Disclaimer: Twilight and all its propaganda are precious property of one Stephenie Meyer. (Did ya like that pr- word play? Unintentional. Swear.)

A/N: Thank you all for your kind words and condolences regarding the loss of my Aunt. It really did make me feel better :)

This chapter isn't my favorite, but it is the longest one as of yet. I hope it suits you guys' needs.

Shout outs and short review responses: aurike (always special, as you were my first fan here), SOFisticated 1 (glad you caught on about Bella and her guitar... it is very much a romance, but not in a twisted way), lynettecullen, bleach number 1 fan, Secretly Immortal (I was very lucky, I agree. And thank you lol I enjoy your work, too )), Villemo79 (because you are just AWESOME), chaseherchiss, Cloudstrife3180 (HA! FINALLY GOT YOU IN :P), Shabbacabba the Great (who is also AWESOME), Hollowgo (without whom, I would have quit posting here months ago), ritsuMonkey7, WildImagination28 (you already know EVERYTHING that I refuse to post here...), Kai Xavier (thank you :D I try not to go into smutty smut smut... taste is everything in these situations!), jlyric, Beetlebum101 (glad you approved of my song choices, that means a lot from a fellow guitarist :)), DerFlash (that is awesome you read that to the song.. warms my little fanfic author's heart), Aidis (sorry to piss on your manly man parade lmao I'll try not to take your candy away next time, ok?), Random Peep (I thought it was cute, too... I was like 'Aww Bella!'), hankthefluuphiwaffle (still can't get over that name!)... and to everyone else, I love you guys, I just as too busy to get on here to say so! Forgive me.

Thanks to Hollowgo for his Beta work.

AlicePOV:

I woke up in an utter state of euphoria the next morning; my first inhale of the day brought the scent of Axe body spray, Dark Temptations, different from the Phoenix brand I'd bought for C.J. That smell that entered my nostrils could only mean that Bella was there, and the heat beneath my cheek was radiating from her form, and last night was no teasing dream.

She had played for me, played me a very tender song of my choice, and every stroke her thumb made across the taut, bronze colored strings of the guitar she had so adequately called Love felt as though she were running her roughened fingers all across my body from the inside out. I swallowed the tiny moan I felt build at the memory, the ghosts of her hands on me after, the heat of her breath in my ear as we moved together... She was right, it was too soon, and it wasn't right to find that particular solace in each other due to the anxiety and fear our situation struck in our hearts. The emotions and feelings we shared were too good for that, too good for him to be the orchestrator of our intimacy.

Her request to officialize what had been official from the time I laid eyes on her warmed my chest, and I smiled before I ever even opened my eyes to the dimly lit hotel room we shared.

Her breath was still slow and even under my ear, and her heart pumped slowly, methodically, and I found myself just counting the beats as I lay in my own paradise, my hold on her body tightening instinctively. Was it possible to fall in love with someone so soon, so abruptly? It jarred me that I indeed felt like the stirring in my gut was quickly morphing into a certainty that this was more than your run of the mill 'Oh, I like her, but it's too soon to tell' kind of thing.

She meant so much. So much.

I shifted on her chest, and her arm closed over me, and her hand sought my own as her breathing changed, and I knew the movement had woken her from her slumber. I allowed our fingers to interlock, still smiling to myself, as I felt so privileged to be the one she held.

And she was mine...

Though both knew the other was awake, neither of us spoke for a few minutes, and she ran her thumb in tiny circles over the back of my hand for a moment before pulling that same hand to her lips, planting a light kiss right where she had traced her target. I sighed dreamily and burrowed further into her soft chest, loving the complete feeling I had for the first time in my life. I knew that it was this, and her, that was the beginning to an end to a beginning of an end.

"Penny for your thoughts?" Her whisper pulled me out of my contemplative reflection of what she meant to me.

"How many pennies?" I whispered back, and she chuckled before letting go of my hand to stretch beneath me, a long groan of satisfaction accompanying the movement. I tried not to let that sound feed my imagination, but it was guttural and deep, and raw. Was I nymphomaniac in the sense that I constantly craved a touch that I barely experienced the night before? Was that even possible?

"Five," she answered as I turned over on my belly, but left my chin propped against her breast, and she tilted her face down to show me her smirk.

