So, first order of business. I'm not Stephenie Meyer, so I don't own Twilight. I borrowed a lot from New Moon for this chapter, and probably will for the first few chapters. After that, it will be entirely mine. I'm really sorry if my writing clashes with Stephenie Meyer's. I tried to blend in my changes. After I'm done with borrowing from the books, my chapters won't be nearly as long. I don't think any of the other chapters will be this long actually. Also, if you've read my other stories, I'm really sorry I haven't updated in forever. Life got in the way. I will update at least once before the 30th. Enjoy! This'll be the only time an AN is at the beginning.


The World in a Grain of Sand

Chapter 1 – A Different Visitor


"Stop!" I gasped.

It was a black car – a car I knew. I might be the furthest thing from an autophile, but I could tell you everything about that particular car. It was a Mercedes S55 AMG. I knew the horsepower and the color of the interior. I knew the feel of the powerful engine purring through the frame. I knew the rich smell of the leather seats and the way the extra-dark tint made noon look like dusk through those windows.

It was Carlisle's car.

"Stop!" I cried again, louder this time, because Jacob was gunning the truck down the street.

"What?"

"It's not Victoria. Stop, stop! I want to go back."

He stomped on the brake so hard I had to catch myself against the dashboard.

"What?" he asked again, aghast. He stared at me with horror in his eyes.

"It's Carlisle's car! It's the Cullens. I know it."

He watched dawn break across my face, and a violent tremor rocked his frame.

"Hey, calm down, Jake. It's okay. No danger, see? Relax."

"Yeah, calm," he panted, putting his head down and closing his eyes. While he concentrated not exploding into a wolf, I stared out the back window at the black car.

It was just Carlisle, I told myself. Don't except anything more. Maybe Esme . . . Stop right there, I told myself. Just Carlisle. That was plenty. More than I'd ever hope to have again.

"There's a vampire in your house," Jacob hissed. "And you want to go back?"

I glanced at him, ripping my unwilling eyes off the Mercedes — terrified that it would disappear the second I looked away.

"Of course," I said, my voice blank with surprise at his question. Of course I wanted to go back.

Jacob's face hardened while I stared at him, congealing into the bitter mask that I'd thought was gone for good. Just before he had that mask into place, I caught the spasm of betrayal that flashed in his eyes. His hands were still shaking. He looked ten years older than me.

He took a deep breath. "You're sure it's not a trick?" he asked in a slow, heavy voice.

"It's not a trick. It's Carlisle. Take me back!"

A shudder rippled through his wide shoulders, but his eyes were flat and emotionless. "No."

"Jake, it's okay —"

"No. Take yourself back, Bella." His voice was a slap—I flinched and the sound of it struck me. His jaw clenched and unclenched.

"Look, Bella," he said in the same hard voice. "I can't go back. Treaty or no treaty, that's my enemy in there."

"It's not like that—"

"I have to tell Sam right away. This changes things. We can't be caught on their territory."

"Jake, it's not a war!"

He didn't listen. He put the truck back in neutral and jumped out the door, leaving it running.

"Bye, Bella," he called back over his shoulder. "I really hope you don't die." He sprinted into the darkness, shaking so hard that his shape seemed blurred; he disappeared before I could open my mouth to call him back.

Remorse pinned me against the seat for one long second. What had I just done to Jacob?

But remorse couldn't hold me very long.

I slid across the seat and put the truck back in drive. My hands were shaking almost as hard as Jake's had been, and this took a minute of concentration. Then I carefully turned the truck around and drove it back to my house.

It was very dark when I turned off the headlights. Charlie had left in such a hurry that he'd forgotten to leave the porch lamp on. I felt a pang of doubt, staring at the house, deep in shadow. What if it was a trick?

I looked back at the black car, almost invisible in the night. No. I knew that car.

Still, my hands were shaking even worse than before as I reached for the key above the door.

When I grabbed the doorknob to unlock it, it twisted easily under my hand. I let the door fall open. The hallway was black.

