A/N I don't own Twilight.

Sorry for the wait, and thanks so much for your continued support! Sadly, we are preparing to say goodbye to a terminally ill in-law so my priorities are lying elsewhere. I won't abandon the story, but I can't promise anything right now, either.

Thanks SO much for helping this story reach the 12k mark in reviews!

You guys rock!As ever thanks to Sherry for beta duties, and to Aleea for being honest, always. Bob, get your phone fixed. Life's boring when your alerts aren't working!

I edited this on-the-go minutes before I posted, so any weird constructions and mistakes are mine. I also used some creative license as I had no energy to do a lot of research. It's very likely your high school has different protocols.

The day after we go to the gym, I can barely lift my arms. Knowing sore muscles are always worse on the second day, I guess I know what I'm in for. Still, I don't really mind. It's proof that I've been active, that I actually did something, and even though my body feels heavy, my head feels light.

Still, walking is a challenge when Edward, Alice and I go to the mall in Port Angeles to buy gifts for Rosalie and Emmett's graduation. Alice is a big help, having started to compile a list of gift ideas back in April, so we have plenty to choose from.

It also makes sure we are done pretty quickly, allowing for us to have a drink in a cozy diner before we go back home. Edward asks me if I should look for clothes, but Alice says I don't have to, which makes me suspect she has a plan. As much as I don't like playing dress up, I have to admit I love that she is taking care of me in her own way. And the clothes she buys are things I would choose myself, maybe.

Back at home, Emmett finds me at the kitchen table not much later. He already has shown me some boxing moves I can practice at home, without a punching bag, and now hands me a print of a schedule I can use if I want to start running. 'Gateway to 5k' it says, and it promises the runner to be able to run three miles, or five kilometers in three months, provided you go three times a week.

Against Emmett's and the schedule's advice however, I don't take days off in between. Using the shielded and empty driveway to the Cullen mansion as my track, I start with the ridiculously easy first week of training. Since it doesn't feel like I'm achieving anything at all, I run for a tiny bit longer than the schedule states, and then revel in the exhaustion I feel when I get back home. I am doing something, building it up all on my own. The burning in my muscles feels good, I won't deny it, but it feels good as well because I am working to achieve something, however small. Driving myself that bit further than what I have to do provides a satisfaction I haven't known before.

Esme smiles at me when I step into the kitchen on Friday morning and drink two big glasses of water in one go. "If running is something you seriously want to pick up, you might think about investing in some good quality clothing," she says. "And some shoes. I hear you have to have decent shoes for running to prevent injury."

"All commercial talk," I tell her. "They just want to sell."

"Well, let's not take the risk, all right? It would be a shame if you had to stop because of shin splints or something scary like that."

I nod in acceptance at her words. I've read about shin splints, just like I've been reading about running techniques. Every website I have seen seems to stress how much fun running is, and how good it feels to be doing it. You just have to be careful for injuries.

To be honest, right now I can't even run for two minutes straight yet, so it doesn't feel like what I am doing is special. But I want to build up some strength, and it feels good to be out of the house, alone, if even for a few minutes. And in time, I will be able to run faster, and farther. Esme and Carlisle are totally okay with it, of course. I can't believe I haven't been going out more before. Maybe I should find more activities I can do by myself.

After taking a quick shower, I join the others for lunch. The atmosphere at the table is elated, since Rosalie and Emmett are graduating this afternoon. We're going to go to the high school early though, since Alice, Jasper, Edward and I will be able to check our grades as well, to see if we passed.

When I've helped Esme clear away the dishes, I go to my room in order to try and find something to wear.

I know everybody expects me to come along, and while I would like to dress up for the occasion, just like everybody else is doing, at the same time it's so hard to let go of the sense of protection baggy clothes provide.

Alice proves herself to me an angel in disguise yet again. She knocks on my bedroom door and when I open it to let her in, she's holding two big bags of clothes. Some are Rosalie's, she says. Others she bought for me.

"Sorry, I couldn't resist. And since you hate shopping and I'm not really allowed to buy anything for myself this month..." Her smile is bashful but changes to radiant when she sees mine.

To do her a favor, and to force myself to step away from my comfort zone, I change into several outfits she assembles for me. In the end we both feel that a grey suit with a very subtle pinstripe is the best choice. A thin, pale pink turtle neck underneath it finishes the ensemble, and when I go check myself in Alice's big mirror, I have to say I quite like it. The jacket is tailored but not too much, and long enough to cover my rear in the snug slacks.