"Well, could I have a nickel instead then?" I asked hopefully.

"Alice, you're impossible," she said aloud, laughing for real.

"I like shiny stuff."

"I'd give you as many nickels as I could find if you would just tell me what you were thinking."

"About you, of course," I told her truthfully, and I watched her cheeks as they turned a slight shade of pink, then a bright red, and I couldn't repress my resulting giggle. I loved that I could make her do that. She blushed so easily.

However, I wanted to dance around telling her what I was truly thinking, because I did not want to alarm her with my inklings that I could already be falling for her. I did not even want to acknowledge it out loud, period. Doing so would make it real. I wasn't ready for real, and I didn't think Bella was ready, either. "Thank you for playing for me last night, it was amazing. And I'm sorry that I kind of... attacked you," I mumbled, saying things I wanted to say to distract her from digging any deeper into things. I could skim the surface for her, at least.

A smile stretched across her face at my gratitude, then fell into a frown as I apologized for my instigation of the... events, mind fritzing and soul shattering events... that followed the song. I had wanted to say to her last night, "I love the sound of your voice and the sound of your guitar. It's like you're caressing me all over, and it makes me want to make love to you." However, I had trailed off the important part and proceeded to show her what I had in mind.

I was ashamed. I should have had better control. I was spellbound, that is my only defense. I had not moved that fast with anyone but Z, but as I say... I went into that knowing what I was getting into. It had been made very clear to me when we met.

She opened her mouth to reply, but I cut her off, looking away as I turned red for once. "I hope I didn't seem like I was just... putting out," I said, my face screwing up in disgust.

She exhaled sharply, her lips tightening into a hard line that made me a little wary about what she was about to say. "That was just as much my fault. I wanted it as much you did, and it took some major self pep talk to even pull away from you. I don't think you realize how close we came, but Alice... I was raring to go," she told me quietly, and her voice dropped even lower on the last part.

My body shivered at the information, not able to stop images of what might have happened had it gone any further, and Bella let her head fall back onto the pillow with a sigh, reaching over for her phone. "It's seven... and I already have a missed call from Dad. He must be here already," she murmured, and my ears perked at what she said.

"Your dad is in Seattle?" I asked in surprise, rising up from her chest so that she could pull herself up into a sitting position, and she gave me a sheepish look.

"Yeah, about that... Um, I forgot to tell you, because I was... well, we were–"

"Got it, Bells," I laughed, and she stopped, giving me a funny look. I gave her a questioning look in response, and she slowly shook her head, a single chuckle shaking her chest.

"My closest friends and family all call me that... my dad called me that right after I was born, so technically I've been called Bells longer than Bella."

"Does anyone ever call you by your proper name?" I was curious... I had only heard her say it once, and it sounded like she was speaking a language she wasn't familiar with.

"Dad, Sue, Leah... all when they're pissed off at me. But that's about it," she replied, and I felt a pang of jealousy at the mention of Leah's name.

I had seen a photo of Leah the day before, and saw for myself how pretty she was, even as young as they were in the picture. And the knowledge that it was taken in their time together... they looked so happy, both of them... all of them. I wanted that with her one day... to stand beside her in a picture, smiling like crazy, only to look at it years later with her, and know that it's a part of our past together. I suppose I was jealous that Leah knew Bella, whereas I certainly didn't, but was developing fast emotions for her, nonetheless. Emotions that were strong enough to cause me to be jealous of a person I knew she was no longer involved with, and someone I could not expect her to expel from her life, as Leah happened to be her step-sister.

"But we're floating off subject," she said pointedly, and I made a show of giving her my full attention, helping to push the Leah thing out of my head. "I told him about what has been going on, and he was pretty livid that I didn't tell him sooner, and that I refuse to come back to Forks with him when he leaves today."

Something inside of me shrank back in fear at the thought of her being too far out of my sight or arm's reach, and my hand shot out to clasp her wrist by reflex, making her pause and look down at where I was gripping her. "Alice," she said softly, looking back up to my face, "I'm not going anywhere. I am twenty-two, I will be twenty-three in two months, and there is absolutely nothing he can do about the choices I make in my life."