I wanted to call out a greeting, but my throat was too dry. I couldn't quite seem to catch my breath.

I took a step inside and fumbled for the light switch. It was so black–like the black water…

Where was that switch?

Just like the black water, with the orange flame flickering impossibly on top of it. Flame that couldn't be a fire, but what then… ? My fingers traced the wall, still searching, still shaking–

Suddenly, something Jacob had told me this afternoon echoed in my head, finally sinking in… She took off into the water, he'd said. The bloodsuckers have the advantage there. That's why I raced homeI was afraid she was going to double back swimming.

My hand froze in its searching, my whole body froze into place, as I realized why I recognized the strange orange color on the water.

Victoria's hair, blowing wild in the wind, the color of fire…

She'd been right there. Right there in the harbor with me and Jacob.

If Sam hadn't been there, if it had been just the two of us… ? I couldn't breathe or move.

The light flicked on, though my frozen hand had still not found the switch.

I blinked into the sudden light, and saw that someone was there, waiting for me.

Unnaturally still and white, with large black eyes intent on my face, my visitor waited perfectly motionless in the center of the halt, beautiful beyond imagining.

My knees trembled for a second, and I nearly fell. Then I hurled myself at him.

"Carlisle!" I cried, as I slammed into him.

I'd forgotten how hard they all were; it was like running headlong into a wall of cement.

"Bella?" There was a strange mingling of relief and confusion in his voice.

I locked my arms around him, gasping to inhale as much of the scent of him as possible. My memory hadn't done it justice.

I didn't notice when the gasping turned into something else–I only realized I was sobbing when Carlisle dragged me to the living room couch and pulled me next to him. He rubbed my back in a gentle rhythm, waiting for me to get control of myself.

"I'm… sorry," I blubbered. "I'm just… so happy… to see you!"

"It's okay, Bella. Everything's okay."

"Yes," I bawled. And, for once, it seemed that way.

Carlisle sighed. "I'd forgotten how exuberant you are," she said.

His eyes were black as pitch.

"Oh," I puffed, as I realized the problem. He was thirsty.

"It's my own fault. It's been too long since I hunted. But I was in a hurry today." The look he directed at me then was a glare. "Speaking of which, would you like to explain to me how you're alive?"

That brought me up short and stopped the sobs. I realized what must have happened immediately, and why Carlisle was here.

I swallowed loudly. "Alice saw me fall."

"No," he disagreed. "She saw you jump."

I pursed my lips as I tried to think of an explanation that wouldn't sound nuts.

Carlisle shook his head. "I told him this would happen."

"Even if she's not looking, doesn't mean she won't see" he went on.

"She wasn't keeping tabs on you, I swear, Bella.

When she saw you jumping, I didn't think, I just got on a plane. I knew I would be too late, but I couldn't do nothing. And then I get here, thinking maybe I could help Charlie somehow, and you drive up."

He looked me directly in the eye and his next words were very quiet, "I don't think I have been as relieved in my entire existence as when I saw you walk through that door. I have to ask you though, what on earth were you thinking?"

"Carlisle, I wasn't committing suicide."

He eyed me dubiously. "Are you saying you didn't jump off a cliff?"

"No, but…" I grimaced. "It was for recreational purposes only."

"I'd seen some of Jacob's friend's cliff diving," I insisted. "It looked like… fun, and I was bored…"

He waited.

"I didn't think about how the storm would affect the currents. Actually, I didn't think about the water much at all."

Carlisle didn't buy it. I could see that he still thought I had been trying to kill myself. I decided to redirect. "So if Alice saw me go in, why didn't she see Jacob?"

He cocked her head to the side, distracted. I continued. "It's true that I probably would have drowned if Jacob hadn't jumped in after me.

Well, okay, there's no probably about it. But he did, and he pulled me out, and I guess he towed me back to shore, though I was kind of out for that part. It couldn't have been more than a minute that I was under before he grabbed me. How come she didn't see that?"

