19

I stared at the blue, too much blue. Angela's father had blue eyes, a blue suit, a blue tie, and sat in front of the blue bulletin board. I was already feeling blue with Edward gone and this did not help.

Edward tried to get me to understand. And I tried to understand, but it didn't help the ache in my heart. I wanted his father to love him, and want to build a relationship with his son. But why did it have to be so far away?

I considered staying home. My mother was bound to let me stay far from the danger she felt I was in, and then I could talk to Edward on the phone. But the 'attack' by Emmett left me with nightmares of Phil, and I knew I needed more help.

And then there was Angela. Her father kept putting off his visit, maybe God was telling him to stay away from his sinful daughter, or maybe he just put everyone else's needs ahead of hers. He finally showed up the week before spring break.

Esme was holding Angela's hand as her counselor talked about her recovery and how well she was doing. I didn't see the point; we were not gathered here to talk about Angela's cutting. I finally interrupted and asked the good reverend, "If I made a mistake and had sex with my boyfriend would God forgive me?"

He looked startled by my question and cleared his throat before saying, "God forgives everyone. He wants you to accept him into your heart and sin no more."

"What about Esme? If she did something wrong would he forgive her, even though she is supposed to help kids?"

"Absolutely," he smiled.

"What about you? You teach people about right and wrong, if you sinned would he forgive you?"

"Bella, I use God's grace every day," he said in a sweet voice.

Okay, but does Angela get forgiven too, even though she is a preachers daughter?" I asked giving her the perfect opening.

He looked at his daughter and his eyes narrowed. My questioning was beginning to make sense and he was growing nervous.

"Yes, it includes Angela," he said softly.

"Good, because I don't believe she needs His grace every day. She is the kindest, sweetest, most giving person I have ever met. And somebody has made her feel evil. That person needs to ask for forgiveness."

I stood and left the room so Angela could confess to her father. I was halfway down the hallway when Esme called out for me. She ran to catch me and gave me a big hug. "That was a wonderful thing to do," she smiled.

"Am I a coward for leaving the room?" I asked her.

"No, it is a family matter now," she assured me. "Just be there for her when he leaves."

"Have you heard from Edward?" I asked.

"No, but no news has to mean good news," she said, trying to convince herself.

I nodded and looked at the ground, so she wouldn't notice the resentment written on my face. I let her lead me to group and sat alone in the semi circle with the others.

Carlisle had another 'game' for us. We had to stand and let the group guess our career choice. The purpose was to get input from others on what they viewed as our strong points and see if they coincide with our personal goals.

Alice stood first and Emmett yelled, "Bank Robber."

Carlisle glared at him, sending him sliding low in his chair.

I raised my hand and offered, "I think you would be a great kindergarten teacher. You have so much energy and your size would make the kids feel secure."

Alice smiled, but Rosalie disagreed, "I think she should be a designer, she has great style."

Jasper said, "She should be an event planner, like set up an inaugural ball for a new senator."

She winked at him and then suddenly frowned, "I'm not planning a party for your tight ass wife."

Jasper looked at Emmett and said, "Tight ass, nice."

Alice stomped her foot in protest and then announced. "I want to be an editor of a fashion magazine."

We all shook our heads and agreed it would be a good fit. She sat back down and then moved her chair away from Jasper as he laughed.

Emmett was next and we yelled, "Pro football player."

He looked sad and shook his head. "I want to coach high school football and be a teacher. I don't care what subject; I just want to encourage kids to learn."

"Try not to tackle them in hallways," I said, pointing to the small scar on my forehead.

Jasper stood and we yelled, "Senator," except for Alice. She yelled, "Historian at the Smithsonian."

He winked at her and announced. "I want to write biographies of Great War hero's."

"I thought you wanted to go into politics?" I asked him.

"I need to get a better reputation first, plus I'm too good looking to become a Senator just yet."

We all laughed and Rose stood to let us consider her. "Stripper," Emmett yelled, and I expected her to hit him, but she smiled and said, "Thanks, babe."

"Model?" I said hesitantly.

"No," Alice said, "It has to be something fierce, something most women can't do. I know, Navy SEAL."

"Get real," Rose said, rolling her eyes. "I am not wearing camouflage."

Jasper looked at her for a moment and said, "Mayor."

She smiled and thanked him profusely. "I actually want to be a lawyer…and then maybe mayor."

I could see Rosalie arguing in front of a jury. They would be captivated by her beauty and then swayed by her no nonsense argument.

When it was my turn I was nervous. I didn't want to hear their rude comments about possibly being a prostitute, but they shocked me.

"A therapist," Alice yelled.

"No, a cop," Emmett threw out.

"I can see her working here, helping other kids," Rosalie suggested.

"No, it would have to be bigger," Jasper said looking at me seriously. "Plus she has a dirty mouth, so she can't work with kids."

I laughed and surprised them all when I said, "I want to be a reporter."

"Really, I think you would make a better therapist," Alice said sincerely.

"No, she would be an awesome cop," Emmett said loudly.

"No, she should be a singer," a soft voice came from behind me. I spun around to see Edward standing there and I was frozen to my spot. His body became blurry from my tears, but I still couldn't move.

"Edward needs to be a cage fighter," Emmett yelled.

I shook my head and whispered, "Edward is a composer."

"I want to be a lawyer," he whispered back.

"You can't Rosalie is being the lawyer," I said softly with a smile.

"I want to be your everything," he said walking towards me as the others threw out jobs for him.

His arms came around my waist and he hugged me tightly as I whispered, "You already are."

"Edward, will you step in my office," Carlisle asked, taking him out of my arms. I watched him walk away and hurried over to my own chair. Esme continued on with the session, but my attention was gone. I was dying to know what happened in Chicago and wondered if he made things right with his father.

It didn't make sense to come back for one week, just to return for spring break, unless his father kicked him out. I was biting my nails and looked back at the office door as everyone spoke around me.

The group was finally dismissed and Esme asked me to please check on Angela. Was she freaking kidding me? Edward was right behind that door and she wanted me to leave. I tried to protest and she assured me Edward would be busy for awhile. I begrudgingly left the room and headed for the dorm.

Angela was packing her stuff and I quickly asked her why she was leaving. "My dad wants me to come home. He wants me to choose a family from our congregation to adopt the baby and move in with them."

"Angela, you need further help, you know you will cut if you do this."

"He insists," she said sadly.

"You have options, don't do this because you feel backed into a corner," I said getting very loud.

"What options?" she asked.

"You can stay here, you can live with me, you can live with the Cullens, and you can choose whoever you want to give the baby to. Esme can't have children; she would be an amazing mother."

"I thought about that, but my dad said it has to be a Christian family."

"Esme is Christian," I said angrily.

"Active church going Christian," she emphasized.

"Oh, I see, like your family, because that worked out wonderfully for you," I sneered and walked away. I was angry, and hurt, and knew Angela was in jeopardy. She was going to make the wrong decision and it was going to cost her possibly the life of her baby.

I went searching for Edward and found the door still closed. I sat in a chair and waited for him. It was over an hour before the door opened and Edward stepped out with a tear-stained face and swollen eyes.

He smiled at me and held open his arms. I ran to him and clung to his chest as I cried. I was crying because I had missed him so much, and because he wanted to be my everything, and because I felt like nothing without him.

"How's the head?" he asked as he remained buried in my neck.

