Disclaimer: All things that exist in the Twilight universe belong to Stephenie Meyer.


– shine – chapter 17 – sorry –

Oh, I had a lot to say, was thinking on my time away,
I missed you and things weren't the same,
'Cause everything inside, it never comes out right,
And when I see you cry it makes me want to die,
I'm sorry I'm bad, I'm sorry you're blue, I'm sorry about all the things I said to you,
And I know... I can't take it back...
I love how you kiss, I love all your sounds, and, baby, the way you make my world go round,
And I just wanted to say... I'm sorry.

-Sorry, Buckcherry

"Nay said to call her," James said as I walked through the door of Reign Monday morning. "She wants to know why I wasn't the one to bring you in to work this morning."

I rolled my eyes at the smirk on James's face. "You told her about Edward, didn't you?"

"Oh, is that who that was?" he asked, sarcastically. "And hell no. I didn't tell her shit. I don't want to be the one to break the news to her."

"Yeah, yeah."

"Did your counts and weighed the kegs, by the way."

I gaped at him. James was never one to do someone else's job. He had enough on his plate just covering his own ass. "Seriously?"

"What?"

"You never do that!"

He huffed, rolling his eyes. "Never say never. I'm sure I've done that shit before. Once or twice."

I shook my head. "Nu-uh. Never."

"Well, I did it today," he snapped. "Don't made a deal about it."

I tilted my head to the side as I stepped forward and slid into a bar stool in front of him. "You're in a good mood this morning. You couldn't even muster up the mean when you snapped at me."

He shrugged. "Had a good night."

He couldn't look me in the eye, and if I wasn't mistaken, he was blushing. Just a bit, but I had never, never seen James blush. "Oh yeah?"

"Yeah."

"What was so good about it?"

"Why you wanna know? Didn't you have a good night?"

I joined right in with his blushing. Good night didn't even begin to describe my night. "Uh – yeah. But we aren't talking about me."

"I'm talking about you. That boy make shit right?"

I grinned at him. "You could say that. Back to you – "

"I asked Vicky to marry me." My jaw dropped. James and Vicky had been together for almost three years, and never once had one or the other ever talked about tying the knot. "She said yes."

"James!" I squealed, hopping up from the bar stool and half over the bar to pull him into a tight hug. "I'm so happy for you!"

"Yeah," he said quietly, his blush deepening just a bit. "Did you know Nay was holding on to your great-grandmothers ring for me?"

Momma had told me a long time ago, but she had also sworn me to secrecy. Apparently all the women in our family knew of it, but we were all pretty damn good about minding our own business. "I might've... "

"Figures," he muttered, smirking, "anyway. I mentioned it to her in passing a few days ago – that I was thinking of asking... she gave me the ring after you all took off yesterday. I was pretty fucking shocked. I thought Nonna Luciana was buried with it."

"No one in our family has been buried with their rings, James," I told him, rolling my eyes. How did he not know this? Seriously? "Every one of them has left strict instructions on who they wanted them passed down to."

He shook his head, cursing under his breath the whole time. I couldn't understand a word of it, but I'm sure it was cringe-worthy. James had a colorful vocabulary. "You women... " was all I really made out. Finally, he looked up at me, quiet for at least a full minute before he asked, "You and Edward a thing now?"

I blushed, grinning as I thought of the night we shared with each other. "Um... yeah. You could say we are, indeed, a "thing" now."

"'Bout fucking time."

I rolled my eyes. "Don't you have something you need to be doing?"

"Yeah, I'm gonna run the deposit to the bank and get change. You leave the door locked while I'm gone, alright? And... if for some reason I'm not back by open, Alec is not allowed in here while you're working unless I'm here. So that fuck can wait outside, alright?"

"Ugh," I groaned, "he can come back in today? I totally forgot."

"Yeah, he can, but not while I'm gone. You hear me?" I nodded. "And, we need to talk about Gianna soon. Well, Leah wants to talk to you is more like it. You think there's any way you could make it down there on Thursday?"

