AN: So, apparently FFn has changed its review reply system permanently (*boo*hiss*) and replying via PM is the only way you can do so now. So if you don't have your PMs turned on, there's no way for me to reply to you, my lovies. The cap is also 100 per day, so I'll be starting them Sunday night in a concentrated effort to make sure everyone gets theirs asap!

Thanks to all of you for reading and to Laura for betaing, as well my awesome pre-readers!

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Chapter 15: Reason Why

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And there is a story here, I feel it
I've searched for something real, and I believe this
You found me on the ground, where I was bleedin'
And you came around

I'd had enough, I'd given up, I was broken
Left to rust, hollowed out, life seemed hopeless
Here you are, you see my scars, but still you're dryin' these eyes
'Cause you are my, you are my, you are my reason why
You are my, you are my, you are my reason why

..

Reason Why by Ron Pope & Grace Weber

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Bella awoke the next morning and stretched, the sheets sliding across her naked body when she reached over for Edward. Confusion clouded her head when she was met with cold spot where he should've been. She sat up in bed and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. The smell of bacon immediately assaulted her nose and she smiled, thinking how sweet he was to make breakfast. She slid out from between the sheets and pulled on the t shirt he'd discarded last night, opting to toss on a pair of his boxers instead of her panties.

It was an eerie feeling to walk through these halls, memories of her childhood scampering through her mind. Something caught her eye and she turned to the left, right before the top of the stairs. Her old bedroom door stood slightly ajar and the urge to step into the room hit her hard. She'd avoided doing just that in each of her visits to this house, fear of being overwhelmed by memories. Unable to quell her curiosity, she gently pushed the door open, surprised to see it almost exactly as she'd left it, only covered in years of dust. She glanced around the room and smiled. An old and faded NKOTB poster, right next to Leonardo DiCaprio. She snorted and shook her head, remembering back when things were so much simpler.

Her eyes fell upon the rocking chair, nestled in the corner. She blinked away tears at the memory of her father rocking her to sleep when she'd had a nightmare or wasn't feeling well. A dull ache formed in her chest and she made a mental note to visit his grave and take some flowers. She swallowed the lump in her throat and left the room, easing the door shut behind her. She padded silently down the stairs and turned into the kitchen, only to be met with Alice and Jasper's surprised faces.

Bella bit her lip and tugged on the hem of Edward's shirt, before finding him standing by the stove, his gaze wandering up her body lustfully. When his eyes met hers, his cheeks darkened with that adorable blush at having been caught ogling her. She smiled, her unease at being caught unaware that her friends were there long forgotten. She walked straight over to him and stood up on her toes, kissing him sweetly.

"Good morning," she whispered against his lips.

His face broke out into a wide smile. "It is now."

She stepped away shyly and brushed back a few strands of her hair that'd come loose from her braid. She took a seat at the table, across from Alice, who still had a surprised look upon her face. She glanced over at Jasper, who was trying to hold back laughter.

"Hey Allie."

Alice blinked, breaking through the trance she'd been in. "Oh my God," she whispered loudly, leaning across the table. "You slept with my brother!"

Bella rolled her eyes cheekily. "Yes, Alice, I did."

"Al," Edward growled menacingly, placing a platter of pancakes and bacon in the middle of the table. "Don't start anything."

Alice sat back and held up her hands in defeat. "I wasn't starting anything," she argued. "I'm just surprised, that's all. When you said she'd spent the night, I didn't think of that."

Jasper, unable to hold back his amusement, snorted, earning him a glare from his wife. He wisely ignored her, spearing a few pancakes with his fork and addressing Bella.

"So, Bella-Bee, are you up for one last jam session before heading back to the rockstar life?"

Even though she knew his words were in jest, they still caused a jolt of sadness to her stomach. She forced a smile and nodded. "Sounds good, Whit. When were you thinking?"

"How about Tuesday? I think we're both closing that night."

She nodded and smiled more genuinely. "Sounds good to me."

Edward slid into the chair next to her and shot her a hopeful look. "Would you mind if I sat in on this jam session? I'd love to listen."

She shrugged. "That's fine with me."

Alice batted her eyelashes and gave her a pout. Bella giggled and shook her head. "You can come, too, Allie."

She clapped her hands. "Yay! We should invite Em and Rose and make it a party."

Bella laughed and shook head, before diving into her pancakes. She almost choked on her last mouthful when she felt Edward's fingers brush along her thigh. She was suddenly aware that she was sitting there without anything underneath of his clothes. She looked at him from the corner of her eye, noticing that he was staring at his plate, moving pieces of food around with his fork. She turned to Alice and Jasper, engaged in a conversation of their own. As much as she liked her friends, she was more than ready for them to be gone, so she could pounce on her boyfriend properly.