"As screwed up as always," I said truthfully. "How was Chicago?"

"As screwed up as always," he said with a sigh.

"Are you back, to stay?" I asked,

He pulled back and gave me a big smile, "Yeah, the Cullens are letting me stay."

"For the school year?" I asked hesitantly.

He looked around the room and then took my hand and pulled me with him. We went to the music room with the bean bag and my heart went into overdrive. I didn't care if Alice stole his condoms or if a bean bag was not a fancy bed, I wanted him too badly to think straight.

"Bella, I turn eighteen in June. I'm taking my GED and starting college in the fall, right here in Washington. And I have you to thank," he said pulling out an envelope and handing it to me.

"What's this?" I asked, taking it into my hands.

"It is our future…together," he smiled.

I opened it up to find a complicated contract. I had no idea what it was; unless Mr. Masen was having the Cullens adopt Edward. I shook my head in confusion and Edward took the papers from my hand.

"I sent three of our songs to a record label. All three were picked up and one is going to be used by Landon Davis."

"Are you kidding me? I love him," I screamed, and then got a little pissed. "You didn't ask me, Edward."

"I didn't want to get your hopes up in case my father refused to represent us. This is unheard of Bella, nobody gets results this fast. You are truly talented and the music industry recognizes it. Now you have songs published it will get easier for you to be heard for your own voice."

My head was spinning and I tried to grasp what he was telling me. I plopped onto the bean bag as I worked through my thoughts, and Edward added more to think about.

"I know we are young Bella, but you'll be eighteen in the fall and we can get a place together."

"This is crazy," I laughed as I looked at him in disbelief.

"Look at us, we are crazy," he laughed. "I want you to come with me to Chicago next week, for spring break, sign some contracts and meet my father."

"Edward, I don't know what to say, I'm…just…."

He sat next to me and pulled me into his arms, "Say you'll come, say you love me, and say you'll let me love you."

I pulled him onto me and kissed him like I had been dreaming about for several weeks. There was no slow building of our passion. We picked up easily where we had left off and our hands were everywhere. He chuckled when I unfastened his pants, but he didn't stop me. I was going to have him, finally.

"The door suddenly threw open and Alice yelled, "Bella, come quick, it's Angela."

There was only one thing in the entire world that would get me to leave Edward's arms and that was Angela in trouble, well, maybe my father's gun, too. I ran as quickly as I could, leaving Edward to work on his jeans alone.

I could picture Angela's bloody body lying dead on the ground and my anger was reaching Edward's level of rage the closer I came to the dorm. I broke through the crowd of students in the hallway to find Angela standing perfectly healthy in front of her father.

"What's wrong?" I asked her as I tried to catch my breath.

"My father feels he knows what is best for me and my baby," she said with anger, well, it was angry for Angela.

"Are you the one filling her head with fantasies?" he said hatefully to me.

"I gave her options," I corrected.

He took a step towards me and I was grateful when I felt Edward's arm come defensively around me. "This is none of your concern. You are just another misfit in a place that harbors society ills," he spit at me.

"And you are just a Pharisee, pretending to be better than others; shall I call you Saul or Paul?" I said just as hatefully. Angela raised her eyebrows and laughed loudly. "I went to Sunday School," I said in my defense.

Angela's father was turning purple he was so mad, he took another small step towards me and Edward pulled me behind him, and said in warning, "You are about to cross a very definite line, and seeing how I am one of society's ills, I will break your jaw if you as much as look at her wrong."

"We are leaving, step aside," he warned Edward.

"I'm not going, father," Angela said decisively.

At that point Carlisle and the school detention officer came running up. "Mr. Weber, please come with me, let's talk this out in a civilized manner," Carlisle begged.

"I am taking my child out of here, and I will sue you for letting her become pregnant under your care," he threatened.

I laughed, bringing the focus back to me and noticed how Carlisle gave me a warning glare. "Sorry," I offered as I lowered my head, "But Ang got pregnant at home, not here."

Her father slowly turned to look at his defiant daughter and she nodded in the affirmative. His jaw tightened and he said very softly, "You are dead to me."

He walked away and I screamed after him, "You hypocrite, you are puffed up with pride, you don't deserve a daughter as wonderful as Angela. If I had your blood running through my veins I would try to get rid of it too. You are noth…"

A hand clamped tightly over my mouth and Edward spoke into my ear, "Let him go. His mind is too thick for your words to get through."

"I wasn't finished," I said angrily to Edward.

"Okay, let me rephrase, shut up, Bella."

"Don't tell me to shut up," I said with shock.

"Shut up, Bella," he said with more force and I stormed off to find Angela in my room.

He followed and I tried to slam the door but he just stuck his foot out to stop me. "Get out of my room," I insisted.

"Man, I thought I was the one with a temper," he laughed.

I looked up to see Esme behind him and stepped aside, letting Edward enter the room just so Esme could come in, too. Angela ran to her arms and I watched with teary eyes as Esme comforted her.

Edward took hold of my arm and pulled me from the room. As soon as we were in the hallway I jerked my arm away from him. "I need a cigarette," he said as he walked toward the outer door. I ran after him so he could see the disapproval on my face.

"If you smoke, I'm going to smoke, too."

"You make me smoke," he said as he headed to the covered patio.

He pulled a pack from his pocket and I reached out to grab it from his hand. "Give it to me," he said angrily.

I stuck it in my bra and folded my arms in protest. "Don't blame your bad habits on me!"

"You really think I won't rip your shirt off?" he said in anger and I tensed at his words. I stared at him in shock and watched as his face change to understanding.

"I'm sorry; I didn't mean it like….shit, Bella. I'm tired; I'm so tired of wanting you and trying to figure all of this out. I want you to come home with me Saturday and not just to meet my father or sign contracts. I want to stop this cat and mouse shit and become a real couple."

"Carlisle said to take me to a hotel," I teased with a shy smile.

"I'm doing one better, I'm taking you to my home and to my bed, are you coming?"

"Carlisle said to wait until I was eighteen," I said to torment him.

"If I wait until you're eighteen, I will be dead," he said in frustration.

I laughed and walked over to hug him. "Do you think we will stop fighting once we start…you know."

"I seriously doubt it, but that is what makes you so damn interesting," he kissed me deeply and leaned into me, arching me backwards. I let my head fall back, anticipating his kisses moving to my neck, but instead he grabbed his cigarettes from my bra.

"That wasn't nice," I complained.

He lit the stick and handed it to me, "We'll share."

I saw Esme and Angela walk from the dorms toward the office and nodded to Edward, "I think you're getting a baby brother or baby sister."

He looked over at them and watched for a moment before turning back to me. "Do you ever want kids?"

"I don't know, I guess, not for a long time. Do you?"

"No, I don't want to lose my wife like my father did," he said sadly.

"Edward, your mother was not well, the way she raised you probably had something to do with her tumor. Don't judge other women by your mother. That would be like me thinking my husband would touch my daughters."

He took a long drag from the cigarette and blew the smoke from his lungs slowly, as if he was enjoying it, before saying, "I get too angry to be a father."

"Right now you do, but you're getting help, right?"

He shrugged and looked at his battered, scarred knuckles. "Do you think anyone comes out of here fixed, or just patched up?"

"I don't know, and I don't think we will know for years. It is most likely one of those perspective things," I laughed.

"So what if I get so angry at you, that I hurt you," he said painfully.

"Don't be stupid, you know why I am here, right?"

