A/N: Hey guys, I know it's been a while and I apologize for the wait. Ever since my trip back in September, and everything that has gone on between then and now, I have had a really hard time getting back into writing this story. I've had this back from my beta for a while, but only just got to it today because I just couldn't get into it. I hope that has changed since I seem to have something going on in my head right now. I'm going to give chapter 17 a shot tonight to see what I can get. I really hope I can continue it. I've always said I wouldn't abandon it, but shit happens and my brain sucks. =( So let's hope for the best! I will try my hardest to keep going with this, even if it takes a while.

Anyways, I hope you guys like this chapter. I would love to hear what you think.

Thanks to TheUnderStudy for helping me with this. It seems that when I take breaks from writing, I forget how to word things. Lol.


Chapter 16
Bella's POV

I woke up to the sound of rain pouring against my window. The room was dim, even with the curtains open as I had left them the night before. When my eyes first cracked open, I almost felt like I was back in Forks. However, I knew that I wasn't. My bed at Charlie's house was nowhere near as comfortable as the one I was currently lying on. I yawned, stretching my body, and then smiled when I realized that it was Saturday. I didn't have to go to work. My smile went wider as I closed my eyes and curled back into my pillow, trying to go back to sleep.

Unfortunately, it wasn't happening as my brain decided morning meant it was okay to swarm me with reality. One break, even the tiniest, was too much to ask for. With a sigh, I threw the blankets back, allowing the slight chill to wake me up further. I threw my legs off the bed and tried to shake the thoughts. Saturday meant no work, but it also meant a whole day trapped inside my own head with no distractions from the chaos that was quickly becoming too much.

I reflected back to the night before. I remember I had left the curtain open because I had been reading next to the window. With Edward making an appearance, my mind refused to shut down so I could sleep. I didn't want to admit it to Carlisle, but I was worried about him showing up while I slept. He was, after all, good at doing that. And it wasn't like I would ever know. Although Carlisle would, and that gave me slight comfort. I wouldn't know until after he would have done it. The not knowing if he would keep his word and leave me alone ate at me. Why did Edward have to be such a creep? I shook my head as I lazily walked to the bathroom.

I couldn't help but smile as I thought back to Carlisle checking up on me through text messaging. I had to admit that talking to him helped clear my mind enough for me to finally sleep. It was a wonderful sleep. I couldn't remember if I had any dreams, but that was better than remembering the nightmares. I wasn't even worried with that fact that I told him to bring Alice with him when he came home. However, when I finished in the bathroom, the thought suddenly jolted me the rest of the way awake. That meant she was downstairs right at that very moment.

I quickly walked back into my room, got dressed, and then went back into the bathroom to run a brush through my hair. I almost brushed my teeth, but due to the noise coming from my stomach, I decided to hold off on it until I ate something. I took a deep breath before I left the bathroom and slowly walked down the hallway and into the kitchen. I was surprised to only find Carlisle standing in there, already cooking my breakfast. I watched him curiously before glancing around to see if I could spot Alice, but she was nowhere in sight. Carlisle caught my glances and nodded his head into the living room as he scooped pancakes onto a plate, carrying it to the table.

Alice was almost too quiet and I immediately wondered if something was wrong. My expression must have said it all.

"She is giving you time to wake up," he said with a smile as he rested his hand on my shoulder and squeezed gently. I smiled at his touch and sighed softly. He turned away then, retrieving a coffee cup from the cabinet and set it down next to the pot for me.

"Thank you," I told him, not just for the cup, but because I was pretty sure he had told her to at least try and be calm. Knowing Alice, she must have been trying very hard. I almost laughed because I could imagine her sitting there, fidgeting with impatience. I decided to try and push my luck and eat as slow as possible, wearing a smile the whole time. Each bite was chewed more than necessary. I took long drinks of coffee in between. I even brought the fork to my mouth slower than normal. Carlisle chuckled softly from the corner of the kitchen where he stood with his arms crossed, watching me.

"Are you trying to kill her?" he asked quietly, even though were both knew she could hear him. To prove that point, I heard a quiet growl from the living room and couldn't could in my laughter anymore.

"Oh, Carlisle, having a bit of patience won't kill her." I smiled up at him before continuing with my food at a more normal pace.

Once I was finished, Carlisle took my plate from me and I went back into the bathroom to brush my teeth. When my teeth were as clean as they could get, I met Carlisle in the hallway and he placed his hand on my back loosely as we walked together into the living room. His touch still made me shiver, just from contact alone. I might have also walked a little closer to him than necessary, but he didn't seem to notice or mind.

Alice was literally sitting on the edge of the couch. Her hands on her lap, tapping on her knee as one leg bounced. It was a very human thing to do and I couldn't stop from smiling. She remained seated even after we walked into the room. Her eyes met mine before they shifted away and I realized that she did notice how close I was standing next to Carlisle. She sighed before she looking back up at me and I was curious about the expression she wore. Did she have a problem with Carlisle and I being closer than we were before? I didn't understand why and I also couldn't find it in myself to care.