Jasper looked up and met Bella's gaze. She motioned with her eyes towards the front door and smiled sweetly. Taking the hint, Jasper smirked and talked Alice into leaving a little while later. As soon as the door was shut behind them, Bella was in Edward's lap, kissing him fiercely. His hands tangled in her hair, holding her closely as their mouths caressed each other's. He pulled back, gasping for breath.

"Do you have any idea what it did to me, seeing you standing there in my clothes? Allie and Whit were lucky they didn't get a floor show."

Bella giggled, peppering kisses down his neck. "I highly doubt that your sister would've appreciated seeing me drop to my knees, worshiping your cock."

He groaned, her dirty words shooting directly into said cock, and closed his eyes.

"Would you like that, Edward," she whispered huskily into his ear, causing him to shiver.

He shot to his feet and lifted her into his arms, half over his shoulder. She squealed in surprise and delight, while he took the stairs two at a time.

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A few hours later, Bella curled up on the couch, waiting for Edward to return from the attic. After spending some more time in bed, they'd showered together and decided to have a lazy day of going through the rest of her boxes. She closed her eyes and rested her head on the back of the couch, dozing off quickly.

She woke an hour later and yawned, noticing that Edward was nowhere around. She made her way upstairs to look for him.

"What do you have there?" she asked, poking her head into the attic to see what was taking him so long.

Edward sat with his legs folded, papers scattered around him on the floor. At the sound of her voice, he looked up slowly, his eyes full of wonder. Immediately, her curiosity was piqued.

"They're your father's. I'm sorry I took so long, they were stuffed in this box haphazardly so I tried to put them in some type of order."

She smiled and ducked under a rafter, making her way over to him slowly. She found an empty spot right next to him and slid down carefully, picking up a random paper and reading it. The hand writing was neat, but obviously masculine.

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August 23, 1997

In less than a month, my baby girl will be ten. She's growing up too fast and just as beautiful as her mother. I know Mac, Emmett and I are going to have our hands full in a few years. Maybe I could keep her locked away like a fairytale princess? Nah, then I'd just be edgy waiting for that knight in shining armor to scale her wall and sweep her off into the night.
Ha! As if I'll be able to contain her, if she's half as stubborn as Renee. But that's okay, because she's still my Bella.
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Tears spilled down her cheeks and she reached up to wipe them away. Glancing over, she noticed Edward was slack-jawed in surprise, looking down at a paper in his hand.

"Edward? What's wrong," she asked in concern.

He turned to her and silently handed her the weathered square of paper, his hands trembling slightly. She studied it in shock, her mind fighting to wrap itself around the typed words and failing miserably.

..
State of Washington
Certification of Birth
Charles Joseph McCarty
D.O.B March 1st, 1964
..

Her mind went blank while she focused on her father's birth certificate. McCarty. Charles Joseph McCarty.

How is that even possible?

She let go of the offending piece of paper, letting it flutter slowly to the floor. She blinked, breaking out of the stupor she'd been entranced in, and rose quickly to her feet. She stumbled towards the door that led back into the second floor hallway.

"Bella?" Edward called in confusion, standing up to follow her.

She shook her head, trying to clear the cobwebs from her brain. Surprisingly, she made it down to the front door without tripping once.

"Bella! Wait!" Edward called, frantically.

She whipped open the front door and turned to find him just hitting the landing at the bottom of the stairs, his eyes wide and frightened. She swallowed and did her best to stamp down the urge to rush over and hug him.

"I- I just need to get some air, Edward," she replied, her voice clogged with tears.

"Where are you going? What's wrong?"

"What's wrong?" she cried out, incredulously. "My whole life is a lie!"

He rolled his eyes slightly and sighed. "Princess, you're being melodramatic. Just because your dad's birth certificate says McCarty, it doesn't make your life any less valid."

Her shoulders started to shake and she needed to get out of the house, the air was stifling her.

"I know, baby. I just need some air, I promise I'll be back after a run or something to clear my head."

He folded his arms and nodded apprehensively. "Be careful, Bella."

"I will." She gave him one last sad smile, before turning and taking off down the street in a trot. Her sneakers pounded the pavement when she picked up speed, relishing the feel of wind whipping through her hair. When the sidewalk ended, she veered left into the park and kept running along a path. After about a mile, she slowed to a halt and dropped to her knees in the soft grass. She breathed heavily, trying to catch her breath. A sob hit her unexpectedly and she slammed her fist onto the ground.