I think everybody does a double take when I walk into the living room, where we are gathering before we go off to the school. Rosalie, in traditional robe but without preposterous hat yet, comes up to me and bumps my shoulder with hers.

"Who you trying to impress, sister?" she asks with a wink.

"Just wanted to look nice on your special day," I say quietly. "Congratulations."

She smiles with the air of someone getting credit for something that wasn't a big deal. Emmett, however, is positively beaming. He had to work harder to pass his finals, but he did just fine. Sometime during the summer, they'll move to their university, and for the first time I realize that the house will be much quieter without them around.

Hell, I think I'll miss them.

During the ride to the school, a mixture of anxiety and anticipation settles in my gut. I am confident I passed all my finals, but not knowing for sure yet always makes me nervous. I wait in the background with Carlisle, Esme, Rosalie and Emmett as Jasper, Alice and Edward face the throng of other students who want to check their grades on the lists they have put on the message boards.

Alice comes back first, grinning widely. "We all passed," she announces. "And I had a B in Trig!"

Esme kisses Alice's cheek to congratulate her, and then Alice turns to me. "You got all A's. Unbelievable."

"Well done," Esme says, squeezing me for a moment. "All of you, well done," she continues when Edward and Jasper come back as well.

"Finally, holiday can really start," Jasper says happily. "Now, let's watch Rose and Em graduate."

The graduation ceremony is much like I expected it to be. There aren't many of my classmates around, only the few that apparently have someone they want to see graduate today. I find myself scanning the crowd for the likes of Lauren and Jessica, and when I can't find them, I am more relieved than I want to admit.

There is a valedictorian speech, given by someone I don't know, but I have to say that the girl took great efforts to make it not yet another standard talk about futures, choices and freedom. She actually manages to make us laugh a few times. I am in awe of this stranger's ease to speak in front of a crowd.

Esme and Carlisle are nearly bursting with pride when first Emmett and then Rosalie are called up to the stage to receive their diploma. Jasper takes pictures both of them and of us, capturing our reactions as only he can. He also snaps a shot of the two huge bouquets of flowers that are lying at Esme's feet, waiting to be given to her eldest children.

Alice sighs happily when Emmett shakes hands with the principal.

"I can't wait until I'm up there next year," she says dreamily.

"This upcoming year can last forever, if I have any say in it," Esme murmurs. "In a little over a year, you'll all be out of the house. It'll be so quiet."

Alice reaches over my lap to grasp Esme's hand in comfort. "But Rose and Em are staying close. And we'll visit often."

Esme smiles, a motherly, resigned smile. "I know, sweetie. I do."

Then the name calling is finally finished and after a final speech from the principal, everybody explodes in loud applause and cheering. A lot of hats are thrown into the air, and I jump at the sudden onslaught of sound and movement. The freshly graduated students linger near the stage, congratulating each other. The atmosphere is elated, and I look on, wondering if I will be like that next year, able to celebrate like these people are.

Next year, when I'll be long eighteen and still with the Cullens, because I am allowed to stay. The thought makes me smile, even though I'm in a crowd full of strangers.

While we wait for Rosalie and Emmett to come to us so we can finally congratulate them, Carlisle and Esme talk with us about our own plans for the future. Of course, this summer is the time we will have to start applying for colleges, and to think of what we want to be when we grow up.

I still don't know. Edward, I know, wants to be a pediatrician. Jasper, I hear now, is still trying to decide if he wants to do something with photography and graphic design, or something with economics. The two topics of interest are so far apart it's hard to compromise. I was aware of his love for photography, but didn't know he was interested in economics at all.

"He recently discovered his love for finance," Edward clarifies for me. "He told me only a few weeks ago."

I nod in understanding. Carlisle tries to convince Jasper to make the right decision, being finance in his eyes, but he mostly tells Jasper to do what feels right. Of course, being richer than God, any child of this family doesn't ever have to worry about finding a job, or getting an education that will make it easier to find a decent job. Still, Carlisle and Esme want everyone to make well-thought out choices for their education, and they encourage us to make our own money later on.

Alice, of course, wants to go into fashion. She tells us with sparkling eyes about the ideas she has, the things she feels she can do.

"I think I'll do a minor in Business, though," she adds. "So I can really start my own thing."

Carlisle nods approvingly.