"If you're not leaving, why is he coming?" I asked in a volume to match hers, and she covered my hand around her wrist with her opposite hand, squeezing it reassuringly.

"He wants to see Emmett, and anyone else who is working on this case... and he wants to meet you." She said the tail end in a guilty whisper, but I caught what she was saying, anyway.

Her father wanted to meet me? While I was living out of duffel bags for a week? God, I had nothing with me to wear! I went into fashion panic mode, and shot up out of the bed to rifle through my bags, because Emmett had made it understood yesterday that I would not be able to return to the house until James was in custody and this whole thing had blown over. Shit! I turned on a lamp to be able to see what I was doing, and Bella let go of a groan of protest behind me at the sudden brightness of the room.

"What are you doing?" she said, covering her face with the crook of her arm.

"Trying to find something appropriate to wear when I meet your father today," I returned, and shot a playful glare at her when she began to laugh.

"I knew it! You're a total fashion queen," she guffawed, and I rose to my full height (which isn't much), placing my hands firmly on my hips as I continued to glare at her.

"What exactly are you trying to imply, hmm?" I asked her, and she just laughed harder.

"Nothing," she panted a second later, wiping tears of mirth from her eyes. "It's cute, Alice, don't worry. I like it, it's... so you."

I rolled my eyes as I turned to continue my mission. Of course, it was me. I loved clothes. I loved shoes even more. But most of all, I just liked to shop. And I hated to tell my darling girl that she was due for a long shopping trip in the near future, my treat. I had some ideas about some different styles for her that I wanted to experiment with, and I really, really wanted to get her into a skirt or a dress. I felt another tremor run through my muscles at the thought.

Bella also slid free of the bed, stretching her longer frame again as she came to rest on her feet, and nearly losing balance and falling back onto the mattress. "My dad isn't hard to please, I promise. He's going to flip when he sees how beautiful you are... as long as you show up smiling that grin of yours, you could be dressed in overalls and a plaid shirt and he wouldn't notice."

I cringed horribly at the nightmare of an image that sent through my head, and she laughed at the way my face screwed up.

"Can't handle overalls?" she drawled teasingly as she crossed the room towards me, sliding her arms around me from behind and pulling me upright against her.

"God, no," I spat, shuddering hard, and not in pleasure this time. Overalls and plaid shirts were just... wrong. But then I felt the press of her warm lips on the nape of my neck, resulting in a whimper from my throat as I melted back into her, just like putty.

She continued on a tiny path of three gentle lip presses, until she reached my ear. "Does that mean I have to throw all of my pairs away?" she whispered jokingly, and I snickered, shoving an elbow into her ribs, but not hard enough to really hurt her.

"Shut up," I laughed, flipping around in her arms, pushing myself up on my toes to reach her lips with mine. "Get ready, I have to drop you off at work soon, then come back here and get dressed to meet Mr. Swan."

"Chief," Bella corrected me with a grin. "He likes that."

I nodded, storing the information for later. Chief Swan. It sounded so official. Intimidating. I was dating a police chief's daughter. But then again, she was dating a detective's sister. But Emmett was no threat to her... he had already told me that he would overlook whatever bong he saw in her apartment. It's as if it was never there; tell her to ask me, and I'll tell her where I stashed it. I shook my head at the memory of that phone call yesterday. My brother is a big, muscle-bound softie, and he liked Bella. He thinks she really likes me.

"What was that about?" she asked me when I gave that minuscule gesture, and I looked at her with a tiny grin.

"Emmett found your bong," I told her, watching as the pink tint in her cheeks paled to a pasty white and her face fell into a shock. "No, no, calm down," I told her with a giggle, waving my hand at her fear. "He's not going to turn you in for smoking that stuff. It's not even a blip on Emmett's radar of criminalism."

"Are you sure?" she asked in hushed whisper, and I nodded confidently.

"He stashed it in the hall closet, at the wall on the highest shelf. He said to tell you 'you're welcome', too." I watched as her face softened into confusion, then a slow realization that Emmett had looked out for her, as we knew the place had to be routinely searched for a break-in and verbal threat such as what had happened. Bella had forgotten all about that paraphernalia. "Now hurry up, get your stuff together, or you're going to be late."