"Sure," I said, biting my lip. "What does Leah want to know?"

He shrugged. "Fuck if I know. And I need you tending Saturday night. Sorry 'bout that, but you and Vanessa are my fastest. She's working with you on Friday, as well."

I had no problem with that. If we had the crowd we were expecting, the money I would make Friday and Saturday night would be really good. "That's cool. How many waitresses those nights?"

"Just Rini and Alice. Vicky'll be here if we need her, too, but I'm not anticipating we will. Most people will probably just come up to the bar to order. Angela can't cover – she's asked off this weekend for like three months. Something to do with Ben's family."

I nodded, remembering her telling me that some time back. "Alright. Go do your business. I'll just... find something to fill time with since you already did my job for me."

He sent me a snarky grin and a nod before picking up the deposit bag from the cooler behind him. He pointed it toward me once before making his way from behind the bar to outside, where he locked the door and mouthed, "No Alec." I nodded to him, again and then he was gone.

I smiled and allowed myself to sit in my stool for just a moment longer. I wanted to enjoy this moment. I was feeling at peace – something I hadn't felt in a long time, and something I was sure wouldn't last. Not with Demetri out and about, and my sister... not out and about. I pushed those thoughts aside for the moment, though, and just focused on how awesome yesterday had been, and how amazing this morning was thus far.

When Alice, Jasper and I had arrived back to Edward last night, Edward had carried... yes, carried me straight back to his room, shouting a hello to Alice while still in motion. Her laugh was loud and pronounced as she shouted back, "Don't do anything I wouldn't do!"

I responded with: "I heard you'll do just about anything!"

Edward laughed loudly in response to that, while I heard Jasper curse as Alice smacked him. Where she smacked him I couldn't see, but I sure could hear. Once Edward had me in his room, however, I didn't hear anything from Alice or Jasper. Edward had put on some soft music, which helped, but really, it was the sound of our own voices that kept any outside noise from interrupting us.

We didn't have sex last night, which was an absolute test of my patience. However, I was the one who wanted to talk. So we talked.

For the rest of the night, Edward asked me questions about Gianna, and me, and Gianna, and our mother, and Gianna, and Demetri, and then he would ask more about me. He, in turn answered anything and everything I threw at him, but there wasn't much I could think to ask.

I was content to lay it all out on the table for him. He wanted to know I reconciled with the fact that the Gianna I grew up with, wasn't the Gianna of today. Or, the Gianna of six years ago. I told him, "It happened pretty fast – how she changed... like... overnight fast – but I've had a lot of years to come to grips with who she's become. I don't like it, and I don't always like her... but she's my sister, and I love her."

"But you had her arrested. I don't mean to sound like a dick when I say that... but... wouldn't seeking medical help be the more logical choice for someone you love?"

I furrowed my brow, trying to explain the heartache of loving an addict wasn't something I was accustomed to. I didn't make a habit of defending Gianna, but I also never defended my own actions in regards to her. Some people would claim that by cleaning up for her, covering for her, stepping in to take care of her when she needed it was more of a hindrance than not. Edward seemed to think that what I had done was wrong, or, at least, he seemed to think it might not have been exactly right.

"That morning when I saw her... with a fucking needle sticking out of her arm... " I shook my head, trying to forget I had ever witnessed such a thing. "I saw no other way. What I'd been doing for years wasn't helping her in any way. I thought maybe if she got thrown in the slammer, it might do her some good."

"So it wasn't a selfish thing on your part? Sick to death of what you had to put up with so hand it off to someone else?"

My head jerked toward him. His words were harsh, very harsh, but his tone wasn't. He wasn't looking at me though, instead he was fixated on the door to the hallway. "Why would you ask me that?"

He blinked. "Because I could probably relate to that. I just didn't throw his ass in jail."

"Who?"

He pursed his lips, looking down toward the bed and then finally to me. Very quietly, so much so I almost believed I didn't hear him right, he said, "Jasper."