"Dammit, Daddy," she mumbled. "Why didn't you tell me?"

She rocked back onto her heels and looked up to sky, sad and hurt that her father never shared this with her. With her emotions in check, she stood slowly and started walking back towards the house, embarrassment seeping in because of the way she ran out. In her haste, she never noticed the sky darkening until half-way back to Edward's. She picked her pace to a light jog as rain started to sprinkle. By the time she made it onto the front porch, the heavens had opened up, leaving her completely soaked. She opened the front door, toeing off her shoes and socks in the foyer, before hanging up her coat.

"Edward?" she called out, sliding her wet, heavy jeans down her legs.

"Upstairs," he replied, his voice slightly muffled.

She padded silently up to the second floor and towards his wide open bedroom door.

"Hey," she said softly, standing in his doorway in only her panties and damp shirt.

He was reclining on his bed, reading through a stack of papers. At the sound of her voice, he looked up, his eyebrows knit in confusion when he took in her appearance and wet hair.

"What happened to you?" he asked, not unkindly.

She motioned towards the window. "It started to pour."

He looked over, surprised that the weather had changed. "Oh, sorry," he murmured sheepishly. He held up the papers in his hand and shrugged. "I got sucked in."

She smiled, before wrapping her arms around her waist, shivering from the cold dampness. He jumped up and walked into the bathroom, coming out with a large, fluffy towel. He wrapped it around her shoulders, briskly rubbing his hands down her arms to warm her. She stepped closer and laid her head on his chest, sighing.

Edward hugged her tightly and laid a kiss on the top of her head. "How about you take a hot shower and I'll toss your clothes in the dryer?"

She nodded. "That sounds perfect. Can we curl up in bed and talk afterwards?"

He smiled brightly and nodded. "Sure, that sounds great. Let me grab you something to change into."

Twenty minutes later, Bella stepped from the shower and dried herself off slowly. Now that she'd had time to process things, she was once again growing excited to read her father's words. She picked up the brush she'd brought with her and ran it through her hair, before braiding it quickly. She slipped on the t-shirt and boxer briefs that Edward had loaned her, rolling the latter up a few times so they wouldn't fall off her ass.

She walked out of the room, steam billowing into the hall, and made her way back to the bedroom. She was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a tray at the foot of the bed, laden down with two cups of soup and few sandwiches. Edward smiled and motioned for her to sit down next to him. Bella grinned and climbed up onto the bed, immediately snatching a grilled cheese once she was settled.

"Thanks for lunch," she said softly.

He smiled shyly and shrugged. "It's the least I can do, Bella."

Once lunch was finished and cleared away, the pair reclined back with Bella resting her head against his chest.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, playing with the buttons on his shirt.

"For what, Princess?"

"For running off like that. I don't know what came over me."

"Shh," he cooed while rubbing her back. "You were shocked and needed to sort through your emotions. I understand. I'm glad you let me know what you were doing, instead of leaving me in the dark. You know I'm here for you, Bella."

She wrapped her arms around him, hugging him tightly. "Thank you, so much."

She felt his chest vibrate as he chuckled. "You never need to thank me for that, Princess."

After a few moments of silence, she sighed. "I don't understand, Edward. Why wouldn't Mac & my dad tell me they were related?"

"I don't think Charlie ever told anyone," Edward mused. "While you were out, I continued looking through his papers and put them in chronological order. One of the early ones caught my eye and I glanced through it. When his mother died, he found her journal and his birth certificate and moved to Forks to meet his father, only to find he'd passed away as well. He was devastated until he found out that he had a brother, less than a year older than him."

Edward took a breath, letting it out slowly before continuing with Bella enraptured by her father's story.

"He didn't know what to do or if he should introduce himself as his brother, so he finally decided against it. He and Mac became best friends and they moved on with their lives. I think part of him was scared of rejection."

"That's so sad," she murmured. "I wish he'd confided in me at least. Now, history's basically repeated itself and I'm the one reading his letters to find out about his life."

"Are you going to tell Mac?"

She swallowed and nodded. "He deserves to know, right?"

"I know I'd want to know," he murmured, "but it's your call, baby."

She sighed. "I'll talk to him tonight. Speaking of which," she trailed off, glancing at the clock.

Edward frowned and pulled her close. "I don't wanna let you go."

She leaned forward and kissed him sweetly. "I know how you feel, but I need to get back to Mac."