He chuckled and nodded.

"If you..um…not that you would, but if you ever hurt me…"

"I wouldn't," he said forcefully.

"I know, I just want you to know that if you did.."

"Stop it, Bella, I wouldn't, period."

I nodded and looked out into the darkness. I always felt odd talking about the future with him since we were so young, but the truth was it needed to be done to truly know him.

"Tell me about your father," I asked.

"He's a lawyer, he writes contacts…"

"No, tell me about your father," I pushed.

"He is tall, quiet, doesn't laugh much. He is social, or at least within the context of his job he socializes. Always going to the theatre or the symphony with some pretty girl on his arm," Edward said with a tight jaw.

"Did you guys talk about it?"

"A little, can we change the subject," he said as he finished the cigarette.

"It makes me nervous to come to Chicago," I admitted. "I don't want to end up refereeing a fight."

Edward gave me a disgusted look and stood. I looked at his beautiful face, so obviously in pain, and wasn't sure what to say, so I decided to be honest and mature.

"Sit down, Edward; we need to have a talk."

"Later," he said and began to walk away.

I watched him leave with my mouth hanging open. I was stunned he would walk off without even a goodbye, and as the night wore on, the angrier I became. The next morning he showed up for class and I made sure to be sitting where he couldn't sit next to me.

We acted this way all day until we reached the one class we could hide in the crowd. I walked into music to find him playing on the piano. I picked up my guitar and began working on a song I was writing. He finally stopped and listened to me, so I stopped. "You going to steal this one, too?" I asked.

"If it's worth anything, and I can't steal my own music."

"Does that contract make us partners, because I didn't agree to that," I pointed out.

"It says you agree to be surgically attached to me," he said without any humor whatsoever.

"Like hell," I mumbled.

"Can I ask one favor?" he said in a soft voice.

I sat my pick down and looked at him, waiting.

"Don't sell 'Edward's song.' You should be the only person to sing it."

I crumbled, I couldn't stay mad at him any longer and I jumped up and into his arms. He began kissing me forcefully and I responded with just as much force. My chin was red and irritated when we finally broke apart to talk.

"I'm sorry I make you so angry," I told him.

"No, it is my stupid fear that gets in the way. Talking about my father and kids, it just freaked me out a bit," he admitted.

"I need you to tell me where you see our relationship going. I get too afraid to think about it and I need to know if we feel the same way."

"You don't love me?" he asked in shock.

"Yes, I do love you, but we're kids, Edward."

"Bella, I don't mean to hurt you, but in all honesty, your life left kid behind long ago, you are more mature than most adults I know."

I looked down and he used his finger to lift my chin. "I want us to go to college together, to write music together, and to spend our lives together. That is where I see our relationship going," he said.

"Do you think we are too messed up to make it work?" I asked.

"Probably, but most couples are. We will just have to love each other that much more and make sure to keep our problems out in the open."

I chewed on my lip for a second and then smiled softly, "You stole Jake from me."

"What, I thought you weren't dating?"

"We weren't. He was my friend and now he is your friend, and it kind of pisses me off."

"You can't be friends with someone who wants to screw you," he pointed out.

I laughed and said, "I'm telling him you said he had beautiful long hair."

"I already told him, when we snuggled on the camping trip," he teased.

"Stop! I told you girls don't get turned on by that," I laughed and covered his mouth with my hand.

"So are you coming to Chicago?" he asked softly.

"I'll call my parents tonight and see if I can get a ticket."

"I have your ticket already, I just need you," his voice deepened and his eyes looked down my body for a second.

"Will your father let me stay, like with you?"

"Yes, moral values are not high on his list of priorities," Edward said shaking his head.

"Or he just got very lonely over the years," I said softly.

Edward looked at me and finally nodded; opening himself up to the possibility his father may have been more of a victim than his mother.

It seemed like the very next instance we were landing in Chicago and Edward was leaning over my body to point out area landmarks. The city made him come alive in a way I had never seen before. He seemed confident and walked a bit taller.

A car was waiting for us with a driver in uniform. I had never been treated this way and it made me laugh. "I feel like I'm dating Richie Rich," I teased.

"It is all a façade," Edward said sadly.

I gasped when I saw the large estate we pulled in front of and suddenly wished I had ball gowns packed in my bag, instead of outfits put together by Alice.

We walked through a front door larger than the whole front of my house and I felt very small. Edward could tell I was getting nervous or intimidated so he dropped his bag and pulled me into my arms. "It is just stuff, Bella; to hide the fact a real family didn't live here."

He led me to the kitchen for a drink and noticed a note pinned to a bulletin board. He pulled the paper harshly and then crumpled it in anger.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"My fucking father, he left for three days."

I wondered if Mr. Masen just didn't want to meet me, or if the thought of fighting with Edward scared him off. But something else began to dawn on me at the exact same moment it worked its way through Edward's brain.

He turned slowly to look at me and a smile grew on his face along with mine. "We're alone," I said.

"We're alone for three days," he added.

20

Who in their right mind leaves two horny teenagers alone in a mansion for three days? And where do said teenagers even begin? Edward and I stood there staring at each other like we were part of some prank. He finally whispered, "I think I need a cigarette."

I shook my head back and forth, feeling downright euphoric, and said, "I think you need much more than a cigarette."

He rubbed his hand on the back of his neck and then locked his hands together to look at me. "Do you want a tour of the house?"

"Hell no," I laughed a little too loudly, making the room echo.

"Do you want a tour of my room?" he smiled.

"Hell yeah," I smiled back.

He held out his hand and I took it quickly. Instead of pulling me from the room he pulled me into his arms. "I planned on making everything just perfect; I didn't anticipate being alone first thing."

"So, are you saying you want to wait?" I asked, praying he was not saying he wanted to wait.

"No, not at all, I just have to come up with a new plan," he chuckled.

"Tell you what, show me your room and I'll come up with the plan."

He kissed me passionately and my plan was very close to throwing him onto the countertop, when he finally began walking backwards from the room. When we got to a huge staircase he pulled away and led me by the hand. I looked around, gawking at the expensive decorations and furniture.

I was looking behind me when Edward stopped in front of a dark wooden door. He seemed hesitant and I began to wonder if he was afraid. The only girl he had been with was during a drunken party.

"Edward," I said softly, "It's just me."

He shook his head and said adamantly, "It will never be just you. You are everything in the world to me and the only girl I will ever love."

I smiled and ran my finger over his lips softly, "Show me," I whispered.

He opened the door to reveal and huge four poster bed, which I would most likely need help climbing on, and the most amazing room I had ever seen. A television rose from the foot of the bed and beveled glass windows brought in light from every direction.

A bathroom was just off the side of the room with a shower containing more sprays than people had body parts for. The bathtub was huge, with black claw feet holding it high off the ground. I was so stunned I couldn't speak. I couldn't imagine a hotel being any better than this, and the best part was it belonged to Edward. It was his bed and he was mine.

I laughed and put my hand over my heart, "Oh my God, Edward, this is amazing."

"So did you get inspired with a plan?" he asked nervously.

"Absolutely, bath then bed," I said looking at the large tub.

Edward reached for a remote and metal shutters began closing over the windows, plummeting us into darkness. Music began playing on the television and soft lights rose in sconces above the bed.

