A/N: A huge thank you to WTF Am I Doing for prereading and for her wonderful suggestions.

Everyone, I'm sorry for the delay…hope you're still with me...:-) I've been focused elsewhere most of the past several months, dealing with some family things and such, so please forgive me if I haven't responded to any reviews, PM's, or tweets you may have sent. Hope you enjoy this chapter…I know you've been waiting a long time :-)






"Well, my mother just called. She's invited us to dinner. I tried to tell her that we already have plans, but she insisted." He takes a deep breath and chews at his lip again. "She said they have something important the need to talk to us about She said it was urgent, but she wouldn't tell me anything more over the phone."

Well, fuck. That doesn't sound good. I say a silent prayer that everything is ok. Carlisle and Esme may be a bit uptight and I've never gotten the impression that they fully approve of me, but I do genuinely care for them.

"I really am sorry." He looks so sad, so defeated.

I walk over to him and wrap my arms around him. He stands there stiffly for a beat before he returns the embrace.

"It's alright, Edward. We can go out sometime this week. It's really not a big deal."

He pulls away and gives a stiff nod and a forced smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes.

I fight the urge to let out a petulant sigh. We had such a wonderful morning and now we're back to forced smiles.

I offer him a forced smile of my own and give him one last hug before heading off to get ready for the day, trying to fight the ominous feeling that tonight may not be a good one.





Chapter 18:







These are the buzz words running through my mind as I look at myself in the mirror.

I mean, I look good, but I don't look like me.

The pale blue, cowl neck sleeveless blouse looks pretty against the light beige, fitted slacks. The beige wedge sandals give me a few more inches in height, giving my short and curvy body the illusion of long and lean.

I've chosen the heart-shaped Tiffany earrings Edward gave me for our first Christmas together and a simple silver cuff bracelet.

Beige eyeshadow and a bit of mascara applied expertly. Hair tousled to perfection. A hint of pale pink lip gloss.



I look like I'm headed off to afternoon tea with a bunch of socialites. I realize why…this is what I always do when it's time to visit the Cullens. I try to look like what I think they would want me to look like…what they would expect of their daughter-in-law.

Fuck it.

I want to look like Bella.

And Bella isn't beige.

Chewing at my lip, I head back to the closet and head straight to the color section at the back. This is where the Bella clothes are.

Some pink material peeks out from between two little black dresses and I know exactly what I want to wear.

The hot pink dress is sleeveless with a ruffled, scooped neck. The lightweight material is adorned with a scattered white floral print...it's bright, summery, and perfect. I remember Rose tossing it at me during a quick shopping trip to Macy's when she was in search of a new pair of jeans.

I unbuckle the beige sandals and quickly strip off my sophisticated clothes.

When I slip the dress over my head, the material feels so soft and light – it's the perfect dress for a late summer night dinner.

Even if it is with the Cullens giving some "important" news.

I dig through the closet further until I find a pair of silver strappy heels and a soft white cardigan.


With the cardigan neatly folded over my forearm, I head off in search of Edward, who has that wonderful advantage that men have in being able to throw on a pair of dress slacks, a button up shirt and look ready for any occasion and has therefore been ready for over twenty minutes. I usually pride myself on not being a typical girl who spends hours primping and such, but some occasions, like dinner at the in-laws, require a bit more preparation.

I find him sitting on the sofa, scrolling intently through something on his Blackberry. In the dimmed light, he looks so lovely sitting there, all firm and tone beneath the dark gray shirt and black slacks. With one ankle resting lightly on the opposite knee and one arm draped casually on the sofa back behind him , he looks powerful and relaxed at the same time – one of those looks some men just seem to pull off without effort.

He doesn't notice my arrival and I take a moment just to stare at him. He looks so relaxed, but I know he's worried...I have no clue what his parents could possibly have to tell him. Something business related? Doubtful, given the fact that their professional lives aren't linked with Edward's in any way that I know of.

Maybe they're moving? Retiring? Having money troubles? Who knows.