"Jasper can be your accountant," Edward says with a grin.

Just when Esme is about to ask me about my own future plans, Emmett and Rosalie come walking up. They have two friends with them, who I didn't see when we were watching the ceremony. James and Victoria, over from Seattle for the party.

Victoria is even skinnier than the last time I saw her, and her hair seems to be even redder than before. James is looking casual, but I move closer to Esme just in case. I still don't like him at all. Esme seems to pick up on my insecurity and wraps an arm around my waist, supporting me silently.

Both Emmett and Rosalie are congratulated in abundance, and Edward and Alice both have small presents they hand out immediately. My custom made marzipan treats are waiting in the fridge at home, as are my other presents, so I am empty handed right now. Jasper tells them that his gift is waiting for them back home as well.

We stay around for a while longer, mingling with the other graduates and their families and friends. I stay close to Esme, and see how Carlisle is approached countless times. Sometimes it really is just to ask him how he is, but not everybody seems to be without ulterior motive. More than once, the conversation is steered towards internships and possibilities at the Forks hospital. Seems that Edward isn't the only one who wants to go into medicine, and it also seems that some people think they can get their kids a place by sucking up to Carlisle.

My thoughts come to a halt when I see my Trig teacher walk up to us. "Bella," he says pleasantly in greeting. "Mrs. Cullen. Congratulations on your two eldest."

"Thank you," Esme replies. "They have done so well."

"Yes," my teacher says. "Especially Emmett showed an amazing improvement in his trigonometry work since the new year."

Esme smiles. "Bella here has been tutoring him."

Man, I want to leave. He's going to ask Esme about the letter I was supposed to have given them, and I never did. I postponed it until I forgot about it, and now it's too late.

"No, we haven't talked about advanced classes yet," I hear Esme say, saving my blunt mistake gracefully. "We will surely let you know though."

Once the teacher has stepped away again, Esme turns to look at me. "For now I am going to assume you forgot to give us the letter he mentioned."

I nod. I truly did. She looks at be searchingly, but then lets it go. "We'll talk about that later. I'm sure Trig is about the last thing on your mind right now."

We find the others quickly after that, and I listen in as everybody talks and laughs. It's good to see them all so happy, and I am desperate to get my thoughts away from Trig, a forgotten letter, and a possibly disappointed Esme. And I did forget to give her the letter, I truly did. It's just that I so don't want to attention that being in an advanced class undoubtedly attracts, I waited with giving her the letter until I honestly forgot about it. Because it would be so hard if Carlisle and Esme wanted me to take those advanced classes. My need to avoid any possible confrontation is ridiculous, I know. It's just hard to change.

When it's finally time to go home again, I am eager to go. My legs are tired from running earlier, but mostly the crowd at school is making me nervous. Much as I contemplated not long ago that I would like to be out of the house more often, right now I'm more than ready to go back.

Too bad James and Victoria are coming along.

Worse even, I'm told they'll be spending the night at the house, since after the party tonight it will be too late to go back to Seattle. I know I won't sleep at all tonight, and as if my body knows it already, a bone deep fatigue seems to set it in immediately.

The two have broken up but are still good friends, I learn when we are at the house. Esme has all but ordered me to stay downstairs with them and have a drink. I'm not taking anything, though. I'm in the corner of the big couch, and Edward's sitting next to me. Victoria took the winged chair I usually sit in, and I pull the sleeves of the turtleneck over my hands, wishing I was somewhere else.

I confuse myself so often these days. I want to be able to be in a room with others, yet when I get the chance, I want to be away. I want to be out of the house more, but when I am, I want to be back in the cocoon of my room. I want attention but shy away from it all the same.

Emmett and Rosalie are very happy with the marzipan treats I made them, and Emmett whoops when he sees the Playstation game I got him. Rosalie is enthralled with her books, her reaction drowned out by Emmett who insists on starting the game immediately. He and James play against each other, forgetting the world around them for a while.

"Thanks, Bella, this really is the best present," Emmett says happily when there is a lull in the game.

"What time do you want to go to the diner?" Esme asks.

Emmett checks his watch. "Oh, right about now, I suppose." His casual tone belies his enthusiasm. His eyes are sparking with energy.

"Let's go get ready," Rosalie tells Victoria, and they disappear upstairs. The Forks diner once more has offered to host the big graduation party, and I can imagine a lot of parents are happy with that arrangement. Alice however has already declared that she wants to have her graduation party at the house next year. Carlisle's diplomatic reply to her statement was, "We'll see."