He frowned in perplexity. "Someone pulled you out?"

"Yes. Jacob saved me."

I watched curiously as an enigmatic range of emotions flitted across his face. Something was bothering him–Alice's imperfect vision? But I wasn't sure. Then he deliberately leaned in and sniffed my shoulder.

I froze.

"It appears that the Quileutes have started phasing again. I had thought that the gene died out. Which boy was it?" He asked, serenely calm as usual.

"Jacob Black. He's… sort of my best friend, I guess. At least, he was…" I thought of Jacob's angry, betrayed face, and wondered what he was to me now.

Carlisle nodded, seeming preoccupied.

"What?"

"I have a theory," he said. "I'm not sure if I'm correct though."

"Well, I'm not dead, at least."

He rolled his eyes. "He was a fool to think you could survive alone. I've never seen anyone so prone to life-threatening idiocy."

"I survived," I pointed out.

"Only thanks to Jacob."

"Why were you smelling me earlier?" I asked, extremely curious.

"You smell awful, like wet dog. It's what werewolves smell like to us. How long have they been phasing?" he said absently.

"Not long," I said, my voice sounding defensive. "He's only been a werewolf for just a few weeks."

He looked at me. "A young werewolf? They are not known for their control or restraint."

"There's nothing wrong with werewolves," I grumbled, stung by his critical tone.

"Until they lose their tempers." he shook his head.

I didn't want to argue with Carlisle–I was still trembling with joy that he was really, truly here, that I could touch his marble skin and hear his calm voice–but he had it all wrong.

"The vampires didn't really leave–not all of them, anyway. That's the whole trouble. If it weren't for the werewolves, Victoria would have gotten me by now. Well, if it weren't for Jake and his friends, Laurent would have gotten me before she could, I guess, so–"

"Victoria?" he hissed. "Laurent?"

I nodded. I pointed at my chest.

"Danger magnet, remember?"

He shook his head again. "Tell me everything–start at the beginning."

I glossed over the beginning, skipping the motorcycles and the voices, but telling him everything else right up to today's misadventure. Carlisle didn't like my thin explanation about boredom and the cliffs, so I hurried on to the strange flame I'd seen on the water and what I thought it meant. His eyes narrowed almost to slits at that part. It was strange to see him look so… so dangerous–like a vampire.

I swallowed hard and went on with the rest about Harry.

He listened to my story without interrupting. Occasionally, he would shake his head, and the crease in his forehead deepened until it looked like it was carved permanently into the marble of his skin. He didn't speak and, finally, I fell quiet, struck again by the borrowed grief at Harry's passing. I thought of Charlie; he would be home soon. What condition would he be in?

"Our leaving didn't do you any good at all, did it?" Carlisle murmured.

I laughed once–it was a slightly hysterical sound. "That was never the point, though, was it? It's not like you left for my benefit."

Carlisle looked at the floor for a moment. "Well… I guess I acted impulsively today. I probably shouldn't have intruded."

I could feel the blood draining from my face. My stomach dropped. "Don't go, Carlisle," I whispered. My fingers locked around the collar of his white shirt and I began to hyperventilate. "Please don't leave me."

His eyes opened wider. "All right," he said, enunciating each word with slow precision. "I'm not going to leave Forks tonight. Take a deep breath."

I tried to obey, though I couldn't quite locate my lungs.

He watched my face while I concentrated on my breathing. He waited till I was calmer to comment.

"You look horrible, Bella."

"I drowned today," I reminded him.

"It goes deeper than that. You're a mess."

I flinched. "Look, I'm doing my best."

"What do you mean?"

"It hasn't been easy. I'm working on it."

He frowned. "I told him," he said to himself.

"Carlisle," I sighed. "What did you think you were going to find? I mean, besides me dead? Did you expect to find me skipping around and whistling show tunes? You know me better than that."

"I do. But I hoped."

"Then I guess I don't have the corner on the idiocy market."

The phone rang.