She tilted her mouth up on one side, making a tingle run through my belly. "Yes, ma'am. You sound like my father."

"Whom I have to meet in a little while. Now, scoot!"

I watched out of the corner of my eye as she barely glanced at the pants and t-shirt she retrieved from her single suitcase, sighing inwardly at the possibilities of diversity available to her features wasted with every band tee she owned. But a part of me felt ashamed that I found it adorable because it was Bella. She entered the bathroom first, knowing I would probably take a little longer than she would, and I proceeded to freak a little that all I could find that was worth a damn to wear was a pair of white tennis shorts, with a light yellow top. I figured that if this was a personal meeting, I shouldn't dress as if I were going to a business deal. A simple pair of white Keds, and I would be okay for the moment. Once I finished getting ready, I would probably hate the clothing choice, and try again once I dropped Bella off at the store.


"I know you like old rock, but is there any more contemporary bands that you like?" Bella asked me once we were in my car, leaving her truck sitting in the parking garage, directly beneath a camera. It was Emmett's idea, of course, somewhat of a bait for James, if he decided to show is ugly face anywhere near us.

"Mmm, sure," I answered, glancing over at her as she fumbled with the auxiliary cord to the radio in my car, plugging it into a iPod Touch. "What did you have in mind?"

"Patience," she murmured, scrolling her finger up and down the screen of the device, looking hard for something in particular, I could tell. A few seconds later, I smirked at the two rim shots that led into Deftones' "My Own Summer (Shove It)". Oh, the memories of middle school.

She was looking at me silently, awaiting a sign of recognition from me, but I didn't give it to her until the first verse started, and began singing along a little, and she grinned, and looked back down at the screen as she moved her finger around again, and then I heard the soft guitar intro to "Heart-Shaped Box" by Nirvana. Once again, I began to sing along as the lyrics began. Her smile growing impossibly wider, she changed the song to "Bullet With the Butterfly Wings" by the Smashing Pumpkins, and I started bouncing in my seat to the beat of the bass drum beneath the wheel as we waited for a break in traffic for me to make a right hand turn from the parking deck. "The world is a vampire," I said loudly, yelling it out of my window, and Bella cracked up in my passenger seat, her head falling back against the seat as she laughed at my shenanigans, being crazy throughout the entire first verse and first chorus.

"Okay, you've passed tests on three of my favorite bands... how about... this?" she said with a satisfied smirk a minute later, playing a new song. I returned her smirk, only mine might have been a little cocky.

"Help me if you can, it's just that this is not the way I'm wired, so could you please help me understand why you're giving in to all these reckless dark desires, you're– lying to yourself again, suicidal imbecile, think about it, put it on the fault line. What'll it take to get through to you, precious? Over this, why do you wanna throw it away like this? Such a mess, I don't wanna watch you... Disconnect and self-destruct one bullet at a time, what's your rush now, everyone will have his day to die..." We sang this one together, and actually made it all the way to the end of it, both of us with happy grins at our similar taste in music, though I was sure she wasn't into some of the R&B, or rap music I was inclined to indulge at times.

"I love A Perfect Circle," she sighed at the end, and I nodded in agreement.

"Tool is his better band, though," I said for clarification, but then she looked at me like I had told her Jimi Hendrix was in the back seat.

"What? No way! I mean, they're good, but they don't have Billy Howerdell on guitar. He is what makes A Perfect Circle, aside from Maynard's voice. Have you ever seen APC live? God, his sound manipulation and the rhythm of his hands are almost enough for me to consider giving up girls for good, if he would give me a chance! It's so fucking... sexy."

I smiled at the passion in her voice when she spoke of guitars and music and the people who created it. I loved that it was what made her Bella. She personified guitarists everywhere for me, and from the moment I saw her until I closed my eyes and breathed my last, the sound or sight of a guitar would always make me think of her.


BellaPOV:

I can't say I was surprised to see my father's red Ford F-150 parked in the parking lot adjacent to Volturi Music, and I groaned at the sight. "Oh, man, Dad's here," I told Alice, who I saw visibly stiffen at the information. She was so nervous to meet him, but I couldn't blame her. I was nervous to meet her parents, as well, only I would be living with them. At least I wasn't asking her to move to Forks and live in harmony with my old man and his wife, not to mention Leah, who still lived at home.