Their family dynamic is so strange…it's clear that Edward loves them and whenever he mentions them, it seems as though he's always known that he's been loved by them in return. They are certainly nice enough, even if some of it seems a bit forced and practiced. But they are so…uptight? I test the word out in my mind, trying to decide if that's the right description. Yes, I think it is.

I wonder what Edward would have been like as a small child. It's so hard to picture Carlisle and Esme raising a little one…did they let him actually be a kid? Or was he limited to educational toys and nonfiction books? Did they play hide and seek with him and enjoy his laughter? Or did he spend his formative years with a nanny being taught how to be prim and proper? Hmmm…I wish I were close enough with Esme to ask her more about what Edward was like growing up.

I suddenly realize I've been lost in thought for who knows how many moments. Refocusing on Edward, I'm thankful he hasn't noticed me standing here yet. Lord knows, the poor man probably thinks I'm crazy enough without catching me staring off into space like a moron.

"Hey. You ready?" I ask softly to announce my presence.

"Yes. I just need to grab my jacket and keys," he responds without looking up, eyes still trained downward on the soft glow of his phone.

As he moves to standing, he finally looks over at me and immediately smiles as his eyes take a quick sweep of my body.

"You changed," he says simply, still grinning almost boyishly as he closes the distance between us.

Nodding in reply, I nearly sigh in contentment as my own smile mirrors his. It's so nice to see joy in his face…it's not there nearly enough. Although I know there are many stressful factors in his life that keep him from smiling, I wonder if part of that is me. It seems that as often as I make him smile, I take it away…just as our relationship has done with me. I make a mental vow to do whatever it takes to make sure we both smile more.

When he reaches me, he leans down for a kiss, his soft lips meeting mine very gently. Warmth and tingling erupt low in my belly as his hands cradle my cheeks. It's simple…it's quick…but it's so incredible.

"You look beautiful," he says as he pulls away, stepping back a bit.

"Thank you," I reply, feeling my cheeks warm as he watches me.

His tongue peeks out, barely licking at his lower lip. His lips had a bit of shininess to them now, thanks to my lip gloss. I contemplate reaching up to wipe it off. Fuck, he's so handsome. I wish we didn't have to leave…I fervently wish we could spend the evening at home…naked, if possible. Our morning had been so wonderful; I can't bear the thought of another drama-filled night. I wish we could just keep the momentum going.

Tilting his head to one side, he reaches up and gently thumbs one of my earlobes. The smile on his face is shy…remembering. He says nothing, but I know he's pleased that I've chosen to wear the heart-shaped earrings. I love them…I remember when I had opened them that Christmas a few years back I had been so surprised. It was such a thoughtful gift. Receiving heart-shaped jewelry from him at the time had been kind of awkward, but they were so perfectly me I couldn't help but nearly squeal with excitement. I remember he had almost sagged with relief when he saw how happy I was, like a sort of confirmation he did the right thing.

Maybe it's one of those memories I can share with our children someday. Maybe someday I can pass this pair of earrings on to a daughter of my own and tell her a story about how love can overcome any obstacle…even obstacles in the form of contracts and emotional-roadblocks.

With a sigh, he grabs my hand in his, intertwines our fingers and leads us toward the garage to leave.


The sun has almost completely set by the time we arrive. The Cullens' home is breathtaking as usual…but even more so at twilight. The mansion looks like a mini White House in both style and color, with dark blue shutters and trim.

As we near the top of the stairs leading to the main entrance at the Cullens' estate, I finally ask the question.

"Are you nervous?" I ask. He hasn't said much on the ride…a bit of small talk here and there. We've talked about my job a bit. We've discussed briefly how we will handle my return to classes in a week and the change in schedule.

I'm so curious as to why we've been summoned here. We see them occasionally, of course, but generally they keep to themselves and we keep to ours. I know Edward talks to them frequently, but rarely does he share the conversations with me.

He screws his face up in a grimace and shakes his head.

"A bit, I guess. I have no idea what they would have to tell us that couldn't wait. I'm more annoyed than anything. I honestly think my mom was just being a drama queen. She has a tendency to do that."