When Rosalie and Victoria have disappeared up the stairs, I take it as my cue to finally get away from this little shindig. Even though I don't have any valid reasons for it, I am not at ease around Rosalie and Emmett's friends. I can't get a read on Victoria, there is a hostile air around her I can't place. And James, well, he's a guy, what else is there to say?

Esme hustles upstairs to finish some laundry, and Carlisle and Alice start talking about his schedule and what they can do together during the summer holiday. Edward has moved over to his piano, and the soothing sounds drift into the living room. I close my eyes for a moment to listen. I've missed hearing him play. With finals and everything else, I think he didn't really feel like playing. But to hear the familiar sounds of a Yiruma song float into my ears tells me he's content.

It makes me content in turn.

I decide to take my glass to the kitchen before I go join him. Maybe he'll let me sit on the bench again with him. An odd sort of thrill shivers through me when I realize I want to be close to him, want his attention - and affection.

Yes, I want to be closer, and I get up, feeling a sense of purpose and urgency I can't exactly explain, but I don't care.

But in the kitchen, I suddenly hear James's voice behind me.

The glass slips from my hand, and falls to the counter with a loud thud. I turn to face him, my heart hammering in my throat.

His dirty blond hair is tied back in a pony tail. His eyes are very blue, and they even crinkle a little when he smiles. I suppose some would find him handsome, but I'm just trying to figure out how to get past him, back into the living room where the others are.

"Hi," he says. "It's still Bella, right?"

I can't even nod.

He smiles, his posture casual as he leans a shoulder against the wall with his hands in his pockets. "So you're on summer break now too, huh," he says.

Do I run for it? It would likely make me look like a fool, but that's hardly a worry right now.

"Emmett told me you can talk now."

Well, yeah, but not to you, I think. But James continues as if this is not a sensationally awkward conversation.

"He also said you used to use sign language?" And then he nearly makes my jaw drop when he closes his mouth and brings up his hands. *I know a bit of that,* he signs, or I think he does. He is much more fluent in his movements. "My nephew has impaired hearing. I learned sign language so I could still play with him."

It annoys me that I'm impressed, but I am. It's hard to see him differently now, though. He's still a threat in my eyes.

"You're not going to talk to me, huh," he says with a smile. "That's okay."

I frown a little. Why isn't anybody coming into the kitchen right now? Edward is still playing, but his music seems to be coming from a mile away.

"Hey, I was thinking..." he then says, "I think you're a very nice girl. Would you like to go out with me sometime?"

From his reaction I can tell that fear must show on my face, because he brings up his hands in a gesture of surrender. When I finally manage to shake my head, he nods. "That's okay. Can't blame me for trying, though." He smirks, and then he starts to turn to leave the kitchen.

From out of nowhere, a word bubbles up out of my throat. "Edward."

His head whips around and he looks at me questioningly. "What?"

"I'm with Edward," I say so quietly it's merely a whisper, but James smiles, a genuine smile that reaches his eyes.

"Good for him. And good for you. But if you ever end up alone again, gimme a call." He winks, then is gone, and I sag against the counter, feeling like what just happened is completely surreal.

In a daze, I walk over to the foyer, where Edward is still playing the piano. He looks up at me and smiles, and that's all the invitation I need to sit down next to him, wanting to feel the comfort of his body close to mine.

He keeps playing, but looks at me with a frown. "Jesus, you're shaking. Are you okay?"

I swallow, then nod, but my movements are jerky, betraying my stress.

"You certain?"

His melody slows, morphing into something else fluidly.

I nod again. "Just want to sit with you for a bit," I whisper, and he moves his right hand from the keys to wrap it around my shoulders, pulling me closer.

"Of course," he says. "Always."


The house is quiet. Emmett and Rosalie and their friends aren't home yet from the party, and I doubt they will be before one o'clock. Since I'm not expecting to get any sleep at all tonight, I haven't even bothered to change into pajamas. Instead, I did change into more comfortable sweats, a tanktop and a hoodie, and now I'm in my rocking chair with my laptop, googling new ideas for a quilt. Since my hand is finally functioning properly again, I can try and start a new project.

I bookmark several pages. I didn't know you could make skirts out of quilts and I think Alice might be interested in it. Biting my lip, I look over to my closet. The dress she made me for prom was so amazing, but I'm not sure when I can wear it again. It was nice to wear it inside the house, but to actually go out with it would be a whole different level.