My eyes might have bugged out just a bit. "What?"

Edward nodded. "He was going to tell you... he tried to tell you earlier this week... " Now, I felt like a total shit. When Jasper had shown up at the bar asking to speak with me, I had assumed he had meant something pertaining to Edward. I guess, in a way, this did have something to do with Edward, but obviously it was Jasper's story to tell and I didn't even give him a chance. "That's why I freaked out so fucking bad when you told me your sister's boyfriend – or whatever – was Demetri De Luca. We've had... issues... in the past."

He didn't say anything for a minute and I took the opportunity to sort out what he had just told me. He knew Demetri before. I remembered when Demetri's name had first come up – the night everything went crazy with Edward and I – Edward had tensed up. I remembered wondering if Edward had known him, and thinking that perhaps Edward had dabbled in drugs before – if that's how he knew Demetri. He hadn't offered up an exact reason for his knowing Demetri, but it sounded as if he knew him because of Jasper. And if Jasper had been involved in drugs...

"Demetri was Jasper's dealer?" I already knew the answer in my head, but I had to ask. I wanted everything cleared up.

"Yes," Edward said, nodding, "I can't tell you how many times I had to go to that fuck's house and pull my best friend out of it. Jasper was... pretty bad. I don't know how to compare what he was like to what your sister is like... just... he was bad. And Demetri could've given a fuck about it. He was making bank, that's all he cared about, I guess."

I frowned. "Is Jasper...?"

Edward shook his head quickly. "He hasn't done that shit in forever. He was bad into it for a couple of years – that's... I'll tell you in a minute – and I eventually ran out of ways to help him. My dad told me to talk to a lawyer... get him admitted to rehab against his will, but I had no legal right to do so. So, I called Peter and Charlotte – Jasper's parents. They came and he was in rehab like a minute later."

"Damn," I mumbled. If we had known years ago... Gianna always refused rehab. We didn't know we had a choice. Well, it was always Jame and I dealing with her when she did have an overdose – or it had been for the last few years or so. We had been so preoccupied with keeping Gianna's condition from Renee... from breaking Renee's heart... we had done more bad than good. If we had gone to her with the situation, the hospitals probably would have offered up that information to her freely. God, we had done so much wrong. "Leah – my sister's, or well, my mother's lawyer – just told my mom about that. About admitting an addict to rehab without their consent. We had no idea... "

He waited a few after my voice had trailed off before asking, "So, your mom had no idea?"

I frowned even deeper. "Momma isn't stupid. I can't believe that she didn't have some idea of what was going on... but... she was so damn deep in denial when we revealed it all to her. She swore up and down that she'd never seen Gianna take a drink. Never seen her stumble. Never seen her look strung out. But... I know she's stolen from Momma before... Momma called me bitching. I can't believe she had no idea... "

"So it was just you and James dealing with it all then?"

I nodded. "Well and Alice. And Vicky, James's fiancee. But yeah... we dealt with it mainly between the two of us."

"And now she's in jail?"

I nodded slowly, biting my lip as I looked down. "And I put her there," I whispered as tears sprung to my eyes.

"Hey," he said, pulling me into his arms, "no crying. You can't feel bad about it. You've been taking care of her for years, Bella, and none of it was doing any good. Maybe this way... she can get the help she needs."

I took a deep breath and told him all about the day I had gone to visit Gianna in jail. I had thought an awful lot about the things she had said, the way she had acted as the week dragged on and on, and the more I thought about it, the more I was sure that Gianna had had ulterior motives so far as Demetri was concerned. "I think she was trying to protect me and Momma. I mean... I know she's an addict, Edward, but... I think some of what she was doing was in order to keep her family safe. Demetri is – "

"A sick, scary fuck. Trust me, I know." He spat, huffing out a breath. "And maybe she was trying to protect you... maybe she was doing what she was doing for a reason... but, Bella? She was – is – an addict. You're not wrong about that. And, like I said, maybe now she can get the help she needs."