Huh. I would never have labeled Esme as a drama queen, but what the hell do I know? She always seems so…I don't know…controlled. She's like this picture-perfect woman. But usually appearances are deceptive, I guess. I should know, after all. How many people would have believed Edward and I barely knew each other on our wedding day?

He rings the bell, which erupts into a loud wind-chime like musical from inside. I've always found it odd that he rings the bell when we visit…I mean, I barely speak to my parents, but I would probably still waltz right in if I ever visited.

Suddenly, a loud, growling bark startles the hell out of me. Edward and I simultaneously step back anxiously when whatever the fuck made the noise starts scratching at the door. Jesus, it sounds like a fucking monster.

I frantically look over at Edward, whose confused expression mirrors my own.

"What the fuck?" he grumbles, as he reaches his arm out, gently pushing me so that I'm slightly behind him.

Because I'm a girl, I have to stifle the silly grin that threatens at the gesture…I love when he plays the protector.

"Is that a dog?" he asks, looking at me. I shrug, because the last time I checked, the Cullens didn't have any animals. Although I can certainly picture Esme walking around with a tiny Shih Tzu peeking out of a frilly pink handbag or something, whatever the fuck just made that noise certainly doesn't sound as though it would fit in a purse.

Suddenly the door flies open, revealing Esme hunched over, grasping at the collar of the biggest fucking dog I have ever seen.

Reflexively, I start stumbling backwards as the giant, fluffy, black dog starts to lunge at us, still panting and barking in our direction.

"Mom?" Edward screeches out in surprise.

"Get in here before the puppy gets away!" she cries, frantic and out of breath as she pulls the beast backward to make room.

Edward and I rush inside and slam the door, pressing ourselves up against it as the dog continues barking at us.

"Carlisle!" Esme shrills out, "come get the damn puppy!"

Puppy? That looks more like a fucking bear or something.

Suddenly Carlisle appears and the next few moments are a blur as they fight to transfer control of the black dog…eventually Carlisle is able to get the dog to sit still between them, panting away like he just ran a marathon.

Edward and I both just watch speechless, afraid to move in case it might attack.

When I finally look away from the dog, I take in Esme and Carlisle's appearance – they look…different. Esme looks downright sloppy compared to her usual business attire; she sports a pink velour sweatsuit a'la Jennifer Lopez from back in the P. Diddy days. Her hair is in a messy ponytail and her face is void of makeup save for some smudged mascara. Has she been crying?

Carlisle looks his normal self, in a pair of navy slacks and a light blue polo shirt. His eyes are trained sideways on his wife, his expression almost weary.

I chance a look at Edward, who looks just as confused as I am as we take in the scene before us.

"Mom? Dad? When did you get a dog?" he asks.

Esme smiles and puts her hands on her hips. The smile is odd…not a happy one, but almost a vindictive one. Is she drunk?

"This is Lady Boom Boom. She's a Newfoundland puppy. We rescued her from the shelter last week. Her name was just Boom Boom, but that sounds a bit too trashy, so I added the Lady to it." She reaches over and pats the dog's head affectionately.

"You rescued the damn thing. I had nothing to do with it," Carlisle bites out, rolling his eyes.

"You'll have to forgive your father…he's a little bit jealous of the puppy," Esme retorts, pursing her lips and pushing some stray auburn hairs off of her forehead. Her pretty green eyes are slightly red-rimmed.

Are they fighting? This is new.

Edward simply stares at the dog, his head leaning to one side as if he's trying to figure out a puzzle. Esme and Carlisle are glaring at each other sideways.

"Um, well, congratulations I guess?" I say awkwardly, trying to break the tension and silence.

Strangely, all heads in the room turn to me at once and I feel like I'm in one of those dreams where I show up at church in my underwear or something.

What the fuck is going on here?

"Well, I hope you guys don't mind, but I fired our cook this morning," Esme says, earning a snort of contention from Carlisle and a subsequent glare from Esme, "so we're having pizza for dinner."

Pizza? The last time I ate here, we had a full multi-course dinner full of hoity-toity things I can't even begin to pronounce and frankly don't remember…I do remember scarfing down a turkey sandwich once I got home because I was still starving after eating something like ten courses with one bite each.