I spun around in a circle taking it all in and felt Edward's arms come around me. I stopped and looked into his eyes as I began to unbutton his shirt. "Just one second," he said and pulled away. I was just about to protest and yell at him for interrupting my seduction plan, but he began filling the tub, so I gave him some slack.

I unzipped my skirt and let it fall to the ground, but Edward yelled out for me to stop. "That's my job," he smiled as he came back into the room.

He knelt down and removed my heels, one shoe at a time, and then pulled my layered shirts from over my head. I was standing in just my bra and panties. I wasn't too nervous yet, we had seen each other naked before.

I began removing his clothes and he pulled me into the bathroom so he could watch the tub. When I had him completely undressed I wanted to smack myself for coming up with the tub idea in the first place. He stepped into the huge cast iron bath and held his hand out for me. It was amazing and I began to relax in the deep hot water.

Edward did anything but relax. He was nibbling on my neck and shoulders and pulling me tightly against him as he panted. I finally decided to put him out of his misery and stood to pull a towel off the rack. The towel was heated and I wondered if it was hard for Edward to give up so much luxury.

He helped me from the bath and wrapped the huge towel around me before hugging me tightly. He didn't bother with a towel, and let me dry him with my hands as we pushed me backwards to the bed.

Our kisses were getting frantic and I pulled him roughly over me as I leaned on the tall mattress. He finally pulled away and opened a drawer grabbing a stack of condoms and coming back to the bed, which I had climbed up on.

"Are you bragging or hoping," I laughed as he tossed the condoms on the bed.

"You get to pick," he smiled.

I looked at the scattered squares and grabbed one. "This will match your eyes," I said causing him to fall over in laughter.

"Please tell me you are not color coordinating my dick to my eyes."

"When I repeat this story it will add a certain sophistication," I told him.

"Well, when I repeat this story it will have you naked on the doorstep and condoms won't even be mentioned."

I laughed and then my eyes fell, "Edward, don't tell Jake about this, please."

"Bella, I was only joking. I wouldn't tell anyone, I promise."

"He told me what was written on the shed," I admitted and watched as Edward's jaw tightened. He backed up and I had to reach out and stop him from getting out of the bed.

"You're not ready," he said sadly.

"What?" I asked in shock. I was sitting naked in his bed, how was I not ready.

"If that came into your mind, I don't want to touch you."

"It came into my mind because I love you for defending me. I am so sure about this, because you read that, and still love me," I said as tears began to fall.

"Of course I still love you, that was garbage, written by garbage," he said sweetly and tried to wipe away my tears.

He scooted back against the headboard and pulled me onto his lap. I felt beautiful, and sensual, and in total control. I kissed him confidently and he let me lead in every way. I never felt like I was the experienced one, taking his virtue. I felt like we were equals, sharing ourselves with each other.

He grabbed my face with his hands and stared at me with wide eyes, making contact at the most intimate time. He was looking at me, loving me, and I was the only person in his thoughts. My head fell back as I screamed his name, amazed at the feelings he produced in me. He followed right behind me and I began to cry with overwhelming love for him.

He struggled to steady his breathing and looked at me with fear, "Are you okay?" he said after swallowing hard.

"Edward," I cried and pulled my face into his neck, "That was…I mean I never….what was that?"

He chuckled and tightened his arms around me, "That was me loving you, that was us," he explained.

"Don't ever leave me," I cried, having no idea why I was so emotional but certain I would die without him.

"Never, love, never."

He went to the bathroom to dispose of the condom and then crawled under the thick covers to hold me. We were both smiling and everything seemed new. My fingertips touched his face like they were sensing it for the first time. He ran his hands through my hair, unable to take his eyes from mine.

I finally said, "Edward that was perfect, thank you."

"To hear you scream my name like that was worth the wait," he smiled.

"School is going to be torture now," I moaned.

He smiled and leaned over to kiss my nose, "We'll manage."

I ran my fingers down his chest and he raised his eyebrows when I kept going. "You're more addicting than cigarettes," I said in a sultry voice I didn't know I had.

He moved his hands under the covers and said, "Let me show you a song I wrote."

I screamed when I felt his fingers on my body, making him laugh. He rolled over me and played beautiful music written only for me.

We became ravenous and not for each other. Edward stood and pulled on his jeans, telling me to wait for him. I grabbed his shirt, buttoning it all crooked and ran downstairs to find him. I couldn't stand to be out of his sight for even a few minutes.

I watched him from the doorway as he gathered ingredients to make sandwiches. I felt the tears fall and I felt like such a girl. He caught sight of me through his peripheral vision and smiled. "It looks better on you," he said.

"What do you do around here, I mean when you were here for three weeks what did you do?"

"That wasn't a pleasure trip. I was getting my father to help me with the music contract."

"Did you guys talk about personal things?"

"Why do you think I'm smoking again," he said sadly.

"Anything get resolved?"

"A little, nothing earth moving, but he worked on the contracts so that was a start."

"Did you ever apologize, you know, for the fight," I ask hesitantly.

I noticed how his jaw tightened and he began placing the meat harshly on the bread.

"He's a married man, it wasn't right no matter what," Edward said angrily.

I decided to drop the subject and took the sandwich he offered me. He picked up his and motioned for me to follow him, offering me a tour of the house. I gaped at the many rooms, loving the music room the most.

When he got to the door next to his room he passed right by it, so I stopped. "What's in there?"

"Oh, um nothing, that was my mom's room," he said uncomfortably.

I reached out and opened the door as he headed down the hallway. The room was perfectly preserved, as if she would come walking out at any moment. The entire room was a shrine to Edward; I laughed awkwardly and turned to see him glaring at me from the doorway.

"I could help you pack this up, I'm sure it is uncomfortable for your father."

"He was able to forget her years ago, and no, I don't want the room touched," he pressed.

"Edward, this isn't healthy. I mean look at this, it is like an Edward Temple, God, how did she let you go away to school," I laughed.

"Come on," he said nodding for me to leave the room.

"Edward, I want to talk about this, surely you see the absurdity of her obsession with you, I mean, look around."

"This is none of your business Bella," he said harshly.

"It most certainly is," I yelled.

"How so?"

"This is why you don't want children, Edward, so it does include me. And if you think this is how true love should be, I can guarantee you I won't be setting up rooms devoted to you."

"Bella," he said in that dangerous calm, "don't."

I looked at him and walked closer to speak directly into his eyes, "This is crazy, Edward. And I'm packing the room up."

"You touch one thing in here and I'm throwing you out," he threatened.

"You're going to hurt me?" I asked in shock, and then realized we were truly alone in the house.

He began pinching the bridge of his nose and breathing heavily, so I stepped away from him. "I asked you a question Edward. Are you going to hurt me?"

"Of course not," he screamed at me.

"But if I touch one thing in here, you're going to throw me out," I reminded him.

He turned and stomped from the room. I walked around and really looked at every picture. They were always of Edward and his mother, not one picture of his father in the entire room. Edward's baby shoes, several pairs, were on every surface, along with pacifiers, blankets, rattles. It was so creepy.

I looked in her closet to see her clothing still hanging as she left them. There were boxes on the shelves and each box was full of pictures and articles of Edward and his accomplishments. I heard a noise and turned to see Edward standing just outside the closet.

He looked sad, and so young. "Bella, I need this. I have to know somebody loved me. Can you understand that?"

"Edward," I whispered, "This isn't love. Can you understand that?"