I laid my head against his shoulder and he laid his head against my own, and together we sat in silence, thinking about what we had talked about. It felt like we had come a long way in the course of a couple of hours. This was the way our talk should have gone, if only I hadn't been such a chickenshit about telling him in the first place. After awhile, I realized he had never continued what he wanted to tell me about Jasper, so I asked him about it.

He shrugged. "I feel bad dredging up old shit now that we've talked about what we have."

"No, don't do that. I don't want any more secrets between us."

He nodded, pulling his head away from my own and looking off to the side, toward the window. "The band broke up after that festival. Not for long, but when we got back together, it was without Felix. It was then that Jasper got into drugs. He wasn't the same guy back then that he is now. Now, he could give a shit if we make it big... he's just happy playing. But back then... that was his goal, and when everything went to shit, so did he.

"He went through a period where he didn't seem like himself, but he swears to this day that was just him being an emo fuck. He's told me he didn't do anything drug-wise until six months after that festival. Long enough to get himself good and depressed and then one night we were at a party and the next thing you know... Jasper's all smiles again. He kept talking about getting the band back together and that he knew a guy that could play drums for us.

"Turns out that guy? Was just some dude who sold Jasper some blow. He knew how to play, sure, but he wasn't good. We tried, Emmett and I, we tried for Jasper, but it still only last around three months. We told the dude it wasn't gonna work out and the next thing you know, Jasper's not coming home. He's not coming to practice – even though we had no drummer, we still tried to get together just to jam, but no. Jasper's just nowhere to be found.

"Emmett was the first one Felix talked to after it all went down. Heidi wouldn't have shit to do with him and neither would I. But Emmett... he's always had a pretty big heart, and even though it caused some trouble between him and Rose – because Heidi is Rose's bestie – he decided that Felix deserved a second chance with the band.

"I wasn't for it. I couldn't stand to be around the guy... thinking about what he'd done to my cousin... but I grinned and beared it. Wasn't easy. Really wasn't easy when Jasper stopped being able to grip his fucking guitar because he was too fucked up.

"Felix is the one who figured out where Jasper was going. He followed him one night and got into it with Demetri when he decided to carry Jasper's ass out of there. That was the second beginning for Heidi and Felix, by the way. When she saw him beat the hell up, carrying an equally beaten Jasper... yeah.

"Anyway, Felix gave me the address, and ever after that, when Jasper would disappear, that's where I would find him. That's also how I knew where Demetri lived that night you and I got into it. I hadn't been there in years... but shit... after you've carried your best friend from a place so many times... you don't ever forget it.

"There wasn't a real catalyst, though. I can't remember him doing anything worse than he was already doing... just that... I got sick of it. I was tired, hungry, cranky all the time. And I was just... fucking sick of it. I could see the toll it was taking on me... and that was nothing compared to what it was doing to Jasper. So, yeah, called my dad and then Jasper's parents and... that was it. He's never picked it back up again. He's told me he gets urges from time to time, and you better sure as fuck believe he freaked when I told him who your sister's boyfriend was, but... he's better. We're better."

His reaction made even more sense to me now, having heard everything he had personally gone through with Demetri. And Jasper. He could probably relate to a lot of what I had gone through with Gianna throughout the years. It also made me feel even more foolish because so much of my self-imposed drama could have been avoided had I not acted childishly and run from him. Not just him, either, but the friends he sent to try and talk some sense in to me. I was surprised they wanted anything to do with me anymore.

The rest of the night was much more lighthearted than the beginning. We spent it on easier topics; favorite things – bands, foods, places to hang out in Seattle, beer. He scoffed at my beer of choice – Bud Light – but I informed him that for someone who couldn't afford to spend much on alcohol, and for someone who preferred shots to imported, expensive beer, Bud Light certainly served its purpose.

I sighed, happily remembering how amazing the night had been. I had much more in common with Edward than I initially thought I would have, but I did nonetheless. He seemed pleased, as well.