And, wait, she fired the cook?

What the hell?

As Esme spins on her heel and heads toward the kitchen, Lady Boom Boom and Carlisle follow her dutifully, leaving Edward and I standing against the door in a cloud of confusion.

A few things are swimming through my head…neither Esme nor Carlisle actually greeted us, which is odd given the fact that they are both usually the elaborate double-cheek-kiss type of people; and they are definitely fighting about something.

Oh, and I'm fucking allergic to dogs. Almost as soon as I remember this important fact, I can feel my nasal cavity reacting.

Edward sighs and pushes off the wall, grabbing my hand to pull me along.

"I guess we should go find them to see what the hell is going on," he mumbles, his mouth set in a grimace.


I pull back, stopping him.

"Uh, I'm allergic to dogs," I declare, afraid to move any further into Lady Boom Boom's territory. Ugh, my ankles start to feel itchy as I say it.

"Oh! I thought you were allergic to cats?" he replies, looking genuinely concerned.

"Well, I guess you could say I'm allergic to most furry animals. Mainly cats, dogs, horses and guinea pigs." I clear my throat, embarrassed.

His lips quirk up.

"Guinea pigs?" he asks, fighting a grin.

"Yeah, long story. A friend had one growing up. I played with it once and then had to go to the ER for a shot of Benadryl in the ass," I say, switching weight between feet nervously. Great, now I'm rambling about guinea pigs and my ass…nice.

"Should we go? I don't mind if you want to leave. I don't want you to get sick."

He looks so sweet and sincere and as much as I want to take him up on his offer, I just can't. Obviously something is going on here, so I'm determined to sniffle my way through it.

I shake my head.

"I should be ok. Let's at least stay long enough to talk to your parents."

"Well, if you get uncomfortable or feel like you need to leave, all you have to do is say the word and we'll leave, ok?" he asks, kissing my forehead quickly and again tugging at my hand.

We find his parents in their informal dining room, a couple of pizza boxes on the table and a bottle of some kind of white wine chilling in a silver bucket of ice. The long, ornate oak table is set in their normal dinner china, an odd contradiction to the food set in cardboard.

Esme smiles again and gestures for us to sit down.

As I sit, still sensing the tension in the air, Lady Boom Boom saunters over to me, drool dripping from her open mouth. I close my eyes, leaning as far as possible away from her and trying not to breathe in. The urge to gag is overwhelming as her hot, moist breath fans across my face. I can practically feel the pet dander invading my lungs.

Edward sits next to me and flaps his hands at the dog as if to shoo it away.

"Mom, Bella's allergic to dogs. Can't we put it outside or something?"

"Oh, I didn't know you were allergic! Come here, Lady Boom Boom, come here, sweetheart!" Esme talks to the dog in some kind of baby voice that makes my ears burn in annoyance.

The dog surprisingly obliges, padding over and sitting next to her mistress.

Carlisle is seated beside Esme, looking a bit unimpressed and bored as he watches his wife pat the dog's fluffy head.

The next several moments are filled with grabbing slices of pizza, filling wine glasses, and very little talk.

"So, Edward, how's business been?" Carlisle asks, breaking the awkward silence.

Edward looks like he wants to be anywhere but here, as he swallows a bite of deep dish pizza before answering.

"Well, same as usual I guess. We're looking at acquiring some data centers in Colorado, hoping to expand further East over the next year or two."

Carlisle nods approvingly at his son.

"How are things at the hospital? Are you still working on that funding to expand the cardiology department?" Edward asks, taking a sip of wine.

Ugh…this small talk feels so torturous. I focus on my pizza, which is actually quite good. I don't recognize the name on the box…Macelli's, it reads…I make a mental note of it so I can order from there next time.

I focus on breathing as I feel the skin on my bare legs start to itch. I want to slap myself for not keeping the fucking beige slacks on. The last thing I want is hives all over my damn legs. At least they will match my dress, I think with a mental snort.

My nose starts to run and my throat feels itchy…I try to discreetly wipe at it with my napkin.