He shook his head back and forth and let the tears fall down his face. I walked over and pulled him to me, holding him tightly. "This is love Edward."

He took a deep breath and let his hands come around me. "Show me," he whispered, "Show me how much you love me."

I pulled him back into his room and pushed him back onto the bed. I poured out all the love I could, hoping to fill his entire soul, so he could let all the distortions in his life go.

I was standing with the refrigerator door open, drumming my fingers as I searched for something to make for us to eat, when the back door opened.

A man, who looked an awful lot like Edward, stepped into the kitchen and I realized I was dressed in only a small t-shirt and panties. I pulled the fridge door in front of me as I backed into the cold storage.

"You must be Mr. Masen," I said with a red face.

"Yes," he said quietly and looked around the room nervously."Are you with Edward?"

"Yeah," I chuckled, "Sorry, um, I'm not really dressed, I mean I am dressed just not, oh shit," I exclaimed making everything so much worse.

"I'll give you some privacy," he said with a soft voice and left the room.

I ran with a speed I didn't know I had back to the bed we had spent three entire days in. "Edward, your father's home," I exclaimed with shallow breathes.

He moaned and pulled more of his covers up. I began to shake him furiously. "Edward, did you hear me?"

"Yes," he said with irritation, "My father's home."

"I just had a conversation with him in my underwear," I said with total shame.

"Take them off and you can have a conversation with me," he said with a slight smile, still refusing to open his eyes.

"Get up, or I swear I will flush every condom in this place," I threatened.

He finally sat up and looked at me with sleepy eyes. I could feel my body shaking and Edward looked me up and down. "You look hot," he teased.

"I said 'shit' to your father," I confessed.

He laughed loudly and said, "He's heard the word before, he actually uses it quite often."

I began wringing my hands and pacing back and forth. "I feel awful, Edward. I've been screwing his son senseless in his home, and then I stand in front of him in my underwear and cuss. He must think you dug me out of some brothel."

"Screwing me senseless," he laughed loudly again. "I've been in my right mind the entire time, thank you."

"I want to go home," I announced. "I knew this was a bad idea."

Edward finally got serious and reached his hand out for mine. I let him pull me close and he looked at me with worried eyes. "Are you okay? Did he make you feel uncomfortable or threatened?"

I knew what he meant and I felt even more awful for making him think such a thing about his own father. "No, nothing like that, I just wish I had on pants for our first introduction."

"Let's shower and we'll go meet him officially," he smiled and I gasped.

"I'm not getting in the shower with you, what will he think?"

"Bella, he is not like Charlie, I can promise you that. He doesn't care." He stood and pulled me with him to the bathroom. "Take off your shirt or I'll do it for you."

I was torn, going back and forth between wanting to get in the shower and wanting to get the hell out of there. Edward removed his boxers, making the decision so much easier. We showered and got dressed for the day, and feeling jeans on my legs felt really weird.

Edward led me to his father's office and knocked lightly on the door. "Come in," he said in a soft voice. I wondered if he always spoke so softly and I got my answer quickly.

Edward opened the door and I saw Mr. Masen sitting behind a grand old desk. "Dad, this is Bella. She is a bit embarrassed by your first meeting." I squeezed Edward's hand in anger.

"Welcome to our home, Bella. I am Edward Masen, Sr."

"Hi," I said, for lack of anything more appropriate to say.

"Bella wants to pack up mom's room," Edward announced and I was stunned as to why he would say something like that first thing.

Mr. Masen chuckled and looked right at me. "Good luck, I doubt Edward will let you touch the mausoleum to his honor."

"Go to hell," Edward said hatefully and then sat in a chair, leaving me to wonder what was going on.

"This is still my office," Mr. Masen yelled loudly. "I can ask you to get out if you speak to me in that manner."

"Both of you stop it, I'm a guest in your home and you are both being disrespectful to me," I pointed out.

"Pack up the room, if you like," Mr. Masen said in his soft voice again.

Edward shook his head and let out a disgusted breath.

"What do you expect him to say, Edward? You brought it up," I said getting in the middle of their pissing contest.

"He never disappoints," Edward laughed.

"Maybe because you never stop baiting him, I know a little about that habit of yours," I said angrily.

I heard Mr. Masen chuckle and I spun around to confront him, "And you're the father for heaven sake. Act like one."

They both dropped their heads in the exact same manner and it made me laugh, "God, you two are so much alike."

I left the room and Edward came running after me. "Where are you going?" he asked.

"I'm going to pack up the damn room, neither one of you are man enough to do it. You can watch or you can go cry to your daddy," I said angrily. He stopped following me and I grabbed the newspaper off the table in the entryway and began wrapping up the photographs.

I looked at each one as I carefully wrapped it up. I heard a noise and looked up to see Mr. Masen staring at me. I turned a photo around of Edward and Mrs. Masen sitting on an elephant. He smiled and came over to sit next to me.

"It was his first birthday, well actually the day after his first birthday. We rented a circus and Edward slept through the entire party, so we brought them back the next day for pictures."

"Wow, that must have been expensive," I laughed.

"She would have spent every dime on him, if it would have made him happy," he mused.

I picked up another picture of Edward holding a baseball. "Ah, my one outing with my son, we went to a Cubs game, but he caught a cold and I wasn't allowed to take him anymore."

"Why didn't you fight her?" I asked him for Edward. "He was your son, too."

"We lost so many babies, when he was born healthy she was terrified of losing him. What if something I did endangered him or made him sick, I couldn't do that to her," he said sadly.

"Did you love her?" I asked him.

"More than she ever understood, and much more than she ever loved me," he said with tears in his eyes.

"Can I ask you something difficult?"

He looked into my eyes, and I saw Edward, my Edward. He finally nodded so I asked, "Why did you hurt him in the fight?"

His head fell and he stared at his twirling fingers. "He was always in the way, always in the spot I wanted so badly, and he hated me. He knew what it felt like to be loved by her. I went from woman to woman looking for something remotely like it, but I never found what he had. When he told me I didn't deserve her, I snapped."

I reached out and took his hand and held it tightly in mine. "She wasn't well, and she messed Edward up really badly. You need to fix it, for her. You and Edward need to find that love together, so her life can mean something."

He looked past me and I turned to see Edward standing in the doorway. I didn't know how long he was there so I began picking up photos again and asking about each picture. Soon Edward joined us and began sharing his own memories of his mother.

Mr. Masen began sharing stories of when he met Elizabeth and how he moved to America as a child from Ireland. Edward was mesmerized and I could tell he had never heard these stories before. The day passed quickly and we finally decided to go out for dinner.

"Have you taken her to any of our favorite restaurants?" Mr. Masen asked.

Edward laughed and I turned red. "No, pick whichever one you like," he said, sparing me by not telling him we spent three days acting like rabbits.

"I'll reserve a table, while you dress for dinner," Mr. Masen said and left the room.

"Dress for dinner?" I asked, worrying about the lack of ball gowns again.

"A skirt is fine," Edward assured me.

I looked through my outfits Alice put together and found a simple black dress. I instantly wondered where she had stolen it, but it fit perfectly. I worked extra hard on my makeup and came downstairs to see Edward dressed in slacks and a blazer. He looked better than James Bond.

"Wow," Edward said when he saw me.

"Is it okay?" I asked.

He walked over to me and took my hands, "It is so perfect I want to rip it from your body."

"I'm starving, so rip in a couple of hours," I smiled.