Glancing at the clock, I realized just how much time I had wasted, sitting here daydreaming about my most awesome boyfriend, and decided that I needed to get up and get something done. Otherwise, I might just sit here dreaming about him all day long.

There was still fifteen minutes left before time to open the doors, and, to be honest, I was a little nervous. James specifically told me not to allow Alec inside. That was all fine and good, but, if he showed up before James returned, did I just leave the door locked? I doubted he would listen to me if I straight up told him what James had instructed me to do, and furthermore, he would get upset and possibly violent because of it. I wanted to avoid that at all costs.

I stopped the line of thought, deciding to focus on filling the condiments tray, instead. James had been a doll to do my counts, and usually, since I was busy with that, I didn't have time to do this before we opened. Today, I decided, is going to be a good day.

I made my way back to the walk-in, grabbing up a bag each of limes and lemons, a jar of olives and one of cherries, and on my way back, went ahead and snatched up a new jar of salt and a bag of sugar. That was everything I needed to get things ready.

Emerging from the backroom, my spirits sunk right down to my knees. Sure enough, what I had feared would happen, was going to happen. Alec Newberry stood at the front door to the bar, both hands poised around his face as he peered inside. His lips were moving, most likely he was talking to himself, and while I had always thought Alec to be crazy, I had never seen him talk to himself. It put me on edge.

He spotted me just then and jerked his head back from the door, looking to his side and scowling. I guessed he was about as happy to see me as I was to see him. Glancing at the clock again showed me I only had ten minutes to figure out what the hell I was going to do.

James could get back on time, I reminded myself.

I took a quick look back at the door only to find Alec gone. Good, I thought, maybe he won't want to come in while I'm here. One deep breath later, I made my way behind the bar and proceeded to get the lemons and limes cut, and the trays filled.

I finished with two minutes to spare, so I made a quick round of the place, making sure everything was as clean as it should be, and that chairs were even spread throughout the tables. I also made sure to glance out the windows, and upon finding the parking lot and the sidewalk in front of the bar empty, decided that it was safe to go ahead and unlock the doors. James would be back any minute now, and, I decided, if Alec did show back up before then, and didn't heed my warning, I would call the police. That would be enough to scare him off.

I hadn't taken more than ten steps from the door when it flew open. I spun around, wide-eyed, heart racing as I watched James stroll through, smiling all the way. I let out the breath I didn't even know I was holding.

"What?" he asked immediately upon seeing my panicked face.

I shook my head. "It's nothing – just – just Alec was outside a bit ago – "

"Did he try to come in and do something?"

"No! No, well, I had the door locked. But he was being creepy and peeking through the windows and talking to himself. But I just unlocked the door like right before you came in, and I checked around before I did that to make sure he wasn't around and – hey! Where's your truck?"

"I parked over on the side of the building. You sure you're alright?"

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Just jumpy, I guess. But yeah... I'm good. You aren't... you aren't leaving me alone here today, are you?"

He shook his head. "I'm not even sitting back in the office today. I really want Alec to come in and start shit with me so I can see with my own two eyes and then throw his ass out for good. Nobody talks about my family like he did you."

The door opened then; we both spun around and I know we both expected to see Alec show his sorry face, but it wasn't him. It was Leah Clearwater.

She nodded to James. "You think you could cover for Bella while I have a chat with her? I'd rather not wait until Thursday to get this done."

"Uh, yeah, sure." James looked back toward me. "That okay with you?" I nodded. "Okay, give me a sec, Leah. I gotta take this shit to the safe."

"No problem," she replied, turning to face me then. "We can sit in that room over there, I don't imagine too many people come in this time of day. Should be private enough, yeah?"

"Yeah, should be fine," I said, quietly as James retreated to the back room. "Well... "

Leah nodded once before walking ahead of me to the small room on the side of the bar. She picked the furthest table possible and sat right down, pulling out the chair next to her and opening her briefcase. "First off, I wanted to say... what you did for your sister was the best thing you could have done. In case you were wondering. At least she's protected inside."