"That has to be Charlie," I said, staggering to my feet. I grabbed Carlisle's stone hand and dragged him with me to the kitchen. I wasn't about to let him out of my sight.

"Charlie?" I answered the phone.

"No, it's me," Jacob said.

"Jake!"

Carlisle scrutinized my expression.

"Just making sure you were still alive," Jacob said sourly.

"I'm fine. I told you that it wasn't–"

"Yeah. I got it. 'Bye."

Jacob hung up on me.

I sighed and let my head hang back, staring at the ceiling. "That's going to be a problem."

Carlisle squeezed my hand. "They aren't excited I'm here."

"Not especially. But it's none of their business anyway."

"I think a hot shower might help. The water must have been very cold." he mused. He seemed to talk to himself for a moment. "Things to do. Loose ends to tie."

"What things to do?"

His face was suddenly careful. "I don't know for sure… I need to see Esme."

Would he leave so soon? My stomach dropped.

"Could you stay?" I begged. "Please? For just a little while. I've missed you so much." My voice broke.

"If you think that's a good idea." His eyes were unhappy.

"I do."

"I think it would be a good idea for me to hunt. Will you be alright for one hour?" he asked, concerned.

"You'll come back?" I asked in a small voice.

"I promise–one hour."

I glanced at the clock over the kitchen table. He laughed and leaned in quickly to give me a hug. Then he was gone. I took a deep breath. Carlisle would be back. I suddenly felt so much better. I had plenty to do to keep myself busy while I waited. A shower was definitely first on the agenda. I sniffed my shoulders as I undressed, but I couldn't smell anything but the brine and seaweed scent of the ocean.

When I was cleaned up, I went back to the kitchen. I couldn't see any signs that Charlie 'lad eaten recently, and he would probably be hungry when he got back. I hummed tunelessly to myself as I moved around the kitchen. While Thursday's casserole rotated in the microwave, I was careful not to watch the clock. I hurried through my dinner, not tasting it–just feeling the ache as it slid down my raw throat.

Mostly I was thirsty; I must have drunk a half gallon of water by the time I was finished. All the salt in my system had dehydrated me.

I went to go try to watch TV while I waited.

Carlisle was already there, sitting on the couch. His eyes were a liquid butterscotch.

"You're early," I said, elated.

I sat down next to him.

"Bella. What are we going to do with you?"

"I don't know," I admitted. "I really have been trying my hardest."

"I believe you."

It was silent.

"Does–does he…" I took a deep breath. It was harder to say his name out loud, even though

I was able to think it now. "Does Edward know you're here?" I couldn't help asking. It was my pain, after all. I'd deal with it when he was gone, I promised myself, and felt sick at the thought.

"No."

There was only one way that could be true. "He's not with the others?"

"He checks in every few months."

"Oh." He must still be out enjoying his distractions. I focused my curiosity on a safer topic.

"You said you flew here… Where did you come from?"

"I was in Denali. Visiting Tanya's family."

"Is Esme here? Did she come with your'"

He shook his head. "He didn't approve of my interfering. We promised…" he trailed off, and then his tone changed. "And you think Charlie won't mind my staying here for a few hours?" he asked, sounding worried.

"Charlie thinks you're wonderful, Carlisle."

"Well, we're about to find out."

Sure enough, a few seconds later I heard the cruiser pull into the driveway. I jumped up and hurried to open the door.

Charlie trudged slowly up the walk, his eyes on the ground and his shoulders slumped. I walked forward to meet him; he didn't even see me until I hugged him around the waist. He embraced me back fiercely.

"I'm so sorry about Harry, Dad."

"I'm really going to miss him," Charlie mumbled.

"How's Sue doing?"

"She seems dazed, like she hasn't grasped it yet. Sam's staying with her…" The volume of his voice faded in and out. "Those poor kids. Leah's just a year older than you, and Seth is only fourteen…" He shook his head.

He kept his arms tight around me as he started toward the door again.

"Um, Dad?" I figured I'd better warn him. "You'll never guess who's here."