She went back to her normal impatient self and I rolled my eyes. I stepped away from Carlisle and moved in her direction before stopping somewhere in the middle.

"What, no hug?" I asked her. Before I could blink, she shot up, squealing as she ran towards me. Next thing I knew, my feet were off the ground and I was embraced in an Emmett style hug from the smallest of the Cullen vampires. "Okay, I realize it's been a while, but you couldn't have forgotten that I need to breathe," I said, gasping before she set me down.

"Oh, Bella! I'm so sorry." She looked embarrassed. "I just missed you so much."

I wanted to be angry at her. For someone who missed me so much, someone who willingly left me behind with nothing, she sure didn't give me much reason to believe it. However, I couldn't be mad at her. If there was anything I had learned since reuniting with Carlisle, it was that there was so much left unsaid and I had no doubt there was more to it than her just carelessly leaving me behind. That thought made me think of several things at once. There were many things that Carlisle and I had yet to talk about. It just never seemed like the right time and I knew that right then, standing in front of Alice after so long, really wasn't the best time either.

"I missed you too," I replied instead.

For a moment, it felt like nothing had changed. I was sitting on the floor of the living room, my knees brought up to my chest as Alice tugged and twisted on my hair before pinning it up. She talked of the things that happened since they had left and I knew she was only mentioning the happy moments. I could tell she was carefully avoiding those memories that weren't. She told me about Emmett and some of his crazy antics to cheer everyone up and Rosalie's annoyance at some of his less mature pranks. As she told me about the time Emmett had super glued all of her expensive shoes to the bottom of her closet, I had a hard time catching my breath. I pictured his smug smile when Alice freaked out about him ruining the soles of every pair.

"Every pair was ruined," she said as she carefully ran the nail polish brush over my toe nails. "There were chunks missing and they were stuck to the floor. Oh, I was so mad at him." Though I could imagine her anger, she wore a fond expression of her brother as she went on about having to replace them and how some of them were no longer available. Her punishment was forcing him to go shoe shopping with her for replacements while educating him on how to purchase just right ones for each outfit she owned. Poor guy.

She told me about Jasper and I could barely remember the things she said. I was focused on the love I could see in her eyes and the smile that never left her lips. I envied the sureness of their love. The easy, never fading, eternal love between them was something I longed for. I had a sliver of that kind of love and double the amount of hope. It was what I thought I had with Edward. To imagine you have something like that, to spend countless hours daydreaming of spending forever with someone, to always feel that loved and wanted, just to have it crash down around you, was so terribly heartbreaking. The wound wasn't fresh anymore and many months had been dedicated to trying to heal it, but the scar would always remain. That hidden mark on my heart would always be there to remind me that nothing was ever for certain. I failed at trying to hold in my sigh as I shoved those thoughts aside.

"What is it, Bella? Is something wrong?" Alice asked and before I could answer I could see she knew what I was going to say. I looked down at my freshly painted, deep purple nails before I got the courage to ask her.

"Alice, so much has changed in the last year," I started and she nodded and smiled. "When you look at my future now, what is it that you see?" As the words left my mouth, I suddenly wasn't so sure I wanted to know.

"Actually, you'd be surprised how much has and hasn't changed," she said with that all too knowing smile.

"Care to elaborate?" I asked as I wrapped my arms around me knees and rested my head on them, while looking over to her.

"I can't tell you too much, I'm sure you know that. However, I will tell you that I still see you becoming one of us," she said with a wide smile.

"But, I'm not with Edward anymore. How can you possibly-"

"Bella," she said, cutting me off. Her eyes stared into mine in such a serious manor that I had never seen from her before. "Do you honestly think that, just because you and Edward aren't together anymore, that we don't see you as family?"

"I don't know," I answered honestly. How could I not see it that way? Edward broke up with me and they all left… What was I supposed to think?

"Well, to me, you will always be my sister and my best friend. To me, that is enough to always keep you. I know it doesn't seem that way, because of everything that had happened. We are all guilty of hurting you and we haven't lessened the weight of that fact; it's still heavily there. One day, hopefully soon, you will know everything. Some things you should already know, but I don't feel it's my place to tell you. Soon though, I promise. As for your future, it is always changing, especially the last few days. But those two things have never changed and I don't think they ever will. The timing isn't exactly clear just yet, but that doesn't mean anything either."

"Well... Just for the record, I don't want to be too old." I said with a smile as I pushed myself up off the floor, trying to make light of the situation.

"Oh, of course not." She smiled, knowing that I was done with the serious talk.

While I was happy to hear that I would still be one of them, something in me was unsure of the idea. I had spent my time with Edward so sure I wanted to be a vampire to be with him, to be equal. Then the last year was spent with the constant reminder that I never would be one of them and that I would always be alone because nothing else felt right. With Alice's confirmation, I didn't know if I should be happy or not. Would I still want forever if I had no one to share it with?

"Bella, stop worrying so much!" she said excitedly as she led me to the kitchen.