"I have to change before I meet him... Ugh, I give up, I am going shopping. I'll call you in a little bit, and let you know what time to meet me, and where," she said distractedly, and I could just see the wheels of fashion spinning in her head.

"Go pick up Rose and C.J.," I suggested, not liking the idea of her being alone in public at the given time. "Make a day of it, and I will call you when I am off work." I went to open the door, but the sensation of her hand on my left forearm stopped me, and I looked over to her. Her face was set in an almost-pout, her navy eyes searching my face pitifully, her bottom lip extending somewhat. "Hey, it's all right," I whispered, reaching over and touching the tip of her cute little up-turned nose, then placing the same hand on her neck to pull her face to mine for a small but loving kiss. "Don't be nervous," I added when I pulled back.

"Okay," she whispered, swallowing audibly. "I'll see you this afternoon."

"Yes, you will," I replied, grinning at the thought as I opened my door. "Have fun shopping, and tell C.J. I said hello and that I miss him."

I really did, too. That boy brought such a smile to my face with his questions and observations, too deep for a six year old to harbor. Just like his mother, he was definitely one of a kind.

She nodded, and I saw her eyes fall to my lips. "One more? For the road?" she requested, a tiny smile playing around her mouth, and I laughed, leaning to kiss her one more time.

"Be careful today," I said against her lips before I pressed mine against them for the final time and stood up out of the car.

"I will. I'll keep you updated."

I shut the door with a sigh, and she sped off, the engine of her yellow Beemer whirring excitedly with the acceleration. I shook my head at the sight as she peeled tires a little when she shot out into the semi-busy street, barely pausing to glance for traffic. Quirks like that made me feel fuzzy inside, I couldn't explain it. It was just so Alice.

I shifted my eyes to my father's truck and saw his silhouette moving on the driver's side, and then the door swung open, and the boots I saw emerge and hit the ground were unmistakable. I did not realize until that moment how much I had truly missed him.

I broke into a run, and no sooner than he had shut the door to the truck, I flung myself into his arms, burying my face into the pressed and starched material of his uniform shirt. It was scratchy and rough, just like I remembered, and his cologne had not changed since Sue had bought him his first bottle when I was a young teenager. Obsession by Calvin Klein. I couldn't remember him wearing anything but Old Spice aftershave beforehand.

"I missed you, too," he said gruffly into my hair as his arms closed around me for a brief squeeze, and then he let go so he could move back and look at me. I watched his dark brown eyes move over me as he surveyed me, and he nodded to himself when he was satisfied. "You look good, kid," he said, and I smiled.

"I feel good... well, besides the drama that magically appeared in my life a few weeks ago. But even that isn't enough to keep me down, Dad," I answered with a grin, which he returned.

"She's something else, huh? I don't think I've ever seen you shine like this, Bells." He smoothed down his mustache thoughtfully, and I blushed under his steady gaze.

"Want to walk me in? I am this close to being late," I said, holding my fingers a half an inch apart. We started walking across the parking lot, my dad looking at the buildings, the street, the rest of the lot... I realized with a start that he was looking for any sign of James. The thought made my good spirits sink as I remembered the reason he felt compelled to come to Seattle.

"I met your friend Emmett this morning. I like him. He seems to know what he's doing, and has a pretty good sense of humor for a boy who looks like he never sleeps," Dad said as we came closer to the front doors.

"It's only recently he's not slept," I admitted, feeling responsible for Emmett's endless days. "James has him on the go, twenty-four-seven."

"He let it become personal, because it involves his family," Dad commented. "I don't blame him, though. I feel this is personal, too."

He patted my shoulder as we entered the air-conditioned building, and I took a deep breath as always as I crossed the threshold. I love the smell of this place, it was that deep, wooden scent, much like the smell of a reed to a woodwind instrument. I also grinned because Jane had put on Led Zeppelin, and I entered the store to the sounds of "Whole Lotta Love", which made Dad chuckle.