He looked at me blankly. His head swiveled around, and he spied the Mercedes across the street, the porch light reflecting off the glossy black paint. Before he could react, Carlisle was in the doorway.

"Hello, Chief Swan," he said in a subdued voice. "I'm sorry I came at such a bad time."

"Dr. Cullen?" he peered at the slight figure in front of him as if he doubted what his eyes were telling him. "Is that you?"

"It's me. Please call me Carlisle." he confirmed. "I was picking something up from the house and I thought I would come by and see how you and Bella were."

"Call me Charlie then. Is your wife…?"

"No, I'm alone."

Both Carlisle and I knew he wasn't really asking about Esme. His arm tightened over my shoulder.

"I suppose I should leave, it's getting rather late. It was nice to see you both again." Carlisle said as he made his way toward the car.

"He can come by tomorrow, can't he?" I pleaded. "I already asked him."

"Of course," Charlie said mechanically. "We'd love to have you, Dr. Cul ─ Carlisle."

"Thank you, Charlie. I know it's horrid timing."

"No, it's fine, really. I'm going to be really busy doing what I can for Harry's family; it will be nice for Bella to have some company."

"There's dinner for you on the table, Dad," I told him.

"Thanks, Bell." He gave me one more squeeze before he shuffled toward the kitchen.

Carlisle stood there a moment, then spoke quietly to me.

"I don't think it's safe for you to be unprotected at the moment, so I will be back after I take back the car. Would you prefer me to stay in the forest nearby, or will you be alright with me staying in the tree next to your window?

"I don't mind. I'll leave my window open so you won't have to stay outside all night." I said, looking at him. He nodded got in the car. I watched as he drove down the street. I turned and went inside the house.

"I've already eaten and I'm really tired. I'm going to go ahead and go to bed Dad." I say as I head to the stairs.

"Okay Bells. Goodnight." Charlie says as he's heading over to the TV. I go up upstairs to my room and open the window. I decide that I need something to pass the time, so I take my toothbrush and toothpaste to the bathroom and spend the next five minutes brushing my teeth. After deciding that I really can't spend any more time on that, I head to my room and wait for Carlisle.

As I laid down I started to dose off. I didn't want to sleep. I wanted to stay up all night talking to Carlisle. And it didn't make sense for me to be tired, what with crashing on Jacob's couch all day.

But drowning really had taken a lot out of me, and my eyes wouldn't stay open. I rested my head on her stone shoulder, and drifted into a more peaceful oblivion than I had any hope of.

I woke early, from a deep and dreamless sleep feeling well-rested. I could hear voices from the kitchen, but I couldn't quite make out what was being said. I decided to head downstairs and see what was going on, but as I got to the top of the stairs, something made me stop. I saw Carlisle and Charlie talking in the kitchen. It sounded like Charlie was fixing him breakfast.

"How bad was it, Charlie?" Carlisle asked softly, and at first I thought they were talking about the Clearwaters.

Charlie sighed. "Real bad."

"Tell me about it. I want to know exactly what happened when we left."

There was a pause while a cupboard door was closed and a dial on the stove was clicked off. I waited, cringing.

"I've never felt so helpless," Charlie began slowly. "I didn't know what to do. That first week–I thought I was going to have to hospitalize her. She wouldn't eat or drink, she wouldn't move. Dr. Gerandy was throwing around words like 'catatonic,' but I didn't let him up to see her. I was afraid it would scare her."

"She snapped out of it though?"

"I had Renee come to take her to Florida. I just didn't want to be the one… if she had to go to a hospital or something. I hoped being with her mother would help. But when we started packing her clothes, she woke up with a vengeance. I've never seen Bella throw a fit like that. She was never one for the tantrums, but, boy, did she fly into a fury. She threw her clothes everywhere and screamed that we couldn't make her leave–and then she finally started crying. I thought that would be the turning point. I didn't argue when she insisted on staying here… and she did seem to get better at first…"

Charlie trailed off. It was hard listening to this, knowing how much pain I'd caused him.