As she made me lunch, we talked about how to spend the rest of the day. The previous subject of shoe shopping before brought up and idea for her and I had to admit, I did need a new pair for work. I couldn't believe I had admitted it, but I had truly missed my bouncy best friend that much. After lunch, I got ready to head to the store. I had wanted to let Carlisle know we were going and I realized that I hadn't seen or heard him since Alice and I had gotten started.

"He's been upstairs in his study," Alice told me as I turned to look at her, not even opening my mouth yet. I nodded as I glanced at the stairs. "He'll be down in just a minute," she added softly. I turned to glare at her when she smiled at me. Just that one smile said so much. Somehow, she knew how I felt about Carlisle, or she at least had an idea.

"So, what kind of shoes did you have in mind?" Alice asked as she casually leaned against the wall, eyeing the pair I was just putting on. I raised a brow at her in question.

"You mean you're going to let me chose?" I said with a smile.

"Hmm, I haven't decided yet," she said, smiling again and glancing at the stairs as I tied my last shoe.

"Alright, but no heels," I said as I stood up straight, smoothing down my shirt.

At that moment, I heard Carlisle coming down the stairs. I turned to look at him as he took the last step and my eyes were locked on his. I barely registered Alice quickly leaving until she called out, letting me know she'd be waiting in the car. I turned to look after her, confused by her sudden disappearance, but all was forgotten as Carlisle came to stand in front of me. I was suddenly very nervous and as I tried to run a hand through my hair. It was a bit awkward when I realized my hair was pulled up.

"You look beautiful," he said after a moment and I smiled.

"Thanks."

"You should wear your hair pulled back more often. You hide behind it too much."

I swallowed the lump in my throat and nodded quickly.

"So, I had something I wanted to ask you, though I realize now might not be the best time to do so," he said, looking just about as nervous as I felt.

"What is it? I'm sure Alice won't mind waiting a minute or two."

"I was just wondering where you stood on the moving issue. You were supposed to go look at those apartments this weekend and I just wondered if you would still need a ride for doing that."

He paused for a moment as he looked into my eyes before looking down and taking my hand. I once again realized just how comfortable his skin felt against mine. It wasn't too cool, nothing like what I would expect. In the beginning, it always felt like a shock of electricity whenever we would touch, but I was beginning to realize that it was just the comfort, a pulsing through my skin that always lead me to wanting more of his touch. My right hand was pressed between both of his as he seemed to try and find the right words before his eyes made their way back into mine. I wasn't sure how I managed to look up at just the right moment, but I met his eyes at the perfect time.

"I realized that, before, I wasn't very supportive of your decision and I apologize. If moving is what you feel is best for you and you need that independence, then I will support that and help you as much as you will allow." While he spoke, so sure of himself and his words, his eyes didn't quite match. All at once, he was telling me two different things, two very meaningful things, yet I was stuck on something else.

"Honestly, I had actually forgotten about moving," I said, smiling as I looked back down at his hands and mine.

"Really? You were so sure of it."

"Yeah, I was." The word 'was' hung in the air heavily. That word alone held so much meaning and I could tell he knew that as his eyes watched me carefully. "But I think this is my home." And as I said that, I realized those words said much more than I was fully ready to admit. By this, I meant him. He smiled and looked happy as I added, "As long as it is okay with you, I'd be happy to stay here as long as you plan on staying. And when the time comes for you to leave, I'll decide where I go from there." His hand had moved from mine to slowly inching closer to my face where he gently touched my cheek,

"I'd love that," he said, his voice lower and deeper than before.

"Good," I barely whispered, feeling his touch and losing myself in his eyes.

Without fully knowing it, my hand that wasn't still being held by his had moved to his side as his thumb stroked my cheek. We seemed to be closer to each other, as if gravity was pulling us together. There was so much emotion in his eyes and I didn't have enough time to try and decipher their meaning before I felt his chest against mine. Both of his hands were on my face and both of mine are holding him close. I wanted so badly for him to kiss me, yet I was terrified of it at the same time. However, I didn't have much time to fully decide before his lips were on mine.

His lips were hard, yet so smooth and soft. He was gentle as he held my face to his, running his thumbs against my eyelids as they fluttered closed. White dots filled my vision and I barely felt that I could stand on my own two feet as my knees weakened. Our mouths moved together, picking up a quicker pace as my right hand traveled up his chest and held his head firmly in place against mine. Through my left hand that stayed on his chest, I could feel him, his cool, hard skin, through the material of his thin shirt. It was so close to what I had dreamt. I could feel him in every place we were touching, my skin steadily burning with contact, and it suddenly became very real to me.

I pulled back quickly, my eyes immediately meeting his as I struggled to catch my breath. His hands dropped to his sides and his expression was a mixture I couldn't understand. I had to look away. I started to speak, not even sure what I would say, but I couldn't get words to pass through my lips correctly. The taste of him was still there, distracting me. I closed my eyes and tried again, saying the first thing that came to mind as I slowly backed away from him.

"I-I should go. Alice is waiting," I whispered more clearly than before opening my eyes and quickly running out of the door.