relieved, she didn't have to keep a hawk's eye on me all day. Phil had just started traveling to Central America for his job, he was doing it on a trial basis, he and Renee had figured he try this position in the organization, see if he liked it, then she would start traveling with him. They loved to go places together, they figured he would work scouting potential players, and my mom would explore, it would have completely suited them, they both had strong cases of wanderlust. After I finished my freshman year of school and my injuries became less of a constant focus, Renee asked me if I wanted to go to Florida, you know, take a road trip. To be honest, thoughts of Florida in the summer heat and humidity seemed brutal, but it didn't matter, I wanted to do something with my mom that she wanted to do. So we planned this trip. We had a map tacked to the wall in the study and we placed those colored top straight pins on the places we wanted to see. We had this total serpentine route, I think we had something like 47 places we wanted to see, everything from the unusual to the historic to natural phenomena. It was pretty much epic and we took practically all summer to do it, finally ending up in the Keys where Phil met up with us."

I sat listening to Bella tell her story.

"So, when we were in Key West, after we had gone to Hemingway's house and seen those polydactyl cats, have you ever seen those cats?" Bella's tone changed from strained to light and fun. "They look like they have thumbs, like you want to give them little cat high fives every time they do something cute," she made a little high five gesture, her fingers in a paw-like form. I couldn't help but smile at her actions. Then her eyes dimmed again and she continued on.

"It was in Key West when she told Phil how badly her back had been hurting. She hadn't told me this even though we had spent every day together for two months. I guess there was also blood, except we didn't find out about that until later. " She looked at me for understanding that she meant blood in her urine, I nodded my head showing her I knew what she meant.

"We drove back to Miami, Phil convinced her to leave the car, he would either drive it back or hire a service to get it back to Chicago and Renee and I took a flight home."

She put her hands through the front pocket of the sweatshirt.

"Finally after like two weeks of her taking my Vicodin and staying on her back, I convinced her to go to the doctor. We went straight from the doctor's office to the hospital. She said they just wanted to run some tests, rule out some things. You know the normal non-specific bullshit that lets your imagination run away with the worst possible outcomes. My mom was in that fucking hospital bed for a week and it wasn't until she started to turn a yellowy brown mustard color did they start to run the right tests and look for the answers."

"What was it?" I nearly whispered, moving over so our thighs were touching.

"Pancreatic cancer."

I knew enough about cancers to know that was one of the worst ones. Although, that was a stupid thing to think, it's not like any of them were worthy of a party.

"Phil came home, took a leave of absence from work and we all fought the disease together over the next 13 months. Chemo, radiation, crystals, healers, prayers, every option exhausted. He wanted to book a flight and take her to Lourdes, but my mom put her foot down and told him to get her a drink of Evian instead," Bella gave a wan smile at this recollection.

"It was of the Friday of Memorial day weekend that her doctor called our home. My mom was in the hospital because she had been dehydrated. It had been nine months at this point. In and out of a hospital, appointments, poisons that were supposed to kill the poison living in her body, and this fucking doctor called," she paused, moving her gaze to stare up at the clouded sky in an effort to fight off tears. "This fucker called and told Phil over the fucking telephone that there was nothing else they could do, it was only a matter of time. Poor Phil was so broken and stunned that he thanked the heartless bastard for calling him. This guy didn't even have the decency to call a meeting in his office, too much of a coward to tell us to our faces that my mother was going to die. We brought her home and tried to take each day as best we could. I don't know if she was told there was no hope, if she knew, she kept it from me, trying to stay upbeat and positive. She would ask me on days when she could get out of bed, if she looked okay, or was her wig noticeable, did I think she looked yellow, if she looked like she was putting weight back on. What could I do but tell her she looked better, her skin like rosy and bright, or that no one could tell it was a wig and that her 92 pounds looked more like 102 pounds. The harder I had to lie, the easier it became, it helped me to put it in little compartments in my mind so I could deal with the moment and not have to think about the inevitable outcome. I mean, fuck," she looked down, "a Priest administered Last Rights three times." She looked back at me her eyes scrunched up, her brow furrowed, her fingers now splayed out on her knees, her expression looking like she earned a Medal of Honor for a war and country she did not believe in.