Edward clears his throat, thankfully distracting me from thinking about dog hair and itchiness.

"So, what did you guys want to talk to us about?" Edward asks, eyes flitting between his parents, who seem to be avoiding eye contact.

With an annoyed sniff, Esme looks up and crosses her arms over her chest.

"Well, I just thought you might like to know your father is a cheating bastard," she says before grasping her glass and gulping the rest of her wine down in a few quick swallows.

Carlisle slams his palm down on the table and stands abruptly, causing Lady Boom Boom to bark and growl at him.

"Jesus, Esme! What the hell is wrong with you?" he bellows out. Esme merely purses her lips and pours another glass in response.

"And anyway, we're getting divorced. I didn't want to tell you over the phone," she says, again followed by downing an entire glass of alcohol with one hand, while scratching Lady Boom Boom's ears with the other. The dog turns to her and sloppily licks up the length of her forearm, causing Esme to giggle like complete loon.

What. The. Fuck?

Edward and I simply stare from our side of the table, mouths dropped open as the scene unfolds.

"Are you out of your mind, Esme? We talked about this. You said you invited them here to meet the fucking dog!" Carlisle's gestures to us before running his hands through his blond hair furiously. Even amidst the chaos, I find a brief moment of amusement at the gesture that I've seen Edward perform countless times when he's frustrated.

"Well, your son has a right to know, don't you think?" she says, grinning maniacally.

Fuck, my eyes are starting to itch. I can feel them pooling with moisture. My hands move to rub them, but I remember to stop myself, knowing that only makes it worse.

"Edward, I think you and Bella should leave. Obviously—" Carlisle looks pointedly at his wife, who merely glares back, "—your mother and I need to talk privately."

Yes! I think that's exactly what we should do. Before either of us can move to stand, Esme pipes in.

"Oh, I don't think so. I invited them here for dinner and that's exactly what we are going to do. We're going to finish eating, then we'll have dessert, then we'll talk. Now sit down and eat," she bites out, fixing him with an ice-cold stare that makes me want to sink back in my seat in fear.

"For the love of God..." he mumbles, trailing off as he turns and leaves the room.

I look at Edward, feeling horrible that all of this is happening. He can't be handling this well. He's staring off in the direction his father just left, stone-faced and pale.

"So," Esme begins, cutting into her pizza with a knife and fork. "Have you guys given any more thought to giving me some grandbabies?"

Edward's head whips around to face her.

"Are you serious?" he asks her incredulously.

"Of course! You aren't getting any younger. I hate to break it to you, Bella, honey, but in another couple of years, pregnancy will be much more complicated." She takes a bite and chews thoughtfully, her green eyes wide and watching us intently.

I have no words; all I can do is stare back at her. How can she possibly be asking this? She must be drunk…that's the only plausible explanation. She's acting like she has multiple personalities or something. All of her anger seems to have dissipated as she eats away happily.

Suddenly, Carlisle reappears carrying a small glass clinking with ice in one hand and a bottle of something in the other.

He rolls his eyes at Esme and flops back down in his previously vacated seat. He holds the bottle up and nods toward Edward.

"Scotch?" he asks as he unscrews the cap and pours a generous amount in his glass.

My fucking eyes are burning. God, I want to rub them so bad! My nose is simultaneously stuffed and runny. I feel like my legs are on fire.

I look over at Edward, willing him to stand up so we can just leave. It seems so obvious what's happening here…they are having issues and Esme invited us here because she wants witnesses. She wants to turn us against Carlisle in whatever's going on. She called him a cheating bastard…could she be serious? I look at Carlisle, who's chugging away at his drink…I just can't imagine him cheating on her. I don't know them well enough, but it seems like he wouldn't be willing to put his marriage in jeopardy. Not only because he loves her—at least he's always appeared to love her—but cheating and divorce just seem like things that would ruin his standing in society. Why would he risk his reputation?

Edward lets out a massive, frustrated sigh and rakes his hand through his hair. He looks exhausted. This can't be easy on him, that's for sure.

"Will one of you please tell me what the hell is going on? Calmly?" he asks desperately as he looks between them.

