She watched the news, but then clicked the off button just as the political pundits started to analyze every word that Edward had said.

She had her own analysis to do and it had very little to do with politics.

I am here for one reason, to answer the question…What kind of man am I?...

The words of Edward's speech kept running through her mind. Although it was a campaign speech, effectively entering him into the race for the Senate seat out of Illinois, it was almost as if the speech was directed on a more personal level towards her.

Who was she kidding? She knew that the speech was meant for her, though in a covert coded way. Otherwise, why would he have used that specific language?

She had asked him what kind of man he was, and it looked as if he really was trying to live up to the potential she had seen inside of him. But, that didn't mean that she trusted him or that she could forgive him. What he had done had been the equivalent of plunging a red hot poker into her very heart. She had never felt so betrayed in her life.

Sighing she closed her eyes and let her head fall back against the couch as her mind became a swirl of thoughts and heart a hurricane of emotions.

His speech had been perfect. It had hit all the right notes, had gotten people excited about having him as their candidate, their senator, and it had shown how intelligent, caring, and determined he was. She couldn't have done better if she had written the speech herself.

Opening her eyes, she stared at the ceiling, looking at the ceiling fan blades as they slowly spun around. She was still lost in her thoughts of Edward and this new development when she heard her phone ring.

Seeing it was Alice she answered, "Hey, Al."

"Oh my God, Bella!" Alice sounded almost as stunned as she felt.

"I know," Bella said calmly.

"Can you believe this? I mean, did you see this coming!?" Alice barely took a breath as she continued on, "Who could have seen this coming? I just, I'm speechless!" Bella almost smiled at that since it was obvious that Alice was anything but. "Do you think that he's doing this because of you? At least some of it has to be about you, but wow!"

"Alice, it doesn't…," Bella started, but got interrupted again as Alice uncharacteristically cursed.

"Hoooolyyyyy shiiiiitt! Are you watching CNN!?"

Bella frowned, figuring she knew what this was about. "No…but…how do I look…?" Some of the footage from earlier that evening when she had left the office must have been there.

"How do you look!? Bella! What in the world is going on!? You're surrounded! Are you all right?! What happened!?" Alice was sounding more panicked by the second.

"Calm down Alice. There were just a few, uh, reporters waiting outside headquarters when I left work this evening. I got home fine in a cab with Eric's help."

"They're talking about you and Edward," Alice said, with a frown in her voice.

"I figured," replied Bella. She was wondering if she should turn on the set, curious as to what they were saying, but truth of the matter was that she really didn't want to think about it much; she had too many other things on her mind and worrying about what the media was saying about her and Edward wasn't one of them.

Bella heard the drone of voices off of Alice's television set for a while before Alice spoke, "Wow, this isn't going to let up, is it?"

Bella sighed, "Unfortunately, I don't think that it is."

"Are you really okay?" Alice asked, genuine concern in her voice.

"Yeah, I'll be all right," Bella said with a bit of a smile. "I think I'm going to have to discuss this situation with your dad and Jasper though. I don't think our offices are equipped for this kind of onslaught."

"Well, it is California and not DC. Unscrupulous journalist are everywhere, but it's almost like they thrive more under the California sun," Alice replied, and of course, she would know. It wasn't easy being the daughter of a famous politician.

Bella laughed a bit. "You've got a point." She hesitated a moment before continuing, "How are things going between you and Jasper anyway."

It was Alice's turn to sigh, "They are, well, about the same I guess. We've had lunch a couple of times. Things aren't how they used to be, but then I don't think that they can be. Relationships change, either for the better or for the worse. I guess I'm still hoping it's for the better, you know?"

"Yeah, I know," Bella said quietly, but she was thinking about herself and Edward rather than of Alice and Jasper.

As if reading her mind, Alice replied, "That goes for you and Edward too. You don't have to forgive him and you don't have to be in a relationship with him, but…well, what are you hoping for Bella?"

"I don't know, Alice. I honestly don't," she was quiet a moment. "I guess I'm just hoping that I don't get hurt again, you know?" And, just like that, she felt herself on the verge of tears again.

"Oh, sweetie," Alice said, "I know. It sucks to get hurt by someone you've given your heart too, but your heart won't always be broken and one day it'll mend. I know it will."

"What, are you clairvoyant now?" Bella said with a bit of a shaky laugh.

Alice laughed, "You know I've always had a sixth sense about thing."

"Then what's going to happen to me?" Bella asked, her voice turning serious. "What's going to happen with me and Edward?"

"I don't know the answer to that, only you can decide," Alice replied softly. "But, let me ask you this: Without taking anyone else's views and opinions into consideration, just listening to your heart, do you still love him? After everything that happened, do you?"

Before Bella could answer, Alice stopped her, "Don't answer that out loud, just to yourself."

Yes, Bella thought, Yes, I still love him.

"In the end, that's what's important...because if after all that you've been through, if you still love him, then maybe that's enough."

Bella smiled a bit at Alice's words. "Thanks, Alice."

Alice had a smile in her voice as she replied, "That's what I'm here for. By the way, you did look fabulous! You do look like you need a bit of sleep though. Go to the M.A.C. counter and get a bit of that cover-up I told you about."

Bella couldn't help but laugh.

)()()()()(

Edward was sitting at his home on the outskirts of Chicago, quietly going over some of his upcoming schedule with Seth. Emmett, who was due to return to D.C. in the morning, was sitting nearby, flipping through the channels, trying to find out if there was any national coverage about Edward's announcement earlier in the day.

"Ah, there we are," Emmett exclaimed, getting comfy in his seat as he put the remote to one side and picked up a beer bottle he had been nursing for a while.

Edward barely glanced his way before looking at the papers that Seth put in front of him. "I think that this is a particularly important meeting for you to attend," Seth was saying as he pointed to an event that was marked as a maybe on his calendar, but Edward's attention was almost immediately drawn way again as he heard the name Isabella Swan coming from the television.

Emmett was watching the images with wide eyes as Edward got up and walked towards the television, asking for him to raise the volume.

Picking up the remote, Emmett did as he was asked.

"As many of us know, Edward Masen, Jr., who just announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat out of Illinois is dating Isabella Swan, a member of Presidential candidate Carlisle Cullen's staff." The shot moved from the pretty blonde reporter behind the anchor desk to an image of Bella, surrounded by a crowd of reporters carrying cameras and mikes that they were sticking in her face as she tried to push past them.

"Son of a…," Emmett muttered as he leaned forward in his seat. At the same moment Edward exclaimed, "What the fuck!?" And, Seth, who had followed Edward to see what he was so interested in said, "This ain't good."

As the screen continued to show Bella trying to make her way to a taxi, the reporter's voice continued, "Ms. Swan was not present at Mr. Masen's announcement earlier today, and while we tried to catch up with her to get her opinion on the upcoming campaign, she did not comment. One has to wonder if Ms. Swan is going to be a hindrance and distraction to either the Masen or Cullen campaigns."

A muscle in Edward's jaw was ticking at how tightly he was clenching his teeth as he watched the screen. Bella looked confused and a bit frightened, and he wanted nothing more than to protect her, but obviously he couldn't. It was apparent that she had been caught off guard.

"Damnit! How the fuck did this happen?!" He asked, looking around, but of course there were no answers. Sure the press had been interested in his and Bella's relationship before, but they had never been this intrusive and he had just assumed that since they hadn't bothered her before that she was going to be left alone. He had obviously assumed wrong.

He also had a feeling that this was going to get worse…