I cringed, thinking about all the things Gianna needed to be protected from... and now... all the things the rest of our family needed to be careful about. "She didn't seem to agree with you."

Leah waved her hand, dismissing my comment. "Gianna needed help. She was in over her head and she didn't know what to do."

"Do you mean about her picking fights with Demetri to try and keep him away from me and Momma? Or the drugs?"

"Both," Leah said, shrugging. "Well, that, and... " She took a deep breath, glancing toward the bar. I turned to see what she was looking at and watched as Alec Newberry made his way slowly to the bar. James had re-emerged from the back and was leaning on both elbows, watching Alec as closely as possible.

Alec wasn't looking at James though, he was looking right at Leah. I turned back toward her; her eyebrows were furrowed as she observed him. "Do you know him?"

She startled, turning her attention back to me. Shaking her head, she said, "No. He gives a creepy vibe though."

"Agreed. I can't stand when he comes in."

"He comes in often?"

"Pretty much every day. Unless he picks a fight and then James bars him from coming in for awhile."

"Hmm... " She lowered her voice before continuing. "Did you know that your sister went to the police in February?"

I sat up straight immediately. "What?"

Leah nodded. "She's been helping them build a case against Demetri. They've been jerking her around though. They were using the excuse that they didn't want her cover blown... but what happened to her – the heroine? That wasn't her. Your sister is an addict, yes, but she swears up and down she's never touched that stuff. Said it scared her because she'd been around too many people who had gotten too far in with it. She knew enough to know she didn't want that."

I closed my eyes tightly, shaking my head. "Then what – "

"Think about it, Bella, and I'm sure you'll figure it out. Now," Leah said, pulling a folder from the stack inside of her case, "Gianna tells me that there was an incident between yourself and Demetri in January, and also, she said that you told her the other day that there was another. Recently."

I nodded, drawing in a shaky breath. "Yeah... Monday? Yeah... Monday night, after work."

"And you didn't report it?"

I shook my head. "He didn't harm me in any way – just shook me up. Mentally, not physically."

"But you filed a report before, in January?"

"Well, yeah, but... he hit me then, Leah. There was reason. Last week – "

"Because you didn't file a report on Monday, there's nothing we can do about it. It will all be considered hearsay. You know – he said, she said."

"I know what hearsay is."

"Then you know it wouldn't hold up in court. If you're approached again, you file a report."

"But if he doesn't – "

"Bella," Leah interrupted, sighing, "even if he doesn't so much as touch you, if he leaves you feeling threatened in any way, you need to inform the police. That way there will be a record of it. Otherwise, he can just keep coming back again and again and scaring the wits out of you."

"But filing charges didn't stick before."

"And filing charges won't stick this time either – for anything he's doing to you. Unless we can stack it up with the case that is being built against him." She paused, taking a deep breath. "Bella, this is very big. And it's building fast now that they're actually checking out the things that Gianna's been telling them all this time. You understand, don't you? She's close to Demetri. He trusts her about as much as he could trust another human being. She's seen things the cops have been dreaming about forever. But they weren't taking her seriously – they thought she was just another criminal trying to get herself out of trouble by helping them out.

"And maybe that's true, but you want to know what I think? I think she watched her sister get smacked by him, and after all the years of trying to keep him from doing just that, she snapped. She had enough. And she went to the police. And the things she's telling them? They're all checking out. They're being careful, though. They don't want to alert him to the fact that they know as much as they do."

I shook my head. This was a shitload of information to take in. "So then what will happen to Gianna?"

"She won't be charged with anything, but she will have to enter a rehabilitation center – which she has willingly agreed to do – and serve a boatload of community service once it's all said and done. It's going to be nothing, Bella – a slap on the wrist compared to what she could be getting."

"But she still has to stay in jail?"

"It's the safest place for her right now."