A driver took us downtown and dropped us at the Saloon Steakhouse inside a gorgeous hotel. Everyone we passed seemed to know Mr. Masen and greeted Edward with surprise. I wondered just how much they knew about his school in Washington.

A pretty waitress came to our table and gave Mr. Masen a kiss on the cheek, "It's so nice to see you, Edward," she said to Senior.

My Edward tensed and I noticed how tightly he gripped the menu.

"Thank you, Roeschelle. This is my son, Edward, Jr. and his friend, Bella."

I smiled at the woman, but Edward refused to acknowledge her. "Can I get you some drinks?" she asked.

"You can get the hell out of here," Edward said, never looking up from his menu.

I gasped and smacked his arm hard. Mr. Masen's jaw tightened making him look even more like Edward. "We'll both have a Coke," I said, trying to be extra sweet.

When she walked away I grabbed the menu from Edward's hands. "Grow up or I'm leaving, right now," I demanded.

"Did you have to bring us here?" Edward said to his father. "Is throwing her in our faces for my benefit?"

"You always liked their steak. I came here for you," he explained. "Would you rather I take you to Chuckie Cheese."

"I'm sure you've fucked the help there, too," Edward said hatefully to his father, and then moved my hair from my shoulder and began kissing my neck inappropriately. I tried to scoot away but his arm held me tightly against him. I felt cheap and like I was being used to make a point.

I stared back and forth between them and something suddenly dawned on me.

"Oh my God," I said in disbelief. "I get it now, Edward. It never made sense that you would love someone like me, but it all just locked into place."

I turned to look at his father, both men tightly wound with anger, "I'm here for your benefit, sir," I said as tears filled my eyes.

"What are you talking about, Bella?" Edward said angrily.

I continued to speak to Mr. Masen and let my tears fall freely.

"I'm the lowest denominator he could find at our school. I am payback for all the waitresses, salesgirls, and secretaries you have shamed the Masen name with. This is supposed to hurt you, but you're too busy trying to hurt him, that you don't realize the damage Edward is trying to inflict on the family name. So you both ended up hurting me."

"Bella," Edward said trying to take my hand, but I pulled it harshly away.

"I had sex with him, in your house Mr. Masen, it was supposed to be the coup de grace. Well played, Edward. I never saw it coming."

I ran from the restaurant and jumped into a cab just as Edward emerged from the hotel. He looked up and down the sidewalk never seeing me pull away.

I had the cab stop by the house and I grabbed just my purse and ticket, leaving my clothes for Edward to deal with. I went straight to the airport and switched my ticket to the next flight for Seattle. I called my mom and made arrangements for someone to pick me up.

My phone rang, so often I finally shut it off. When I landed in Washington I was shocked to see Jake waiting for me.

"You flew in that?" he said motioning to my attire.

"Yeah, now please don't speak to me," I begged and walked quickly a few steps in front of him.

"Edward is going crazy looking for you, can I at least tell him you're home?" he asked as he caught up and put his arm around me.

I stopped walking and looked into his beautiful dark eyes. I held my hands to his cheeks and kissed him deeply. He pulled back and tried to smile, but he was too suspicious to let it fully form.

"I want to be alone with you Jake; I want you to love me, okay?" I asked as I watched him swallow and look around for someone or something.

"Bella, you don't mean it," he said softly.

I grabbed the front of his shirt and began pulling him toward the parking garage, "Like hell I don't."

21

We got to Jake's car and I pushed him against the door and kissed him again. This time he pushed me away and looked at me with a hurt expression. I knew he was dating Leah, but I didn't care. This was the Bella everyone expected, I was finally the girl they all thought I was.

"This is really a mean thing to do to me, Bella," Jake said angrily.

"Having sex with you is mean?" I challenged him.

"You know I have feelings for you, pick someone else to make Edward mad," he said and climbed into his car.

I went around to the other side and got in the car. I turned to face him and said, "This is not about making Edward mad, this is about me and you."

"So if I drive you to the cove, you're going to have sex with me?"

"Yes," I said with a strong voice.

"In that dress?" he asked.

"No, out of this dress," I clarified.

"I'm taking you home, if you still want to have sex tomorrow, call me."

I sat back in the seat and felt the tears begin to fall as Jake drove from the airport toward Forks. He finally reached over and took my hand. "Don't cry," he said softly.

I pulled his hand between my legs and cuddled up against his extended arm. I rubbed his arm gently and kissed the taut bicep. He finally pulled his arm away and said with a thick voice, "Bella, you're driving me crazy."

"I need you Jake," I pleaded.

He looked at me and had to shake his head to clear his thoughts.

"What happened in Chicago?" he asked. "Edward is going postal."

"Edward and I are not a good combination. He's the guy that needs too much from me, and I'm the girl he can throw in his father's face."

"I think he really loves you, Bella. He is trying so hard to figure out a future for the both of you, together."

"Because being with Edward is a twenty-four seven job. He consumes people and if you don't make him your entire life, he breaks things."

"So who am I?" he asked cautiously.

"You're the guy who's always there for me," I said and leaned against his shoulder.

"You don't have a clue who I am," he said with a hurt voice. "I'm the guy who gets hot and bothered when you sing, and I'm the guy who wants to brag to his buddies that I finally get to bed you. I'm not the guy that loves you, that is Edward."

"It's enough," I said softly.

"So now you're going to pass up love for a fuck buddy?"

"Sure, why not," I answered dryly.

He slammed on the brakes and pulled the car off the road. "Do you hear yourself, Bella?"

"Jake, I don't belong in their world. They are rich and mean and they use each other as pawns in some sick battle that I don't understand. I can't take it anymore. I can't watch Rose head to the bathroom and wonder if she is vomiting her lunch. I can't dress in Alice's creations and wonder who she stole it from. I can't worry about Angela killing herself because her minister father taught her God hates her. I'm done, and I just want to go home."

"Bella, look what you just asked me to do. Do you think you are ready to come home? Are you really over Phil if you are willing to throw yourself at me just to forget Edward?"

I began to cry and Jake held me tenderly. "I didn't deserve this," I cried out.

"You're right, you didn't. Can I call Edward, please?" he begged.

I nodded and he pulled out his phone. I listened as he told Edward I was fine and he was taking me home. He glanced at me and I shook my head so he told Edward, "Not now, maybe later."

"Jake, can you take me to the Cullens house first, then home," I asked him.

"Sure, just give me directions."

I knocked on the door and Esme answered with a big smile. "How was Chicago?" She looked past me for Edward and was shocked to see Jake.

"Can I talk to you?" I asked in tears.

She pulled me to her office and offered Jake a plate of cookies. Instead of sitting at her desk she sat next to me and pulled me into her arms, "What happened, dear?"

"We had sex, and it ruined everything," I cried.

"Were you hurt?" she asked with concern.

"No, it was wonderful. But his family is so messed up and I think he brought me there to hurt his father. That is worse than anything Phil did to me. At least Phil didn't pretend to love me."

"Bella, Edward loves you very much, and maybe it was the fact you love him he wanted to throw at his father."

"I just don't get their whole dynamic. Why do you want to hurt people you love?"

"Because they want each other's love so badly, but each is too stubborn to give in first.

"Esme, his mother really did a number on him. You should have seen her room," I said.

"Carlisle did see it," she told me. "That was why we had him living here and not at the school. So he could see the bond between a married couple comes first, before children even."