Aro was at the front desk with Jane, both of them poring over a binder of numbers, and I knew Jane had it in her head that when her dear old Uncle Aro died, that Volturi Music, Inc, would become hers. I shivered at the thought of working for the woman. She was cold, and had no conscience, not caring who was hurt in her endeavors as long as her goal was obtained. I watched this the one time I had gone out for drinks with her, and she shot men down like flies, and only gave in to one when she was so bored she could have fallen asleep on top of the guy.

When we approached, Aro looked up and he smiled his creeper-smile when he saw me, but then it slid right off his wrinkled face when his eyes took in the imposing, uniformed man standing beside me. "Well, Bella, good morning," he said in his light, wheezy voice. "Who do we have here?" he went on, referring to Dad.

"This is my father, Charlie Swan. Dad, this is my boss, the owner, Aro Volturi, and his niece, Jane Volturi."

Jane barely glanced up from her reports to give my father a tight smile before going back to what she was doing with her highlighter, and Aro stuck a spotted hand out to Dad, which he took in a brief handshake.

"My pleasure, Mr. Swan," Aro said in a sickly sweet way, and it made me have to suppress a shudder.

"Call me Chief," Dad said predictably, and Aro's watery eyes shot down to his badge and back to his face.

"Very well, Chief," he amended, nodding slightly. "To what do I owe the pleasure of meeting you this fine morning?"

Dad gave a glance down at me, his mouth fitting into a thin line, and then with a sigh he looked back up to Aro. "Do you have an office in which we could speak privately?" he asked my boss, and my brow furrowed with confusion about what he was doing. Surely he wasn't going to tell Aro my personal business.

"Of course, of course. Follow me."

"Dad..." I tried to warn him not to do that, but he waved an impatient hand at me.

"He needs to know, Bells... I'll be right back out."

I gave a long sigh as they both disappeared behind Aro's office door, and Jane didn't look up as she asked in the most indifferent and uninterested tone I have ever heard, "What's going on?"

"I... have a stalker," I answered lamely, and at this, Jane did look up. There was a small smile on her face, like she thought I was joking.

"You have a stalker? You?" she asked, barely holding in her laughter.

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

I told her the story about the man, the break-in, and the investigation. She took it all in silently, that little smile still on her face, and then she outright laughed when I told her that he had stalked Alice in high school. That made my temper hot.

"What the fuck is so funny about that?" I asked her heatedly, and she shook her head, her shoulders still shaking with her humor.

"He's an idiot. Don't worry, they'll catch him and his little girlfriend."

I didn't mention Victoria. A chill shot through me, and I swallowed hard as Jane looked back down at the computer print outs. I stared at her black hair, slicked back into a tight bun, and let my eyes travel down her conservative pants suit, to the pale beige heels she was wearing. Jane was a regular to most of the clubs in the area, and in fact, it was she who referred me to La Lune Bleu as a nice fishing spot. Something inside of me squelched a little at the thought, but I chose not to call it to her attention that I had not mentioned Victoria, and excused myself to go to the back and clock in, trying to shake this feeling of uneasiness. How the hell had she known about Victoria? Checking around the storeroom a second later, I only saw the two stock boys Felix and Demetri leaned up against the dumpster out back, passing what looked like a pipe back and forth. Fools to leave the cargo gate up, I thought to myself as I whipped out my phone to text Emmett and tell him about this feeling I had about Jane, and why I was suspicious.

It only took three minutes for his reply, and I made sure not to exit the back until my phone had chimed with it.

Charlie is talking to your boss about her right now. I found out some things about Ms. Jane Volturi when I was investigating some of the clubs and bars around here. She is directly linked to James, and if Aro Volturi doesn't cooperate with us, I am going to bust her little ass for the cocaine and heroine she is peddling in the club lines. I gawked at his reply, reading it five times before what it said began to sink in.

My mouth fell open. No fucking way. No fucking way. Jane? She is an associate of James Chatham? I was so shocked about this revelation that the fact that Emmett had called my father by his first name escaped my notice completely.

"Bella?"

I jumped at the voice that came from behind me, and I twirled around to meet Jane's grey eyes, which were narrowed at me. "Y-yeah?" I stammered, not knowing how to react to her after what I had just found out.

"You look like you need to sit down. Do you want a glass of water, or something?"

I shook my head, still wide-eyed and staring at her as if we'd never met.