"But?" Carlisle prompted.

"She went back to school and work, she ate and slept and did her homework. She answered when someone asked her a direct question. But she was… empty. Her eyes were blank. There were lots of little things–she wouldn't listen to music anymore; I found a bunch of CDs broken in the trash. She didn't read; she wouldn't be in the same room when the TV was on, not that she watched it so much before. I finally figured it out–she was avoiding everything that might remind her of… him.

"We could hardly talk; I was so worried about saying something that would upset her–the littlest things would make her flinch–and she never volunteered anything. She would just answer if I asked her something.

"She was alone all the time. She didn't call her friends back, and after a while, they stopped calling. It was night of the living dead around here. I still hear her screaming in her sleep…"

I could almost see him shuddering. I shuddered, too, remembering. And then I sighed. I hadn't fooled him at all, not for one second.

"I'm so sorry, Charlie," Carlisle said, voice somber.

"It's not your fault." The way he said it made it perfectly clear that he was holding someone responsible.

"You were always good to her."

"She seems better now, though."

"Yeah. Ever since she started hanging out with Jacob Black, I've noticed a real improvement. She has some color in her cheeks when she comes home, some light in her eyes. She's happier." He paused, and his voice was different when he spoke again. "He's a year or so younger than her, and I know she used to think of him as a friend, but I think maybe it's something more now, or headed that direction, anyway." Charlie said this in a tone that was almost belligerent. It was a warning, not for Carlisle, but for him to pass along.

"Jake's old for his years," he continued, still sounding defensive. "He's taken care of his father physically the way Bella took care of her mother emotionally. It matured him. He's a good-looking kid, too–takes after his mom's side.

He's good for Bella, you know," Charlie insisted.

"Then it's good she has him," Carlisle agreed.

Charlie sighed out a big gust of air, folding quickly to the lack of opposition. "Okay, so I guess that's overstating things. I don't know… even with Jacob, now and then I see something in her eyes, and I wonder if I've ever grasped how much pain she's really in It's not normal, Carlisle, and it… it frightens me. Not normal at all. Not like someone… left her, but like someone died." His voice cracked.

It was like someone had died–like I had died. Because it had been more than just losing the truest of true loves, as if that were not enough to kill anyone. It was also losing a whole future, a whole family–the whole life that I'd chosen…

Charlie went on in a hopeless tone. "I don't know if she's going to get over it–I'm not sure if it's in her nature to heal from something like this. She's always been such a constant little thing. She doesn't get past things, change her mind."

"She's one of a kind," Carlisle agreed in a dry voice.

"And Carlisle…" Charlie hesitated. "Now, you know I think highly of you, and I can tell that she's happy to see you, but… I'm a little worried about what your visit will do to her."

"So am I, Charlie, so am I. I wouldn't have come if I'd had any idea. I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize. Who knows? Maybe it will be good for her."

"I hope you're right."

There was a long break while forks scraped plates and Charlie chewed. I wondered where Carlisle was hiding the food.

"Carlisle, I have to ask you something," Charlie said awkwardly.

Carlisle was calm. "Go ahead."

"He's not coming back to visit, too, is he?" I could hear the suppressed anger in Charlie's voice.

Carlisle answered in a soft, reassuring tone. "He doesn't even know I'm here. The last time I spoke with him, he was in South America."

I stiffened as I heard this new information, and listened harder.

"Well, I hope he's enjoying himself."

For the first time, Carlisle's voice had a bit of steel in it. "I wouldn't make assumptions, Charlie."

A chair scooted from the table, scraping loudly across the floor. I pictured Charlie getting up; there was no way Carlisle would make that kind of noise. The faucet ran, splashing against a dish.

It didn't sound like they were going to say anything more about Edward, so I decided it was time to go eat.

I almost stomped on the first couple steps to make my presence known, and then continued at a normal pace the rest of the way down the stairs. I had made it to the last step when I tripped. Carlisle, thankfully, was the closest to the stairs and caught me in his arms right before I hit the ground.