"I can't fix him just by loving him, I have to let him go," I cried.

"He has to fix himself, Bella, and you are both too young to worry about the future just yet."

"I asked Jake to have sex with me," I admitted. "I wanted to hurt Edward, by becoming the girl everyone thinks I am."

"Bella, nobody thinks of you that way, dear. Everyone thinks you are loving, and giving, and so strong. They depend on you so much."

"I feel like I'm swimming, and the water just gets deeper and deeper. Everyone is expecting me to drown and I keep swimming, just to prove them wrong. But, I'm tired of swimming and I'm ready to drown now. I don't care that everyone will say, 'I told you so.'"

"Instead of swimming why don't you go under and pull the plug. Drain the water so you don't have to swim ever again," she suggested.

"Why did he do those things to me?" I whispered, not wanting my own self to hear the words.

"Because it made him feel powerful to push you down, but you have all the power now, Bella. You decide who touches you."

"Is that why I wanted Jake to touch me, so I could feel powerful over Edward?" I asked her honestly.

"Edward hurt you, letting Jake touch you would hurt him back. I would say that would feel pretty powerful, until you realize getting even makes everyone lose, and then you would feel pretty weak."

"I'm having nightmares of Phil, it started when Emmett tackled me," I finally confessed.

"Are you still taking your anti anxiety medication."

I shook my head back and forth and she told me to get right back on it.

"Having sex with Edward will most likely bring up added anxiety, too. You have to remember you chose to have sex with him. You were not coerced in any way. You hold all the power, remember that."

"He was so gentle and so loving," I cried.

"Bella, honey, Edward isn't treating you like a normal teenage boy treats his girlfriend. He didn't take you into an empty room at school or out into the woods. He brought you into his life, into his home, as if you are his to keep. I'm sure it was wonderful, but it was not something a young man usually does."

"Carlisle told him to take me to a hotel."

Esme's eyebrows raised and I could tell the news shocked her, so I quickly added, "He also told him to wait until I was eighteen."

"I'm sure his suggestion was to keep the place on neutral ground. So Edward didn't feel like you were all his by bringing you into his childhood bed."

"Tell me what to do?" I begged her.

"All I can say is what I have been saying all along. Go slow, focus on your own dreams and goals, and allow Edward to do the same. Time passes Bella, it really does."

"How's Angela?" I finally asked.

"You can ask her yourself, she is staying here."

I jumped up rudely, anxious to see Angela and even more anxious to see if she made a decision about the baby.

Esme took me to the kitchen where Angela was sitting with Jake. I ran to her and we hugged each other tightly. "Look at that tiny bump," I laughed.

"It's the cookies," she insisted.

"How are you feeling?" I pushed.

"Great, I found out what the baby is," she said with a smile.

I crossed my fingers tightly as I waited for the news. "A girl," she announced.

I screamed and jumped up and down. "I knew it, a little Angela, not a little Ben."

"And I also asked Esme and Carlisle to adopt her," she added.

I covered my mouth to keep the loud sobs from breaking free and let the tears fall freely. Angela pulled me into her arms and said, "You were right, Esme would be the perfect mother."

"How's the other stuff…the cutting," I asked awkwardly.

"I feel strong, Bella. My child will know I loved her, and that gives me strength."

"I am so proud of you," I said hugging her tightly.

"How was Chicago?" she asked.

I groaned loudly and said, "I asked Jake to have sex with me, so you can imagine how it went."

"Hey," he protested. "I'm sitting right here."

We all laughed and I sat on Jake's lap, "I meant I needed a real man after spending time with Edward."

"That's better," he mumbled.

I stood and began to pull Jake up when Carlisle walked into the room and asked to speak with me. I followed him down the hallway and sat across from his large desk.

"Bella, I just spoke to Edward. I advised him not to return to the school but to seek counseling along with his father in Chicago."

"He's not coming back?" I asked in a small voice.

"No, I think it is better for you both to make a clean break."

"Did I ruin his recovery?" I asked.

"No, dear, you helped him see the work he has in front of him. He accomplished as much as he could here, the rest needs to be done with his father. You were able to place a bridge between them. You helped quite a bit," he said with pride.

I nodded and felt my body turning numb.

"It seems the one thing you did not accomplish was the reason for the visit in the first place."

I looked at Carlisle with confusion. Edward and I wanted to be alone and have sex, and that was accomplished many, many times.

"You didn't sign the contracts," he explained.

"Oh yeah," I said as I shook my head.

"They will be sent to the school. We have a notary on staff who can watch you sign. You really accomplished something great, and you will be able to pay for your own college," he said with a smile.

"I don't feel too great right now," I admitted.

"It will get better, you'll see."

I stood and walked numbly to the front door as Jake followed. "I'll see you Monday," I told them all and walked out into the dreaded Washington rain.

"You okay?" Jake asked as he drove away.

"Edward's not coming back to school. He's staying in Chicago," I explained.

"He doesn't think I slept with you, does he?" Jake asked in shock.

"No, and it wouldn't matter anymore. We're over."

I turned and looked out the window at the dark wetness passing by. The forest was so old, and so constant, and I was so envious. I met a great guy at the lowest point of my life, but it was too soon. We were fragile saplings trying to establish our roots, so one day we could stand tall among the others in the world and our tears were like rain, nourishing us.

I took a deep breath as I headed right for the bottom, to pull the plug on the deepening water. I was going to get well, and never have to swim again.

I pulled my suitcases into the hallway of the dorm just like we were instructed to do. It seemed like another lifetime that I came here in anger. It had been the most significant year of my life and I was terrified to move on.

"Thank God for these gowns," Angela said, pulling the gold fabric away from her stomach.

"You don't even look pregnant," I told her.

"I feel better knowing all the parents won't be able to pick me out from the crowd. The poor pregnant preacher's daughter," she complained.

"I think they will be looking for your dripping scars anyway," I teased.

"Look how fat I am," Rosalie complained.

"Oh shut up," Ang and I said at the same time. "You could gain fifty pounds and still not be fat."

"I love you guys," she said and threw her arms around us.

"I want in on the hug," Alice said and jumped in the middle of us. We all squealed and jumped up and down. When we pulled apart Alice held up a watch, making us all look at our wrists.

"It's mine," she yelled and rolled her eyes, making us all laugh.

Jessica walked into the room and I stood in front of her. "I am begging you to tell me what you came into the room for all the time."

"Since it's the last day," she said walking over to her bunk. She reached up and pulled something from a small hole in the mattress above her.

"What is that?" I asked in confusion.

"It is a digital pet. I have kept it alive for two years," she said proudly.

"You cockblocked me constantly, for a stupid computerized pet?" I yelled.

"At least you didn't end up like Angela," she said to anger me.

"At least her baby is real, how old are you, eight?"

"I know something else Jessica has that is battery operated," Lauren lied.

"Are you using a dildo?" Rosalie asked in feigned shock.

"What's that?" Jessica asked.

"Do you have a battery operated penis?" Rose clarified.

Jessica looked at Lauren in disgust and yelled, "That's a lie."

"I don't lie anymore. I'm fixed," she said as she winked at us.

"I thought I heard weird noises at night," Alice said to add to the fray.

"I hate you all," Jessica said as she stormed from the room.

"Come on Jess, I know they're lying, you would have two dildo's, not one," I yelled after her and we all fell to the ground in laughter.