Still, I keep thinking it might be a good option for Renée's wedding. Which I still have to tell Carlisle and Esme about. Damnit, I really have to remember that.

A soft knock on my door pulls me from my thoughts. Immediately alarmed, a nearly stumble when I get up from my chair to go to the door, dropping the laptop on the bed on my way. Placing my foot behind the door, I open it just a crack.

Alice is looking at me, mischief in her eyes. Frowning in confusion, I open the door further to let her in. She's wearing her pink sleep wear, with her ridiculously big bunny slippers and a sweater on top. Her hair is still damp from her shower, but I only notice that after I have gaped at the comforter she is holding in her arms, a bag of potato chips and a bottle of coke balancing perilously on top of that.

She doesn't step inside. "Movie night," she simply announces, and then she starts to turn. For half a moment I think she means in her room, but that can't be right since she's carrying her blanket.

At the stairs to the third floor, she stops and looks at me. "Are you coming?"

"Where are you going?"

Alice rolls her eyes in mock exasperation. "Just come on. Grab a blanket. I have snacks."

I can see that, but I still don't know what she's planning to do. Alice shakes her head and walks up to me, grabs my wrist and starts tugging me into the direction of the stairs. As much as I know she doesn't mean to, her pulling on my hand like that brings a flashback of old fears and I pull my hand back with such force that she lets out a startled "oh!"

We stand frozen for a second, and her eyes drift from my hand to my face. "Oh shit, I'm so sorry," she says in a tiny voice. "I didn't even think."

I shake my head, trying to calm my frazzled nerves. "It's okay," I manage to say.

She's clearly shaken, and to try and get back the light mood she still had only a moment ago, I step into my room resolutely, pick up my quilt, and follow her to the third floor.

Alice knocks on Edward's door.

"Yeah?" comes his muffled reply.

Alice opens the door without hesitation, and what I see makes my heart skip a beat. Edward is at the other side of his bed, and he's only wearing charcoal sweats. His chest is bare, and I get a full view as he turns to us to see who is at his door.


He reaches for his shirt, which is on the bed. "What's going on?"

"Movie night," Alice announces, walking straight into his room. "I have snacks."

"Cool," Edward says, game. "Jasper not coming?" He pulls the shirt over his head, messing up his hair.

"Jasper is reading," Alice says like it's something dirty.

Edward wrinkles his nose playfully. "But why in my room?" he asks, looking around and trying futilely to tidy up a stack of clothes on his desk chair. Eventually, he gives up and simply drops them back where they were.

"Yours has a couch." Alice wraps her comforter around her and plops down on said couch, sighing happily as she curls her legs underneath her. "Go get glasses," she orders Edward. "Bella and I will choose a movie."

"No Sex and the City, please," Edward says right before he ducks out of his room.

"Princess Diaries!" Alice calls after him.

"Not that one, either," Edward's faint voice comes from the stairwell.

Alice snickers and gets up to scan Edward's stack of DVDs. "Definitely Rainman first, then. Definitely."

I suppress a giggle at her joke and settle on the couch while she starts the movie, wrapping the heavy quilt around my legs. When Alice turns back to me, she looks puzzled.

"Why are you on the couch?"

"Why not?"

"Because his bed is bigger. And softer. And has Edward in it," she says like it's obvious.

I consider asking her why she doesn't choose the bed then, but decide against it. "Not sure if he wants that," I say instead.

Alice laughs. "Honey, I guarantee you he wants that. The question is, do you?"

"Do what?" Edward asks as he steps back into the room. He's carrying three glasses and a huge bag of peanut m&m's that has somehow not yet been discovered by Emmett, and I get up immediately to help him before he drops a glass and breaks it.

Alice says nothing. Instead, she settles herself on the couch in such a way that I can't possibly sit down next to her anymore. She stretches out and then looks at me, all mock-innocence. "Oops. Guess you'll have to use his bed, then."

I half consider taking his desk chair instead, just to make a point. But the truth is, I want to be close to Edward, even without Alice's meddling.

I set down the glasses on the tiny coffee table Edward has in front of his couch and look over my shoulder to see that he has settled himself against his headboard, the bag of m&m's resting on his abdomen.

He reaches out his hand to me in invitation, and that's all the incentive I need. I walk around the bed and settle in, smiling at Edward when he pulls my quilt over both our legs.