They both remain silent.

This is so weird.

This is also the moment I give in and start rubbing frantically at my watering eyes. Oh, the relief is almost instantaneous…like scratching a mosquito bite…it feels soooo good, but then it hurts so bad afterward. I rub and rub for several seconds oblivious to anything around me.

When I pull my hands away, I look down and see the tracks of black on my fingertips.

Great. Just fucking great. I forgot about the damn mascara. Luckily, Esme and Carlisle are acting like such idiots, I don't even feel embarrassed that I probably have black shit all over my face.

Somehow through my haze, I hear Esme directing us all to the sitting room.

"Are you alright?" Edward whispers in my ear.

When I look up at him, he looks horrified. Oh shit, do I really look that bad?

"Baby, your eyes are all swollen. We should leave." He stands up and helps me to my feet.

God, I wish my nose would stop running.

I shake my head frantically.

"No, Edward, you go and talk to them. I'll just go to the restroom and wash my face. I'll be fine." I can hear the wheezing in my voice. I try to smile at him, but he doesn't look convinced.

Reluctantly, he nods. "Just a few more minutes, ok? Then we'll go."

As he heads off in search of his parents, I practically sprint to the closest bathroom, where I frantically splash cold water on my face. I dig through the cabinet for a washcloth to wash my face. Looking in the mirror, I'm completely horrified at what I see. My face is covered in red splotches and my eyes are swollen. Jesus, I look awful.

I spend a few minutes trying to compose myself while removing the black mascara smudges from my face, taking deep breaths and willing my body to calm the fuck down before I end up in the fucking ER again.

Why, oh why did they have to get a dog? While I should be out there supporting Edward through whatever the fuck is going on with his parents, I'm in here looking like a damn leper.

With an annoyed huff, I make my way back to their sitting room where an obviously tense situation is already in progress.

"Dad, is this true?" Edward growls out, his face twisted in shock and horror.

"Of course it's not true, Edward. For the love of God, do you honestly think I would do that?" Carlisle belts out, rolling his eyes and crossing his arms like a petulant child. He's leaning against a wall across from the sofa where his wife sits, his feet are crossed at the ankles in a pose that looks entirely too casual to match his words.

"Don't even try to deny it! I found the letters, you lying bastard! Do you honestly think I'm stupid enough to believe nothing happened between you two?" Esme hisses out, ferociously batting away stray tears that are escaping her furious eyes.

I walk in quietly and sit next to Edward on the loveseat near the large arched windows overlooking their backyard, which is more like a sprawling park, thoroughly wishing I hadn't missed the first part of this conversation. What letters? Did Carlisle cheat on Esme? Holy shit!

"Esme, for the last fucking time, those letters were from ten years ago from a crazy intern with a harmless crush! Nothing happened! I didn't even know I still had them in that damn box." Carlisle's voice is harsh, almost violent.

Edward's hands are balled up in fists on his thighs, his back erect and stiff.

Esme, normally the epitome of society's elite, is sloppily perched at the edge of the sofa. Lady Boom Boom, in all her enormous glory, is parked dutifully in front of her, tongue lazily hanging out of her giant mouth as she pants away in Esme's face.

Between sniffles, she grabs Lady Boom Boom's face and in her sweetest, baby-talking voice, starts babbling at the poor dog.

"Carlisle's a son of a bitch…Yes he is, yes he is," she says, her once furious eyes now scrunched up playfully.

Oh, fuck. What the hell is wrong with this woman? Get a few glasses of wine in her and she turns into a complete psycho.

And I thought I was crazy.

Somehow, through the watery slits of my now near-swollen shut eyes, I can see Carlisle shoot Esme a murderous glare before downing the last of his Scotch in one swift swallow.

I chance a glance at Edward and my heart breaks as I see him trying to process everything. For once, neither of us is the enemy in the room – this time we're fighting on the same side – his parents are clearly the antagonists, both completely insane and pretty much drunk off their asses.

Carlisle turns suddenly, his face wild, his pose no longer casual as his eyes narrow in on Edward, who is still seated at my side in shock.