She moved closer to me, and leaned directly into my ear. "If you so much as breathe that I know something about James, I will see to it that it is the last breath you will ever have." She pulled back with a smirk and tapped my open jaw three times, hard. "Now, get to work before I fire you."

AlicePOV:

I sat in Rosalie's kitchen with my phone in my hand, my mother's cell phone number glaring up at me from the screen, my lip caught between my teeth, being tugged at impatiently. Why was I so nervous to do this? I knew what they would say. But I was also pretty sure that they had heard from either Emmett, Rose, or Edward that I was involved with Bella, and I didn't want that influence on their decision. I sighed, frustrated with my own cowardice before I sucked in a giant breath and sent the call.

"Hello, dear," my mother said when she answered. She sounded exhausted, but what with running two restaurants and a catering service, I suppose she had every right.

"Hey, Mom," I said, standing up from the barstool I was perched on. I began pacing the length of the kitchen until I felt claustrophobic and stepped out into the back yard, slapping at Hyde when he came running to me, happily drooling all over my white shoes.

"How are you? You sound nervous," Mom said and I gave a weak chuckle.

"I am, a bit," I admitted, and she made a knowing sound in the back of her throat. "Are you busy?" I asked her.

"Kind of, but I always have time for my girl. What's going on, sweetie?"

I ran a hand through my short hair, mussing it up further than its usual disarray, and decided to just spit it out. "I need a huge favor."

"Okay..."

"Have you– do you remember C.J. telling you about his guitar tutor?" I grasped at the one thing my mother always heard every word of– her grandson's voice.

"Bella? Yes, and I already know that you're seeing her. Emmett told me last night, when he asked if she could stay here for a while to hide out from that psycho."

I stopped dead in my tracks and nearly fell out with the onslaught of that information. Emmett had already asked?

"E-Emmett...?" I stuttered, and couldn't even get the full question out.

"Asked if your girlfriend could stay with us, yes," Mom said helpfully, and I could hear the smile in her soft voice.

"Well, w-what did you–?"

"I said it was fine, of course. We're having dinner tonight at the downtown store, with Bella and her father. Emmett arranged it this morning with her father, and I quite agree with him that its best to get the formalities out of the way."

"When were one of you going to tell me this plan?" I huffed, rolling my eyes, but honestly was not very surprised at the news.

My mother laughed. "Oh, sweetheart, don't be disgruntled at your brother. He is excited for you, and for Bella. I can't wait to see the two of you together, Emmett says he's never seen you with anyone that makes you glow like she does."

I blushed violently at the description, though only because I knew it to be true.

The sound of the sliding glass door opening made me jump, and when I turned and saw my beautiful little boy standing there glaring impatiently at me, tapping his foot, I couldn't help but to smile. He was growing up so fast, picking up adult mannerisms, though that particular one came from his Aunt Rosie.

"Mommy, can we go, yet? I am hungry, and I want to ride the carousel at the mall!" he said to me, and I gave him a look that told him to watch his tone, and he blushed as dark as I had moments before.

"Your grandson is ready to go... I guess I will see you tonight. What time are we meeting?" I asked my mother, and she giggled about C.J. and his impatience.

"Seven. Tell my precious boy that his Gramma will see him tonight."

"I will. I love you, Mom. Thank you."

"Mmm-hmm, you are very welcome, Mary Alice. I love you, too."

As I hung up my phone, I made a mental note to warn Bella that my parents and sometimes my siblings often called me by first and middle name combined, something I had not shared with her before. I grinned at my next thought, though. Just as Bella had sprung the Chief on me, I was springing the Doctor and his missus on her.

Dinner with the Cullens, at seven tonight. Bella was going to freak.

A/N: Lyrics to "The Outsider" belong to Maynard James Keenan and Billy Howerdell, as well as the rest of A Perfect Circle. Don't know them? Try that song. All other songs are credited in text.

Soooo... you guys didn't really think I was going to allow Jane to be a marginal character, did you? She's such a wonderful antagonist that I had to pull her into play. And what about Aro? Think he knows more than he lets on? :P So much fun, so many possibilities...

I love Tom Petty. "Free Fallin" just came on and I am jamming out over here... too much Redbull, I am sure.

Leave the love? I promise I will be better about replying this time lol