I looked into his eyes for a second, but that one second felt like eternity. He set me right side up and asked if I had hurt anything when I tripped. I told him that I was fine. I went over to Charlie and gave him a hug, then grabbed left over piece of toast.

Charlie had to leave then–he was helping Sue Clearwater with the funeral arrangements. It would have been a very long day without Carlisle. He never spoke about leaving, and I didn't ask him. I knew it was inevitable, but I put it out of my mind.

Instead, we talked about his family–all but one.

Esme was restoring a seventeenth century house, a historical monument, in the forest north of the city. Emmett and Rosalie had gone to Europe for a few months on another honeymoon, but they were back now. Jasper was at Cornell, too, studying philosophy this time.

And Alice had been doing some personal research, concerning the information I'd accidentally uncovered for her last spring. She'd successfully tracked down the asylum where she'd spent the last years of her human life. The life she had no memory of.

"Her name was Mary Alice Brandon," he told me quietly. "She had a little sister named Cynthia. Her daughter–Alice's niece–is still alive in Biloxi."

"Did she find out why they put her in… that place?" What would drive parents to that extreme? Even if their daughter saw visions of the future…

He just shook his head, his topaz eyes thoughtful. "She couldn't find much about them. She went through all the old newspapers on microfiche. Her family wasn't mentioned often; they weren't part of the social circle that made the papers. Her parents' engagement was there, and Cynthia's. Her birth was announced… and her death. She found her grave. She also filched her admissions sheet from the old asylum archives. The date on the admission and the date on her tombstone are the same."

I didn't know what to say, and, after a short pause, Carlisle moved on to lighter topics.

The Cullens were reassembled now, with the one exception, spending Cornell's spring break in Denali with Tanya and her family. I listened too eagerly to even the most trivial news. He never mentioned the one I was most interested in, and for that I was grateful. It was enough to listen to the stories of the family I'd once dreamed of belonging to.

Charlie didn't get back until after dark, and he looked more worn than he had the night before. He would be headed back to the reservation first thing in the morning for Harry's funeral, so he turned in early.

Charlie was almost a stranger when he came down the stairs before the sun was up, wearing an old suit I'd never seen him in before. The jacket hung open; I guessed it was too tight to fasten the buttons.

His tie was a bit wide for the current style. He tiptoed to the door, trying not to wake us up. I let him go, pretending to sleep.

As soon as he was out the door, Carlisle and I walked downstairs.

"Is there anything you were planning on doing today?" he asked.

"I don't know. I didn't have anything specific in mind."

All the time I'd been spending in La Push meant a pile of things I'd been neglecting at home, and I decided to catch up on my chores. I wanted to do something, anything that might make life easier for Charlie–maybe it would make him feel just a little better to come home to a clean, organized house. I started with the bathroom–it showed the most signs of neglect.

When I started working, Carlisle asked if he could help. I gave him a couple things to do. After a few minutes of quietly working, he started up a conversation about what I had read for English this year.

His face stayed casual and emotionless, but I sensed his disapproval when he realized how little I could tell him. Or maybe I just had a guilty conscience after eavesdropping on his conversation with Charlie yesterday morning.

I was literally up to my elbows in Comet, scrubbing the floor of the bathtub, when the doorbell rang.

"Hold on!" I shouted in the general direction of the front door, getting up and hurrying to the sink to rinse my arms off.

"Bella," Carlisle said with a trace of concern in his voice, "I have a fairly good guess who that might be, and I think I'd better step out."

"Guess?" I echoed.

"I can smell wet dog, even with all of the cleaning supplies, it's most likely Jacob Black or one of his… friends."

"You don't have go anywhere, Carlisle. You were here first."

"Trust me–it wouldn't be a good idea to have me and Jacob Black in a room together." He calmly told me–but his voice had a dark edge.

He vanished through Charlie's door–and out his back window, no doubt.

The doorbell rang again.