"I haven't seen this movie in ages," Edward says as Alice has pressed 'play.' "I remember it was good though."

"It is, now hush," Alice admonishes, burrowing deeper into her blanket.

It takes me no time at all to get completely engrossed in the movie. Edward is feeding me m&m's steadily, until I'm so full I have to push his hand away. About halfway through the movie, he quietly starts sliding down so he's lying flat, taking me with him and spooning me. He pulls the quilt closer, cocooning us both in warmth.

The movie is amazing. When it's done, it's late, but Alice gets up and puts on a new DVD without saying anything. It's a film I've never seen before, and it can't hold my attention. I don't mind, though. I keep myself occupied by enjoying the feel of Edward's arms around me, his chest against my back.

His head is so close I can feel his breath against my neck, and it makes me want to burrow even closer to him. He seems to sense it, because he tightens his grip and nuzzles my nape.

I'm not nervous anymore. Instead, I feel calm, and sheltered.

"This movie is so boring," he says quietly, "don't you agree?"

I giggle soundlessly, because I do. It's not my kind of movie either, but I have enough distraction to keep me occupied while Alice watches it through the end.

But when the movie finally does finish, nothing happens. The DVD goes back to the main menu, lighting up the room in a bluish hue. Edward turns a little to look over his shoulder at his sister.

"She's sleeping," he whispers. He slips out of bed without a sound and turns off the television, plunging the room in darkness. My heartbeat picks up a little when he slides back underneath the quilt, taking up his old position.

He breathes in deeply, and I am quite sure he is enjoying this as much as I am, even though the darkness makes me a bit nervous.

"You can stay here, if you want," he whispers so softly I can barely hear it. "You don't have to go back to your own room tonight."

Do I want to sleep here? Is that the reason why Alice insisted to have the movie night in Edward's room? She must have. When it comes to Edward and me, she rarely doesn't have some ulterior motive, though I do see she means it all for the best and is rarely too intrusive with her... guidance, for lack of a better word.

"Stay," Edward murmurs. "Stay with me tonight."

With a sigh that eases some of the tension that has started to build, I give in. As quietly as possible, Edward scoots closer still, tugging at the quilt so we'll stay warm enough.

"Good night, Bella," he whispers. Then he grins. "I should come up with a nickname for you."

"As long as it's not Boo," I murmur, relaxing in his arms.

I can feel his body shake as he tries to suppress his laughter. "I won't."

We lie in silence for a moment. I don't expect to get any sleep at all, but my mind is calm and I am content to be lying here while Edward gets his rest. After a while, his breathing changes and I know he has fallen asleep.

What I didn't foresee however, is that the quilt is thick, and my hoodie is even thicker. Together they make sure I'm cozy warm at first, but getting hotter by the minute. I don't dare move for fear of waking Edward, but after a while, it's starting to be very uncomfortable, and I shift.

Edward wakes immediately. "What's wrong?"

Do I tell him?

It turns out I don't have to, for he pulls back a little and leans up on an elbow. "Aren't you hot? I can feel it radiating off you." His hand pats my sweater. "Take of your hoodie," he whispers. "It's too warm to keep that on."

When I hesitate, he rubs my arm. "The lights are out, and I won't pounce, as you know by now."

He's right, but it's still hard. With a heart that's hammering in my throat, I allow him to help me pull off the heavy sweater. Goosebumps race over my skin as it comes I contact with the cooler air of the room.

I turn to my back when Edward has dropped the hoodie to the floor, needing a moment to recollect myself. I try to reason with my fear, that I've worn a dress with him and that I was more vulnerable in that, than in these clothes I am wearing now.

But it's not just that, is it. It's opening up, trusting Edward enough to show my body, my skin, even though it's dark.

His warm fingertips trace my arm comfortingly and he stays quiet. Maybe he senses that I need a moment. His caress pauses on my shoulder, when he touches one of the many scars that are left over from my past, but instead of asking about it, he leans in and presses his lips to the marred skin.

I take a shaky breath at this clear sign of acceptance, and when I sense him coming closer, I turn my head in his direction to meet his mouth with mine.

No words are being said.

And when he turns me away from him and wraps his body around mine once more, my fear for not only him, but also his acceptance of who I am and what package I come in, slides away much as my consciousness does as I drift into a restful sleep.

I'll update when I can, I promise.

Meanwhile, what nickname should Edward give Bella?