He sighed dramatically and sat up, pulling her with him. "Come on, let's get dressed and I'll drop you off."

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After watching Edward drive away with a heavy heart, she turned and walked into Mac's house, calling out his name. She cradled the small box full of her father's papers in her arms like a very valuable treasure.

He appeared from the living room, a smile upon his face. "Hey, Bella. I'm not even going to ask how your night went, because frankly, I don't want to know."

Sensing something was wrong, he frowned and put his hands on her shoulders. "Sweetheart, what's wrong?" he asked, his voice laden with concern.

She swallowed the lump in her throat and motioned toward the room he'd just come from. "Can we sit down and talk?"

He nodded warily and led them into the other room, taking a seat on his favored recliner. She sat on the couch, placing the box on the seat next to her and was immediately jumped on by the dog. She laughed and rubbed his head.

"Hey, mutt." Joey plopped down on her lap and laid his head down. "Sure, have a snooze," she muttered.

She looked up at her godfather, no—uncle, and sighed. He raised an eyebrow, a worried look crossed his face. Not quite sure how she should go about explaining everything to him, she reached into the box and pulled out the birth certificate. Wordlessly, she handed it to him and watched for his reaction.

His eyes widened and he looked up at her in shock. "Where did you get this?"

"Edward found a box of Dad's stuff. That was in there, along with some journal-like papers," she replied, motioning to the box.

Mac set the paper on the coffee table, before leaning forward and scrubbing his face with his hands.

"So, Charlie was actually my brother? Why didn't he say something? I don't believe this," he mumbled.

Hearing the anguish in her uncle's voice made her feel terrible about her childish reaction earlier in the day. She nudged the dog off of her lap gently and moved to kneel by Mac's side, taking his hands in hers.

"I wondered the same thing, trust me," she comforted him. "Edward read through some of his papers and it seems like he was just happy to be here, with you. He might not have wanted to risk your friendship by opening old wounds. I don't know for sure, but I'm hoping to gain some insight by reading these."

Mac cupped her cheek, his eyes wet with tears. "Do you know what this means?"

She gave him a genuine smile and replied, "Yes, I do. Uncle Mac."

He smiled widely. "That sounds so good to hear. You know Emmett's going to have a field day with this, right?"

Bella laughed. "I'm sure he is."

His expression turned sad and he shook his head. "If I'd have known I was your uncle, I would've fought your mother, Bella. Looking back, she probably knew the whole time, that's why she threw the fact I wasn't a blood relative in my face."

"Hey," Bella said softly. "No more of that, we've been over this. It's time to go forward, right?"

"I know, but it still burns my bottom that she got away with what she did. But you're right, it's neither here nor there. Would you mind if I read them when you're finished?"

She rose to her feet. "Not at all. In fact, I was going to suggest it myself."

"Good, good. It'll give me something to do when you're busy while we're in L.A."

She did a double-take. "You're coming with me?" she asked, excitement bringing her voice an octave higher.

Mac nodded and smiled. "I talked with Emmett this morning, after James left. He wasn't one hundred percent sold at first, but he's onboard now."

She threw herself into his arms and hugged him tightly. "Thankyouthankyouthankyou," she murmured.

He squeezed her once, before letting go and giving her a wink. "Don't mention it, I've never been there before so I'm excited to go. Spending time with my niece is an added bonus."

Hours later, she lay in bed staring at the ceiling, unable to fall asleep. She missed Edward—the touch of his fingers, the feel of his skin. She sighed and shifted onto her back with a quiet huff. They'd spoken on the phone a little while ago, but that only seemed to make her miss him more. It was almost as if now that they'd connected physically, the pull towards each other only grew stronger. She had no idea how she was going to survive over a thousand miles away.

A tapping on the window startled her. She glanced over, her heart beating in her throat, only to see Edward's face on the other side of the glass, grinning like a fool. She jumped up and flipped the lock, opening the window.

"What the hell are you doing?" she whisper-yelled. "You could've broken your neck!"

He chuckled and shut the window behind him. "Nah, I climbed up onto the shed roof to this one. Em and I had a lot of practice back in high school. It used to drive Mac nuts."

He pulled her up against him and kissed her deeply. After a few moments, she stepped back and smiled up at him.

"What are you doing here?"

"I missed you," he replied quietly, his cheeks pinkening slightly.

That simple, sincere declaration tugged at her heart, making her fall a little bit more in love with him. She tugged on his hand and led him towards the bed.

"Come on, let's go to bed."

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Chapter song: Reason Why by Ron Pope & Grace Weber