"Edward, do yourself a favor, son, and save yourself while you still can. These fucking women are all the same! They sit here in the mansions we provide for them, spending the money we earn, so bored out of their fucking Vicodin-ridden minds with their perfect fucking lives that all they can do is concoct ridiculous stories in order to give them something new to gossip about with their bitch friends."

Esme, Edward, and I simultaneously gasp, the sound is loud and obtrusive in the otherwise quiet room. Even Lady Boom Boom has sucked her floppy tongue back up in her huge mouth and is staring in Carlisle's direction.

The silence drags on for several moments. Silently, I'm hoping either Esme or Edward will stand up and fucking deck him. How can he talk about his wife this way? It takes a few seconds for my brain to catch up and realize that he is also insulting me.

Without any warning, I sneeze, all loud and snotty and manly, effectively ending the silent spell following Carlisle's fucked up speech.

Once again calm and seemingly collected, Carlisle takes one more gulp of his Scotch and tosses his glass carelessly off to the side and it shatters into pieces when it impacts with their shiny, mahogany floors before he stalks out of the room.

Esme returns to patting Lady Boom Boom's enormous head and stares off in the direction Carlisle has walked. Her face is emotionless, a stark contrast to the whiplash of manic mood swings from earlier.

"Edward, Bella, I think you should go now. Thank you for coming." Her voice is flat, sad, and frankly a bit scary.

Edward, who has yet to move or say anything, simply stands, pulling me with him.

"Goodbye, mother," he says in a hoarse, whisper of a voice, before pulling me quickly through the house and out the door.

I stumble along behind him, using a tissue I've snatched from a side table to dab at my running nose, whilst my eyes are still burning and watery. So many thoughts are running through my head…I can't even isolate one to solely focus on:

What the fuck just happened?

Should we really be leaving Esme in this state? She wouldn't do anything…dangerous…like hurt herself or something….right? Her lifeless eyes and flat voice before we left were so….haunting. And why the reference to Vicodin? Is Esme on painkillers or, worse, addicted to them?

And on the note of drugs, do we have any Benadryl at home? I really don't want to have to ask Edward to stop on the way home and I really don't want to go the ER for a shot in the ass.

The silence stretches as Edward starts the car, the engine purring softly to life.

Oh. My. God.

I'm so out of my element here. I don't know how to comfort him. I don't even know if wants to be comforted.

His face is like stone and I'm so afraid to say anything. And I'm still a bit pissed actually…how dare Carlisle say such awful things?

Who knew Carlisle and Esme were such fucking lunatics?

I clear my throat and take in a wheezy breath.

"Edward? Are you alright?" I ask timidly. My voice is so raspy I wince at the awful sound.

All at once, his posture melts from rigid to slumped, his back from tense to hunched over the steering wheel in a defeated pose. He blows out a breath, his lips fluttering a bit from the force of air.

"No, no I'm not," he says. His voice is quiet and defeated.

This is not good. I can't imagine what he must be thinking. I can't even begin to relate. I'm not close with my mom and dad…if the situation were reversed, I would probably just roll my eyes and chock it up to yet another stupid situation Charlie and Renee had gotten themselves into. Hell, I'd probably laugh the whole thing off and forget about it a day later.

But Carlisle and Esme are no Charlie and Renee and Edward certainly didn't grow up with parents who barely spoke to him. No, Carlisle and Esme had apparently expended a great deal of energy making sure Edward was perfect and knew the importance of appearances…and he's just watched them declare that their marriage appears to be a sham.

God, I wish this night had never happened. I feel like total shit…my head is throbbing and my body is fighting off a serious allergic reaction and if I don't take a serious dose of antihistamines really fucking quickly, bad shit is going to happen.

As I open my mouth to reply—maybe offer my love and support or some kind of wise statement or something useful—all I can offer at the moment is another string of sneezing and snorting. Cute.

Edward looks over at me, his face still emotionless and says simply and calmly, "Let's go home."

And as I'm blowing my nose for the hundredth time tonight, he puts the car into gear and drives like a maniac down the winding driveway and into the dark.

To be continued….