"I didn't want to think about the future; the only things I planned for was how quickly I could get her to the hospital if something happened or coming up with a menu to get her to eat something that she wouldn't vomit up 12 minutes later or arranging a wake and funeral. Day to day, or really, hour to hour, became the easiest way to deal with everything else. After she died, I suppose I just stayed in that mode. I felt, feel, still, maybe, I guess, if I look to the future I'll only get burned by the present." She sounded exhausted.

"Then I met you and I couldn't stop myself from seeing night and day with you. You were so beautiful standing there against that wall; all the Italian Renaissance masters brought forth just for me, my own personal chiaroscuro," her eyes danced about momentarily with satisfaction and a hair of mischief. I reached for and took her hand in mine.

"You were both of those things, my night and my day," she cocked her head to the side and looked at me. "And that scared me more than anything had since my parents had died. I didn't want you to become dear to me because I didn't want to have to think about an inevitably of losing you in any way."

"So you didn't see this going any place?" I hated myself for asking this question but better to air everything out than tread in indecision.

"Listen to what I'm saying," Bella said slowly, asking me to not only hear her words but listen and read between the lines.

"You have to know how that first year goes. The first night someone's died you say, '12 hours ago she died.' Then you count the days and it turns into three days, then two weeks, and this goes on all through that first year until you reach that first anniversary. It was totally different when Charlie died, my consciousness was so sketchy that the void of his death never made that gouge, at least, not at first, but with my mom it was all so involved. The three of us fought against the cancer like it was a frontline of a battlefield. Every step was discussed, debated, deliberated then put into action, it was utterly exhausting. That sounds so horrible to say, but during that time I operated on such an acute level, there were no days when we could just phone it in. When I went to that party in June and put the moves on you," her eyes twinkled again, "you transported me. I mean, we know you did physically," she raised and lowered her eyes suggestively, "but you took me out of the little hamster wheel of me and my drama." She started to gently shake her head, "It was so liberating. And the fact that you didn't know Rose or Emmett or anyone, you knew nothing of me and I didn't have to be pitiful Bella. I liked the fact that I was a fictional character this summer living a very real life with you. I suppose the fact that you learned about my life and forced it on me last night shook my foundation."

"I didn't handle that well."

"No, you didn't. But, neither did I."

I think about this for a moment.


"Yes, Edward."

"I think we'll be okay."

We stand up and start walking back to my apartment.

"You think so? What makes you say that?" Bella asks, staying close to my side.

"I just know, we balance the other out." The moment the words are out of my mouth I know it is the truth. It's the strongest truth I've ever felt or stated. It's the sun rises in the east and sets in the west kind of truth.

She hums in thought.


"Yes, Edward."

"I love you." It's the sun rises in the east and sets in the west kind of truth.

A/N I of course put a link for the Clash's Should I Stay or Should I Go, on my profile page. It's the live version, I like it all speedy and frenetic.

I didn't put a link for Liszt's Liebesträume but of note, Liebesträume translates to Dreams of Love. Edward's deep and mopey like that.

I also have a link for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, anyone who has had witness of this disease might find this site helpful, it's chair is Patrick Swayze's widow. Here is the link as well, remove the spaces, http:/ www. Knowitfightitendit . org / other

PinkIndeed as always is a tremendous sounding board although at time she might be bored by me, which is completely understandable, I get bored with myself too. Please check out her story, Beautiful Girl 'Cailin Alainn', it's all sorts of sweet and angsty free (as of last update) which is a nice change from this story.

And for the fork tine tip of people who have read my other story, Still Waters Run Deep, I haven't updated it, not certain what fate it will take, maybe I'll finish this story first, but if you have read it, thank you.