"What about my mother? He threatened her – "

"He threatened you too, though I doubt you cared. You were too worried about your mother's safety. But showing up for you like he did? That was all the threat he needed. He didn't have to say a thing. He knows you're afraid of him. You're going to have to be careful."

"I am being," I said quietly, now wondering how much danger we were putting Garrett in by staying with him. And Edward? Demetri already had a vendetta against him, had threatened him as well; had I put Edward in even more danger? "But what about everyone else? Alice and I are staying with her brother and the last two nights, I stayed with my boyfriend – who Demetri also threatened. Could they – "

"Why did he threaten your boyfriend?" Leah asked, clicking her pen and looking as if she were ready to take note of this fact.

"You would have to talk to him to get the whole back story there, and I'm not sure if he wants to be involved in all of this. But basically, Edward went to see Demetri after he found out that Demetri had hit me back in January."

"Edward? That's his name? What's his last name?" Sure enough, she was writing this information down.

"Cullen, but really, Leah... I don't know if he'll want to be involved in this." Hadn't he been through enough so far as Demetri was concerned? And my sister?

"Edward Cullen. Got it. And we won't know unless we try. You never know – he might be absolutely willing to surrender information."

She kept writing, not saying a thing, until finally I couldn't stand the silence anymore. "So why couldn't this wait until Thursday?" I asked, just to break the tension I was feeling.

"I have a lot of people to talk to. And the more information I bring the police, the faster they get shit done. If we drag our feet, they'll drag theirs. You know what I mean?"

"This is a little out of your way, though, isn't it?"

She shrugged. "Not so far. I have to go and talk to some more people in the area, as well, so it wasn't a big deal."

I watched as she dotted the paper she was writing on three times before clicking her pen once more and closing the folder. "All done?"

"Yes ma'am," she answered, smiling at me. "James gave me your phone number, though, should I need anything else, I'll give you a call. Is that okay?"

"That's fine." She nodded, rising from her chair and holding her hand out to shake. And then she was gone. I blew out a hot breath, wondering how much of my sister I even knew anymore.

She had gone to the police. I couldn't believe it. She had gone to the police to finally rid herself of that fuck, Demetri. And not just herself, but the world in general. She had been trying to do the right thing, and had been trying for a long time at that. I just couldn't believe it.

"You good?" James asked from beside me. I hadn't even seen him walk up.

I took another deep breath, and tried to smile for him. "Did you know?"

"About Gianna? Yeah. Leah told me and Nay last week."

I huffed. "Let me guess... Monday, when you came in and snapped at me?"

"Nah, I was just pissed off that day. I didn't know until later in the week."

I shook my head. "I can't believe I didn't know this. How did I not know this?"

"Because your sister has gotten damn good about keeping shit secret. That's probably how her ass is still alive, to be honest."

"Leah said the heroine thing wasn't her."

"Gianna said she'd been at a party with Demetri that night. Said he offered her up a drink and she blacked out after that. The cops said she tested positive for Rohypnol. He did that to her."

A tear slipped from my eye. "I bet that's not all he did to her."

"Nope, sure isn't. But that's for another day. C'mon, go to the bathroom, clean your face off and call your boy. I bet by the time you come back out you'll be good as new."

Momma always told me to never look a gift horse in the mouth, so I took what James was giving.

And he was right, my angel made me feel so much better.


this chapter went a little faster than i had originally anticipated – sorry for the information overload. leah wasn't supposed to show up until next chapter, but that's how it goes. what did you think about edward and jasper's backstory? and the new information on gianna... anyone see that coming?

i want to thank everyone who's stuck around this far, and the new readers who've come in – welcome, glad you've decided to give this story a try. as always, to those who are reviewing – you guys totally make my day, thank you so much!

teasers in review replies – which will go out on monday, as well as longer teasers up on the fictionators blog and a different forest on monday as well.

how's my bessie doing, sarah? bet she's glad to be home with momma~

see you all on friday!

:) tia