"Actually she is doing much better, look at her shoes facing different directions in her suitcase," Lauren pointed out.

"So who feels fixed," I said as I raised my hand. Slowly each girl lifted her hand high.

"Who feels we will stay fixed," I asked and each hand slowly fell back down.

I took a deep breath, "I guess it is up to us from here on out. To us, ladies," I said placing my fist in the middle of us.

Each girl added hers and Angela said, "To society's ills."

We all yelled the cheer in unison and headed to the ceremony.

I sat on the Dias and looked over the large crowd. I found my parents and nodded to them. Jake was sitting next to my dad and I smiled at him, slightly embarrassed.

I searched the students, all dressed in gold robes, for each one from my group. Emmett was taking up almost two spots so he was easy to find. Jasper was staring back at me, offering me his calming presence. Edward's place was empty and my heart ached as my mind pictured him there. His long legs would be extended forward and his arms would be crossed over his chest. His hair would be in his eyes and he would run his hand through it constantly to move it out of the way.

Alice was bouncing in her seat and smiled largely at me. Rosalie looked at me and then quickly looked away as she wiped a tear. I was so angry and full of hate the day I arrived here, but I was leaving grateful and full of love for the people I met along the way.

The program began and I waited patiently for my turn to speak. I had entered a contest for this privilege and instead of writing an essay, I wrote a song. So this was my moment I had been waiting for. My named was called and both Carlisle and Esme stood to hug me as I made my way to the podium.

I sat my notes down and looked up at the waiting audience.

Good Afternoon,

Most people wouldn't understand the pride we feel today, because they can't begin to understand the hard work we put in to be here in front of you, dressed in the gold of winners. Each one of us came here as losers. We had failed in life, and not due to our own weaknesses. We are here because we let others weaken us. But we persevered and we became strong. We are now the captains of our own vessels and we control the course of our lives.

We came from all over America and we will return to places like, Tennessee, New York, Kansas, Georgia, and Illinois. But a part of Washington goes with us. Every time we cry, it will remind us of the rain. Every time we feel green grass beneath our feet, it will remind us of the great forests. And every time life tries to push us down and we rise above it, we will be reminded of this school.

We left a mark here too; the school will forever remember us. We left our hearts in the session rooms, our tears in the rage therapy, and our pride in the dorms which will hold more students next fall. We teased each other over individual issues, but we strengthened each other when times seemed dark. We protected one another with brute strength and offered choices when none seemed available. But most of all, we loved one another, when we felt there was nothing worthy to love.

This place will be a shadow I carry all my life; when I look at my reflection, these hallways will shine back at me. Only time will tell if our paths ever cross again, but we will carry those we met here in our hearts forever. To those wearing the gold robes this day, I love you, I will miss you, and I wish for you all the best life has to offer.

Thank You.

The crowd erupted into a huge roar and I turned to grab onto Esme as I collapsed in tears. She hugged me tightly, but her own tears made it impossible to speak. Carlisle held us both and whispered into my ear, "You did it. I told you there would be a big difference by May."

Our names were called out one at a time and we were handed a certificate. It wasn't graduation, but it was something to show we made it through this difficult process. When the ceremony ended I made my way through the crowd to my parents.

"We're so proud of you, Bella," they said with tears. Jake stood awkwardly behind them and I reached out and punched his arm.

"Great speech," he said with a smile.

"I bored you to death, admit it," I joked.

He reached out to give me a hug and whispered in my ear, "At least you didn't ask me to have sex with you, it would have been awkward."

"You had your one and only chance," I informed him.

Emmett came over to introduce his family and I felt like I was a Lilliputian in the land of Gulliver. He gave me a big hug and then gently kissed the small scar on my forehead. "Stay in touch," he said with wet eyes and turned to walk away. I ran and jumped onto his back and kissed his neck before saying, "I love you, Emmett."

He laughed with his big booming voice and I noticed Rosalie standing to the side. "Take care of her," I said to him and he nodded emotionally. I walked over to hug Rose and we had no need for words.

Jasper was talking to my parents when I returned and I quickly interrupted him. "If he is selling something, you're not buying."

"Darlin, I'm discussing the needs of our unappreciated men in uniform," he said, proving he indeed had a career in politics.

I saw Alice sitting in tears, staring up at everyone moving quickly around her. I walked over and sat next to her. "I don't want to leave," she said in tears.

"Come to Washington for college, and we'll be roommates," I told her.

Her face lit up and she looked into my eyes. "Do you mean that, Bella?"

"Of course I do, it's a plan," I said and hugged her.

"Now I need to talk Jaz into it," she said and ran to find him.

I laughed and made my way to Carlisle and Esme. They were talking with Angela and her parents so I made my way back to my own parents. We grabbed some food and punch and chatted with other people until I noticed the Cullens were free.

"Only one thing missing," I said trying to smile.

"What would that be?" Esme asked.

"You know," I said rolling my eyes, "Edward."

Carlisle placed his hands on my shoulders and turned me to see Edward and his father talking with Tanya and her parents. I put my hand over my mouth and watched as Edward senior was captivated by Tanya and Edward junior looked around the crowd, as if searching for something.

I automatically walked toward him and when he caught sight of me he began coming in my direction. I was shaking like crazy and felt like my legs would give out when he finally reached me and pulled me into his arms. I began to cry and could hear him crying in my neck.

We couldn't speak and the rest of the world fell away. I molded myself to him and arched back as he leaned over me. But realization began to fill me that this would be the last time I would ever see him. I pulled back and took his hands in mine, staring at the scars on his knuckles.

"Why didn't you sit with the students?" I asked.

"I didn't earn it," he said.

"Edward, yes you did, you changed me," I said honestly.

"Bella, do you regret us?" he asked and my heart broke.

"No, I cherish my time with you."

"My father has something for you, a check from the songs."

"How are you two doing?" I asked.

"We're working on it, it's been…difficult. But I agreed to go to school in Chicago, so we can continue."

"That is a great idea, Edward."

"Bella, I never meant to hurt you," he said staring into my eyes.

"You did the best you could, and that means the world to me," I told him.

"I know what I need now," he said as he bit his lip. "There was a time you were my only need, it was wrong."

"I will always love you," I whispered.

He pulled me into his arms again and kissed my neck. Jake walked up at that point and Edward shook his hand and hugged him awkwardly.

"Take care of my girl," Edward said.

"You know it," Jake replied.

I looked over to see Mr. Masen hand my father an envelope and I walked over to them. "Hello Mr. Masen."

"Bella, I gave your father a check for you," he said.

"Yeah, Edward told me."

"It's good to see you again. And thank you for giving me back my son. It has been a great feeling, getting to know him."

"You're taking a piece of my heart," I admitted.

"I'll keep that in mind," he said.

Edward and Jake joined us and Edward walked me to my parent's car. I stood there shaking and staring into his eyes as I cried.

"Esme told me time passes," I said, "Maybe when enough time has passed we'll see each other again."

"Maybe I'll be normal enough to want a piece of your life and not all of it," he said with a sad smile.

"Edward, you are…amazing," I said and pulled him to me, kissing him with everything I had.

He opened the door for me and I sat down, putting my hand on the window as he did the same. My heart broke into pieces as we backed up and headed off of school grounds.

Edward stood in the parking lot to watch the one thing he truly needed drive away.

The End.

The sequel is "All That I Am." It follows the group into adulthood.